Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The truth hurts.

AFTER 14 years of lying about it, Dennis Waterman has finally admitted he hit his ex-wife Rula Lenska.

And of course, he says it was her fault.

She was "strong" and "intelligent", and this made her a "power freak" and as a result when they argued he "couldn't get a word in". So he clocked her once or twice. But that's all right because "she certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different".

He can't really remember punching or slapping her, but thinks he must have done it at least once "cause she did have a black eye".

Waterman blames this on the fact he's not very bright or good with words, that he'd had a bit to drink, and was so frustrated he lashed out. And he adds that he felt ashamed afterwards and has never done it since.

"It's not hard for a woman to make a man hit her," he said, neatly giving women a very good reason to feel much the same way about him.

I could bitch about how outrageous his words are, but you already know that. I could reheat my old stories of being married to someone who was violent, but that's predictable. So instead I will tell you some hard truths.

Being hit can hurt, but it doesn't last. It's the bullying that goes with it which is far more damaging. I have a friend who was hospitalised by her partner, and afterwards she went back to him not because she was stupid but because she had spent years being told it was her fault, and because she was scared to do anything which might upset him further.

You become used to changing your behaviour to avoid conflict, and when conflict occurs you 'learn' that this is because you didn't change enough; so you give in a little more until eventually there's not much of you left.

Physically I never had more than a bruise, but psychologically it took years to relearn the things everyone else takes for granted; that I am not to blame for someone else's faults, that I cannot absorb another's problems, and that I can be safe behind a closed door with a man. This last point was the hardest to figure out, and sometimes it still makes me wobble.

I wasn't beaten either, Dennis, and you're right in that it is physically different to being slapped, shoved, dragged or thrown. But mentally it's precisely the same. And for the record your use of words sounds fairly accomplished to me.

There are quite a few men - and women - out there who will have read what this silly actor has to say and agreed with him, because they have done exactly the same. They feel they were frustrated, that they had no choice, and it was largely the fault of a "power freak".

Domestic violence is not about hitting someone: that's just a symptom. The cause is someone who feels they are losing control, often because of drink, drugs, loss of employment, or financial pressure. And while they cannot or will not change those things they can control the person closest to them by lashing out, ironically often while accusing their victim of being the one who's controlling.

Waterman has at least stopped denying it and says it hasn't happened since, which if true is not only a good thing it's a statistical marvel.

But he's still using the same excuses he told himself all those years ago, and there's one lesson he hasn't learned and which many victims have had to consider at some point, which is: "Would I want this to happen to my child?"

Because if the answer's "no" then you have to stop all the excuses and accept the truth, as hard as it is: that you were wrong. Wrong if you were violent, wrong if you stayed with someone violent, and wrong to keep on making excuses for the inexcusable.

Never trust a man in loafers. 
He's too stupid to tie his laces.

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