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Is a Cucumber a Weapon? Domestic Violence in a Vegan Age.

Dear Robin:

My sister, an abused wife, has once again gone back to her husband and everyone in the family is done. We are sick and tired of this story being replayed every few months and don’t know how to help her.

I know how cold that sounds but what do you do when someone you love keeps making the same mistake over and over again?  It has only gotten physical once two years ago but she ended up in the hospital! He is also verbally abusive to her all the time.

She moved out recently and stayed with me but he’s again convinced her to come home.  I’ve gone from feeling scared and sorry for her to just being pissed that she keeps going back. Any ideas?

Sad Sister

Dear Sad Sister:

Let’s clue the readers in on a few details you emailed me.

I’m going to call this couple George and Martha.  If those reasons aren’t obvious to you, you need to read Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and see the movie STAT. 

  • It isn’t just George who is verbally abusive – Martha not only gives as good as she gets, she often instigates arguments in the presence of others, including you.
  • George and Martha have no kids.  Thanks be to Goddess.
  • The incident of physical abuse is hardly clear-cut.  She hit him several times with a cucumber (no, I am not making this up) and threw her phone at him during a very drunken dinner party.
    When the phone bounced off his head and landed on the floor he smashed it with his foot.  She ran over to stop him and when she lunged at him he shoved her away, sending her flying about ten feet and landing on her ass. She fell backward and broke her wrist, which is why she went to the hospital.
    What I wouldn’t have given for a seat at that party.
  • Speaking of drinking, they both do.  A lot.
  • She weighs about 210.  George weighs about 160.  Let’s give George and Martha the last name of “Spratt,” shall we?
  • They have been like this since their marriage 11 years ago.  George has also left from time to time but always comes back.

George and Martha put the “fun” in “dysfunctional,” don’t they?  

Rather than worrying about your sister so much, perhaps you should be contacting some reality show producers so this fine couple can cash in on their misery. Also, can I have their phone number?

The Incident of “Physical Abuse”

Let me preface my opinion about what happened with the following public service announcement:

Domestic violence is a very serious issue.  I abhor violence.  

I had a live-in college boyfriend who smacked me around on several occasions and I didn’t leave him until I woke up when I passed out.  What does that mean?  

This fine young man, I’ll call him “Dave,” hit me in the face one night (hardly the first time) and I fell backward, knocking my noggin on a windowsill and briefly losing consciousness.  I knew when I came to I was getting deeper and deeper into a sick relationship that could define me and all my life choices in the future, and not in a good way.  

I left that night and I never came back.

Get it?  I do not condone domestic violence.  I hate it.  

That being said…what the hell did Martha expect would happen?

Men should not hit women.  Women should not hit men.  But those women who physically attack men and expect to get a vagina pass (otherwise known as “it’s never ok for a man to hit a woman”) are playing a dangerous and stupid game.  Let’s review what happened that night:

  1. Martha hit George repeatedly with a fruit.  Yes, cucumbers are fruits.  You learn something new here every day, don’t you?
  2. She then threw her phone at his head and, thanks to her history as a star softball player in high school and college, nicely found her target.  
  3. When George understandably stomped on her phone (I’d call this preemptive self-defense, otherwise known as the “Bush Doctrine,” wouldn’t you?) she then “lunged” at him.
  4. The normal human reaction to someone lunging toward you would be to shove them away, which George did.  I don’t fault him for that.  In fact, I wish he had pelted her with a tomato at the same time.  If you attack me with a fruit that everyone thinks is a vegetable, I have the right to do the same.
  5. The fact Martha’s wrist was broken was an unfortunate accident.  If George had snapped it on purpose I’d be much more concerned, but in this case he was defending himself and she clumsily broke her fall.
  6. Martha outweighs George by 50 pounds. 

Where is Martha’s sense of personal responsibility for what happened that night?  

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Before you accuse me of “blaming the victim,” consider the impossibility of that accusation.  

I can’t “blame the victim” in this case because there is no victim.  

There are simply two people in a sick and twisted marriage who are addicted to their unhappiness and the pleasure they experience when they hurt one another.  And that leads me to my very simple advice for you:

Stay Out of It.

Some people choose a life of trauma repetition, and they do so for various reasons.  In my view, both George and Martha have chosen this way of living and there is nothing you can do about it.  

Let me give you an example I observed a few years ago:

I had a co-worker who kept going back to the same two men over and over and over again.  These men were truly sleazy and neither would commit to her in the way she wanted.  

She bounced between them both like a pathetic and needy ping-pong ball, complaining bitterly about her “victimhood” at the hands of these two men and the myriad of married bosses she blew in hopes of finding love, or at the least, a promotion.

Not coincidentally?  She had a tortured relationship with her father, who by all accounts was an exceptionally mean asshole who denigrated her whenever possible.  Strangely, when he died she lionized him, making him into the wonderful and loving father he never was.

In other words, she needed to continue experiencing the same terrible treatment she endured at the hands of her father, even long after his death.  

That doesn’t make her a victim. That makes her someone in need of good cognitive talk therapy to help her understand and change her patterns.

Specific Advice:

  • Sit down with your sister, show her this blog, and tell her you need to take a break from her drama.
  • Be her loving sister in every other way but leave her marital strife off the conversation table for a while.
  • Encourage Martha to see a therapist to explore why she keeps jumping in and out of this poisoned pool of a marriage.  That therapist should also take a look at the number of drinks George and Martha are putting down, because nothing adds fuel to the fire of a fight like liquor.
  • See if you can get me an invite to their next dinner party, would you please?

Please share and leave a comment!

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Larraine

    I can’t believe she actually thought her sister was a victim here! Why, because she is a woman? This attitude beggars belief, these people get off on their verbal abuse of each other, they are dysfunctional and for some people no amount of therapy will work because they actually enjoy it and they don’t want the drama to stop, they really believe that they are the most in love people in the world. The proof to them is the fact that the one cannot stay away from the other, they need each other dontchaknow!
    I have seen this before and I avoid these people like the plague, they are truly whacked out and they really get off on this. My advice, for the sake of your sanity stay away altogether, these two seem to love an audience and the only thing you can do is remove the audience.

  2. Anonymous

    One of your best articles yet… the “vagina pass”… I knew it had a name! 🙂

    I know a number of women who are of this opinion… they feel they can literally beat up on a man and he should be like Clint Eastwood in the movies and just stand there and take it… but if a man pushes/shoves her away… well… that’s ABUSE! *eye roll*

    Your article also reminds me VERY much of a friend of mine’s story which happened about 15 years ago…

    A couple, never married, had one daughter together… she was a welfare mom with 5 kids and 5 dads. She thought she’d hit the lottery with my friend because he actually paid child support… of course she never reported that to welfare… no… she told THEM he didn’t pay anything… (that’s a different story in itself).

    Anyway, one day he’s over there picking up his daughter and she starts yelling at him about something. Now, he’s a very large man… VERY strong… she’s about 120lbs soaking wet…

    SHE gets in his face and starts poking him in the chest… telling him this and that and the other.

    He says to her, “Keep your hands off me…”

    She KEEPS doing it…

    He says to her, “Listen, you touch me again and I’m going to throw you through that window.”

    She slaps him.

    He grabs her by the neck and pushes her backwards… right through a sliding glass door… there’s glass everywhere… she’s got some superficial cuts on her shoulder and neck. He has some cuts on his arm.

    She calls the cops… he’s arrested for domestic violence.

    It goes to court.

    She (plaintiff) gets up on the stand and tells her story from beginning to end.

    The judge says, “Let me get this straight… you touched him first… he then said he didn’t want to be touched… he warned you what would happen if you touched him again… then you assaulted him… and that’s when you were pushed through the glass door?”

    Uh huh…

    Judge says, “Ma’am… if anyone should have been arrested here its you. You can not menace and assault someone and then claim you are the victim. If anything, the defendant appears to have shown considerable restraint. CASE DISMISSED… now both of you get out of my courtroom.”

    She sat there on the witness stand with her jaw hanging open.

    My friend never even got up on the stand…

  3. Mark

    In addition to being a fruit, a cucumber can also be a blunt instrument.

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