June 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm #32189
You hear about it all the time and wonder why so many women return to their abusive mates. It seems like such a black and white issue: you get physically hurt by your boyfriend, you leave and never look back. Except it’s not that easy after all.
My boyfriend of 3 years had a mental breakdown 5 nights ago and I got in the middle of it. A petty fight in the middle of the night escalated and soon enough, he flipped up the bed mattress I was face down on and my head went flying into the nightstand. I was just supposed to fall on the carpet, not suffer a gash next to my left eye. 5 stitches later he’s very sorry, he didn’t mean to, he’s getting help, he’s changing his life. Those things are all very true. He had never been violent in the past, but his life was getting progressively worse for him over the past week leading up to it. He had to put his cat down. He has health problems that he can’t afford. He’s been under-employed for years now despite getting his MBA. He snapped. The next day he called to get a psychiatric evaluation and when he didn’t answer the door, the cops showed up instead. A police officer SCREAMED at him while he sobbed. It’s one of my worst memories. That, and how worried my mom was as she held my hand while my face was getting stitched up.
I’m staying with my mom now as I take a break from my boyfriend. He begged me not to leave. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. I miss my cats, my bed, my herb garden. I miss him- at least, I miss the person he used to be. I feel a mixture of sadness and guilt. Guilt for leaving him as he goes through this tough time. I know it’s the right thing to do, to take some space. Maybe we’ll end up together later on down the road when he gets his life figured out.
I guess I’m not looking for advice, just trying to deal with it. My parents and best friend are so happy I moved out, but I’m not feeling the same relief. I feel like I’m going through a breakup with the guy I’ve made a life with over the past 2 years, not a guy who assaulted me. I keep going back and forth thinking that he didn’t hit me, it was more or less an accident. But I also can’t minimize it to that level. I got 5 fucking stitches and will have a scar by my eye forever. I’m supposed to be sad that he did this to me, not sad that the relationship is ending, yet I’m equally sad about both.June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm #32191
I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I just wanted to say that you can’t worry about how you’re “supposed to” feel. You are sad and angry and upset, that is completely normal. Just because your boyfriend hurt you, it doesn’t mean you have to forget what he meant to you and not feel sad about a breakup. It’s much easier for it to seem black and white if you’re not in the middle of it.
*hugs* Wishing you the best.June 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm #32193
Sobriquet, I am so, SO sorry you are going through this. It’s truly awful, but I have to commend you on taking a break from your bf.
I have to say, though- it was NOT an accident. Your boyfriend decided to flip a piece of furniture you were laying on. The bed (I’m assuming) you and your boyfriend share together, a place where you are supposed to be safe. He made a firm decision to do something that more than likely would end up with you injured. I may bite that he didn’t want you to get stitches or anything- but I don’t buy that he thought you wouldn’t be injured at all.
It’s ok to grieve for this relationship. You invested a lot in it, and the person that you love is dealing with at best, anger issues, or at worse a complete mental breakdown. That’s tough for anybody.
However, if it were me- I would think long and hard before considering ever taking him back. While he has been going through a rough time, that’s never an excuse to lash out emotionally or physically at someone. What he did to you is INEXCUSABLE. He took advantage of your trust. That’s a big deal.
I’m so sorry sobriquet- It burns me up to think that your bf would hurt someone as awesome and level-headed as you. You’ve been a part of our community for a long time, and if you ever need someone to email or facebook with- you can definitely contact me! Stay strong!June 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm #32196
I think that what you’re feeling is totally normal, and it’s really good that you have such a firm consciousness of your feelings. That must have been traumatic to go through and I’m so sorry that you experienced it. I’m very glad that you have your mother there for support, and I think you’re doing the right thing by getting some distance from him. He’s gotten to a point where your supporting him puts you in danger, so I hope that you do not feel guilty for too long. It’s normal for you to feel bad about being unable to support him during his strife, but his problems have escalated beyond needing your support. You are right in ending the relationship so that he can focus on himself and get help while you keep yourself safe.
And just for clarification’s sake, it was most certainly NOT an accident. He knew you at the very least would “hit the carpet”. No, that does not deserve to be discredited as less than physical abuse. No one in their right mind will do that to you. It was physical abuse. I hope that your scarring is minimal or can heal up beyond recognition. I don’t know if you’re spiritual, but I am, and if it’s okay with you, I will be praying that you find peace, happiness, and healing.June 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm #32198
I honestly don’t have much advice for you, but I wanted to say I’m so sorry you are going through this. Reading your post was definitely heart-wrenching.
I do agree with the others- even though he didn’t mean to give you stitches, he meant to hurt you in some way. I am glad you are taking the time to think about it, and I wouldn’t rush into anything yet. Keeping yourself safe is the number one priority.June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm #32199
I am so very sorry you are going through this. I can’t offer much wisdom, as this isn’t something I’ve been through. But when you said this: “I keep going back and forth thinking that he didn’t hit me, it was more or less an accident”, I couldn’t help but have a response. He didn’t strike you directly, but he flipped a mattress that you were clearly on top of. To me, there is no difference there. He acted in a way that was reasonably certain to harm you physically, so I wouldn’t bother focusing your attention on this detail if I were you. This is most definitely physical abuse.
I’m sure others will have more constructive advice for you. All I can really say is that I’m so sorry, and his actions are no reflection on you or your self worth. All the best to you.June 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm #32200
I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I’m glad you are out of that apartment right now though and with your family. Of course you are going to feel sad about what happened and having your life in upheaval. There are different ways people can intend to do something – one is with wilful deliberation but another is to be reckless as to the consequences of one’s actions. In the best light he was reckless with your safety. Don’t rush any decisions right now. Take time to heal and and to evaluate what you require to feel safe again and if it is even possible for him to achieve that. Wishing you the very best.June 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm #32201
So sorry you are going through this. And like Rachel said do not feel bad for how you feel. There is no wrong feeling to have.
I’m really sorry again this happened. Big hugs from the DW community.June 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm #32202
Oh sobriquet! I am so, so sorry!
I’ve dealt with a little bit of low-grade domestic violence myself (my dad physically attacked my brother on two different occasions about a year and a half apart), and it’s so surreal, apart from being completely sad and hurtful. Everyone has a concept of what domestic violence looks like – being punched, or someone trying to choke you, or being thrown against a wall – and the sad fact is, it may or may not look exactly like that. And in all of the guilt you naturally feel over something like this, you start doubting whether it was *really* DV. My dad never hit my brother, but he pinned him against the wall and grabbed his arms so hard he had bruises. It was never what any of us pictured a physically abused child looking like, and because my dad felt terrible, we all had moments where we were questioning whether this was “bad enough” for my mom to kick my dad out of the house for six months to get some counseling, or if it was “bad enough” to be reported to CPS. It’s never the physical damage done that warrants taking action, but rather the emotional scars – that someone would intentionally intimidate you physically even though they love you and you them. Even if you had just rolled onto the carpet and been shaken up, that’s still “bad enough” to count. You’re doing the right thing.
It also makes situations like these more of a minefield if there’s context to the violence. As in, if your boyfriend had just come home, walked in the bedroom, and flipped the mattress without any prompting. That would make things more clearly violent, but I can’t think of a single instance I know of where there wasn’t some context of conflict. With my brother, he had taken the expensive riding mower to his fishing spot to get rid of the tall grass for snake season, and the mower rolled into the creek, effectively ruining it. Was that monumentally shitty? Yes. Did he deserve to have a parent attack him? No. Kids should be allowed to make stupid mistakes without feeling unsafe in their own home. You should be allowed to fight with your boyfriend without fearing physical retaliation.
I know I’m not telling you anything that you can’t figure out – you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Just offering some solidarity because one of the things they don’t tell you about domestic violence is how horribly confusing and smeared with guilt it is. But you are doing what is right for you, and you don’t need anyone else’s approval to make these decisions.June 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm #32204
@painted lady: I think some of my guilt lies within the context of the violence. The fight started because he was upset that I was staying up late and thus spending less time with him. He was getting unnecessarily angry with me as I was trying to go to bed. I called him “crazy” in response to his yelling and that triggered him. I knew it would make him mad, too. That’s his hot button. So I feel partially responsible for instigating him. However, I know there’s no excuse for what he did. I also know that most people don’t physically hurt others on purpose. Only a psychopath seeks out violence. Your dad didn’t intentionally give your brother bruises on his arms, it happened as a consequence of his rage. My boyfriend didn’t mean for my head to bust open, but he damn well meant to flip over that mattress.
@everyone: Thanks. I wasn’t sure I wanted to share this, but now I’m glad I did. It’s hard to discuss these emotions with friends/family because, like I said, they’re just so relieved I’m out. It’s surreal to have cops and doctors tell me I was assaulted whenever I feel like I was simply a victim of an emotional breakdown. Still, regardless of his intentions, it is quite clear that we need time apart. Time apart probably means forever, but I don’t want to deal with the finality of it just yet.June 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm #32206
I’m so sorry! It’s so hard to think someone can love you and still hurt you. But I agree with everyone that what he did was still DV. I would suggest completely moving out – not just staying somewhere else. I think there needs to be a clean break. You can still do whatever you want in the future – but I think for now you should move in with your parents or get your own place.June 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm #32207
@sobriquet I’m really sorry you’re going through this. It is not easy. I survived a 3 year relationship full of both mental and physical abuse. I wanted to say a few things to you.
1. It is not your fault. In no way shape or form do you have any blame in this. There may have been things that “pushed his buttons” but he is the one who chose to be irrational and react with violence. You’re not at fault here.
2. An abuser will appologize and act remorseful and do anything they can to get you to come back. And then when they have you hooked again they will strick out with violence again. It is a very classic/common cycle of abuse.
3. He may have lashed out in a time of high stress but it is not an excuse. Life is stressful. What happens in a few years when there is a crying baby and a mortage and it’s 4 in the morning and you haven’t slept in days? Do not allow yourself to justify his abuse.
4. Don’t stay with him (or anyone else) because you feel guilty. Period.
5. It is perfectly healthy to mourn the loss of your relationship. It may have ended poorly, but there were times of happiness. Take the time to properly deal with the end of your relationship and move on before starting another one.
6. Go to a counselor. Abuse plays weird tricks on you and it will be beneficial to have an outside party (meaning not your mom or friends) help you work through this.
Sorry if any of this sounds harsh or judgemental, I don’t mean to be in anyway. I spent all mosst three years of my life being shoved, shaken, squeezed, cournered, screamed at, berated, belitted, terrorized and traumatized. It took me all most three years because every time he “had an episode” and I decided I would leave- he would beg and cry and promise to change if I just gave him one more chance. And at first it took a few months, then a few weeks, then it would be the next day- but it never failed that he would get pissed off and he would abuse again. I often felt bad for him (he had diabetes, a not so great family life, high stress field in college, played a college sport) and that was part of the reason I stayed with him. That and I allowed myself to beleive he would change. He didn’t.
When the UVA Lax murder happened I reached out to him via e-mail to say I really hoped he had learned from our relationship and had changed as he had promised me he would do. A few days later I got a frantic e-mail from his then girlfriend asking me what I was talking about. Turns out he hadn’t changed and was just abusing the next girl.
Bottom line is, you need to take care of yourself. Get happy and healthy and find a partner who respects you enough to not lash out in violence. And, I know it’s possible he had one bad night and made one bad decision…but do you really want to take that chance? I wish you the best of luck.June 28, 2012 at 9:27 pm #32208
@sobriquet, I don’t know what all to add right now, but I want to say that you’re an incredibly brave woman, and you’re very insightful. Not everyone can see their DV situations as clearly as you are here. That strength of yours will help you get through this situation if you allow yourself to take time and just process. It can get you in trouble if you start over-thinking it and rush into making decisions. Even the decision to leave him forever is something you should mull over, at least for a week or two. If you rush into it then you might not be able to stick to your decision as easily later. But you’ve done the right thing. I would suggest getting your cats and setting up house with your mom right now. Start new routines. Replant your herb garden. You don’t want those factors to be something that clouds your judgement when trying to decide whether or not to go back to him. Good luck, and please keep us updated. If you need some extra help, I’ll be happy to help you find some. I’ve done individual counseling and led support groups for survivors of domestic violence. You might be surprised by just how helpful a support group can be. It can help you process the confusion you’re experiencing, and to hear from other women can be very helpful. Here’s a link to the national DV hotline, which can direct you to the coalition in your state. The coalition in your state should have resources available in your area that you can use. But if you need any extra help, please don’t hesitate to ask. http://www.thehotline.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/June 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm #32209
The reality is you need to break up with him. I know, I know, everybody always goes with the excuse that the person is really under stress and blah blah blah. But the reality is that how people deal with stress is a good indicator of what they are truly like as a person. I mean, seriously, who can’t handle the good times, right? If you lash out at the people around you simply because you are stressed it seems to me that you don’t value them enough.
End of Rant.June 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm #32213
I’m really so, so sorry this happened to you. Take it from someone who grew up in a household of constant domestic violence, this is a cycle that doesn’t end. It might takes weeks, months, or years to happen again, but it always happens again. I remember being 4 years old and running downstairs because I was woken up by loud noises and to saw my dad screaming in my mom’s face and him flipping furniture. I had to crawl around with her afterward to find her glasses, because he pushed them off her face. Even though, he went to anger management and therapy and recovered, you just simply don’t forget these kind of events. It will always stay with you, in the back of your mind.
I’m with BGM on this one, I’d break up with him. You can have a million reasons in the world to be angry, but only certain people will flip that switch and hurt someone else. As someone who suffered through years of it, get out while you can. You didn’t do anything to cause this, it’s not your fault. He might be a great person otherwise, but you shouldn’t have to suffer external and internal damage because he can’t control his emotions.
I’m really, really sorry you had to go through this. If you ever need to talk about it, I’d be willing to listen! It’s unfortunately a topic I’m familiar with.
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