“Put your hands in your pockets…”

I was prompted to write this post by a story coming out of Calgary.  It’s not a new story.  It will be repeated.  It is sad.  A young woman was involved in a long term abusive relationship.  Her former fiancé allegedly killed her and then tried to kill himself.  This is disturbing on so many levels.  It’s totally anathema to everything I know and believe.

I was raised in a loving home where no physical abuse ever occurred.  When I was growing up, hugs were easily given and willingly received.  To this day my brothers and I who are I our 60’s and 70’s still hug each other hello and goodbye.

Our parents weren’t afraid to show affection to one another.  I’m not trying to paint an idyllic picture of Mayberry here or total family bliss.  Arguments between my parents would occur but usually not within sight.  Physical abuse regardless of how strong the arguments simply didn’t happen.  The reason I know there were arguments was that as I got older they became more obvious plus part of my life lessons involved talking about relationships and disagreements.

I found out what my father thought of physical abuse when I was seventeen years old.  He was the Chief Warden of one of Canada’s largest National Parks.  He was on patrol one busy long weekend and I was with him.  The population of the town site and surrounding area would jump from about 1500 people to over 40,000.  Needless to say the RCMP and the Park Wardens were kept very busy.

A radio call came in that there were two guys fighting outside one of the cafes.  We arrived to see two guys rolling around on the grass trying to land blows on one another.  For the most part it was a lot of rolling and not much hitting.  While Dad was nearly six feet tall he had rather short legs and watching him run was always good for a laugh but not too loudly.  He ran over to the two guys, lifted them up and pushed them apart.  A young woman who seemed to be enjoying the spectacle was standing to the side.

Dad in his very fatherly voice asked what the hell was going on.  One of the young men pointed at the girl and said “He stole my girl.”

Let me clarify something here.  Stealing one’s new paramour on a long weekend in the Park would be akin to saying that you went fishing and one got away.  Weekend liaisons were common and it was quite easy for a man or woman to fall in and out of love a couple of times in the three days.  Midnight prince and princesses were common.  Such was the case here.

Dad asked how long they’d been going together and he said they had met the night before.  The other guy said they’d met just that day and were holding hands when the “old” boyfriend saw them and so began the fight.  Dad could be less than subtle sometimes.  He literally grabbed both of them by the collars, turned them toward the girl and said “Is she really worth fighting over?”  There was an astounded look on the young woman’s face and a moment of reflection on the guys.  Nearly in unison they said, “No”.  They then turned to each other, shook hands and went their separate ways.  The young lady was left standing there looking quite dumbfounded.

When we got back in the truck, the talk came to talking about fighting.  Dad had served in the Second World War and believed that it was OK to fight for certain things and use force if necessary.  Somehow these discussions lead to physical assault of a woman.  I still clearly remember what he said to me.  He gave me that fatherly look that said that I better pay attention.  Having seen the look on more than one occasion it was pretty obvious.

He said, “Men don’t hit women.  If you get angry enough that you want to hit her, put your hands in your pockets and walk away.  If I ever find out that you’ve hit a woman, no matter how old you are or where you live, I’ll find you and beat the crap out of you!”

Dad never made idle threats.  I knew that he’d follow through.  While I never had any inclination for physical confrontation with anyone, I still paid heed to his words.

I don’t need to try and cover any ground here on how reprehensible spousal abuse is.  Spousal abuse isn’t a one way street where the man is always the abuser.  Spousal abuse can occur in any relationship and be perpetrated by either partner regardless of their sex.

But for any of the guys out there who thinks it’s OK to hit a woman.  It’s not.

Hitting a woman doesn’t make you a man, it makes you an ASSHOLE!


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