As the name indicates, this is a person who inflicts Domestic Abuse. This trope covers abusive partners of both genders, and the abuse they may dish out can be either mental, sexual, verbal, physical, financial, or emotional. The abuser puts the "destructive" in Destructive Romance.
It often invokes a rather nasty Double Standard, as the major part of the abusers in media will be male, and women will rarely be portrayed other than as victims. Where the double standard is reversed, on the other hand, you get Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male).
Anime and Manga
- Kaibara Yuzan in Oishinbo.
- Some of the relationships in Fruits Basket are pretty damn nasty.
- Example - Akito and Kureno. Akito doesn't let him out of the main house without permission[slapping him when he does], and unloads Akito's trademark verbal abuse on him constantly. She also stabs him.
- Kagura, being a Yandere, is pretty abusive to Kyo. She calls it off later, when Kyo falls for Tohru, and even apologizes to him because her love was very selfish.
- Bokura ga Ita: Yano has a hard time trusting Nanami completely, displaying jealousy and possessiveness, even to the point of physically abusing her.
- Asuka and Shinji's relationship in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Granted, they aren't actually in a relationship, and they are shown to have rather strong feelings towards each other, but still, the whole thing is just really messed up... as everything in their world.
- The violence between them reaches a crescendo in End of Evangelion, as eventually Shinji strangles her. This happens shortly after Asuka kicks him, gives him a nasty "The Reason You Suck" Speech which includes her rejecting him after he confesses his feelings to her, and shoves him to the ground leading a pot of painfully hot coffee to spill on him. Good grief.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena is full of relationships of the Love Martyr kind.
- Especially Akio and Anthy.
- Saoinji is obsessed with Anthy, who was his fiance at one time until he lost her in a duel to Utena, because he views the Rose Bride as a mindless doll who will never disobey him, and thus be with him forever, so he acts rather abusive and controlling towards her.
- Death Note: Misa's involvement with Light is played out very similar to Harley's involvement with The Joker. That said, Light is no more manipulative with her than anyone else. Indeed, Misa (and later Kiyomi) are abused much more by the various detectives pursuing Light.
- Bandage Babe Abiru Kobushi from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is a suspected victim of domestic violence, which, at one point, leads to people ostracizing her father. Actually, she just has a nasty tendency to pull large animals' tails.
- Louise from The Familiar of Zero. She tends to emotionally and physically abuse Saito when she feels he's being a pervert or even looking at other girls, bordering on Heroic Comedic Sociopath levels in chapter 2 of the second light novel where she whips him (not with a riding crop, but a real whip) until he passes out from the pain, after a previous beating from the night before.
- Girls Bravo gives us the insane black magic user Lisa Fukuyama who becomes infatuated with male lead Yukinari, believing him to be her soul mate, and constantly tries to abduct and rape him despite him clearly saying "no". She even threatens to have her attendant Kosame shoot him in order to keep him from refusing her.
- Shouko to Yuji from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu to an extent. She is a genuinely nice girl but is also shown to be crazily infatuated with Yuji since childhood and acts possessively towards him, to the point of poking his eyes to keep him from looking at other girls, applying a strong grip w/ lock while they are together, uses a handheld taser on him if he is being 'unfaithful' to her, doing things like breaking his arm and calling it "holding hands" or breaking into his house because she felt like it (and then burning his porn).
- Katsuragi from Sakura Gari. Which bites him in the ass, since the abused wife snaps in the end and burns him to death as punishment.
- Hitagi Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari. She gets better.
- Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile frequently uses physical violence against Nodame, his eventual girlfriend, and it's played for laughs in the manner of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine. In the live-action version especially, however, it comes across as less slapstick and a bit more disturbing...
- OTOH, in paris Nodame goes Yandere and brutally beats Chiaki up, even kicking him on the head. And then the same fans "horrified" by Chiaki's behavior... bend over to justify Nodame's.
- Genma from Ranma ½ is willing to knock his own wife Nodoka out in order to steal from her. Also, the more comedic example is that all of the girls who claim to want Ranma routinely beat the shit out of him.
- Naru towards Keitarou in Love Hina, specially in the anime which makes her a borderline Jerk Sue. Again, the fandom loves it.
- Reimei no Arcana: Though they're technically married, Caesar starts off as this towards Nakaba, yanking on her braid and pulling forced kisses on her in the first chapter. Needless to say, once Caesar begins to genuinely fall for Nakaba, he stops doing these childish and insensitive antics for the most part and treats her gently and with respect.
- Orin to Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
- The Batman comics had Harley's Mad Love towards the Joker who, being a psychopathic murderous clown, most likely didn't care about her that way and was just stringing her along. In one particularly horrific scene, he shoved her out a window because she gummed up one of the death traps he wanted to use to kill Batman. Poor Harley ended up nearly crippled for life.
- Two examples in V for Vendetta: Derek Almond batters and abuses is faithful and gentle wife whenever he can. On the other hand, the equally abusive Helen Heyer treats her kind husband like shit and uses him as a means to an end.
- Supergirl's boyfriend Powerboy.
- The Ultimate Marvel variation of Hank Pym. Put Janet in the hospital with a split palate while they were still dating, regularly pulled out chunks of her hair when they were married. After the divorce, he nearly killed her once, trapping her while she was at tiny size and using both insect killer and a horde of fire ants on her. His 616 universe counterpart also has this reputation, though much more unfairly.
- And the worse part? Janet actually went back to Hank after the fire ant incident despite the fact that the poison (mind you she was the size of an ant at the time) left her in the hospital for days. Classic battered person syndrome, unfortunately.
- Superman's debut in 1938 features (among other things) the Man of Steel administering an epic beat-down to a domestic abuser after Clark Kent is assigned to cover a police call about a wife-beater and beats him up. A Crowning Moment of Awesome in the very first issue!
- Drago Wolf in Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Common in certain Fanfics that make one character look like an abusive Jerkass so as to allow the Fan-Preferred Couple to get together. This is particularly ridiculous when it requires dramatic personality rewrites on everyone involved to make it sound reasonable.
- Non-Die for Our Ship example in the truly epic Avatar: The Last Airbender fic Guide Me Home. Canonically, Firelord Ozai is already a genocidal, child-abusing fascist dictator, but Ursa's Flashback Nightmares reveal him to be horribly abusive towards her as well.
- Sleeping with the Enemy
- Ray in Nil by Mouth
- Raging Bull. Jake La Motta (Robert de Niro).
- What's Love Got to Do with It? is based on the abuse Tina Turner suffered from her husband Ike.
- The Color Purple
- The Killer Inside Me. The main character Lou beats his wife and mistress as well as being a serial killer.
- Frank in Fried Green Tomatoes
- Kelly's husband in The Rainmaker
- Bud in L.A. Confidential targets men who beat their wives.
- Sam towards his high school girlfriend Claire in Kidulthood
- Provoked: A True Story
- Stephanie's boyfriend in 8 Mile
- One too many Lifetime movies. And 90% of times, the abuse is dished out by An Evil Man. The other 10% of the time, it's an abusive woman, usually the protagonist's mother or sister.
- Enough starring Jennifer Lopez is a theatrical version of the typical Lifetime Movie of the Week, Up to Eleven.
- Rose's fiance Cal in the movie Titanic starts out as merely protective and later grows increasingly possessive and aggressive around Rose when she starts spending a lot of time with Jack.
- Bobby Tennison (played by Fred Savage) in the made-for-TV movie, No One Would Tell.
- Judith Light's character in Men Don't Tell is one of the uncommon examples in media, mainly because women are only victims, not perpetrators of Domestic Violence in Hollywoodland.
- ... but not in TVland. On certain shows, you can lay good odds that any female victim-of-the-week will turn out to either be the abuser or to have beaten herself up as part of a scheme.
- A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley to Stella.
- Zachary 'Sack' Lodge of Wedding Crashers could count as this. He is Claire's sociopathic, testosterone-fueled, preppy, violent boyfriend who is obsessed with winning at any cost. Though he cheats on Claire regularly, he is angry at John for his interest in Claire. He physically abuses John and threatens him to stay away from Claire.
- Stu's girlfriend Melissa in The Hangover. She reportedly slept around on him on a cruise, called him "Doctor Fag" and is an emotional shrew. She gets her comeuppance when he ditches her for a single mom stripper he married during the binge the group went on in the movie.
- Tyler Perry is particularly fond of this, with Carlos in Madea's Family Reunion and Charles in Diary of a Mad Black Woman both abusing their wives.
- Mother Gothel in Tangled employs a variety of emotional and psychological abuses to manipulate Rapunzel into staying in her tower. Those familiar with the subject say it's portrayed surprisingly accurately.
- A mild case with Leroy and Destiny's relationship in Mystery Team; they seem more mutually emotionally abusive than anything.
- Earl in Waitress
- In Lajja, Raghu cheats on, berates, and beats Vaidehi, and even tries to have her murdered. She tries to go back to her family, but they won't let her move back in with them because that would be shameful in their culture.
- Also, Puroshottam keeps his (much younger) wife Lata confined to the house, for fear that a) she'll cheat on him or b) people will think she's being unfaithful (and that he can't keep his woman under control.) The result is that Puroshottam can go out to his heart's content (and the contentment of other parts of his anatomy, but if Lata so much as looks out the window there is hell to pay.
- Men in Black: In the short time before he's killed and inhabited by the Bug, Edgar demeans his wife's cooking, calls her lazy and threatens to hit her.
- Suicide Kings includes a Non Sequitur Scene in which Dennis Leary's character reveals that his family has a history of spousal abuse and beats up an unrepentant wife beater.
- Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband in The Great Gatsby.
- Beverly's husband from Stephen King's IT.
- Somewhat subverted with Beverly's father.
- King has other examples in Dolores Claiborne (Joe St. George), Rose Madder (Norm Daniels), Cujo (Joe Camber), and Geralds Game (we don't see a lot of Gerald and Jessie's normal relationship, but he's quite willing to take advantage of what had started out as a consensual bondage game to rape her when she decides she wants the handcuffs off. She does stop him, with unexpectedly horrific results). We get a two-fer in Needful Things, with "Buster" Keeton and Wilma Jerzyck both having totally terrified their respective spouses, Myrtle and Peter, into submission.
- Another Stephen King example: bad-boy delinquent Billy Nolan from Carrie, especially in the original book. He dates bitchy popular girl Chris Hargensen, and their relationship is shown to be quite abusive, with Billy regularly hitting Chris, humiliating her, calling her a bitch, and forcing himself on her. Even his "friends" are terrified of him. Chris herself is not shown as a sympathetic character, characterized as a petty bully.
- Jack Torrance's father in The Shining. One of Jack's defining childhood events was the time his father brutally beat up Jack's mother during supper, without any warning or reason.
- In Sarah Dessen's novel Dreamland main character Caitlin has an abusive boyfriend in the form of Rogerson Biscoe (he's a drug dealer and is abused by his father). He only admits that he loves her after the first time he hits her. In addition, he usually hits her when she does something "wrong" like talking to another guy, or being late to meet him. He begins to hit her harder as their relationship progresses but he refrains from hitting her where it was visible to avoid suspicion. He also gets Caitlin addicted to marijuana and this leads Caitlin to forget to attend school and fail her classes. Rogerson helps her with this, claiming that "he knows everything."
- Hest Finbok is this to both his wife Alice and his lover Sedric in Robin Hobb's The Dragon Keeper. Although he is violent, his main abuse is constantly belittling and domineering them - "He had a knack of telling the truth, but studding it with tiny, painful, but undeniably true insults."
- A mild example in Kristin Cashore's Fire is Archer, who is the protagonist's childhood friend and lover. Fire is a 'monster', an incredibly beautiful human with the ability to control people's minds. People tend to either love her or hate her, often trying to kill her just because of who she is. The understandable insecurity leads him to be very jealous and controlling. She breaks up with him because of it, but she still cares about him and he is generally portrayed sympathetically.
- Kelly's husband in John Grisham's The Rainmaker
- In North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, Terra's father is more verbally abusive, especially towards her mother. He constantly calls her fat and says that, because of Terra's port-wine stain on her face, there are roadkill that look better than her.
- One of the many sins of Councilor Hardcastle in Winner Takes All, and one for which he pays with his life, as his beaten-down wife goes into a frenzy and stabs him to death once his political schemes crumble and he's left unprotected.
- Eugene from Purple Hibiscus beats his wife Beatrice hard enough that she miscarries at least twice. He pays for it later, though.
Live Action TV
- Adam-12: Malloy and Reed frequently were called to domestic abuse calls throughout the series' run. Many were played straight (i.e., someone beating up his wife, or both of them getting into a scuffle), some were part of a larger plot, and a few had unexpected twists. The latter example had our two heroes trying to take a large man-mountain of a professional wrestler into custody after getting into a scuffle with his wife ... and the wrestler wins. In another episode, Malloy and Reed let a traffic offender go (not yet having the NCIC check completed) to respond to a disturbance that turns out to be two people rehearsing a little too loudly and enthusiastically for a community theater play ... and the traffic offender happens to be a wanted bank robber!!! (In the latter instance, Malloy gets the riot act read to him by the desk lieutenant, since he violated procedure on NCIC checks and that there were other units available to handle the "domestic call." In the former, Malloy and Reed are forced to admit they lost as they nurse their wounds. )
- Cops: Many episodes, often with the aggressor refusing to cooperate and getting more hostile with every approaching cop. One memorable episode saw a drunken wife-beater throw a chair at the officers before lunging at his wife to step up the abuse (in the end, the suspect was finally brought under control and arrested).
- The Burning Bed, the landmark 1984 made-for-TV movie starring Farrah Fawcett as Francine Hughes, who endures 13 years of vicious physical abuse at the hands of her husband, Mickey ... abuse that ends only after he is killed in a house fire that she sets (she douses his bed with gasoline and sets the house on fire, hence the movie's name based on Francine Hughes' real-life story).
- Debra Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond generally behaves like this, and is arguably the character that ushered in the modern age of Double Standard Abuse (Female on Male) sitcoms in the US. Some of the things Debra did to her husband Ray bordered on abuse. Things such as shoving Ray into bookshelves, physically beating him on multiple occasions, being a total hypocrite, calling Ray an idiot in basically every episode, making bets with the kids that Ray would screw up, and on one occasion even faking plastic surgery on herself just to trap Ray into admitting he liked the fake changes.
- George from the first two seasons of Desperate Housewives. Carlos also had his moments.
- Oz's Chris Keller.
- Just about every guy that Claire Howell had gotten with or was interested in, she either raped, physically assaulted, or harassed on a regular basis.
- Ryan O'Reilly is extremely abusive towards Dr. Nathan, who he is trying to woo, though they aren't actually in a relationship for the most part.
- In the Eastenders episode Kevin's Day Of Reckoning, Denise reveals that she was going to leave Kevin, but that Shirley talked to her and convinced her to go through with the wedding. Denise then takes Kevin aside and knees him in the crotch, after which they get married.
- Tutti Frutti
- The backstory of the character Deedee in Buried.
- Sean in The Street.
- Trevor Jordache in Brookside.
- The Bill has had many storylines involving abusive husbands and boyfriends and it was revealed that the character Jim Carver was being beaten by his wife Marie.
- Barry Pierce in Bad Girls.
- Home and Away: Donna's ex boyfriend.
- Titus was based on the actual history of the comic: his previous girlfriend was an abuser, whose abuse was bad enough they went to the funeral to make sure she was actually dead.
- Played quite straight on Dexter with Paul, Rita's ex-husband, who raped Rita, and on at least one occasion, threatened to take her kids away from her. During one particularly nasty baiting of Dexter, the titular character finally loses his cool and hits Paul in the face with a frying pan.
- The Trinity Killer also subjects his family to severe physical and psychological abuse, to the point where all they are all terrified into absolute obedience to him. He uses this to make himself and them appear as a wholesome family.
- Owen, Annie's (very, considering her somewhat dead status) ex-fiance, and murderer from Being Human (UK).
- Kate Gosselin, of Jon and Kate Plus Eight persistently yells at her husband Jon, belittles him, and repeatedly hits him. On camera. In addition, people who know the Gosselin family says she keeps him on a $5 a week budget, has invaded his office to scream at him in front of colleagues at work, and prevented him from attending his own family's funerals. Despite this history of abuse, Jon is the one villified for their breakup, and for the fact that he's now seeing other women. Make of this what you will. According to Jon, she even pulled a Wounded Gazelle Gambit on the cops when she was having a tantrum and he wouldn't let her in the house.
- It's probably worth mentioning that the abuse pretty much made the show, as evidenced by the fact that the ratings dropped after Jon left. Without her normal outlet for her bitchiness, she has to inflict it on her kids, which is less funny.
- The Sopranos: Christopher Moltisanti may not be a habitual abuser, but he does kick his girlfriendearound on a number of occasions.
- Carmela once threw a phone at Tony, but low-level violence by women is rarely considered an issue.
- Tony's mother is a pretty good example.
- Degrassi the Next Generation: Rick Murrary was one of these to Theresa 'Terri' McGreggor in season 3. His abuse got so bad that it put her into a coma.
- In Outnumbered they hear a crash from next door during an argument and go and check if everythings okay, the next day the police come to ask them about what they've heard from next door when they ask if she's alright they discover she's not the victim he is.
- Sam Puckett on iCarly still hits Freddie after they start a relationship. The only difference is that she no longer hits him in the face.
- Ray Pruitt in Beverly Hills, 90210 repeatedly abuses Donna Martin. Most infamously, he pushes her down a flight of stairs, semi-accidentally.
- Quinn on Glee is constantly verbally abusive towards Finn, repeatedly telling him he's stupid, attempting to control his hobbies and activities. She is also willing to let Finn raise and pay for a child that isn't even his. It affects his life pretty massively, but their friends encourage her to do it.
- On a second season episode of Mad Men Joan's fiancee Greg rapes her in Don Draper's empty office.
- Leo to Shelly on Twin Peaks. Also, Hank abused Norma before he went to jail.
- Two examples from Doctor Who:
- Stella's boyfriend Frankie on CSI: NY. The guy's last name was 'Mala' if that tells you anything. ('bad' in Spanish)
- Jackie's boyfriend Fisher in Roseanne.
- Many, many a Lifetime movie has this as the plot.
- Lady Gaga: The boyfriend of the protagonist of "Dance in the Dark". It seems to be nothing physical and limited to emotional abuse, but it's hurt her horribly all the same.
- Linkin Park: The music video for "Crawling" portrays a young woman's inner conflict at dealing with an abusive boyfriend. The woman (portrayed by Katelyn Rosaasen) closes off to the rest of the world, represented with the special effects of crystals forming around her. By the end, the crystals recede, symbolizing her success in fighting the relationship.
- David Bowie: "Repetition" (from Lodger) is about a bitter man who verbally and physically abuses his wife.
- Disturbed: The song "Façade" is about a woman who puts up a front of pretending that the abuse isn't happening, wondering when she'll finally lose control and kill her abuser.
- Eminem: Though this theme is found in many of his songs, the song "Kim" particularly is about Em verbally and physically abusing his wife, before killing her. "Love The Way You Lie" has extremely similar themes.
- During his initial heel run in the World Wrestling Federation, Randy "Macho Man" Savage would often publicly belittle or demean his valet, Miss Elizabeth, often for minor mistakes (such as not holding the ropes wide enough, not taking proper care of his robe and sunglasses, etc.). This was abandoned during the summer of 1987, as Savage was being primed for his run as a good guy wrestler.
- Little Shop of Horrors: Orin Scrivello towards Audrey.
- A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley towards Stella.
- The Taming of the Shrew can be considered "humorous" domestic violence, although contemporary interpretations most often lean toward Belligerent Sexual Tension. Katharine indulges in verbal abuse towards the men, Petrucchio in mental abuse towards Katharine.
- Carousel contains the rather disturbing lines:
Louise Bigelow: But is it possible, Mother, for someone to hit you hard like that - real loud and hard, and it not hurt you at all?
Julie Jordan: It is possible dear, for someone to hit you, hit you hard, and it not hurt at all.
- The original source for Carousel, Molnar's Liliom, contains the same exchange between the same two characters, in different words:
The Daughter: Mother, did anyone ever hit you? I mean a real slap that you can hear ring, and you didn't feel a thing?
Julie: Yes, my child. There was a time when someone hit me, and I didn't feel a thing.
The Daughter: Then, it is possible for someone to hit you, and not hurt you at all?
Julie: Yes, my child. Someone can beat you, and beat you, without hurting you at all.
- In the classic Danish play, Jeppe på Bjerget (Jeppe on the Hill), the titular character is not only regularly beaten by his wife, but she also openly cheats on him with the deacon of the town. Is it any mystery why he drinks so much?
- Cyrano De Bergerac: Raguenau and Lise against each other. In act II, both of them engage in Domestic Abuse (Lise destroy Raguenau’s cherished poems, Raguenau shames his wife and neglects her) against each other instead of recognizing his reality and try to fix their situation. At Act II, it seems is Played for Laughs, but at Act III we see the terrible consequences of this conduct.
- In the 1st Degree has James Tobin as this. He is very controlling of his girlfriend Ruby Garcia. When he found out that Ruby had an affair with his business partner Zack, he responded by snatching a love letter written by Zack from her before she could read it, yelling at her, and pushing her around. If you ask Ruby the right questions, she will admit that Zack was so kind to her and Tobin had made it clear to her that he just wanted to get into her pants. Combine that with the fact that his wife Helen divorced him (because she could no longer stand his ways), and the fact that Tobin himself slept around, and you have a disgusting excuse of a human being.
- A female-on-male example is in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Poor Harry.
- In later episodes of Kate Modern, Rupert was revealed to be one of these.
- In Psycho Girlfriend Brandi subverts the norm hard and not only is incredibly manipulative of Seth, but verbally abuses him frequently, lies about being pregnant, threatens to tell the police that he raped her, and then SHOOTS him.
- Shannon on Echo Chamber. She's Tom's Psycho Ex-Girlfriend, stalks and obsesses over Tom, is supposedly stalking other people besides him, is very controlling, and Tom states that she won't stop hitting him.
- The Nostalgia Chick has these tendencies towards Nella, even paying her to put up with the abuse.
- Amber O'Malley (of Shortpacked!) has an abusive father that controlled her well into adulthood. It was recently revealed Mr. O'Malley had cheated on his wife...repeatedly. This then led to a more horrifying possibility.
- In Suicide for Hire, Tybalt Montlet is an absolutely classical, textbook example.
- Luanne's mother on King of the Hill is another dramatic female example. The whole reason Luanne lives with her aunt and uncle is because her mom stabbed her dad with a fork. Only appeared on screen in one episode where she gets released from prison, but it's clear she hasn't changed a bit.
- Family Guy: Peter openly mocks and belittles his wife Lois in both public and private, ignores her wishes at every conceivable opportunity, and wastes family funds on whatever little whim strikes him.
- Not to say that Lois is that much better, since she rapes him in a few episodes.
- Family Guy actually had this is the subject for a Halloween episode in which Quagmire's sister Brenda was being beaten by her "boyfriend". It was actually based off a throwaway gag a year before where Brian thought Quagmire was having sex with her when he saw her.
- American Dad plays a similar two way example, Stan is a chauvanistic Control Freak who frequently belittles or ignores Francine. However Francine herself has a fairly unstable streak, one that Stan is actually shown to be terrified of the odd occasion he pushes her too far (perhaps most notably the violent beating he earned for forgetting their wedding anniversary). In later episodes this is downplayed a little, and while conflicts are still very frequent they are more frequently shown to love each other, in their own twisted manner.
- Him in We Are the Strange. In the opening of the film, he repeatedly punches and backhands Blue. He then compares her unfavorably to the pictures of other women he has plastered on his wall. The final capper: he tells her that she becomes unbearable to look at whenever she smiles or speaks. In his later appearances, he's less vile, if only because of his hamminess. In this scene, however he's...well...you probably get the idea.
- Ren of '"The Ren and Stimpy Show has a lot of Ho Yay with Stimpy with him acting as the abusive workaholic husband to Stimpy's doting Woobie housewife.
- Angel Bunny can dip into this in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.