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Domestic Violence

Ending and Abusive and Controlling Relationship

05/17/2007

Question:

I have been in a relationship with a man from work since last August. He seemed so good so sweet. After about 2 weeks he got mad at me because I was talking on my cell phone to an ex-boyfriend who is just a friend and also to another guy that is and always was just a friend. At that point he started checking my caller ID to see who I was talking with he made me call them in front of him to tell them that I would no longer talk to them, that I was in love with my boyfriend. Or he would not stay with me... I did.

He would yell at me and get mad if I walked around the facility to deliver papers to other employees he told me it was not needed that I should sit at my desk all day and not talk to men. He told me everyone at work thought I was a slut and that all I was doing when walking around was looking for dick. He accused me of being after every man that I talked to. It got to the point that I was afraid to even look at any one.

From there it was constant breaking up (from him) and getting back together, He told me I was a liar and a bad mother all the time. He once came for dinner and I ran out of the meat we were eating and later he told me that I starved my kids.

After 8 months I found out that he was still with the mother of his child, she lives 350 miles away. I talked to her and she told me that they were getting married. During that time we were breaking it off and I started hanging out with another guy, he was nice to me and it lead to sex while drinking. He threw that in my face and said that me being with him (John) was not as bad as him having the other woman because I did not know about it the whole time.

A little note on that part is he would go to visit his kid and I could not get a hold of him most of the time, he would tell me that it was because he wanted to be with his son. I accepted that until I found out the truth. Now he is blaming me for her and him not having a good relationship. He even said “are you going to call her again? Don`t you think you hurt her enough? You hurt me, John (the guy I was seeing) and Alicia (the mother of his child) Haven`t you hurt enough people?”

Two weeks ago I was at his apartment and he was drinking... He told me to get out of his life, I tried to leave, he grabbed me and pulled me into the house and I fell on the coffee table ending with 12 staples in my head. He would not let me leave his apartment for 11 hours while I was bleeding until I agreed that he could go with me and he was sure I was going to lie. After the staples we travelled to a motel for the night and he bought me an engagement ring which I stupidly held joint ownership on the finance contract with.

What is wrong with me? This drama is daily, he even pretends he is leaving my house, going so far to get in his car and drive down the block then return for no reason. No fighting going on, just he is leaving while I am in the middle of cooking. One more thing about the work thing there is a woman that works with us that I think he flirts around with. When I started and he said people were talking about me I said that is because I am new and this is a small town. He said when Jenny started no one talked bad about her and she is very attractive, but she is a good girl. He was not even working there when she started.

Help me. I am starting to feel jealous and crazy. He is not answering his cell phone every day from 3 - 4 pm after he has left work and lying and saying he was still at work. I have since started working someplace else and if I do not answer my phone he is angry. He will not allow me to go anywhere without him and when I do, he wants to hear my kids in the background to make sure they are with me. When he was visiting his son he would tell me that I could not even go out to eat with my kids. How do I break this cycle? Is there something wrong with me? I feel like I am going crazy. Is there something wrong with him?

Answer:

Thank you for sharing your experience. The key to what you shared is your statement that your boyfriend “seemed so good and sweet.” You used the past tense, which suggests that you no longer interpret your boyfriend as good and sweet. And in fact, the descriptions of your interactions would be considered by experts to qualify as emotional abuse. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines emotional abuse as trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics, such as:

The behaviors you described fit within many of these categories – e.g., humiliation, controlling what you can and can’t do, getting annoyed with you, doing something to make you feel embarrassed, isolating you from friend and family, etc.

You don’t deserve to experience any of these behaviors, nor do your children (it sounds like your children may also be exposed to the behaviors of your boyfriend). It’s important for you to talk with others about what you are experiencing, for the chance to air your feelings, to get social support and to protect yourself and your children. You should consider talking with a trusted friend or family member, or a professional, such as your family doctor, a nurse, a social worker, or psychologist. Don’t delay talking to someone, and don’t engage in acrimonious discussions with your boyfriend about talking with others.

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
Former Associate Professor
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University