Domestic Abuse

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Domestic abuse, defined as physical or emotional abuse between members of a romantic relationship, is a recurring comedy trope throughout history. Why this is so is somewhat understandable- after all, physical and verbal abuse between characters is funny, and characters often find themselves in romantic relationships. Ergo, domestic abuse can be funny. Lately, however, the Unfortunate Implications of Domestic Abuse have gotten more attention, at least for one side of the equation, male on female Domestic Abuse.

In modern times male-on-female domestic abuse is most often used as the impetus for more dramatic plot developments, such as a wife having to face the fear of domestic violence and gain the courage to leave her marriage. In these cases a Dude, Not Funny may be uttered if someone tries to make light of the situation. Woman-on-man domestic abuse is still almost always played for laughs.

Compare Abusive Parents. Also see The Bluebeard and Black Widow. The Domestic Abuser engages in this, as you can tell by the name alone.

See also Values Dissonance and Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male).

Examples of Domestic Abuse include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Example with the Double Standard: in a commercial for a certain mattress company, a wife gets fed up with her husband's constant tossing and turning, and clubs him unconscious with a frying pan. This is supposed to be funny.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Pretty much every anime with a Tsundere female lead. I beat you because I love you.
  • In the English dub of the anime Crayon Shin-chan, Penny Milfer's father is portrayed as physically abusive toward his daughter and his wife. Apparently the abuse is so bad that it drove Penny's mother to hatch a (failed) plan to escape and live the rest of her life as a prostitute. The abuse is presented as the reason Penny and her mother are so aggressive and express their anger by punching stuffed bunnies, and it's also played entirely for laughs. In the original Japanese version of the anime, Nene's (Penny) father isn't abusive at all, and is merely a workaholic businessman. In the Japanese version, Nene and her mother beat up their stuffed animals simply because they have hereditary anger management problems, rather than it being a result of abuse. The dub also purposely skipped over episodes that Nene's father appeared in for the dub to retain the dub consistency, save for one where they censored his appearance. FUNimation also added Dead Baby Comedy in making references to Penny having a little sister who "lives in the lake".
    • In one episode where the family is staying in an apartment, they hear a male and female voice yelling at each other and then the woman screaming. Convinced that the woman is being beaten by her boyfriend/husband, Hiro breaks down the door to stop what's going on, only to find out that it's a crossdressing actor.
  • Genma Saotome, of Ranma ½, once used a "martial arts move" based off of Flipping the Table. Not only did he use it against his own wife, the Hot Shonen Mom Nodoka Saotome, he did it in order to get his hands on a medal worth 20 yen. For added measure, the technique's name is "Angry Dad Attack/Wrath of the Father". Then again, this is the same guy who was outright horrified to find his son's skills as a martial artist had progressed to the point where he could no longer beat his son up and steal his food, the way he did when his son was a little boy... and who reacted by practically disowning said son. So is it really any surprise?
    • An arc had Ranma attempting to get Ukyo to break their suddenly more serious engagement by practicing this — flipping tables on her, feigning drunkenness and claiming he was having an affair. All of it backfires.
  • Why not just say anyone in a Takahashi Couple? Speaking of the woman, is there any of her comedy works that doesn't include the female Tsundere beating the male Jerk with a Heart of Gold? I'm not including some of her more serious or darker works.
    • RIN-NE is probably the only one that's not one of her darker world. It might be that she's tired of it, actually.
    • Not between the main couple, but The Mermaid Saga has a pair of siblings who are the children of a wealthy family. The son is a complete sociopath who is only protected because of the love of his sister. He shows his gratitude by emotionally and implicitly physically attacking her, as well as poisoning her fiance so she won't leave and stop protecting him. After they both "die" from eating mermaid flesh, he continues to abuse her, stealing an eye from her unrotting corpse and then cutting off the head so she'll stop "haunting" him. He also picks up the charming habit of dating girls that look like his sister, only to murder them.
  • Zero no Tsukaima takes this to great lengths on account of the series being a Deconstruction of relationships with a Tsundere and Belligerent Sexual Tension. Louise regularly abuses Saito for being a pervert or insulting her bust size or hitting any number of her other Berserk Buttons. Saito, on the other hand, abuses Louise both verbally and emotionally through insensitivity and frequently jumping up and down on her Berserk Buttons despite knowing that said buttons exist and are a major sore point for Louise's self-esteem.
    • Disturbingly, Saito fans seem to selectively ignore major gaffs on Saito's part in favor of ragging on Louise for reacting to them with equal abuse. For example, it is frequently noted how Louise upgrades to beating Saito with a real whip in the second Light Novel rather than her usual riding crop; less often is it mentioned that this was provoked by Saito trying to undress Louise in her sleep.
  • Yaoi anime Kizuna plays this for laughs. The extremely jealous Uke (Ranmaru) punches his boyfriend and Seme (Kei) so that he flies across the room, yet no one thinks twice about it.
  • Loveless plays this heartbreakingly straight.
  • Nodame Cantabile has a notable example of a male-on-female variant played for laughs in exactly the same way as the above female-on-male examples. Male Tsundere Chiaki often resorts to physical violence when Nodame does things that end up annoying him in the manner of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine. Nodame even admits to playing up the Boke And Tsukkomi Routine simply because Chiaki's such a perfect Straight Man.
  • In Fruits Basket, Akito is a one person domestic abuse factory- including slapping Kureno for going outside without Akito's permission.
    • Akito also has the reputation of physically or even emotionally abusing everyone else in the Sohma family, to the point where some were permanently injured. Even worse than slapping Kureno for going outside without permission, Akito follows through on seriously injuring any Sohma girls that any Sohma boys like, pulling off double the abuse (the girls are physically injured, and the boys are unable to comfort them for fear it will make Akito even angrier and step up the abuse). And that's without the fact that every member of the Zodiac sees Akito as God, adding extra dimensions of emotional and mental abuse to every interaction.
    • Before that, we see that Akito's mother emotionally blackmailed her husband into agreeing to raise Akito as a boy, threatening to abort their child if he didn't agree. She later went on to emotionally abuse the heck out of Akito, which is where Akito picked it up from.
    • Kagura regularly beats the shit out of Kyo. The manga-ka of the series lampshades it by saying that Kagura hits Kyo "because she loves him". Um...
  • Chrono Crusade has a Running Gag of Rosette hitting Chrono when she's frustrated—at one point kicking him so hard he falls to the ground in a pool of his own blood! Of course, it helps that Chrono is actually a demon with enough strength that he could probably bench press her even in his sealed form, and even if she caused any serious damage, he could heal.
    • And since his powers are fueled by her soul, any non-lethal damage inflicted on him ultimately ends up doing more harm to her.
  • The second season of Princess Tutu has Rue suffering from emotional and, later, physical abuse from Mytho. Played very dark and serious, to show how much the Raven's blood is twisting his personality.
    • The first season also has Fakir treating Mytho roughly, including one point where he slaps Mytho for defying an order. Not played quite as seriously as the above example, but still portrayed as pretty shocking to the people that witness it. Later when Mytho frames Fakir for trying to kill him under the influence of Raven's blood, most of the class has an easy time believing it thanks to witnessing the previous moments of abuse.
  • Happens in the first chapter of Oyasumi Punpun.
  • This is the reason the Brunette has her husband killed in Gunjo.
  • Narusegawa Naru from Love Hina, full stop, to the point where she is flanderized in the anime as this. Kanako is the only one who manages to retaliate against her, and only once. After that, it's back to punting Keitaro into the horizon.
  • Domestic abuse is part of Minai's backstory on Corpse Princess. One night after being beat by her boyfriend she snaps and kills him and then commits suicide, only to come back as a shikabane.
  • Hermann Preminger, the main villain of Ashita no Nadja, occasionally beats his wife whenever her son from her previous marriage isn't around to defend her.
  • The way Chi Chi fights (sometimes physically) with with a completely submissive Goku in pretty much every scene they're in together, often over their son could constitute abuse, but it's mostly Played for Laughs. The irony is that Goku could kill Chi Chi just by looking at her, but he's too nice to ever do so (intentionally).
    • Goku's durability is just as great as his strength, so Chi Chi is literally incapable of harming him even if she wanted to. It could be that her actions are just the only way to get his attention.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Andy Capp used to qualify. In one of Britain's longest-running newspaper comics, things are getting steadily better. Andy Capp used to give Flo black eyes on a regular basis. Later, she was more and more often shown winning the fights, sending Andy tumbling out of the house and into the gutter. In fact, Andy looked like he was becoming an abused husband for a while. Now, however, they almost never resort to violence and attend marriage guidance meetings. He's stopped smoking, too.
  • The newspaper comic Bringing Up Father used to own this trope, at least until the sixties. Jiggs' wife Maggie was notoriously violent, and her rolling pin became a trademark of the comic.
  • The Lockhorns is an American strip that thinks a hateful marriage is comedy. While it has never featured physical abuse, some of the hurtful remarks the two of them make about each other borders on psychological abuse.
  • Ultimate Hank Pym is terribly abusive to his wife. This is a carry over of the original Pym's defining moment of slapping his wife one time in the middle of a nervous breakdown induced by a supervillain.
    • Leading to a very satisfying moment when Captain America beat the crap out of him while he was 10 stories high.
  • This plays into the very first Superman comic, where Clark Kent somehow gets involved in a domestic abuse case, leading to Superman intervening with the line, "YOU'RE NOT FIGHTING A WOMAN ANYMORE!"
  • In Batman, seeing a man beat his wife or girlfriend is a major Berserk Button for Jason Todd. He once killed a man for beating his girlfriend so badly that it caused her to commit suicide - the boyfriend got away scot-free because he was the son of a diplomat, and this drove Jason to take matters into his own hands.
    • Speaking of Batman, there is also the flagship couple, The Joker and Harleen Quinzel. Though their relationship originated in the animated series, the comics have not been holding back on expanding their relationship as much as possible... In fact, their relationship is so well developed, it's a wonder Harl is still as physically sound as she is.
  • Often Played for Laughs in the stories by Wilhelm Busch.
  • In Runaways, during a time-traveling expedition to the 1800s, Karoline and Molly meet a sweet little girl named Klara Praust. When they see Klara fighting with an older man and later appear with bruises on her face, they assume that her father beats her. Turns out they're half right. The man beats her, but he's her husband, not her father.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • Luminosity deconstructs the mate bond in Twilight, ending up with this. Vampires assume their mates love them back—that's how the magic works. The mate bonds, however, do not work on half-vampires, and since they're not human, they can't be turned into vampires to make the bond mutual. Enter Demitri, who is mated with Allirea, who hates him. Her power is hiding, but his power is finding things. Cue repeated kidnapping.
  • Sam Puckett can have a relationship with Freddie like this. Weirdly, this can be done for Sam/Freddie and Carly/Freddie, with the latter generally being a Hurt/Comfort Fic whilst the former generally has Sam trying to overcome her Freudian Excuse.
  • This is usually trotted out in fanfiction as a convenient Die for Our Ship strategy. For example, Hermione can leave Ron because of course he's an abusive nutjob!


Films[edit | hide]

  • Stu's girlfriend in The Hangover is known to have physically beaten him at least once and emotional abuse seems to be ongoing. The other characters treat it much more lightly than they would a man beating a woman, the source of friendly "ribbing" instead of serious discussion, but they do at least make it clear that this is neither right nor normal and vehemently urge Stu to get out of the relationship. His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his girlfriend later becomes his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Morgan's husband Rex in Saw IV is revealed to have beaten both her and their daughter for years.
  • In The Notebook, a scene takes place where a woman repeatedly shoves and hits a man.
  • The Lifetime movie "Men Don't Tell" features a woman who was abused as a child committing Domestic Abuse against her husband. This is most definitely not Played for Laughs and no one believes him for most of the movie.
  • The Burning Bed, starring the late Farrah Fawcett, tells the true story of Francine Hughes, who killed her husband Mickey Hughes to escape 13 years of domestic abuse.
  • In The Other Guys he never gets physical, but Allen Gamble (one of the heroes) is emotionally abusive to his wife to a rather disturbing extent, vigorously and repeatedly insulting her physical appearance, sense of style, cooking ability and calling her an adulterer and whore when she reveals that she is pregnant. This occurs both in private and in the presence of others. He later explains that he does this all because he fears that, if she ever realizes how truly beautiful she is, she will leave him; this makes things worse, since it shows that he is aware that his actions are wrong and is deliberately traumatizing his wife for his own ends. It is not Played for Laughs, it does not set up an Aesop, it is just...awful.
  • In Boondock Saints, the brothers get in trouble with a Straw Feminist, who loudly complains that their use of the term "Rule of Thumb" is sexist as it supposedly referred to the width of a stick a man could use to beat his wife.
  • Jenna's husband from Waitress is a particularly nasty version. It's almost purely emotional, though he does finally hit her when she tries to leave for the pie-baking contest in another state. All the damage is done through emotional putdowns, misogynistic remarks and a general ignorance of anything regarding her feelings, thoughts, or desires. The film does an excellent job portraying how difficult it is to extract oneself out of this sort of situation, without being Anvilicious.
  • Edgar, before he is killed and taken over by the Bug in Men in Black is shown to be emotionally abusive towards Beatrice in his first scene, where he acts as though the meal she prepared for him was poison (and yet barks at her to not take the food away as he's eating it), and also claims her to possibly want to poison him as she skulks away like a dog who was either hit too much or hit too little (he doesn't know or care which it is), states that she's so useless that the only thing that could carry its weight around is his pickup truck (which is promptly totaled by the Bug's spaceship), and finally, when questioned by Beatrice about what just crashed into his truck, he angrily tells her to get "her big butt" back in the house. Going by some statements he made, he might also be physically abusive towards his wife as well.
  • Chris in The Woman regularly slaps his wife around whenever she speaks out of line. His abuse of his wife is interplayed with his abuse of the feral woman that he captures.
  • Ray Winston's character in Nil By Mouth.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Sybil Jester's husband in Fiona Buckley's Queen of Ambition. Thanks to Deliberate Values Dissonance (it is the late sixteenth century, after all), Sybil (who ran away and got work as a companion) is sacked when her employer finds out that she ran away from her husband.
  • Daisy's husband Tom in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
  • Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Alfred beats Aliena, crossing the Moral Event Horizon in the process.
  • In Kerry Greenwood's Death Before Wicket, Dolly Hart was frequently beaten up by her husband and sometimes put out on the street after a fight. The last time that happened, she left him and became a prostitute. She says that she didn't have to do anything for the money that he hadn't done to her, and by force.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern: In the first novel, Dragonflight, F'lar and Lessa are effectively in an Arranged Marriage once their dragons pair off; their first sexual encounter, triggered by the dragons, was rougher than it should have been as a result. (F'lar, not being stupid, realized that this had driven a wedge between them but couldn't fix it.) He shakes her very hard sometimes when she frightens him.
  • John D. MacDonald's Travis Mc Gee encountered this more than once.
    • Bright Orange for the Shroud: Arthur Wilkinson's wife married him as part of an elaborate scam to defraud him of all his money; she helped her partners in the scam by verbal abuse combined with the Lysistrata Gambit in order to push him into the investments they wanted him to make.
    • Darker Than Amber: Immediately prior to the opening of the story, McGee had been helping a woman get back on her feet after escaping from an emotionally (though not physically) abusive marriage.
    • The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper: That the local doctor suffered terrible verbal abuse for many years in his marriage, and was being blackmailed because he had murdered her.
  • The marriage of King Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire is a particularly hellish and complicated case. Robert overthrew the previous dynasty when its crown prince, Rhaegar, kidnapped (or perhaps secretly eloped with) his beloved fiancee Lyanna. Meanwhile, Cersei had her heart set on Rhaegar. Robert killed Rhaegar in battle and won the crown, but Lyanna died during the war. To ensure the loyalty of her powerful noble family, Robert married Cersei. As you might expect, the marriage of two strangers, one of whom is mourning his true love while the other is resentful of both the fact that her new husband killed her crush and that she had no say in the marriage doesn't go well. When the books start about 15 years into their marriage, they're both regularly cheating on the other, Cersei is a sociopath who verbally abuses Robert at every turn and threatens the lives of his bastard children, and Boisterous Bruiser Robert doesn't know any way to respond to Cersei except by either drinking himself unconscious or hitting her. (Robert fully admits that being physically abusive isn't right, but honestly has no clue on other ways to deal with Cersei).
  • In Stephen King's novel Dolores Claiborne, the title character is physically abused by her husband. She first accepts this, because she grew up in a rural community in the '30s, when this was socially acceptable, but eventually decides to stand up to him, and eventually kills him when she learns that he's trying to make moves on their eldest daughter.
    • Another novel by King, Rose Madder, deals with the protagonist, Rosie, escaping from her abusive husband, Norman, who brutally beat her many times, including when she was pregnant, causing her to miscarry.
    • Carrie, also by Stephen King. It's implied that one reason Carrie's mother is so messed up is because her husband abused and raped her.
    • The Chick from the Losers Club in IT has to get away from a husband who beats her so regularly that he has a belt reserved for it.
    • The novel Insomnia also had domestic abuse play a part, although this time it's at least partially due to the fact that malignant spiritual forces have driven the husband insane so they can use him as a tool to kill a young boy with an important role to play later in life.
  • Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners has a number of catchphrases which were literal and unequivocal threats of violence against his wife.
  • Dempsy towards Brina in Zane's "Addicted."
  • A short story dealt with a man who was a painter and was married to a woman who constantly verbally abused him, constantly belittling and insulting him. It ends with it being revealed that he has the power to trap anything he paints into the painting - and he has begun to paint his wife's picture.
  • In Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London (known as Midnight Riot in the US, getting a warrant for a ghost who murdered his wife and child is complicated by the ghostly magistrate asking whether the woman was a shrew, because no man hits his wife without reason. The quick-thinking narrator tells him that she was a terrible shrew but the baby was innocent, which gets the warrant.
  • In the O. Henry story A Harlem Tragedy, Mrs. Cassidy makes light of her husband's sporadic abuse because she knows he'll spend the rest of the week trying to make up for it. In a case of Values Dissonance, this actually makes her friend jealous.
    • In Real Life, using the other partner's physical violence as a means of manipulation is unfortunately not unknown. One woman observed later that her part in her abusive marriage was a sick power game.
  • In The Red Tent, Laban beats the ever-living crap out of his second wife, Ruti. It gets so bad that she eventually kills herself.
  • The best Ekaterin from Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold can say about her husband is "he never beat me". His behavior—including belittling her constantly, turning anything she says that can possibly be interpreted as criticism into an attack on her by calling her "selfish", and wall-punching tantrums—is severe emotional abuse.
  • The film version of Revenge of the Sith has Anakin, at the end, choking his wife, though he'd been solicitous to her before. In the Novelization by Matt Stover, it has buildup. Throughout the novel, they're happy to see each other and in love... but when they first meet and Padme tries to tell him she's pregnant, he instantly assumes she has a lover and grabs her hard enough to hurt her. Over the course of the novel she repeatedly tells him he's scaring her, and this starts mattering to him less and less. He even once looks down at her and thinks that he likes it when she's afraid. Any time she talks about the war or the Senate, he turns on her - doesn't she understand that she should only talk about them and the baby? - and he starts to resent her job and all that time she spends at it away from him, maybe traitorous time. For her part, Padme is largely in denial over this side of him, but realizes at one point that there is one Jedi she does trust... and it's not him. The realization horrifies her, at least in part because if Anakin knew, he wouldn't be happy with her.
  • Beatrice from Purple Hibiscus loses at least two children because her husband beats her. Eventually, she's driven to murder.
  • 99.9% of Edward and Jacob's actions (especially Edward's) in Twilight blatantly fit the criteria for domestic abuse. Try sitting with the list of "red flags" while reading the books. It's frightening. And it's played as romantic. Unfortunate Implications abound.
    • Of course, Bella gets her own turn in Eclipse and the first part of Breaking Dawn, when she repeatedly tries to force Edward to have sex with her, even though he states repeatedly that he doesn't want to. At one point, she actually tries to rip off his shirt, which would be seen as horrifying if a man did it to a woman, but is Played for Laughs in that scene.
  • Similarly to Twilight, Patch's interactions with Nora in Hush, Hush are almost directly lifted from the Abuser's Handbook. He stalks her, he mocks her, he enjoys making her uncomfortable, he humiliates her in front of her entire Biology class, he repeatedly forces her to engage in activities she's not comfortable doing (riding a wild roller coaster, accepting a lift on his motorcycle, etc), corners her in dark, abandoned places, tells her things like "A guy like me could take advantage of a girl like you", lures her into a motel room, pins her on a bed and kisses her while she screams in protest, etc. We later find out that he had every intention of murdering her at several points in the story. None of this is portrayed as less than romantic.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the woodpeckers.

the woodpecker had dressed his suit in finest style, and with dulcet tones and melting tenderness had gone acourting. Sweet as the dove's had been his wooing, and one more pang the lonely Cardinal had suffered at being forced to witness his felicity; yet scarcely had his plump, amiable little mate consented to his caresses and approved the sycamore, before he turned on her, pecked her severely, and pulled a tuft of plumage from her breast. There was not the least excuse for this tyrannical action; and the sight filled the Cardinal with rage. He fully expected to see Madam Woodpecker divorce herself and flee her new home, and he most earnestly hoped that she would; but she did no such thing. She meekly flattened her feathers, hurried work in a lively manner, and tried in every way to anticipate and avert her mate's displeasure. Under this treatment he grew more abusive, and now Madam Woodpecker dodged every time she came within his reach

  • Sherlock Holmes prefers the city to the countryside because this is more easily revealed.

There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.

  • Storm Front: Harry's client turns out to be a victim.
  • In the first Diana Tregarde novel, there's a scene where a patrol cop is telling the waitress at a diner (Who volunteers at a domestic abuse support group) about recent domestic violence cases he's responded to so that she can contact the victims and get them help before things get out of hand.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In a mild subversion, the CSI episode "Down the Drain" suggested that the mother of the house was thoroughly cowed not only by her domineering husband, but by her teenage son as well, to the point where she helped the son attempt to conceal murder evidence.
  • Season 2 of 24 had one of these. The husband was actually fairly psychotic, and ended up killing the wife.
  • Once shown as a problem even good coppers are prone to in Z Cars.
  • Depending on if you pick up the Ho Yay in Xena: Warrior Princess, the infamous Gab Drag scene at the start of the Bitter Suite.
  • Several Twilight Zone episodes involved verbally abusive wives. Usually, they get what they deserve.
    • The reboot gives us an episode where a man is physically and emotionally abusive to his wife and son. The son tries to solve the problem by wishing a hero from his favorite comic into existence. It doesn't work, as the father beats the hero unconscious. The father is "defeated" when he goes to attack the kid and the mother, finally at her breaking point, attacks him from behind.
  • The Master in Doctor Who. Series 3 saw him masquerading as the human "Mr. Saxon" and taking a human trophy wife. His abusiveness toward her came back to bite him.
    • Eddie Connolly in "The Idiot's Lantern" verbally abuses his wife and son.
  • On Drive, Wendy Patrakas enters the race so she can use the prize money to escape her abusive husband.
  • Jordan and Perry Cox on Scrubs - we've seen her Groin Attack him, heard she broke his jaw, and seen her slap him multiple times. It's assumed to be mutual, though we've never seen him actively attack her, just be a bit rough to her. Unusually, they still have a relatively stable and loving relationship and seem to positively enjoy physically and verbally attacking each other.
    • In one episode she even mentions a vague desire to stick a knife into him while he's sleeping to see how far she can go before he wakes up. Later in that episode, she nonchalantly asks if he ever figured out how he received a wound on his arm (which was bandaged).
  • Occasionally happens on This Is Wonderland. One episode had the twist that the woman (who had psychological problems and was entirely reliant on her husband) really did start it, but he got punished anyway.
    • Another episode had a crazy guy who made regular death threats against his wife, whom he suspected of cheating on him with his boss. He wasn't treated anywhere near so sympathetically.
  • The Honeymooners got laughs out of Ralph's empty threats to his wife: "One of these days, Alice. Pow! Right in the kisser!" These were comedic because Alice (and the viewer) knew he was just blustering and would never follow through - he was actually shown to be afraid of Alice's wrath.
  • Presidential sitcom satire That's My Bush! references the above Honeymooners line, with President Bush's catchphrase: "One of these days, Laura, I'm gonna punch you in the face!" This is said in unison with an excited studio audience.
  • In the UK television series Blue Murder, the episodes Private Sins (Parts One and Two) show a woman who is violently abusive to her husband, and in one case, poured battery acid on her ex-husband while he was sleeping.
  • In an episode of 55 Degrees North there was a man who, during a fight with his abusive wife, defended himself by stabbing her (not to death, though). If I remember correctly, the man in question asked to be arrested. He wanted to prove his manliness by having people think he was a jerk who abused his wife, because he was embarrassed that it was the other way around.
  • Hollyoaks has two domestic abuse plotlines involving Ste- the first with him abusing Amy, and the second with him as the victim at the hands of Brandon.
  • Ricky Ricardo repeatedly turned Lucy over his knee and spanked her like a child after a particularly harebrained scheme. May count as Values Dissonance to modern audiences since at the time it was meant to be seen as funny.
  • On The Walking Dead, Ed refuses to allow a little thing like the Zombie Apocalypse stop him from being a world-class wife-beating asshole. As is typical of the genre, he quickly becomes an Asshole Victim. Twice.
  • Law and Order had a unique variant in "Pride and Joy": an honors student son who verbally and physically abuses his superintendent father for not being successful enough compared to the parents of his peer group. This eventually results in the father's murder, and the mother is so cowed by her son that she helps provide an alibi.
  • Although never specifically described as such, perhaps due to the genders involved, Niles's wife Maris from Frasier had a laundry list of actions proving her to be a vicious, controlling, manipulative, obsessive, and inflicted emotional and psychological (and occasionally physical) abuse on her husband on a regular basis. She also progressed to financial abuse during the couple's messy divorce, bankrupting Niles purely out of spite despite initially getting a handsome settlement, though this changes when Nile's divorce lawyer found out that her family's fortune was made through urine cakes, and not lumber as she had told everyone.
    • This series is notorious for its interesting subversion of the Double Standard Abuse trope, with Frasier and Martin expressing how unacceptable her behavior is to Niles and encouraging him to stand up to her. When they finally divorce, everyone is gleeful about it.
  • Roseanne: Roseanne's sister, Jackie, was frequently involved in unstable, unhappy relationships, and the one fitting this trope involves a man named Fisher, who was her boyfriend during the 1992-1993 season; Darlene accidentally walks in on a nude Jackie in the bathroom and notices bruises.
  • iCarly: Sam and Freddie enter a relationship in Season 5, and in iCan't Take It we find out that Sam is still hitting Freddie. Carly says that it's sweet that Sam doesn't hit him in the face any more. She also tells them after several episodes of non-stop fighting that essentially subverts the Belligerent Sexual Tension angle the shippers generally go for between the two, she tells them that if they can't quit fighting then something's wrong and they shouldn't be in a relationship at all.
  • In the show Las Vegas, one episode's B-plot dealt with a man who was in the Montecito to have an affair. When his wife came looking for him, desperately wanting to find him, the characters help arrange a meeting and peaceful resolution. But then he comes down with bruises on him from her hurting him. He tells them how he, fearful of someone hurting her, encouraged her to take martial arts. So now a 5' tall woman can easily handle her 6' husband. After talking with some of the characters again, the guy decides to resolve the problem with his wife. He tied her up in their room and left his ring with the main characters to give to her, while he drives away happy and free.
  • In Person of Interest, Reese's ex-girlfriend Jessica was accidentally killed by her abusive husband. Since then, whenever he encounters spousal abuse, he makes a point of showing the abuser what a real monster looks like.


Music[edit | hide]

  • "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks. Combined with a CMA-award winning video that graphically depicted a man slapping around his wife when he arrives home, she having suspected him of having an affair.
  • Martina McBride had two songs addressing the topic, one involving adults and the other a young girl:
    • "Independence Day," with frank lyrics told through the eyes of a young girl who witnesses the frequent – and accelerating – abuse.
    • "Concrete Angel," where an omniscient observer feels sympathy for a little girl whose mother had killed her. (The video shows a little boy communicating with the hapless little girl at a window, similar to the teen-aged boy and girl in the far different Taylor Swift song "You Belong With Me.")
    • "A Broken Wing" is about emotional/psychological abuse. A woman stays with a man who constantly belittles her and witholds affection. The last verse leaves the ending to the story ambiguous...the man sees his wife/girlfriend is not in church and finds a note and an open window. It's unclear on whether she simply left or committed suicide.
  • "Gunpowder & Lead" by Miranda Lambert. Actually, the reason the male antagonist went to jail, because he "slapped my face and shook me like a rag doll."
  • "The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery, where the title character – a young girl – witnesses increasingly violent confrontations between her father and mother.
  • "Alyssa Lies" by Jason Michael Carroll, this time with a 7-year-old girl falling victim
  • The Dixie Chicks song (and music video) "Goodbye Earl" has one half of a Blood Sisters duo getting married and getting abused by the title character. The two of them get together and kill him.
  • The Shania Twain song "Black Eyes, Blue Tears."
  • The Jazmine Sullivan song "Call Me Guilty". But she gets revenge by murdering him.
  • Ditto Nickelback's "Never Again."
  • The Eve song "Love is Blind."
  • A Jimmy Wayne song, "The Rabbit". It ends with the wife being acquitted of her husband's murder.
  • "Better The Devil You Know."
  • "Face Down" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. "Face down in the dirt," she said, "This doesn't hurt," she said, "I've finally had enough."
    • In the music video, the wife is shown collecting her things from the house in preparation for leaving the abuser. As she walks through it, certain items shatter or explode, representing when her abuser destroyed them in his anger.
  • "Facade" by Disturbed. Another one that suggests the woman is getting ready to snap.
  • "He's Hurting Me," by Maria Mena is a song about a woman who's being abused but is in denial about it.
  • "Better Man" by Pearl Jam. "She lies and says she's in love with him... Can't find a better man."
  • "Love the Way You Lie," by Eminem ft. Rihanna, sung from the perspective of Eminem (as perpetrator) and Rihanna (as victim). The video stars Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as a couple in a mutually abusive relationship.
  • "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)", a 1962 single by Phil Spector-produced girl group The Crystals.
  • "Only The Wind" by Pet Shop Boys. (Word of God says it is indeed about domestic abuse and not AIDS, as commonly believed.) "There's nobody hiding behind a locked door/And no one's been lying 'cause we don't lie anymore." The abused lover says "I'm sorry..." at the end and is implied to have either left or killed the abuser.
  • Tracy Chapman's Behind the Wall.
  • David Bowie's "Repetition" is about the grim routine this can fall into, with a bitter man verbally and physically abusing his wife.
  • The Andrews Sisters hit, "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar" would seem like this, but is just a metaphor for exciting piano playing.
  • The De La Soul song, "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa," is a story about a girl abused by her father until she hits the breaking point.
  • "Tormented Kid" by Australian rapper 360 is a story about a man who abuses his wife and son.
  • The music video for P!nk's "Please Don't Leave Me" is about a batshit insane Yandere who abuses her husband. Thankfully, she's portrayed as the crazy woman she is, and she doesn't get away with it.
  • "Kiss with a Fist" by Florence and the Machine is all about a mutually-destructive couple. "You hit me once, I hit you back, you gave a kick, I gave a slap, you smashed a plate over my head, then I set fire to our bed."
  • The Crystalline Effect's 'Another Rainy Day'.
  • 'Gunpowder & Lead' by Miranda Lambert is about a woman who shows her abusive husband that little girls are made of "gunpowder and lead" by awaiting his return from jail for beating her with a shotgun.
  • "Pick Up The Phone" by Falling in Reverse is about an abusive and jealous boyfriend.
  • Rachel Proctor's song "Me and Emily" tells the story of a woman who packs up her daughter to escape a physically abusive husband.
  • "Luka" by Suzanne Vega is domestic abuse told through the eyes of the couple's young child.
  • "Push" by Matchbox Twenty is one of the few songs that deals with female on male domestic abuse. The male singer is being abused by his girlfriend, emotionally and possibly physically.
  • "99 Biker Friends" by Bowling for Soup is about the singer telling an abusive husband/boyfriend to knock it off on pain of the 99 bikers showing up and kicking his ass.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Example too venerable to stop soon: it seems unlikely that Mr. Punch will stop clubbing Judy.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Carousel, replete with Unfortunate Implications when Julie tells her daughter that a slap can "feel like a kiss."
  • In Moliere's The Doctor in Spite of Himself (a.k.a. Le Médecin Malgré Lui or The Unwitting Doctor), the whole plot starts when Martine decides to get even with Sganarelle for beating her up.
  • During the short play Trifles by Susan Glaspell it becomes obvious that the relationship between Mrs. Wright and her husband is a textbook case of Domestic Abuse, with the apparent tipping point that led her to kill him being when he killed her canary, who was her soul companion and source of joy.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Ragueneau clearly doesn’t care about Lisa’s feelings or opinions; he prefers his poet friends over her. Then Cyrano notices the very obvious truth that Lisa is cheating on him with a Mousketter. The second Act seems to play this situation for humor, but the very first words of the Third Act show us the severe consequences of this when Raguenau admits he had an Interrupted Suicide when his wife abandoned him.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury, Edwin defends himself against the charge of breach of promise of marriage by defaming himself, proclaiming that he smokes and drinks to excess and that "I'm sure I would thrash her, perhaps I should kick her." The Judge proposes to get the defendant drunk and see if he would treat her as he said. Everyone else objects, with the natural exception of the defendant.


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has the Wicked and Weak ending which shows a woman verbally and physically abusing a man without being Played for Laughs. What's worse, the entire incident is seen and filmed by their seven-year-old daughter, who was wandering around the house with a video camera.
  • In the 1st Degree strongly indicates that this occurred between James Tobin and his girlfriend Ruby Garcia. She is said to be completely under Tobin's thumb, and they did get into a fight over a love letter Zachery Barnes sent to her. Played completely straight.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Family Guy:
    • Taken to serious extremes in "The Story of Brenda Q."
    • However, the trope – particularly, the male-on-female kind – is all too frequently Played for Laughs. The "best" example is "The Courtship of Stewie's Father," where Peter discovers the secret to bonding with his son, Stewie – physically abusing Lois! (This was at a point in the series where a recurring plotline saw Stewie want to kill his mother in the most violent way possible.) The abuse accellerates until a final incident where Lois is thrown into the back of the station wagon and Peter – with Stewie riding shotgun – drives the car into a nearby river.
    • The topic of several cutaway gags. Example: A parody of "Horton Hears a Who," entitled "Horton hears domestic violence in the apartment next to his but doesn't call 911."
  • The DC Animated Universe has this in spades (no pun intended) with Harley Quinn's relationship with the Joker.
    • There's also the Justice League Unlimited episode "A Once And Future Thing," in which a meek man who's easily dominated by his wife builds a time machine and tries to use it to get away from her. When he eventually seizes its terrifying potential and becomes a super-villain by playing with the timestream, she's changed her tune and is deeply intimidated by his power (it's hinted that he placed her mother in some kind of futuristic torture chamber). Neither her verbal abuse before he created his machine or his outright bullying of her are played for laughs, and in the end Batman causes that man to repeatedly face his wife's abuse by putting him in a never-ending time loop.
  • Eddy's brother, in Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, within the five or so minutes he's in The Movie, beats the hell out of Eddy, even using him as a battering ram to beat up Double D. Fridge Horror sets in once you realize that Eddy's brother is about twenty, and Eddy is about twelve, and this has probably been going on all his life. And the abuse is played dead seriously, in contrast to the usual violence in the show.
  • The animated and live action combined series Ace Lightning featured an unusual variation in which the writers featured the villain of the piece (who had been the subject of some Villain Decay of late) as regularly violently attacking and verbally abusing the former partner in crime who had betrayed him for the show's titular hero. Fans have pointed out how much his behaviour would be considered domestic abuse were they members of the human cast.
  • Wilma Flintstone used to hit her husband Fred over the head with a frying pan and milk bottles, though this slapstick was pretty common for cartoons of the time.
  • Trudy Proud's treatment of Oscar would be horrifying if the genders were reversed.
  • While not physical, Eustace's treatment of Muriel would easily qualify as emotional abuse. Fortunately for their marriage Muriel is either completely oblivious to it or completely subservient to him.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Still a huge problem around the world, but at least it's not acceptable behavior in many countries anymore. And then, in some it is. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8375291.stm
  • In Spain, if you are a woman and you beat your husband you get HALF as many years in jail as a man who beats his wife, by law.
  • Chris Brown. Although in that case, it might have been the Masochism Tango, as Rhianna was reputedly the type to go blow-for-blow with him.
  • This is subverted in a fashion in Russia. The fine for being found guilty of wife beating was $200. The fine for wrestling with a bear was $1000.
  • Lindsay Lohan's father Michael allegedly abused her mother Dina while they were married so he could blackmail Lindsay into working every day. Then he recently got jailed for physically and sexually abusing his ex-grlfriend Kate Majors. The rest of the family (Lindsay especially) wants nothing to do with him.
  • In New Jersey, The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act has a definition of domestic violence so broad that an 18 year old who is being abused by his or her Abusive Parents can charge them with domestic violence.



Domestic abuse is a horrible experience to go through, and all too often the victims are shamed by their attackers into silence. If this is you, you need not be afraid. There are people who can and will help you.

If you are looking for help, put your browser into Safe Mode (no tracking, no cookies, no browser history) before following these links. That way, no record of your search will be kept by your computer for anyone else to find.

  • Contact your local police station; they have lists of local groups and organisations who will give you assistance and support.
  • In the USA, there's the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE (1−800−799−7233), also available at http://www.thehotline.org/
  • Safe Horizon: 1-800-621-HOPE (1-800-621-4673), also available at http://www.safehorizon.org
  • In the UK, there's Refuge: 0808 2000 247, also available at http://refuge.org.uk
  • In Scotland, you can call 0800 027 1234, or visit http://www.famouspeople.org.uk
  • In Australia, you can call the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 200 526.
  • Canada does not have a nationwide help line; call 9-1-1 and talk to your local emergency response team (ambulance/paramedics, firefighters, and police). For further information, this page lists each province's website.

Now You Know.