My wife and I are sitting here shaking our heads to this mess. But I promise you all, its not for what you think.
As long as people make comments and take the stance that most people on this topic have taken real spousal abuse will continue to run rampant in our society. Comments like "Ray Rice is despicable because he put his hands on a woman blah, blah, blah". When there was obviously an altercation in which the police felt that there was enough evidence to arrest and charge them both.
Real abuse victims don't get into "altercations". They almost never fight back or initiate conflict. The abuse and control tends to be total. Its rarely public but when it is it can be no doubt that one person is a victim, yet people look the other way. Situations like what happened to this couple is what puts in the back of peoples minds that somehow the victim is to blame when actual abuse cases are brought up. People become desensitized to it, because they see instances like this where both people were likely at fault for the situation but only one side is being blamed. It generates unspoken empathy for the accused and erodes sympathy for the victim.
Young girls are taught that "no boy should put their hands on you" instead of being taught to treat both boys and girls as equals. Young boys are taught to "never put their hands on a girl" so girls become something to be avoided for fear of authoritative reprisal (atleast until puberty) Little girls are protected and isolated. Placed on a pedestal above boys, by men. Young children lose out on the opportunity to gain adequate understanding of the opposite sex at an early age and as adults have horrible interpersonal problems that often lead to violence. I.e. Young women become demanding and inconsiderate and young men become apathetic and impersonal. They never see each other as equals because they have never been given the chance too their entire lives.
The role of a husband and wife gets taught later in life leading to unrealistic expectations of behavior. As a result, people tend to try and mimic the societal image of their gender in order to gain a mate, but lose it the second the relationship becomes uncomfortable. When they are left with their own expectations of the others behavior and no understanding of the each other, violence often ensues.
The real role is "THERE IS NO ROLE". Ideals of ultra masculinity and forced femininity are not conducive to an equal society of men and women. It forces men into the role of protector and in effect dominance over the women and places women on the defensive. Once again when one side is fighting for its independence, violenceoften ensues. Some men are incredibly masculine, I consider myself one. Some women are very feminine. But most people are somewhere in between. But the "American Mating Ritual" places us into the most extreme of these roles because we are taught that that is what is right. So that "sweet, innocent, submissive, maiden" becomes the nagging wife after marriage and that "strong, manly protector" becomes the disinterested overweight couch potato.
All this is EXTREMELY common in todays society. Arguments and yes even violence is very common in American households. While this is not necessarily a good thing, IT IS NOT SPOUSAL ABUSE. That is a different phenomenon all together. For spousal abuse some people are just abusive, period. They cannot be rehabilitated. It is in their nature. It generally extends to all parts of their life. From work, to relationships to parenting. Lumping all marital fights under the title bad, bad, man shouldn't be hitting that sweet innocent helpless woman is detrimental to the true fight against real abuse.