Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

In Other Words: “My Boyfriend Slapped Me”

From a recent Dear Abby column:

My boyfriend of three years slapped me across the face a few nights ago. He has never done that before, and he promised he’d never do it again. After he hit me he immediately apologized, but said I was partly at fault because I had taunted and belittled him.

I love him very much and know he would never want to hurt me. We’re both in our 20s and have expressed our devout love for each other.

My boyfriend is the sweetest guy and truly makes me a happier person, but I don’t know if I can fully trust and be in love with him after he hit me. I feel partly responsible for what happened that night, but I know I didn’t deserve to be hit.

Is my boyfriend an abuser? He has been nothing but caring and supportive and shows no other signs of being abusive. What should I do? — TAKEN ABACK OUT WEST

You can read Dear Abby’s insane advice here. My advice follows:

There’s only one person who is responsible for your boyfriend hitting you and that’s your boyfriend. Don’t give him an opportunity to do it again. MOA. If it turns out this was a one-time thing and he never hits another person for as long as he lives, then great — you won’t be hit by him again. If it turns out this is a sign of a problem that will rear it’s head over and over, you won’t be in his path when it does. Leaving him is the best way to ensure your boyfriend never, ever lays a hand on you again.


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


24 comments… add one
  • for_cutie May 3, 2016, 1:27 pm

    WWS. It is 2016 for goodness sakes, why are we still justifying excuses for domestic violence? A slap in the face is domestic violence. Period.

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    • RedRoverRedRover May 3, 2016, 1:41 pm

      And then he blames her for it? Classic abuser behaviour. It’s never the person being hit who’s “at fault”. It’s the one who can’t control their temper.

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      • Lianne May 3, 2016, 1:56 pm

        RR – I hadn’t seen you comment for a couple days and wondered if you had your baby yet…how’s it going?!

      • RedRoverRedRover May 3, 2016, 2:00 pm

        Ugh. Thought I was having her on the weekend, then didn’t. Have been getting back cramps and some nausea and just feeling totally exhausted, that’s why I haven’t been commenting. I think I’ll go to bed now actually.

        Thanks for asking! My due date’s in 8 days. Yours is in what, 3 weeks or so?

      • Lianne May 3, 2016, 2:31 pm

        Yeah. I’ve been having awful insomnia – usually awake for about 2 hours overnight or just wake up every hour. Also super crampy and having contractions almost daily, but they stop after an hour or two. I am working in the office through the rest of this week, then working from home until I deliver. I hope you go soon!! And me too! 🙂

      • RedRoverRedRover May 3, 2016, 4:13 pm

        Yes! Insomnia too! What a pleasure pregnancy is. 🙂

    • Diablo May 3, 2016, 2:52 pm

      Even she says, “I know I didn’t deserve to be hit,” basically implying that there could be circumstances in which she would deserve to be hit. This is deeply rooted. Change is never easy, even if it seems obvious that it should happen. This is why sexism and racism have been eradicated in our…. nope, guess not.

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  • Firestar May 3, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Some things don’t get a do over. Domestic violence is one of them. How did Abby not get that?

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  • Lianne May 3, 2016, 1:59 pm

    WWS; NOT Dear Abby. WTF????

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  • dinoceros May 3, 2016, 2:23 pm

    Ugh. The whole thing is bad enough, but the blaming part should have been a huge alarm bell. Blaming someone for you hitting them is basically setting it up to happen again. I feel like Abby thinks that if it happens again, then the LW can just leave. But once you go down the rabbit hole, it gets harder and harder, and who’s to say that next time he loses control it’s not something a lot worse.

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    • MaterialsGirl May 3, 2016, 2:28 pm

      Exactly. If the slapping wasn’t red flag enough, the victim blaming sure was.

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  • Moneypenny May 3, 2016, 3:11 pm

    I read Dear Abby if I’m occasionally reading a newspaper, and I think she’s pretty off base most of the time. This is definitely one of those times.
    In fact for both of the letters, I would walk away. First: A man, whose girlfriend once had an affair with someone she currently does business with, who has a problem with said business relationship, yet has had his own affair in the past? Definitely projecting onto his girlfriend and if he can’t trust her, their relationship is not going anywhere. And who is he to tell her who to work with?
    Second: A woman who is slapped and then blamed for it. F-that.

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  • kare May 3, 2016, 3:45 pm

    …WTF Abby? I’m sure he’s been a controlling, emotionally manipulative jerk for years, and it finally escalated to physical violence.

    I think a lot of stories are similar to this: He had never done that before, never shown signs of abuse, etc. However, after some time out of the relationship people can point to a lot of incidents that had occurred throughout the relationship that were classic signs of abusive behavior. I’ve definitely been in relationships where I thought everything was my fault and realized months after the relationship ended how controlling and emotionally manipulative they were.

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  • L.G.J May 3, 2016, 4:46 pm

    Wow seriously Abby? my 84 year old Grandma has some pretty outdated ideas about what constitutes a healthy relationship but she has always stood by the idea that if a romantic partner ever hits you that should be the end of the relationship and I agree with her on that one.

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  • Jade May 3, 2016, 4:56 pm

    Lurker here, I usually don’t comment BUT this letter is close to home. I was slapped in the face too by my ex husband about 2 years into our relationship. He apologized said he never would do it again which he never slapped me again BUT he did emotionally, verbally and physically abuse me. He cheated on me many times, when I called him out on it he would get verbally abusive and would corner me into the wall by getting into my face and pushing me then changing the story making me feel like it was my fault why he would act out that way. I too was in my 20’s when I met him and stayed in that relationship for 13 years.. I hope the letter writer moves on from that relationship he is testing his boundaries with her to see how much he can get away with… They don’t change

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  • ArgyllWisp May 3, 2016, 5:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s impossible for a person who is not going to devolve into an abuser getting carried away one time. We all have the capacity to make a really really bad decision from time to time. Some relationships may be able to absorb an event like this, talk it through and make it clear it will not be repeated going forward. Any person that leaves a relationship after something like this is not wrong, but conversely I don’t think it’s wrong for SOME couples to move past it. It’s the fact he said it was partially her fault, though, that puts this specific scenario in the “move on” category. If he had taken immediate and full responsibility, and she had never seen any other red flags, I could see how it might be reasonable to wait to pull the rip cord.

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  • wobster109 May 4, 2016, 1:23 pm

    If he says it’s your fault, that is no apology. He is not sorry. He would do it again if he felt taunted again. MOA.

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  • TheGrumpapotamus May 5, 2016, 8:38 am

    Crap like this is why I stopped reading Dear Abby. Anyone that intentionally hits you then comes up with reasons why it’s your fault is an abuser. Anyone that hits you intentionally, even if they apologize sincerely afterwards, is an abuser. Is there a chance they won’t do it again? Sure, maybe, but they don’t deserve that chance.

    If you’re inclined to care about the impact on the abuser, a person they love walking away could be the wake up call they need that physical abuse is never acceptable and they need help. I am not so inclined so I only care about the fact that LW deserve better from someone she loves that supposedly “loves” her.

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  • Baccalieu May 5, 2016, 2:14 pm

    I certainly don’t want to defend physical violence of any sort, particularly domestic violence, but I don’t think the right attitude is as soon as he touches you, you must leave immediately, no exceptions, no second chances. I also get that the suggestion that it was partly her fault is troubling, and is a sign of an abuser, but it is also human to raise something like this in defence of our mistakes, I would like to know some more of the context in which he said this – e.g. was it a one time comment or does he continue to stress it – not because there is a context that makes it okay but there may be a context in which it is not as bad. I am more influenced by the fact that they have been together three years and he has never abused her in any other way. I would think that a potential abuser would have shown some other signs of it in three years. If it is a one time thing, should she really throw away a good relationship because of a one time mistake? I am friends with a couple that had an incident where the husband assaulted his wife on one occasion some years ago. They got back together and the incident has not been repeated. I am not sure that Wendy’s “Maybe it was a one time thing but I’m not going to give him another chance to hit me.” is the right one. I know Wendy in particular hates the “What if the genders were reversed?” argument but if this was a male writing in about his girlfriend of three years who struck him once in a very out of character fashion and immediately apologized however the apology was somewhat unsatisfactory, would people still say the only answer is to dump her. I recognize that it is male violence against their female partners that is a far, far more serious and prevalent problem than the other way round, but does that mean that females get second chances and men never do.

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    • Stonegypsy May 5, 2016, 4:27 pm

      I actually disagree that this is a more serious offense if it’s committed by a man rather than a woman. I think any person who can’t control their anger to the extent that they strike their partner should not be in a relationship. If one of my male friends told me that his girlfriend had slapped him, I would advise him to walk away. Just because a man is (generally) going to be more physically capable of causing actual damage does not make it any more acceptable coming from a woman.
      And I believe that the people here would probably advise the same way if the genders were reversed

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      • keyblade May 5, 2016, 4:54 pm

        I agree. I’ve managed to live my life without ever slapping a boyfriend or husband around. I think it is a very fucked-up thing to do. I also think there is a major distinction between offering an “unsatisfactory” apology for an act of physical aggression and telling someone they are partially to blame for it while expressing some remorse. I also know people who have stayed together post-slap. They are hardly role models and I sure as shit wouldn’t encourage a twenty-something a mere few years in, to reach for such obscure examples of “success”.

    • keyblade May 5, 2016, 5:16 pm

      Baccalieu, I assume you’re trolling. But if you are in a situation where a female partner slaps you across your face, I hope you don’t offer her a second chance. That’s someone who most likely has big issues to work out in themselves and continuing to see them may very likely leave you in a dysfunctional hurtful relationship.

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  • leah November 19, 2017, 9:59 pm

    my boyfriend has slapped me, covered my mouth and pinched my nose to where i couldnt breathe because he wanted me to stop screaming, pushed his hands into my stomach, pushed me, and brought me down to the floor, held me down, thrown hard objects at me. weve been together for 2 years, and i know he loves me. and i love him. he has promised to stop.

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