Florida (CNN) -- When I met Leo, Paul
and Tom at a domestic violence shelter
here, it was hard to believe the three
men's story: that they were victims
of physical abuse at the hands of
their female partners.
Leo, who is about
6 feet tall and said he weighed more
than 200 pounds at the time of the
abuse, said his girlfriend terrorized
him while he was recovering from a
"She would throw
things, she would absolutely throw
things, one time she did grab my throat
and was screaming in my face,"
Another time, Leo
said, she pulled a knife on him, but
he suspected she was just trying to
Tom said his ex-wife
would fly off the handle without notice.
He said he had to lie when co-workers
noticed scratches on his body, saying
"my hands were so clawed by her,
at work a day later I would be writing
something down, and someone would
say 'Oh, you must have a mean cat,'
I'd say 'Yeah, a mean cat.' What am
I supposed to say?"
Tom's wife was arrested
and pleaded guilty to assault.
Tom said while sitting
in a courtroom during his divorce,
he realized he was a victim of abuse.
"I looked up,
and I see a poster saying 'Are you
a victim of domestic violence?' And
I start reading the questions, and
tears started coming down. I said,
Paul, who works for
a cement company, said his wife would
attack him when he got home from work.
running at me like a wild animal,
both hands and arms swinging, I think
she had her eyes closed half the time,"
According to a police
report, Paul attacked his wife and
threatened to kill her, but he said
that is a lie.
"She came running
up to me with a knife, and I end up
doing six months over it," he
CNN's efforts to
contact Paul's ex-wife were unsuccessful.
All three men said
they were reluctant to call police.
Leo said he thinks in the case of
a dispute, an officer would believe
a woman's story over a man's.
happened or not, if she signs that
affidavit, you're on your way to jail,
you're on your way to jail, no investigation
All three men have
left the women they say abused them.
Mary Thoroman, a
detective with the North Point, Florida,
Police Department, said she is seeing
more male victims of domestic violence
than ever before.
the throwing of objects, a lot of
scratching, a lot of face scratching,
neck scratching, even chest, but objects
being thrown is very, very common,"
After meeting the
three men, I interviewed Darlene Hilker,
a woman who admits to assaulting her
husband. Hilker said she was arrested
after an argument spun out of control,
and "I grabbed my husband's genitals,
that's what I was arrested for."
Hilker was sentenced
to 16 weeks of counseling at the Domestic
Abuse Shelter Homes in Englewood,
The executive director
at DASH, Donna LeClerc, said her group
is dealing with more and more cases
of women abusing their mates, though
Department of Justice statistics show
spousal abuse arrests nationwide have
dropped significantly during the past
"Men have gotten
the point that it's not OK to do those
things, but somehow it's turned around,
and it's OK for women to do those
things," LeClerc said.
Hilker said her anger
would build and build until she couldn't
control it. She also said other woman
are feeling the same frustration,
and are resorting to violence.
"There's a lot
of women with a lot of anger, and
they are letting it go," Hilker
said. "It's not just husbands
beating up wives; women can fly off,