Some famous cases where domestic violence features less expected gender roles.
Over the weekend, during a misguided web searching tangent for Chris Brown and Rihanna photos, I found myself on a website called AmIAnnoying.com, amidst a section called “Spousal Abuse Victims.”
It was on that page that I learned Abraham Lincoln was a domestic violence victim.
Naturally, that led me on a new web searching tangent, as I searched for more famous men who have been victims of domestic violence. And that led me to make this list.
Of course, like any touchy-ish subject I take on here (the 11 Companies That Surprisingly Collaborated With the Nazis comes to mind), I’m not doing this for pure comedy. I’m not looking to mock or belittle domestic violence against men, which is a very real thing. I’m just looking for some fascinating subject matter, because I’m a journalist… and if a few jokes should happen to spring up, well, I’m more so a comedian.
Also, I chose to leave out John Wayne Bobbit, because he was only famous because of domestic violence; David Gest, because he wasn’t really famous until he married Liza Minelli; and Phil Hartman, because that’s not cool.
1 | Abraham Lincoln
According to Michael Burlingame, a history professor at Connecticut College and the author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd used to beat the hell out of Abe Lincoln.
Apparently, one time, Abe didn’t put enough wood on a fire, so Mary Todd hit him with a log. Another time, Abe didn’t buy the right kind of meat for breakfast, so Mary Todd smacked him in the face and drew blood.
By all reports, he hated his marriage; in 1864, he pardoned a Union soldier who abandoned the Army to marry his childhood sweetheart… and, while signing the pardon, Lincoln said, “I want to punish the young man. Probably in less than a year, he’ll wish I had withheld the pardon.”
2 | Bobby Brown
Everyone thinks Bobby Brown used to hit Whitney Houston… but, at least according to Whitney herself, it was the opposite.
In an interview with the AP 10 years ago, Whitney said, “Contrary to belief, I do the hitting, he doesn’t. He has never put his hands on me. We are crazy for one another. I mean crazy in love, love, love, love, love. When we’re fighting, it’s like that’s love for us. We’re fighting for our love.”
Well, that DOES kind of sound like the greatest love of all. (Even better than learning to love yourself… the greatest love of all is learning to beat your husband because he got too handsy during the filming of the Humpin’ Around video.)
3 | Humphrey Bogart
Apparently, Bogart and his third wife, Mayo Mathot, used to get into alcohol-induced fights all the time. So why is he on the victims list? One of those fights ended up with her stabbing him in the back. (Not metaphorically.)
4 | Christian Slater
Back in 2003, Christian Slater and his wife, Ryan Haddon Slater, got into a fight at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. She threw a glass at him and it shattered on his neck, requiring 20 stitches. She was arrested for domestic battery.
The weirdest part? On Slater’s medical report, only one word was highlighted. Eskimo.
5 | Bill Clinton
In the biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton called Hillary’s Choice, Hillary used to routinely beat on Bill, including one time after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
In a stranger, earlier incident, in 1993, Hillary scratched Bill’s face with her nails and left marks on his chin. That happened after she got upset following a visit to the White House by… Barbra Streisand.
The book doesn’t explain further… did Bill hit on Barbra Streisand? Did Barbra’s music drive Hillary to the point of rage? I’m afraid we’ll never know.
6 | Al Green
In 1974, a few years after he became a giant star, Al Green was at his girlfriend, Mary Woodson’s, house. She was married at the time… but, naturally, she started a fight with Al when he told her he wasn’t also going to marry her.
To get away from the fight, he hopped in the shower… while he was in there, Mary took a pan of boiling grits and dumped them over the top of the shower door. It gave Al third-degree burns on his back, stomach and arms.
Then she shot herself with his gun… and he realized his life was out of control and decided he needed to get back to God as quickly as possible.
7 | Ron Artest
Ron Artest is pure crazy. One of my favorite anecdotes ever about an NBA player is that, after his rookie season with the Bulls, Ron Artest took an offseason job at Circuit City so he could get the discount. So the fact that he attracted a female crazy isn’t all that surprising.
In 2002, Ron Artest’s girlfriend (who was five years older than him, and the mother of two of his children) admitted to smacking Artest around.
That happened right around the same time Ron was accused of stalking a different woman and leaving her threatening messages.
It was about two years before he started the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills, though… and about three years before he was suspended by the Indiana Pacers because he asked for a month of vacation time to promote a R&B album he was producing. Man I love Ron Artest.
8 | Chuck Finley
Chuck Finley was a professional athlete; a MLB pitcher. His wife was Tawny Kitaen, best known as “the chick from the hood of the car in that Whitesnake video.” Physically, that should’ve been a mismatch. But she… she had the rage.
In April of 2002, while Finley was on the Cleveland Indians, after a game against the Anaheim Angels, Finley took his wife to Ruth’s Chris in Irvine, California. They left the restaurant because she was making a scene and, according to court papers, she wouldn’t stop hitting, kicking and scratching him.
She ended up getting counseling and having to make a small donation to a battered women’s shelter.
9 | Stephen Hawking
According to reports in 2004 (which Hawking denied), his second wife, Elaine, was abusive to Hawking… which even led to him being hospitalized with a broken wrist and cuts on his face.
See, that’s why he needs to equip his wheelchair with a go-go-gadget boxing glove.
10 | Lionel Richie
In 1988, while Lionel Richie and his wife, Brenda Harvey, were going through a rough patch, she caught Lionel with another woman. She started beating the hell out of him, and ended up being arrested for spousal abuse.
Overall, on a scale of one to 11, I’d give that night’s karamu a four.
11 | Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Getting beat up by his girlfriend… do you think it would’ve been a better or worse fight than him versus his drummer? Personally, I think the latter would’ve been all right.