Does it matter who hit first?

"She hit first".

That was the refrain from one woman's husband when she applied for a personal protection order against him.

While talking to various women and agencies for this feature, I was struck by this excuse that the husband gave in front of the courts.

My eyes widened when the wife told me her story. Then again, there is a whole school of thought that goes something like this: You started it, so I fight back.

It emerged after the Janay Rice fiasco; commentators noted that in the video, the couple were fighting and she appeared to have flailed at her would-be husband.

Although she does not condone violence or physical abuse, American comedienne Whoopi Goldberg turned heads when she suggested women should not be surprised if she hits a man and he hits back.

Sorry, but I don't buy it.

I, for one, am firmly in the camp that real men don't hit.

There are exceptions, but the average man is, after all, much bigger and stronger than the average woman. The average man hits harder than the average woman.

Should a man hit a woman, the power ratio would be very unequal. If a man were to hit a woman, it is almost equal to when a woman were to hit a child.

Then again, men and women don't hit each other for the same reason.

Women hit out of frustration, sometimes to get attention. They don't hit men to hurt them, because they know that is not a realistic expectation.

Men, on the other hand, hit women usually to hurt them.

When a guy like Ray Rice throws a mean left hook at someone's jaw, he knows exactly what will happen. And if the target is his soon-to-be-wife in an elevator, he knows he will have to drag her out of there later.

I have never been hit by a man, although I did come close, once.

I was in my teens when a schoolmate was constantly abused by her then-boyfriend. I told her to leave him if she wanted to be happy. Unfortunately, she went and told him and I was confronted by the bully.

Fight or flight?

I decided to stand my ground.

Putting my face just inches off his, I taunted him and goaded him to hit me.

He could have and if he did, I would not have known if there was any defence, since I told him to.

But to his credit, he didn't. He merely walked away.

Ethics experts from the Nanyang Technological University say no one, be it man or woman, is justified in hitting someone back, merely for the sake of revenge.

They feel that if a man is hit by a woman, his right of self-defence may justify him hitting her back but only as a necessary and proportional means of preventing her from hitting him again.

But if the man is capable of avoiding another attack without hitting the woman, he should not - even if he wants to - retaliate.

The question here is can he?

Will he be able to rationalise in the heat of the moment?

Walking away or merely overpowering her to stop the hit will stop the violence from escalating.

Easier said than done.

But this is not carte blanche for women to get away with crap either.

Seriously, why does anyone need to hit in the first place?

Words work just as well.

Learn how to argue and argue well.

If you don't know how, then turn and walk away, with your dignity intact.

By doing so, you don't have to face the consequence should the law come down on you, and hard.

So guys, man up and stop the abuse.

Helplines

Centre For Promoting Alternatives To Violence

Tel: 6555-0390

Operating hours: Wednesday (9am to 9.30pm), weekdays (9am to 6pm)

E-mail: admin@pave.org.sg

Care Corner Project StART

Tel: 6476-1482

Operating hours: Monday and Tuesday (10am to 9pm), Wednesday to Friday (10am to 5pm)

E-mail: projectstart@carecorner.org.sg

Trans Safe Centre

Tel: 6449-9088

Operating hours: Weekdays (9am to 5pm)

E-mail: transsafe@trans.org.sg

Association Of Women For Action And Research

Tel: 1800-774-5935

Operating hours: Weekdays (3pm to 9.30pm)

E-mail: aware@aware.org.sg

ComCare Call

Tel: 1800-222-0000

Operating hours: 24 hours

E-mail: msf_email@msf.gov.sg

Star Shelter (Singapore Council Of Women's Organisations)

Tel: 6571-0192

Operating hours: Weekdays (9am to 6pm)

E-mail: counsel@scwo.org.sg


This article was first published on Oct 5, 2014.
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