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“He Beat Me Up. Should I MOA?”

I am in my late twenties have been in a relationship with a man of similar age for almost four years. I have a daughter from a previous relationship, who has never met her biological father. This man I am/was with has raised her as his own since she was 4. I was a very independent woman, and never felt like I needed anyone other than my daughter. I have done quite well for myself since she was born and thankfully never needed help from anyone, something I truly pride myself on. When this love came along, we had been friends since childhood and grew up together, but I was hesitant to begin a relationship for fear of it taking something away from my daughter. Once I did, however, it was the best thing for her and me. He was better than anyone could imagine and everyone I know — family, friends, coworkers, etc. — all loved him. I love his family so much and they treat my daughter and me like we are part of theirs. He believed I worked hard enough as a young single mom and his goal became making my life happy, full and easier. He did everything a woman would want and more and loved me more than I could imagine anyone is capable of loving. We discussed marriage, and even him adopting my daughter when we got married.

Then, truly out of nowhere, we were on an overnight trip just the two of us and got into a heated argument (drinking more than we normally do, which is usually just a glass of wine at dinner) and I said something vicious out of anger just to make him feel as mad as I did. It was like a switch went off at that point (one I had never seen even the slightest indication of). He snapped and threw me to the floor, and basically beat me up. I immediately left alone and have since received emails from him, not asking for forgiveness which he says he doesn’t deserve, but relaying his desperate regret and sorrow, wondering even if he had been slipped something, but has also said that even if he had, it is no excuse, and that he cannot understand where this came from.

Knowing this man my entire life, even knowing his prior girlfriends, I know what happened that night is not the man I know and love. I have not responded to him. He has started to go to therapy, anger management, anything he can and said he is going whether I join him or not and whether or not I consider being with him again (which he doesn’t expect). I am a strong woman and have been through some very tough times in my life. He was my salvation. I want to be mad, but I just cannot connect that the man who hurt me with the man who has loved me all these years. I can’t get over him. I still want to be with him. I know that everyone would probably say MOA, but I can’t. I have never felt such emotional pain like this before. My daughter misses him so much. I know that even though HE did this, he is not this horrible person. Please guide me. Is there any way under any circumstance this could be resolved? I don’t want my life without him in it. I have easily walked away from bad relationships before, but this is truly the love of my life. — Missing my Salvation

It sounds like what you’re looking for most of all is permission to try to resolve things with your boyfriend — the only man your daughter has ever known as a father-figure and the person you call your “salvation.” If that’s the case, and if it means anything coming from a stranger, you have permission, at least from me. As long as you can look your daughter in the eyes years from now and tell her that you felt in your heart you did what was best for her and you, I wouldn’t find it irresponsible or inappropriate if you explored your options here before walking away. But keep in mind, that that day in the future when you look her in the eyes could very well come after another episode like you experienced on your recent overnight trip. And what if your daughter is the victim then?

Mine will be a controversial answer, I’m sure, and I don’t give it lightly. A man beating up a woman is serious stuff. Really, really serious stuff. And under almost any other circumstance, I’d say “MOA!” without blinking, but that fact that you’ve known this man since you were children — you know his previous girlfriends, even — and you’ve never seen even a hint of this kind of behavior counts for something. The fact that you were both very angry that night and acting out-of-character means something. Indeed, I wonder if it is possible you could have been slipped something in your drinks. And the fact that this man is, without much expectation that you’ll take him back, going to therapy and anger management classes means something.

That doesn’t mean you should jump right back into a relationship with him. Not at all. Obviously, if you’re to have any future together at all, you’ll need plenty of space and time apart to process what has happened. In the meantime, you said you didn’t want your life without him in it, and I wonder if you’ve considered that one option is to keep him as a friend instead of a boyfriend. As friends, you can offer lots of support and love to one another, but at a safer distance than you would as love interests (and in public or around mutual friends and family). You can hear about his progress in therapy and anger management. And you can decide, without the crushing desperation of losing him from your life forever, whether having him as a romantic partner is the best thing for you and your daughter. Before you make that decision, though, I’d recommend therapy on your part, lots of soul-searching, and feedback from the people who love and know you best. The decision is ultimately yours, of course, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from multiple perspectives.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 134 comments… add one }

EscapeHatches EscapeHatch April 18, 2011, 2:36 pm

Thank you Wendy, your incredibly level-headed response to a gut-wrenching question is part of why I love reading your advice so much.

The LW is in an incredibly difficult position. Good luck to you and your daughter, LW- I hope you, she and he are able to work together to find strength together and see if there is something salvageable here. Definitely counseling is called for, for everyone, and a slow progress ahead, in whichever direction gives the best outcome.

avatar demoiselle April 18, 2011, 2:39 pm

The very first time this man abused you, he THREW YOU TO THE FLOOR and BEAT YOU. Not an angry push. Not a slap. But he BEAT YOU. Not a good sign–abuse usually escalates. Is this what you want your child to see? MOA!! and set a good example for your daughter. You’ve already started to do it by walking away immediately. That is awesome strength. Please, keep it up.

Honestly, this does sound like the beginning of a typical abuse cycle to me. Abusers start out charming, loving, generous to excess, then they begin the abuse. The woman stays because they can’t believe the monster is the same person as the prince charming they remember and want back. If the victim walks out, the abuser desperately tries to get her under his control again. He beat her up then suggested that a drug made him do it. I call bullshit. That is already not taking full responsibility for his disgusting actions.

It isn’t uncommon for abusers to promise anger management and counseling. But they are not generally effective–in fact, often the abuser manages to use counseling to his advantage in manipulating his partner.

And are you, LW, so SURE that nothing like this ever happened with his exes? Abusers are often so charming that their victims don’t ever tell, because they fear they’ll be disbelieved.

Edit: rearranged the paragraphs slightly.

avatar NolaGirl April 18, 2011, 2:52 pm

I actually agree with you 100%. I understand she loves him and does not believe he’ll do it again, but the risks of someone who beats you that viciously the first time, doing it again or doing worse to you, seem far to great to me. God forbid, what if he took out this anger on the child? I think your first responsibility is to be sure that your child is safe and can grow up without fear and with a view of healthy relationships. I would agree with Wendy whole heartedly if it were just the LW and she didn’t have a child – but the LW has a child to think of, and that changes the dynamic. If it is just a person they make decisions that affect them, but when you’re a parent your decisions also affect that child.

It’s not just being with someone you love – when you have the responsibility of a child, everything changes. What happens if this guy does it again? What happens next? I would say once and done, and definitely talk to a counselor over this. You may be able to forgive him, but I don’t think that it is safe to risk your safety and the safety of your child like this. All it takes is one time to be the last time.

avatar ape escape April 18, 2011, 3:32 pm

“All it takes is one time to be the last time.”

My thoughts exactly. The worst possible ending to this LW’s story plays out on the news all the time. Man who was “respectable” member of society “snaps” and kills his wife/girlfriend/mother of his children. Then friends and neighbors speak about how “nice” and “normal” he was, how he “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” how he “wasn’t this monster,” etc…

LW….be very, very, very, VERY careful. If not for your sake, then for the sake of your daughter.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 18, 2011, 4:37 pm

Am I the only one that thought “Chris Brown” when I read this? All it took was one time (that we know of), although it later leaked that there were other instances of abuse against his mother. I don’t know. I believe in forgiveness, I do believe in second chances, but I also believe in healing. You have to let him heal and you yourself need to heal from this as well. Definitely take time and space apart. If this can work out, then whatever time you take apart, will be a drop in the bucket if you are meant to spend the rest of your lives together.

avatar LTC039 April 18, 2011, 4:37 pm

I completely agree with you too. People change. Maybe the man you fell in love with is not the man he is anymore, or, maybe that’s always been who he is & just recently he let it be known. Those three words mean everything
HE BEAT YOU.
I’m sure more than a milisecond elapsed as he pushed you down & beat you. He could’ve stopped himself right at the push.
Domestic abuse usually starts off like that & then eventually as the pressures of life & marriage escalate, so does the abuse.
Please keep strong & MOA!! Demoiselle is right, you DO NOT want to model this for your daughter. I’ve seen it happen to friends I know.
It’s hard to swallow, & of course you can’t believe it, but it happened! I’m sure you will find someone else who will love you & your daughter more because he will NOT use domestic violence in a moment of anger! Don’t be a statistic!!

avatar demoiselle April 18, 2011, 10:34 pm

This letter has haunted me all night. I didn’t make the connection before, but another classical tactic of an abuser is to groom the victim to take part or all of the blame for his behavior. The LW is already acting like her saying something vicious and mean somehow makes his unacceptable behavior somehow her fault. But the proper response to mean words is NOT to beat someone up. He’s already working on her mind. Watch out.

avatar twiglet April 20, 2011, 3:18 pm

yes.sociopaths are the most amazingly wonderful people…..almost uncanny, the way they can see right into your soul. Nothing else is ever quite the same…..but you could say the same about heroin. I agree, watch out.

avatar emjay April 18, 2011, 2:49 pm

I have to agree and disagree here Wendy, Sorry. This sounds like my first relationship. Grew up together, best friends, knew the families, etc etc (minus the daughter). The first time he hit me, same responses. The second time, was because I forgave him the first time, so he thought he was going to be able to say he was sorry and all would be forgiven. Well by the time I was ready to leave, I was choked until I passed out, beaten while I was passed out, and then beaten again when I woke up. He tried to kill me, stalked me etcetcetc. So I understand this seems outta character for him, you don’t always really know a person, no matter how close you were growing up.
I am not going to sit here and advise anyone to stay or go in this situation, I can not without being a hypocrite (b/c I took him back again and again and again). This is going to be a decision I would advise you thinking long and hard about. And what bothers me the most is he was drunk. This is how alcohol affects some people (even me depending on what I am drinking). All I can say, is if you want to be with him, tread carefully and slowly moving forward. But watch his actions next time he drinks. If you choose to leave him, then keep contact at a minimum, and no one would blame you if you did want to leave him for good.

avatar SGMcG April 18, 2011, 3:10 pm

I don’t think it’s hyporcitical at all to say to think things long and hard – especially if you experienced what the LW is. You are very strong to finally leave and offer your perspective why you did so.

avatar cat-i-z April 18, 2011, 3:11 pm

So Sorry you had to go through this emjay!!!

avatar emjay April 18, 2011, 3:31 pm

Thanks gurlz! It took me 21/2 yrs but I finally got out. I think it would be hypocritical to tell her to stay or MOA. I have been there and done that (so to speak), and in these situations, and though I don’t know this letter writer, she is (more than likely) going to give him another chance. This is what most abuse victims mindsets are. And, she did do a great thing by immediately leaving his ass, she is still pondering what she is going to do. It might take a couple more instinces (that I hope do NOT occur for this woman and/or her daughter) before she realizes this is the “real him” and he was manipulating her. But on the off chance that this was really an isolated incident, she might just be one of the lucky ones and it might never happen again. Only the LW and her BF know the truth. And lets pray this doesn’t happen again to her.

avatar hana April 18, 2011, 5:01 pm

I’m so glad you got out of that!
Hopefully things are better for you now.

avatar cdj0815 April 18, 2011, 3:26 pm

Emjay I saw this in my family life, my friends and even in my neighborhood. While I was reading this, I had flash backs. LW if you are a woman of faith, pray about this long and hard. No matter what you want, think about what is BEST for you and your daughter, and what would you tell her if she comes to you

avatar cdj0815 April 18, 2011, 3:27 pm

Hit the button to soon. ….15 or 20 years from now with the same problem. Take care.

avatar Amy April 18, 2011, 2:55 pm

Mira Kirshenbaum wrote a book called “Too good to leave too bad to stay.” She goes through a number of questions and if you get one answer that you’d be better off without your partner then most people with similar answers were happier when they left than those that stayed. One of her questions is basically “Has your partner been physically abusive MORE than one time”. Her point was that sometimes people will make a huge mistake and they feel terrible about it and they resolve to never it hurt their partner again. If they only do it once – it can be left in the past. If it happens more than once the relationship can not likely be saved. It seems like poor advice to tell a woman to stay in this situation- but perhaps there is hope.

avatar RMM0278 April 18, 2011, 2:58 pm

This is another one I’d love to see an update from in the future.

I, too, agree with the previous poster that stated this is the beginning of an abusive relationship. Abusers usually end up reacting like this, with pleas for forgiveness and promises of counseling. Abusers are expert charmers, which is what makes them so good at manipulation.

I also wonder about his intentions to make her life easier. Is it that he feels she has worked hard enough or is he trying to isolate her financially? I guess that threw me off a bit.

If I were her, I’d take a step back and put the relationship on hold indefinitely. She should talk to his exes and find out herself. After all, abusers are very manipulative. His exes may have experienced something similar but are too ashamed to say anything because they might think they brought on the abuse themselves.

The second thing I would do is call a domestic violence hotline and discuss it with an expert. It’s not an issue of whether to stay/go but to keep an eye out for other red flags that maybe weren’t noticeable before. She should also develop a plan of action in case it happens again.

I’m not sure what, if anything, there is that he can do to show her this isn’t who he is.

avatar emjay April 18, 2011, 3:06 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with you. And talking to exes doesn’t really solve the problem either. I used to think that it was all my fault and never admitted anything to anyone until he tried to take my life. After that I publized what an abusive asshole he was. So he ended up with someone still in high school and now she is the object of his abuse. I feel for the girl he is with but at the same time she knew what she was walking into. So talking to his exes probably will not get you anywhere. But he also might have wanted a relationship with her because he needed someone “weaker than he is” and eventually subject to his abuse.

avatar SGMcG April 18, 2011, 3:00 pm

Personally, I am more disturbed by the fact that LW refers to this man as her “Salvation”. Your daughter has known this man for 4 years and she is now 8. Do you refer to this guy as your “Salvation” around her? What kind of relationship is it that you think HE is the reason your life is better than it was 4 years ago? Your life got better because YOU wanted it that way for you and your daughter – he just happened to be in the picture because you let him there.

Although I partially agree with Wendy today, LW, you best be damn sure you want him back in again. For if you take him back, you are letting your daughter know that one-time severe abuse from your loved one, like the level you just experienced, can be tolerated if you know the person your whole life. And if you take him back, be advised that the next level of abuse that could potentially occur, could be your death. And who would take care of your daughter then?

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 18, 2011, 4:09 pm

I too am concerned by the way the LW calls him her “salvation”. Does she truly love him that much or does she feel that she “can’t do any better” because he’s spent the last four years telling her how lucky she is to have such an “amazing” person like him around?

avatar NolaGirl April 18, 2011, 4:21 pm

yeah, I really don’t like the tone of that. It just makes me a little uneasy about the relationship she has with this man. It’s like she feels like she needs him, and if that’s the case, then it’s going to be very difficult for her to decide clear-headedly what is best for her and her daughter.

avatar ele April 18, 2011, 6:28 pm

What’s odd to me is that they have been in a relationship for 4 years, and this behavior is just now surfacing… I have always assumed that it wouldn’t take that long for an abuser to exhibit abusive behavior. That is a long time for him to squelch his urges. Does anyone know of any research that gives an average time frame between the start of a relationship and the start of abuse?

avatar RMM0278 April 18, 2011, 4:33 pm

Yeah that caught my eye as well, but I forgot to comment.

Her using the term “salvation” makes her sound totally helpless and that he is her lifeline. I agree that she sounds like she made a good life for herself and her daughter, yet for some reason she’s crediting him with “saving” her.

Ick. LW, you’ve got to get yourself out of this “salvation” mindset.

You own your decisions — good and bad. The only people who save us from bad things are ourselves. If you’re looking to someone else for “salvation,” then you’ve got bigger problems — not to mention a very good method for being manipulated by someone else.

I’d love to see you go at life alone for awhile just so you can see for yourself what you’re capable of achieving without this man’s help.

avatar moonflowers April 18, 2011, 8:14 pm

Strongly seconded!!

avatar DaisyJorts April 18, 2011, 3:08 pm

“He snapped and threw me to the floor, and basically beat me up.”

M.O.A.

There is no excuse for physical violence (or any type of violence, for that matter) and just because he never hit you before does not mean he won’t again. Real, good, respectful men do not react this way when they get mad. If you have to punch something, punch a pillow- and then get the anger management help that you need.

It seems that you have a lot of grey area in your situation. But in my opinion, for me, once a partner gets physical- it becomes very black and white.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 18, 2011, 4:40 pm

Sorry to be devil’s advocate here, but you really wouldn’t give someone you loved a second chance? What if this person has a problem and needs help, but was ignorant of how to seek it or was in complete denial? Would you rather just let this person go?

avatar DaisyJorts April 18, 2011, 5:01 pm

I understand where you’re coming from, BoomChakaLaka. But to me, someone who loves me would never hit me. My boyfriend and I were discussing major deal breakers at the very beginning of our relationship, and mine were (and still are) if he ever hit me or cheated on me- I told him I would be out, and he agreed.

MissRemy Ally April 19, 2011, 5:59 am

Completely agree, if someone does either of these things once, they can do it again. I think it would be very difficult to walk away from someone you loved, but how could you ever trust them again?

avatar DaisyJorts April 18, 2011, 5:05 pm

And to add to my view on the subject, I could never continue to love someone who hit me. I understand it would be hard to just let go and move on, but the love and level of trust would never be the same.

Kate B. Kate B April 18, 2011, 5:06 pm

If we’re talking abuse, yes. I would rather be alone than with someone who beats me, even once. He can get the help he needs without me.

avatar DaisyJorts April 18, 2011, 5:20 pm

Exactly.

avatar callmehobo April 18, 2011, 6:02 pm

I think the real dilemma here is what the LW is willing to risk.

She can choose to give this man a second chance- but she runs the risk of putting herself and her daughter in immediate physical danger; Or, she can choose to walk away and not pursue a romantic relationship with him and risk definite heartache.

I think that no matter how much you love someone, if that person is willing to beat (not slap or push) you, then you owe it to yourself to find someone else who won’t touch you. Who’s to say that a much more severe form of violence wouldn’t occur the next time?

A recent example from my local news station- A woman in TN who lived with her boyfriend and their two daughters got into a heated argument with said boyfriend. He waited until she fell asleep and then poured boiling grease over her- with their children in the house.
http://www.wsmv.com/news/27516781/detail.html

avatar sarolabelle April 18, 2011, 3:09 pm

If my bf only did this once, was truly sorry, was seeking help from outside sources and I loved him, I would give him anther chance. But I would be very clear that if it happened again then that was it.

However, I also wouldn’t be in a relationship for 4 years without marriage…the fact that he isn’t more committed to you may speak something about how he feels. You may not be his salvation….

avatar TMSC April 18, 2011, 3:43 pm

My SO and I are now engaged, but not before we hit our 5 year mark. I don’t think whether or not a couple is married after x years is the only indication of a loving, long-term, committed relationship. There are many committed couples who never marry for various reasons. There could be many reasons why the LW and her significant other were not married, and I don’t think that plays any part in whether or not she should consider taking him back, or whether he was committed to her in the first place. Obviously the abuse is a serious issue, and I can’t honestly give sound advice on that aspect. I only hope she is able to make the best decision to keep her and her daughter safe and happy.

avatar TheGirl April 18, 2011, 3:49 pm

My hubby and I were together for 10 years before we made it official in the eyes of the law. Some people just don’t put as much emphasis on marriage.

avatar sarolabelle April 18, 2011, 4:10 pm

yes, I understand some people don’t. But I will not have sex or live with a man if I’m not married to him, so I wanted to let her know that was where I was coming from. It’s also possible that he doesn’t feel as strongly about her as she does about him.

avatar Amy April 18, 2011, 4:26 pm

How do you disagree with where she’s coming from. Everyone can have different perspectives and it’s nice to hear from people with a wide range of views on life and love.

MissRemy Ally April 19, 2011, 6:07 am

All I can say is thank goodness she’s not married to this man. At least now if she decides that walking away is the best option for her and her child she won’t also have to go through the heartbreak of a divorce. It would be difficult enough to walk away now without that added complication.

avatar HmC April 18, 2011, 3:09 pm

Now, I don’t have firsthand experience with abuse, thank God. But, I’ll tentatively add my two cents on a couple aspects of this letter, for what it’s worth.

First of all, I don’t know if this is or isn’t how a typical abuser would behave after the first incident of abuse, but I personally read it as possibly more manipulative than I think Wendy did. This would be an effective angle to go on his part, if this is the first time he has beaten LW, and he knows she is not someone who would typically stand for abuse. Tell her, you don’t expect her to take you back, go to therapy etc. His motives could be altruistic, or they could be somewhat manipulative, or both. Just because he tells her something re: his motives, doesn’t make it true.

Second, I’ll affirm what others have said as far as feeling like you really know someone, when maybe you don’t. There are men out there that would never, ever, EVER even contemplate being violent with a woman. And LW, this guy didn’t just push you once, or hit your arm out of anger… he BEAT you. THAT IS WHO HE IS. He is a man that beat you up.

I’ll close by saying that, the abuse notwithstanding, I’d be leery of thinking of any mortal human as my *salvation*. You have to be your own salvation in this life.

LW, you sound like an articulate, sensitive person with some extremely difficult decisions and times ahead for you and your daughter. I am sorry this happened to you both, I wish you and her all the best.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 18, 2011, 4:10 pm

And LW, this guy didn’t just push you once, or hit your arm out of anger… he BEAT you. THAT IS WHO HE IS. He is a man that beat you up.

THIS.

MissRemy Ally April 19, 2011, 6:12 am

I can’t get past that either. This is not a minor incident. I don’t pretend to have the answers for the LW, but I know if this was me, there would be no question in my mind of taking him back. I’d be reporting him to the police.

avatar WatersEdge April 18, 2011, 3:12 pm

Wendy, I agree with you. As I read the letter I was thinking what you wrote, but I didn’t think you’d say it too. This is a tragic and complex situation. The reasons I think you are ok to stay for a while and see this out are:

1) 4 years is a LONG time for an abuser to keep his cool. He obviously has more ways to cope with conflict than just hitting.
2) You left immediately, and haven’t returned any contact. If you start to hear a little voice saying that you “deserved it” or “made him angry” or “could have avoided it by doing the right thing”, then you know you’re entering a cycle of abuse. For now, you see the abuse as his fault and not yours, which is completely correct. So you can still make logical decisions for you and your daughter.
3) He is taking full responsibility (besides the “being drugged” line, which is possible but not likely. He might have had a bad reaction to a medication + alcohol or something). But if he’s telling you he doesn’t know where it came from, and you don’t know where it came from, maybe it WAS an isolated incident.

I think you should go to counseling with him, mostly to make sure that he’s actually going and actually being honest. If he’s working hard to better himself, then maybe you can slowly re-integrate him into your life. First as friends like Wendy says. But I want to re-emphasize what Wendy said- you have to be able to tell your daughter you truly thought you were doing what was best for you both. Even if he beats you in front of your daughter next time and she’s scarred for years. Just be VERY careful.

PS- I’d like to enter a plea that we all avoid the phrase “MOA” for this letter. This LW has a difficult decision ahead of her, with reasons to leave and reasons to stay, and I don’t think it’s helpful to be flippant.

avatar emjay April 18, 2011, 3:40 pm

I understand what you are saying, but 4yrs really isn’t a long time for an abuser to keep his cool, they use that time to make you feel protected and safe, and have you thinking that this will never happen, and then BAM! total change. And the financial aspect of the letter troubles me too. Does this mean he is paying the bills for her so she could stay at home with her daugher? B/c that is a classic sign of trapping someone.

It could also possibly be that some time ago he had anger issues, and then she said something that triggered it and now look what happened. I have a feeling there is more to this story then just what the letter writer wrote in.

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 5:16 pm

yeah, my ex-husband kept his cool for 8 years. I don’t think it’s any indication.

avatar me74 April 18, 2011, 8:23 pm

Agree strongly with not using MOA, not that simple.

avatar MissDre April 18, 2011, 3:12 pm

This is such a difficult situation… I really don’t want to say whether she should or shouldn’t stay with him… I think the only smart thing I can say is get counseling ASAP.

avatar cat-i-z April 18, 2011, 3:17 pm

Personally I think you need to MOA.

I would be scared for both you and your daughter. Sometimes you can feel like you “know” someone forever but really sometimes you never really knew them at all.

A slap is NOT OK… but this man did not just slap you.. he beat you up!!!! I know you love him and I know it’s hard to believe he could have another angry and malicious side… but he does… LW he beat you up!

You’re a strong woman and your love for your daughter is obvious.. you have to look at your daughter and realize this decision could affect her forever.

I wish you the best!!!!!!!!!

avatar Lindsay April 18, 2011, 3:59 pm

I was thinking the same thing: Slapping is bad enough, but this is really malicious. The amount of rage that has to go into beating someone up yet is really scary.

avatar Kat April 18, 2011, 3:30 pm

LW, he’s already beat you once. So what’s keeping him from doing it again? Yeah you said a mean comment – but you didn’t launch yourself at him and leave him battered. He did that to you. I think its’ really important for you to remember that your daughter is as much in this relationship as you are, and staying with a man who beat you isn’t setting a very good example for her. Additionally, you don’t mention how long its been since the incident. If it had been like, 5 years with no more violence, perhaps you could consider it. But it’s likely been a matter of weeks. No one can change in weeks.

avatar cmarie April 18, 2011, 3:31 pm

I really have to say MOA. I have never seen a woman only be hit once, it almost always escalates. You’re a strong, independent woman and that’s the role model you need to present to your daughter. Don’t take him back, at least romantically. I do agree with Wendy that perhaps you should try maintaining a friendship with him. A distant friendship though. Don’t be the previous LW who keeps jumping back in bed with her ex. If he is truly going to change and work throught whatever issues prompted the attack on you, you can not take him back. You can not reinforce the idea that he can get away with it. However, you can still be supportive as a friend. Just remember that he has the potential for extreme violence. I believe in second chances and I believe that he may deserve a second chance, just not with you. Your relationship changed forever with that abuse and there’s no going back, nor should there be.

avatar callmehobo April 18, 2011, 3:55 pm

The “salvation” part caught my eye.

LW, you noted that you were a very independent woman who raised her daughter for four years on her own (no small feat). You said you never really needed help from anyone during that time- so how is it that this man is your “salvation” if you said yourself that you didn’t need saving?

I would take a long hard look of how he talks to you. Has he been verbally or emotionally abusive in the past? Has he convinced you that he was your savior, and you are incapable of going on without him? Maybe the abuse has been going on longer than you think and has just now started to turn physical.

LW, please, please be safe. No one deserves to be hit by the one they love- not even once.

avatar kate April 18, 2011, 4:23 pm

Totally agree. I don’t understand calling another person your” salvation”. It sounds codependent, not independent.

LW has some difficult decisions. I agree with Wendy, but I would leave in this case. Being throw to the floor is enough for me.

avatar Sarah April 18, 2011, 5:12 pm

The salvation also caught my attention. What caught it more was “I don’t want my life without him in it.” This sentence doesn’t make me believe she is capable of making a emotionally independent resolution to this issue, it makes me believe that she feels like she needs him so much that she is willing to overlook the incredible pain he has caused her. Codependency is what abusers thrive on, if a woman believe she needs a man even though he has beaten her then he will always be able to define the terms of the relationship and continue the abuse.

avatar Kerrycontrary April 18, 2011, 7:12 pm

Great description, Sarah.

avatar Lindsay April 18, 2011, 3:58 pm

I personally don’t think I could ever go back to someone who had done that. I’d constantly be afraid he’d do it again or probably just see him as “the guy who beat me up” and not my loving boyfriend.

On one hand, he’s taking the right steps to fix his problem. But the fact that he threw you to the ground (not that any violence is OK) is really alarming. If he went into a rage, it could easily escalate into seriously injuring you or worse. What if he got mad at your daughter?

So, I’d have to say MOA. You have to look out for yourself and your daughter. Like you said, you don’t NEED him, and there are plenty of men out there who won’t beat you up. As a side note, I’d suggest he see a doctor, too, because there are some medical conditions that cause personality changes, and it might be worth looking at.

avatar Bellz April 18, 2011, 3:59 pm

If it were easy to move on from an abusive relationship, domestic abuse wouldn’t even be an issue in the world. While I don’t have firsthand experience with abuse myself, thank God, I did write my graduate thesis paper on this topic. As Wendy says, it seems like the LW is asking for permission to stay, but I think it’s absolutely irresponsible to advise her to do so. What if the next time he beats her up is the last time? In the US, an average of three women are killed every day by a husband or boyfriend. LW – congratulations on staying strong so far. Call an abuse hotline and get professional help. Your life and your daughter’s are worth more than any man’s promises.

avatar demoiselle April 18, 2011, 10:36 pm

Right. And the LW has already done the right thing by walking out and not seeing him any more. The very first time she goes back to him will make extricating herself from the abuse exponentially harder.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 18, 2011, 4:04 pm

Even though you had never seen him behave like this and had known him for years this violence is as much a part of him as the kindness has been. People don’t just become violent, it’s there within them, even if it’s hidden deep. This is the real him as much as any other aspect you’ve seen before.

When you consider whether to get back together with him I think you need to ask yourself whether you would ever feel totally safe with him? What would happen if you had a child with him? Then he would have contact with you for the rest of your life.

avatar Lucy April 18, 2011, 4:16 pm

When I read this letter, what jumps out at me is that the bf was uncharacteristically drunk. If you do decide to stay with him, I would suggest one condition be that he stop drinking. Alcohol decreases inhibitions and increases rage. In some people it can cause such dramatic personality changes that the person you think you know basically ceases to exist. He may not know this about himself if he has never been a person who drinks to excess, or he may not have been really angry plus really drunk before. I agree that alcohol is certainly no excuse for violence, but it can be a reason without being an excuse. If he won’t agree to quit drinking, that’s a red flag that he’s got deeper alcohol issues regardless of whether this incident was truly isolated. People who don’t have alcohol issues don’t typically have a problem with not consuming it. And in your shoes, I would be frightened to be around him in the future if he were drinking.

avatar Desiree April 18, 2011, 5:17 pm

This is true. He may be a person who has an extremely bad reaction to alcohol. For some people, excessive alcohol is as dangerous as something being slipped into their drink. This could also be a sign that he has an underlying psychiatric condition. Alcohol can be absolute poison to people with certain conditions.

avatar kali April 19, 2011, 12:52 pm

I was waiting to see if someone brought this up. As an adult child of an alcoholic, I can’t say enough that it affects everyone. If LW takes him back (and I am firmly in the MOA camp), he not only needs anger management, he needs AA as well. And maybe LW needs to attend some Al-Anon meetings.

It truly scares me that she calls this man her “salvation.” It sounded like she was strong and independent prior to his arrival on the scene… she is her own salvation.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 1:42 pm

Abusers don’t usually have “anger management” problems–if they did, they’d be exploding at and beating up people other than their partners in settings other than private ones where no one can see what they’re doing.

“Anger problems” is yet another red-herring excuse used by abusers. Somehow, they’re not overcome by anger when someone else could witness their bad behavior. And somehow, when the police walk in, the average abuser is calm as a cucumber, pointing at the hysterical partner who has been pushed to the breaking point and beaten up as the “crazy” one.

“Anger management” programs just validate an abuser’s own excuse for their behavior.

avatar Christina April 18, 2011, 4:27 pm

LW, I know that you love him and don’t want to lose this man who has been your partner in life and your dreams and your future together. I agree that there is reason to hope that this is a one time mistake made in anger and as the result of too much alcohol. I have a friend who had almost this exact scenario play out on a trip out of town. It never happened again in their relationship. Your letter doesn’t have the list of things you saw in hindsight or many of the classic actions of an abuser giving reasons why it happened. I think there is hope here. You are taking intelligent actions and weighing your decision as you should. A decision made to begin letting him back into your life slowly can be undone just as easily. You both know that excessive alcohol was a factor and can be easily avoided, heated arguments can be shelved or you can take a break to cool off.
If this, with some extra time to think about it, still looks like a one time thing then I would say to give this another try at a pace you feel safe at. It sounds like you live separately and are not strictly financially dependent on him. If this is the case then you should still be on solid ground if any problem like this happens in the future. Then you would know it was a pattern and no further chances would be deserved. I know how emotionally painful it can be to have some unexpected action turn your blissful world upside down and you can’t imagine losing that person in your life. It sounds like he has not forgiven himself yet either in saying that he doesn’t expect you to. I think with your eyes open, you and your daughter can still share your lives with this man who has meant so much to you both. I wish you all well.

avatar Sarah April 18, 2011, 4:29 pm

If he really respected you and wanted to be with you again, he would give you the space you need, if nothing else so he can feel the shame he would feel if he really felt guilty. The fact that he continues to tell you how hard he’s trying and how much he loves you should be an indicator that he isn’t ashamed of himself like he should be. While I haven’t been in an abusive relationship, I have seen enough from family and friends to know that this is how they always start. He does it once, acts incredibly regretful and goes back to being the kind, flattering, sweet talking guy he once was, but nevertheless the pattern has begun. My mother gave me the best dating advice in the world that took me years of bad experiences to learn. “Don’t trust a man by what he says, trust him by what he does.” He has already shown you what he has done, do you really want to be with him knowing that he has every capability of doing it again and again?

avatar kate April 18, 2011, 4:31 pm

Your mother is a wise woman.

avatar Monica M April 18, 2011, 4:50 pm

I think it is easy for us readers to get on the bandwagon and give a black and right answer to a very complicated problem. I think the LW can try to continue the relationship. She needs to go to counseling so that she will know for certain that this was an isolated event. She needs to talk to a professional about her relationship and see if there were signs that she missed. I think this situation doesn’t have an easy answer because not only has she dated this guy for a long time but they are childhood friends. With those qualifiers we have to give credence to her view that this was uncharacteristic behavior. I agree with Wendy that you do not have to jump back in to a romantic relationship but take it slower as friends. Give time for both of you to heal.

avatar oldie April 18, 2011, 5:42 pm

There is simply no way that counseling can reveal whether or not this was a one-off incident that will never happen again. That is having way too much faith in counseling. This incident revealed a dark side of his personality. Yes, it may be out of his previously observed conduct, but it is still beyond the pale and something that the majority of men never do once. Counseling might reveal what caused him to snap this time and LW may try to spend a life with him avoiding that particular bomb tripwire, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have other equally hot spots that can cause a future eruption.

avatar WatersEdge April 18, 2011, 7:59 pm

I really have to disagree with you that therapy can’t help the LW figure out what her level of risk is. Therapy can’t magically predict the future. But it can do more than help him figure out what made him snap. It can help him break the incident down, help him reflect on any previous times he’s been aggressive (if there are any), and help him build alternate ways to cope with his anger. If he actively engages in therapy and puts his heart into trying to change, he can change his behavior.

Also, there’s no way to say that most men don’t hit more than once. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the women who only get hit once never tell anyone that it happened. All we really know is that we don’t know if he’ll ever do it again.

avatar Kim April 18, 2011, 4:57 pm

I have had some training in domestic violence and sexual assault and spent 2 years volunteering to help victims/survivors of rape and abuse. I am by no means an expert, but have seen the cycles of abuse. There are a few things that concern me about this. First red flag – you seem very emotionally (and possibly financially) dependant on your SO. Often times abusers manipulate situations that make it harder for the victim to leave. You say he’s your salvation and how much your daughter loves him, and abusers often try to arrange situations where you are isolated and dependant on them so it’s harder for you to leave them. And, while I can’t guarantee that he will hit you again, it’s rare for someone to abuse someone that badly only once. Alcohol may make it easier for him to do it, but normal, healthy men are not capable of that behavior regardless of the amount of alcohol they have had. Some other red flags to look out for: has he ever hurt animals or does he enjoy watching animals get hurt (maybe on TV), does he exhibit controlling behavior (needs to know where you go, monitors who you go out with, keeps a close eye on your finances), is he overly-charming (hard to judge, but often everyone is “amazed” this person can abuse someone because of how charming they are), moves your relationship forward very quickly (moved in together after a few months, merged finances after a few months, discussed marriage early on), does he try to isolate you (talk you out of going out to stay in with him, want to move to a more rural area away from friends/family), does his family have a history of abuse? These are just some warning signs, which not everybody will have (and plenty of non-abusers will have some of those as well), but are things to look out for.

Also, keep in mind the “cycle of abuse.” This generally works where an incident of abuse happens, then there is an apology period, then the next incident of abuse happens. The apology period differs from person to person, but abuser are master manipulators (if they weren’t nobody would stay with them). The next time the abuse happens, it’s harder to leave because you’ve already forgiven them once, you may be more isolated or dependant on the person, and they have gotten better at manipulating you. Generally the cycles increase in both frequency and intensity, with the apology period decreasing over time.

Having said that you (and your daughter) are the only ones that have to live with the decisions you make. You may be “lucky” and have this abuse never happen again, I can’t say he will or will not hit you. I just wanted to inform you of what abuse looks like so you can better make your own decisions. Now, if you do decide to stay with him – here are some tips to help keep you (or anyone else reading this in an abusive situation) safer. First, keep an eye out for any other red-flag behavior – especially anything related to your daughter. Also, have an exit plan in case you do decide to leave. Gather your important papers and keep them in a safety deposit box he doesn’t know about. Open a bank account he doesn’t know about and start saving money there – without him knowing about it (make sure to hide all evidence of this account). Be careful with what websites you visit at home – he may be tracking your activity and see that you have accessed a bank account he doesn’t know about or visiting a domestic violence website. If another abuse situation arises, try to “arrange” so you are in a room with multiple doors and no particularily dangerous objects (the kitchen is bad). Set up a signal with a neighbor where if they see something (like a specific candle in the window) they know to call 911 because you are in danger. Even if you think he may never do this again, it never hurts to be prepared just in case. Also, I do want to mention that the most dangerous time for a domestic violence survivor is when they try to leave. Make sure you take every step possible to make yourself as safe as you can when you do finally leave. This means breaking all contact with that person (and possibly parts of your family for a whil). Do not leave until you are ready and able to make a clean break of it and get out safely. Most abuse victims end up leaving their abusers multiple times before they finally get out – and that is really dangerous.

Good luck and I hope everything works out. You can always talk to a domestic violence professional and get more information if you want.

avatar Kim April 18, 2011, 5:10 pm

One other thing I forgot to mention, abusers always have an excuse for why it wasn’t their fault (especially early on). I drank too much, maybe they slipped something in my drink, I had a bad day, etc… This generally moves on to things like you did X and it just makes me so angry I can’t control myself, you should know better than to do X, or other things more targeted at blaming the victim rather than the abuser. But when I read your letter, it sounds like you are already trying to excuse his behavior for him (both with the alcohol excuse and the fact that you said something to incite him). This is another big red-flag to me that your relationship is already in the situation where you are in the role of the “victim.” Sadly most women blame themselves for their own abuse, and that’s not all right. Abuse is never ok and nobody ever has an excuse to hit you. Maybe this is an isolated incident, maybe it’s not – but regardless it’s not your fault.

avatar HmC April 18, 2011, 10:41 pm

Wow. I’m definitely not saying the LW should not take any of these preparatory actions should she choose to stay, especially since she has a daughter to protect, but I cannot imagine feeling the need to do things like hide my web browsing or start separate bank accounts, and still want to have the person I am hiding things from anywhere near my life, let alone as a romantic partner. There are so many wonderful men out there who would never dream of abusing anyone!

avatar Sarah Brown April 19, 2011, 12:44 pm

I don’t think she’s suggesting that everyone do this, just someone who’s been involved with an abuser.

avatar HmC April 19, 2011, 4:26 pm

Yes I realize that.

avatar Kim April 19, 2011, 12:50 pm

I agree. I would never personally want to be in a relationship where I had to behave that way. However, these situations are very complicated and it can be very hard to leave (especially to leave safely) once someone is already in the relationship. This is a person they love and see spending their life with, someone charming, someone who takes care of them, someone who has manipulated their self-esteem to think they can’t find anyone who would treat them better. That’s why we were trained to give people advice on how to stay safely in these situations – and not just tell people to leave. It’s a lot harder (and very dangerous) to leave than most people think.

avatar HmC April 19, 2011, 4:27 pm

While I can’t personally relate, thankfully, I do of course understand where you’re coming from. I can’t imagine it happening, but God forbid I ever am in this situation. Thanks for the insider information, and thanks for the good work you do.

avatar hana April 18, 2011, 5:14 pm

I think that this is ultimately a decision the LW has to make on her own. Like Wendy said, if it were any other situation I would be quick to say MOA. But this is a gray area, not black and white like another person said already. We are to quick to jump on the bandwagon. Although, personally, I think if you decide to take him back you need to take it really slow, live separately and start out as just friends. Also don’t let him near your daughter for a long time, esp. not alone.
Because it was only this one time and there were other events at place, I am curious about a few things. Not to tell us on this site, but something to reflect about at home.
1.) What you were arguing about? This may not seem like a huge issue but if it was something small like where to eat tonight or something big like someone cheating is a big difference. Abuse is NEVER ok and I am not defending the BF at all, but it is an even bigger red flag if the beating happened after a small, nothing argument.
2.) How much/what you drank and if you are normally drinkers. You touched on in the letter that you were both drunk and didn’t normally drink a lot. Alcohol can effect people in this way and can lead to abuse.
3.) If recreational drug use was present. I have no experience with a physically abusive relationship (minus one very traumatic sexual assault) so I can not really say anything about that but I do have 2 ex-boyfriends and family members that were drug addicts. While I never did drugs I know from experience that one bad trip can greatly alter a person’s mood and make them do things they normally would not.
4.) If there have been any other red flags such as controlling behavior.

Please take the time you need and make the decision you think is best for yourself and your daughter.

avatar oldie April 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

The first mistake was not reporting the attack to the police as soon as it happened. It is important to get it on the legal record. Getting a PFA as quickly as possible is also important. MOA and no future contact, it is simply too risky.

Just as a side issue, and certainly no justification at all for bf’s behavior, but it is exceedingly stupid, when it a fight with a bigger person who is drunk but still in control of his or her emotions, to deliberately say the most vicious thing you can think of in an attempt to make the bigger person very angry. Violence will not always follow, but there is enough of a chance that it will that this is something you just don’t do, whether it is a woman doing it with a bigger man or a man doing it with a bigger man or woman with a bigger woman. No good can come of it. You may destroy a relationship or a friendship, or you might get hit. It is always wise to try to dampen down arguments at least to the extent that both parties remain in control, rather than to push them to the breaking point.

avatar Sarah April 18, 2011, 6:09 pm

She wasn’t exacerbating a fight with a “bigger person”, she was fighting with a man she loved and trusted. How could she have known this man was a violent threat? I have said things to egg on a fight because I was feeling spiteful, and I would feel ashamed after the fact because I hurt my boyfriend’s feelings, not because I was afraid of being punished. Fear should never ever be a factor in how you communicate with a person you trust. Ever. EVER. Watching your words because “you might get hit” is a condition that has a very slippery slope, pretty soon it becomes “don’t ask talk about topics that annoy him” or “you might get hit”, “don’t bring up his ex girlfriend” or “you might get hit”. Being childish in an argument is human, beating someone for doing so is unconscionable.

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 7:09 pm

Sarah, wish I could give you a million thumbs up.

LW, you said something and he BEAT YOU UP to shut you up? He should have said something back, not resort to violence. Consider yourself lucky your daughter wasn’t there.

Your comment made him angry at you, and that’s how he expressed his anger. Life is unexpected. It may happen again, and even if you won’t be the source of the anger, he will have the same response.

Can you ever trust him again? Can you feel safe around him? I think not. Can you spend the next few years (maybe the rest of your life) walking on eggshells around him, hoping the ‘switch’ never goes off again? I don’t think it’s worth it.

Been there, done that, got out.

If you do decide to give him another chance, I don’t want to be one of those people who ‘told you so’. Please, LW, never look back. I know it’s painful, but it will get worse if you stay with him.

avatar oldie April 19, 2011, 2:43 pm

Most women who are murdered or beaten are attacked by a loved one — father, brother, boyfriend, husband, or ex. This is also not a question of ‘watching your words’ but by her own statement deliberately trying to make him as mad as she was, at a time he had emotional control.

Of course beating someone up is unconscionable, immoral, and illegal. That classification of the action is of little help after you’ve been beaten up or murdered. Yes, he is totally at fault, but yes, she also behaved irresponsibly. I would not elevate deliberately saying something vicious to make your partner very angry to the level of ‘communication’. I also would not say that this kind of communication is necessary or useful in a relationship. People are difficult to understand. The person who is difficult to rile in an argument may be a case of dynamite who knows that absolute control is necessary at all times, because the consequences of loss of control won’t be pretty.

I have a perfect right to leave my house unlocked and announce to one and all that I keep a $500,000 painting hanging above my sofa. Anybody who steals it is totally in the legal and moral wrong. Still, if I don’t want to have my painting stolen and my house invaded by a stranger, I might be wise to not brag about the valuables in the house and to keep the door locked. Certainly not mandatory that I do this and doesn’t make it my fault when I’m robbed, but it certainly would be a foolish action for me to take.

avatar HmC April 19, 2011, 4:34 pm

Your explanation and analogy would make sense when applied to interacting with society at large. And I’d agree that speaking in a deliberately cruel way is not optimal. But in the context of a significant other, you should avoid being cruel with your words because it’s the wrong thing to do and you shouldn’t want to make someone you love feel bad- the possibility of violence should *not* be a formative factor when you’re deciding what to say to someone you love. In a perfect world, it shouldn’t be a factor when determining how to interact with general society either. But given you don’t know and trust everyone, you automatically have to be more careful, unfortunately.

I think people take issue with your original comment because it seems to be implying that one ought to take the same precaution of possible violence with a loved one as they do with a total stranger. That idea goes against the very nature of love, as I personally understand it.

avatar WatersEdge April 18, 2011, 8:01 pm

Blaming the victim! You should be ashamed of yourself.

avatar SpyGlassez April 18, 2011, 10:45 pm

I didn’t think of what he said as “blaming the victim,” merely pointing out a truth. When you are trying to incite a reaction, sometimes you get more than you bargained for.

For example, I am a martial artist and my sister is a boxer. She’s 8 years younger than I am and in much better shape (I’m a year or two out of practice); she’s also taller than I (but I outweigh her). In other words, we’re pretty evenly matched. I know better than to say things that will incite that level of rage between us. As oldie said, violence MAY follow that kind of escalation; he doesn’t say it always will. Drinking lowers inhibitions, and it’s hard to control emotions, but deliberately escalating things NEVER ends well. (I grew up with screaming matches between my parents that you could hear OUTSIDE the house.)

avatar AnitaBath April 18, 2011, 9:02 pm

Agreed with Sarah and Watersedge. This might be good advice to follow with strangers, but NOT with someone you love. It sounds to me like you’re thinking of an instance where someone might say something completely viscous to a person, and those words initiate a physical fight. The difference is that this was not a physical fight. It was not a bar brawl, a fistfight occurring during lunch period at school, or a physical altercation on the street. It was an attack on a loved one.

avatar jessicaxmx April 18, 2011, 9:46 pm

Oldie sounds to me like someone who has a biased point. This is what someone would do if they weren’t in the situation and have never been at that point in their life. Honestly, I told myself over and over again that I would never take someone back who would cheat on me. But my ex did, and I took him back many times. People from the outside were telling me to get out but I did not listen. When I said I would never take someone back who cheated on me it never happened to me before and I had never had the feelings I had for anyone until I met my ex.

What I’m trying to say is we can say all what we want what she should do from all different points, including people who have been there, and people who have NOT been in her situation, but LW is going to do what SHE wants in the end. Which I hate to say but will most likely give her boyfriend another chance.

avatar Kare April 18, 2011, 6:03 pm

I’m just copying and pasting this from the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. Hope it helps you LW. Good luck.
Does your partner:
Embarrass you with put-downs?
Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
Make all of the decisions?
Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
Prevent you from working or attending school?
Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
Force you to try and drop charges?
Threaten to commit suicide?
Threaten to kill you?
If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions,
you may be in an abusive relationship.
For support and more information please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or at TTY 1-800-787-3224.

avatar Monica M April 19, 2011, 10:42 am

Thanks for the list. I think the LW needs to really analyze her relationship for these signs and decide from there.

avatar Nina April 18, 2011, 6:12 pm

What a horrible situation to be in :(

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 6:40 pm

A textbook abuser usually blames the victim (you made me do it!), never apologizes, doesn’t admit he has a problem, and escalates the abuse over time. The LW’s boyfriend did not do any of this. (He didn’t do the last one because the LW didn’t give him the chance. I vote that it stays that way.)

This can be due to either of two reasons: he’s probably done it before, in which case he knows exactly what to do/say to gain forgiveness. Or he’s a genuinely nice guy that snapped one time and is ashamed of what he did. I lean towards the first one.

Can you honestly take him back and trust him the way you used to trust him?

Most likely, one or all of these scenarios will happen: you’ll walk on eggshells around him, avoid any and all confrontation because the switch might go off again. You’ll always wonder what will trigger his next fit. If you go out together, and he has more than usual to drink, you’re not going to feel safe going back home with him. Or if you do go back home with him, you’ll stay outside until he falls asleep…

No matter how well he behaves, it will always be in your mind.You won’t feel safe with him anymore. For a long time. And I don’t think it’s worth it. To spend years in fear it might happen again… Not worth it.

I know it’s hard now, but in my opinion, there’s no turning back. He altered your relationship forever. He revealed a side of his personality that you don’t like and are afraid of.

This part of your letter triggers bad memories – You said something and he beat you up? He should have said something back, not shut you up by beating you. (that’s what my ex used to do too, when he couldn’t win an argument)

LW, no one can tell you what to do. But if you do decide to give him a second chance, I don’t want to be one of the people who ‘told you so’.

(I’ve been there, done that, got out.
My ex started with shoving me into a wall. Your boyfriend started by BEATING YOU UP. Knowing what I know now, I beg you to, please, never look back.)

avatar Lucy April 19, 2011, 4:56 pm

I’m not disagreeing with most of your post, but it is definitely inaccurate to say that textbook abusers do not apologize. At the beginning of the cycle, typicaly an abuser will apologize profusely, buy gifts, send flowers, swear it will never happen again, etc etc. That’s one of the reasons otherwise sane and strong women can get sucked in by these guys. I have no opinn one way or another as to whether this guy is at the beginning of that cycle, but nothing in his behaviour so far disproves it.

avatar Kerrycontrary April 18, 2011, 7:12 pm

oi vey this is a tough one! I think Wendy had a great answer because this is not a black a white issue. It truely is up to the LW. Personally, I would leave because the next time could be the last time, and you have a daughter to consider. Furthermore, a lot of commenters are correct that he didn’t just push you, he beat you. He could have killed you that night and your daughter would’ve been left parent-less. LW, it’s up to you, but please consider that possibility when making your decision.

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 7:48 pm

LW, you said something, and he BEAT YOU UP because there wasn’t any other way he could win the argument? That doesn’t sound like a mature way to fight… Or fair, for that matter.

Consider yourself lucky your daughter wasn’t there.

My ex hit me after 8 years. Out of the blue. I couldn’t believe it. Then he hit me again. That was the no turning point for me (please note the difference between “hit” and “beat up”). I know it’s very hard to believe right now, but he will hit you again. If you want to find out, no one can stop you. I hope you’re lucky again, and your daughter doesn’t see it.

I agree that his behavior is not textbook domestic violence. Abusers always blame the victim (I couldn’t help it – you provoked me), don’t acknowledge they have a problem, and escalate the abuse over time. Good for you for not letting him escalate the abuse. Don’t give him the chance, please.

Because his behavior is not textbook, it makes me believe this is not the first time he did it. He does all the right things. It may also mean that he’s an honest guy that acknowledges his problems, but the fact that he BEAT YOU UP the very first time is a pretty big signal he’s done it before.

From experience, you’ll never feel safe with him again. The fact that he can snap at any moment without warning will always be on your mind. You’ll walk around eggshells, you will avoid any and all confrontation in order not to “flip the switch”. You’ll be afraid to go home with him after he’s had a few drinks. I don’t think it’s worth it to live in fear. It may hurt not to have him in your life, but to have him in your life like that will hurt even more.

I hope you find the strength to not give any of us the chance to say “I told you so”. I so don’t want to be that person…

avatar WatersEdge April 18, 2011, 8:05 pm

I have to disagree. It doesn’t make sense that because his behavior is not textbook, he has probably done it before. I kinda think the opposite- because it’s not textbook, he may not be a classic abuser.

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 8:22 pm

I only have experience with a classic abuser. And I truly think that’s how my ex was to his core, because I don’t think he ever googled “how to become an abuser”. I don’t think people make a conscious choice to become abusers.

A classic abuser starts slow, and then builds up on that. The very first time I was shoved into a wall. The fact that the LW was beat up (in her own words) the first time her (ex-)boyfriend laid a hand on her lead me to believe it’s not the first time he did it.

Maybe he’s a good guy that snapped. I just wouldn’t take the chance to see which one it is.

avatar AKchic April 18, 2011, 8:00 pm

This is a very odd case. Having been in an abusive relationship, and having worked in various aspects of the DV field, this just doesn’t sound “right”.
If the story is to be believed, this male has no signs of a classic abuser. He does not alienate her from her family/friends. He does not have a history of abuse. He does not make her dependent on him. He does not try to control her. By all accounts, he seems like the model male.
What happened? The details on WHY the LW was angry that night aren’t there. The details of what she said to trigger such rage aren’t there. I am not saying that her purposeful provocation warranted a beating (even if she accused him of being a limp-wristed NAMBLA member), but something just doesn’t add up. Either she isn’t being truthful of their relationship, his past relationships, or there was seriously something wrong that night that warrants further investigation – i.e., drug testing of all foods, a search into covert military chemical mind control tests done in the area (joking!), etc.

If the LW is to be believed, he is already taking steps to find out just what happened on his end to try to not only find answers for what happened, but to ensure it doesn’t happen again. He would appear to be very shaken, remorseful, sorry, fearful and ASHAMED of the actions he made. Not something a real abuser has for his actions.

I can understand the apprehension in wanting to stick around with someone who physically assaulted you. By all rights, he should be in jail for it. Why the police weren’t called is known only to you, because I am sure it was at YOUR discretion. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you want to continue this relationship. I would certainly cool things off and reevaluate the relationship, were I you. Slow it down, back it up even. Counseling, separate domiciles, etc.
Good luck. I do not envy you your position.

avatar Elle April 18, 2011, 8:51 pm

I agree, things don’t add up. I also find it unusual that the LW talks about how great of a guy he is for 2/3 of the letter, and doesn’t provide many details about the abuse itself. I have no authority on this whatsoever, but maybe someone knows about Stockholm syndrome?

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 18, 2011, 10:09 pm

I think it’s probably less of Stockholm syndrome and more of the possibility that the boyfriend has manipulated the LW into believing that he is her “saviour”, “guardian”, “protector” etc to the point where she might believe that she “deserved” this because she “egged him on”.

Like an earlier poster said- abusers initially have some kind of excuse for their behaviour- they had something slipped into their drink, they’re stressed, they’re exhausted whatever. Eventually it gets to the point where they “can’t help themselves because the victim is constantly provoking them”. Additionally, during the “apology phase” of the cycle they’re quick to let you know how upset they are with themselves and what they’re doing to change, rather than doing what a *normal* person would do, which is being so ashamed of themselves they can’t bear to show their face in public, much less contact their victim again.

The bottom line is that no *normal* man should become so frustrated with his spouse or partner that he needs to resort to any kind of physical aggression to vent his anger, whether that physical aggression takes the form of hitting another person or punching or kicking a wall.

avatar demoiselle April 18, 2011, 10:44 pm

I agree with you.

avatar AKchic April 19, 2011, 1:55 pm

I can agree with you there. Many abusers like to rationalize their actions of alienation and control as doing it “for” the victim’s “benefit” rather than for their own. It’s usually “I’m doing it to protect you from yourself” or “you are always making poor/bad decisions so I’m making the right ones for you”. My 1st husband pulled that crap with me. Would insist that I couldn’t talk to old friends because I sold his kid sister pot when I was a freshman in high school (she was a sophmore) and that if I spoke to my “old” friends, then I would fall back in to old “habits”. Didn’t matter that I had no problems with drugs or alcohol. The catch was that the friend encouraged me to be independent.
My ex would tell everyone that if it wasn’t for him I would have been on welfare, homeless and strung out. Of course, facts and truth never seemed to enter into the story. At the time he was bragging about his “miraculous saving” of me, he refused to work and we WERE on welfare, his constant spending on ebay kept us one of my meager paychecks from homelessness every week. I was only allowed to work the jobs he approved, which weren’t anything that would have guaranteed much more than low-income housing and a guaranteed welfare check. His assertion that I would have been “strung out” couldn’t have been further from the truth since I wasn’t on anything to be “strung out” on when we met. The only thing he could ever prove I had done was sold pot to his sister at the age of 15. Anything else was hearsay, and much of it was made up by him. (Granted, some of the things I did do prior to getting pregnant with my oldest, before meeting him was terrible, but I never once said a thing to him and his sister wasn’t someone I associated with so she didn’t know anything of it either).

In any case… I just don’t buy the story as she is presenting it. Either there is more or she has altered it drastically or both. There is always shame and embarassment at having been duped by an abuser, which makes women not want to admit all of the little warning signs they missed. Unfortunately, that self-deception, if allowed to continue, will do no good, especially in this instance.

avatar Kate April 18, 2011, 9:06 pm

Previous commenters have said this more eloquently than I, but I just wanted to throw another vote in the MOA PLEASE PLEASE RIGHT NOW column. This man is not the love of your life. He is not your salvation. That man would never lift a finger against you, let alone try to blame it on some random unknown person slipping him something! Of all the flimsy, stupid excuses…

Please. He beat you up once; he’ll do it again. It is just a matter of time before he hits another woman. Do you really want to find out if it will be you or your daughter?

Please don’t go back to him. Please don’t teach your daughter that it’s acceptable for someone you love to beat you up. Even if your boyfriend never lays a finger on your daughter, she may grow up believing that abuse is ok, and she may find herself in the same position as you someday, or worse. Please, your daughter looks up to you. Please make her present and future safety your #1 priority.

avatar dezzie April 18, 2011, 10:26 pm

move on!!!!!! I had the same thing happen to me….no kid but the same thing on the rest. He will snap and do it again. I just moa 3 days ago…it happened the first time in sept…he proposed in jan…everything was great….then it happened again. Do not stay!

avatar SpyGlassez April 18, 2011, 10:56 pm

I dated a boy in high school for about 5 or 6 weeks. During that time, he would drive a little fast to terrify me, or belittle me to try and make me believe his awesomeness, but he never laid a finger on me and I knew he never would. I was lucky in that I was right. The girl he dated after I broke up with him was not so lucky; they had been together for about 3 years when he pushed her down a flight of stairs. He was charming enough to get her to drop the restraining order so he could continue trying to go to medical school, however. From what I can tell, he’s never hit the woman he’s with now (but that is third-hand; I have no contact with him and only hear anything from people we know in common). That doesn’t change the fact, however, that he is someone who threw someone down a flight of stairs once, and that he could do it at any time again.

One time, about six months into my current relationship, my boyfriend and I got into an argument (the kind where we asked each other if we were even going to stay together). He was so frustrated that he punched a hole in a wall. That was completely out of character for him, but he didn’t even come near me or threaten me. I’ve told him that my personal stance on violence is “not even once.” For me, the trust would be broken at that moment.

However, I can understand how this is difficult for the LW and I feel for her. And he is getting help; that is a good thing in his favor. Abusers I have known of from friends often PROMISE they will get help, but they use it as a lure to bring back their victims…or else they go for a short time and then quit when the victim is back in their orbit. My sister had a brief time with one like that, though he was a verbal abuser and not a physical one.

I agree with the recommendation that if you take him back at all, it is as a tentative and distant friend. Never be alone with him, never let him be alone with your daughter. I like the idea of asking yourself what you would say to your daughter if she came to you with this same problem one day.

I will also confess something here: I have been an abuser. I was never this man; I never beat anyone. But I have used verbal put-downs and control to belittle my friends. I have slapped a friend before out of anger. I have been a horrible person. There is no excuse for that behavior, and I have taken steps to see it will never happen again. It was years ago; that friend stayed with me because she knew it wasn’t me. I was also cutting at the time, and I had been off my medication for about a year. That same friend was the one who supported me while I got back into therapy, got back on my medication, and recovered. I can safely say I do not have anger like that any longer. I believe, because I am watchful AND because I have friends and family who know what to watch for, that I will never have anger like that again. But I know in my heart that I will always have to be watchful.

avatar Bree April 18, 2011, 11:05 pm

I have to disagree with Wendy on this one. He does not deserve a second chance under any circumstances. He physically assaulted her, and it will likely happen again. When I was newly dating my ex, he hit the car steering wheel when we had one of our first fights. It only got worse from there, and I eventually left him as a result. The fact that a man has a propensity to hit (and yes one even is enough) means that he will hit again. The being drunk excuse is a lame one, because there are many people who would never strike another, no matter how drunk they get. This is a really hard situation, and I wish MMS the best of luck.

avatar ForThisOnly April 18, 2011, 11:31 pm

I have never posted a comment on a website before, but I have to reply to this. PLEASE, before you do anything else, read “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft. And then read it again. And then think about it, hard. Bancroft is one of the original founders and leaders of the counseling profession for abusive men, and he knows more about this than the rest of the world combined. He explains it all brilliantly in his book. PLEASE read it. If not for you, for your daughter. PLEASE.

avatar demoiselle April 19, 2011, 10:49 am

I absolutely agree. Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” is a must read for every woman (and probably every man as well). He also makes it very clear that abuse is not a matter of poor anger management (or why would abusers only “snap” when there are no witnesses, for example) and that it is a behavior that is almost impossible to overcome because–bottom line–the abusers are getting a great benefit from it for very little cost. They don’t want to change.

avatar Sarah April 19, 2011, 11:23 am

Another incredible book on how to avoid violent men and possibly dangerous situations is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. This book taught me how and when to identify and trust my instinct in situations with men I feel uncomfortable with, whether they are strangers or men I’m dating. Reading it was like taking a self defense class for my head. I’ve basically forced it onto every woman I know, its a must read.

avatar Poicelle April 19, 2011, 8:12 am

I have spent the last year and change working in the DV field and I have to disagree with Wendy here and say GET OUT. Maybe seeing victims/survivors of DV return to abusers who make promises to seek help (get counseling, attend AA, go to anger management) only to return to abusive behavior has made me cynical, but I think that there’s a reason Lenore Walker called it a “cycle of violence”. It starts with one abusive instance, and then he apologizes and promises it wont happen again, and when you believe him and go back it starts all over.

I’d like to believe that people can change. I’d like to believe that he will go and do everything he says he’s going to do in order to prevent himself from becoming violent with you again – but I always have to wonder, even if he’s going to classes and truly wants to change, what’s going to happen the next time you two have had more than your glass of wine and you start arguing? What’s going to happen the next time you’re in that moment, that situation, where he gets angry? Will he be able to control himself then? It’s all well and good to go through the motions for a little while, while you’re not around, and seem like he’s changed but you will never really know until that moment where he could become violent with you again.

If you’re determined to maintain some kind of relationship with this man, and from the letter it sounds like you are, then please be CAUTIOUS! There is no “give him a second chance.” Maintain your distance and monitor his behavior. Hold him accountable. Make him show you long-term proof of his efforts and work in his programs. And get yourself emotionally and financially and psychologically willing to leave should he fail to change. Go to counseling. Talk to someone about disentangling your life from his so that, should he fail to change, you can get out more easily. Safety plan – meet in public places, have a friend you can call with a code word should he become violent so that friend can call the police, keep your cell phone on you and charged at all times. Think of these behaviors as insurance – you don’t want to ever have to use them. Think carefully before you’re around this man and be safe.

avatar Quakergirl April 19, 2011, 8:29 am

First and foremost, LW, I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you. Just to reiterate what you already seem to know: you did not deserve this. You did absolutely nothing to make this happen, and you deserve to be treated with love and respect, not violence.

I can only imagine how confused/betrayed/distressed you feel right now. You thought you knew this man, and then he did this. How can you know who he really is? We talk a lot on this site about people showing you who they are. So, based on the information in your letter, here’s who he is: a man capable of extreme violence. Whether or not he’s an abuser, or manipulator, or has any negative intentions towards you, he is a man that under certain circumstances *cannot stop himself from BEATING YOU.* He can go to all the counseling in the world, but there’s absolutely nothing to say that this will not happen again, to you or your daughter.

I believe people can change their behavioral patterns– alcoholics can stop drinking, bulimics can stop binging and purging. But those coping reactions are always back there somewhere. Sometimes they come back when you least expect them, and the person relapses into their old behavior. Staying around someone whose relapse would be beating you or your daughter doesn’t sound like a risk I’d want to take. Only you can say if the benefits of staying are worth risking your life or your child’s life. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can say that you can do better than someone who puts your life at risk, if you choose to find him.

Dear Wendy Wendy April 19, 2011, 8:30 am

I just wanted to pipe in here and thank everyone for such thoughtful and passionate responses. This was a letter I thought long and hard about since I received it on Friday afternoon. I did some research over the weekend, discussed it with friends, and weighed the different ways I could respond. In the end, I felt fairly confident in my reply, but after reading so many of your comments, I realize I could have done better. I’m not a social worker, obviously, and there are definite holes in my experience and knowledge, and sometimes I think that I should ignore questions like these lest I give the “wrong” answer, but then I read you comments and I’m heartened by how much perspective you’re able to give when I fall short and I think together we do do a service for people who need help and advice.

So, thank you, everyone, for your comments and for sharing your own stories and for challenging me and each other. Even if the LW in this situation doesn’t hear you, I bet there’s someone else out there in a similar situation who will.

avatar demoiselle April 19, 2011, 10:53 am

Thank you for your response here, Wendy. I understand how hard it is to answer questions like these, especially if you don’t have a social worker’s background or experience in a relationship like this. I really strongly recommend reading Lundy Bancroft’s book, since you get letters like these. It will help giving perspective. It helped me understand a past relationship. My mother is a social worker who grew up with an abuser as a father. She read Bancroft’s book and confirmed that it is *right on* accurate, and it made a tremendous impact as well.

avatar Kim April 19, 2011, 1:03 pm

My personal opinion is that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to these types of questions. All anyone can do is provide your perspective. And nobody expects that you are trained in every aspect of every question that you get. But, answering these letters and getting people talking about these issues is always a good thing. This is a hidden problem that affects so many people, and nobody likes to talk about it. There are many people (not just the LW) that will read this and hopefully learn more about domestive violence issues based on the discussion that arises from it. The more we talk about these issues, the better.

avatar Wendy April 19, 2011, 8:41 am

Eight years into my marriage my husband and I went away for a short weekend getaway. He drank too much at the hotel bar and was in no shape to go to dinner. We went back to the room and I ordered room service. When the meal arrived at the room, he went ballistic because it was so expensive, and knocked me down, punched and kicked me. I fled to the bathroom where I locked myself in and stayed there til I was sure he passed out. The next day he was contrite. I didn’t speak to him for a couple of weeks. That was 29 years ago. He has never laid a finger on me before or since. He doesn’t lose his temper and doesn’t use derogatory names. We don’t argue, we just disagree. I cannot fathom where this one-time incident came from, but he knew from that day forth, that if it ever happened again, he would lose me and half of all our stuff. From your description of this, it was the alcohol. If he normally would never drink this much, then a repeat is not likely to happen. At least, that’s how it is with us. My husband couldn’t handle that amount of liquor, but he knows his limit and sticks to it.

avatar demoiselle April 19, 2011, 10:57 am

If he has had some medication changes recently, that bears some scrutiny. My father was narcoleptic, and when his medication was changed once he flew in a rage and shouted at me, chased me up the stairs–for no discernible reason. I actually locked myself in my room, he was so angry. It was totally uncharacteristic, and once his medication was adjusted, he returned to normal.

But he didn’t knock me to the floor. He didn’t hit me, and he didn’t beat me up. And I’m still not sure this is a risk worth taking for the LW. Both due to her daughter, and due to the fact that I think there is something seriously wrong with him that he BEAT her, even if medication was messing with his moods.

avatar WatersEdge April 19, 2011, 11:48 am

I don’t think the fact that your father shouted at you and chased you once qualifies you to try to invalidate this woman’s experience. Is it really impossible to believe that there are times when it’s not a part of a person’s character, but something that happens when extreme circumstances arise? You can’t say that EVERY man who hits once will hit again. Yes it’s time to re-evaluate, take distance, get help, set new boundaries, but you can’t say that just because he did it once he’ll definitely do it again and everything you ever had together is worthless.

avatar demoiselle April 19, 2011, 11:57 am

WatersEdge, although I am writing passionately because I really feel worried for this woman, I wasn’t trying to invalidate her with this post. Here’s what I *thought* I was doing with my post:

I was acknowledging that sometimes medication can make a big difference in behavior. But I was also truly worried, so I wanted to also note that there is a difference between inexplicable anger and actually striking or beating someone up. I am not a doctor, so although I *do* know from my past experience that medication adjustments can lead to anger, I do *not* know for sure that it can lead someone to strike or beat up another person even if they are not normally inclined to beat people up.

I was trying to offer cautious support for one mitigating circumstance without being irresponsible about it.

avatar Sarah April 19, 2011, 12:15 pm

I don’t think demoiselle is trying to invalidate LW’s experience, quite the opposite. Some people on here (me) are firm in our belief that this man was not drugged, and the fact that he even brought it up was an excuse and an attempt to distance himself from the image of the man he was that night. Demoiselle has first hand knowledge of what its like to have been afraid of a male figure she loved and trusted, and her perspective is much more valid and important than mine could ever be. Even though I do not believe drugs was a factor here, I understand now that these circumstances could arise.

As for the bit about “You can’t say that EVERY man who hits once will hit again.” Yeah, a lot of the time you can. Not always, and she may be the exception. The fact that it is a pattern that even happens ONCE let alone every 15 seconds of EVERY day in the United States alone tells me that it is much too risky for her to continue a relationship with this man. She simply cannot not know, and for me, the risk of finding out the negative is much too great. Frankly, I think giving this relationship a fondness, save for the beating, is clouding the issue. If I even thought that there should be a relationship here again (which I don’t) my advice would be to completely withdraw from this man for months and maybe years to view this event without the strain of having to reassess this entire relationship as well. Stop caring about him. Care about yourself. If he cares about you too he will respect the distance.

avatar ladiejoy April 19, 2011, 9:55 am

LW I feel for you and your position. This will not be an easy decision to make, and I have nothing really to offer that hasn’t already been said.

I would caution you to think long and hard about this man, and if possible, to see him in an objective light. Also, if there is anyone you are very very close with, and with whom you can discuss this situation, I think it would help. Any situation can benefit from a fresh pair of eyes, and in this case it could be immensely helpful just to be able to talk to someone that knows you both and can give you fair and impartial advice.

I do believe in second chances, and I do believe that it’s entirely possible this man is truly ashamed of his actions, and it could even be likely that this was an isolated incident. Unfortunately there is no way to be sure – the only way to know is to proceed with a relationship on some level. Do you want to live the next few months or years of your life just waiting for him to snap again? Waiting in fear? Because I think that is what will happen – you will always wonder when and if that trigger will be pulled again.

I wish you all the best and really hope to hear an update on this.

Wendy, I think you gave excellent advice here, and I really appreciated your comment just above. This is indeed a group effort, to give advice on such a grave issue.

avatar Just Max April 19, 2011, 12:22 pm

There is not much I can add that has not been said.
But if there is one thing I wish the LW will read in this hole thread is this:

“Do you want to live the next few months or years of your life just waiting for him to snap again? Waiting in fear? Because I think that is what will happen – _you will always wonder when and if that trigger will be pulled again_.”

avatar Flake April 19, 2011, 12:11 pm

I believe there was emotional abuse. The fact that she refers to him as her ‘salvation’ is not normal. That implies dependency. ”He believed I worked hard enough as a young single mom and his goal became making my life happy, full and easier. He did everything a woman would want and more”. What does that even mean??? Is she no longer working? Nobody except yourself can make you happy, that’s a state of mind. And making her life full? Full of what? Her baby girl is growing, she has a job, and I am assuming friends and family are there for her as well, her life looks pretty full to me… I’m sorry, the LW keeps saying that she is a strong woman, but it doesn’t come across that way…”and loved me more than I could imagine anyone is capable of loving.” – not something a confident, strong, independent woman would say. He may have brought a lot of goodness into your life, but he also brought fear and uncertainty. How will you feel the next time you’re having a glass of wine, or two, with him?? Or when he comes home after having a drink with friends?? Will you be watching your words and action so as not to tick him off? What about your daughter, she will be a teenager soon, and I am sure she will not be as easy-going as she is now. What if she does or says something that provokes him?? I have a baby boy, and if anything, he gives me more motivation not to take any abuse from anyone, especially his father. He knows perfectly well that if I ever feel threatened in MY OWN HOME, one of us has to leave.
The guy hit her once, the only way to make sure that it never happens again is to never be in the same room as that person. Large majority of men would NEVER even think of hitting a woman, drunk or not, provoked or not. And one of them will love her and her daughter ”more than she could imagine anyone is capable of loving.”

avatar Kate April 19, 2011, 12:13 pm

I also interpreted her letter this way.

avatar Meaghan Self April 19, 2011, 1:50 pm

I call my boyfriend my “salvation” all the time. Though I was content with my life before him and I worked just as hard then for my (our) future as I do now, I didn’t know this kind of happiness before being with him. Not saying I didn’t know happiness or that I feel that I need him to find happiness in life, but there are different kinds just as there are different kinds of love.

“Everything a woman would want and more” why is that threatening? It could mean that he supported her for her choices of having a child rather than adoption or abortion. It could mean he acted as the father of her child. It could mean he shared and supported her dreams for a future together. It doesn’t mean he was overpowering, domineering, or anything else.

And having a partner to share your happiness enriches your life. So her saying he made her life full doesn’t show her as weak. It shows she loves him and knows that he brings something into her world that she wants. Not to say she needs that piece, but it’s always nice to have more than less.

“Loved me more…” so what? Does it make a woman weak to say that the man she considers the love of her life has shown her that she can be loved just as much as she loves her own child? Doesn’t she deserve to feel that adoration and bask in it? What about men who say that just as I know my boyfriend says to me about us. Does that make him weak and unfulfilled that he says he hasn’t felt this happy before we met?

I agree that most men would never hit a woman, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

avatar Flake April 19, 2011, 3:45 pm

I disagree with the salvation part. Being content and being happy are two completely different things. A woman can be content with a BF who ‘only beats her up when he gets very drunk’ or when she ‘provokes him’, but I doubt she would be happy (I realize that is an extreme example).
In her letter, MMS tries to insist that she is strong and independent. But then in the end she says ‘I don’t want my life without him in it.’. Those are pretty strong words, and if I were her friend, I would worry a little bit. He may be the love of her life until now, but her life is far from over. She does have a daughter who depends on her and whose welfare is extremely important.
There’s nothing wrong with saying that someone has made your life better, wether it’s a SO or a child, or any one else for that matter. I love my BF very much and cannot imagine my life without him any more, BUT there’s no doubt in my mind, that if he ever so much as lifts a finger in my or our son’s direction, I will be out of there!! In no way would I tolerate that kind of actions, the same way that he should not tolerate that coming from me.
Everything she writes would be very nice in a different context. In this case it looks like she is trying to convince herself that he is the only one in the world for her. I believe no woman deserves to be afraid of her partner. And the simple fact is he did abuse her. There is no turning back. He could have easily injured her, or even killed her.
If she did walk away from bad relationships before, she should run from this one. It will never be the same. The fear will stay in the back of her mind, and he will always know that he can get away with extremely abusive behavior.

And mainly, ‘I agree that most men would never hit a woman, but sometimes it’s not that easy.’ NO, you see, it is just that easy. You do not hit another person, especially a person you claim to ‘love like you’ve never loved before’, under ANY circumstances. Physical violence is NEVER justified in any relationship. All you have to do is walk away.

avatar SGMcG April 19, 2011, 4:24 pm

The traditional definition of salvation doesn’t involve being blissfully happy. It involves a state of being saved or being protected from harm. This man may have made the LW, her daughter and their lives happy by making things easier and making her feel protected, but he also beat her up. Not a light smack in the bottom or a play fight in jest. He snapped and threw [her] to the floor, and basically beat [her] up. The minute you stop protecting someone from harm and inflict it instead, you are no longer their salvation.

Yes, the LW deserves her happiness with this guy and bask in his adoration, if that is what she wants. Yet the LW also deserves to be acknowledged for the strength she exercised raising her daughter alone the 4 years before this guy came into her life. The love the LW has for this man is not a right he is automatically entitled to – it is a privilege the LW and her daughter have shared with this guy. He knows that it is through their honor that he was able be in their lives and he is right to assume that the privilege of their love may not be his again due to his violent actions.

And there are a lot of factors that go into whether this privilege should be permanently revoked. Besides the incident itself, there is not only how she feels, but her daughter’s feelings and safety need to be considered as well. Their mutual friends, their respective families may also be able to provide better perspective than us. We’re also getting a lot of information second hand from LW about this guy – who knows if he’s actually going to therapy or anger management? He may be contrite about what happened, but what is he doing to insure that it never happens again if she takes him back.

Wendy is right to exercise caution if this man is someone LW wants in her life still – time and distance are her only guaranteed safety measures at this point. And I’ll repeat myself again LW, you best be DAMN sure you want him back in again. If there is even a little doubt about continuing your love with this man, please trust your instincts LW.

avatar Meaghan Self April 19, 2011, 1:43 pm

I know it’s easy, just like when there’s cheating, to say that once this happens it’ll always happen again. And in most cases that’s true i have no doubt. On the other hand, sometimes things get out of control and both parties need to take responsibility. My boyfriend’s father abused their mother when they were children. It was mostly verbal, but abuse nontheless. At a point they realized what was going on and divorced, and both are now in happy marriages and are able to act friendly to each other when the family is brought together.

Alcohol lowers your ability to control yourself, and if you’re being pushed into a corner by someone who is actively trying to incite you and hurt you then it’s not a surprise that you would fight back. Did he go way overboard? Yes. Is she innocent in this? No.

He’s going to counseling and hasn’t shown this behavior before; that means a lot. I know some of you have said that you’ve been with men who didn’t show signs of violence, but is that true? Looking back don’t you see the red flags that you brushed off because they were few and far between? I’m sure this woman has looked back as well and she sees the same man.

avatar Kate April 19, 2011, 1:46 pm

So because she “incited” him, he is allowed to beat her up? I don’t think so. I think that’s beyond overboard.

avatar Meaghan Self April 19, 2011, 1:53 pm

I’m not saying if you get into an argument it’s okay. I’m saying if you purposely try to incite and hurt someone why are you doing it? You’re doing it for the reaction. They both made huge mistakes that night and if she does decide to take the long path of fixing this and giving him that chance they then both need to make sure they this situation doesn’t ever come even close to occurring again.

Maybe it’s because I’ve know some mean women in my life, and seen what they do or say to hurt someone that I feel this way. But in the end we are not the weaker sex, and sometimes we take advantage of the fact that we can basically do anything against a guy and he’s expected to turn tail and run.

avatar Sarah April 19, 2011, 1:57 pm

I can’t even…there are no words… this is wrong on sooooo many levels. Ok, I’m gonna tackle all my problems with this separately.

1. Cheating is NOT the same thing as abuse. Are both pattern behaviors? Yes. But they are nowhere in the same field. Relationship problematic behavior and VIOLENT behavior can and do co-exist, but one should never be confused with the other. So so dangerous to think that.

2. Wha????? Are you saying she caused him to beat her because she fought with him when he drank? That starting a fight, she should EXPECT to be beaten?!?! She is innocent in this, and shame on you for giving her guilt she does not deserve!

3. Ok…a red flag is something like “oh man, he cussed out a guy, I should watch out for that”. A red flag IS NOT “he threw me to the ground and beat me”. That is not a red flag, that is the only flag. He beat her. He beat her and she had to feel her body and soul broken from what this man did to her. Her body had to heal from what he did to her. That is not just a violent tendency that is a cold, heartless, violent ACT.

avatar Meaghan Self April 19, 2011, 2:19 pm

I’m not saying that at all.

1.) We often right off both cheating, beating, drug use, etc that if it happens once it will always happen again. That’s all I was saying. My point is that not all cases are cut and dry.

2.) This wasn’t just a fight. This was two people working to hurt each other and I’m saying that when you have such a volatile situation it’s the problem (without a doubt more his, but not JUST his fault) that both parties need to diffuse before it gets to that insane point. It’s not guilt; it’s awareness that she made mistakes and if she wants to make this work she needs to not intentionally hurt her partner. This is true for all relationships when it comes to fighting; you can’t attack your partner.

3.) By red flags I meant like the examples that others have stated in their comments ie:
~ He drives really fast to scare me
~ He belittles me.
~ He controls me (either physically, through finances, etc)
~ He pushes or intimidates me
Those are what I meant by red flags: things that have happened through your relationship that made you feel scare or nervous around your partner. The writer doesn’t say that anything in her relationship made her feel scare or worried about her safety with him. Instead she says how happy she and her daughter were. Most times in abuse cases the woman always has that fear and the awareness that it isn’t right; she’s not showing these.

avatar Sarah April 19, 2011, 2:34 pm

Here’s my hang up. I meant what I said when I said that mixing relationship problematic behavior and violent behavior is very dangerous to think. You are under the belief that she incited him to beat her. That a comment from her made him beat her, and that she needs to work on what she says so that he wont beat her again. Do you see what I’m getting to here? Mixing relationship issues and physical violence is what abusers do to justify their anger. Yeah, he has problems, but if I make sure not to be childish in a fight ever again while he drinks then he wont beat me. Do you at all see the complete disorder of that?? What happened was just his fault, it will always be just his fault, to take away ANY blame from him in what he has done is like giving him validation. You may not mean it that way, but it is. Imagine him saying your words. “you made mistakes and if you want to make this work you need to not intentionally hurt me.” Imagine him saying that. Does that sound right to you?

avatar XanderTaylor April 19, 2011, 5:39 pm

Move on – run. Been there, done that. All of one of my exes friends had known he had beaten previous girlfriends, however, no one said anything to me. They hoped he had changed, I guess. No idea. The first time he abused me it was all out beating – in a hotel room out of town. I screamed & no one helped me. I thought I was going to die in that room. But, I forgave him – must have been a 1 time thing. It wasn’t.

avatar demoiselle April 19, 2011, 11:15 pm

Oooh, I hadn’t even made the connection about the LW and her partner being on a trip, away from any help and support. Yet another factor to consider.

avatar I have reservations April 20, 2011, 6:07 am

First of all, I am so sorry about what happened to you. You sound like a great mom, and I’m glad to see that you know you DID NOT deserve this.

I agree with Wendy, but with two major conditions.

1) Do you have any friends who know both of you well and whom you trust deeply? If so, tell them what happened, and ask them if there is absolutely anything about this story that does not seem surprising. Sometimes, we don’t see the bad in the people we love, and it takes someone else to point out the signs. If every single person you talk to answers, “HOLY CRAP, he is the last person I’d ever expect to do that,” then I’d consider the fact that it’s entirely likely that he was slipped something in his drink. Nonetheless, you should take things slowly and AS FRIENDS until you are positive that you two can move past this and that this was an aberration. However, if someone says, “That seems kind of extreme, but he DOES have anger issues…” or seems at all unsurprised, cut this man out of your life. If it does not surprise people who know him well that he could be so violent, you need to keep him away from your daughter.

2) I also suggest that if you two get back together eventually, you should make sure you are not dependent upon him for anything in case you have to leave. You should always have a place you are able to stay and a job that can pay for you and your daughter’s expenses.

No matter what you choose, I wish you the best of luck, and once again, I am so sorry you had to go through this. If you do go back to him, and he does hurt you, remember that you can always leave. If it happens again, it wasn’t due to a spiked cocktail: you will know that he does not respect you or your daughter.

avatar Kate September 7, 2011, 3:23 am

I had to respond to this post when I read Wendy’s response. While I appreciate the open-mindedness with which she responded, I must disagree. I’m not sure if Wendy has experience with this kind of thing, but I have NEVER heard of a man who “suddenly” hit a woman out of the blue, under the influence or not. As a side note, I’ve had EXTENSIVE experience with every drug under the sun and I can tell you that I have never seen the drug that could suddenly make a formerly level-headed man hit his girlfriend. By and large, drugs don’t “turn” you into anything, they just reveal what you really are. That said, I think there’s subtext to this message we’re not addressing. The LW says this man was her “salvation” and made her life wonderful. Could that be because he had her stop working so he could “take care of” her? Sounds like typical abuser MO to me. But just going off of what the LW actually came out and said, I’d have to say that leaving if her only option.

I used to date men who would hurt me, BECAUSE I knew they would hurt me. After a lot of self-loathing, scars and broken bones, and almost being murdered by one of these men I can tell you that I know what an abuser looks like. Even if this man never hits you again, he’s already hit you once. Do you really want your story, as a couple and a family, to include the incident when Daddy hit Mommy? There HAS to be something better than this. As someone who has been through the looking glass I am begging you, please get out of this situation. No subtext or extenuating circumstances will explain this away. If there are men in the world who are good, who will do anything to protect you, who cherish you above everything else in the world, why waste one more second on a man who could “snap” at any minute? You have a daughter to think about and you have to think of her first. Even the smallest chance that your boyfriend could ever do this again is too great a risk to put your daughter through. I hope you see this and get out now.

avatar chrissy October 3, 2013, 3:40 am

Hi i recently 2 days ago got assulted by my fiancé in front of my 6yo son and my whole neighborhood. When i read this story it reminded me about what im facing. I knew him for eight yrs and he looked for me for yrs, when i finally allowed him into my life he swept me off my feet..i observed him for a while then the excessive drinking started. The 1st time he beat me he was pissed drunk and locked me inside my bedroom and beat me for 3 hours straight.in the morning he apologized so much he even tried to kill himself by overdosing. Of course he was the 1st man i ever fell in love with and my son loved him too (so yea i took him back). Ive been in abusive relationships befor but i thought it was different, every time he would drink he would scare me and my son and i tried to control him but he was a true alcoholic. So the second time happened only a month later and he was drunk beyond matters and hit in front of my son and other ppl and they called the police because he was out of control. So now hes in jail and its not a easy process im going through. But what im trying to say domestic violence only takes on time and then the cycle continues. I will never take him back because it effected my son more than me and i will never want my son to witness that again. My son has even been having bad dreams. So the smart thing to do is to MOA!! It will never be a healthy relationship again and don’t refer to him as your salvation because you give him too much power over your heart, if you believe there is only 1 Savior!! Good luck because a child is involved and thats a very sensitive situation.

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