When a Man Beats a Woman – Book Excerpt

In the aftermath of the public discussion of yet another high-profile incidence of spousal abuse, here is an excerpt from In Through A Coloured Lens

March 16, 2009

When a Man Beats a Woman


A disturbing story of assault involving two young, high-profile entertainers who are romantically involved is only one of countless millions of such acts of violence perpetrated by one supposedly loving companion or family member upon the other. Years after, the assault on photogenic Barbadian pop singer Rhianna by her fresh-faced boyfriend Chris Brown continued to make headlines.

We consider famous and talented persons to be larger than life, so we commonly assign god-like qualities to them. That could explain why this type of brutal but, sadly, everyday assault continues to sustain such an intense level of interest – someone who seems so special caught in the same crisis of violence as untold nameless women and men.

The FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children fact: “Almost 75% of women who leave or stay apart eventually return home to their partners: for the sake of the children (31%); to give the relationship another chance (24%); when their partner promises to change (17%); because of a lack of money or housing (9%).”

Countless couples co-exist in the private hell of domestic violence unnoticed or undetected by the world at large, or even their next-door neighbours. That is, until one of them kills the other – the killer most often being the male partner.

A woman tells a horrendous story that begins with her teeth. She says that almost all her teeth have been knocked out over a lengthy period of time by the man she lived with, and who fathered her five children. They are no longer together, but while they were, he would lock her in their home, imprisoning her, every day as he left to go to work. He would lock her in and take the key. She endured this for years before finding the strength to escape that life. She sought the help of a support agency. No longer a victim, but a survivor, she reflects on her abuser with pity for him.

Statistics Canada fact: “Most multiple-victim homicides and murder-suicides were family-related, and the vast majority of accused persons in these types of incidents were male.”

A young woman whose marriage is failing is discovered by her husband to be having an adulterous relationship. His response is repeated blows to her head. She quietly plans her escape and fearing the worst, she moves to another town.

FREDA Centre fact: “…a large majority of wife killings are precipitated by: a man accusing his partner of sexual infidelity; by her decision to terminate the relationship; and/or by his desire to control her.”

A hairdresser whose childhood was spent in an abusive home becomes involved with a man struggling with alcohol addiction. He assaults her whenever he drinks. Eventually she leaves.

FREDA Centre fact: Women married to or living with heavy drinkers, are five times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than are women who live with non-drinkers. ”

We can be thankful that none of these survivors made the news as homicides.

If one good thing could come out of the very public exposure of Rihanna having been beaten up, battered and bruised so badly, it would be to get both those who abuse and those who are being abused to seek help to confront and repair the dynamics that lead to a relationship of violence.

To the abused person: Your love won’t fix the person abusing you but you can get help for yourself at the Assaulted Women’s Helpline in Toronto (416-863-0511).

To the person who abuses: You must know that trying to control another person’s life through violence is unhealthy, and moreover criminal, behavior. One place to start to get the necessary help to change this behavior is Counterpoint Counselling and Educational Cooperative in Toronto (416-920-0268).


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