Hope Solo --The Domestic Violence Double Standard

Hope Solo --The Domestic Violence Double Standard

It’s time we called a foul on women abusing men and stop looking the other way or condoning the abuse.

This past year, there was a vociferous clamor to bring out the guillotine and cut off the career of any male athlete that was accused of any type of domestic violence.

Where are these same domestic violence advocates when it comes to Hope Solo? The USA women’s soccer star goalie was arrested for beating up her sister and 17-year-old nephew last June.

She was charged with two counts of domestic violence at the time. Litigation of the case is still pending.

You may have heard that Hope was suspended for some games, but that suspension was actually for her involvement in her husband’s January drunk driving incident, not for the domestic violence incident.

ESPN recently obtained police reports and depositions which describe classic abusive behavior on the part of Solo.

Her sister (Teresa) and nephew (unnamed because he was a minor at the time) accuse Solo of berating and belittling the nephew, repeatedly slamming the nephew’s head against the cement, and repeatedly punching Teresa in the face when Teresa tried to protect her son.

Solo has launched a media campaign to present herself as the victim, but the police records show considerable visible injuries to Teresa and the nephew, while there were no visible injuries to Solo. And there are no medical records backing up her claims.

Police reports also detail Solo being demeaning and belligerent with the police who arrived on the scene after they were called by the nephew.

There is a great opportunity here.

There is an opportunity to increase awareness about abuse OF men BY women. (I capitalize OF and BY to make it clear what I’m talking about. Years ago, I realized that people are so used to a one-sided presentation of partner abuse that when I talked about abuse of men by women without really emphasizing the “of” people heard “abusive men.”)

All during the football domestic violence uproar this past year, the one-sided version of domestic violence was presented. It could have been an opportunity to educate people about partner abuse in all its forms, but instead the discussion was all about “men are violent and bad” while “women are innocent and good.”

The reality is that there are many cases of women abusing men. Women abuse men in all sorts of ways including physically.

Before you get your shirt in a knot: I am not saying all women abuse men. I am saying some women abuse men. Also – I am not anti-women. I am a woman myself. I am anti-abuse. And I am not going to let sisterhood get in the way of me calling foul on something that needs attention.

Men are suffering at the hands of the women who are abusing them, and that suffering is compounded by our culture which is pretending what is happening to them isn’t happening.

Even though the story of Hope Solo and her nephew is somewhat different from partner abuse it does exemplify many classic elements seen when women are the source of partner abuse and their male partners are the target.

3 elements of abuse OF men BY women exemplified by the story of Hope Solo (as it appears given the recently exposed case records):

  1. Not all abuse is physical.
  2. Women do physically abuse men.
  3. Sometimes abusive people turn the tables and accuse the target of abuse of being abusive.

1. Not all abuse is physical.

Like physical abuse, verbal abuse can “slice” through a target.

The domestic violence community easily recognizes the damage done to women who are verbally abused by men. This type of abuse has a similar impact when the genders are reversed.

With verbal abuse, words, tone, and body language are used to demean, control, or punish the target of the abuse.


2. Women do physically abuse men.

When I started to notice abuse of men by women many years ago, I recognized verbal and emotional abuse first. It took me a lot longer to become aware of just how prevalent physical abuse of men by women is.

It is common to think women can’t really hurt men physically because men are bigger and stronger, but in reality women do physically abuse men and men do get hurt.

In the case of Solo and her nephew, the male was much taller than the female, but the female was an athlete and potentially stronger.

Even when a woman is smaller and physically weaker than her male target, there are ways for women to overcome their size disadvantage when physically attacking a man.

Here are some ways women overcome their size disadvantage and hurt their male partner physically:

  • surprise attacks,
  • soliciting the help of others to attack him,
  • counting on their partner to not strike back, or
  • striking when their prey is in a vulnerable position (driving, asleep, drunk, has his back turned . . .), and
  • the use of objects either as direct weapons or projectiles.

A man may prevent himself from striking back because of training or desire to not hurt a woman, his non-violent nature, or concern that he will get in legal trouble. Even when his partner is whaling on him, a man may restrain himself from countering the attack.

3. Sometimes abusive people turn the tables and accuse the abuse target of being abusive.

Prior to the disclosure of the police records, Hope has appeared in the media claiming that she was the victim and that her nephew was the aggressor.

Sometimes an abusive person will falsely accuse the target of their abuse as being abusive. This can happen when men are the abusive party and it can happen when women are doing the abusing.

We are going through a cultural period where we have a tendency to believe women and disbelieve men. We really need to be equally discerning whether a man or woman is presenting their version of events.


 Partner abuse is destructive whether a man or a woman is the source of the abuse.

We need to open up the discussion and stop pretending that only men can be demeaning, controlling, or punishing to their partner.

abused men, abusive women book

There is much more to be said about abuse when women are the source of the abuse, that’s why I recently published my book, Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts,and It’s Time to Get Real About It. Click on the title to find out more.

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  • Ann Silvers
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