J.D. Vance Slammed for Suggesting Women Stay in Violent Marriages

J.D. Vance, the Trump-backed Republican nominee to replace retiring GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, is facing fierce backlash over a report that he made comments urging women to stay in "violent" marriages, which he has denied.

Vance lashed out at people who "shift spouses like they change their underwear" during a talk at Pacifica Christian High School in Newport Beach, California, last September, according to an article published on Monday by Vice News. The Ohio Republican and Hillbilly Elegy author said that "one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace" was convincing people in "unhappy" or "even violent" marriages that getting divorced would "make people happier in the long term," according to Vice.

"Maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I'm skeptical. But it really didn't work out for the kids of those marriages," Vance said, according to Vice. "And that's what I think all of us should be honest about, is we've run this experiment in real time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that's making our kids unhappy."

J.D. Vance Violent Marriages Abuse Twitter Backlash
J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for November's Senate election in Ohio, is facing backlash for reportedly suggesting that women should stay in abusive marriages for the sake of children. Vance is pictured during a campaign event in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 3, 2022. Drew Angerer/Getty

Vance responded to questions on whether he believed "it would be better for children if their parents stayed in violent marriages than if they divorced" and whether he was in favor of strengthening laws to make divorce more difficult with the following statement to Vice:

"I reject the premise of your bogus question. As anyone who studies these issues knows: domestic violence has skyrocketed in recent years, and is much higher among non-married couples. That's the 'trick' I reference: that domestic violence would somehow go down if progressives got what they want, when in fact modern society's war on families has made our domestic violence situation much worse. Any fair person would recognize I was criticizing the progressive frame on this issue, not embracing it."

"But I can see that you are not a fair person, so rather than answer your loaded and baseless question, let me offer the following: I'm an actual victim of domestic violence. In my life, I have seen siblings, wives, daughters, and myself abused by men. It's disgusting for you to argue that I was defending those men."

A Vance spokesperson directed Newsweek to the candidate's statement to Vice when asked for comment. A spokesperson later told Vice that Vance does not support changing marriage laws regarding divorce.

Regardless of Vance's response, the reactions to his original remarks were largely negative on Twitter, where many, including his Democratic Senate election opponent Representative Tim Ryan, accused him of wrongly promoting the continuation of abusive marriages for the supposed benefit of children.

"JD Vance thinks parents should stay in violent marriages 'for the sake of their kids,'" Ryan tweeted. "That's not just wrong, it's unbelievably dangerous."

"'Unbelievably dangerous.' -@TimRyan Correct," tweeted video content creator Reshma Gopaldas in response to Ryan's tweet. "How do we have men like JD Vance and Matt Gaetz being so openly hateful towards women. With no shame or remorse at all."

"No debate here. Trust the professionals at the Mayo Clinic, not @JDVance1," Ohio farmer Christopher Gibbs tweeted alongside a link to a Mayo Clinic article on the dangers of domestic violence. "Full stop."

"JD Vance believes women should just suck-it-up in a violent marriage," podcast host and former NBA player Rex Chapman tweeted. "The GOP of 2022 is remarkable..."

"JD Vance is suggesting that a woman is in a violent relationship, she must stay for the sake of the child — that in Ohio she was forced to give birth to," tweeted journalist Sarah Rees Jones. "This is being sold via 'nostalgia' for the good old days that never actually existed."

"This is horrendous," mental health expert Dr. John Grohol tweeted. "A vote for JD Vance is a vote FOR violence against women. Don't be that person."

"What JD Vance said is disgusting and dangerous," tweeted author and nurse Theresa Brown. "All women have the right to live safely. What kind of neanderthal doesn't believe that?"

While most reactions appeared to be negative, some of those weighing in on the remarks reported in the Vice article tweeted in defense of Vance.

"@JDVance1 is a brave leader who's encouraging couples to stay together, in large part for the children who are devastated by divorce," former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes tweeted. "Also, Vance never suggested any woman accept violence. Clearly, safety may require a separation, but divorce should be a last resort always."

"It's disgusting to see the false media framing of @JDVance1's nuanced remarks about marriage and the damage wrought by easy divorce," tweeted conservative columnist Sohrab Ahmari. "Glad he told the reporter to buzz off."

Update 07/26/22, 4:17 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.