Inside Hubbard House

Domestic Violence in the Mainstream: Music

Music is listened to by 57 million teens and adults each week. So what kind of music are we listening to? Have we ever actually listened to some of the lyrics of our favorite songs? You may be surprised at just how much violence is in music lyrics.                                                                                          

Some songs use violence and derogatory terms toward woman as shown in the song lyrics by Eminem featuring Rihanna “Love the Way You Lie”:

Come inside, pick up your bags off the sidewalk

Don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?

Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball

Next time I’m pissed, I’ll aim my fist at the drywall

Next time? There won’t be no next time

I apologize, even though I know it’s lies

I’m tired of the games, I just want her back, I know I’m a liar

If she ever tries to f***in’ leave again, I’ma tie her to the bed

And set this house on fire

“Love the Way You Lie” is full of violence. These lines explain the thoughts an abuser may have when their victim tries to leave a violent relationship and the consequences of them attempting to leave. The abuser must have control over the victim at all times and if that control is lost, so may the life of the victim.

Mentions of domestic violence can also be heard in the song lyrics of Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”:

Slapped my face and he shook me like a rag doll

Don’t that sound like a real man

I’m gonna show him what a little girl’s made of

Gunpowder & lead

His fist is big but my gun’s bigger

He’ll find out when I pull the trigger

In the song “Gunpowder and Lead” the victim, because of the pain her abuser caused her, decides that she is going to kill her abuser.

The next song has become very popular over the past few weeks on top 40 radio stations. Foster the People “Pumped up Kicks”:

Yeah, he found a six shooter gun.

In his dad’s closet hidden in a box of fun things, and I don’t even know what

But he’s coming for you, yeah he’s coming for you

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet

The words are hard to recognize and understand when heard, but listen closely and you will hear that “Pumped up Kicks” is a violent song. The kid in the song has stolen his father’s gun and is planning to use it against other kids and eventually against his father.

The radio stations that air these songs target teens and young adults. Next time you’re taking your children to school and they ask you to turn the music up, take a second to notice the song they are singing along to. Next time you are listening to the radio, stop and think about the words you are singing.  

Can listening to music turn you into a violent person? The more we are exposed to violence, are we more likely to ignore it or replicate it? Who knows the answers to these questions – but what we do know is that we can all do our part to end domestic violence. Try and remove phrases, songs, movies, and TV shows that glorify or downplay violence from your daily activities. Together we can make a difference!

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.


Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit to learn more.

By Lindsay Van-Zant