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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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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.