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Domestic Abuse

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"It's so easy, from the outside, to put the blame on the woman and say, ‘You just need to leave.’ … Where does a woman go where [abuse] is the norm? When the police won't help her? When her family won't help her? Where does she go when she leaves one man who hits her and is just as likely to wind up with another man who hits her, maybe even worse than the first? Where does she go when she's single with three kids, and she lives in a society that makes her a pariah for being a manless woman? Where she's seen as a whore for doing that? Where does she go? What does she do?"
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

Domestic abuse, defined as physical or emotional abuse between members of a romantic or familial relationship, was once a recurring comedy trope throughout history. After all, physical and verbal abuse between characters is often considered funny, and romantic relationships were no exceptions. Lately, however, the Unfortunate Implications of Domestic Abuse have gotten more attention, at least for one side of the equation: male-on-female Domestic Abuse.

In modern times this type of domestic abuse is most often used as the impetus for more dramatic plot developments, such as a wife having to face the fear of domestic violence and gain the courage to leave her marriage. In these cases a Dude, Not Funny! may be uttered if someone tries to make light of the situation. Still, female-on-male domestic abuse is still almost always played for laughs. Note however, while more common, domestic abuse is not to be mistaken for just one-sided bullying in a household and can occur on both or multiple sides. A person who gets as good as they give from their partner is still committing domestic abuse.

May also be an element of a Destructive Romance or a Big, Screwed-Up Family, making it an extreme case of Love Hurts. On another hand, Romanticized Abuse occurs when mistreatment is presented as a form of Fanservice. Sometimes, another man will take exception to this behavior. Expect stories revolving around this to involve a lot of Victim-Blaming. May involve Clothing-Concealed Injury if the person being abused tries to hide injuries caused by domestic abuse.

Compare Abusive Parents. Also see The Bluebeard and Black Widow.

See also Values Dissonance and Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male.


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  • Example with the Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: in a commercial for a certain mattress company, a wife gets fed up with her husband's constant tossing and turning, and clubs him unconscious with a frying pan. This is supposed to be funny.
  • An ad aired during the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Chicago Bulls playoff game starts with a couple acting Sickeningly Sweet, then experiences Mood Whiplash when the husband finds out his wife is a Bulls supporter (he supported the Cavaliers, which in this ad are considered the right team). A voice-over then says "Don't make the same mistake she made" and the ad ends with the husband and wife wearing Cavaliers jerseys while the wife holds an ice-pack to her head. Some Moral Guardians derided the ad and demanded it pulled.
  • A United Kingdom PSA about domestic abuse called "If You Could See Yourself, Would You Stop Yourself?" has the boy in a relationship with a girl looking at himself through a thick-glass window mistreating his girlfriend when she refuses to go along with what he's trying to force her to do with him. He bangs on the window, hoping that he can get himself to stop what he's doing.

  • Jan Miense Molenaer's The Five Senses: Touch depicts a woman hitting her husband with a shoe.

    Asian Animation 
  • Wolnie of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf physically abuses her husband Wolffy whenever he inevitably fails to catch the goats, usually by hitting him with a frying pan. That's just one of the ways she has abused him for failing to catch the goats, by the way.

    Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Marvel: Ultimate Hank Pym was terribly abusive to his wife to the point of putting her into a coma, leading to a very satisfying moment where Captain America beat the crap out of him while he was 10 stories high. This was a carryover of the original Pym's infamous moment of slapping his wife one time in the middle of a nervous breakdown induced by a supervillain, though exaggerated - original Pym regretted his action and has tried to atone for it ever since, while Ultimate Pym had a long history of emotional and physical abuse of The Wasp.
  • Superman:
    • This plays into the very first Action Comics issue, where Clark Kent somehow gets involved in a domestic abuse case, leading to Superman intervening with the line, "YOU'RE NOT FIGHTING A WOMAN, NOW!"
    • Revisited in The Dominus Effect story arc where Superman is trapped in four different realities at the same time, when immediately after dealing with the abusive husband he sees a young girl whom he assumes is the abuser's daughter, only to be later revealed as Kismet's form in all four realities.
    • Another example from the franchise is Clark's next-door neighbor Gary. In "Time Ryders", the second Linear Men story from the Time and Time Again collected edition, he is seen walking down the hall to his apartment, simply saying that he's getting counseling to work out his problems and nothing more after that. Gary would be revisited in the Very Special Episode storyline "Crisis at Hand", where Superman tries to get involved when his Super Hearing picks up one of his attacks, but for his wife to try and get Superman arrested. Supes struggles with trying to deal with this until Lois gets tired and takes things into her own hands.
    • In "Breaking the Chain", Supergirl starts a relationship with a mysterious guy called Power Boy. Their brief "romance" ended when Power Boy revealed his abusive nature by beating Supergirl into unconsciousness when she had the gall to visit a male friend in the hospital, and then locking her up "for her protection". In reaction, Supergirl gave him a beating and told him to never come near from her again.
      Supergirl: You hit me. You said you loved me... And you hit me.[...] No one who says he loves you should hit you, ever.
    • In Superman: Grounded, William and his mother suffer physical abuse from his father Vincent. Fortunately, Superman puts a stop to that.
  • Batman:
    • Seeing a man beat his wife or girlfriend really angers Jason Todd. He once (allegedly) killed a man for beating his girlfriend so badly that it caused her to commit suicide — the boyfriend got away scot-free because he was the son of a diplomat, and this drove Jason to take matters into his own hands.
    • Speaking of Batman, there is also the flagship couple, The Joker and Harleen Quinzel. Though their relationship originated in the animated series, the comics have not been holding back on expanding their relationship as much as possible.... In fact, their relationship is so well developed, it's a wonder Harl is still as physically sound as she is. At first this was played purely for comedy, with the Joker dishing out a Literal Ass-Kicking to Harley, ending with her landing out in the street (or, in one case, in the hyena pit). It finally entered Dude, Not Funny! territory in Mad Love, where he flew into a rage, slapped Harley, beat her with a large fish, and finally shoved her through a window several stories above the ground, causing her to land in a blood-soaked heap in the alley below with a black eye and at least three broken limbs. As she heals in Arkham Asylum's hospital wing, Harley comes to forgive the Joker after he sends her a rose and a note reading "Feel better soon" — without even bothering to apologize. In Death of the Family, the Joker is inflicting this on Harley Quinn worse than ever. This time she escapes him. That's a good thing, because he tried hanging her with a chain, and infecting her hyenas with rabies just to hurt her!
    • Robin: In their few appearances together before Janet's murder it is clear that Jack is prone to ignoring her, brushing off her concerns and screaming at her. In addition they're both neglectful of their son, with Jack being the worse of the two by combining that with verbal abuse, destroying and selling Tim's belongings, blaming Tim for his actions and hitting him, though this last is only alluded to rather than shown.
  • Often Played for Laughs in the stories by Wilhelm Busch.
  • In Runaways, during a time-traveling expedition to the 1900s, Karolina and Molly meet a sweet little girl named Klara Prast. When they see Klara fighting with an older man and later appearing with bruises on her face, they assume that her father beats her. Turns out they're half right. The man beats her, but he's her husband, not her father.
    • Chase was physically and verbally abused by his father, to the point where he blamed himself for his abuse. Frighteningly, in the last arc before the series was cancelled, he threatens to beat Klara because she's crying too much after he's deliberately gone out of his way to be cruel to her, because he blames her for Old Lace's death.
  • A few instances of this in The Golden Age. Jonathan Law (Tarantula) gets so frustrated with his Writer's Block and the fact that his paramour Libby Lawrence (Liberty Belle) is finally getting work as a news commentator that he tries to vent them out on Libby, but she takes him down rather easily. Later on, Joan Dale (Miss America) shows signs of abuse after she showed Tex Thompson's Secret Diary to her friends that revealed, among other things, that Thompson was really the Ultra-Humanite.
  • Afterlife with Archie:
    • One of Betty's older sisters, Polly, had been in an abusive relationship in the past. At the time Betty was too young and naive to understand.
    • Cheryl has this type of relationship with her clingy brother Jason. He's controlling and emotionally manipulative.
  • Several cases show up in V for Vendetta, mostly among the higher ups of the tyrannical Norsefire government.
    • Derek Almond, the director of the government's Secret Police, verbally and physically abuses his gentle wife Rosemary. In the most chilling of several such instances, he wakes his wife up during the night, pointing a gun at her. After several tense beat panels, he pulls the trigger... and the gun goes click. He then tells her that although he didn't have the gun loaded, he implies that one day soon it will be loaded as he leaves the room.
    • A rare case of a female abuser is also shown. Helen Heyer plots for her Henpecked Husband Conrad to rise to the top. Along the way she regularly belittles him, psychologically undercuts him, and completely ignores his genuine love for her. When Conrad is critically wounded while killing Alastair Harper, a man Helen slept with as part of her schemes, she is so furious with the fact that he ruined her plans that she leaves him to bleed out and die rather than help him.
  • The first call the new sheriff takes in Copperhead is a case of a father roughing up one of his sons outside their house. As a result he's an immediate suspect when several members of the family are murdered. He's innocent on account of being dead at the time.
  • Richard Dragon's father beat his mother, and was a horrible father to boot though Richard's mom tried to always get in between Richard and his father's actual fists. This is part of the reason he uses Dragon in place of his father's surname.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Sensation Comics: In the Christmas feature Wonder Woman rescues some kids and their widowed mother from their abusive uncle/brother-in-law that the mother is so worried is going to step things up and kill her family she's waiting in the dark with a bat to attack anyone who comes through the door.
    • The man who is married to the real Diana Prince from whom Diana bought her secret idenity threatens his wife when she wants to go back to work and brutally attacks WW—thinking she is his wife—and then leaves her chained to the stove in the kitchen.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Nina Close was beaten and berated by her husband into acting like a meek frail little housewife in her attempts to appease him and keep from setting him off. She eventually snaps and kills him.
    • Wonder Woman: The Once And Future Story focused on Diana learning about the Ephesians, an ancient civilization similar to Themyscira. Ephesian queen Alcippe was taken by Theseus and made into his wife, and by the time her daughter Artemis arrived to rescue her she was horrified to discover Alcippe had been broken by Thesus's abuse. In the modern day, Diana has to deal with the fact that one of the archaeologists who found Artemis's remains is also being abused by her husband.
    • Wonder Woman (2006) #5 focuses on a women's shelter run by survivors of domestic abuse who were inspired to escape from their horrible home lives and found a shelter for others stuck in similar situations by seeing Wonder Woman's actions.
  • In Castle Waiting, Lady Jain seeks sanctuary at the titular shelter to escape her abusive husband.
  • The villainess Mother Night from the Marvel Universe is a truly terrible human being... but read the stories where she and the Red Skull were an item, and cringe. It was one of the most hideously abusive relationships in comics; the Skull beat her savagely, yelled and screamed at her for no reason, humiliated her in front of his subordinates, and refused to let her kill herself (which she requested because she thought, if he was beating her so much, clearly she is failing him somehow) because "you'd like that, wouldn't you?", whereupon he promised to beat her some more.
  • Trouble, which was supposed to be about Spider-Man's parents, Uncle Ben, and Aunt May, had May fearing for the safety of her and her mother if her dad found out about her Teen Pregnancy.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Brian and Rebecca Banner's marriage. Although they started off happy, a combination of stress from his job, his traumatic upbringing and his alcoholism caused Brian to develop anger problems. It only got worse after their son Bruce was born, first with him beating Bruce and then Rebecca when she tried to stop him, before eventually murdering her when she and Bruce tried to escape. While Brian would eventually pay for his crimes, Bruce's traumatic upbringing would lead to the fracturing of his personality, which eventually became the various Hulks.
    • Brian's own father was a violent domestic abuser who beat Brian, his mother and his sisters. Brian began to believe he carried a "monster gene", which was part of the impetus to abuse Bruce (whom he viewed as a "monster in the making").
  • Killing and Dying: Dennis eventually begins hitting the protagonist of "Go Owls", yet another sign that their relationship is bad for her.

    Comic Strips 
  • Andy Capp used to qualify. In one of Britain's longest-running newspaper comics, things are getting steadily better. Andy Capp used to give Flo black eyes on a regular basis. Later, she was more and more often shown winning the fights, sending Andy tumbling out of the house and into the gutter. In fact, Andy looked like he was becoming an abused husband for a while. Now, however, they almost never resort to violence and attend marriage guidance meetings. He's stopped smoking, too.
  • Bringing Up Father: Jiggs' wife Maggie was notoriously violent, and her rolling pin became a trademark of the comic. Lampshaded in a vintage issue of MAD, where Jiggs' injuries are shown in a fairly gruesome realistic style. This satire on domestic abuse ran in Mad #17, 1954.
  • The Lockhorns is an American strip that thinks a hateful marriage is comedy. While it has never featured physical abuse, some of the hurtful remarks the two of them make about each other borders on psychological abuse.

    Fairy Tales 
  • There's a genre of fairy tales around beating one's spouse, usually Played for Laughs or as punishment for the spouse doing something very stupid.
  • There's a fairy tale about a fairy woman who marries a human man, and tells him that she will leave him if he beats her. The first time, he hits her when she laughs at a funeral. (She has her reasons, she knows the person is going to heaven, or some such thing) He pleads with her to not leave him, and she forgives him. The second time, she cries at the christening of a child ... and so on. After he did it three times, she's gone forever.
  • In "Morozko", the old man is completely cowed into submission to his wife, and in some versions the old woman does not hesitate to unfairly blame him for her daughter's death.
  • In Asbjørnsen and Moe's "The Old Dame and her Hen", the youngest daughter falls into the lair of a troll who asks her to be his "sweetheart". Knowing that he will murder her on the spot if she turns him down (like he did to her sisters), the girl agrees until she can figure out how to escape. The troll proceeds to shower her with gifts, but he does not allow her to go out, meet her family or talk to someone; and is willing to hit her if she fails to make lunch or answer when she is talked to.

    Films — Animation 

  • Old joke (Posting it here is not implying that it is funny, but it falls under the trope. There is no question it falls under Black Comedy.)
    Q: What do you tell a [opposite gender] with two black eyes?
    A: Nothin', you already done told 'em twice.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Test was initially a man pushed thought of as sure to be future world champion, who just so happened to have an adorably embarrassing girlfriend named Stacy Keibler. But a roadblock in the way to Test's climb to the top called Scott Steiner, and when Test had trouble with it he resorted to beating up Keibler to alleviate his stress.
  • Jimmy Jacobs resulted to stalking The Lovely Lacey in Ring of Honor after she cheated on him with Austin Aries and even tried to hit her with a railroad spike. Luckily Lacey was saved by Joey Mathews and Tyler Black.
  • When Billy Boy started dating Fabi Apache, he accidentally became the focal point of Fabi and Gran Apache's feud in AAA. Gran Apache tried many methods to get Billy Boy to leave Fabi, but in the end all he did was drive Billy Boy to beat Fabi. However, Fabi eventually put a stop to Billy Boy's abusive ways by defeating him in a steel cage match.
  • After his short stint as Beaver Cleavage, Headbanger Mosh became Chaz, "the Jersey boy who just likes to have fun" with his valet and girlfriend Marianna. It was actually getting over a bit — so of course Marianna came out with a black eye asking "Why Chaz, why?" Chaz was ostracized by the rest of the roster and even the referees, who would refuse to count pinfalls for him. note  Then one day Headbanger Thrasher showed up with footage of Marianna applying makeup to fake the bruises. Marianna was taken away by the police and never seen again, and the Headbangers reunited and went on to do absolutely nothing.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Example too venerable to stop soon: it seems unlikely that Mr. Punch will stop clubbing Judy.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire has Stella on the receiving end of this from her husband Stanley, which she explains away.
  • In Liliom, practically every character calls Liliom out for hitting Julie except for Julie herself. This trait is carried over to Billy Bigelow in Carousel, replete with Unfortunate Implications when Julie tells her daughter that a slap can "feel like a kiss."
  • In Molière's The Doctor in Spite of Himself (a.k.a. Le Médecin Malgré Lui or The Unwitting Doctor), the whole plot starts when Martine decides to get even with Sganarelle for beating her up.
  • During the short play Trifles by Susan Glaspell it becomes obvious that the relationship between Mrs. Wright and her husband is a textbook case of this trope, with the apparent tipping point that led her to kill him being when he killed her canary, who was her sole companion and source of joy.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Ragueneau clearly doesn't care about Lisa's feelings or opinions; he prefers his poet friends over her. Then Cyrano notices the very obvious truth that Lisa is cheating on him with a Musketeer. The second Act seems to play this situation for humor, but the very first words of the Third Act show us the severe consequences of this when Raguenau admits he had an Interrupted Suicide when his wife abandoned him.
  • In Trial by Jury, Edwin defends himself against the charge of Breach of Promise of Marriage by defaming himself, proclaiming that he smokes and drinks to excess and that "I'm sure I would thrash her, perhaps I should kick her." The Judge proposes to get the defendant drunk and see if he would treat her as he said. Everyone else objects, with the natural exception of the defendant.
  • In Fiorello! an exasperated Marie, fed up with Fiorello never noticing her as a romantic possibility, declares that she'll marry "The Very Next Man" who comes along, whatever the circumstances.
    And if he likes me
    Who cares how frequently he strikes me
    I'll fetch his slippers with my arm in a sling
    Just for the privilege of wearing his ring
  • In Man of La Mancha Sancho Panzo reveals his own abuse while sharing a "Little Gossip" with a dying Don Quixote.
    When I first got home my wife Teresa beat me,
    But the blows fell very lightly on my back.
    She kept missing ev'ry other stroke
    And crying from the heart
    That while I was gone
    She'd gone and lost the knack!
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Kyle has hit his wife Nan multiple times in the past, as well as calling her bitch and forcing her to do things she's obviously incredibly uncomfortable with, like bleeding an illegally shot deer for dinner when her passion is for animals, as well as emotionally toying with her and telling her he loves her and needs her when she tries to make a stand for herself.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: In "No Waiting", Sansa sings about doing her best to avoid Joffrey, whome she describes as growing crueler each day.

    Video Games 
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has the Wicked and Weak ending which shows a woman verbally and physically abusing a man without being Played for Laughs. What's worse, the entire incident is seen and filmed by their seven-year-old daughter, who was wandering around the house with a video camera.
  • In the 1st Degree strongly indicates that this occurred between James Tobin and his girlfriend Ruby Garcia. She is said to be completely under Tobin's thumb, and they did get into a fight over a love letter Zachery Barnes sent to her. Played completely straight.
  • Harvest Moon 64:
    • If they marry, Ann often gets into arguments with Cliff that leave him with a bruised eye. They always make up though.
    • While Ann's arguably Played for Laughs, or at least is treated in a rather lighthearted manner, Gotz is implied to be this to his wife Sasha (and like his daughter Karen as well) but it's Played for Drama.
  • Zero Time Dilemma reveals in one ending that Diana was once married to an abusive husband that abused alcohol and regularly beat her. While she did eventually divorce him, he kept hounding her for favors and got violent when she refused. Worse yet, she would always end up caving in if he begged hard enough, resulting in her joining the Dcom experiment just so she could leave him for good.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: In the quest Family Matters, the "Bloody Baron" Philip Strenger is revealed to have abused his wife Anna, although he never abused Tamara, his daughter. It's far more convoluted than it appears on the surface, as he genuinely loved his family but his wife despised him and deliberately provoked him to violence in an attempt at Suicide by Cop.
  • In Persona 5, the Fortune Arcana storyline begins with the Phantom Thieves changing the heart of an abusive man who beats his girlfriend and extorts money from her.
  • In Gleaner Heights, Lee is physically and emotionally abusive towards Matilda. At one point he even attempts to rape his wife and if you leave it's implied he does. If you intervene you can either beat him up, which causes Matilda to leave him for good, or you can outright kill him and hide his body in the backyard.
  • The relationship between Bentley and Penelope throughout the Sly Cooper games was revealed to be an emotionally abusive one in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, with Penelope as the abuser. Thing is, Penelope wanted Bentley's skills for profit, and planned to murder his two best friends to make sure she's the only one he has. She even calls him "dumb" because of said friendships. But when Bentley learns the truth, she turns to use violence against him. He defeats her in a Boss Battle, and their relationship comes to an end.
  • Yes, Your Grace: Both Sir Friderick and Prince Ivo turn out to be abusive husbands over the course of the story.
  • Played for Drama in Dead In Vinland, where the gentle Solveig tries to hide that her husband Knut beats her. She explains her bruises with self-deprecating comments about what a klutz she is, but his screaming rages in front of the rest of the party make it clear what's really going on. Depending on how you play, Blodeuwedd can convince Solveig to leave him; you can either have Blodeuwedd and Eirik physically throw him out of the camp for good, or keep him around but with Blodeuwedd making sure he doesn't get anywhere near Solveig.

    Web Animation 
  • Camp Camp: Nurf ends up being physically and emotionally abusive to Preston when they're partnered up for Egg Sitting. It causes the egg to run away for a better life, driving Nurf to tears because he wanted to avoid recreating the broken home he grew up in.
  • Helluva Boss: Stella, Stolas' wife, goes out of her way to torment him because she enjoys watching him squirm. To wit, she threw parties that celebrated how they weren't divorced yet and openly demeaned Stolas at said parties, often while he was in earshot. While it's established that the two are part of an Arranged Marriage, it's pretty clear Stolas was the one who put the most effort into making the marriage work and it failed anyway. Notably, not only is her anger at Stolas sleeping with Blitzo mostly due to how it would affect her reputation, but the minute Stolas decides to stand up to her and stop taking her abuse (complete with catching her hand before she can slap him), she hires Striker to assassinate her own husband. It's telling that while Stolas' adultery isn't entirely portrayed as a good thing, his relationship with Blitzo is still treated sympathetically.
  • Manga Soprano: Stories featuring Baccarat and Kanade as a couple have the former abusing the latter.
    • Apologies from a lousy husband→"My adulterous partner is pregnant, so let's divorce": Baccarat abuses his wife Kanade for being a "lazy and useless" and also their daughter Ram for not "turning into a Pretty Guardian" (sic). When Kanade finds out he's cheating on her with a woman named Erica, she calls him out only for him to pull divorce papers and reveal he used up Ram's college fund on Erica, who was fired from her job. He planned to force Kanade to give up the money she earned to him and confiscated her bankbook to this effect.
    • When I went to my sister's couple's house, my sister was hung from the ceiling.She said help. (sic): Kanade comes up with flimsy excuses about why does she wear long sleeves in summer. Turns out that her husband Baccarat was beating her daily for anything, even destroying her phone. When Kanade went to talk with her childhood friend Narita, he thought she was cheating on him and took her back home, hanging her upside down to kill her later. However, her brother Kairi showed up to stop him, only to be knocked down. Just as Baccarat prepared to murder Kairi, he broke free and revealed himself as a police officer.
    • My sister plundered my fiancé! Now my arranged marriage partner is also plundered: Ikki-san is revealed to be a misogynistic jerk who hated working women. Since Nonoka has stole him from Ram, she is the one who suffers his abuse.
  • RWBY:
    • Adam behaves abusively towards Blake, blaming her for how he felt after she walked out on him, and blaming her for "making him" hurt her in retaliation. He tells her that he will destroy everything she cares about just because she left him. All the time he's trying to emotionally beat her down, he displays a calm, implacable determination and peppers his speech with terms of endearment such as "my love" or "my darling" which contribute to the creepiness of his behaviour. After he falls out with the White Fang, he stalks her across Anima and waits until she's alone and separated from other people to ambush her. He is enraged that she's thrown away her memories of him and makes it absolutely clear that he's never going to let her go ever again.
    Blake: Adam's strong, but his real power comes from control. He used to get in my head, make me feel small. But now I see he just wanted to pull me down to his size.
    • The Schnees are a wealthy, dysfunctional family headed by the controlling, sociopathic Gold Digger Jacques. He married into the family solely to take over the Schnee Dust Company, treating his wife and children as accessories that only exist to serve him. His four victims each display one threat response: Freeze (Willow sank into alcoholism and depression), Flight (Winter fled the family to join the military), Fight (Weiss wants to become a honourable Huntress to take back the family name from him), and Fawn (Whitley lacks the ability to escape, so became his father's "mini-me" to fend off abuse). The scale of the abuse is never revealed, but Willow did place secret cameras throughout the house in case evidence was ever needed.
  • Lilium -Sims 2:
    • Isis is forced into marrying Baltazar. Their marriage is unhappy and Baltazar is physically abusive. At the end of the video he strikes her and leaves her for dead.
    • According to the beginning, Estella and Baltazar's father abused their mother.
  • Rabbit Games: A voice in the games is verbally abusive to Percy, calling him a burden and criticizing everything he does.
  • Tanabata Manga: This man was a kind husband to his wife until he finds out that their son has an asthma, causing him to change his attitude towards her. He later abuses her for small mistakes and also rapes her when he comes home drunk.
  • Twelve (2016):
    • In Episode 2, it's revealed rather quickly that Ivy is at least physically abused by Reed, her housemate, and her goal is to give her the proper motivation to get the hell out of there.
    • Chapter II of Orgins implies that Reed is scared of being alone, which leads to false assumptions and hints of emotional abuse as well.

    Web Comics 
  • The Comeback Path Of Princess From Mars features Morphus (Mofu) Turrus Jr. who, along with his father, browbeat and physically abused the father of the protagonist Olga Perez into signing her over for Arranged Marriage, at age 8. Flashbacks show that for the next 10 years, Mofu Jr. loved to verbally, physically, and emotionally brutalize her for laughs, with the constant threat that the moment she came of age and the marriage became legit, he would make her a Sex Slave, not just raping her himself by imperial law, but passing her around as a sex toy to his friends, both in exchange for favors and for laughs. This only comes to a screeching halt in chapter 9 because she beats him into intensive care in a duel he himself demanded and for being caught on camera using illegal drugs, and the bloodwork from the medics attending him also provided hard evidence of said drug use. Then he's shipped off to prison in a full body cast. OUCH.
  • Coming Up Violet features a different kind of domestic violence. Racquel beats fellow classmate Abby when she finds out that Abby had talked to the title character earlier in the day. The dynamics are different, but the principles are the same.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Prince Aaronev was very unpredictable and controlling of his two children, who were both understandably very cautious around him. He ended up killing his daughter and it's later revealed he allowed his son to be modified to make him just what the woman he was cheating on his wife with wanted as a tool to claim the Lightning Throne.
    • Agatha's grandfather is well known for having been killed by his own wife when he decided to kill their sons.
  • In Something*Positive, Davan comes home to find his girlfriend Eva cheating on him with her abusive ex-boyfriend. She later marries him, although it seems to be implied that the abuse has stopped at that point, and later, she is shown being arrested for abusing him.
  • In Bittersweet Candy Bowl, there's a lot of this in Abbey's past. The author began writing a chapter about it, but cancelled it lest it become too disturbing.
  • Unsounded: Vienne learns Gerald is an abusive husband when he admits to hitting his wife Molly, as he's saying the elders should have made Vienne his wife since he would keep her in line better than Mathis.
  • Use Sword on Monster: Maga's home sphere came up with a betrothal spell specifically to prevent this from happening.
    I gave our friend a little something my world used to save for really strict marriage pacts to prevent spousal "accidents". If you plan to interview me with a set of thumbscrews, the cries of agony will be a duet because he's going to feel it every bit as much as I will.
  • In Homestuck, at some point Gamzee and Terezi's relationship stops being a typical black romance and starts being this, though the human kids have trouble telling where the line is.
  • Played for Laughs in The Bedfellows with Sheen on Fatigue, frequently resorting to Black Comedy Rape. In fact, one episode has Sheen drunk and acting compassionate to Fatigue, but Fatigue responds as if he's being abused.
  • In Drowtales, Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen towards her lover Mel'arnach, of the emotional kind. She emotionally and psychologically manipulated her into a submissive position as a "pet", and dresses her up in what Word of God describes as "dental floss". She conditioned Mel to be entirely dependent on her to the point of doing nothing when Ariel, Mel's daughter, is attacked and amputated by Kalki, expecting Snadhya to handle it. Mel herself is on some level aware of this, but remains Selectively Oblivious due to the fact that Snadhya is one of the few people who's treated her well. Mel's effective-husband, Zhor, is quick to pick up on this, however, and lampshades it in a What the Hell, Hero? speech directed at her for allowing Snadhya to control her like that.
  • Legend Of The Blue Diamond: Heiko, Briar's mate, often physically attacks and berates her.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Mentioned regarding the days when the Commander was dating Tank, a Cyborg berserker with self-esteem issues and the ability to tinker with his own brain chemistry. Years later, Tank's gotten professional help and they've settled as Amicable Exes, but...
    Tank: I spent way too long stuck in my head thinking "If he just gave me one more chance-"
    Commander: Gave y' enough chances t' put me in the ER. Didn't need enough t' put me in th' morgue.
  • My Deepest Secret features the emotional and mental kind. Elios does a lot of things to Emma behind her back (including sending texts from her phone and later deleting them), does try to manipulate her social life (telling her to stay away from Yohan, although in that case he does have more reasons than pure jealousy) and finally tells her while she’s in an emotionally vulnerable state to only depend on him.
  • The Guide to a Healthy Relationship: Daniel gaslights his mentally ill partner Julian like nobody's business, scares them by sneaking up on them, orders them around to such a degree that Julian asks for his permission to use the bathroom, forces them to eat when Julian doesn't want to, makes them go out with him and friends when Julian would much rather stay at home, Julian is scared shitless of Daniel getting angry about anything they say or do, curls up in Troubled Fetal Position crying that they're sorry when anyone gets angry with them... yeah, and then there's the wince when Daniel says to them: "We'll discuss this later at home." Next time we see Julian, they're full of bruises.
  • Rain (2010): Marcus Flaherty forbade his wife Liriel from visiting her sister Fara when he found out the latter was dating another woman. He's implied to have been physically and emotionally abusive to Liriel, and abandoned everyone when Liriel got a fatal disease. In chapter 43, Liriel's letter reveals that he was disgusted by Liriel wanting to be a guy.
  • In The Soulless Duchess, the only happy, if awkward, marriage on-screen is the marriage of the two main characters, Yvona and Claude Azentine. Every other married couple on-screen involves male-on-female violence, especially in the original time-line where Yvona was smacked around by the man her equally violent father outright sold her to, just to cover his gambling debts and maintain his hedonistic lifestyle.
  • Til Debt Do Us Part:
    • Yejun's mother had a string of abusive relationships and left her son with her abusive father, who was also physically abusive towards him.
    • It is eventually revealed that Subin ended the relationship with her ex Geonho after he beat her so badly she ended up in the hospital. When he comes crawling back and quickly resorts to striking her when she doesn't agree to come with him, Yejun beats his face in.

    Web Original 
  • Rupert Van Helden of KateModern shouts at, threatens and occasionally hits his wife, who tells her friends that the bruises are caused by falling coconuts.
  • Survival of the Fittest characters often have to suffer through this (although it normally ties in with Abusive Parents). It has mostly dried up as of v5, though there is still a bit of this as a backstory for characters.
  • The Onion had an article mocking the Lifetime network's abused-wife-empowerment movies entitled "Empowered Man Murders Controlling Wife In Lifetime For Men Original Movie".
  • A rare example of male-on-female abuse being Played for Laughs is in The Nostalgia Chick's "Top Ten Disturbing And Inescapable Christmas Songs". While the Chick dances gleefully to a country song, Nella (playing an abused wife) gets smacked around by her husband. The funniness comes in when he starts giving her noogies.
  • The Nostalgia Critic knows what it's like to be on the receiving end, so he praises the Joker/Harley Quinn dynamic for capturing the trope so perfectly; that you realize fully your partner is bad for you, but there's something about them that makes you keep coming back.
    • His actor has also talked about it quite a bit. One of the times he even explained how fear and abuse in families will make the victim crazier the worse it gets.
  • In Echo Chamber Shannon both threatens and hits Tom.
  • In Cracked's "14 Unintentionally Horrifying Commercials" video, a comment is made about the early part of Nintendo's ad for New Super Luigi U where Princess Peach cries out "Mario" repeatedly in tears while cowering, saying "Is this a video game ad or a domestic abuse PSA?"
  • George Wickham of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries manages to be more vile than this book counterpart, emotionally abusing Lydia, pressuring her into a committed relationship before she's ready, isolating her from her family and telling her only he loves and understands her, threatening to leave and making her feel like no one will ever love her like he will. Watching Lydia's vlogs with him in them is like watching a trainwreck. And then he pressures her into making a sex tape to "prove" she loved him, and then tries to release it online for money without her consent. And before the series, he dated Gigi Darcy. Gigi's brother told Gigi he was only dating her for her money, but she didn't believe him. So he proved it, offering George a check in exchange for leaving. George took it. Given Gigi's apparent fear of him, it's implied something similar to what happened to Lydia may have been going on before Gigi's brother intervened.
  • The Human Pet: Eric's father abused his mother, shown by how afraid she was to go against his word when he turned against Eric.
  • My Dad's Tapes: Chris's father used to hit his mother, likely due to his hatred of women.
  • Joueur du Grenier: The "Fort Boyard" episode has a guy browbeat and slap his girlfriend, on TV. He also introduces himself as a far-right activist.

    Western Animation 

  • The animated and live action combined series Ace Lightning featured an unusual variation in which the writers featured the villain of the piece (who had been the subject of some Villain Decay of late) as regularly violently attacking and verbally abusing the former partner in crime who had betrayed him for the show's titular hero. Fans have pointed out how much his behaviour would be considered domestic abuse were they members of the human cast.
  • Allen Gregory: The "relationship" between Richard and Jeremy has the former regularly sexually assaulting and verbally abusing the latter. The kicker is that Jeremy is actually straight, but was forced to become Richard's life partner after the latter constantly stalked and harassed him into leaving his own family.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball had an episode titled "The Choices" that flashes back to the day Nicole met Richard, and examines what her life would have been like if she made different choices that day. One of those has Harold (Tobias' father) manipulating Nicole into marrying her, making her get hideous plastic surgery, and constantly treating her like dirt. Him demeaning her for having the sushi be too cold is the Rage Breaking Point that causes her to set the house on fire, possibly killing Harold while she screams "IS THAT HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?". This is played for laughs.
  • American Dad!: Played for Drama in "A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial". Roger starts living with a nine-year-old boy named Henry, who begins abusing Roger, yelling at him and beating him up over anything he doesn't like and manipulates him with false apologies to keep him from leaving.
  • Arcane: Played for Drama. At the end of episode 3, Vi slaps Powder hard enough to knock her down and give her a nosebleed, and then grabs her face in a clearly harmful way while blaming her for their family's deaths. This is a fairly understandable reaction, considering that they had just been killed as a direct result of Powder's actions... but it's nonetheless intensely traumatizing for Powder, a child who also just lost them and knows it's her fault.
  • In Archer, Sterling's relationship with any woman apart from his mother falls into this. Particular examples are Cheryl (who doesn't actually mind, since she's a diehard masochist and is Too Kinky to Torture) a number of implied incidents with prostitues and his ongoing relationship with Lana Kane which regularly results in both of them being physically or mentally hurt.
    • Quickly implied about Cheryl's family during season nine. Archer tries to explain away a bruise on his face by claiming that he walked into a door, and Cheryl says that her mom used to do that a lot too. Although this could be passed off as a quick gag since the entire season is Archer's Adventures in Comaland, considering how despicable Cheryl's family is, it's easy to see where he could have gotten the idea that domestic abuse was probably one of the many awful things going on in Cheryl's childhood home.
    • Averted with his Season 2 relationship with Katya Kazanova, where it was Love at First Sight, up to the point that she sacrificed herself to save his life. At the end of Season 3, when she comes back as a cyborg, Archer even pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy by not fighting her about leaving with Barry.
  • BoJack Horseman: BoJack was physically and emotionally abused by both of his parents, his mother was abused by his father, and before that, she was abused by her father, who also had an abusive attitude towards her mother that resulted in him getting her lobotomized after her grief over the death of their son in WWII became too great for her to bear.
    • When BoJack asks Diane if she's the black sheep of the family, she replies, "No, Gary's the black sheep. He's adopted. I'm just the member of the family nobody likes." Her family resented her when she was young for wanting to expand her horizons, and as an adult, they still resent her for her success, and constantly tear her down for her failures.
  • In one episode of The Boondocks, we meet Luna, an Ax-Crazy Dark Action Girl, who reveals to her hostages Tom DuBois and Robert Freeman (who's also her latest boyfriend) that her life sucked. As a young girl, she ran away from a broken household involving an Abusive Dad who would slap her mother silly for petty reasons like undercooking his fried chicken. She then had a series of terrible relationships wherein she suffered every abuse imaginable: physical, verbal, and emotional. Ironically, her first boyfriend, a Hong Kong mob boss named Kenny Wu, hit her for serving chicken that was too cold (the same reason that her dad hit her mom).
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: Mad Dog, a gang boss, is this trope for his girlfriend Bunny, and played dead seriously. He's so violently possessive of her that he'll punish her for having a best friend, and wreck said best friend's life so horribly she's incapable of facing reality and runs away. He also manipulates Bunny's emotions to try and get her to do as he pleases, only to snap into abuser mode a second later, a technique real life abusers use. The poor girl is absolutely terrified of him as a result.
    Mad Dog: I take you from a two-bit joint and make you a class act, and you wanna make me second rate!? If I even smell Kitty, I'll bury the two of you!
  • While Sarah constantly beating up her big brother Ed is Played for Laughs in Ed, Edd n Eddy, the trope's played disturbingly straight in The Movie, revealing that Eddy's entire characterization is the result of him being the victim of his older brother's abuse.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • The continuity has this in spades (no pun intended) (what pun?) with Harley Quinn's relationship with The Joker. A major part, if not the most important part, of Harley's character is the abuse. She fell for him when she was a psychologist at Arkham Asylum and he drove Harleen Quinzel to become Harley Quinn. Even though Harley is frequently slapped out and berated by the Joker — he even kicked her out a window in one Batman: The Animated Series episode — she comes back to him eventually. Or at least she did until Tim (Robin) killed him. Batman Beyond shows she eventually went straight and she probably settled down with someone better. She berates her granddaughters for being criminals, like she was when she was younger.
    • There's also the Justice League episode "A Once And Future Thing," in which a meek man who's easily dominated by his wife builds a time machine and tries to use it to get away from her. When he eventually seizes its terrifying potential and becomes a super-villain by playing with the timestream, she's changed her tune and is deeply intimidated by his power (it's hinted that he placed her mother in some kind of futuristic torture chamber). Neither her verbal abuse before he created his machine or his outright bullying of her are played for laughs, and in the end Batman causes that man to repeatedly face his wife's abuse by putting him in a never-ending time loop.
    • Tala and Luthor's relationship definitely has shades of this. Before that, it was implied Luthor and Mercy Graves were like this.
    • Hro Talak ends up being abusive to his lover Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl) when she turns against him in the latter part of "Starcrossed."
  • Family Guy:
    • Played for Drama in "Screams of Silence", when Brenda (Quagmire's sister) gets repeatedly beaten up by her boyfriend Jeff. Quagmire later kills Jeff to free Brenda from his wrath, but it's implied that she will likely end up hooking up with another abuser.
    • However, the trope — particularly, the male-on-female kind — is all too frequently Played for Laughs. The "best" example is "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", where Peter discovers the secret to bonding with his son, Stewie, is physically abusing Lois! (This was at a point in the series where a recurring plotline saw Stewie want to kill his mother in the most violent way possible.) The abuse accelerates until a final incident where Lois is thrown into the back of the station wagon and Peter — with Stewie riding shotgun — drives the car into a nearby river.
    • The topic of several cutaway gags. Example: A parody of "Horton Hears a Who," entitled "Horton hears domestic violence in the apartment next to his but doesn't call 911."
  • On The Flintstones, Wilma used to hit her husband Fred over the head with a frying pan and milk bottles, though this slapstick was pretty common for cartoons of the time.
  • Mac from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has no positive scenes with his Big Brother Bully, who just teases and hits him whenever they interact. Their mother is too busy to notice.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat was a victim of this; he was constantly yelled at by his mom and beaten up by his older brothers.
  • Kim's relationship with Eric in Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama was an emotionally abusive one, mainly because of Eric being a gaslighter. It becomes a full physically abusive one when it's revealed Eric is actually a synthodrone, and he attacks Kim. The relationship ends with Eric's death after he makes the mistake of insulting Rufus, causing the little guy to bite him in the foot.
  • The Proud Family: Trudy Proud's treatment of Oscar would be horrifying if the genders were reversed.
  • Steven Universe: It turns out this is a major reason why Pink Diamond betrayed the Diamonds. Despite they really loved her, they had no problems at locking her up in a tower for millenia, making her cry and gaslighting her, whenever she stepped out of the line, or wasn't acting like a Diamond. Their abuse made Pink believe they never loved her, so she sparked a rebellion in the form of Rose Quartz, and even faked her own shattering, to make them leave Earth alone.
  • Season 2 of Tuca & Bertie deals with emotional abuse in a relationship. Tuca gets a girlfriend named Kara, and while things initially seem peachy, Kara is emotionally manipulative and dismissive of Tuca's feelings, insulting Tuca under the guise of "teasing" or helping her and pushing her to be someone she's not.
  • Heavily implied in the Young Justice (2010) episode "Beneath", with Tye Longshadow's mother and her smug, hulking (by normal human standards) boyfriend, Maurice. By the end of the episode, he ends up being unrelated to the bigger events of the story and is all set up to lose his job and get arrested as part of a mundane racket of pirated DVDs — which worked, according to the producer — but there's still this:
    Mrs. Longshadow: [outside the house, alone with her son's friend, her face partly in shadow] Don't mind Maurice. He's... having a bad day.
    Jaime: I hear he has a lot of bad days.
    Mrs. Longshadow: [desperately] Good ones, too! [not looking at Jaime, face out of the shadows, as she finally starts to realize what she's saying] ...occasionally...

Alternative Title(s): Abusive Spouse, Domestic Abuser



The women of a Glasgow steamie sing about how friendship can help you through the trials of life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FriendshipSong

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