“What Do You Do When A Girl Hits You?”

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  1. What about less severe cases, though? E.g. women slapping due to perceived “disrespect.” I was watching “Something to Talk About” the other night, with JulIa Roberts and Dennis Quaid. Dennis Quaid’s character cheats on his wife, Julia Roberts’ character, and in retaliation: 1) Kyra Sedwick’s character, JR’s character’s sister, knees DQ’s character in the balls; and 2) JR’s character gives DQ’s character food poisoning in a fit of pique. The first act of violence is portrayed as deserved and the second as wrong-doing, but understandable wrong-doing. And I realized that I’d seen this movie many times without giving either instance of violence much thought. Yes cheating was involved and you could call this violence acts of passion, but I wouldn’t be okay with a man beating his cheating wife. But woman-on-man light violence was normalized for me.

    I agree with all the “walk away” advice, but at a deeper level, how do we stop thinking that violence against men by women is at some level acceptable, an okay way for a weaker person to interact with a stronger person? It’s as though we all need to re-do kindergarten: no hitting (except in strict defense), ever.

    • I think that the problem deals directly with body-size.

      One common refrain I’ve heard is a woman saying “Yeah, but when someone has 100 pounds on you…” I even read a version of this today, written by Joanna Schroeder, an editor of this site, in a comment on another article. This is SO common, that I’ve come to believe many women just cannot get past it.

      Speaking as a small man, I’ve never understood this point of view. I’m 5’7″ tall, and my weight fluctuates between 150 and 160 pounds, depending on how often I’ve gotten to the gym recently. The very same men that women complain about ALSO have 100 pounds and several inches on me. Moreover, one needs only glance at statistics to know that, as a man, I’m far more likely to be the victim of violence (whether its murder or simple assault), than any woman.

      Yet, despite the statistics being against me, and my small stature, I don’t feel scared around men, because as a man, I know that men are human beings and not mindless brutes.

      But no matter how many times I’ve tried to explain this, it just falls on deaf ears. The whole “I’m at risk because women are smaller,” still gets trotted out, and my own viewpoint as a small man is ignored.

      Until the hurdle that comes with body size differential can be overcome, I just don’t know how we can get past this.

      • wellokaythen says:

        When you go to the ER because someone has cracked your skull, the MRI machine can’t tell the difference between a female assailant and a male assailant. The doctor doesn’t evaluate the damage to your face based on the gender of the attacker, because damage is damage. A concussion is a concussion. A bruise is a bruise. Men’s nerve endings are just as sensitive as women’s. Men experience pain just as easily as women do.

        Contrary to what many women think, a man’s skull is not harder than a woman’s, and the physical size difference or muscle power difference matters even less when there are weapons involved. Put a gun in her hand and the “100 pounds difference” means nothing. Men don’t absorb bullets any better than women do.

      • There are other male privileges besides just physical body size. I am not automatically afraid of large men, I come from a family of large men who were all teddy bears. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel nervous if I’m the only woman in a subway station at night.

    • you run. run as fast as you can.

  2. Ouuhh!

    I cannot believe why or how it is so hard for you to get legally punishment for the woman of abusive behavior or assaulting u!?? Put some hidden cameras to the house if she is really beating you, so u have hard evidence!!

    Or my way is to make very clear with my manly charisma that if u assault on humanbeen you better be ready to face the consequences, because if you will be violent you will get that back, cus that is how world works(I’m a christian ev.lut. strongly man of god), but every action has a counter and you have to take responsibility of your acts!! –Guys man up! What do you think the muslims say!? …laughing them ass off, i tell u!! ; )

    But all good, try to scope with your females, love them and make sure they know there is really no equality between our worlds! Mans world and hes surviving is completely different than the world of feminine..!


    • Troy Wahl says:

      In California (and I’m sure in some other states as well), one either needs informed consent (thus the signs that state a business does video surveillance) or a search warrant for surveillance to be admissible evidence. There is no way an abuser will give informed consent and a judge needs evidence of the abuse before they’ll sign a search warrant. Catch-22 again.

      Law in all states requires minimum and equal force (which includes skill level) be used to resolve a conflict. As a marine, dealing with a presumably untrained civilian, his training automatically meant that he had greater skill, thus touching (unarmed) her would have meant using excessive force unless she had a weapon (which is how a prosecutor would argue it). Catch-22 again.

  3. My mother raised me as a feminist. If a women slaps me or hits me I will hit her right back.

    • Then your ass will be shipped off to jail and you will be labeled a wife beater, denied any kind of services or assistance and constantly picked on and humiliated. Go on and tell the cops you are a feminist and that she hit you first as she spins out a lie about you being the aggressor and see which side they take. Spoiler alter: It won’t be yours.

      • Your 100% right.
        I guess that would also make me an activist. =D
        I will tell you one thing however, You tell a women upfront that you will hit her right back and she might very well rethink attacking you in the first place.

        I have used force with three women in my life. The first as a kid when this girl kept hitting me so my mom told me to just hit her back next time. The next time was at 16 with my girlfriends drunk mother who attacked me and was pulling my heir and hitting me. after a bit of this I told her if she did not let me go I would defend myself. I pushed her off me and started to walk out when she turned and went after my girlfriend…. so I beat the shit out of her, 14 years later she still has the scar on her forehead from our fight.

        the 3rd time had was at 20 when my new girlfriend tried to stop me from walking out the door and leaving by blocking my path. I stopped and looked her right in the eyes before I pushed past her. Not to hard but my point was made that if your going to try and stop me then you better be ready to stop me.

        • Anonguy, to me, it sounds to me that you have more anger and an agenda against “Feminism”, then you do the actual issue of violence against men.

          • Well your free to think that. I would point out I self identify as a liberal feminist. I also corun a feminist Facebook page examining issues of consent mostly.
            You could argued I have a issue with violence or masculunity, but I don’t see this as a agendy so much as respec for women. If I would hit a man only chivalry could explains why I would not hit a women.
            Its not violence vs men or women. Its just violence.

  4. Tom Brechlin says:

    When are people going to be honest and admit that men don’t count? A lot of empathy in these responses but it means nothing without action.

    President Obama and Vice President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization. March 7, 2013. It’s been reinstated……. And life goes on, business as usual.

  5. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    The only winning move is not to play.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    This whole “male perpetrator/female victim” assumption breaks down in same-sex relationships. (I think I wrote this somewhere else here, but I don’t remember where.) I wonder if there are people in same-sex relationships who can shed some light on this issue. There is DV within some of those relationships, and the dichotomy totally falls apart.

    Think about it:

    If one mad abuses another, then that means two perps and no victims?
    If one woman abuses another, then that means two victims and no perps?

    Total logical failure.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Sorry, should say “one man” not “one mad”. Hmm, writing mad when I mean man….Freudian slip, perhaps?

    • I recall reading something about this long ago, where the statistics apparently showed that domestic violence among lesbian couples was usually ignored and dismissed, because police and social service workers believed that women are incapable of violence, which meant that there cannot possibly be a victim in these cases.

    • Being gay totally changes gender dynamics in a relationship. It is something that is equally liberating as a gay man, and frightening to see in hetero relationships. Women are completely capable of violence against men, and it is damaging to society that we do not take this into consideration.

      A statement like “It is not ok to hit women” is bad for society. Quite frankly, it is not ok to hit people, no matter what their gender is. And it is time for society to catch up in this matter.

  7. Carrie writes:

    “Hey Good men project,
    Nice job rewriting the narrative regarding physical abuse in this country. Violence against women is an epidemic. Some of us aren’t buying your BS. Violence of any kind should not be tolerated, but simply look at the statistics for domestic violence and you will see the real issue.
    Feel free to call me an “angry feminist”—I wear that title with pride.”

    It would be unfair to call her angry on the basis of one message. When I look at her message, I don’t see anger. I see language that is:

    passive aggressive
    lacking in empathy
    ideologically blinkered

    But I don’t see anger, exactly. I don’t consider “angry feminist” to be an insult anyway. Anger is just a feeling. It can be justified or unjustified. It does tend to destroy reason and a sense of accountability, however. Same with being proud of a label. Pride can be good or bad. If I said I was proud of my anger, that ought to be evidence to others that I’m somewhat unhinged.

  8. This blindness to male victims of women is not doing women any favors, either. Think about it. Discounting aggression in women or discounting women’s capacity for violence is just one more way of discounting women. It’s just one more layer of the “sugar and spice and everything nice” infantilizing garbage that’s kept women down for centuries. It’s as much disempowering as empowering.

    If we want a society that really does think women are just as capable of men are, then we have to accept that women are just as capable at the BAD things, too, not just the good things. “Anything you can do, I can do better” also includes domestic violence.

  9. This is such a sad article. I wish that didn’t happen to you. I wish all victims of domestic violence could be taken seriously and get the assistance they need. I hope you got your children.

  10. This is a really important piece to hear. And it is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. What does a man do when a woman hits him? I have no answer for that. What do you when your wife kicks you in the head? I simply don’t know. I simply can’t imagine what kind of woman does this. Other then a really terrible one. The fact that a man does infact have a different body structure and muscle mass compared to a woman can clearly be both a draw back or a positive. I don’t think it’s fair to completely ignore what a man may be capable of when coming to combat with a woman. But we also should not deny that anyone is capable of violence.

    In the case of Joseph, when you have military training and are bigger than your wife, how do you stop an escalating situation without coming off as the abuser yourself? Again, I don’t know. Is the answer to use violence to fight violence? I don’t really believe it is. But then again, I have no answer for what really would be the answer. Would it be wrong to use the daughter to describe what she saw? I’m not so certain it would be. Especially if it prevents the daughter herself from being in an abusive situation with the mother.

    I certainly understand that abusers come in all shapes and sizes though. My brother dated a very gorgeous, young woman who was petite..maybe 5’5 and 110 pounds. She turned out to be an abusive person. It never escalated to the point of her hitting him, however, she had done things like hit herself in the head with a bat to get him to let her in the house after they broke up, would purposely let his dog out so it ran off, and threatened suicide right on the day he was suppose to fly to meet myself and my parents in Maui for a family vacation. My brother was always a confident guy and actually was the one that was abusive to me when we were younger. He didn’t fit any stereotype and either did she about what an abusive relationship looks like.

    So I think the key here is throw out our misconceptions about what abuse looks like. Preconceived notions in general get us in trouble. The people that didn’t help Joseph where both victims and perpetuators of their own biases. And because of that, Joseph was cut off from the help he needed.
    Unfortunately, I do see a common mentality in society to blame the victim or to not trust what the victim is accusing the other person of doing. We see it hear in Joseph’s story and other men like him and we see it in rape cases when it comes to both men and women, where the victims are still targeted as being the one to cause the trouble. What is exactly behind those mentalities, I have no clue. But I do know that unfortunately in our culture, not believing the victim is all to common.

    I do think that violence against men and women is common place in media. Joseph talked about the ease at which female characters are shown slapping, hitting or kicking the balls of a man. Unfortunately, when someone hurts you, it makes us feel better to hurt that person back. Which is why it can be so satisfying to a cheating man getting slapped in the face. But it’s not much fun seeing your gender the victim of violence. That much I get. And if we can take away the satisfaction to hurt others simply because they hurt us, that would be a key component in empathy and growth. I don’t personally like seeing men slapped or kicked in their private area. However, the psychology about why it’s prevalent can hopefully explain the way to change it.

    Women are no stranger to violence in the media themselves. Often though, violence against women is sexualized. Most story lines about violence against women focus on beautiful and young women being victims. When there is a less attractive or older victim of violence, often it is perceived that the abuse is somewhat deserving or the older or less attractive woman is portrayed as such a harpy herself that it’s hard to have sympathy for her. This doesn’t even get into the amount of actual violence that is often procured in alot of entertainment that is sexually satisfying to men such as pornography. Where a woman’s physical and verbal abuse is sexualized and often very much welcomed.

    Unfortunately, it does seem the public does like to see each gender receive some form of violence. How do we change that as well? I do not know. But I desperately wish we could.

    It is my hope for Joseph that someone reading this can actually give him the help he needs. That maybe there is a men’s group or a professional of some kind, a lawyer, reading this that may want to reach out to Joseph.

    Joseph, I hope you are able to get your life back together, especially your children. And I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through something like this. I wish there was more I could do to help you but just by reading your story, it’s given me a lot to consider.

    • Erin,

      You say you want to help. Why don’t you call around to domestic violence prevention centers in your area and ask them why they refuse to help men who are victims of domestic violence? If they won’t, start a shelter that helps men and women equally. Stop treating this as a one-off, unusual situation, and recognize the systematic way in which we refuse to help men and boys when they are abused.

      If you want justice, work for justice. Don’t just wring your hands.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    I’m very curious about the editorial decision to have the title say “when a girl hits you” instead of “when a woman hits you.” The first time he raises the question it says “girl,” but for the rest of the article it says:

    “What do you do when a woman hits you?”

    That seems to be the main question of the article. It’s describing an adult, female human who uses violence against a man. The assailant is clearly a woman and not a girl. It’s clear that “girl” and “woman” give very different connotations about how dangerous the abuse is. This is not a 5-year old pinching a little boy. This is adult fists and adult muscle power.

    The word “girl” gives the impression that the damage should be discounted somehow.

  12. I feel for you. There are no good options for you to take and it seems like everything is stacked against you. I’d like to share my own story. Although not as egregious a story as your, it still can be another story told about women who are violent towards men. I started dating a women last year and although things were hardly perfect, we both seemed to love each other. We had our fights, far more than I think a healthy relationship has (but I would still be in this relationship if it were healthy), but I never once laid my hands on her or threatened to do so. Slowly, as our arguments became more intense the stakes became high (we each invested so much our time into the relationship, towards the end we were all each other had it seemed) she became increasingly violent. Although she never hit me in the face, I was pushed and punched in the arm and chest many times. I am a large man and she was a tiny women so I knew I could never hit her, and I never will, or any other women. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t afraid for my wellbeing (she had a rough history, mine…not so much) and actually found myself sleeping on my own couch one night with a hammer under my pillow and the door to the living room closed and locked. She had become very emotional that night after we had an argument and pushed me many times. I told her to stop and calm down but this only made her more angry and increased her threats to “try her”. I told her I was going to call the police and again was met with more pushing and threats until she stormed off to the bedroom. I didn’t call the police that night but I really should have. No one should have to fear for their safety (man or women).

    A few weeks later I did call the police after an argument led to being pushed and threatened. I asked her to leave (my home, she was not on the lease and had not been paying rent. Plus she had no job) and she refused, so I called the police and waited. When they arrived, we had already separated and I was on the sidewalk in front of my neighbors house and she was on the back porch. The male officer questioned me while she was questioned by a female officer. I told my side of the story, she was pushing me, threatening me and I feared for my safety and I wanted her to leave. Truth be told, I didn’t want her to leave, I loved her and I just wanted to stop arguing. The line of question from the officer was more a long the lines of whether I wanted her to leave (which I ultimately decided against) and nothing was mentioned about the violence or threats. If the roles had been reversed I am almost certain they would have been harder on me, than they were on her. Granted, I was given the opportunity to make her leave (4 oclock in the morning, nothing in hand for her) but I could hear and see her crying in the dim light of the porch and I just couldn’t do it. No charges were filed and I felt like I had wasted the time of the police.

    I am lucky to be out of that relationship, but I still worry that something might happen in the future.

  13. I cannot believe some of the comments I’m reading on this thread. To the women who are arguing that shedding light on female aggressors somehow diminishes awareness or clarity around violence against women, or cannibalizes limited resources to address such violence:

    1) Lies, damned lies and statistics – this writer is one of MANY men who is not “counted” in domestic abuse statistics. That doesn’t mean that females are aggressors as often as men; that doesn’t mean that women are not more vulnerable than men, physically and socially speaking. But it should make EVERYONE, male and female, VERY concerned that we operate within systems that don’t treat violence as violence – PERIOD. As a woman, I don’t want this man’s story swept under the rug so that a female-centric narrative can hold court. That doesn’t make me feel safer. It makes me feel terribly sad, and angry about the state of the systems that are supposed to keep us ALL safe.

    2) If there are limited resources to address domestic violence, how is that the FAULT of men who bring abuse against them to light? Why should it matter who suffers more, or who is more vulnerable – shouldn’t there be resources for EVERYONE who needs them? If you really want to rage against someone or something, then why not view men such as this author as a potential ally, and band together to protest and change the broken system with its insufficient resources, red tape, and insane biases?

    In short: how can you sit there and demonize someone speaking truth to power, when you yourselves seek the same outcome – a system that protects everyone from harm, and metes out justice when harm is done?? I just… I can’t understand it. This isn’t a zero-sum game.

    Joseph, thank you for sharing, and for your considered approach to this subject. We are all in this together.

    • 1. Exactly. This is that illusion that helping men somehow silences women. Its amazing that for people who make no small bones about how female abuse victims are under counted will then turn around and pretend that the numbers on male victims are totally accurate and there is no way they could be higher. Most likely its not that they don’t want them to be higher, but specifically they don’t want to lose the gap between the numbers of male and female victims. That gap is what helps keep women in the center of the conversation on violence.

      2. If there are limited resources to address domestic violence, how is that the FAULT of men who bring abuse against them to light?
      What they are doing is suspending the (correct) line of logic that a woman shouldn’t be blamed for being attacked.

      Why should it matter who suffers more, or who is more vulnerable – shouldn’t there be resources for EVERYONE who needs them?
      While ideally resources should be available to any who need them they are limited. Showing that “women have it worse” helps continue the argument that resources should not only continue to be diverted to women but actually diverted AWAY from men.

      If you really want to rage against someone or something, then why not view men such as this author as a potential ally, and band together to protest and change the broken system with its insufficient resources, red tape, and insane biases?
      Or they could even get outraged at the women that abuse these men. They have no problem raging at the men that abuse the women they care so much about but for some reason when abusive women are called the rage suddenly falls short (or is directed at the male victim because to them we’re supposed to help women and rage at men rather than help the victim and outrage at the abuser).

  14. egg mcmuffin says:

    The answer is… there is always a lead in to this kind of behavior. Men cannot dismiss it as “she just needs to calm down a bit”. Get cameras, audio recordings, and a pit bull for a lawyer. Also, file a statement with the police dept at the first sign of perceived trouble. Develop an exit strategy from the violent woman… also if you all remember…. the correct adage was “never hit a lady”. If she is hitting you, she is no lady. Game on. Defend yourself and have witnesses. Share your issues with people who can vouch for your character…. it could help you down the road. I don’t hit anyone, or am I a fighter. However… guy or gal… come stepping to me with fists a flying? Prepare yourself for war.

  15. I just want to say thank you for your courage in speaking out about these issues. I know that the feminist I have worked with over the years, in particular those who are working as advocates for victims of domestic violence, are NOT happy with the “required arrest” mandates and other ways that the system assumes men to be aggressors and women to be victims. There are a lot of things wrong with the way we handle violence, child-rearing, custody and other issues…. all of them tied up in patriarchal values of masculinity and femininity. I hope one day, as more people come forward to share their experiences, we can change this culture.

  16. Get out of there and get a restraining order and report it AFTER the restraining order. Also prepare for that eventuality, donate to the local prosecutor’s campaign every year. EVERY year. Also his/hers significant competition, you want to make friends, not enemies.

  17. Your main defense as I see it is to basically say.
    “If i’m a trained fighter and have so much ability to hurt someone, then why does she not have a bruise on her? I’m trained to fight and kill men twice her size, if I wanted to hurt her and be the aggressor she would have had least had one mark on her, she has none, I do.”

    However men not in the military can’t really pull that, but a variant of it might be a good defense if they use the “your bigger then her” argument and your the only one who’s been beaten”

  18. I can sympathize with this story. I spent a night in jail after being hit, and abused yet again by my long time live in girlfriend. I always kept my cool, thus time she had also decided hitting me wasn’t enough so she punched my 3 month old tv shattering the screen. I threw her out, called the cops, they came and looked for her, didn’t take a statement from me or my roommate who had seen most of it. Then I get a call threatening me to take her back or else. later that night cops showed up for me. I had audio, I had witnesses and it didn’t matter. I had never been to jail, had not broken the law but I got hauled away for being male. has far has weight and all she outweighed me, and was about has tall has me but I still had to be the aggressor. Luckily the charges were dropped after the detective investigated but still I should never have been hauled in to begin with.

  19. This broke my heart to read. I am truly sorry to hear what has happened to you and your family, and I fear for your children…

    As a woman who has suffered abuse from both of the female family members I grew up with, alongside of the men who came and left throughout it, I know how horrible of an experience it is. But having lived through this abuse, I know that women are just as capable of abuse as men are. Sure, most women I personally know resort more to barking than biting, but on the flipside, so do most of the men I know too. As many others have said on here, abuse is abuse. It’s terrible that men are just portrayed as these evil beasts who rape and abuse, but can never be the actual victims of such things.

    In this situation though, the justice system just failed on so many levels. They didn’t take the photos, therefore they basically just skipped the evidence collection. They didn’t get a story from the children, the witnesses, and so again that was an overlook of evidence/testimony as well as leaving the children in dangerous custody. If this woman was abusive to her husband, what is going to stop her from abusing the children? Even if they weren’t taking the man’s claim seriously enough to investigate for him, they should have done it for the safety of the children!

    It is just so frustrating and heartbreaking that good people get punished for being good people….

    Also for those who say women are incapable of violence, tell that to women like Gertrude Baniszewski.

  20. systembreakdown says:

    I’ve been accused of being a feminist because, as a female Marine, when I point out double standards, it is usually one in which women are viewed negatively (i.e, that girl hangs out with a bunch of guys and therefor must be promiscuous– something I have had people accuse me of when the guys in question were in my unit and we were eating together after a unit function). However, I have always been quick to point out double standards and sexist views that negatively portray men, as well. I find it very sexist that these officials didn’t believe a man could be a victim of abuse at the hands of a woman. Situations like this make it even harder for men to be comfortable admitting them when they arise because society will trey stripping them of their manhood or accusing them of lying. While women are more often victims (stastically speaking), they are not the only victims.


  1. […] Joseph Kerr writes at the Good Men Project: […]

  2. […] Like most men, I am taller and heavier than my wife. I’m a Marine veteran with combat training. Studies have shown that gender (either biologically or by social framework) plays a role in being fearful. Women are more likely to report being afraid[1]. […]

  3. […] by men against men, as well as violence by women against men). Psychological abuse is 50/50. As this man’s story shows, DV against men is significantly under […]

  4. […] who aren’t playing crazy.  The Good Men Project posted an article back in August titled What Do You Do When A Girl Hits You?  The author recounted how he was arrested after his wife brutally assaulted him in a successful […]

  5. […] stilted approaches to the subject make their way into the legal system. Consider the tragic case of Joseph Kerr, a victim of real […]

  6. […] as incidents of DV. And DV against men is significantly under reported (here’s an example of one man’s story). It’s also heterosexist: not all male abusers have female victims – gay men are the […]

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