Where Do You Draw The Line Between Play Fighting and Physical Abuse?

December 1, 2011  |  

You can add domestic abuse to the list of ills Kim Kardashian has extolled on Kris Humphries—at least as far as Dr. Drew is concerned. Scrolling around online, I saw a CNN segment of the king of celebrity interventions claiming that Kim physically abused Kris as he replayed a clip of the reality star punching her new hubby on the season premier of “Kim and Kourtney Take New York.” Admittedly, I immediately rolled my eyes at the allegation but then I thought back to the reaction I had when I saw a clip the previous day of Kris being a little too rough with Kim, and I wondered if there might actually be something there.

On that same episode of “Kim and Kourtney,” Kris tries to snatch a camera from Kim and after she calls him out for being so forceful, he pushes her down on the bed. Almost instantly, he draws her to him and starts kissing her and telling her how cute she looks. Honestly, the scene left a bad taste in my mouth. Although far more mild, the incident still resembled scenes from a violent altercation where a man physically assaults a woman then almost instantly snaps out of attack mode into comforter as if nothing happened. By now, not many of us care what did or didn’t go on between the Humphries over the course of their 72-day marriage, but could their rough housing be (one of many) signs that their marriage was unhealthy—if you believe they didn’t just do it for the money.

A lot of couples tend to playfully exchange “love taps” and most times women don’t feel they have to exercise any restraint since it’s assumed they can’t actually hurt a man no matter how hard they throw a punch. But when the tables turn and a man gets too rough, the entire situation changes. Even in a heated argument, women tend to feel they have a little leeway to get physical when they can’t quite get their point across verbally or they aren’t being taken seriously. For men, on the other hand, there’s a (necessary) zero tolerance policy when it comes to the unsanctified laying on of hands, but is the double standard fair? As Dr. Drew says in his segment, it’s not about whether the abuser can instill physical harm on the other person, it’s about the potential for escalation, which is where women have to be particularly careful. A playful argument could quickly turn violent if a man is pushed too far, and truthfully, it’s not safe or fair to try to test a man in that way.

It’s difficult for me to imagine Kim Kardashian being physically abusive—mostly because of her baby voice and non-confrontational demeanor—but it’s not hard for me to see Kris masking his inclination to get physical as simple roughhousing. With the pending divorce, luckily we don’t have to worry about their situation escalating, but the media attention does serve as a reminder of potential warning signs of abuse.

Do you and your boo regularly play fight? Has one of you ever taken it too far? Do you think people are reading too much into Kris and Kim’s roughhousing or are there definite warning signs there?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.


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