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I snapped and hit my husband, should I worry?

Relationships
 I thought it was only men who did things like that, not a woman like me (Photo: iStock)

Hi Chris,

My husband and I had a terrible fight the other day. And I do mean a fight. It was not just ugly words, we were hitting one another, and throwing things about.

And as if that is not bad enough, it was me who started it all. I guess I came home tired and stressed, had a glass of wine, one thing led to another, and I suddenly snapped.

We did manage to calm down before any real harm was done. But I am shaken by what happened. I thought it was only men who did things like that, not a woman like me.

I am scared that one day it will happen again. What do you advise?

Violent Wife

Chris says,

Hi Violent Wife!

Indeed, men are responsible for most of the violence away from home, but that is mostly with other men. And women can be violent. International surveys show that women are more likely to start fights in the home than men. And not only in self-defence.

They are three times more likely to use a weapon during a row and commit at least half of all spousal killings. Equal numbers of men and women admit to having hit their partners. And because it is cross-cultural, violence is part of human nature, and not about the way we are brought up.

People believe that men are always the aggressors because men rarely report their violent wives, who by contrast are encouraged to report abuse.

That is not to deny that abuse of women is a serious issue, but most people think that there is no such thing as a violent woman. Or at least they are very rare, and rather funny.

Many organisations contest the idea of female violence, but that is because activists generally focus on the reported crime figures, which are biased by the fact that men do not report their wives’ assaults. But sociological studies show that men and women are equally likely to be violent.

So you are not weird. Every couple argues, and even physical fights are surprisingly frequent. We are all capable of violence, especially under pressure. But throwing a few plates around is one thing, someone getting hurt is quite another.

You recognise your involvement in the problem, but everything in marriage has two sides. So find a quiet time to talk with your husband about what happened. Help him also acknowledge his contribution to the argument.

Discuss your feelings, moods and behaviour together, and how to change them. Explore whether childhood or previous relationship experiences might be affecting you both now. Or stress. Or frustration. Talk to a professional counsellor if need be.

And above all, work together on finding better ways to deal with conflict, like giving each other plenty of time to prepare for difficult conversations, and avoiding alcohol. This way, there will be no more violence.

All the best,

Chris

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