Scum undone

Article by Huda Hayek /
MX /
September 14, 2012 /
Click here to view original /

SCUMBAGS. Kanye sings about them. Some women think they need them. And there are blokes who would proudly claim the title.

But if you’re wondering whether your boy fits the category or why there are girls who still put up with cheaters and liars, then read on.

University of Melbourne social and political sciences lecturer Dr Lauren Rosewarne says there are different reasons why a man might treat his partner badly.

‘‘Some men might cheat or behave like a bastard because it gives him the thrill of the upper hand and makes him feel as though he is the one holding the power,’’ Rosewarne says.

‘‘Others might do it because they don’t know how to treat women decently. They haven’t had good role models or seen healthy relationships at work.’’

She says some women who put up with scumbags ‘‘rationalise that his cheating, violence or general jerkiness is only a small part of him’’.

But ultimately women who put up with such behaviour may do so because of self-esteem issues or the belief that ‘‘some is better than none’’ of him.

South Melbourne early years teacher Joanne Harding, 27, says she dated a couple of scumbags before realising she deserved to be treated better.

Her relationship with ‘‘Nick’’ ended when she came home to find her bed had been slept in.

‘‘I went away for a couple of weeks and when I came back the bed looked like it had been ruffled up,’’ she says.

‘‘All the photos of me were all turned down. Next to the bed, on the dresser, everywhere, all the photos were turned down.

‘‘I’d find condoms in really strange places around the house and in his jeans when I was doing the washing.

‘‘I’m pretty sure most things he said were lies.’’

Joanne says he would ignore her when she asked what he had been up to.

‘‘It’s like he thought what I was saying was funny. That infuriated me. He made me sound like I was a crazy person.’’

Joanne says although the relationship started out well, it declined within a year.

‘‘We fell in love very quickly

and I ended up moving in with him after only five months, which didn’t seem like a problem at the time.

‘‘I didn’t think he had any commitment phobia, but I guess there turns out that there was.’’

One of Joanne’s earlier boyfriends ‘‘Peter’’, who she met near the end of high school, also kept secrets in their 31⁄2-year relationship.

‘‘I’d hear things like ‘he’s really no good’ and all that sort of thing.

‘‘He had a temper and he’d be yelling a lot, but I always went back because he was my first.

‘‘When you fall in love for the first time you think that’s your entire world.

‘‘I’d hear through people that he’d kissed other girls.’’

Joanne says she confronted him on several occasions but he would say her friends were being ‘‘cows’’ or they had no right to get involved.

She is now in a loving and respectful relationship and hopes other women will learn sooner rather than later to get out of an unhealthy one.


Relationship counsellor and sex therapist Desiree Spierings tells mX an individual teaches others how they want to be treated.

‘‘By staying, this will most likely teach your scumbag that he can do that to you again and again,’’ Spierings says.

‘‘People who mistreat their partners almost always justify their behaviour.

‘‘They have these excuses, but it is important for every woman to know that there is no justifiable reason for this behaviour.’’

Her advice to women who might be treated poorly is: Get out and stay out.

Spierings says a woman must change her belief system in order to break out of bad relationships.

‘‘You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. So it is about recognising this pattern, and realising that you do deserve better,’’ she says.

‘‘If you start to value yourself more and increase your self-esteem, part of loving yourself is choosing the right partner, and someone who will treat you with respect.’’