Rescue Dudes Find Shelter in Arms of Less-Intense Women

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  Eli Tucker is a twenty-eight year old man with above-average looks and a good job, but his self-esteem barely registers on the Kinsdorph-Eisenstat Personality Index.  “Eli bears the scars of an abusive relationship,” says Tom Selfkirk, executive director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dudes.  “When we rescued him he’d been starved on white wine, quiche and arugula,” Selfkirk notes with a lump in his throat.  “He’d cringe when he heard the theme song to Grey’s Anatomy.”

“No–anything but that!”


The MSPCD removed him from the apartment in which he was living with Judith Clark, a high-strung and demanding M.B.A. who would criticize his handyman skills and mock his taste in music at social gatherings.  “He was like a whipped dog,” says Tina Shore, the reference librarian who is now Tucker’s caretaker.  “I slowly brought him back to life by feeding him cheeseburgers and pulled pork sliders,” she says with a mixture of pride and affection.  “He’s almost ready to go to a Red Sox game, but we’re going to break him in slowly by starting with soccer.”

“You’re not really going to wear that out to dinner–are you?”


Tucker and men like him are referred to by mental health professionals as “rescue dudes,” human males who have been removed from abusive relationships with overbearing women and gradually nursed back to dude-it-tude under the watchful eyes of professionals, including a female “buddy” typically drawn from the non-profit or healing professions.  “Rescue dudes tend to flinch when they approach a social event because they’ve been criticized on the doorstep so many times for wearing blue jeans, or not wearing blue jeans, or wearing blue jeans with or without a crease in them,” says Selfkirk.  “They suffer from cognitive dissonance, double-bind syndrome, yellow waxy buildup and heartbreak of psoriasis.”

“You’re making progress, but I’m going to keep you on pork rinds until your next visit.”


Modeled after the “rescue dogs” program of the MSPCA that relocates canines mistreated by abusive owners, Rescue Dudes seeks to work the same sort of rehabilitation with men so beaten down by the prejudices of daytime talk shows they can no longer name the original six teams of the NHL.  “In some ways men are just as smart as dogs,” says Eloise Verbeeck who works to place men in more congenial settings after they’ve been removed from abusive situations.  “Not a lot, but some.”

But intensive care coupled with a potent drug cocktail composed of beer, beef jerky and honey-roasted peanuts have provided urologists and bait shops with hope that even the worst cases can be reversed over time.  “Science is inching closer to a cure,” says Dr. Timothy Fabor as he watches a research subject tuck into a heaping bowl of chili from behind a one-way mirror.  “Unfortunately, nobody wants to hold a walk-a-thon for a guy whose idea of high style is a suitcase of Busch Natural Light Beer.”

“Change the channel to ice skating–RIGHT NOW!”


Still, women like Tina Shore say strict adherence to doctors’ orders can produce short-term improvements that can be sustained with the right combination of positive reinforcement and firm discipline, as long as patients don’t seek to progress too quickly.  “Eli!” she says with a scowl that is only half-serious as her new roommate aims the remote control at their TV set.  “You weren’t thinking of switching to basketball–were you?”

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