Stars' tales of abuse may be a double-edged sword

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The Independent Online

We've all suspected that domestic violence is far more prevalent than we imagined - but this prevalent? It makes even the most cynical of us gasp. Men beating up and stabbing women; women attacking men; women attacking women - it seems as if there is hardly any time for normal affectionate discourse in the homes of England.

We've all suspected that domestic violence is far more prevalent than we imagined - but this prevalent? It makes even the most cynical of us gasp. Men beating up and stabbing women; women attacking men; women attacking women - it seems as if there is hardly any time for normal affectionate discourse in the homes of England.

Even the stars are talking about violent partners. Sheryl Gascoigne confessed to being beaten up by Gazza last year, and only this week we have witnessed Anthea Turner's revelations, alleging she had a physically abusive relationship with Bruno Brookes, who has in turn answered back that she was not exactly quiet as a mouse, either.

Could it be that stars' admission of domestic violence is actually a two-edged sword? Great - they come out, and expose the horror of their home lives. But since violence is quite common and prevalent in the homes of the stars, why shouldn't it be the same in yours?

Stress at work could be a factor, since people in Britain work far longer hours than any of their European counterparts. Tiredness and exhaustion can often be a trigger for explosive behaviour. Increasingly sedentary occupations don't give us a chance to work off angry feelings in sheer hard labour.

It's easy to connect violence on television with the increase in domestic violence. Television feeds off drama and excitement, in raising our adrenalin levels. As a result, there is an extraordinary amount of punching, hitting and killing on telly.

Do we look at these family dramas and imagine that this is how everyone behaves behind closed doors? Does this portrayal of violence actually sanitise violence? Is violence actually becoming acceptable?

My guess is that it is not just the violence on television that contributes to violence, but the watching of television itself. It is a repressive, passive act. You are not experiencing emotion, just watching other people experiencing it. Small wonder, I would imagine, that watching too much telly produces a build-up of unvented frustration, bursting out in occasional violence.

Watching television, too, prevents interaction with other people. It would be hypocritical to deny that there is a kind of quick and ghastly closeness produced by violence that many people find better than nothing at all.

The laddish culture of women has certainly increased violence in women, and I would guess that men, who feel increasingly threatened by women's greater power in society, are resorting to violence as the last bastion of expressing their masculinity.

Children brought up in violent families obviously get the message that it's okay, and naturally continue the familial trend when they hitch up with someone as adults.

Finally there's alcohol, that notorious producer of aggression. It is now far more socially acceptable to drink - and get drunk - than it was in the past, not just on the streets but in our own homes.

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