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Domestic Violence

Helping an Abusive Partner

05/17/2007

Question:

I live with a man who is the nicest person in the world one minute and then the very next minute, I am with a monster. I feel like I am on a constant emotional rollercoaster ride. He likes to be in charge of everything, and I must do it his way, if things are not his way, he throws a tantrum... I have an ulcer now and am just tired of the mood swings.... Can you offer any advice?

Answer:

Additional information from NetWellness Expert Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD:

Of course, without knowing additional details regarding his emotional/personality functioning, this sounds like someone who may be suffering from either a mood disorder or perhaps personality issues.

The fact that he likes to be in charge or in control of most things can be driven by a number of things, and I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. I don’t know about your level of communication with him.

Perhaps during one of those periods in which he is calm, receptive, and responsive to you, you can inform him of how challenging it is to be in this world with him--how difficult it is for you to judge the status of his moods, anticipate his behavior, or his response to you. Perhaps you could suggest that he seek outside support from a professional who is likely to shed additional light on the situation.
It is not uncommon for people who demonstrate behaviors such as this to be unaware of the impact their behavior is having on others. The fact that this if affecting you physically is a sign that something must change because it is having an adverse effect on you.

Original answer:

Verbally harmful comments and controlling behavior by an intimate partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, etc.) are considered by violence experts to constitute "abuse."  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's leading public health organization, suggest that such comments and behaviors constitute "violence" when they co-occur with physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. 

Regardless of what you choose to call the comments and behaviors you are experiencing, the bottom line is that they are causing you stress and may be related to the physical problems you are having (your ulcer). 

It is important for you to air your feelings and get support from others to help you gauge action you may want to take in relation to your partner.  You may choose to talk with a trusted friend or family member about what's happening in your relationship.  Or you could consider talking with a professional - your doctor, a social worker, a psychologist, or person who specializes in relationship issues. 

Additionally, there are numerous organizations in the Columbus area that specialize in domestic violence - for example, CHOICES, the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, etc.  Please let us know if you have additional questions that we might help answer.

Related Resources:

Domestic Violence Directories (Medline Plus)

For more information:

Go to the Domestic Violence health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Amy E Bonomi, PhD, MPH Amy E Bonomi, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University