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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?"

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.


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.

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

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

Domestic abuse is a horrible experience to go through, and all too often the victims are shamed by their attackers into silence. If this is you, you need not be afraid. There are people who can and will help you. Please read Useful Notes: Abuse for help and resources. You Are Not Alone.


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  • Example with the Double Standard: 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.
  • 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 would get himself to stop what he's doing.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Crayon Shin-chan:
    • In the English dub of the anime, Penny Milfer's father is portrayed as physically abusive toward his daughter and his wife. Apparently the abuse is so bad that it drove Penny's mother to hatch a (failed) plan to escape and live the rest of her life as a prostitute. The abuse is presented as the reason Penny and her mother are so aggressive and express their anger by punching stuffed bunnies, and it's also played entirely for laughs. In the original Japanese version of the anime, Nene's (Penny) father isn't abusive at all, and is merely a workaholic businessman. In the Japanese version, Nene and her mother beat up their stuffed animals simply because they have hereditary anger management problems, rather than it being a result of abuse. The dub also purposely skipped over episodes that Nene's father appeared in for the dub to retain the dub consistency, save for one where they censored his appearance. Funimation also added Black Comedy in making references to Penny having a little sister who "lives in the lake".
    • In one episode where the family is staying in an apartment, they hear a male and female voice yelling at each other and then the woman screaming. Convinced that the woman is being beaten by her boyfriend/husband, Hiro breaks down the door to stop what's going on, only to find out that it's a crossdressing actor.
  • Shinichi's father in Kore wa Koi no Hanashi was known for berating and beating his wife, especially after drinking a lot.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Genma Saotome once used a "martial arts move" based off of Flipping the Table. Not only did he use it against his own wife, Nodoka Saotome, he did it in order to get his hands on a medal worth 20 yen. For added measure, the technique's name is "Angry Dad Attack/Wrath of the Father". Then again, this is the same guy who was outright horrified to find his son's skills as a martial artist had progressed to the point where he could no longer beat his son up and steal his food, the way he did when his son was a little boy...
    • An arc had Ranma attempting to get Ukyo to break their suddenly more serious engagement by practicing this — flipping tables on her, feigning drunkenness and claiming he was having an affair. All of it backfires.
    • Let's not forget how violent Akane is, or how Shampoo loves to transform into a cat to attack Ranma, knowing his invoked Absurd Phobia.
    • Heck, just about everybody in the cast is abusive to their families and romantic interests. The exceptions is a much, much shorter list.
  • Not between the main couple, but The Mermaid Saga has a pair of siblings who are the children of a wealthy family. The son is a complete sociopath who is only protected because of the love of his sister. He shows his gratitude by emotionally and implicitly physically attacking her, as well as poisoning her fiance so she won't leave and stop protecting him. After they both "die" from eating mermaid flesh, he continues to abuse her, stealing an eye from her unrotting corpse and then cutting off the head so she'll stop "haunting" him. He also picks up the charming habit of dating girls that look like his sister, only to murder them.
  • The Familiar of Zero takes this to great lengths with highly Belligerent Sexual Tension. Saito and Louise are both horrible to one another; Louise repeatedly beats Saito with a riding crop. In another instance, after Saito tries to undress Louise in her sleep, she upgrades to beating Saito with a real whip.
  • Yaoi anime Kizuna plays this for laughs. The extremely jealous Uke (Ranmaru) punches his boyfriend and Seme (Kei) so that he flies across the room, yet no one thinks twice about it.
  • Loveless plays this straight.
  • Nodame Cantabile has a notable example of a male-on-female variant played for laughs in exactly the same way as the above female-on-male examples. Male tsundere Chiaki often resorts to physical violence when Nodame does things that end up annoying him in the manner of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine. Nodame even admits to playing up the Boke And Tsukkomi Routine simply because Chiaki's such a perfect Straight Man.
  • Another notable example of a male-on-female comedy variant in exactly the same way as the female-on-male examples is Haiyore Nyarkosan. Mahiro Yasaka, a male tsundere, has no problems using physical violence on Nyarko and sometimes Cuuko when the girls do things that annoy him typically in the manner of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
  • A cross-dressing boy named Mariya from Maria†Holic is Kanako's roommate who enjoys torturing Kanako. He sometimes even resorted to using physical violence on Kanako such as stepping on her face. His abuse on Kanako is a humorous male-on-female example.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Akito is a one person domestic abuse factory- including slapping Kureno for going outside without Akito's permission. Akito also has the reputation of physically or even emotionally abusing everyone else in the Sohma family, to the point where some were permanently injured. Even worse than slapping Kureno for going outside without permission, Akito follows through on seriously injuring any Sohma girls that any Sohma boys like, pulling off double the abuse (the girls are physically injured, and the boys are unable to comfort them for fear it will make Akito even angrier and step up the abuse). And that's without the fact that every member of the Zodiac sees Akito as God, adding extra dimensions of emotional and mental abuse to every interaction.
    • Before that, we see that Akito's mother emotionally blackmailed her husband into agreeing to raise Akito as a boy, threatening to abort their child if he didn't agree. She later went on to emotionally abuse Akito, which is where Akito picked it up from.
    • Kagura regularly beats the poop out of Kyo. The manga-ka of the series lampshades it by saying that Kagura hits Kyo "because she loves him". Um...
    • Kyo's father emotionally abused his young son, calling him evil simply for being possessed by the spirit of the Cat at birth. He later goes on to repeatedly call Kyo a murder for supposedly driving his mother to suicide, even though it's implied that her suicide was actually caused by the father's abuse!
  • Chrono Crusade has a Running Gag of Rosette hitting Chrono when she's frustrated—at one point kicking him so hard he falls to the ground in a pool of his own blood! It helps that Chrono is actually a demon with enough strength that he could probably bench press her even in his sealed form, and if she caused any serious damage, he could heal. Since his powers are fueled by her soul, any non-lethal damage inflicted on him ultimately ends up doing more harm to her.
  • Princess Tutu:
    • The second season has Rue suffering from emotional and, later, physical abuse from Mytho. Played very dark and serious, to show how much the Raven's blood is twisting his personality.
    • The first season also has Fakir treating Mytho roughly, including one point where he slaps Mytho for defying an order. Not played quite as seriously as the above example, but still portrayed as pretty shocking to the people that witness it. Later when Mytho frames Fakir for trying to kill him under the influence of Raven's blood, most of the class has an easy time believing it thanks to witnessing the previous moments of abuse.
  • Goodnight Punpun:
    • Happens in the first chapter when Punpun finds his parents after a fight. His father was arrested for abuse afterwards. Much, much later we learn Punpun's mom was going to attempt Murder-Suicide with Punpun and the scene really was Not What It Looks Like.
    • Punpun and Aiko's Destructive Romance contains this on both sides.
  • This is the reason the Brunette has her husband killed in Gunjo.
  • Narusegawa Naru from Love Hina, full stop, to the point where she is flanderized in the anime as this. Kanako is the only one who manages to retaliate against her, and only once. After that, it's back to punting Keitaro into the horizon.
  • Domestic abuse is part of Minai's backstory on Corpse Princess. One night after being beat by her boyfriend she snaps and kills him and then commits suicide, only to come back as a shikabane.
  • Hermann Preminger, the main villain of Ashita no Nadja, occasionally beats his wife whenever her son from her previous marriage isn't around to defend her.
  • Light from Death Note seems verbally abusive at times to Misa, his "girlfriend". Nothing suggests he does anything worse than yelling at her; though he does attempt to kill her at several points in the story on the grounds of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, she invariably ends up surviving anyway due to changing circumstances.
  • Played straight with Asayo Katsuragi from Sakura Gari, who suffers abuse at the hands of her husband, Dr. Katsuragi, especially when one of the servants rubs ointments on her bruises and she quietly says that it was her own fault for upsetting him. Later in the story, she kills him by setting him on fire when she gets fed up of his abuse.
  • My Little Monster seems to have shades of it. It's only a result of Haru being separated from other people and not growing emotionally and socially.
  • The short yuri manga Lonesome Echo revolves around a high school teacher who is in an abusive relationship with her ex-piano teacher. She that befriends (or more?) a student that helps her break off the relationship.
  • The Toudou family from Musashi no Ken. Shura's father shows no mercy to his infant son when it comes to kendo practice. Shura's screaming keeps his mother up at night. At one point, Shura's mother loses it and slaps his father, who's just kneeling and taking it, relentlessly for being a cruel father and husband. Shura, however, turns out to be very well-mannered, as opposed to the hot-headed Musashi who grows up in a happy family.
  • Misaki from episode four of Death Parade was in three abusive marriages in a row and bared five children from her husbands.
  • Manami from Life has this type of relationship with her boyfriend, with Manami being the abuser. They seem like Sickening Sweethearts however they are only dating because of their parents. When he is Mistaken for Cheating, Manami sends her gang member side-lover to beat him up.
  • Akemi Hinazuki, mother of Kayo Hinazuki in ERASED suffered domestic abuse at the hands of a lover which unfortunately turned her into an abuser herself against Kayo.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • In chapter 73 of re: Torso brings Mutsuki a flower crown, but gets angry when Mutsuki glares at him and won't accept his compliments. He beats Mutsuki violently while screaming insults and demanding he accept his love. As a child, Mutsuki's father abused him and tried to drown him. He learned that if he played along and praised his father for being the best, he wouldn't be hurt. We get a Big Madam & Juuzou parallel, with his father saying "Here's your reward" and its implied he raped Mutsuki when we see him leering at a soaked Mutsuki. Later, the two are lying together on a makeshift futon. Torso says that he only "scolds" Mutsuki because of how deep his love is, and Mutsuki cries while agreeing. He thinks that he is cursed to be stolen away by men and it's implied Torso raped him as well.
    • Kaneki was revealed to be abused by his mother when he was younger. He admits that she was a wonderful mother by day but at night...
  • Tamura from Bokura no Hentai is in a sexual (but not romantic due to Incompatible Orientation) relationship with his crush. His crush only has sex with Tamura if he dresses like a girl. He makes demeaning comments towards Tamura (especially when puberty causes him to become less androgynous), doesn't let him touch his hand if he's not crossdressing, and is homophobic. Eventually Tamura becomes fed up of him, breaks his glasses, and stops talking to him.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena:
    • During the time that Saionji Kyouichi is in possession of the Rose Bride Himemiya Anthy, he considers her his possession, and is shown to frequently physically abuse her.
    • Later in the series we meet an even worse abuser than Saionji, Anthy's brother Akio Ohtori. He physically, emotionally, and sexually abuses her. He rapes her weekly, will get physically violent if she doesn't listen to him right away, and often calls her mean names and tells her that only he can love her. He pretty much is a textbook abuser and the series can be seen as a show how abuse horribly messes up someone. Namely Anthy.
  • In Elfen Lied Yuka beats and abuses her cousin Kotha without reason. The manga is even more brutal than the anime, and Mayu even finds it funny.
  • The anime InuYasha shows the titular hero. He wears a magic collar, which rams him full force into the ground when Kagome orders it. In most cases, Kagome uses it only to omit their anger on him for no reason. Later in the plot, you can see that Inuyasha is really scared that Kagome is doing it. A particularly bad example is found in one of the first episodes, when she considers him seriously injured, and in this way stomps him from a tree into the ground. Even worse, none of Inuyasha's so-called friends ever criticize Kagome for this, but pretend it's Inuyasha's fault.

    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 is terribly abusive to his wife. This is a carry over of the original Pym's defining 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 was completely unrepentant. Leading to a very satisfying moment when Captain America beat the crap out of him while he was 10 stories high.
  • 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.
    • 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 is a major Berserk Button for Jason Todd. He once 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!
  • 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.
    • The same arc heavily implies that Karolina's relationship with Xavin is not much better; at least twice in the arc, she complains about the way Xavin touches her, and Xavin is incredibly rude when she tries to introduce them to Klara. At one point, Xavin concedes that they're not sure that things are going very well between them and Karolina.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • The newspaper comic Bringing Up Father used to own this trope, at least until the sixties. 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. Apparently, when that tale originated, it was so unusual to not tolerate domestic abuse, that only fairies could do it.

    Fan Works 
  • A less overt case than most in Child of the Storm and its sequel, Ghosts of the Past, in the form of Joe Danvers' psychological abuse of his children. It's intentionally depicted as insidious and very hard to pin down (as psychological abuse often is). At first, when he's off-screen, it comes off as him and his daughter having standard parent/teenager squabbles, though there's hints of it being more. In the sequel, it becomes clear that he's been psychologically abusing his older two children because they don't follow his expectations - Carol is a sporty, Hot-Blooded teenage Action Girl, while Stevie is a slight, softly spoken, arty boy. As his mother-in-law Alison notes, if they'd been the other way around, he'd have been delighted. As it is, he tries to force them to become what he thinks they should be - their polar opposites, essentially.
    • The form it takes means that it only becomes clear in retrospect, to both characters and readers. Carol's understated but rampant self-esteem issues, spiky attitude, reflexive reaction against authority (usually male), and latching onto alternate father figures, such as her uncle Jack O'Neill and Steve, her great-grandfather are a direct product, for instance. As for Stevie, one incident makes it clear: Harry's invited round to dinner at the Danvers house in chapter 6 of Ghosts. He asks about Stevie's drawing. Before Stevie can say anything, his little brother Joe Junior loudly says that "Drawing's for girls," whereupon his father laughs and ruffles his hair in approval. Stevie wilts and shuts his mouth. While his mother does her best, buying him art supplies and supporting him, as well as reprimanding her husband, he desperately wants his father's approval, and the latter's constant subtle put-downs giving him what Alison terms as 'a psychological death by a thousand cuts'.
    • Also chapter 6 of Ghosts, it turns out that Mr Danvers' invited Harry to get the measure of his daughter's Best Friend and to ask him to use his Psychic Powers to change her, to 'make her take the right path'. Harry erupts with rage, gives him a "Reason You Suck" Speech, then telepathically knocks him out, but only ends up giving only a limited account to Carol's mother (who thinks that they simply argued, Harry having been engaging in Passive-Aggressive Kombat with him all evening). When Alison gets the full account from Carol in chapter 20, which she passes onto Carol's mother, they both agree that Mr Danvers has to go: Alison pulls strings and he's Kicked Upstairs to a job out of state and she terrifies him into going along with it, as well as staying away from his family.
  • Evangelion 303: After Jessika’s death Asuka was wrecked with survivor guilt and self-loathing and angry with herself and everybody. Unable to control her temper, she lashed out against everybody, especially Shinji. She spent several weeks abusing him psychologically and occasionally physically. She got better, but then she felt horribly guilty and ran away, thinking that Shinji would be better off without her.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Gendo’s treatment of Ritsuko is anything but kind, loving or tender. Often she is afraid of him or sport bruises. In the rewrite Ritsuko sobs she deserves it due to everything she has done to further his plans.
  • Luminosity deconstructs the mate bond in Twilight, ending up with this. Vampires assume their mates love them back—that's how the magic works. The mate bonds, however, do not work on half-vampires, and since they're not human, they can't be turned into vampires to make the bond mutual. Enter Demitri, who is mated with Allirea, who hates him. Her power is hiding, but his power is finding things. Cue repeated kidnapping and rapes.
  • In Superman story Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation:
    • First day in the job, Alan confronts a wife-beater.
    • Later Kath also saves another woman from her "partner".
    • George Kent's wife openly and constantly disparages and treats her husband as a brainless moron until he becomes fed up with this treatment and leaves.
  • In iCarly fics, Sam can have a relationship with Freddie like this. Weirdly, this can be done for Sam/Freddie and Carly/Freddie, with the latter generally being a Hurt/Comfort Fic whilst the former generally has Sam trying to overcome her Freudian Excuse. Example.
  • This is usually trotted out in fanfiction as a convenient Die for Our Ship strategy. For example, Hermione can leave Ron because of course he's an abusive nutjob!
  • In Background Pony, Lyra's childhood friend suffered an abusive father and became a Broken Bird because of it. When Lyra's older she comes across an abusive father who strangles his wife and two children every night, but the nature of her curse makes it near impossible for her to stop it.
  • In The New Retcons, a friend of Michael's suffers from this until he manages to get a restraining order, and seeing his friend's ordeal made Michael realize that his father's negligence in seeking help for his insane mother was also abusive.
  • Discworld fanfic offers the non-canonical character of Joan Sanderson-Reeves, a prim and upright lady who runs a school teaching cookery, elocution and deportment. After her villainous brother-in-law beats her sister so badly she miscarries a child, Joan murders him in hot blood, in a storyline which is a Shout-Out to Roald Dahl. After getting away with it, she sets up as an unlicenced Assassin, specialising in sterilising abusive husbands who indulge in wife-beating and child abuse. Eighteen inhumations later, the Guild of Assassins makes her an offer and enlists her. Four years later, the Guild School's Domestic Science Mistress (who teaches the use of really dangerous food additives) is asked to track down and bring a book to another Ethical Assassin who has taken up the torch of slaying errant husbands for money. The new Assassin is a florist who knows how to say it with flowers. Specifically, she can say Drop Dead! in a variety of inventive and interesting ways. And so the Guild School signs up its botany mistress...
  • One Less Lonely Gurl has C'ren's father being abused by his wife after he cheated on her and had C'ren as daughter to the other woman.
  • Dirty Sympathy has Klavier Gavin bring physically, emotionally and sexually abused by his lover, Daryan, which leads him into a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder with Apollo.
  • In Divided Rainbow, Rainbow Dash is made to suffer this from all Fluttershy's animals when she swaps roles with Fluttershy. It isn't pretty in the slightest.
  • Strings, Korra is physically and emotionally abused by Tarrlok after she is kidnapped and forcibly married to him. Tarrlok's mother was physically abused and eventually killed by her husband Yakone.
  • Spider X sees Max reach this point in his relationship with Tabitha after only a few weeks; Tabitha only tolerates it as long as she does because she was initially scared of what he’d do if she broke up with him after he tells her how he rendered his father and his former bully brain-dead shortly after getting his powers, and later decides to stay on only until she can get Wanda away from Mystique to save the other girl from being brainwashed to be more 'loyal'.
  • The Matrix fanfic Bringing Me To Life there's Mr. Jameson who beats his already emotionally terrified wife to keep her from taking their son and leaving.
  • This is a subject in Kiryuuin Chronicles read here, as narrated by Satsuki (nicknamed "Dove") as recollects the past, who innocently wonders why her father does what he does to her mother if he loves her, that is, slapping her, beating her, and causing her miscarriages. However, her mother isn't the only one on the receiving end of this, as so is Rei and her, yet her little sisters, Nui and Ryuuko, aren't. Said abuse also leads to her mother's mental illness and the fact that Ragyou, due to being pregnant with Satsuki by someone else, was forced into this marriage doesn't help.
  • Part 1 of Cave Story Versus IM Meen basically revolves around this trope.
  • This is the subject in Train Tracks and both spouses are responsible, as Ragyo drinks and is prone to violence, often doling out hits, the which, after having been taking them, Soichiro deals back. Rei's narration implies that the two engage in fist fights.
  • It's revealed in Old West that Selena, the mother of Rattlesnake Jake, was beaten every night by her husband James Douglas as soon as he returned home under the influence. Though she wasn't utterly submissive, she had nowhere to go and none of the townsfolk got involved because they wanted nothing to do with snakes. After the last beating, James was run out of town and Selena was killed by an unsympathetic deputy, leaving Jake alone on his path to become the dreaded outlaw.
    • When the estranged conman husband of Grace Glossy, Benjamin Hares, shows up and attempts to sell her lands to the Big Bad, she tries to throw him out. He reacts violently, battering her until their son Teddy calls Jake to the rescue. Finding Grace beaten up by Benjamin reminds Jake of his parents, turning him so livid that he kills Benjamin like he undoubtedly has wanted for years to kill his father. Unfortunately, the normally stable Grace is so broken that she isolates herself for weeks.
  • The relationship between Embry and Melanie Sampson in For You I Will. Melanie emotionally and physically abuses him, up to the point of stabbing him during sex, and Embry can't fight back because she's his imprintee and he's compelled to love her and do what she wants at all times.
  • ILLUMINATED features Thrax as Jane's abusive exe. She ran off and joined Captain Amelia's ship in order to get away from him, but he ended up following her.
  • Support is a That's So Raven story where a pregnant Chelsea runs away from her abusive husband after he threatens to divorce her and claim full-custody of their daughter.
  • RWBY: Scars:
    • The fanfic expands upon Adam being Blake's abusive ex-boyfriend by rewriting the "Black" trailer so that he slaps Blake. This, combined with him wanting to kill a cart full of human civilians, is the last straw that leads her to running away from him. It's later mentioned that Adam is six years older than Blake and that he manipulated her into a sexual relationship when she was only fourteen.
    • Willow's relationship with Jacques is tense. They've been together for over three decades but there's no romance between them and they rarely even talk. At minimum, Jacques is emotionally neglectful.
    • Summer's aunt Ivory had an abusive boyfriend.
    • Militia and Melanie had an abusive father. They ran away from him a few years prior.
    • Mercury's father was an abusive drunk. One day, they got into a fight and Mercury killed his father.
    • Roman had a verbally voltaile relationship with his now-deceased wife Eon. Arguments weren't uncommon and he'd often call her Fantastic Slurs when angered. On her part, Eon at least once called her Creepy Child daughter Neo a "monster" for her Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
  • In Apprentice And Pregnant, Whitepaw's father Old Gray isolated his mate and abused her. When she tried to leave, Old Gray killed his mate and his daughter.
  • In CRME:
    • Cinder starts abusing Emerald and becomes more controlling near the end of Chapter 6. She later slaps Emerald twice for being jealous about Mercury taking Cinder’s time away from her. She is also emotionally manipulative by telling her that she'll throw her out on the street if she doesn't comply.
    • Blake and Adam show up and he is very emotionally manipulative during her short appearance. The abuse is subtle compared to Cinder and Emerald, but this is only due to lack of time.
  • Kara Of Rokyn:
    • Villain Parasite abused at least one of his girlfriends.
      Superman: I've seen your record, Max. You slapped one around pretty badly one time. Got hauled into court, paid a fine, got a restraining order put on you, violated it, and went to jail for a few weeks.>
    • Not only does Zora Vi-Lar put her lover Jara down constantly, but she also takes advantage of Jara's loneliness to emotionally blackmail her into murdering Kara.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mother Gothel from Tangled is portrayed as one of the most realistic depictions of a psychological abuser in a children's film. She emotionally manipulates Rapunzel into staying in the tower by convincing her that the outside world is a horrible place and making Rapunzel feel bad whenever she gets into disagreements. This goes on for so long that Rapunzel becomes mentally crippled by the time she walks out of the tower for the first time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Stu's girlfriend in The Hangover is known to have physically beaten him at least once and emotional abuse seems to be ongoing. The other characters treat it much more lightly than they would a man beating a woman, the source of friendly "ribbing" instead of serious discussion, but they do at least make it clear that this is neither right nor normal and vehemently urge Stu to get out of the relationship. His "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his girlfriend later becomes his Moment of Awesome.
  • Morgan's husband Rex in Saw IV is revealed to have beaten both her and their daughter for years.
  • In The Notebook, a scene takes place where a woman repeatedly shoves and hits a man.
  • The Lifetime movie Men Don't Tell features a woman who was abused as a child committing this against her husband. This is most definitely not Played for Laughs and no one believes him for most of the movie.
  • Another Lifetime movie, No One Would Tell, is based on a true story about a teenage girl who is abused and later killed by her boyfriend. The film is notable in that Fred Savage plays the abusive boyfriend and Candace Cameron portrays his girlfriend/victim.
  • The Burning Bed, starring the late Farrah Fawcett, tells the true story of Francine Hughes, who killed her husband Mickey Hughes to escape 13 years of domestic abuse.
  • In The Other Guys he never gets physical, but Allen Gamble (one of the heroes) is emotionally abusive to his wife to a rather disturbing extent, vigorously and repeatedly insulting her physical appearance, sense of style, cooking ability and calling her an adulterer and whore when she reveals that she is pregnant. This occurs both in private and in the presence of others. He later explains that he does this all because he fears that, if she ever realizes how truly beautiful she is, she will leave him; this makes things worse, since it shows that he is aware that his actions are wrong and is deliberately traumatizing his wife for his own ends. It is not Played for Laughs, it does not set up an Aesop, it is just...awful.
  • In The Boondock Saints, the brothers get in trouble with a Straw Feminist, who loudly complains that their use of the term "Rule of Thumb" is sexist as it supposedly referred to the width of a stick a man could use to beat his wife.
  • Jenna's husband from Waitress is a particularly nasty version. It's almost purely emotional, though he does finally hit her when she tries to leave for the pie-baking contest in another state. All the damage is done through emotional putdowns, misogynistic remarks and a general ignorance of anything regarding her feelings, thoughts, or desires. The film does an excellent job portraying how difficult it is to extract oneself out of this sort of situation, without being Anvilicious.
  • Edgar, before he is killed and taken over by the Bug in Men in Black is shown to be emotionally abusive towards Beatrice in his first scene, where he acts as though the meal she prepared for him was poison (and yet barks at her to not take the food away as he's eating it), and also claims her to possibly want to poison him as she skulks away like a dog who was either hit too much or hit too little (he doesn't know or care which it is), states that she's so useless that the only thing that could carry its weight around is his pickup truck (which is promptly totaled by the Bug's spaceship), and finally, when questioned by Beatrice about what just crashed into his truck, he angrily tells her to get "her big butt" back in the house. Going by some statements he made, he might also be physically abusive towards his wife as well.
  • Chris in The Woman regularly slaps his wife around whenever she speaks out of line. His abuse of his wife is interplayed with his abuse of the feral woman that he captures.
  • Ray Winston's character in Nil By Mouth.
  • In the 2011 film Warrior: When his father mentions swearing off women, Tommy mumbles that it must be hard to find a woman who can take a good punch these days.
  • This is the setup for everything that happens in Thelma & Louise, specifically Thelma's husband (who was an emotionally and mentally abusive Manchild, but not shown to be physically abusive).
  • Adelle in Kalifornia, who is involved with Serial Killer Early Grayce. It gets even sadder when she reveals that he only whips her when she "deserves it," and that she feels like he protects her from the people who have done WORSE things to her. Adelle was gang-raped as a young teenager, which left her in the hospital for months.
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo revolves around a woman avoiding an abusive husband by taking refuge in filmed fantasy. It makes the ending, in which she goes back to her husband, all the more heartbreaking.
  • Bill, the first step-dad in Boyhood turns out to be a nasty drunk subjected to violent mood swings. At one point, the young protagonist and his step-brother walk into their parents' garage to find their mother on the ground crying, with Bill angrily noting that she fell on her own accord.
  • In the alternate 1985 of Back to the Future Part II, Biff Tannen became a successful entrepreneur who also became bored with his wife Lorraine and only keeps her around as a Trophy Wife as revenge against his rival George McFly, whom he killed in that timeline several years after George fathered Lorraine's children. Biff goes so far as to even abuse his adopted children, and threatened to put his wife and her children in jail alongside her brother Joey if she ever tried to leave him. In a deleted scene from the movie, it is suggested that Lorraine ends up killing 1985-A Biff, which is why 2015 Biff starts to disappear after returning the DeLorean that he stole to give his 1955 self the sports almanac to change history with.
  • In 100 Feet, Mike apparently was battering Marnie from the beginning of their marriage until she finally killed him with the knife he went after her with. He starts again after his death and her return to the house.
  • Blue Steel: Megan's father, who disapproves of his daughter becoming a cop, starts to mistreat his wife. Megan eventually arrests him for domestic abuse.
  • Stonehearst Asylum: Implied to be the case with Eliza, whose husband was apparently possessed of "unnatural" appetites, and it's likely the cause of her mental illness too.
  • In When Darkness Falls, Håkan beats his wife Carina, as well as his father used to beat his mother.
  • Canadian-made TV movie Life With Billy. Based on the book by the same name, it's the true story of Jane Hurshman's relationship with her common-law husband Billy Stafford. The film starts with her shooting her husband as he's passed out drunk in the driver's seat of his pickup truck. During her court testimony, we're shown their story through a series of flashbacks. At one point, when Hurshman is describing a particularly horrible act, her lawyer asks why she didn't leave him. She could only answer that she was afraid he'd kill her entire family.
  • Road House: After Brad Wesley's mistress is too forward one time too many with Dalton, she's dragged out of the roadhouse by one of his goons. She's next seen in Wesley's mansion with a bruised-up face.
  • Cruel and Unusual: Edgar is slowly revealed to have controlled his wife's life almost completely, stopping her from working or having her own bank account, and constantly being paranoid that she'd leave him or was having affairs. It's also implied that she's stuck with him if she wants to stay in the country, as her residence there appears to depend upon their marriage. She poisoned him due to feeling it was the only way to escape.
  • In Suffragette, this being a film about the time before women had the right to vote, domestic violence is everywhere. A woman turns up to a suffrage meeting so beaten up that her comrades decide she can't speak publicly in that state, as she won't be taken seriously by the men in power. (With the implication that they'll think she deserved it). Maud's husband seems to be not that abusive at first, but after her picture gets into the newspapers as that of a suffragette, he throws her out of the shared home that is at least partially paid for by the money she earns as laundress, and later on gives up her son for adoption without asking her - when she returns home one day, the couple is already there to pick up their adoptive son. She is, of course, devastated. There's also the rich man who stubbornly refuses, after paying the caution for his wife, to also free her fellow suffragists, a form of psychological abuse, as he's obviously wealthy enough to easily afford it.
  • Gaslight is a very well-known movie featuring abusive partners, to the point where gaslighting is named after it. Paula's recently married husband, Gregory, tries to make her think she's insane by making her think she is a forgetful Unreliable Narrator hearing noises.
  • There's some ugly instances of this in Midnight Mary.
  • Dean from Kingsman: The Secret Service openly beats Eggsy and is implied to beat his wife, Eggsy's mother, too.
  • The World of Kanako: Protagonist Akikazu is implied to have abused his daughter Kanako when she still was younger. Later on he punches and sexually abuses his wife Kiriko when he's angry.
  • In The War Wagon, Crazy Jealous Guy Wes certainly abuses his wife Kate emotionally, and probably physically as well. He treats her more like a possession than a spouse, and Kate later reveals to Billy that Wes bought her from her parents for $20 and a horse.
  • Reviving Ophelia provides a textbook example of an abusive relationship. Elizabeth's relationship with a boy named Mark starts off sweet and innocent before he becomes possessive, controlling, and physically violent towards her. It only gets worse when he threatens to pull a Murder-Suicide after she breaks up with him and gets a restraining order against him.
  • One of the women in Caged was arrested for shooting her abusive husband.
  • The Symbol Of The Unconquered: Upon accidentally revealing to his girlfriend that he's black, Jefferson gets so mad at his mother that he strangles her and throws her to the ground.
  • Not Without My Daughter has Betty Mahmoody, played by Sally Field, being beaten by her Iranian husband, Moody, played by Alfred Molina. They were happily married in America and they had a daughter named Mahtob. They all went to Tehran, Iran on vacation for two weeks to visit Moody's family. After the two weeks ended, he wants his wife and child to stay in Iran and try to conform to the customs there. Betty refuses for this to happen, and Moody slaps her to make her stay. Betty and Mahtob secretly try to get out of Iran with the help of the Swiss Embassy and a few sympathetic Iranians. If Moody ever suspected that she was trying to escape or be late for something, he would beat her, even in front of public.
  • Provoked has Kiranjit Ahluwalia, played by Aishwarya Rai, who was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by her husband for ten years. She couldn't take it anymore, so she used a Napalm oil mix to pour on his feet while he slept and burned him.
  • 13 Minutes: Elsa's husband beats her frequently, including when she's pregnant.
  • The 2011 Lifetime film, No Surrender, introduced a woman named Jenny Reardon as victim of spousal abuse, having written letters to writer Amelia Davis (Mena Suvari) about her abuse at the hands of her husband, who she killed in self-defense. However, in a twist, it was revealed that Jenny was the true abuser and Trevor wrote the letters. Jenny killed Trevor in cold blood after finding out, and she had colluded with Amelia's abusive ex-husband (who Jenny later killed, also in cold blood) to ruin Amelia, as Jenny blamed Amelia for "ruining her life."
  • Michael Conrad in Black Zoo. He physically and verbally abuses his wife Edna (and murdered his first wife), and emotionally abuses his son Carl, who is mute as a result of his father's activities.
  • Tales of Terror: In "The Black Cat", Montressor heaps verbal, physical and economic abuse on his poor wife Annabelle. It is little surprise he winds up murdering her.

  • 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.

  • In Dragon Bones, the protagonist's father is known to have been violent against his wife, as well as their children. It is hinted that, when she began to take mind-altering herbs, he didn't "come to her bed as often", which encouraged her to continue the drug-abuse.
  • Sybil Jester's husband in Fiona Buckley's Queen of Ambition. Thanks to Deliberate Values Dissonance (it is the late sixteenth century, after all), Sybil (who ran away and got work as a companion) is sacked when her employer finds out that she ran away from her husband.
  • Daisy's husband Tom in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
  • Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth: Alfred beats Aliena, crossing the Moral Event Horizon in the process.
  • In Kerry Greenwood's Death Before Wicket, Dolly Hart was frequently beaten up by her husband and sometimes put out on the street after a fight. The last time that happened, she left him and became a prostitute. She says that she didn't have to do anything for the money that he hadn't done to her, and by force.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern: In the first novel, Dragonflight, F'lar and Lessa are effectively in an Arranged Marriage once their dragons pair off; their first sexual encounter, triggered by the dragons, was rougher than it should have been as a result. (F'lar, not being stupid, realized that this had driven a wedge between them but couldn't fix it.) He shakes her very hard sometimes when she frightens him.
    • This shaking is not when she is deliberately scaring him, but typically is when he is frightened for her.
  • John D. MacDonald's Travis Mc Gee encountered this more than once.
    • Bright Orange for the Shroud: Arthur Wilkinson's wife married him as part of an elaborate scam to defraud him of all his money; she helped her partners in the scam by verbal abuse combined with the Lysistrata Gambit in order to push him into the investments they wanted him to make.
    • Darker Than Amber: Immediately prior to the opening of the story, McGee had been helping a woman get back on her feet after escaping from an emotionally (though not physically) abusive marriage.
    • The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper: That the local doctor suffered terrible verbal abuse for many years in his marriage, and was being blackmailed because he had murdered her.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The marriage of King Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister is a particularly hellish and complicated case. Robert overthrew the previous dynasty when its crown prince, Rhaegar, kidnapped (or perhaps secretly eloped with) his beloved fiancee Lyanna. Meanwhile, Cersei had her heart set on Rhaegar. Robert killed Rhaegar in battle and won the crown, but Lyanna died during the war. To ensure the loyalty of her powerful noble family, Robert married Cersei. As you might expect, the marriage of two strangers, one of whom is mourning his true love while the other is resentful of both the fact that her new husband killed her crush and that she had no say in the marriage doesn't go well. When the books start about 15 years into their marriage, they're both regularly cheating on the other, Cersei is a sociopath who verbally abuses Robert at every turn and threatens the lives of his bastard children, and Boisterous Bruiser Robert doesn't know any way to respond to Cersei except by either drinking himself unconscious or hitting her. (Robert fully and regretfully admits afterward that being physically abusive isn't right, but honestly has no clue on other ways to deal with Cersei.) He also used to extort to his Marital Rape License once in a while in the early days of their marriage when he was drunk and pretended that 'it was all wine and he doesn't remember it anyway' in the mornings after. (Cersei recalls, however, Robert acting somewhat smug the morning after and suspects he was satisfied he'd ensured his dominance over her and was aware what he was doing.) The happy marriage ends by Robert dying in a Hunting "Accident" that Cersei and a co-conspirator helped along by getting Robert enormously drunk right before he tried facing off with a wild boar.
    • And that is nothing compared to the abuse of his predecessor, King Aerys. Who would not only verbally abuse his wife on a regular basis, but would violently rape her whenever he was done burning people alive.
    • There's also Ramsay Bolton and Gregor Clegane, both of whom are widowers. Guess who killed their wives. Go on, guess.
    • Ramsay's father, Roose Bolton, could be one. He has been married twice already, and both women have died. Given the reputation of House Bolton's cruelty, and Roose Bolton being nowhere as open about it as Ramsay is, it is possible, and might not even have been completely physical. However, bizarrely, he is fond of his third wife, Fat Walda Frey. Appearantly, he enjoys how she shudders and moans....
    • Joffrey Baratheon had all the hallmarks of becoming one. His treatment of Sansa Stark, a girl he was betrothed to starts getting bad when he kills her father right in front of her, and forces her to look at his mounted head. He has his Kingsguard beat her whenever her brother scores a victory against his grandfather's forces in a war he started, going so far as to have her stripped naked an beaten before the entire court at one point. Fear of this is what drove Olenna Tyrell to help kill him on the day he marries Margery Tyrell, her granddaughter. Her brother being a Kingsguard also helped convince Olenna.
  • Stephen King:
    • In the novel Dolores Claiborne, the title character is physically abused by her husband. She first accepts this, because she grew up in a rural community in the '30s, when this was socially acceptable, but eventually decides to stand up to him, and eventually kills him when she learns that he's trying to make moves on their eldest daughter.
    • Another novel by King, Rose Madder, deals with the protagonist, Rosie, escaping from her abusive husband, Norman, who brutally beat her many times, including when she was pregnant, causing her to miscarry.
    • Carrie, also by Stephen King. It's implied that one reason Carrie's mother is so messed up is because her husband abused and raped her.
    • The Chick from the Losers Club in IT has to get away from a husband who beats her so regularly that he has a belt reserved for it.
    • The novel Insomnia also had domestic abuse play a part, although this time it's at least partially because malignant spiritual forces have driven the husband insane so they can use him as a tool to kill a young boy with an important role to play later in life.
  • Dempsy towards Brina in Zane's "Addicted."
  • A short story dealt with a man who was a painter and was married to a woman who constantly verbally abused him, constantly belittling and insulting him. It ends with it being revealed that he has the power to trap anything he paints into the painting - and he has begun to paint his wife's picture.
  • It's heavily implied in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that Snape's father was at the very least verbally abusive and likely physically abusive as well to Snape's mother, and that this was a large contributing factor in his anti-Muggle attitudes.
  • In Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London (known as Midnight Riot in the US, getting a warrant for a ghost who murdered his wife and child is complicated by the ghostly magistrate asking whether the woman was a shrew, because no man hits his wife without reason. The quick-thinking narrator tells him that she was a terrible shrew but the baby was innocent, which gets the warrant.
  • In the O. Henry story A Harlem Tragedy, Mrs. Cassidy makes light of her husband's sporadic abuse because she knows he'll spend the rest of the week trying to make up for it. In a case of Values Dissonance, this actually makes her friend jealous. In Real Life, using the other partner's physical violence as a means of manipulation is unfortunately not unknown. One woman observed later that her part in her abusive marriage was a sick power game.
  • In The Red Tent, Laban beats the ever-living crap out of his second wife, Ruti. It gets so bad that she eventually kills herself.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Komarr, the best Ekaterin can say about her husband is "he never beat me". His behavior—including belittling her constantly, turning anything she says that can possibly be interpreted as criticism into an attack on her by calling her "selfish", and wall-punching tantrums—is severe emotional abuse.
  • The film version of Revenge of the Sith has Anakin, at the end, choking his wife, though he'd been solicitous to her before. In the Novelization by Matt Stover, it has buildup. Throughout the novel, they're happy to see each other and in love... but when they first meet and Padme tries to tell him she's pregnant, he instantly assumes she has a lover and grabs her hard enough to hurt her. Over the course of the novel she repeatedly tells him he's scaring her, and this starts mattering to him less and less. He even once looks down at her and thinks that he likes it when she's afraid. Any time she talks about the war or the Senate, he turns on her - doesn't she understand that she should only talk about them and the baby? - and he starts to resent her job and all that time she spends at it away from him, maybe traitorous time. For her part, Padme is largely in denial over this side of him, but realizes at one point that there is one Jedi she does trust... and it's not him. The realization horrifies her, at least in part because if Anakin knew, he wouldn't be happy with her.
  • Beatrice from Purple Hibiscus loses at least two children because her husband beats her. Eventually, she's driven to murder.
  • Twilight:
    • 99.9% of Edward and Jacob's actions (especially Edward's) are blatantly fit the criteria for domestic abuse. Try sitting with the list of "red flags" while reading the books. It's frightening. And it's played as romantic. Unfortunate Implications abound.
    • Bella gets her own turn in Eclipse and the first part of Breaking Dawn, when she repeatedly tries to force Edward to have sex with her, even though he states repeatedly that he doesn't want to. At one point, she actually tries to rip off his shirt, which would be seen as horrifying if a man did it to a woman, but is Played for Laughs in that scene.
  • Similarly to Twilight, Patch's interactions with Nora in Hush, Hush are almost directly lifted from the Abuser's Handbook. He stalks her, he mocks her, he enjoys making her uncomfortable, he humiliates her in front of her Biology class, he repeatedly forces her to engage in activities she's not comfortable doing (riding a wild roller coaster, accepting a lift on his motorcycle, etc), corners her in dark, abandoned places, tells her things like "A guy like me could take advantage of a girl like you", lures her into a motel room, pins her on a bed and kisses her while she screams in protest, etc. We later find out that he had every intention of murdering her at several points in the story. None of this is portrayed as less than romantic.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the woodpeckers.
    the woodpecker had dressed his suit in finest style, and with dulcet tones and melting tenderness had gone acourting. Sweet as the dove's had been his wooing, and one more pang the lonely Cardinal had suffered at being forced to witness his felicity; yet scarcely had his plump, amiable little mate consented to his caresses and approved the sycamore, before he turned on her, pecked her severely, and pulled a tuft of plumage from her breast. There was not the least excuse for this tyrannical action; and the sight filled the Cardinal with rage. He fully expected to see Madam Woodpecker divorce herself and flee her new home, and he most earnestly hoped that she would; but she did no such thing. She meekly flattened her feathers, hurried work in a lively manner, and tried in every way to anticipate and avert her mate's displeasure. Under this treatment he grew more abusive, and now Madam Woodpecker dodged every time she came within his reach
  • Sherlock Holmes prefers the city to the countryside because this is more easily revealed.
    There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Storm Front: Harry's client turns out to be a victim. Her husband is a warlock with a drive to get more and more power. The client sought Harry when she caught her husband looking at their children not with love, but as tools and ingredients to his next projects.
    • Harry is a victim of this too. He is abused by his guardian Justin Dumorne by him trying to enthrall Harry (magically strip him of his free will).
  • Mercedes Lackey's works:
    • In Burning Water, there's a scene where a patrol cop is telling the waitress at a diner (who volunteers at a domestic abuse support group) about recent domestic violence cases he's responded to so that she can contact the victims and get them help before things get out of hand.
    • In Steadfast, dancer and acrobat Katie Langford runs away from the circus she works at to escape her abusive and brutish husband Dick, the circus strongman.
  • In the world of A Brother's Price men are so rare that many gender roles are reversed. It's commonly known that some wives abuse their husbands, but it's not a flat subversion of Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male; there is one very high profile case where a man took advantage of his older wives' infatuation with him in order to abuse his younger wives without consequences.
  • In Anna Quindlen's novel Black and Blue, Fran is physically, emotionally and sexually abused by her husband for years. Unable to go to the police for help, given that her husband is a police officer, she flees along with her son and attempts to hide from him by getting herself and her son fake identities. It doesn't work.
  • Marian Keyes' novel This Charming Man centers around four women who have had their lives changed because of their relationship to the abusive politician Paddy de Courcy, the titular "charming man".
  • Fault Line revolves around this and they focus on all the disturbing details.
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a thorough examination of it, to the horror and fascination of the Victorian reading public.
  • Occurs several times in the Provost's Dog trilogy of the Tortall Universe. Child Beka got her first taste of policing when she tracked down her mother's latest boyfriend, who beat and then robbed her. During her time as a trainee guardswomannote  she witnesses Yates Noll beating his sister Gemma. Beka also arrests a woman who was threatening her husband and kids with a knife; in court, multiple witnesses testify that she beat them regularly. It's treated very seriously, an aversion of Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male.
  • Every one of the Dysfunctional Family groups in the novels of V. C. Andrews. In particular, the Dollanganger family from Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind.
  • The Jack Reacher novel Echo Burning.
  • In Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, Elena discovers that Stefano, Lila's new husband, is just as violent and abusive as his deceased loan shark father. She recalls the first time she saw Lila after her wedding, Lila had a massive black eye and her arms were bruised. No one dared to mention it because of Stefano's lineage and because every husband and father in their poor Naples village was violent and abusive towards their wives and their children. Elena herself ended up marrying and divorcing an emotionally abusive man.
  • Sara's first foster-father in Relativity. He never abused her or her sister, but did beat and eventually killed her foster-mother.
  • In The Anderssons by Solveig Olsson-Hultgren, Mandi ends up in an abusive marriage with Rutger Stjärnstedt, which she can only escape by signing herself into a mental asylum (and later on, she decides to commit suicide). And when her daughter Louise gets a Jewish boyfriend, she too is abused by Rutger.
  • In Queen of the Tearling, Andalie's husband abuses her and the children. She walks away from him, taking her children, when she's given the opportunity, but still protects him. She hints that she just suffers from irrational love, but since she also has some supernatural abilities, it is not clear in the first book whether she knows of some role her husband has yet to play. There's also Kelsea's uncle, who insists that he never beat any of his female slaves ... except the one he keeps on a leash like a dog. It is very clear that he is abusive, though perhaps not often physically so.
  • Ravensong:
    • Polly's father beats her mother.
    • Jake, the "old snake" beats his wife.
  • The Great Divorce depicts two not-very-good spouses in Hell. Robert's Wife is a control freak who forced him into what she considered success, and Frank Smith emotionally manipulated his wife Sarah using pity. Both of them try their shtick with the Bright Ones, but it doesn't work.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Lord Sanfi basically creates a world of horror and pain for the women around him.
  • Occasionally, a subplot in a Danielle Steel novel. The one time it's the main plot, in the novel Journey, she opts to depict the emotional/verbal variety.
  • This is a reoccurring theme in The Color Purple. Domestic abuse is seen as the norm in Celie's family. Celie, in jealousy, even encourages her ex-husband to beat up his new girlfriend. He gets beat up the first time, which results in a cycle of abuse.
  • An emotional version of this happens in Leaving Poppy, as the titular Poppy controls her mother and sister's lives with her tantrums and aggression, throwing fits and guilt tripping when she doesn't have her way.
  • The Cold Moons: Eldon's wife Scylla dislikes angering him for fear of being chastised and either bitten by him or cuffed by his heavy paws. Due to Deliberate Values Dissonance, the other badgers don't see this as abusive and the narrative doesn't depict it as negative. Eldon does care for his wife to a degree but the two only ended up together because it was expected from them, not because of actual affection.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Soap operas frequently have storylines about domestic violence running and usually run the kind of phone numbers seen at the bottom of this article at the end of episodes focusing on them. Among the more famous examples of these storylines are:
    • Little Mo's abuse in Eastenders.
    • General Hospital tackled the rarely seen version of teen dating violence when Kristina was beaten by her boyfriend Kiefer.
  • It is very easy to see the conflict in Black Mirror: USS Callister as an allegory of this trope. The story is, when you boil away the sci-fi elements, about a young woman trying to escape the grasp of a dangerous man with a serious abusive streak, and dreading what he might do if he catches her acting out of line.
  • The Office (US): When Jan moves in with Michael, she eventually becomes incredibly emotionally abusive and controlling of him. She forces him to adjust his house to her and contribute to his debt, merely allowing Michael to live in the house and support her. Season 4's "Dinner Party" showcases this in fully, though initially Played for Laughs, it's eventually Played for Drama as Michael is revealed to go through various vasectomies to conform to Jan's constantly changing feelings about having kids, she forced him to give up on things that makes him happy and destroy his things, throwing things around when mad. She also keeps listening to a song from her ex-assistant that is clearly about having sex with her, despite Michael vocally saying he dislikes it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Robert is not above smacking Cersei around when she insults his masculinity, (though he immediately regrets it as "not kingly") and it's probably a factor in his death.
    • When Joffrey is pissed off, he has his knights beat Sansa, because his mother told him "a king should not strike his lady."
    • Rhaegar Targaryen's cruelest actions were usually directed at his wife, Elia. While not physical or intentionally cruel, they included spurning her at the tourney in favor of Lyanna and annulling his marriage to her in her own homeland.
  • Little House on the Prairie: Several episodes played this up dramatically and straight, and rightly so. However, in Season 5's "There's No Place Like Home," this trope was used in a comic sense ... and it is the only time where Nels Oleson threatens his wife, Harriet, with physical harm. It's when – frustrated that neither she nor his children are eager to help clean up Walnut Grove (from its dilapidated state) – he orders both Nellie and Willie to find some way to help out. Mrs. Oleson overhears her husband making his demands (not unreasonably), and comes out to reprimand her husband. "Since when do you wear the pants in this family?" she asks. Bad move – he pulls out a scythe and showing it to her and then shouts at her: "Since I've got this! NOW GET TO WORK, WOMAN! NNNNNNOOOOOWWWW!!!!!!" Sending Mrs. Oleson off in sheer (comic) terror.
  • Adam-12: Seen a couple of times every season throughout its seven-year run. While most were played straight, there was at least one situation – a mammoth-sized ogre and his pint-sized wife are engaged in a surprisingly even battle – played more for laughs, as Malloy and Reed get the worst of things.
  • In a mild subversion, the CSI episode "Down the Drain" suggested that the mother of the house was thoroughly cowed not only by her domineering husband, but by her teenage son as well, to the point where she helped the son attempt to conceal murder evidence.
  • A season 3 plotline of Glee featured Coach Beiste being abused by her new husband. She eventually left him.
  • Season 2 of 24 had one of these. The husband was actually fairly psychotic, and ended up killing the wife.
  • Once shown as a problem even good coppers are prone to in Z Cars.
  • Depending on if you pick up the Ho Yay in Xena: Warrior Princess, the infamous Gab Drag scene at the start of the Bitter Suite.
  • The Twilight Zone:
    • Several episodes of The Twilight Zone involved verbally abusive wives. Usually, they get what they deserve.
    • The reboot gives us an episode where a man is physically and emotionally abusive to his wife and son. The son tries to solve the problem by wishing a hero from his favorite comic into existence. It doesn't work, as the father beats the hero unconscious. The father is "defeated" when he goes to attack the kid and the mother, finally at her breaking point, attacks him from behind.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master. Series 3 saw him masquerading as the human "Mr. Saxon" and taking a human trophy wife. His abusiveness toward her came back to bite him.
    • Eddie Connolly in "The Idiot's Lantern" verbally abuses his wife and son.
    • Amy Pond sees no issue with frequently hitting Rory in the face, and not in a consensual flirty way.
  • On Drive, Wendy Patrakas enters the race so she can use the prize money to escape her abusive husband.
  • Jordan and Perry Cox on Scrubs - we've seen her Groin Attack him, heard she broke his jaw, and seen her slap him multiple times. It's assumed to be mutual, though we've never seen him actively attack her, just be a bit rough to her. Unusually, they still have a relatively stable and loving relationship and seem to positively enjoy physically and verbally attacking each other. In one episode she even mentions a vague desire to stick a knife into him while he's sleeping to see how far she can go before he wakes up. Later in that episode, she nonchalantly asks if he ever figured out how he received a wound on his arm (which was bandaged).
  • Occasionally happens on This Is Wonderland:
    • One episode had the twist that the woman (who had psychological problems and was entirely reliant on her husband) really did start it, but he got punished anyway.
    • Another episode had a crazy guy who made regular death threats against his wife, whom he suspected of cheating on him with his boss. He wasn't treated anywhere near so sympathetically.
  • The Honeymooners got laughs out of Ralph's empty threats to his wife: "One of these days, Alice. Pow! Right in the kisser!" These were comedic because Alice (and the viewer) knew he was just blustering and would never follow through - he was actually shown to be afraid of Alice's wrath.
  • Presidential sitcom satire That's My Bush! references the above Honeymooners line, with President Bush's catchphrase: "One of these days, Laura, I'm gonna punch you in the face!" This is said in unison with an excited studio audience.
  • In the UK television series Blue Murder, the episodes Private Sins (Parts One and Two) show a woman who is violently abusive to her husband, and in one case, poured battery acid on her ex-husband while he was sleeping.
  • On 55 Degrees North/The Night Detective, a man stabs his abusive wife in self-defense. Even though the wife has only minor injuries and is also clearly in the wrong, the man asks to be arrested because he would rather have people thinking that he's a jerk who abuses his wife than let them know that it's actually the other way around.
  • Hollyoaks:
    • There are two domestic abuse plotlines involving Ste- the first with him abusing Amy, and the second with him as the victim at the hands of Brandon.
    • A later story deals with Patrick abusing Maxine.
  • On The Walking Dead, Ed refuses to allow a little thing like the Zombie Apocalypse stop him from being a world-class wife-beating asshole. As is typical of the genre, he quickly becomes an Asshole Victim. Twice.
  • The subject in Flashpoint "Asking for Flowers" is a woman who attacks her sister's abusive husband. She is said to feel responsible because she is the one who introduced the couple.
    • The same episode reveals that Wordy's wife, Shelley, was previously married to a man who abused her.
  • Law & Order had a unique variant in "Pride and Joy": an honors student son who verbally and physically abuses his superintendent father for not being successful enough compared to the parents of his peer group. This eventually results in the father's murder, and the mother is so cowed by her son that she helps provide an alibi.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has quite a few cases involving domestic abuse (since that would usually be considered an SVU case), but special mention goes to "Persona", which featured two DV-related cases in a single episode. The Victim of the Week is a domestic violence victim whois murdered by her husband; an examination of the crime scene reveals that the victim's downstairs neighbor is a fugitive who killed her own abusive husband decades earlier.
  • The Mentalist: The bad guy in "Ring Around The Rosie" is, in addition to everything else, a domestic abuser. Van Pelt convinces his wife to help them (she could allow them to search the house without a warrant) by telling her she can pay her husband back by helping to get him arrested.
  • Although never specifically described as such, perhaps due to the genders involved, Niles's wife Maris from Frasier had a laundry list of actions proving her to be a vicious, controlling, obsessive, manipulative bitch, and inflicted emotional and psychological (and occasionally physical) abuse on her husband on a regular basis. She also progressed to financial abuse during the couple's messy divorce, bankrupting Niles purely out of spite despite initially getting a handsome settlement, though this changes when Nile's divorce lawyer found out that her family's fortune was made through pee cakes, and not lumber as she had told everyone.
    • This is a good example of a case in which the abuse is recognized by the other characters in the show. Whenever Maris is involved, Frasier and Martin are typically protesting the way she treats Niles and encouraging him to stand up to her or not to give in when she is threatening him somehow. Everyone is happy when they divorce, and try to help him avoid falling into the same submissive trap with later relationships.
    • Even so, Niles' short-lived second marriage, (where he rebound-marries Mel but leaves her when his true love Daphne suddenly becomes available) shows Mel to be another Maris - cold-blooded, controlling and vindictive. Lightning does hit the same man twice.
  • Roseanne: Roseanne's sister, Jackie, was frequently involved in unstable, unhappy relationships, and the one fitting this trope involves a man named Fisher, who was her boyfriend during the 1992-1993 season; Darlene accidentally walks in on a nude Jackie in the bathroom and notices bruises.
  • iCarly: Sam and Freddie enter a relationship in Season 5, and in "iCan't Take It" we find out that Sam is still hitting Freddie. Carly says that it's sweet that Sam doesn't hit him in the face any more. She also tells them, after several episodes of non-stop fighting that essentially subverts the Belligerent Sexual Tension angle the shippers generally go for between the two, that if they can't quit fighting then something's wrong and they shouldn't be in a relationship at all.
  • In the show Las Vegas, one episode's B-plot dealt with a man who was in the Montecito to have an affair. When his wife came looking for him, desperately wanting to find him, the characters help arrange a meeting and peaceful resolution. But then he comes down with bruises on him from her hurting him. He tells them how he, fearful of someone hurting her, encouraged her to take martial arts. So now a 5' tall woman can easily handle her 6' husband. After talking with some of the characters again, the guy decides to resolve the problem with his wife. He tied her up in their room and left his ring with the main characters to give to her, while he drives away happy and free.
  • In Person of Interest, Reese's ex-girlfriend Jessica was accidentally killed by her abusive husband. Since then, whenever he encounters spousal abuse, he makes a point of showing the abuser what a real monster looks like.
    • When a battered wife was plotting to kill her abusive husband, Samaritan, in a Pet the Dog moment, killed him first.
  • In Mad Men, Don frequently lied and argued with Betty, and treated her like a child. Though for the most part he tried hard to avoid violence, as he grew up in an abusive house. The worst he ever physically got with Betty was the both of them getting in an aggressive shoving match.
  • On Twin Peaks, Leo Johnson, an evil cocaine-smuggler, frequently beats his wife Shirley, even trying to kill her at one point.
  • Coronation Street:
    • Charlie Stubb's abuse of Michelle in Coronation Street.
    • In a rare example of a woman's abuse of a man, there is an agonizingly long abuse story-arc, where nice guy Tyrone Dodds is the victim of some fairly horrendous psychological and physical abuse from unhinged wife Kirsty. This reached its nadir when she led everyone to believe he was the offender, and left him friendless and in prison.
  • Being Human: Poor Annie has terrible luck. It turns out that her fiance, Owen, murdered her after falsely accusing her of cheating on him. When she confronts him about it, he proceeds to emotionally abuse her some more. It's also implied that he abused her before killing her, since it's mentioned that he got her to move away from her friends and family, and her mom realized that Annie was deeply unhappy by the change. She later tries to have relationships with Tully and Saul. The first ends when Tully grabs her, tries to corner her, and crudely propositions her, terrifying her into teleporting from the house. The second ends when Saul decides to take advice from ghosts in a TV and begins forcibly kissing her. He later tries to drag her to Hell, thinking it will bring him back to life. Her relationship with Mitchell goes pretty well, until he goes insane thinking he's destined to be killed by a werewolf, leading him to lash out and verbally abuse her. She reveals later that she and Nina even had a joke about how all the men she dated ended badly. Not long after this, she tries to become closer to a ghost sent to help look after Eve. He turns out to be a serial killer and verbally abuses her until she seems to fade away to nothing. She gets better, but you feel sorry for the woman!
  • Near the end Southland, abrasive cop Dewey is mentioned to be this. His grownup daughter tells Cooper how, after a bad day at work, he would sometimes hit her mother. She mentions one particular instance where this happened after a bad day at work, after which he sat down and cried on the stairs, but it sounds like far from the only instance of him doing that.
  • Lucy's husband in The Bletchley Circle. He's domineering and unkind, then beats her after her Near-Rape Experience.
  • On Degrassi, Alli falls in love with a French guy named Leo who she meets on a trip to Paris. He starts out shoving her, then eventually slaps and punches her.
    • The original series, Degrassi High, included a story arc about Kathleen and an abusive— both emotionally and physically— boyfriend. The relationship ends only when he breaks her arm.
  • In the Heat of the Night: One episode combines this with Parental Abandonment. A woman kills her abusive husband, flees to another city where she changes her name and gets a new life, all while she left her daughter behind in an empty house. Also the episode "Love, Honor, Obey", which deals with the Stock Plot of a battered wife who's too afraid/ashamed to admit to it.
  • The premiere of Army Wives paired this Bait-and-Switch. One of the wives, Denise, is seen with bruises on her arm. The viewer naturally assumes it's her husband who's been hitting her. Then her son gets a rejection letter from the prestigious military college he's applied to and slaps her in a fit of rage, revealing that he is her abuser.
  • The Tudors portrays Henry VIII as emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and hints at it with future wives, including Jane Seymour. This is over and above him being a megalomaniacal psychopath, mind you.
  • Motive: The Victim of the Week in "The Vanishing Policeman" is a cop who is physically abusing his wife and emotionally abusing his son. He is murdered by his estranged brother who sees him turning into a clone of their abusive father.
  • In The Handmaid's Tale, Commander Fred Waterford whips his wife Serena Joy for stepping out of her assigned role as a Wife in the theocratic Republic of Gilead during the time when he was incapacitated. Given the androcentric nature of the religious society, this trope is basically a given.
  • Endeavour: The B-plot in "Quartet" involves Thursday the increasing violence being inflicted by a newsagent on his wife, and attempting to get her to report him. His abuse eventually lands her in the hospital and when, after she returns home, he dies in a fatal Staircase Tumble, Thursday chooses to turn a blind eye.
  • Mr. Robot: After being brainwashed by Whiterose , Angela subjected Elliot to emotional and mental abuse so that she could complete Stage 2. She constantly gaslighted him without any remorse and didn't care about the fact that she was making him miserable. And when Elliot finds out, she blames him for it and disowns him.
  • Midsomer Murders had the female-on-male version in the episode The Ghost Of Causton Abbey. When Amani Taylor is found dead with severe injuries, the detectives’ initial assumption is that she was being abused by her husband. Turns out, however, that her drinking problems made her severely abusive to her husband. He accepted it because he didn’t think she was harming the kids from his previous marriage, but his ex-wife discovering that it was still severely traumatising to them led to two murders.
  • In Midnight Caller, one of the first calls Jack gets is from a woman beaten by her husband. Jack tells her to leave as soon as possible.
  • There are implications that Chelsea's ex-husband from Raven's Home was abusive. It's shown that he was financially manipulating Chelsea and implied he was at minimum emotionally abusive as well.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Unnatural Selection", Howard and Joanne Sharp believe that their close friend and neighbor Tony Blake is abusing his wife Fran due to the frequent sounds of objects being broken coming from their house and the presence of a bruise on her face on one occasion. However, it turns out that both were caused by the Blakes' son Timmy, whom they are hiding because he is suffering from Genetic Rejection Syndrome.
    • In "Mary 25", Charlie Bouton regularly beats and psychologically abuses his wife Teryl, reducing her to tears on a daily basis. It turns out that he murdered her some time earlier and replaced her with an android copy to cover his tracks.
    • In "The Balance of Nature", Greg Matheson physically and verbally abuses his wife Barbara.
    • In "In Another Life", the various Alternate Universe versions of Mason Stark were beaten by their alcoholic fathers on a regular basis.
    • In "Blank Slate", Hope Wilson and her sister Joanne were abused by their father.
    • In "The Gun", Matthew Logan served 22 months of a four year sentence for beating his wife Sandra to within an inch of her life. He had been abusing her for quite some time beforehand. The first thing that he does once he gets out of prison is buy a gun and kill her.
    • In "Nest", William Grimes was abused by his father as a child.
    • In "Mona Lisa", Teddy Madden was abused by her ex-husband Al during their marriage.
  • Boy Meets World: In "Dangerous Secret", Shawn helps to hide a girl named Claire Ferguson who is being beaten by her father. He later ropes Cory into helping him.
  • Banshee: The webisodes reveal that Deputy Siobhan Kelly was an abused wife before she Took a Level in Badass, divorced her husband, and became a no-nonsense deputy.
  • Taken: In "God's Equation", it is revealed that Ray Morrison was sexually molested by a man in a shed when he was eight years old.

  • "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks. Combined with a CMA-award winning video that graphically depicted a man slapping around his wife when he arrives home, she having suspected him of having an affair. The live version, featuring a third verse where the wife murders the husband, only makes it more explicit.
  • Martina McBride had several songs addressing the topic, at least two involving adults and the other a young girl:
    • "Independence Day," an empowering ballad of a woman freeing herself from her abusive, alcoholic husband, told from the point of view of her 8-year-old daughter. As the title suggests, it takes place on the Fourth of July, giving the song a double meaning. The song and video, which came out in 1994, were controversial for its graphic depiction of a man beating his wife and destroying their possessions, as well as just how the mother puts an end to the abuse; the video ends with both the victim and abuser dying in a house fire set by the abused wife. The little girl returns from a town parade to find her home engulfed in flames and police surrounding it; she is sent to the "county home". The song is also noticeable for its condemnation of a town that knew about the abuse, but "everybody looked the other way" and it's non-condemnation of the mother's actions in killing herself and her husband.
    • "Concrete Angel," where an omniscient observer feels sympathy for a little girl whose mother had killed her. (The video shows a little boy communicating with the hapless little girl at a window, similar to the teen-aged boy and girl in the far different Taylor Swift song "You Belong With Me.")
    • "A Broken Wing" is about emotional/psychological abuse. A woman stays with a man who constantly belittles her and witholds affection. The last verse leaves the ending to the story ambiguous...the man sees his wife/girlfriend is not in church and finds a note and an open window. It's unclear on whether she simply left or committed suicide.
  • The video of Sam Hunt's "Take Your Time," a massive country hit 2015. Instead of playing on the storyline of a young man just honestly wanting to get to know a hot, hot, SUPER DUPER HOT chick at the local college bar (rather than someone looking for sex with one), this bar story takes a much darker turn. Indeed, a good chunk of the video is set in a bar and one of the central characters is indeed a young woman, but this woman is constantly berated and/or slapped around by the no-good SOB of her tattooed, drunken boyfriend ... sometimes at the bar, sometimes at the local coin-op laundry, sometimes at their home, often with their baby in sight. Hunt, meanwhile, often witnesses this and is seething angry every time he witnesses the guy's actions, but butts out. Until one day, he's walking along the street. He sees the woman try to make her getaway, suitcase and baby in hand. With suitcase and baby (barely) in the truck, the boyfriend tries to grab the woman and plans to brutally (and we do mean bru-tall-lee) beat her to death. Hunt sees what's about to happen and can take no more ... and rushes up to beat the boyfriend up, giving the young woman the opening she needs to make her getaway. Hunt has a bloody lip at the end — heck, he doesn't even really win the fight — but he has held the punk back long enough for the woman to drive out of sight, and presumably out of her now ex-boyfriend's life forever. The moral in the end, of course, was that Hunt wasn't looking for a relationship with a woman or steal someone's girl ... it was that he was doing the right thing.
  • "Not to Blame" by Joni Mitchell is about a serial abuser who always avoids responsibility for his actions, even when it drives his partners to suicide. The song is alleged to be about Mitchell's ex-boyfriend Jackson Browne, who was facing down well-publicized allegations that he physically abused his then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah when the song was released. Mitchell denies this, but the similarities between the song's lyrics and known events in Browne's personal life have not gone unnoticed, and even garnered an angry response from Browne in the media.
  • "Gunpowder & Lead" by Miranda Lambert. Actually, the reason the male antagonist went to jail, because he "slapped my face and shook me like a rag doll."
  • "The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery, where the title character — a young girl — witnesses increasingly violent confrontations between her father and mother, culminating in a murder-suicide.
  • "Animal Nitrate" by Suede, in which the protagonist falls victim to the charms of a Bastard Boyfriend.
  • "Alyssa Lies" by Jason Michael Carroll, this time with a 7-year-old girl falling victim
  • The Dixie Chicks song and music video "Goodbye Earl" has one half of a Blood Sisters duo getting married and getting abused by the title character. The two of them get together and kill him.
  • The Shania Twain song "Black Eyes, Blue Tears."
  • The Jazmine Sullivan song "Call Me Guilty". But she gets revenge by murdering him.
  • Nickelback's "Never Again."
  • Suzanne Vega's smash hit "Luka" is about a boy who gets beaten at home, but constantly denies it to avoid unwanted attention.
    Yes, I think I'm okay
    I walked into the door again
    If you ask, that's what I'll say
    And it's not your business anyway
  • The Eve song "Love is Blind" is about a woman whose friend was in an abusive relationship with a man who beat and raped her. It ends in a Downer Ending where the friend is beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend. In revenge, the singer kills the man and ends up arrested.
  • A Jimmy Wayne song, "The Rabbit". It ends with the wife being acquitted of her husband's murder.
  • "Better The Devil You Know."
  • "Face Down" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
    "Face down in the dirt," she said, "This doesn't hurt," she said, "I've finally had enough."
    • In the music video, the wife is shown collecting her things from the house in preparation for leaving the abuser. As she walks through it, certain items shatter or explode, representing when her abuser destroyed them in his anger.
  • Though the song focuses on lead singer Jacoby Shaddix's childhood, Papa Roach's "Broken Home" has shades of this.
    I'm crying day and night now, what is wrong with me?
    I cannot fight now, I feel like a weak link
    • The music video lampshades this. The guy (Jacoby's father, if i'm not mistaken) verbally abuses his wife and even rapes her at one part (check it at 1:57.)
  • "Falling Away From Me" by Korn.
  • "Facade" by Disturbed. Another one that suggests the woman is getting ready to snap.
  • Maria Mena:
    • "He's Hurting Me" is about an emotionally, and possibly physically, abusive relationship. The protagonist is begging someone to come over and help her deal with her angry boyfriend who thinks she's lying about something. She's also is in denial about it.
    It's not his fault I made him lose his temper
    I should know better not to talk too loud
    There's no one who can love me better
    I'm not like you—you are too proud
    • "It Took Me By Surprise" is a rare example being from the POV of the female abuser. It's about a woman who emotionally abuses and manipulates her boyfriend until he begins to hate and fear her.
    Now he's afraid of me
    It took me by surprise
    The hatred in his eyes
    I pushed this man as far as he could go
    But he lacked the words to let me know
    He acted out
    Now I can see it is my fault
  • "Better Man" by Pearl Jam
    "She lies and says she's in love with him... Can't find a better man."
  • "Love the Way You Lie", sung from the perspective of Eminem (as perpetrator) and Rihanna (as victim). There are also elements of a Destructive Romance where both are emotionally and physically abusive. The video stars Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as a couple in a mutually abusive relationship. The original, more somber Skylar Grey was later done by Eminem and Rihanna as "Love The Way You Like (Part II)" is from the girlfriend's POV.
  • "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)", a 1962 single by Phil Spector-produced girl group The Crystals. It's about a woman trying to justify her jealous, abusive boyfriend's behavior.
  • Pet Shop Boys:
    • "Only The Wind". (Word of God says it is indeed about domestic abuse and not AIDS, as commonly believed.) "There's nobody hiding behind a locked door/And no one's been lying 'cause we don't lie anymore." The abused lover says "I'm sorry..." at the end and is implied to have either left or killed the abuser.
    • "One More Chance" may also be about this: "Chained, framed, you know what I mean. Push me in the corner and I'll scream." On the other hand, it may be interpreted as an Obligatory Bondage Song.
  • Tracy Chapman's "Behind the Wall".
  • "Pulling Teeth" by Green Day is a female-on-male example.
    Is she ultra-violent, is she disturbed? I better tell her that I love her
    Before she does it all over again, oh God she's killing me
  • David Bowie's "Repetition" is about the grim routine this can fall into, with a bitter man verbally and physically abusing his wife.
  • "Tormented Kid" by Australian rapper 360 is a story about a man who abuses his wife and son.
  • The music video for P!nk's "Please Don't Leave Me" is about a batshit insane Yandere who abuses her husband. Thankfully, she's portrayed as the crazy woman she is, and she doesn't get away with it.
  • The Crystalline Effect's 'Another Rainy Day'.
  • "Stockholm Syndrome" by Muse, sung from the POV of the perpetrator.
  • The (apparently autobiographical) "Drawn to the Blood" by Sufjan Stevens:
    The strength of his arm,
    My lover caught me off-guard.
  • "Pick Up The Phone" by Falling in Reverse is about an abusive and jealous boyfriend.
  • Rachel Proctor's song "Me and Emily" tells the story of a woman who packs up her daughter to escape a physically abusive husband.
  • "Push" by Matchbox Twenty is one of the few songs that deals with female on male domestic abuse. The male singer is being abused by his girlfriend, emotionally and possibly physically.
  • "99 Biker Friends" by Bowling for Soup is about the singer telling an abusive husband/boyfriend to knock it off on pain of the 99 bikers showing up and kicking his ass.
  • "DLMD" by 311 implores a girl to leave her abusive boyfriend ("DLMD" stands for "Don't let me down").
  • "Earthquake" by Little Boots is a classic case of suffering an abusive relationship and keeping quiet about it.
  • Inna's "Endless" video starts with her boyfriend verbally abusing her while she sings calmly, intercut with their happier times, escalating to physical fighting near the end, at which point she finally gets rid of him. However, the actual lyrics don't quite match the video.
  • Hurt plays it chillingly straight with "Abuse of SID".
  • "Louisville Slugger" by The Have Nots is another song where the narrator implores a girl to leave her abusive relationship - the title refers to the weapon the narrator wishes to use to threaten the abusing boyfriend with ("I got a Louisville slugger in the back of my ride / make the call and I'll be there by your side / hey girl, you don't have to take that poop from anybody")
  • Betty Wright's "Go!" is about a woman in an abusive relationship finally finding the strength to leave.
  • Subverted in Lightin' Hopkins' "Bring Me My Shotgun." In the song, a man calls for his shotgun, proclaiming that he's going to shoot his wife and hide her body for cheating on him. His wife stands firm and dares him to do it. The man then admits that his shotgun doesn't actually fire. It was all an empty threat.
  • "Working My Way Back To You" by The Four Seasons (later covered as a medley by the Spinners with "Forgive Me, Girl" added) is about an apparently reformed abuser trying to win back the girl who dumped him for being an abusive jerk.
  • The Mercedes Lackey song "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" featured a Countess who was verbally abusive to her husband, and not particularly pleasant to everyone else in the household. When she suddenly died (by having the lute she played while forcing people to listen to her awful singing every night shoved down her throat), the investigators found that everyone in the household had their every action accounted for, and were forced to call the death 'suicide'.
  • There are the truly grim recordings on Lou Reed's Berlin album, including "Caroline Says" (as she gets up off the floor/You can hit me all you want to/But I don't love you anymore) and the coda "Sad Song" (I'm going to stop wasting my time/Somebody else would have broken both of her arms)
  • "'Til Death Do Us Part" and "Oh Father" from Madonna's Like a Prayer album both deal with abuse, first husband/wife, and second parent/child. The video for the latter song incorporates both types of abuse into its imagery, suggesting that people who grew up in abusive homes end up in abusive relationships of their own.
  • The song "Tainted Love" could be seen in this light, especially when listening to Marilyn Manson's cover.
  • "I used be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved/Man I was mean, but I'm changing my scene and I'm doing the best that I can." This was, unfortunately, in reference to the emotionally stilted John Lennon's tendencies in his youth to hit women, a behavior he deeply regretted later in life. John claimed his feminist activism, influenced by Yoko Ono, was in part to to his shame at how he treated women for much of his life. He disliked the chauvinistic-sounding lyrics to "You Can't Do That"note  and "Run For Your Life" for similar reasons.
  • "Two Beds And A Coffee Machine" by Savage Garden is about a woman and her children dealing with the aftermath of domestic abuse.
  • "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson speaks to the aftereffects of abuse, including a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. The original video by Kelly Clarkson is focused mostly on the singer's fear of repeating her parents' marriage, in which her father was physically and emotionally absent for both wife and daughter. The duet with Reba McEntire portrays it as interpersonal violence, with Kelly Clarkson being the victim of an emotionally and physically abusive boyfriend. The original video ends on a hopeful note, with the singer putting a stop to the cycle and making up with her boyfriend; the second video ends more tragically as Kelly leaves with the abusive boyfriend while Reba sings the final lyrics and looks on sadly.
  • The Hozier song "Cherry Wine" also features a rare example of female-on-male emotional and physical abuse. The music video shows male-on-female domestic abuse. The song is about a man who is in love with a woman who fights with him, beats him, and likely cheats on him as well. He's scared of his lover, and his mother doesn't like their relationship, but he refuses to leave her.
    Way she tells me I'm her and she's mine
    Open hand or closed fist would be fine
    The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine
  • The subject of George Michael's "Look At Your Hands" from his debut solo album Faith.
  • Duran Duran's "Sin Of The City" from The Wedding Album begins with such a case, given its real-life setting:
    Coat check girl up in Happy Land
    Has a violent row with a Cuba man.
    Julio leaves in a drunken rage,
    He comes back with the gasoline.
  • "Teddy Bear" by Melanie Martinez is about a woman whose sweet 'teddy bear' of a boyfriend suddenly turns dark on her. When she begins finding knives under the bed, and crumbled photographs of herself, she starts getting worried. He then tries to kill her and she kicks him out. Afterwards he begins stalking her and calling her but only breathing into the phone. That's when she really becomes terrified.
  • "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight is about a woman trying to convince a man to breakup with his emotionally abusive girlfriend/wife and be with her instead.
  • On Daniel Amos' album Horrendous Disc, the title track starts off with a musician who's "killed his wife with words, confident it's private rage". But then the song gets weird, as a (seemingly magical) Accidental Public Confession reveals the musician's abuse for all his fans to witness.
  • Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home," about an abused wife burning down the family home with her abuser inside. The lyrics and video are fairly vague, but it has been confirmed by the artist in recent years to be a murder ballad and many fans of the song assume that where Sunny had been before she "came home" was in the hospital, recovering from injuries sustained by an abusive partner.
    Sunny came home with a list of names
    She didn't believe in transcendence
    It's time for a few small repairs she said
    Sunny came home with a vengeance
  • "Run Rabbit Run" by The Hoosiers uses animal allegories to describe a person in a dangerous relationship. The singer warns them to leave it.
    I saw a fox by the rabbit hole
    You saw a prince from a fairy-tale
    He promised that he'd look over you
    Turned out to be the fox we all knew
    Too good to be true
    What chance did you stand?'
    Take flight, turn tail
    Get out while you can
    Run, rabbit, run, as fast as you can
    Don't look back
  • "Back For Good" by Take That seems to imply that an abusive relationship is taking place between the singer and his loved one.
    We'll be fighting, and forever we will be
    So complete in our love
    We will never be uncovered again.
  • The music video for Shawn Mendes' "Treat You Better", where Mendes is portrayed trying to convince a girl to build up the strength to leave her abusive boyfriend - the video ends with the number for the National Abuse Hotline appearing on the screen. It's ambiguous as to whether the song itself is meant to portray abuse too: The narrator doesn't like how the subject's boyfriend treats her and thinks she'd be better off leaving with him, but the lyrics don't really mention why, other than the fact that he's not "a gentleman" and causes her to cry on a regular basis.
  • The Israeli song "Bad Boy" is about a girl in love with an abusive and, it seems, rather disturbed boy. She is a few days short of ten, and he is even younger.
  • Andy Griggs' "Waitin' on Sundown" is about a man named Jimmy who helps a woman named Shelby make her escape from an abusive relationship.
  • "I Know I'm A Wolf" by Young Heretics uses animal symbolism. The protagonist is a "wolf" who wants to denounce his previous ways and be kind to the "rabbit" he's talking to.
  • In "Wee Cooper of Fife," #277 of the Child Ballads, the cooper responds to his wife's refusal to perform housework by putting a sheepskin over her back.
    Oh I'll no thrash your gentle kin
    Nickety nackety noo noo noo
    But I will thrash my ain sheepskin
  • Paula Cole's "Throwing Stones" is about a couple coming to blows in their relationship, getting to the point of throwing stones at each other until both of them die.
  • "Church Bells" by Carrie Underwood: A young country girl marries into money...but the rich guy gets drunk and beats her. She retaliates by poisoning his alcohol with something "no lawman was ever gonna find."
    And how he died remains a mystery
    But he hit a woman for the very last time
  • Céline Dion has one obscure song, "This Time", which touches this issue.
    One more hour burns
    So scared of his return
    That I can't sleep tonight
    In this hospital light.
  • "Call Me Names" by Joan Armatrading, a rare example where woman-on-man is not played for laughs.
  • "The Phone Call" by The Pretenders, where some unknown benefactor tries to get the victim out of the circumstances.
    • Even more known: "Thin Line Between Love and Hate", where the obedient wife suddenly goes berzerk.
  • Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed" from Welcome to My Nightmare is a ballad about a woman in an abusive marriage.
  • Lovers & Liars' song "I'm Not Him" is about a man who is in love with someone who is still haunted by a past abusive relationship.


    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 Over Protective Dad 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.

    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, the 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 soul 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 Mousketter. 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.

    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
  • 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.

    Web Comics 

    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?"
  • Played for Laughs-for the most part-in ''Ultra Fast Pony'' Soarin is constantly ridiculed and emotionally abused by his wife Spitfire, to the point that any scene where they are together-or any scene with UFP Spitfire-is a Kick the Dog for her. Your Mileage May Vary on this one.
  • Word of God confirms the relationship between Blake and Adam was like this in RWBY before the beginning of the series. We see this in the Volume Six short where Blake confronts Adam over his increasing violent tendencies. Adam raises his voice, accusing her of being just like his parents, causing her to back down and apologize for it.
  • 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.
  • Played for Laughs in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. When Goku goes up to fight Cell, he gets into an argument with Tien over who was World Champion, stating that he defeated him, Piccolo and Chi-Chi to get that way. When commentator Jimmy Firecracker gets wind of this, he automatically assumes he's a wife beater. Goku's inability to clarify that Chi-Chi was attempting to get him to honor an marriage commitment doesn't help matters at all and the whole world thinks that Goku is a wife beater.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • Family Guy:
    • Taken to serious extremes in "The Story of Brenda Q."
    • 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."
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • The continuity has this in spades (no pun intended) 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 Unlimited 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Proud Family: Trudy Proud's treatment of Oscar would be horrifying if the genders were reversed.
  • 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. The whole thing between Bunny and Kitty reeks of romantic subtext so his ideology makes more sense in that he's mad at his girlfriend being in love with another, instead of being friends with someone. Doesn't excuse it, though.
    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.
  • In Archer, Sterling's relationship with any woman apart from his mother falls into this. Particular examples are Cheryl/Carol Tunt in the first series, a number of implied incidents with prostitues and his ongoing relationship with Lana Kane which regularly results in her being physically or mentally hurt.
    • 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.
  • Heavily implied in the Young Justice 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...
  • 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.
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat was a victim of this; he was constantly yelled at by his mom and beaten up by his older brothers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • Still a huge problem around the world, but at least it's not acceptable behavior in many countries anymore. And then, in some it is.
  • In Spain, if you are a woman and you beat your husband you get HALF as many years in jail as a man who beats his wife, by law.
  • Similarly, in medieval England, while a man could legally beat his wife for wrongdoing, a woman who was being cruelly beaten for no apparent reason could legally sue her husband before a church court and make him mend his ways, but a man who admitted that he was being abused by his own wife would be subject to Victim Blaming, since a Henpecked Husband was not seen as a real man.
  • This is subverted in a fashion in Russia. The fine for being found guilty of wife beating was $200. The fine for wrestling with a bear was $1000.
  • Lindsay Lohan's father Michael allegedly abused her mother Dina while they were married so he could blackmail Lindsay into working every day. Then he got jailed for physically and sexually abusing his ex-girlfriend Kate Majors. The rest of the family (Lindsay especially) wants nothing to do with him.
  • In New Jersey, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act has a definition of domestic violence so broad that an 18 year old who is being abused by his or her Abusive Parents can seek a restraining order against them under the Act. This is by design; the Act is supposed to provide "the maximum measure of protection" to victims of domestic violence, and New Jersey understands domestic violence to encompass not just violence between people in "romantic" or sexual relationships but anyone you live with (remember, "domestic" means "of the home"). It's an extension of the idea that their home should be the place where a person be and feel safest.
  • In two famous cases that will hardly be forgotten, Ike Turner (as depicted in What's Love Got to Do with It) and Chris Brown.
  • One of the most infamous female-on-male domestic abuse incidents was with Brynn Hartman, who murdered her husband Phil while under the influence of drugs after a heated argument about her drug addiction.
  • In 2017, the contestants of the Miss Peru beauty pageant sought to bring attention to this issue by taking the measurements portion of the show Off the Rails.

Alternative Title(s): Abusive Spouse, Domestic Abuser


Example of: