Imagine you went on a first date with someone who was sarcastic, nasty, disparaging towards you. It's hard to believe that you would agree to a second date. Yet an abusive relationship can creep up on us and have us gradually accepting that behaviour, justifying it, perhaps even feeling that we are in some way responsible for it happening.
The Ministry of Justice has published details of how its new child super-prisons ("secure colleges") will be run. Sold as all about putting "education at the heart of custody", the plans are scant on detail about how children will be helped via education and health services, but contain 15 astonishing pages on discipline, punishment and control.
I heard this morning that Jonathan Agnew quit Twitter after receiving a stream of abuse on the site after a spat with Kevin Pietersen's wife. Although I haven't (yet) been wished 'death by Ebola' by an anonymous Twitter user, I've recently had the misfortune of dealing with a few Twitter trolls of my own...
Maybe Jennifer Aniston is not the best example if you espouse the mantra 'live by the camera die by the camera'. She has had plenty of opportunities as a result of her media profile; she has significant resources as a result of her public profile to shield her from the worse excesses of the Internet. But she is a useful poster child to remind us of the dangers of the Internet.
From a young age we are taught that forgiveness and acceptance is the key to happiness. But have these teachings been misconstrued to such an extent that we now have a warped view of what actually deserves forgiveness and acceptance? Do we now unconsciously gravitate towards destructive relationships, believing that without pain there can be no real passion?
Here is a young woman in a popular holiday destination for those with a limited budget - I'm not going to assume that she's working class, but I'm certain the journalists will have done. She having fun, she's drinking, she's apparently being sexual on her own terms. Someone filmed it and the whole thing went viral - oops. Enter the tabloids with their guidebook to acceptable women's behaviour and pronounce her unclean, apparently we've found a "new low" ... It's not long before social media is calling her "actual vermin" and a "repulsive slag". I failed to find anyone (other than feminists) criticising the men in any way, the woman in question has had her name and photo all over the internet today; where are the men?
I regularly receive Twitter comments ranging from the tame and jejune 'fag', 'fudge packer', 'cock sucker', 'spazzy' and 'ugly cunt' to the more personal and nasty 'you should have been kicked out of your mums womb', 'I'd slit your throat fag', 'You should get raped with a machete' and 'Hitler had the right idea. Put you faggot bastards in an oven at 230 degrees until crispy'.
I've been down the aisle more times than I care to consider, and I've got an equal number of divorce papers. So who the hell am I to talk about relationships? Well, I'm happy to say I've learned an awful lot about the truth of them, both good and not-so-good, and how they impact our lives and decisions.
Vilification of benefit claimants and disabled people is endemic, perhaps the government should just stitch on the black triangles and be done with it or bring in the Welfare Games to keep us at a more manageable number and remind us how grateful we are for all the 'pitty money' (in Simon Stevens words) that we get.