| 12.5°C Dublin


We're set to cheer on boxing hero Katie Taylor when she sportingly squares up to her opponents in the Olympics. However, what about the less edifying spectacle of women brawling in pubs, nightclubs and other public places?

News that model Abbey Crouch was allegedly cautioned by police after a scrap with a woman in a nightclub has been greeted with disbelief. Surely the beautiful model and WAG wouldn't let herself down in public like this?

It's alleged 26-year-old Abbey was out with friends in Cheshire last January when she pulled another woman's hair following nasty remarks allegedly made about Abbey's marriage to footballer Peter Crouch.

Heat magazine has quoted someone close to Abbey as saying of the start of the altercation: "She said unkind stuff about Peter being a cheat, which is obviously really disrespectful, although it's unclear if Abbey heard. She got on Abbey's nerves and really annoyed the group she was with."

In 2010, it was reported that footballer Peter had allegedly cheated on Abbey, but the couple stayed together and tied the knot last June.

A scuffle is alleged to have broken out between blonde Abbey and the woman who she claimed insulted her husband.

Psychologist Niamh Hannan explains why we're so taken aback when we hear about a woman fighting in public.

"Violence or aggression is not attractive, and probably even less so when it's two women lashing out -- although of course there's a certain morbid fascination which can draw a crowd, rubberneckers really," Niamh says. "We accept aggression more easily from men; the male of the species is expected to be strong and willing to defend or protect, and is equipped with testosterone to aid aggression where necessary," she says.

If boys are raised not to cry, girls are reared not to fight. This social conditioning means we're shocked when someone as well known as Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan is accused of brawling in public.

Actress Lohan allegedly started a fight at The Standard Hotel's Smoke and Mirrors Nightclub in Hollywood last April. A witness alleged Lohan was in the booth next to a female when she turned to her and aggressively asked: "Did you bump into me?"

Heated words were exchanged over the fact Lohan was in the club with her father, and Lohan allegedly went crazy and started swearing repeatedly at the girl and threw a drink in her face.

Niamh, founder of the website www.mindworks.ie, says: "When a woman lashes out in public, particularly a celeb, they can gain a lot of unwanted publicity. Abbey Crouch has learned just that, as has Lindsay Lohan for 'losing it' in public.

"Often the woman feels she has been provoked -- frequently they feel bullied, humiliated, hassled and also they are trapped in the public eye. They cannot just walk away as the cameras follow everywhere.

"Like an animal that has been provoked and is now cornered, the instinct is to counter-attack. Psychologically too we know that if someone feels pushed around or hassled by someone and takes it quietly for a time, there is often a point where they explode. This often ends the victimisation so can be successful to a point," the psychologist says.

In 2003 former X Factor judge Cheryl Cole was convicted of assaulting a nightclub toilet attendant in what the judge described as "an unpleasant piece of drunken violence for which you (Cole) showed no remorse whatsoever".

Cole was sentenced to carry out 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay her victim compensation and to pay prosecution costs. The jury unanimously rejected Cole's claim to have acted in self-defence.


The court heard that a drunken and abusive Cole assaulted a toilet attendant after the attendant asked her to pay for some lollipops. The victim was left with a black eye and severe bruising.

Naomi Campbell is one celeb who is no stranger to assault cases. Campbell pleaded guilty to assaulting a personal assistant in 2000 and again, in 2007, when she assaulted her housekeeper. She was also fined and given 200 hours' community service for assaulting two police officers at Heathrow airport in 2008.

Of this type of behaviour, Niamh says: "Violence is not the answer. What regularly happens is that a passive person takes abuse and then occasionally swings into aggressive mode in an effort to stand up for themselves. But aggression begets more aggression -- the answer lies in being able to express ourselves, express our feelings including those strong emotions, appropriately."

Niamh says: "Assertiveness helps us to do that without being aggressive. When a person is assertive, they show respect for themselves and for others -- they own their reaction and are in control of their feelings.

"There is no harm in cursing in the comfort of our own car, or blowing off a little steam when someone robs our parking space -- as long as nobody gets hurt.

"Anger is a normal human emotion -- we all experience it. However, how we express it, what we do with that anger, is the real measure of us and we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to take control of our anger rather than taking it out on somebody else.

"You always have a choice, even when provoked."

So regarding that person who is driving you demented? Remember, take a deep breath the next time you feel riled, as keeping cool when the heat is on is the real measure of a person.