Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Do you think domestic violence is ever the victim's fault?

Asked by nikipedia (27454points) January 1st, 2012

A well-known blogger recently posted that she should not leave her physically abusive husband, because if she takes responsibility for her own behavior and doesn’t provoke him, maybe he’ll stop hitting her.

She also argues that some domestic violence is ok, and a zero tolerance policy is wrong.

Does anyone agree with her?

I strongly suggest reading the link before answering.

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33 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m sure there are enough times when the trigger of violence warrants a closer look (such as the fact that the victim is also violent towards her spouse or abusive of children, etc.) but in the situation you describe, no…besides even if certain situations are explainable, violence isn’t excusable.

digitalimpression's avatar

I think there’s something mentally wrong with this woman.

Regardless, there is never an excuse for violence in a relationship. She is “enabling” her husband and “enabling” herself.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

That woman “protests too much”. If she was so right, why would she feel the need to defend herself and her “relationship” to strangers so much instead of simply enjoying time with her husband?

It is true that a victim can do things that set the abuser off, but being abused is still not his or her fault. The abuser should know better, especially as he or she is an adult.

I view her as someone who is making excuses, someone who is enabling, and someone who just does not want to get it… because she’s too busy trying to defend her marriage. I view her as someone who lives in a fantasy world.

jazmina88's avatar

No. Maybe she does know how to push buttons, but you should not have to endure a relastionship steppin on eggshells.

Healthy relationships. It is not ok for domestic violence. and she needs help.

Aethelflaed's avatar

There are some cases of mutual abuse that warrant a more nuanced look (but actual mutual abuse, not one partner is instigating violence and the other partner becomes violent in self-defense or defense of children), but none of those were listed in her post. There’s a weird narcissism in thinking that, if you just try hard enough, you can control the entire world. I hope she ends up safe.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I hope she ends up safe, too.

I noticed how she said that the success of her blog is because people like what she has to say. I think it’s more like, it’s successful because she creates controversy….

tranquilsea's avatar

In my mind she is in justification mode.

I came out of a very abusive (at times) childhood where my mother’s rages were completely blamed on us. We were small children doing small children-like things. We did not deserve what we got. It took me most of my teenage years to figure that out. Also, the abuse from my mother mostly stopped when we were teenagers. This was not because she had some sort of epiphany. We all learned what her triggers were and steered way clear of them.

There is a difference between a spouse whacking another spouse in a very intensive, high stress time. Once I can understand if that person had no other priors. If it got to be a repetitive thing though….

Abuse is insidious and the abuser will always externalize onto the abused. They couldn’t be a horrible person therefore you have to be the problem. Seems like this lady has learned that lesson so deeply that she believes it.

cookieman's avatar


I don’t care how much she pushes your buttons, what she says, the names she calls you, how unreasonable, bitchy, or verbally abusive she’s being…you can always walk away.

john65pennington's avatar

I have answered so many domestic violence calls, that I have lost count, many years ago. One case stands out and applies to your question. Provoking one person to strike another is truly happening.

This man and woman, middle age and middle class, had been at it all day with each other. Just before we arrived, the wife hit her husband in the mouth and he was bleeding. She struck the first blow and according to the statuate, she must be arresed. Her husband did everything to avoid his wife being arresed. But, nothing worked…..she had to go.

She was arresed and made bond after four hours.

Her husband stated that he had been intimidating his wife all day long, over washing the dishes. He said some pretty losy words to his wife, that made her so upset, that she hit him in the mouth with her fist. Did he deserve this? Probably. Her husband had a bloody lip

We all know how one person can provoke another person into assaulting them. But, the law states that someone shall be arrested, not can be or may be, but “shall be”. These are direct orders from The Federal Government, in hopes of stopping people from killing each other in domestic violence situations.

Adagio's avatar

I found that blog unbearable… it just goes on and on and on…round and round and round in circles…

augustlan's avatar

Her husband is 100% responsible for his actions, and she is 100% responsible for her own. She may, in fact, be an unbearable person to live with, but the reasonable response to such a person is to leave them, not beat them. I hope they both get the help they clearly need.


Sometimes, yes.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it is ever the victim’s fault, but also I am a little lenient compared to some when it comes to what is domestic violence. For instance, if a spouse is driving the other crazy and the other spouse maybe grabs them in frustration, just a grab of the arm maybe to turn them around, or to stop the other from doing something, then I am not going to call that violence, but some do. I would say any touching in a heated situation is a no no, but as spouses we are usually accustomed to being free to touch each other.

Any swing at the other, open fisted or closed, any kick, any weapon in hand (even if not used, just the simple threat of a weapon) even any breaking of walls or furniture, throwing objects, all of that completely unacceptable to me, I don’t care what the other person said or did, unless it is in self defense, but then at that point who is the victim?

Also, it would depend on the history of the couple. If my husband grabbed me in that way after 20 years of not ever showing any physical violence ever, nor controlling behavior, I would let it go, even if it was upsetting to me. If it becomes, or had been, a pattern I would worry about it, and worry it might escalate.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I agree with @augustlan.

I checked out other things she said, though, and she mentioned that the farmer broke up with her 50 times (I am not even exaggerating) and she seems to like being broken up with and then being wanted back as it makes her feel missed! What the-? Also, it looks like that farmer isn’t even her children’s father in the first place. And it appears that she took her children out of school.

I am relieved that someone who read the blog post where she showed off her bruise called the police. This was confirmed by the blogger as she told that person that the police came to her house (she said she would not press charges, though).

What an unhealthy situation for everyone there! I hope that things get better for them, but I view that as unlikely. She seems to like the publicity her situation is bringing her.

How does this pass as a “Career Blog”?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I read only a portion of the blog. I feel sorry for—- the guy!
They brole up 50 times?!?! And she likes it.?!?!?

The make up sex must be unbelievably great . She is a whack job.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@LuckyGuy It seems so.

At the end of this blog post, she says this: “That’s how the Farmer will be, too. He broke up with me 50 times while we were dating. He loves the feeling of getting rid of me.

That’s why I can’t leave. I want someone to miss me.”

To me, that’s saying she doesn’t want to ever let go of this relationship entirely unless she’s sure he will miss her, so she stays because she’s afraid he won’t miss her. I assume that means she likes going back to him time after time because she likes feeling missed while she’s gone, and if he is willing to take her back, he must have missed her?... That’s how I read that, anyway…

linguaphile's avatar

I knew a girl in college who went through 8 or 9 abusive relationships. What became odd was that none of her former abusers, when they got into new relationships, continued to be abusers. I learned from one of her former roommates that she had a knack for pushing buttons and would push, push, push until the other person snapped then suddenly crumble into the victim role, then did that again and again.

Before I knew her, I never believed the victims were at fault, but most of us are not self aware enough to recognize whether a person is an instigator or a victim. Being with an instigator is like being jabbed in the side with a stiff finger by a smiling person who innocently asks what’s wrong, then when you finally blow, they get all puzzled and hurt, make you feel like shit, then go back to jabbing.

rooeytoo's avatar

An interesting part of this story that has not been discussed and I think is relevant are the kids in the relationship. The problem is that usually kids emulate their parents, parents are gods to young kids and it is almost inevitable that they will grow up feeling, either consciously or subconsciously that the model provided by their parents is the way a relationship should be run. So female children often grow up accepting that sort of behavior from a male because her mother did and a male child becomes a replica of the father. Sometimes it takes a lot of years for these behaviors to appear but they almost always do. Please notice I said almost always! So I would want the children removed from that arena. I think she should take the kids and run, live singlely if she can’t live peacefully with a partner, it is better for the kids to see and accept that as normal.

Yes she could be provoking the abuse, again either purposely or not, but it is not a good way to live for any of them. They should get intense counseling and if they can’t stop then end the relationship.

gq, very interesting question.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ What is interesting about that is that she has described her relationship with her parents, and her father sounds like he physically abused her mother…. so there is definitely a pattern. She blames her mother for the physical abuse her father inflicted upon her as she views her mother as the cause of it. She also says that her parents ended up taking their anger out on her, so that could be why she feels like things are her fault as well. I think somewhere in her blog, she even called being abused like that her comfort zone, unless I misread something.

She appears to have taken her children out of school so that she can “homeschool” them, which sounds pretty dangerous if she plans on leaving that hotel she’s in and going back there.

I know she thinks homeschooling is good and everything and that the school system is really just a babysitting service, but… it doesn’t seem healthy for their only role models to be parents who fight the way she describes…

She even mentioned somewhere that this farmer person abused her in front of her 6-year-old son… and yet, she still excuses his behaviour…

Some of what Penelope Trunk actually wrote in this blog post on September 27th, 2011: “Okay. So fast forward to my marriage now, to the Farmer. The odds are that I would be with a man who treats me like my dad did, right? So it should not surprise you that the Farmer pushed me so hard that I fell on the floor. In front of my six-year-old son.”

InkyAnn's avatar

If you ask my ex he would say yes and agree with her haha. ah its good to be able to laugh about it now

SuperMouse's avatar

This abuser has his wife exactly where he wants her. He has her believing that his lack of control is her fault. Now he and the entire world know this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I grew up in an abusive home. I believed until I was in my early 20’s that the only reason I was ever hit was because I deserved it because try as I might to keep my mouth shut and not provoke my father, I could not do it. I didn’t deserve it, no one does. Period.

Penelope Trunk putting her money where her mouth is and taking responsibility for her role in this situation, looks like Penelope Trunk leaving this relationship. She makes the compelling argument that telling a woman it is not her fault makes her powerless in her situation. Ok, Penelope if it is what you need to hear: it is your fault. It is all your fault. Now own up to it and do something about it – leave. Penelope is much more fortunate than her own children and much more fortunate then a younger version of herself, Penelope has the ability to get out of this situation. Her kids are forced to do whatever she decides, just as she was at the mercy of her parents. Leaving seems to me to be a much better choice then blogging about why it is not only ok, but 100% appropriate for her to stay.

bkcunningham's avatar

From her hotel room blog where she was staying after her husband hurt her she wrote about the violence in her own family growing up. She was taken out of the home when she was 14. What she says about this is very sad and very telling of her abused mind:

“But I kept wanting to go back. I kept thinking that I’d be better and they’d like me better.
My parents were banned from family therapy because of poor behavior. The final blow to their time in family therapy was when they said the family is much better with me in the mental ward.

“So I did therapy alone, and after a while I got that feeling again: That maybe now I would be the type of person my parents liked and we could all get along.

“I lasted one day at my parents house before there was violence.

“I tell you this to tell you where my comfort zone is. Right there.”

marinelife's avatar

The decision to employ physical violence is the abuser’s alone.

It is a poor response to whatever stimuli (and the list of stimuli or “wrong” things the abused does is never-ending and ever-changing)/.

There is no excuse for hitting someone or hurting them, ever.

JLeslie's avatar

So I thought about this more, and the blogger is kind of saying some people create the abusive situation. When I say create, I don’t mean a person ever deserves to be physically abused, but what I mean is the person who grows up in ths environment recreates it in her (I’ll use her, but men get abused also) adult life because it feels normal. So, she seeks and is attracted to men who are going to react with violence. It’s almost like she does not want it to get better, nor for him to control his anger. I mean on a subconcious level maybe she is fulfilling her need to make this behavior ok. That her childhood, her father, was not horrible, it was “normal.” Some sort of cognitive dissonance at play maybe.

Plus, her example is an out of control mother, so she grew up to be an out of control woman with anger issues herself. This is the other aspect of the parent child aspect, the parents not only model the violence, and tolerating the violence, but even if one of the parents is not physically violent, if they are the type of person to push buttons and instigate confrontations through anger, the children learn that behavior too. See, if he stays completely calm while she acts totally out of control, angry, and nuts, then she is the horrible person, but once he hits her, she is ok. People wrote it over and over here. Once he lifts his fist or pushes her into a wall, nothing she did was bad enough to warrant that. So now, she does not have to address her own behavior in her mind maybe? She is the victim.

Everyone needs therapy.

I do know people who grow up in violence and know they will never be like that, and aren’t. They see their parents as completely dysfunctional and find their way to a more sane, calm existence, and I don’t mean they all need therapy always to do it. Bit, if the person think abuse is ok, then I think probably they do need therapy.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie I have been reading many of the train-wrecks this woman calls blogs and I think you are right. I think she has to get things to be as they were in her childhood in order for her to feel normal and ok. In that way she is absolutely responsible for bringing this upon herself. She is incredibly dysfunctional and in need of some serious therapy to recover.

As a person who grew up with violence, I don’t tend to think of my father as dysfunctional. I tend to think of him as lacking self-control. One of the reasons I do not and never will hit my children is because I know that when I have reached a point where I want to hit them, I am out of control. I do not ever want my kids to suffer because I am lacking self-control. It took lots of therapy for me to understand that violence and lashing out are not ok.I am thankful I experienced that therapy prior to having children. These lady seems hell bent on holding onto the belief that everything is really all her fault. For some reason it seems easier for her to take the blame then to accept that she does not have to be abused.

bkcunningham's avatar

Is this blogger the person who Tweeted while miscarrying a baby at work while she was waiting on some technicality with her insurance to clear up so she could have an abortion?

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse It might just be semantics using dysfunctional or losing control. My family certainly had some dysfunction, I think most do. But, it just wasn’t the physically violent type of dysfunction. I don’t have children, so I cannot speak to getting to the point of wanting to hit them, I can fully understand what it is probably like to get so frustrated, annoyed and fed up with children though. I just think hitting is not part of my make-up? I don’t know. I can see physically moving or restraining a child if they are being completely obstenant, but hitting, I don’t think it would occur to me, but as I said I have never really been in the situation. In regards to me spouse, it also just does not occur to me. I cannot imagine my husband hitting me. I did date a guy who showed signs of being physically abusive, and I just could not believe it. I actually tolerated it a few months (I won’t bore you with the story here) but looking back I can’t believe what he did. When I think about him, he is like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum in my mind.

Did your father drink or use drugs regularly? This particular boyfriend I speak of smoked pot practically daily. It seems to me a lot of abusers are alcoholics. But, I am sure there are many people without addictions whp are physically violent. I just find it interesting because on a Q a few months ago a recovering alcoholic said people get stunted mentally at the age they begin drinking. So if they start in their teens, they never move completely through adolesence I guess? I found it interesting. Anyway, people are so complex, there is not way to sum up or psychonalize someone based on generalizations.

SuperMouse's avatar

@JLeslie yes, my father drank and of course his behavior was worse when he did. I do think it is impossible to psychoanalyze anyone based on generalizations, however I also think it is easy to see raging dysfunction and in the case of Penelope Trunk, that is what I see.

@bkcunningham this does seem to be the same blogger. Here is some information from

JLeslie's avatar

@SuperMouse Thanks. I’m sure it is a difficult topic for you discuss, I appreciate your reply.

tranquilsea's avatar

Victims of abuse can re-create their abusive environments because that is what they are used to. My sister is a prime example of that. She was the trigger out of all of us. We would all watch my mom’s frustrations, anxiety and anger reach dangerous levels. Most of us would leave or find our “safe” place to go to. She couldn’t handle it and she would deliberately antagonize my mom until she did explode. She still does that to people and she has a rotten reputation because of it.

I was the fixer. I would try to calm my mom down before and after an explosion.

The thing is that those strategies we learned as children were appropriate for the circumstances we were in then. Some of them are not appropriate for adulthood. We have the power to realize the mal-adaptive coping techniques and work at changing them.

bob_'s avatar

If she’s okay with getting slapped around every now and then, that’s her choice. I don’t believe the victim is ever at fault, but she is knowingly and willingly putting herself at increased risk. I’m not able to understand her.

bob_'s avatar

I really, really like her writing style, though.

rooeytoo's avatar

@bob_ – read what @tranquilsea said then you will be able to understand the why.

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