Traditionally, IPV has been viewed as a gendered phenomenon, with a focus on women. However, victimization surveys and emerging research have started to explore the experiences of male victims, particularly in relation to their reluctance to seek help and their predominantly negative experiences upon doing so. To expand on the literature, this qualitative study is exploratory in nature and aims to better understand the formal help-seeking experiences of male victims of severe female perpetrated IPV. A total of 389 male victims responded to an open-ended qualitative survey question administered in the United States. Thematic analysis of their responses was conducted, and five main themes and a number of sub-themes were identified, namely: the context of formal help-seeking and types of abuse experienced, negative experiences with police, courts, and IPV victim agencies, and barriers to formal help-seeking. The gender paradigm theory and stigmatization theories informed the discussion of the results, and ultimately it was found that male victims who seek formal help report overwhelmingly negative experiences as a result of societal expectations surrounding gender roles and hegemonic masculinity, and male victims who do not seek formal help report barriers related to internalized stigma, shame, and embarrassment in their reasoning. Various recommendations for policy and practice are discussed in light of these findings, and issues of generalizability are taken into consideration.
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Thesis advisor: Lysova, Alexandra
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