26th October 2015

Domestic Abuse: A double standard

Everybody knows that physical violence is wrong, so why are men hit so much harder when being charged with domestic abuse?

So everybody knows you shouldn’t hit a girl. It’s a lesson engrained into the psyche of every little boy. But what about girls hitting boys? Physical violence should never be encouraged, but there is a stigma surrounding it which effectively condones women abusing men, but not the other way round.

I’ll admit it, I’ve hit a boyfriend in the past, or at least tried to. Blinded by anger we all do things that we later regret. But I never felt like I had to think twice about what my friends and peers would think if they found out. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s a little more taboo.

Kelly Brook, a British model once voted the Sexiest Woman in the World, giggled as she recalled punching her boyfriend in the face, live on a nationally broadcast television show. Such trivialisation of domestic abuse was not received lightly and she was thus given a slap on the wrist for her actions. But when Chris Brown infamously attacked, his then girlfriend, Rihanna in 2009, he faced severe repercussions including a lengthy legal battle and heavy financial losses.

Why is it that men are chastised so much more severely for the same action as women? Arguments include “Surely a woman can’t hurt a man as much as he could hurt her?” and that men should just “know better.” But what if the woman is bigger than her male victim, how then should that case be addressed?

According to the NHS, men were victims of just over a quarter of incidents of domestic violence in the UK in 2010 and those are only the ones that were reported. Domestic abuse isn’t just physical though; emotional abuse, threats and intimidation and sexual abuse also come under this umbrella term. Thus the argument that men are more capable of abuse than women is completely undercut.

There’s no denying that women are equally able to threaten, intimidate, belittle or blame so maybe, just maybe, we as a society should begin to overcome our childhood lessons and view domestic abuse in the same disapproving light, irrespective of gender.

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