Why do some men think it’s acceptable to hit women?

domestic violence6 years ago, a survey  in Kenya showed  a third of women between the ages of 15-49 had been abused either physically or sexually.

Same survey now and  things are getting worse-  the figure going up to 39 percent.

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to  women in the country being subjected to violence and sexual abuse.

Here in the UK, a coalition of 20 charities in Wales claim the Welsh Assembly domestic abuseGovernment is not going “far enough or fast enough” in tackling all forms of violence against women.

In the USA, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

When Chris Brown apologised for beating his then girlfriend Rihanna, we asked if men who hit women can ever change.

But could you ever understand why a man hits his partner? We heard many of you on the programme explaining why women go back to men who hit them. But why do some men find it acceptable to hit a woman?

What goes through a man’s mind when they hit their partner? And even though some men apologise, according to some of you who spoke to us previously, they do it again.

Why do some men think it’s acceptable to hit women?

42 Responses to “Why do some men think it’s acceptable to hit women?”

  1. 1 steve
    October 7, 2009 at 20:37

    I’v enoticed that the most abusive men are never single, and that women seem to almost enjoy the abuse, as they stick with abusive men, and are bored by men who are stable/predictable.

    I think women all over have really low self esteem, and so they seek out men who are abusive, and leave men who aren’t, because they need drama in their lives. I know a chick, I used to date, that HAS to be with an abusive guy, or she’ll be miserable and cheat and leave the relationship. It’s that or date unavailable men, such as married guys… Never underestimate the low self esteem that so many women have.

    • 2 James Ian
      October 8, 2009 at 07:00

      Good point Steve. When me and my wife first started dating she use to get upset with me because I never got jelous and din’t like to argue with her. I never care who she hung out with and when she tried to fight with me I always just left. It use to make her so mad. One time she told me she wished I was more jelous and abusive because that way she would now I cared. That scared the heck out of me. I told her that wasn’t who I was and if she wanted that type of relationship she needed to more on. She grew up and decided later that that was about the craziest thing she had ever said.
      I too have had girls tell me I was too nice. What ever!

  2. 3 Tom K in Mpls
    October 7, 2009 at 20:39

    The better question, taken to it’s full extent, is why does mankind think it is okay/useful to kill. It is a simple extension. From people to governments, we want control. Sometimes violence seems to be the best way. Some are better at recognizing options or other points of view. But some are very primal. You can judge it right or wrong, but I will just call it Human Nature.

    We should do our best to be sure that individuals that need and want help, get it. When both parties genuinely want to be left alone, we should respect that too.

  3. 4 JJ
    October 7, 2009 at 20:43

    The very last spanking I ever got from my father was because I hit a girl. He said “You do not hit girls.” Whack! “You do not hit girls.” Whack!

    And I have never hit a girl since then. It’s not acceptable behavior under any circumstances.

  4. 6 John J
    October 7, 2009 at 21:10

    I had never seen any violence before meeting a friend and his wife about 15yrs ago. I had always been told that hitting girls was wrong. But I also felt I have to speak up. The popular “belief” (or so we are all told) is that this sort of man who hits is an evil insecure control freak. Not in my experience – My friends wife was mentally and physically abusive – continually. In the end he snapped and lost his temper, my friend told me he was tired of having things thrown at him, being screamed at and being hit. Since then I unfortunately was in a similar situation which I left. I think there needs to be more discussion, its a 2 way street, not all these guys just beat women for no reason. There is only a certain amount of abuse you can take. For all those who say a woman is weaker and can’t hurt a guy, well 6 yrs on I still have scars that say otherwise. In my experience its not just a clear cut case of big guy abuses lovely defenceless woman

  5. 7 Bert
    October 7, 2009 at 21:26

    My impression is that men who abuse women are invariably lowly, ignorant cowards, who see their physical dominance over women as being the one “strength” they can still demonstrate.

    Hitting women has never been seen as acceptable, among any of my friends or peers. So I really don’t grasp how this could be accepted anywhere else.

    Still, with all that said, I do agree with Steve that there are MANY women who seem to prefer being treated badly. They seem to go after the “bad boys.” After overhearing some truly strange conversations in bars and the like, I’ve come to conclude that for every idiot male out there there is a perfectly willing and compatible female partner.

  6. 8 steve
    October 7, 2009 at 21:53

    @ Bert

    Yup. Female thug types go after thug males, but it’s what they want. Unfortunately, there plenty of women that are happier being abused than treated well.. It’s sad, but that’s life.. It’s a societal self esteem thing, and until it’s addressed, this will just continue on and on forever.

  7. 9 steve
    October 7, 2009 at 22:01

    @ Bert

    Also, this friend of mine’s girlfriend and he broke up because, literally, she needed someone to be abusive. She came from am abusive family, so I guess it was something familiar to her. Her sister lives in a trailer with an unemployed guy who has herpes. My friend treated her too well and she got bored and basically said she needs someone who excites her a bit more, and started talking about her abusive past, and how all her exes had been abusive.

  8. 10 Lynn
    October 7, 2009 at 22:03

    Abuse of women seems largely to be passed on from generation to generation. It is a behavior that we learn is acceptable through our parents. We learn that we can solve problems, gain control, and manipulate others through violence. We are not taught to communicate with respect and understanding, nor are we taught that we cannot control others. It is a vicious cycle that can only be stopped through education and understanding.

  9. 11 John in Salem
    October 7, 2009 at 23:15

    It’s all learned behavior – fathers teach their boys that it’s okay to hit women and at the same time teach their girls that it’s okay to be hit. Social attitudes play a part but it’s essentially about family traditions and generations of abuse.

  10. 12 Tom D Ford
    October 7, 2009 at 23:53

    A major reason, a root cause, is the edict from King Solomon “spare the rod and spoil the child” that is the common parenting method in the Abraham religions. A parent who hits a child is role modeling for the child, how to treat people he wants to control, to hit them. Children are very good learners and they often grow up to do what they learned as a child., including domestic violence.

    If a child learns that love is having someone hit you, AKA “Tough Love”, the child learns both sides of that “love equation”, to hit the one you love and to provoke the one you love into hitting you.

    Like father, like son. And like mother, like daughter.

    If daddy hits mommy, it is likely that the children will grow up to be just like their role models.

    Please change.

  11. 13 T
    October 8, 2009 at 00:20

    Chris Brown said he hit Rhianna because “he wasn’t taught not to”? Blaming someone else is a cop out. Guys who hit women do it for power and control. Why do some keep doing it? Because they just can’t give those up.

  12. October 8, 2009 at 05:00

    It is absolutely wrong and immoral to hit woman or a child.

  13. 15 scmehta
    October 8, 2009 at 07:55

    I can think of the following reasons for when/why men hit women or abuse them physically:
    1. Exploitation of weaker sex.
    2. Financial and moral dependence.
    3. Illiteracy of either or both of them.
    4. Poverty.
    5. Clash of egos/opinions/tastes.
    6. Interference of relatives.
    7. Irritating/illogical nagging/arguments; when the words fail to convince.
    8. Jealousy and suspicion.
    9. Infidelity.
    Any one or more of the above mentioned reasons can be responsible for the physical violence by men and sometimes even women. However, in a civilized and educated society, most of these problems don’t arise or are generally resolved through intelligent discussion and compromise.

  14. 16 graeme scott
    October 8, 2009 at 09:06

    Requirement requires Action which determines Result

    Depends on requirement. Requirements that lead to the selection of the Action vary, perhaps in Congo it’s the basest few. Pleasure (Which is most probably in short supply as a soldier in the country.) and genetic drive perhaps? As well as humiliation and power issues I would suppose.

    But the in other relationships, different criteria might leave violence as a different options. Women also have their role to play, by accepting this action in relationships. But it’s different in no option situations like Congo.

  15. 17 Audrius Kviliunas
    October 8, 2009 at 10:30

    When woman meet man at first there is not beating-there is sex.When after some yers sexual atraction diminish and both began to feel true smells,true greediness,true souls and minds-some normal peoples live together or divorce.Others with less mind live together and beat those who are less strong.Woman have some guilty that choose such frend,that do not leave him after first stroke or do not ask some help from police.

  16. 18 Bram
    October 8, 2009 at 11:59

    Intimate partner violence is an equal opportunity monster. As long this debate continues to be framed in the usual “man evil perp – woman innocent victim” terms, the problem will never be solved. In other words: either you get rid of your “evil men – innocent women” meme and start looking at the real relationship dynamic or you’ll be stuck with the problem forever. Unless, of course, that is what you want.

    • 19 John J
      October 8, 2009 at 12:42

      Thanks Bram, as per my post above there was never any violence in my family and I was taught never to hit women. I was in a bad relationship. What I took out of that relationship and still see, is your exact point. Tired of the man bashing, it takes 2 to tango. I eventually joined a chat room for men in violent relationships. Lots of guys like me, but media portrays all domestic violence as evil men controlling women, instead of normal guy, snaps after continual berating and being hit with heavy objects.

  17. 20 Jim Newman
    October 8, 2009 at 12:09

    Hello again
    Because they’re bullies and need to lord it over those they know are physically weaker. It needn’t be women.

  18. 21 patti in cape coral
    October 8, 2009 at 12:54

    @ Jim Newman – I totally agree.

    Why do some men think it’s acceptable to hit women?

    After reading the articles sited above about Kenya and DRC, it seems largely cultural/societal in those areas. But the reasons are numerous. That the abuse of women is going up may be due the financial difficulties that we are all facing and people may use that as an excuse to vent their frustration. While I agree that it is true that some women seek out this kind of damaged man because they are used to being abused, the articles do not only point out women in relationships, they are also talking about rapes and sexual assaults by people who are not their partners. Then the abuse is compounded by being left by their husbands because they were raped. These are not cases where you could put the blame on the victim.

    There are more types of relationships, lesbian and gay relationships, and I’m sure a number of those are abusive relationships too, but I think they don’t get as much attention because the partners are seen as being on “equal” footing.

  19. 22 gary
    October 8, 2009 at 13:09

    No one has a right to hit anyone. Human rights are not based upon size, strength, sex or any other dimension; but upon existence alone. Some men never mature sufficiently to understand that superior strength does not equal superior worth. Theses cowardly and insecure little boys relieve their petty frustrations on someone seeking love from an equally insecure position. Even with professional help, their apologies may be completely useless, and the woman who believes them too often finds the last blow she receives is a fatal one. As for their societal impact, it is instructive to consider that as are works of art, human beings are the products of indeterminant craftsmanship. The beauty inherent in their design can be marred at anytime during its development, and once lost may be gone forever. Too often, the abuser’s children become adults who do as they witnessed, either to strike or submit, and the ugliness propagates through time.

  20. 23 Jennifer
    October 8, 2009 at 14:00

    Re: But could you ever understand why a man hits his partner?

    No, I can’t. I imagine it’s because he has very low self esteem and sees it as a way to control his significant other.

    Women do not “enjoy” being abused.

    Domestic violence is a cycle. Usually it is rooted in past generations of the same. Only with effort can that cycle/circle be broken. Domestic violence transcends race, socioeconomic status, and age. Noone is exempt from susceptibility. I know people who had a cherry childhood and they grew up to be abusive just the same as children who grow up in it view it as normal.

    The most important thing people can do is teach children that hitting is not a way to solve problems, build and foster positive self esteem, and let them see a positive parental relationship (modeling).

  21. 25 patti in cape coral
    October 8, 2009 at 14:08

    To the men in abusive relationships where their partner is abusing them verbally or physically, as well as deliberately provoking them until they explode, I give the same advice I would give to a woman. Get out of the relationship now! Do men stay in an abusive relationship (where they are the abused) for the same reasons that are given for women staying in an abusive relationship? Are men also seeking out this kind of excitement? Just curious about that dynamic, it isn’t often discussed.

    • 26 John J
      October 8, 2009 at 19:03

      Patti, I did get out of the relationship by moving away for a year because she threatened to get her friends to beat me up (for good). There was absolutely no excitement in it for me. Now if I ever even get the slightest twinge that another woman might act the same way I run a mile. Again to other posters my experience is that at least some of the men that hit are not these evil, weak, little boy insecure women haters that people suggest.

  22. 27 viola
    October 8, 2009 at 15:19

    Men hit women who they think are trying to usurp what they consider their own prerogatives.

    Men hit women if they think other men believe they are hen-pecked.

    Men hit women if they lose their job.

    Men hit women if they don’t do what they tell them to do.

    Men hit women so they won’t be perceived as “pussy-whipped.”

    In other words, it isn’t about women. It’s about men who are stupid, mean, or weak.

  23. October 8, 2009 at 16:16

    Why do women choose to sub-servant is the question. First of all given the chance women are smarter, and can bear a nation. Why do women fell that they must please a man and that is their whole life duty. If some one submits to being punished in their minds they are setting them selves up for punishment. My ancetsors are from Africa, and that one issue I hate about the continent, is the role of most women.( I minus Mrs Mandela) There is a atrickle running now about a S.A. man whom has taken 4 wifes He justifies this as ancestry previlage. This is the 21st century. Buying women to bear a total of fifty children is enviromentally irresponsible and ethically irresponsible as they dressed in a christian clothing for a ceremony that has no western values except their hair being permed and nails done. In America the wisest of womwn would consider them ignorant to have lowered themselves in to a future relationship that will not represent the values they embrace such as the material gaines from marriage to this man. I suggest they get a good eduacation from their new found wealth and don’t bear any children. This is a country were aids is rampant in marriage. So this is a total embaressment for women who fight for the rights of women.

  24. 29 viola
    October 8, 2009 at 17:49

    No matter what context individuals perceive this discussion to be in, the question is “Why do some men think it is acceptable to hit women?” Note that the question is not “Why do all men hit women?” When the question is “Why do some women accept mistreatment at the hands of men?” then is the time to discuss that question.

    Stop trying to change the subject, please.

    I note that some men are very honest on this subject. When a man says women have poor self-esteem and it makes them feel “special” to get hit, he is honestly saying–what? That stupid, mean, or weak men believe they are doing women with poor self-esteem a favor by hitting them? Get outta here.

    I always vow to myself to stay out of this kind of discussion until I read self-serving explanations that seek to justify such attitudes by the claim that it’s because of what women do or don’t do. As long as justification goes on, so will the hitting. Kudos to the men who reject such self-serving attitudes. You are true men.

  25. 30 nora
    October 8, 2009 at 18:20

    Why all the comments blaming women for wanting abuse? Having lost a whole lot of material possessions leaving when I got clocked in the jaw, I find the basic contempt for abused women in many of the bloggers comments offensive. I am still dealing with the health effects of an abusive incident 28 years ago. Have a heart, guys..

  26. 31 Tom K in Mpls
    October 8, 2009 at 18:57

    Based on many of the posts here, I would like to see the BBC World Service do a story on abusive women. This could start something interesting.

  27. 33 steve
    October 8, 2009 at 18:59

    @ Nora

    Nobody is blaming women. But if you just live in denial, and don’t do anything about it, this will become increasingly common. There is no shortage of women with low self esteem that actually desire relationships like this. The point is to fix what is wrong with so many women in desiring these kinds of men, and then of course, if these men are undesirable, they will die out. But for now, the situation is bad, and only getting worse, and denying the problem isn’t going to help.

  28. October 8, 2009 at 20:24

    It is not Right to hit a woman nor misuse women. Sometimes, some women invite it.

  29. 35 viola
    October 8, 2009 at 23:04

    Indeed, denying the problem will not help.

    Neither will ignoring it or side-tracking it by focusing on women’s low self-esteem.

    Some aspects of this discussion remind me of the discussion that revolves around the state of Israel. One side seeks to make it all about Israel when a suicide bomber kills a bunch of people. Similarly, ask a question about why a man might choose to hit a woman and a bunch of people jump right in and start talking about the what’s wrong with women. Go figure.

  30. 36 Kassandra
    October 8, 2009 at 23:46

    I don’t think there is a one precise cause for the abuse of women. Neither are women with low self-esteem at the root of this problem,as Steve suggests; nor are solely the insecure, ignorant males. Just like Garry has mentioned in his post, the issue is extremely complex, stemming from many causes and which are rarely cut and dry. The human psyche is convoluted and labyrinthine – deciphering it is difficult in many cases even for its owner.
    However, I do think that abuse has to do with one’s intrinsic, innate character. If one is inherently, congenitally of noble nature (regardless of the social level or other circumstances in which one lives), then abuse of another being will never be an issue. If one is an inbred plebeian, a lowborn commoner (not from the perspective of social class, but having to do with one’s own natural tendencies and character), then abuse, opportunism, exploitation, barbaric savagery, immorality and overall depravity will inevitably be present.
    And there is nothing anyone can do to change this with the exception of draconian laws, holding the latter in fear of ruthless reprisal and reprimand by authorities. Individually, though, we have to learn how to recognize the signs and run away from those belonging to that category. One’s own dignity has to serve as the guiding light.

  31. 37 moshezve
    October 9, 2009 at 16:13

    If they would not dare to hit a man bigger than themselves, or if they were the woman being hity they are obviously cowards

  32. 38 Dorothy
    October 10, 2009 at 04:27

    Violence on either side is no good. Often bad parenting where no example and guidelines set and shown and lack of nurturing. Sentencing particularly of rape and hit and run criminals is insufficient and too lenient. The abusers get away with too much. The victims suffer greatly and many to their graves. However cases of beating need to be looked into and both sides given professional help. It is wrong – whatever the abuse – hitting – control – rape etc. Our Justice system needs to get realistic and our judges need to apply it more vigorously. Criminals get away with too much. Make these people do more community work e.g. cleaning up the streets, park, green belts, empty spaces, riverbanks etc. and removing graffiti under strict and stringent surveillance and guarding. What has happened to some of our old laws? Goal should not be comfortable. It should just be a place to eat and sleep and in the day time compulsory work either inside or out depending on the crime. A few months goal for rape is deplorable. The man should be castrated.
    Men should not be abused by women either. But it is unacceptable for men to hit women. Men should ask for help if their wives or women abuse them.

  33. 39 Ricky
    October 13, 2009 at 20:05

    Don’t forget, too, that there are some folks out there in kinky sadist and masochist couples. That’s a minority of abusive couples, I’d reckon, but since those couples presumably are okay with the abuse, nobody hears from those couples. The people making the noise (representing the majority of abusees) hate the rough treatment and are the reason why it’s morally wrong, why it’s a problem, why people need to do something about abuse.

  34. 40 Ricky
    October 13, 2009 at 20:12

    As for why some non-kinky people hit women? Some do it because they feel angry and want to take it out on something or someone, to physically punish. Punishment is a form of revenge – it is an attack on someone because one feels wronged or attacked. They don’t care about the feelings of those who are attacked. When two or more parties exact revenge upon one another for prior (alleged) wrongs, then we have an enormous problem: a sustained conflict with no end in sight (to wit: the Israeli-Palestinian nonsense).

    Some do it because it’s a power trip for them. They want to be the master, the emperor, the boss, and the more humiliating it is for the other, the better the abusers feel.

    Some do it because they hate their wives. In such cases, the best thing to do is to get an immediate divorce. Also, see the first reason – this hate might feed into punishment/revenge thinking.

  35. 41 XOXO
    January 22, 2010 at 16:06

    Why do Men think that they can justify their act of violence by raising their hand on a woman simply because she spoke back or returned his arrogance.
    This act of ruthless violence makes him ashamed later and does evoke an earnest apology but never a promise that this behaviour would not be reiterated if similar situations arise again.
    So the pretext of obtaining a promise from the female partner to never be arrogant or rude in future is used as a prerequisite for giving a promise of never repeating the act of violence!

    Is this justified? Can females not express thie irritation, arrogance when the Man is angry?
    I would rather like to hear the male opinion on this!

  36. 42 Stephanie
    March 12, 2010 at 18:51

    In 2010, I actually cannot believe that we are still having this debate.

    Men should now know their place- we are pretty much equal now, they certainly knew their place when they demanded a clean house, sex, and dinner on the table so they will have to adjust.

    If they didn’t want women to take a more active role in the world, they shouldn’t have bloody well started the second world war. We were the ones who had to heal and care for the injured men. They should have more respect than to beat their EQUAL.

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