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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all