PETALING JAYA - Earning less than your wife can be hazardous to your wellbeing as quite a number of men have discovered.
Although incidents of wives abusing husbands rarely appear in the media, the Welfare Department has been receiving cases of men being mistreated by dominant women every year.
Many of the culprits are women who earn more than their spouses.
The Welfare Department received 25 reports from men who were abused by their wives or girlfriends last year, 32 in 2010 and 14 in 2009.
Most cases were reported in Selangor, followed by the Federal Territory, and the offences included threatening injury, causing physical harm, emotional abuse and locking up the men.
The Department of Women Development received four cases of abused men last year, with financial disagreement being the root of all cases.
In each case, "the wife is more dominant in the family and earns a higher income than the husband," it said in an e-mail.
Women, on the other hand, reported 117 cases of domestic abuse up to June this year, compared to 649 last year and 663 in 2010.
Neuro-psychologist Dr Nivashinie Mohan said that financial stress was the major cause of domestic violence against men.
"Studies have shown that women assault men about as often as men assault women," she said.
"While men tend to cause more damage because they are usually stronger, women can even the odds with weapons such as knives, high heels and sharp nails."
Dr Nivashinie said abused men were reluctant to turn to the authorities for fear of appearing "unmanly".
"Society also teaches men that it's wrong to hit women, so they don't retaliate," she added.
Many of the women who abused men were alcoholic while some could be suffering from certain personality disorders that cause them to be violent towards their partners.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said that some women were breadwinners and abused their husbands for "reckless spending".
He also encountered four cases of wives becoming violent after learning that their spouses had affairs.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Ting Joe Hang said women might look on spouses who earn less as "useless" and as a result, would abuse them.
He said there may be reasons other than money problems.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kie said there was no excuse for domestic violence and advised the victims both women and men to contact the Welfare Department or its 104 district offices nationwide or Talian Nur at 15999.