give as good as one gets
- (idiomatic) To behave toward others in a manner resembling or commensurate with their behavior towards oneself, especially in a situation where one is insulted or otherwise ill-treated.
2012 August 23, Alasdair Lamont, “Hearts 0-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
- On balance, it was harsh on Hearts, who had given as good as they got against their more-fancied opponents, who, despite not being at full strength, fielded a multi-million pound team.
- 1988, "World Notes SOUTH AFRICA," Time, 21 Nov.,
- The Foreign Correspondents Association's annual banquet last week turned into an angry slanging match. Botha gave as good as he got. "I am sick and tired of a lot of foreign representatives descending on my country and picking up on all the dirty work instead of all the beauty, promise and goodwill," Botha said.
- stick up for oneself