A few months ago, watching  a movie from the 50s, I was shocked to see a scene of a husband putting his wife on his knees and whipping her as she sobbed. Their little child told her: “Mom !, Dad is spanking you!”  The father answered in a matter-of-fact fashion: “that’s right, son.”  Watching the scene with fascination the son then said: Mom! “this means that Dad loves you!” At that the mother’s face lit up, from then on receiving the lashes without sobs and with a happy face.

– “Why doesn’t she leave him?”. “How can she stick with him?” –

“with all the information we have today, how do they manage to get into this type of relationship”?

The only real part of this scene is that the perpetrator really believes he has the right and power to beat his wife, not because he loves her, but because he thinks he “owns” her. We wonder why violence against women continues  but we do not realize the amount of conflicting messages that are being issued and permitted.

As we become aware of this, we can add another real part of this grim scene:  that the film’s screenwriter was of the same opinion as the protagonist. And he contributed his own power to normalize this opinion in society at large. Sure, you could argue that everyone is free to accept or not a thought as direct as subliminal about the position of women in the world as the one portrayed here.

-“How can it be so hard for her to  recognize abuse ?”

But we need not go so far back in time to see and hear how the script of the  generously understanding woman is permitted and even forced into someone, a woman  who must consent to all for its immense ability to empathize with the noblest side of her batterer. A few months ago in a popular TV  show for boys and girls, one of the boys said explicitly that one of the girls had ‘ the face of a sow’. The girl replied that she neither wanted nor should or could accept such a lack of respect. The boy, with a  smiling face, was  trying to turn the girl into an extremist by saying that it was a term of endearment, and that she was overreacting. And he carried on laughing at his supposedly funny comment that he nevertheless insisted in associating with the face of the girl. She kept her ground while the presenter  was  urging her to mend fences with him and give him a hug. The pressure on the girl rose greatly when she was told that she was not pitching in to resolve the situation, because – you see –  he was trying to apologize …

“Why does she tolerate it? Why does she forgive him?”

In a popular TV spot against gender violence, a woman’s hands are shown with a written message “we are with you”, “report it”, etc., as her face is exposed, always crying or terrified. Worse still, in a previous spot a little girl was shown  asking her mother to do something.

The violent man is never shown. No hand with a written message such as: “we know who you are”, “we are with her, not with you,” or, if you want to level the ground and be as benefactor as with his victims, “go to the therapist before you start beating your wife or your children again”. It is alleged that if you can not protect women beforehand, you should not turn on the violent man’s anger … but they are asking the woman to jump from the trapeze without a net. And she is called a coward or weak or brittle, or submissive, or unsafe, or they even dare to say that “if she sticks with him is because she must like it as it is”.

-“There is a clear profile of a battered, or likely to be battered woman. There is no clear profile of an abusive man”.

Well, in reality, the abusive man is visible but becomes  invisible  for most of the studies focus only on women victims and how to prevent that they are victimised again … That is: a woman is helped to recognize an abusive man when she sees one so as to avoid becoming his partner. But the perpetrator is left free to remain so. No pressure. If he goes to a therapist is because he wants to, not because he needs to, since no one is publicly recommending it, as it is regularly recommended to the woman who suffers his violence. The point being that with women therapies it is intended that the offenders problem remains neutralized  by the fact of being rejected. We need to understand that these women are returned to a normal life in which violent men play the role of  mentally healthy citizens with no outer sign of disrepute that makes them recognizable at first sight.

So important and multifaceted are  women: they go from being victims to being guilty and hence responsible for the eradication of the violent man’s  violence, with all its emotional, psychological and physical implications.

And without realizing it, they are constantly being pushed to put an end to the existence of perpetrators, not in their  married lives, not in their lives as women but in society in general, at the expense of their own integrity, their own identity and their own life                                 –“report him, move on, say no, go to  the therapist to learn to recognize him as a rejectable violent man, remove his chances of  further playing the role of perpretator … although the next victim may need to look after herself …just like you-“.

Because it is no use, as time goes by, that the main focus continues to be on women victims of violence if no action is taken against the violence exercised by the violent, which although it may seem obvious, we must constantly remember is the sole cause of the problem.

On the face of disappointments and disagreements there is a solution: separation. But separation, as has been repeatedly seen, is no solution for the violent, as there is no logical reason for his anger, but is interwoven with it. And he, cannot be separated from himself.

In a social network, some people reported that a woman had kept  her ex-husband’s  house after separation and that, on top, he was allowed to see his daughter every other weekend and only 3 more days per week. A tweeter replied, “and then  they complain that a woman or other is found dead”.

“Zero tolerance with the abuser. Report at the first signs “.

Indeed, the violent man does not show his condition written on his forehead; however, we can recognize some aggressive tendencies in individuals who make certain comments in the sense when a strong disagreement with somebody else’s  attitude  is seen as enough and excusable reason to unleash one’s own violent attitude.

Violence against women is not generated solely and exclusively in a relationship. Because it does not originate with it or within it. Violence originates in a violent man relationship with any woman. And it is no good to sympathize with the victim or demand her to recognize the violent. We need to confront the violent and tell him that what he does is a crime and that his behaviour is not a legitimate one in a healthy and developed society.

Nobody dares to do it, right?


“You should not be afraid of him. Get out of the relationship. Do leave him. Tell him no. BE BRAVE”.

Maribel Maseda holds a University Diploma in Nursing, is a consultant psychiatrist and expert in self-awareness techniques.  She is the author of works such as Talk to Me, The Initiatory Board, and The Safe Zone. Life coach.


Translated by Arturo Guillén.