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If Your Man Knew What to Say, Here’s What He Might Say If He Knew You Feared His Potential For Violence...

Excerpted from Warren Farrell's Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say.

(Permission to reprint granted by Warren Farrell.)
See www.warrenfarrell.com and www.warrenfarrell.info.


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A Different Reality...

Item. “Michael, 38, a construction worker and amateur rugby player, barricaded himself in a spare bedroom at nights to avoid beatings from his diminutive wife. During a three-year marriage he was stabbed, punched, kicked and pelted with plant pots. Despite his muscular, 15-stone [210 lbs] build, he was frightened to sleep for fear of attack. ‘Nobody would have believed me if I’d told them the constant bruising was from beatings by my wife. I still have the scars from where she tore at my flesh with her fingernails. The screams from my daughter as she witnessed the abuse will haunt me for the rest of my life.'”6

Item. “Paul, 32, a former Royal Marine, said his wife, Claire, an advertising executive, could suddenly become like ‘a ferocious wild cat.’ The slightest thing would set her off. ‘She would pull me to the ground, kick me and pull large clumps of hair out of my head. I never fought back because she was a slightly built, petite woman.'”7

Item. A 42-year-old British police officer, trained in tackling armed criminals (British police don’t carry guns), was twice hospitalized by his 5-foot wife. He didn’t report it. When asked why, he explained, “If I was to go up to my mates on the force and tell them my wife was regularly hitting me over the head and body with anything she could get her hands on, they would crease themselves [die laughing].”8

Notice that all three of these examples are from the London Times. It is rare for equally reputable American papers to run a story in which men’s feelings and experiences about being battered are reported in their own words in such depth. Notice also that the wives are clearly weaker physically, and the men are not the passive, hen-pecked stereotype of a battered man. And note the men’s fear that if they reported this to the authorities, not only would they not be believed, they would be ridiculed (“my mates...would crease themselves”).

The London Times article spoke of the shock experienced by many police officers at the violence meted out by women. As one officer put it, “We have had to review our attitude. Ten years ago it wasn’t thought possible that a woman could beat up a man. Now it’s a regular occurrence.”9 In reality, husband beating may have occurred just as often ten years ago, but the unwillingness to consider it as a possibility may have blinded the officers to the regularity of the occurrence.

American newspapers are just beginning to acknowledge the feelings of some boys who are the victims of violence by a girl, but not the feelings of victims who are men. For example, 15 year old Bobby Papiere explains:

One of my parents’ lines that I just hate is, “Like your sister can hit you hard,” meaning that if my sister hits me, it’s no big deal because she can’t hit hard. But sometimes it is hard. And my parents don’t let me hit her back. So (when they’re not around) she’ll stand there and hit me – and then she’ll say, “I’ll tell if you hit me.” I hate that.

—Bobby Papiere, 15, Houston, TX10

Notice that the boy could have told this story to his parents, but didn’t. Nowhere is the title Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say more relevant than to boys’ and men’s silence about domestic violence.

6 Ian Burrell and Lisa Brinkworth, “Police Alarm over Battered Husbands,” Sunday Times [London], April 24, 1994, pp. 1 & 6.

7 Ibid., p. 6.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid., p. 1. Quote from Inspector Stephen Bloomfield of Kilburn, northwest London.

10 “Sisters Can Hit Hard,” from the Teen page of Parade, September 27, 1998.


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