Mark Warden (who was elected by popular vote): Some women like being abused.

A New Hampshire legislator, who is part of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, was recently “speaking out in support of a bill that would shift the penalty for simple assault from a misdemeanor crime to a violation-level offense in certain cases.”  No, I’m not making that up.  His justification?

“Some people could make the argument that a lot of people like being in abusive relationships,” Warden said during a meeting held by the committee. “It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s very, very common for people to stick around with somebody they love who also abuses him or her.”

I’ll bet you can’t guess what political party he represents.  Some people get off on consensual violence and degradation.  But there’s that word, “consensual”.  If they’re reporting it to the police, you know what the abuse is not?  Consensual.  So reducing the penalty for abuse would then only affect the people who are abusing women because they’re cruel bastards (read: all of them that are getting reported to the police).

Well, Mark Warden (Republican, as if there were any doubts, and four other Republicans voted with him), is it maybe just possible that women who stick with an abusive partner do so, not because they love the abuse, but because of fear or self-esteem issues?  I mean, that would be the obvious explanation and, to any sensible on-looker, far more likely than “many women enjoy being abused.”  The existence of abuse shelters, where women can go to escape (and I don’t use that word lightly) abusive relationships kind of undermines Warden’s argument.

He continued, “Is the solution to those kind of dysfunctional relationships going to be more government, another law? I tend to say no. People are always free to leave.”

Oh fuck him.  Because women who exist in a scenario where there they’re being told “leave and I’ll kill you” or “if you ever leave me I’ll beat the shit out of you” are free to leave.  Is there a lab some place where Republicans have all the empathy drained from their souls?

Republicans, when it’s trying to get the ten commandments in public schools or trying to dictate who people should love or whether or not they should have the choice to have children, they’re all about extending the government’s reach.  When it comes to punishing people who abuse women, they’re the party of small government.

And then, come election time, they wonder why women tend to vote for anybody else.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    I was going to comment about the fear of leaving, the threats, the fact that some people like to participate in consensual acts of pain that would be called abuse when consent is absent, and all that.

    But you covered it all. So…

    Fuck Mark Warden, and fuck the four other members of the GOP that voted with him, and fuck all the abuse enabling assholes out there that want to diminish the problem because they think a woman can just leave with no consequences.

  • baal

    My wife does pro-bono work on behalf of the women who are trying to get out of abusive relationships. The stories are one horror show after another. For example, when there are kids, the male (and it’s almost always 1M/1F with the M being physically abusive, the exceptions are rare. This isn’t to say that the women don’t engage in bad acts, they do but those aren’t generally physical) often states explicitly that he’ll fight for custody and then use that time to abuse the kids when the wife is away. Sometimes they make this threat in email – which is useful in the custody steps. Right, Mr. Mark Warden, she’s voluntarily in the abusive relationship.

    If he’s thinking about BDSM, he’s similarly confused (wrong) about how that all works as well.

    • Glodson

      I was thinking about this….

      There seems to be no one good answer as to why some women stay. There are threats, there is fear, there is a feeling a helplessness.

      But most insidious, there is a bonding process and even some women blaming themselves for this. In a sense, they are electing to stay. But this decision to stay is a consequence of the abuse which makes it even more monstrous as the women who fall into this trap are constructing their own prisons. This is not a reason to just say “hey, they’ve chosen this.”

      This, however, is not always the case. Doran (1980) drew on extensive clinical observations of battered women and concluded that a significant number of women remain in violent relationships due to their belief thaty they can save their partners from violence.

      It is sickening. This is when an intervention is needed the most. This is when outside help is needed. We can argue over which is the best means to help. That’s a discussion worth having.

      But to say “hey, she chose this and so we can’t really do anything” diminishes the problem. As I read further into this, I am even more disgusted by Warden’s words. Instead of looking at the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships, he reduced it to a point where he can justify doing nothing. Both to himself and his constituents.


      An exception to these findings is the reaction of battered women who have sought counseling from clergy. Battered women tend to rate clergy as the least helpful in ending their abuse Bowker & Maurer 1986 and Horton and Johnson 1993. The women in Baranoff’s study indicated that ministers “made matters worse.” Alsdurf and Alsdurf (1989) polled Protestant pastors throughout the United States. Of those who responded, only 8% indicated that they believe that domestic violence occurs often in Christian homes. One third of the respondents question the reliability of the abused woman’s report when it comes to the issue of who is responsible for the violence. When asked to rate how intense the violence must be to justify a Christian woman leaving the home, 33% responded that the violence would have to be life threatening and almost 20% responded that no amount of abuse would justify leaving. Only 2% of pastors surveyed said that they would support divorce in situations of violence. More than one in four pastors expressed the belief that by submitting to her violent husband, a wife can be assured that either the violence will stop or that she will be able to endure it.

      Thanks religion! Assholes.

  • Loqi

    I see he’s trying out for the open roster spot on Team Rape.

  • Shayrah

    S&M is not abuse. The definition of abuse is the improper use or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. If it’s consensual and both parties are benefiting from it and enjoying it for the purpose of pleasure, it is NOT abuse.

  • Watry

    I’ve given up trying to understand why so many people conflate abuse and consensual BDSM/kink. My best guess involves Libby Anne’s Two Boxes idea, but I don’t recall anything in the Bible specifically saying bad things about kink.

  • John Horstman

    No lab needed, just a cultural discourse in which empathy is constructed as a weakness (for men anyway) and sociopathy combined with a slavish deference to authority is held to be the human ideal. Even so, empathy occasionally wins, but most of that is reserved for the familiar and not the Other.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Men who abuse have a big, long list of reasons why they beat – she burned supper, she nagged, she dressed “like a slut” so other men looked at her, she’s bad in bed, etc, etc, etc.
    Instead of asking why the women stay, ask why the men DON’T LEAVE. If your woman sucks so badly, you have to abuse her continually to keep her in line, why not leave and find a better one?
    When you ask that question, the dynamic of abuse takes on a whole new dimension.

  • Ani J. Sharmin

    Is there a lab some place where Republicans have all the empathy drained from their souls?

    This. Just, this. A great deal of the comments from Republicans about various issue relating to equality and justice sound like they’re coming from people who’ve not only never experienced these types of injustices themselves, but also from people who have never stopped to think about how anyone else feels. They don’t stop and think about what it’s like to be in a frightening or intimidating situation, where you want to get out of it but can’t, because they’ve been the more powerful person in most of their interactions in their lives.