On March 1, 1999 The Oprah Winfrey Show aired a show on wives who beat their husbands, excerpted from Oprah's Web site. Here's some information about that show. You can order a transcript from Oprah's web site.
Show: Wives Who Abuse Their Husbands
Different Roles, Same Story
When you hear the term
"domestic violence" you're likely to picture a woman, battered and abused
at the hands of an angry and unreasonable husband or boyfriend. But that's
only one side of this ugly picture. According to the latest studies, 835,000
men are attacked each year by their girlfriends or wives, and the true
figure may actually be higher. On Monday, Oprah talked to the men and
women who occupy these different roles in the drama of domestic violence.
it Like a Man
The stories we heard
from abused men are no less horrifying than those told by women. They
were kicked, hit, stabbed, pushed down stairs and through plate glass
doors. Like their female counterparts, the men often covered up for their
wives, lying to doctors and authorities about the true cause of their
injuries. As one man said, "I'm supposed to take it like a man." That
often means not fighting back, not only because all the men on this show
said they were raised not to hit women, but also because many police departments
automatically consider the man the aggressor in cases of domestic abuse.
Even when the woman is at fault.
Cycle of Abuse
Likewise, abusive women
sound very much like husbands who beat their wives. Lisa said the first
time she battered her husband, "I beat the hell out of him… he walked
away with bruises. I was so ashamed of myself. It's not that I didn't
love him, it's that I didn't know how to react any other way… I know he's
not going to do anything." Afterward, they apologize, they make up, and
eventually, the cycle begins again.
Up… And Listen
Claudia Dias has counseled
abusive men and women for over twenty years. She criticizes the different
ways domestic violence against men and women is viewed. "When a man hits
a woman, it's abuse and felony. When she does it, it's because she has
a bad temper." Claudia describes the cycles of domestic abuse as "a dance…
it doesn't matter which gender does which part." The major difference,
she says, is that men hit women to "make them shut up" whereas women hit
men in order to "make them listen."
Rick kept his wife's
abuse secret for 21 years before finally leaving her. At one point he
was forced to defend himself with Mace. When the police were finally called,
Rick was the one arrested. "I felt betrayed by the system… by the courts…
and by my wife." Today, Rick has temporary custody of his children after
his wife, angry because he returned them a few minutes late from a visitation,
rammed his car with her vehicle while the children were still in it. Stephanie,
their 14-year-old daughter, says her mother would often rage at the children
as well, and that life at home was like "walking on eggshells"
By witnessing their
parents' battles, children grow up believing that a normal family life
is one defined by a cycle of fear, violence and tearful apologies. In
turn, that begins another cycle, one that passes the legacy violence down
from parent to child. As Oprah told Lisa, who believed her children were
"very well adjusted" despite the violence they'd witnessed from her, "There's
no question that when you argue in front of children, you change their
self-esteem… in way that you will never know and they can't tell you."
Obviously, both parents can be part of the problem in cases of domestic
violence. And both can also be part of the solution.
Check out Books for or about Battered Men.
Return to page on media coverage on battered men.
Return to the MenWeb section on Battered Men.