I've Been Abusing My Boyfriend

Published: September 09, 2013
Dear I've Been Abusing My Boyfriend,
Okay, I am freaking out and could really use your help! I never thought I would say this, let alone it be true, but I've been abusing my boyfriend. I know this kind of thing happens but idk what to do. My dad was and when he comes back into town on occasion is abusive towards me and my mom. Two years ago I started dating this guy who seemed to understand what I was going through and was there for me. But after a couple months be became controlling and it eventually made him cruel. The more I would cry or be in pain, the more aroused he seemed to become(he wasn't just a drunk like my dad-he really seemed to enjoy hurting me.) Well a few months ago we broke up and I started dating a guy I've known for a while as a friend. He knows I was in an abusive relationship, but not all the details. Anyway, he's been really supportive and just perfect(idk a better way to describe him). But a couple weeks ago he raised his voice at me for good reason, and I pushed him. I didn't even think about it. Then four days ago I slapped him just because he was too close to me and I wasn't in the mood. He hasn't done anything wrong and he's only responded with walking away and idk what to do. He's so kind to me and I can see him getting nervous around me and walking on egg shells but I just snap. I need help. I know girls can be abusive, I just never ever thought I could hit someone that I loved without a good reason. help please!!!

Dear I've Been Abusing My Boyfriend,

TeenHealthFX thinks that it is very important for you to meet with a reputable therapist, such as a clinical psychologist or clinical social worker, to address these issues. Growing up with an abusive parent could easily leave a person with feelings of sadness and anger. It is important that these feelings are addressed and worked through so that they are not acted out in some way. Growing up with an abusive parent can also affect our interpersonal relationships with others. It is not uncommon that we play out the parent-child dynamics that occurred in the past later on in friendships and/or dating relationships. Again, it is important to address any problematic relationship dynamics so we do not end up picking an abusive person or acting in an abusive way ourselves.

TeenHealthFX recommends the following:

  • Speak to your mother about setting up therapy with a reputable mental health professional. If you and your mother need help with this you can ask your doctor or a counselor at school for referrals in your area.
  • Let your boyfriend know about the history of abuse in your family and your concerns that it is shaping how you are relating to him. Let him know that you are seeking out therapy to address these issues and that you want him to have his own supports, as well as to communicate to you any questions or concerns he has about the situation.
  • Speak to your therapist or a counselor at school about the interactions between your dad, you and your mom when he comes into town. FX is concerned that you stated he is continuing to be abusive and we want to make sure that you have the help and support you need if someone needs to intervene to protect you and your mother.
  • Remember that nobody deserves to be yelled at or hit. When you say your boyfriend yelled at you “for good reason” this concerns FX. Your boyfriend may have had an understandable reason to be angry, but that does not mean it is ok for him to act out those feelings in whatever way he wants (the same goes for your father, you or anybody else). FX can also understand that behaviors like yelling could act as a trigger for you given your experiences for your father. So it is important for you address the feelings/behaviors that get triggered, as well as to communicate your triggers to anyone you are in a relationship with so that they can be sensitive to them.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

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