Investigative reporters produce an eye-opening exposé:
Claiming that “[a]n epidemic of husband beating has broken out in Chicago,” [it was] suggested that particularly in South Chicago “the husbands are fleeing for their lives.” The violence was so frequent that “[e]very day a panic stricken husband or so seeks refuge in the police stations.” Citing a local judge, the [Daily Tribune] explained that in many states there was no legal remedy for abused husbands: “[t]hese men, whose numbers constantly are increasing, are left to the tender mercies of the callous fisted women who once promised to obey them.” The judge interviewed for the story perceptively described the gender-based reactions that distinguished wife beating and husband beating:
“When a wife is beaten she at once becomes an object of universal pity. Her neighbors flock to her aid with poultices and advice, and the laws of her country aim, in various ways, to comfort and revenge her. Besides this, her husband, after beating her, is scorned of men. Little children point him out on the street, and he is derided and left to himself as though he were something loath- some. But the husband who falls a victim to his wife’s fists is ac- corded different treatment. True, he also is pointed out on the street by little children, but the children have another purpose in his instance. He is a man to be laughed at and called a ninny and an easy mark…”
As with abused wives, the Chicago investigation revealed that men were afraid to swear out warrants against their abusers. One policeman observed that they likely only saw the worst of the cases, so there were probably more than anyone knew.
That’s from 1907. Nothing has changed except that husbands are no longer allowed to assert themselves.