Why women turn against women

Dr. Jill MurrayDr. Jill Murray is a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence and teen dating abuse. In this exclusive commentary, she shares her thoughts about the unfolding drama involving the actor Mel Gibson and his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Dr. Murray shares important insights about women and domestic abuse that affect us all. Don’t miss a word of this important and eye-opening expert opinion:

By Dr. Jill Murray
The child custody case between Mel Gibson and his estranged girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva’s has become a circus. In the center ring we have Mel Gibson. He is ranting at his child’s mother that she deserves to be sexually assaulted. He is particularly angry with her because she dared not indulge his desire for blowjobs at all hours of the day and night. Mel also growls, pants, and spits as he makes fun of her breasts. In ring number two, there is Oksana Grigorieva, her front teeth allegedly chipped by her former beloved. She is also the one who taped their angry conversations and allegedly made them public. He sent her a text message apologizing. In the third ring is Mel’s discarded wife, Robin. She has pronounced Mel an exemplary husband and father, even though he was apparently cheating on her with Oksana.
It’s such a fantastic show, that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus pales in comparison. The Mel and Oksana drama has dominated the entertainment media. And there is no shortage of opinion as to who is to blame.
Oksana and Mel Gibson’s attorneys state that their client is a mild-mannered, good natured Aussie. They say he contributes millions to charities and that he wouldn’t hurt a flea. He certainly wouldn’t harm the mother of his young daughter. After all, he gives money to domestic violence causes and children’s hospitals; doesn’t that prove he is innocent? It is hard to believe the former “Sexiest Man Alive” would say all those vile things, isn’t it?   Mel’s lawyers further hypothesize that Oksana doctored the taped conversations. They claim that she’s a complete nut-job – that she is actually the problem.
To some this may be compelling evidence of Gibson’s innocence. I find it merely more fodder for yet another sideshow. Personally, I don’t care if she altered 90 percent of the tapes. Is there anything of merit in the other 10 percent? What about the section in which he yells, “I own you. You’re nothing. You have to listen to me; I’m Mel.”
Even if we disregard the many racial slurs, demeaning comments about her body, and misogynistic statements, why are so many turning against the victim, Oksana? 
The idea that Gibson is now being portrayed as the victim and Oksana as troublemaker is not new. We’ve seen it before, most recently in the Chris Brown and Rihanna case. Remember when she was pitied, as photos of her battered and bruised face became public? We heard about his biting her, threatening to throw her out of their moving car, and even making a death threat? That lasted about a week before the common refrain became, “Well, she must’ve done something to deserve it.” What in the world does a woman do to deserve being treated like that?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, here we are again. Oksana is being portrayed not as a woman done wrong, but as a woman who has done wrong. Her biggest detractors are women. But that’s always the case. I’ve heard critical comments from many of my intelligent, accomplished female pals. They say things like, “You can tell from those tapes that she’s just pushing his buttons”, or, “Listen to her voice; she sounds like a robot. She’s doing it purposely to ramp him up”, or, “She’s trying to hold him up for ransom. She had a kid with him so she can soak him for everything he’s got.”
How did this happen? As a gender, how did women decide that the man on those tapes – one who is so ridiculously out-of-control – is a saint? Why are other women so quick to condemn the woman trying to calm him down and speak logically to him as the sinner? Perhaps, most folks listening to those tapes don’t understand that the way in which Oksana was talking to Gibson is how a woman talks to a big-league abuser. She gets very soft, she tries to reason with him, she attempts to make him understand that she’s not the horrible person he accuses her of being, and that what he’s telling her is demeaning and hurtful.
Those who condemn her say, “She can just hang up, you know. She must like the way he talks to her. She probably gets off on it; otherwise she could have left whenever she wanted to.” The last comment came from a female, a high-level lawyer and friend of mine. Unless you understand the dynamics of abusive relationships, it’s very difficult to understand that what we’re hearing on those phone tapes. The conversations are typical of an abuser and his victim. Sure, women can certainly be abusive to men. But, as an expert, that is not what I ‘m hearing when I listen to these tapes.
The Mel and Oksana drama has become entertainment fodder – The Greatest Show on Earth. I think it is pathetic. You decide, but just remember: when women choose to kick each other when we’re down, when we don’t watch each other’s backs, and when we choose to victimize the victim, we all lose.
Dr. Jill Murray is a practicing psychotherapist and bestselling author. She has appeared on 20/20, The Today Show, Oprah, Dr, Phil, and other forums to help women understand the danger of domestic and teen dating abuse.
Catch Jill’s show for teens. She is the leading authority on teen dating abuse.