Actress Kelly Brook caused a stir when, in her recently published autobiography, she openly discussed punching of two of her ex-boyfriends, actor Jason Statham and rugby player Danny Cipriani.
The admissions became headlines yesterday when Ms Brook appeared on yesterday’s episode of the ITV show This Morning. Both Kelly and the presenters giggled about the punching of Statham and Cipriani.
The jokey discussion caused a torrent of outrage on social media. Cipriani is also threatening to sue Brook over details of their relationship revealed in the autobiography.
Ms Brook said of Statham that “in my defence, I don’t think he felt it.” It’s a shocking, disgusting comment to make.
There seems to be a strange veneer of social acceptability around domestic violence when it is directed towards males, an issue I discussed in an interview for BBC Three Counties Radio today. All credit to Jonathan Vernon-Smith, who made his views crystal clear! He doesn’t have a high opinion of Kelly Brook but he is even more concerned at reactions to such an admission and I don’t blame him.
I agree that such a gulf in social reactions between a man hitting a woman and a woman slapping a man is absolutely wrong. I know, from my work over 30 years, that many men can be deeply traumatised by repeated domestic violence, especially under the pressure of being expected to “grin and bear it.”
A man who is a victim of such violence in the home, might often also believe that the woman accused of bullying, harassment and violence, will be believed if he takes the case to court. He will thus be deeply reluctant to proceed, embarrassed that he has been unable to stand up to her and fearful of her reactions to him if he does. He is a just as much a classic case of a person worn down by bullying, harassment and threats as women are in the same situations. He will need just as much protection as a woman.
In my experience, these allegations are also not uncommon. Kelly Brook felt able to punch two big men full on in the face. More women are acting likewise.
A study carried out in 2010 showed how women in increasing numbers are being prosecuted for their assaults on men. The civil and criminal courts do apply the full force of the law to anyone seeking its protection, and that includes men seeking protection from women, provided they can summon up the courage and of course have the evidence.
It’s not easy to decide to proceed. But I must also say that this situation is not helped by politicians, usually women, who repeatedly and publicly state that violence in the home is solely committed by men against women and it is women who need greater protection. Statistics increasingly suggest that in fact attacks by women on men are growing to such an extent that attacks on men may make up as much as 40 per cent of domestic violence victims.
So I believe we need to get it out of our heads, and fast, that a woman hitting a man is at worst excusable and at best deserved. Kelly Brook thinks she can get away with laughing on morning TV about punching her ex-partner –and although she has done herself a lot of damage, imagine the hell that would rain down on a male celebrity doing the same?
In today’s Daily Mail we have that very comparison. US Celebrity sportsman Ray Rice who is videoed in an elevator punching his then fiancée full on in the face causing her to hit her head on the rail and fall unconscious, has been censured across the world – even by President Obama.
It’s time for all of us to show the likes of Kelly Brook that punching a man in the face is not funny, it is unacceptable. We all need to learn that violence and intimidation is as unacceptable in a woman as it is in a man.