I was at the pub this afternoon with a couple of friends of mine, both of whom are married: Michelle is married to an unemployed alcoholic, and Emma is married to a guy with borderline personality disorder. Emma is separated from her husband, because he was beating the shit out of her.
So we were sitting there, talking about relationships, and Michelle got onto this riff that she periodically revisits, where she talks about how she doesn't take any shit from her husband, Steve, and if he ever lifted a hand to her she would dump him, blah blah blah. How "there's a line" and how she "just knows" that Steve would never hit her, etc etc. Steve has been up on assault charges twice in the past 3 years; the first time he got off, the second time he got sent down. There was a third incident, but the person he attacked didn't press charges. Steve thinks that violence is the answer to most things - and, what's more, Michelle agrees with him. They both think that if someone says something "insulting" or "disrespectful," it's okay for Steve to hit that person. And yet she claims that he's "not a violent person," and that's how she knows there'll never be any violence in their relationship.
So she carries on in that vein for a while - how honourable he is because he'd never hit a woman - and then she gets all candid and confesses that he is verbally abusive to her, but that "that's different;" she acknowledges the time that he pushed her over and she ended up with massive bruises all over her legs, but argues that it was "a one-off."
The thing that really fucking riles me is that she was sitting there, all smug and patronising, telling Emma that she'd never stick around if Steve hit her, that she'd leave him immediately, because she doesn't take any shit, etc etc. This is complete bollocks, for a number of reasons. He has used physical violence against her, and she justified it and explained it away, as do millions and millions of women, every day: she is no different from anyone else. Furthermore, she takes a LOT of shit from him, constantly - as far as I'm concerned, their entire relationship basically consists of her taking shit from him. She brags about how she's "not a doormat" (because, of course, if your partner hits you and you don't walk out immediately and never look back, it's because you're a doormat) but in fact, there is nothing that Steve could do that would make her leave him. He has never worked, in all the time they've been together - she supports him financially. He also does nothing around the house - she cooks, cleans, does the laundry and the DIY, and takes care of the bills. He has cheated on her; he has slagged her off, viciously, and very publically; he has got involved in hard drugs; he has dumped her; he spends most of his time looking at hard porn online. So, really, for her to say she's not a doormat - the implication being that Emma, because she did stay with her husband for a while after he started hitting her, is a doormat - is a bit fucking rich.
It also really, really fucking annoys me that she thinks you can draw a line between verbal abuse and physical abuse - that they're unrelated. I realise that it's probably very important for her to believe that they're totally different, but I wish she could see how fucking insulting she's being. I wish she would realise that he situation is not unique and special and exempt; and I wish she would acknowledge that if Steve became violent again, leaving would actually be a lot harder than she makes out.