On Dexter

Rita’s Rocky Relationships



Is Dexter Any
Better Than Paul?

By David Barber-Callaghan, Nigel Barber

A female acquaintance always pursues the “wrong type of guy,” perpetually ending up in dysfunctional or abusive relationships. Against all odds, she finds one Mr. Wrong after another. Is she just unlucky? Hardly. Dexter’s Rita Bennett provides insight into the cyclical aspect of real-world abusive relationships. Over the course of the series, Rita moved from one abusive marriage with Paul Bennett–who nearly beat her to death–to another with Dexter Morgan.

Most viewers would consider Dexter a real step up from Paul as a partner for Rita, yet the two men share many abusive characteristics. Dexter is always careful to keep the violence of his Dark Passenger from Rita, but abuse doesn’t have to mean physical violence. And in some ways, Dexter is as abusive as Paul–if not more so.

Abusive Relationships

What exactly constitutes an abusive relationship? Relationship abuse is shockingly common. According to the American Psychological Association, around one in three women in America will be victims of relationship abuse in their lifetime. According to police reports cited by the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, in heterosexual relationships the overwhelming majority of domestic violence–up to 95 percent–is perpetuated by men. However, his evidence is seriously biased because police have a preference for arresting (and charging) men, who are seen as more likely than women to cause serious harm. Surveys show American women are as likely to hit their husbands as vice versa, as noted in Phillip W. Cook’s 1997 book Abused Men. Evolutionary psychologists nevertheless describe  …

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