Amanda Platell: A slap is not a marriage breaker

Share

This week I stepped into the minefield of the domestic violence debate - and nearly had my leg blown off. As I discovered through a week of radio and television discussions and the numerous people who just stopped me on the street to comment, there is precious little real debate over this most sensitive of issues.

This week I stepped into the minefield of the domestic violence debate - and nearly had my leg blown off. As I discovered through a week of radio and television discussions and the numerous people who just stopped me on the street to comment, there is precious little real debate over this most sensitive of issues.

Even to countenance the question I raised in my London Evening Standard column on Tuesday - whether some violence was ultimately forgivable within a relationship - became an act of sisterly heresy, a betrayal of women everywhere, which I find most curious. Surely there is a difference between the man who gets drunk each night, or every week, or every month, comes home and uses his wife/partner and his children as a punchbag and the man who loses control very occasionally and hits his partner.

Yes, I do understand why some women choose to stay with a partner who has hit them. It is horrible but it happens. And I do not mean by that a man who has beaten up a woman and left her in hospital. But I believe there is a huge difference.

If we are able to differentiate between different kinds of homicide, from manslaughter to premeditated murder, then why can we not draw a distinction between a man who ritually brutalises his partner and one who rarely hits out? And why is society's condemnation the same in both cases?

Domestic violence is no more a black-and-white issue than it is a black-and-blue one. And yet we as a society still cling to the "one strike and you're out" policy, as I discovered this week.

The trigger for my piece was the rather nasty episode - not the first - involving Leslie Ash and Lee Chapman. Ms Ash spent five days in hospital with a punctured lung and cracked rib after purportedly rough sex during which she fell out of bed. Mr Chapman sounds pretty unpleasant, but for the purposes of this argument I ask you to put aside any feelings of loathing you might have for him. This debate is not about him, nor about violent abusers; it is about domestic situations in which there is an occasional slap.

It emerged from discussions on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show and on Woman's Hour that the received wisdom is that one cannot and should not differentiate between types or degrees of domestic violence. I disagree. The research is based mostly on the extremes, where the violence is habitual. But at the other end of the scale, there are women who find the occasional lapse of control in their partner a price they can live with, if the rest of the relationship works. It is still an appalling thing to happen in a relationship - the red mark on a woman's face may fade, but the black mark against his character does not.

I have a friend who is in such a relationship and has been for 21 years, during which she has happily raised three children. She calls it a 95 per cent marriage. If she can live with her partner hitting her in anger once every five years, then who are we to say she should have left? She hates him and he hates himself for doing it, but she can forgive him.

These women - who tell no one about the occasional shaming loss of control - never form a part of research into domestic violence. But again and again, and especially when I did ITV1's This Morning and argued the toss with their agony aunt Denise Robertson, I felt as though some people believed that even raising this issue was a most heinous crime against all women. As though I were some terrible enabler, an apologist for brutal men, which I am not.

And the double standards applied to men and women are still breathtaking. A man slapping a woman is grounds for divorce, yet how many people seriously apply the same rule to women? And I ask you, how many women reading this have hit their partners and considered it to be an act of domestic violence?

If my column achieves nothing more than to have made one woman who feels pilloried by society for making her own 95 per cent deal with a less than perfect man feel OK about that deal, then the minefield was worth it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone