A slap isn't just a slap is it?
December 13, 2008 5:45 AM   Subscribe

So she slapped me twice, for, I think -- no reason. Time to go?

So I've been seeing her for about a year, and we've had the usual ups and downs. However, two things happened in the span of two weeks which are making me question this whole relationship.

The first time, we were having an argument/discussion about communication -- she was saying I don't talk to her much at all or let her know about my day while I was saying it's not that it's just that sitting in front of a screen writing code doesn't make for a very eventful day. It was by no means a heated or angry argument, more a discussion but for some reason she just got up and slapped me really really hard (I saw stars!). I didn't respond, just walked out of the room, came back in 5 minutes and asked her why she slapped me, she said she was sorry she just got really frustrated and that she "gets like this sometimes". Hmm, ok.

Second time around was yesterday. She came home, started complaining about an indicident at her work, I said words to the effect of "Could we talk about this later? I have this deadline to meet tonight" (she had been previously aware of the deadline). For some reason this really seemed to tick her off and she started shouting about how I'm an inconsiderate a****** etc, all punctuated by a hard, painful slap (no stars but ringing ears).

I got up, really really angry, said nothing, picked up my laptop and went to work. Where I am now. I'm going to have to do something about this, and I don't know what. On one hand this is unacceptable, on the other hand I think "don't be a baby, its a slap". I know when I go home it'll be all apologies and sorries. I really really like her, and I have no reason to believe she doesn't feel the same about me. But, really? And then I think "it's just a stupid slap". Any advice?
posted by gadha to Human Relations (124 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You're being abused. Full stop. Leave this woman before this becomes an abuse cycle you'll be too emotionally and mentally depleted to wrench yourself out of down the line.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2008 [35 favorites]

I'm gonna go ahead and say "yes."

This is abusive behavior, whichever the genders may be. Today it's "just a stupid slap," but not tomorrow.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

It's ironic that she castigates you on your shortcomings regarding communication shortly before thumping you in the face and walking away. This is abuse - it's happened twice and has seriously affected you, so you need to tell her that. Tell her with certainty that this is unacceptable. A pattern is emerging and you need to get on top of it now, firmly and without any illusions to being a baby or "stupid slaps." This is 100% unacceptable and you have to make that perfectly clear. You are well within your rights to walk away this very minute.
posted by fire&wings at 5:59 AM on December 13, 2008 [9 favorites]

Her behavior is completely inexcusable. Getting "really frustrated" is not a reason to hit anyone ever. It's time to leave and, if I may suggest, get yourself and all your stuff out soon. She sounds like the sort of person who may destroy your belongings or attempt to hurt you if you leave.

She will never learn not to hit people if she doesn't have some consequences- you leaving her, and telling her it's because of the violence, might bring it home.
posted by Mouse Army at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2008

Most people go through their days not being slapped.

Make of that what you will.
posted by thejoshu at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2008 [11 favorites]

"I really really like you, I want to make a go of this, and I think if we talk through our disagreements we can come out on the other side with much better understanding of each other and an even more solid relationship. However, physical violence is completely unacceptable to me, and if you hit me again I will leave and I will not come back".

Do you think that all the women out there who are hit by men should just suck it up, because it's only a slap? I don't, and I don't see why it should be any different for you. In modern times we accept that women have the power to own money, vote, go to school, run businesses. Part and parcel of recognising women as first class citizens is not dismissing their bad behaviour as somehow less shocking and less dreadful because it comes from a woman. You wouldn't give a man a free pass to hit his partner. So don't treat your girlfriend any less seriously.
posted by emilyw at 6:05 AM on December 13, 2008 [26 favorites]

Depends on her reaction, I'd say. If she genuinely realizes that it's unacceptable to resort to violence when communication gets difficult, and promises never to do it again, then maybe you can work it out (where "it" = whatever communication difficulties you're having). Anything short of that, get out. Any recurrence in the future, get out.
posted by equalpants at 6:06 AM on December 13, 2008

If your sister/mother/cousin/female friend told you this story about her boyfriend, what would you say?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:11 AM on December 13, 2008 [23 favorites]

Whoops, forgot to ask for a clarification: when she said she "gets like this sometimes", did she just mean that she gets angry and impulsive, or did she specifically mean that she gets violent?

I'll amend my answer: the "maybe you can work it out" scenario only applies if these are the only two slaps she has ever delivered.
posted by equalpants at 6:15 AM on December 13, 2008

The problem here isn't the first slap, or the second. It's that she already knows it's a bad thing to do, but she's resorting to it to solve some problem she has, because she doesn't know how else to solve it. Unless she finds better ways to deal with her issues, whatever they are, then this will only escalate. Even if she's up for dealing with this seriously, the process is likely to be long and difficult. This is not the stuff of casual, non-committed relationships.
posted by jon1270 at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2008

Hitting is not OK. Whether you choose to say, "Hitting is not okay, and if it happens again, I'm off," or whether you choose to be off NOW, it's up to you. She needs therapy. Help her get it, if you want. If not, walk away.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:28 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

No way you should let this slide. It's up to you if you want to give her one final, "three-strikes-and-you're-out warning" or just cut out now, but no way you can allow this to go on.

As a woman with a horrid temper once it's unleashed (rarely!), I've smashed some china in my day, but have never, ever physically abused my husband, nor ever would, no matter what. It's very probable that your girlfriend had the misfortune of growing up in a family where this was a regular expression of frustration or anger, or perhaps she was overindulged and never taught better - but whatever the case, she needs to seek help to overcome this very serious problem. Imagine if you stay together and eventually have a child; how would you feel about him/her being subject to such treatment?
posted by taz at 6:29 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Escape now, before all your time together gives you second thoughts about leaving even greater abuse.
posted by silentbicycle at 6:35 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some people just *are* abusive and controlling, and in my experience they never change this about themselves. A friend of mine was — is, for that matter, but we don't talk anymore — in an abusive relationship. I told her months before there was an actual blow that he was going to hit her, because I saw warning signs and escalation. He told her what to do; he freely criticized her and thought it was funny to make slighting remarks; he threw a pillow at her forcefully. Have there been warning signs prior to these slaps? She calls you an asshole in your account, for instance — does she swear at you more and more regularly? If so, you need to leave or at the very least insist on some anger management counselling, because this will only get worse.

If you try to work on this, insist on demonstrated commitment to change and make sure you see gradual real change. It's typical of abusers to go to counselling to humour their victims, but then stop when the counsellor starts to see through them and the real work of changing actually begins.
posted by orange swan at 6:45 AM on December 13, 2008

it's wrong that she slapped you. is it worth leaving her over? maybe, maybe not. here's why:

the fact that she did it twice in two weeks after a year of never having done anything like it suggests that this is not her normal behavior. something has changed. i think it's unlikely that this is her "true" self finally revealing itself after all this time, so i'm going to guess that she's developed some kind of mental health problem that is manifesting itself as bursts of rage, or making her temper worse. it could also be a hormonal issue or a neurological issue. she could have developed depression, bipolar disorder, suffer inordinately high expectations of your relationship, have a pituitary gland tumor, have a thyroid problem, have polycystic ovarian disease, just switched her hormonal birth control (women can be very sensitive to the different hormones in these and can fall into deep depressions and/or have crippling anxiety with some).

if you have otherwise been happy with the relationship, talk to her about seeing a doctor and getting to the bottom of these rage issues--whether she needs medicine, counseling, who knows. if you don't see a future with this girl anyway, call it off now before she hurts you more, but still tell her that she needs to get help for the slapping.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:45 AM on December 13, 2008 [8 favorites]

I have to tell you that your account of the past week horrifies me. This is NOT an acceptable way to behave. There is no justification ever for physical violence. She "just gets like this sometimes"??? Um, no. Absolutely not acceptable. This is not how it's supposed to be.

Don't walk, run. Tell her it's over and you don't want any further contact. And then follow through. Don't answer phone calls, emails or texts. It's over.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding Fuzzy Skinner - If a woman told you that her boyfriend had given her two "hard, painful slap[s]", would you advise her to hang around?

I assume you're in less physical danger than a woman with an abusive boyfriend, so you do have the option of saying "arguing is ok but violence isn't; hit me again and I'm off" if you want to. But this isn't trivial; if you stay help her address her issues and make it clear that violence isn't acceptable.
posted by metaBugs at 6:49 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is absolutely no question about it that you should leave. Physical violence is unacceptable behavior, no ifs ands or buts about it.
posted by aloneinvietnam at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Zoinks. It's really a drag when someone in an otherwise good relationship introduces a deal breaker, because the world is a lonely place and most of us would rather be coupled than not. Unfortunately certain behaviors are deal breakers because of all the other things they indicate, in this case poor communication skills, poor impulse control, violence, and to top it off a tendency to excuse this away with the fact that she 'gets like this sometimes' when really the only thing one should be doing in a situation is hitting the floor and groveling, groveling, groveling for forgiveness and then never doing it again.

So, the smart thing, I think, is to get the hell away from her. The other thing is that if the police were ever called, or if you ever did lose it and hit her back, it might be hard to get people, cops or otherwise, to believe you weren't the instigator.

The other thing is that we have a limited amount of time on earth and it's preferable to spend that time not being hit.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2008 [7 favorites]

It is perfectly understandable to consider any form of violence a dealbreaker, and for sure you'd be within your rights to leave after the first slap, now, or in the future, for no other reason than that she slapped you.

But life is complicated and it is not always the case that a slap = you're being abused. There are no universal laws, and gender is sometimes significant. I've had girlfriends who've slapped me in moments of extreme anger, but I would've felt ridiculous thinking of myself as "abused": never did I feel threatened, and the slaps did not feel like exertions of power but rather its opposite.

That said, I did find the behaviour unacceptable. It was silly, childish, tediously melodramatic. I have gone out with a lot of melodramatic girls, and it can be endearing in small doses, but it's hard to respect someone when they get out of control like that. You definitely need to make sure she knows she has to cut it out, but you don't have to categorise yourself as abused to be serious about this.

Of course, if you actually feel that you've been abused then you have been, and your actions now should take that into account.
posted by cincinnatus c at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2008 [8 favorites]

seconding thinkingwoman. Something's going on. At least find out what it is. Drag her to couple's counseling if you want.

No, you shouldn't put up with this; leave if that's the only way to stop her. But I think people have heard so many abuse stories now, with irredeemable, mentally unstable abusers, that this becomes a reflex response. You *must* know more about her and the situation than you're telling us. If you really care, get a professional opinion or two; then you'll know.

If you just aren't that into her, though, do what you want.
posted by amtho at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2008

The first time it happened, she apologized. I do think it's weird that she didn't say, "it won't happen again, etc." But whatever. You (presumably) accepted the apology. Fine.

The second time it happened, she made your decision for you. Leave.

I certainly wouldn't be with someone who "gets like this sometimes."
posted by AlisonM at 6:58 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Time to go?

Absolutely. Definitely. 100%.

No matter which gender is hitting which gender, it's unacceptable.

In an ideal world, she'd see the error of her ways, apologise, and become a complete angel overnight. But even if she does do that, she still hit you.

Go now. In fact, as you're at work, don't go back. Go when she isn't there to get your stuff or kick her out, but do not continue to have a relationship with this woman. If you don't so it for your sake, do it for hers. She needs to realise, in no uncertain terms, that this is unacceptable.
posted by Solomon at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is the possibility that you could spend the remainder of your relationship wondering when the next shoe will drop. Today a slap to the head, tomorrow a baseball bat. Will you always be looking over your shoulder and wondering where all the kitchen knives are? You've seen it already a dozen times above... rage and violence are unacceptable.

Whether you leave now, or later, do her future boyfriends a favor and seek professional counseling and treatment for her.
posted by netbros at 7:02 AM on December 13, 2008

You're supposed to be in a relationship because you like each other... maybe love each other, right?

Slapping someone hard doesn't factor into a liking or loving relationship. Get out.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:03 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

My 2 yo knows not to slap. Fuggedaboudit.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:05 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

i dated a girl who slapped me once in a while. eventually married her. she didn't slap me very hard or often, and i thought it wasn't a big deal. the verbal abuse increased a bit, but i handled that.

apparently, not well enough. she eventually had me charged with domestic abuse, claiming that i had slapped her and choked our offspring.

but, as someone else said above, something's changed. see if you can find out what it is. otherwise, get the hell out.
posted by lester at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2008

Do you want to have kids some day? Can you see this woman as the mother of your children? What if she gets angry and frustrated with them...?
posted by footnote at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2008 [11 favorites]

I'm sorry this has been happening to you. As it's been said, her behavior is unacceptable, nobody should be being slapped or slapping, and it is abusive. But my first reaction was more like thinkingwoman's--this is not her normal behavior. That doesn't excuse her behavior at all, but it does mean that this is perhaps a solvable issue rather than her innate monstrous daily behavior.

You've been together a year. You haven't mentioned any long-withstanding problems, so I'll assume this is the first time anything major has really happened. She's been trying to talk to you about seemingly innocuous and mundane things, the conversation doesn't go anywhere, she gets frustrated, explodes and slaps you. As someone else pointed out, she is slapping you because she's frustrated to a point where she doesn't know how to resolve the situation verbally with you anymore. So it would seem that you two are not communicating the way she would like or that she isn't getting something in the area of emotional fulfillment from you. This could have been going on for months and is just now coming to a head. I don't think this means you need to dump her because she slapped you; however, it could be indicative of you two really not having compatible communication styles and perhaps the relationship shouldn't continue for that reason. If she is frustrated to the point of slapping you after doing nothing like it for a year, something has been amiss.

If you're interested in salvaging the relationship, I think you need to find a time that is convenient for both of you and really talk things out (make a specific appointment with her to talk about this). If she apologizes and dismisses the slap, do not let the conversation end. The conversation doesn't stop until she tells you what is really wrong and you both find a way to proceed from there to work towards fixing things. She can't just promise to never hit you again, because that isn't addressing whatever is causing her to break like that. It could be issues with your relationship or it could be something else going on in her life. If she claims she has no idea what is wrong, then you insist she goes to counseling so that she can figure out what IS wrong and offer to go with her. If she does tell you what is wrong and you still feel you still want to continue the relationship but aren't so sure you two can resolve things on your own, you probably need to look into counseling. If you're not willing to go to counseling for the relationship, though, that might be a good indication that you should probably just end it.
posted by Polychrome at 7:09 AM on December 13, 2008

Also, gadha, is this the same woman you were asking about back in February? Because you wrote there, "...sometimes she strikes out (half-heartedly) when upset. It's never intended to hurt so I'm not accusing her of being an abuser but I can't help feeling a little bit shocked at how upset she seems to get..."

Just pointing that out, because back then, it wasn't meant to hurt. This time, you saw stars and have ringing ears. What's next?

I'll say it again: leave, leave, leave.
posted by AlisonM at 7:12 AM on December 13, 2008 [14 favorites]

If she was strong enough to have knocked you off your feet would you still think this might be acceptable?

Are there plans in your head for children in the future?

For some people physically lashing out is their first response beyond a certain level of anger and/or frustration. Be clear in understanding that, for practical purposes, that is not ever something that changes by itself. Either remove yourself or she has to admit there's a problem and get some help with it, which she probably won't want to. However, her not wanting to get help and promising it was a stray incident means nothing here and you should not go along with that.

And to anyone saying "not that big an issue", what happens the next time when she has a hot drink in her hand, or a fork, or gets annoyed with some old lady or child?
posted by mandal at 7:14 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

You know, seeing stars and hearing your ears ringing are both very (very) mild forms of brain damage. She hit you hard enough that your brain jarred within your skull, both times hard enough for you to notice the side-effects manifested in first your sense of vision and now this time in your auditory nervous system.

At some point she's going to have this small, subconscious realization that she's not hitting you hard enough to get whatever response she's trying to get with this, and she's going to hit you harder, or worse yet, she's going to hit you with some object.

You're not only cruising for a bruising, you're cruising for a concussion. Or worse.

I'd be on the fence about straight up leaving vs. trying to get her some help with a strong warning that if it happens again that you will straight up leave. But you need to do one or the other immediately.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

This is a total dealbreaker for me. My husband would be in jail if he EVER did this. I realize that there is a difference when the genders are reversed - presumably you are bigger than her and could defend yourself against serious injury as long as she doesn't have a weapon - but it's still absolutely inexcusable. There is no therapist out there that will say, "Oh yeah, no big deal, carry on."
posted by desjardins at 7:16 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does she slap her co-workers, clerks in stores, and others for frustrating her? Ahhh, so it is just you she can't control her impulse to hit.

She went a year without resorting to physical violence, the hardest time for her to hit you was the first time, as you have experienced it is getting easier for her to strike you again.

If you have children with this woman, how is she going to treat them?
posted by JujuB at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2008 [6 favorites]

I know when I go home it'll be all apologies and sorries.

Yeah, cos that's what they do. Cycle of violence.
posted by Iteki at 7:19 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Looks like a previous relationship was dysfunctional as well. This is a pattern you need to break, with the help of a therapist. You have no sense of what is "normal."
posted by desjardins at 7:20 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

gadha, check your MeMail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2008

i think it's unlikely that this is her "true" self finally revealing itself after all this time, so i'm going to guess that she's developed some kind of mental health problem that is manifesting itself as bursts of rage, or making her temper worse. it could also be a hormonal issue or a neurological issue. she could have developed depression, bipolar disorder, suffer inordinately high expectations of your relationship, have a pituitary gland tumor, have a thyroid problem, have polycystic ovarian disease, just switched her hormonal birth control (women can be very sensitive to the different hormones in these and can fall into deep depressions and/or have crippling anxiety with some).

All respect to thinkingwoman, whose opinions are always well-reasoned and helpful, I completely disagree. This woman has admitted that "she gets like this sometimes." Those are her words. She knows what lurks beneath the surface. In my experience with abuse, I can tell you that it doesn't all manifest at once. The man I dated who ended up being a complete psycho was a gem at first - all roses and candlelight until his true self came to the fore after about nine months. We ended up in court. Restraining orders were involved.

It is not incumbent upon the OP to make excuses for this woman's behavior. She projects her own communication difficulties onto her partner and then hits him in the face rather than saying, "I'm frustrated by this work situation. Please allow me five minutes to vent and then, by all means, go about tending to your deadline." Or, better still, "Oh, that's right. I forgot you had a deadline. I'll call my friend and vent to her."

According to the OP's own words, we are not talking about a life-partner situation here. It's one thing to walk through a period of strife with a person you love and respect with your whole self, who loves and respects you, and whom you know so well that a violent outburst is so completely out of character as to scream mental health issue rather than previously unseen abusive streak. It's quite another to put yourself in harm's way for the sake of being compassionate towards a person you "really like." Truly, the most compassionate thing you can do for a person who's beginning to show signs of being abusive is to make it unequivocally clear that hitting a person in the face will lead to that person walking away. That's a message this woman needs to hear now. It is also a necessary, self-affirming statement you, OP, need to make. I see on preview that you are finding yourself in abusive relationships and the worst thing you can do is to waste more time analyzing and parsing other people's reasons for beating up on you. Invest that time and energy in yourself and, as desjardins has said, get your own therapist to help you avoid abusive situations in the future. Best of luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

A datapoint: I'm a woman with a horrible temper. Embarrassingly horrible. I rant, rave, scream, stomp, all that.

I've never slapped my significant other. I have never considered it. If I did it once, I would really expect him to leave me. But twice? Forget it. She should, at this point, be sitting at home *knowing* that she's ended the relationship.

Your communication problems are very normal for male/female interaction. You will likely have the same issues in future relationships. They've cropped up in every relationship I've had. Slapping is completely abnormal. And a ridiculous response to a normal relationship issue.

It seems like you should cut your losses before things get worse.
posted by FortyT-wo at 8:00 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

The short version: abuse, DTMFA.

The long version: abuse, but if you have a good reason to think she has the huge amount of motivation and honesty necessary to stop being an abuser, tell her continuing the relationship is contingent on her getting structured therapeutic help for abusers and sticking with it and never raising her hand to you again, and if she ever does, DTMFA.

Promises to never ever do it again from people who don't have that kind of self-control or situational awareness in the first place are totally worthless without the person getting quality assistance and supervision from somewhere. They do that because they have learned during the development of their personality that being enraged is in a special category ("just gets like this sometimes") where sane standards of behavior and the law of the land just don't apply, which is a sign of damage that can't magically be fixed by a declaration that they will stop being that damaged person now. That promise can be seen as basically initializing a countdown until a situation arises which she isn't able to deal with, which might be a long or a short countdown.

I empathize with you about your confusion over whether you should protect yourself from being slapped hard enough to see stars because it isn't the single most damaging way that someone could physically abuse you, not because it's a rational point of confusion but because it's normal for people who are being attacked by someone they love to do that kind of grading of assaults. But you can unequivocally stop being confused about that. Consider this idea: if it puts me in the hospital it's abuse, but if it hurts and shocks me and shuts me up and makes my eyes and brain malfunction for an interval because of injury, it isn't abuse. Would you encourage someone you care about to think about their physical well-being in that way?

If you need another reason to deal with it as a showstopper, it's potentially enough to know that when you are having a serious conflict, she's basically having an out-of-brain experience, so the prognosis for the two of you being able to work through the things which are especially difficult for you as a couple is grim. At the times when you should be hoping for communication and progress, the bar will have been dropped to hoping for the absence of violence. Even in totally practical terms, there's no upside to sucking it up.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:06 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

You're in a dramatic, dysfunctional, dramatic relationship. Leave now and find someone that is more even-keeled and doesn't abuse you. If this is the same person you are speaking of in February, I think it's best to run. She sounds very unstable and manipulative. Are you thriving on all of this drama? Do you think if people display dramatic fits that they must love you more? Just because a person has all of these crazy displays, and slaps you, and cries all of the time doesn't mean that they love you. These displays are manipulative and selfish. She's completely wrapped up in her own turmoil and immaturity to be in an adult relationship. She's a baby and a bully. She has little to offer you in the realm of an adult caring and nurturing relationship.

It's completely unfair for her to be boohooing all of the time and bringing up every single detail and transgression to rehash and make you feel bad for. That's abuse in itself. Oh, this is just how I am. I'm a very passionate person and I have all of these feelings and I must share every single one of them with you and it's your job to listen to all of them, make me feel better, and take responsibility for all of them. If you don't, you're a jerk and don't care about me. *cry, sob, pout, scream, slap* This is bullshit and no way to live.

It's completely unacceptable for her to slap you. I made the mistake of pushing my husband early in our marriage. He (calmly) got in my face and told me to never do that again. I didn't. You do need to leave her but I wonder why you would just walk away instead of verbally telling her that she isn't allowed to hit you. It's not normal, it's not OK, and you won't tolerate it. I don't see how things can improve dramatically anytime soon. Her personality is too immature and volatile. I see nothing but drama, resentment and heartache if you stay. Do yourself a favor and don't waste more time with this person.
posted by Fairchild at 8:21 AM on December 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


Second chance? Sure. Third chance? No fucking way.

Let me tell you from experience, that they will never, ever change. Not without therapy, and not without partners who leave when they do that kind of shit.

What may happen -- if you don't leave -- is that you may adjust to the abuse because you keep making justifications for staying. And the longer you stay, the more they realize the power they have over you. Apologies and promises to never do it again simply. will. not. cut. it. TRUST ME. They can be so sorry they cut off an arm for you, it does not matter. They will not change unless you leave and until they get therapy.

There was a comment in this thread about how being abused just once changes you. It does. You don't even begin to realize the full effect until after you have left and had time to contemplate the relationship.

A slap isn't just a slap, to answer your thread title. Just because it doesn't have the physical force of a punch doesn't make it any less of an abusive gesture.

Take this from someone who's been there: you will leave eventually. She will keep doing this. And it doesn't matter how frequently. Over time the pain accumulates. It will keep getting worse and worse and worse. At a certain point, you will know that you have no choice but to leave. So, instead of putting up with more possible future abuse, instead of delaying the inevitable, just go now. Pack up your shit and move on with your life.

You deserve way better than this. Fuzzy Skinner's comment is right on the money. You cannot justify what she is doing to you with anyone else in your life, and that list of people should also include you. Otherwise, you are not giving yourself the respect you deserve. Please don't be offended when I say this, it's only because I was in your position and I only realized how little I thought of myself until after I made the decision to leave. You delude yourself into thinking that somehow, this relationship is special, or that the circumstances warranted it. No. It's never acceptable.
posted by Menomena at 8:23 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

She did it the second time because you didn't leave the first time. Just go.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:30 AM on December 13, 2008 [12 favorites]

You should heed this comment by lester:

apparently, not well enough. she eventually had me charged with domestic abuse, claiming that i had slapped her and choked our offspring.

Yes, you should consider that not only is she physically abusive, but she is clearly a person for whom the normal standards of fair play and decency in a relationship do not apply. Not only are you in a physically abusive relationship; you are potentially in a dangerous situation where law enforcement will not only not help you, but will consider you the aggressor. You could end up in jail with a criminal conviction. I represent a lot of people charged with domestic abuse, and it is frequently the case that the police arrest the male partner, without really listening to the parties or determining who was the aggressor. If you were to call the police, your girlfriend could make something up to avoid being charged. The police will believe her. After all, you haven't called the police yet, so there's no record of her abusive behavior.

What bothers me about a lot of the above comments is that many of them talk about you giving her another chance. No one would be encouraging a female victim to give a male abuser another chance after being hit twice. I think it's sexism to suggest you give her another chance. Of course you shouldn't give her another chance. She is a domestic abuser, the lowest of the low, someone who is violent in a relationship that should be the ultimate refuge from violence. She is not worth another minute of your time if you have a shred of dignity.
posted by jayder at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2008 [14 favorites]

selfmedicating has it; she's testing the boundaries now, and has been all along. she's doing it over something small and innocuous so that when the big fight happens, you'll already be desensitized.

I would agree with the "something must have happened to cause her to start acting like this" if there had been no other signs, but there have been. women recognize them more quickly than men do because we're programmed for danger. you just thought, "hey, crazy chick, a little drama". if this was an otherwise normal, happy, adult relationship and out of a clear blue sky this behavior occurred - there would be some reaction from her along the lines of, "I can't believe I did that!" it wouldn't just be remorse, it would be shock and horror and she would probably of her own accord realize that something was wrong and needed help.

if THAT was happening, I'd say, sure, give it another try.

but it's clear from reading your other posts that this woman is an abuser and you are her victim.
posted by micawber at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

2nd selfmedicating
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Please leave. Please tell her you're leaving and why. Please don't take her back when she pleads.
posted by piratebowling at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I read that February question you asked, and I assume that this is the same woman you were discussing in February. If it's not the same woman, then you have a problem picking girlfriends. There was a lot of bad advice in that February thread, blaming you for the problems you were having with her. Clearly, with what is known now, there is no doubt that she is crazy.

I was just reading the book I Hate You, Don't Leave Me, about borderline personality disorder, and putting the information in both threads together, her behavior sounds very BPD to me.
posted by jayder at 8:59 AM on December 13, 2008

Oh, one last comment: it's not just the physical violence that should make you leave her (although that alone is sufficient) --- she is emotionally abusive, which is a form of violence itself. You compliment her eyes and there's an argument? You bring her chocolate cake and you're in trouble for that? You are in a relationship where you can't count on the normal rules of human behavior to apply. This is emotional violence, plain and simple, now accompanied by physical violence. Perhaps she got "tired" of simply emotional abuse, since you've been tolerating that, and to get that same rush it's necessary to beat you. (Although, in your first question you did briefly allude to physical "lashing out" from her.) The two questions you have asked form almost a cautionary tale of what can happen when one stays in a relationship with someone who is emotionally abusive. I feel bad for you.
posted by jayder at 9:06 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

She's an adult. She should know by now how to control herself. This is the reddest flag. This is not how you want to live your life. She will not change.

Please leave her. It will only get worse. Don't ever allow anyone to hit you.
posted by anniecat at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Tell her she needs to get the fuck out of your house and not come back.

Use those words.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:14 AM on December 13, 2008

I have been dating/married to MuddDude for 6 years, and in that time we have never hit each other in anger. As my momma told me once, "The minute he lays a hand on you out of aggression, you need to get the hell out of there."

It's good advice for anyone. It's NOT just a slap - it's a sign that she does not respect you as an individual.
posted by muddgirl at 9:20 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Think of it this way - if you slapped her, she shouldn't stay with you, right? Doesn't matter if you're a guy or girl, hitting someone is disrespectful. YOU're bad at communication?! She doesn't even bother talking and SLAPS you instead. Ugh.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 9:31 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really don't understand why you didn't address this issue (as in talk to her) the first time round. thinkingwoman has a point but about 50% of the population has those issues (as heck of other womanly issues) which they have to learn to deal with themselves. And this is from someone who gets frustrated and depressed at times but neither breaks china nor slaps people....just removes herself from the situation/people- simple as that.

One word- unacceptable. Do you really want to be with someone who has that much respect for you?

Offtopic- nice nickname. Its hindi, not punjabi- you know that right? :)
posted by xm at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2008

Leave. NOW. Hitting someone so hard that they see stars or their ears ring is never acceptable, whether it's a woman striking a man, man striking a woman or parent striking a child. It's abuse, plain and simple. She's not going to change, and most likely she's only going to get worse. Get. Out.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really really like her, and I have no reason to believe she doesn't feel the same about me.
Except for the fact that she hits you hard enough to make you see stars and hear ringing in your ears, at least.
posted by Flunkie at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

That's a dealbreaker.

You need to end the relationship, and she needs therapy (you don't really have any control over that, except in telling her exactly why you're leaving and hoping she takes it to heart).

On the other hand, if you don't end the relationship, then you need therapy.
posted by the bricabrac man at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

*as in talk to her and tell her this is absolutely unacceptable.
posted by xm at 9:56 AM on December 13, 2008


Thank you all for your comments. They were very insightful. Yes, this is the same girl in the Feb post, and reading things has made me realise a lot of stuff that just kinda slipped by me. Looking back at it, things have been getting "worse" over time. The swearing is pretty common but I suppose I just kinda was thinking "she's angry, it's just her letting off steam" but I've been called a ba**** and an a****** a lot over the last 6 months :(

Regarding what's going on with her life, I can't speak for her, but as far as I know things are good. We had a little talk about 3 weeks ago in which we expressed great satisfaction in our relationship, she just got promoted at work and is generally happy there, her friends and family are healthy so as far as I'm aware things are good.

I suppose part of this thread was for me to actually elucidate what I dared not admit to myself. It's pretty clear where this is headed. I'm going to try and go home and talk to her, but I pretty much know what's going to happen. Wish me luck.
posted by gadha at 10:03 AM on December 13, 2008

Call the cops on her.

Escape now, before all your time together gives you second thoughts about leaving even greater abuse.

Even worse, before all your time together convinces you that you deserve it and it starts affecting your choices in girlfriends in the future.
posted by rhizome at 10:11 AM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Nobody needs that crap, and you shouldn't take it. Get out.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 10:19 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Good luck, gadha. Keep in mind that she is behaving inexcusably and violently when times are good in her life. Imagine the addition of stressors such as losing a job or a family member.
posted by amicamentis at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Good luck. Just don't break up with her in a way that gives her an opportunity to destroy all your stuff.
posted by Dasein at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2008

Leave, of course. While you as the man perhaps don't feel deeply threatened and presumably you are bigger than her and could defend yourself against serious injury should things get out of control but keep another thing in mind.

There is a legal double standard when it comes to physical abuse. I come from a white trash town where domestic abuse was plainly higher then average, but in particular it was very common for women to casually use violence against their male partners (and as an aside slapping seemed to be the default mode of communication between mothers and their children) with no one batting an eye. That was just the culture among the women living in the trailer parks: your husband got drunk and stayed out late he's gonna get a slap, your kid crying in the store he's gonna get a slap. normally the boyfriend/husband is just expected to take it, complaining or leaving or admitting you were being abused by a woman was a profound display of weakness among folks that placed such high regard on macho masculinity.

I've seen with my own eyes two separate incidents where a wife/girlfriend started hitting her husband/boyfriend and when it started getting out of control the man attempted to restrain her or leave. In one case the man was sitting down in a chair with her above him swinging, and in the other he was cornered in the kitchen. The sitting man grabbed the wrist and upper arm of the attacker while she was swinging at him and told her he wouldn't let go unless she either calmed down or let him go. She became more infuriated and began thrashing about but the man maintained his grip on her arms and eventually she wore herself out. At which point he got up and walked out the door but in the struggle the wife was left with a bruise on the upper arm where he had been gripping her.

The man in the kitchen was being pressed into the corner of the counter top and was just blocking the hits with his forearms and yelling at his girl to get out of his way (although not nearly as politely) she continued unabated and he eventually just pushed her out of the way knocking her backwards and went out to the driveway to cool down.

Both those men were sent to jail for a few days and now have records as domestic abusers. In both cases the women immediately called the cops, indignant that the guy dared touch them. Neither of the guys had any history of domestic violence, in neither case did the women claim as much to my knowledge. The cops talked to those of us that saw things go down and it seemed like everyone agreed it was self defense in both cases.

It didn't matter, as a man if you shove a woman or bruise a woman and she wants to press charges, unless you yourself are utterly battered and bleeding there is a very real chance you will be found at fault. At least that's how the justice system worked where I grew up.

So ask yourself this, next time instead of taking one swing at you what if she just keeps going, you could presumably defend yourself against serious injury but if in the process she shows so much as a scratch you might end up spending the weekend in jail and with a record handing over you for the rest of your life.
posted by Jezztek at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2008 [9 favorites]

Lots of good advice above but I also want to say you did great by just walking away - its the most appropriate and safe reaction.
posted by serazin at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best of luck to you. Be firm and resolute. She must be the one to go; where is her concern. Sounds harsh, but there are consequences to violent behavior. It's impossible to say without sounding alarmist, but call the cops if she gets violent, and please inform someone close to you about this situation and agree to call them by a certain time to make sure you're okay.

I am very sorry you're having to go through this.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:43 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Leave, before it gets worse. It is not your responsibility to solve whatever problems are causing her to assault you; your own safety is.

And I am disgusted by the people making excuses for abusive behaviour.
posted by rodgerd at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't go back there alone. Take heed of those who warn you against this woman turning the tables on you. Either go back with witnesses (multiple) to get your stuff and go, or go back when she is not there and split the relationship. Don't set yourself up for jail time and a record. I am not kidding you and you need to take this seriously.
posted by oflinkey at 10:58 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know, I think when you're close to a situation like this it's hard to see clearly.

Let me tell you what is clear to me: if I were in a relationship like this, I wouldn't waste any more of my time on staying in it any longer. My relationship is not a boxing match and it is not a repair shop for damaged people who do not know how to behave; it is an experience of love and personal growth and getting needs met for both parties.

Yours should be too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:59 AM on December 13, 2008 [9 favorites]

She's being abusive and seems emotionally out of control.

If I were you, I'd leave her and not leave anything I cared about behind after announcing I was doing so. Nor would I give her my new address. If you must stay at the same place, give her an ultimatum on when she needs to be gone by (a day minimum, 3 days maximum...although I'd lean more towards the 1 day) definitely change your locks, park your vehicle where it's safest, and perhaps get a restraining order.

I would, however, suggest to her that it might be a good idea for her to investigate some therapy, although she may not take that very well, considering.
posted by batmonkey at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2008

I realize that there is a difference when the genders are reversed - presumably you are bigger than her and could defend yourself against serious injury as long as she doesn't have a weapon

Hmmm, but we don't know either of those things, do we? I see no reason to make those assumptions.

"Presumably you are bigger than her" -- Some women are bigger, more powerful, than some men. Without knowing these two people, the chances are low but more than zero. I'm a guy of about average size, and I know plenty of women who are at least as physically imposing as me. And if one person is more willing to use violence than the other, that could cancel out the difference in innate physical strength even if she is smaller.

"As long as she doesn't have a weapon" -- Why assume she'll never have a weapon? Wouldn't a safer assumption be that she will have a weapon? Even if guns are out of the question, weapons are very easy to come by, and there's nothing stopping a woman from using a kitchen or utility knife, a baseball bat, a heavy cooking pan, mace, etc. Those are just off the top of my head, and I'm sure she could come up with more creative ideas.

Others have pointed out the possibility that this could escalate: she's currently trying out slapping as a technique, but what will she resort to if she realizes slapping isn't getting her what she wants (whatever that is)? Do you honestly think for one second that the smart thing to do is to stay around and find out?

I don't think you need to resolve the academic question of whether this kind of situation varies depending on gender in order to deal with your question. Think of it this way: you're talking about being in a relationship that's dependent on the notion that she treats you in a way that would be unimaginable for you to treat her. Even aside from the violence, do you want to be in such a drastically unequal relationship?
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:07 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

You've written because GF's destructive behavior is escalating. Now you're at a crossroad:
1) Put her on notice. Physical assault of any type -- even a push or hard grasp -- will not be tolerated at all.
2) State the consequences for transgression. You decide what these will be: You will leave. You will call the police and press charges.
3) Demand immediate preventative measures. Again, decide what these will be: Anger management treatment for her. Couples counseling. Individual counseling for both of you. A physical checkup for her if you suspect organic causes for her violence (or if she is self-medicating or substance-abusing).
4) Heal yourself. It takes two to tangle. Seek counseling to understand your part in this unhealthy dynamic. Have past relationships been abusive? Did you witness or experience familial violence growing up? Are there unconscious reasons you are drawn to a woman who treats you badly? Good counseling will not only shed light on why this situation has occurred, but will give you tools to change your life and create healthier unions.
Best wishes to you.
posted by terranova at 11:12 AM on December 13, 2008

If you had said you loved this person I would think it might be worth trying to save the relationship through therapy, anger management for her, etc. But "I really really like her"? Not worth it so get out now. You'll find someone else you really really like who doesn't smack you on the side of the head.
posted by gfrobe at 11:23 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

It was by no means a heated or angry argument, more a discussion but for some reason she just got up and slapped me really really hard (I saw stars!).

Holy fuck. Leave.

I don't typically call out other people's advice, but I do not think that thinkingwoman's answer is very good at all. Do not rationalize her behavior. She may very well have a mental problem that she did not ask for, but take it from someone who had to grow up with a very abusive person with mental problems: mental illness an explanation, not an excuse, and it's not cool when people close to you say, "oh, it's not so-and-so's fault, so-and-so is on a different wavelength and has always had problems, why don't you just deal with it." I'm sure plenty of guys who deck ladies have mental problems, too.

People fit for relationships can have, say, thyroid problems and not smack their supposed loved ones to the extent where they see stars and their ears ring. That was not a playful or silly slap.

You should leave. She should get help, but that's not your responsibility.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

"Presumably you are bigger than her" -- Some women are bigger, more powerful, than some men. Without knowing these two people, the chances are low but more than zero. I'm a guy of about average size, and I know plenty of women who are at least as physically imposing as me.

Great points, Jaltcoh. If a man were to choose to stay in a relationship with a physically abusive woman, the man faces additional risk because he does not have the option of physically defending himself without serious risk of a domestic assault charge and conviction.

Rodgerd said: And I am disgusted by the people making excuses for abusive behaviour.

Me, too. Look at that old thread, from February, and some of those comments, making gadha out to be the one at fault because of perceived tactlessness about money, haircuts, or chocolate cake, really belong in an abuse-enabling hall of shame. There's even a comment saying it's no big deal that she takes a "whack" at gadha because, hey, he's a guy and ought to be able to take it.

I really think that there were some off-base comments in that thread making gadha out to be at fault for her abusiveness, which perhaps persuaded gadha to stay with her. I hope those users are reading this thread and see where their advice got him.
posted by jayder at 11:37 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Comic Ricky Gervais posted this little paragraph on his blog the other day:
"Called into The (specific radio) Show. It has to be the coolest show on US radio. They're so smart and funny and it's exactly what talk radio should be. It's a bit too laid back actually - I said the 'f' word then apologized. They were totally OK with it but the reason I was annoyed with myself was that it was accidental. I haven't got Tourette's. I'm not senile. I should be in control of my speech. I haven't got a problem with swearing but it was just a bit incompetent."
I really liked that. He does something out of control, then feels badly about it and takes the blame himself (and, it's implied, will be more careful in future). Sometimes I catch myself making excuses for letting myself slip into behaviour that's not really appropriate- or passing off the responsibility for my mistakes, so I'm "allowed", in my own head, to be inconsiderate or whatever. But not Gervais in this case. No. He's a grown man, for whom speaking in public is a large part of his life, and he messed up. Your partner is a grown woman who, presumably, wants to be in a relationship. Hitting is not cool. She messed up.

If there's an underlying medical cause- by all means, get it checked & fixed. And of course everyone messes up. But as a reality check: most people I know mess up by being a little unreasonable sometimes, or a tad snarky, or maybe being unfairly irritable sometimes. Hitting is not common, and is not cool.

So if this is really who she is- someone who messes up with hitting- that'd be a dealbreaker for me. Even if the size & strength difference between you is such that the hits don't hurt you badly (although frankly ringing ears and seeing stars indicates she's giving you pretty solid cuffs), consider this: if you two decide to have babies, there's much less leeway with an infant or toddler. It doesn't take a lot of force to give a baby a shaking injury, and if she can't reliably control her temper, she might not be the right person to make babies with.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Leave. Tell her why. Ask her what she'd think if a friend of hers told her that their partner had behaved this way. Ask her what she'd recommend they do. Maybe framing it that way will make her realise what she's done.

What she tells you she'd tell her friend to do might give you a window into why she's doing this. That insight might be what makes the difference between you being able to be friends with her or not.

Tell her that you like her lots and that you really do love her, but that you can't accept things the way they are. Tell her that if she gets into therapy and that if you feel that she has really changed that you will consider being in a romantic relationship with her again. Stick to that. Give her six months to a year to get herself sorted out. Don't go back to her when she's had the very first rush of breakthrough. Let her really and truly sort herself out. You never know... you might actually get back together, in a better way. Or not. The one thing that I know for certain is that your partner should never hit you.

Don't let her promise she won't do it again. The first time it happened, she told you that she knows it's wrong. She knew it was wrong and did it a second time. She either doesn't care that it's wrong, or she can't control herself. Either scenario isn't good.

I had a partner hit me. Once. He was absolutely crazy drunk. I tried to stop him from taking off his shoes and dancing around in the middle of a busy street, and he backhanded me. I got him home safely, locked the door to my bedroom, and told him what happened the following morning. He was so horrified that he cried for a good half hour and couldn't look at me without crying for the rest of the day. He told me that he was too ashamed to even consider asking me to take him back, and promised me that he'd get himself into therapy as soon as he could. He was as good as his word.

That's the way someone behaves who really is sorry. Someone who feels shame and for whom the idea of being violent to their partner is repellent. Someone who realises that something really ugly is pushing its way to the surface to have that kind of aggression surface. This girl? She isn't sorry. I don't hold out a lot of hope for her to suddenly see the light, but crazier things have happened.
posted by Grrlscout at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2008

A relationship usually has boundaries built into it, based on your interaction and (often implicit) communication over time. If you have a reasonably healthy relationship, there should be a line that isn't crossed, and if it is crossed - whatever that line is - then both parties are stopped dead by the fact that it has been crossed. For some couples this might be just raising voices. For most, a physical reaction like being slapped would certainly cause that reaction - everything would stop and the person slapped, as well as the one who had done the slapping, would both be shocked that this had somehow happened. The person who had done it would be embarrassed, pained, scared that you would leave. There is no way that she would do it again within a matter of weeks. What that shows is that you do not have built-in norms in your relationship. It is not a healthy relationship.

If the norms of your relationship are such that the woman slapping the man is acceptable, that the man is much stronger and the woman's slaps are really not powerful but just a kind of 'newspaper on the dog's nose', then I suppose that's ok, as long as both parts of the couple feel that way about it - what matters is that the norms within your relationship are working for both of you, and you both notice when something has gone wrong. But when the behavior between you can just change, when she alters what you thought the boundaries were and isn't responding to how you feel about it, then it isn't a relationship anymore - it's just you being dragged around by her whims.
posted by mdn at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

gadha, please believe me: this is not what relationships are for. This is not what love looks like. This is dysfunctional and unhealthy. Please: 1) get out (get a friend or relative to come back with you to help you retrieve any stuff you can't take with you immediately); 2) ignore her pleas and promises (there will be a lot of them); 3) do not give into threats (which she may make when pleas and promises don't work); 4) and take care of yourself while staying single for awhile.

Given your history, I second desjardins' and others' who have observed that you may not even have a clear idea of what a normal, healthy relationship looks like. Once you get out of this relationship, you will have a very important, crucial opportunity in front of you: you can start learning (free of any immediate relationship demands) how you've gotten into dysfunctional relationships in the past and start working out what you really want in a relationship and how best to move forward to getting it. Ideally, this happens with a good therapist.

I wish you luck.

(on preview: IGNORE ZAMBRANO.)
posted by scody at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2008

I'm going to try and go home and talk to her, but I pretty much know what's going to happen.

No, you really don't know what's going to happen, because she's CRAZY. It's preferable to meet in a public place, but if you must go home, have a cell phone in your hand, and have 911 on speed dial (or 999 or whatever it is in the UK). Tell her not to come within 10 feet of you. Don't let her block the exit(s). Call the police immediately if she does anything physical.

I'm serious. This could escalate really quickly and end badly.
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on December 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Another vote for leaving. Or booting her out. You deserve better than that.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

A lot of the advice in this thread is shocking. It calls into question the very validity of AskMe. There are people in this thread that I have forever changed my opinion of.

Many of the answers here are dangerous, offensive, sexist, and ignorant.

If this were a female poster, with the EXACT same circumstances, it would be 99% "DTMFA". And, practically everyone would have belittled the poster for even sticking around after the FIRST slap.

If this were a situation where the poster had gotten into an argument and called his girlfriend a fat whore, and she slapped him, then MAYBE some of the above might apply.

This woman is striking the poster, hard and violently, for apparently no reason other than her own frustration. That is the part many people are missing. If the poster is to be believed, it was basically unprovoked.

It is abuse, plain and simple. There is a non-trivial chance she may stab, shoot, or kill him one day.

Maybe she's having a breakdown, maybe she's abusing drugs or alcohol, maybe she's been fucking crazy all along and just hid it.

Whatver it is, it is not your problem nor "duty" to fix.

Leave, today, forever. Send family or friends for your suff.

Never go back, never take another call, never respond to an email.

This thread is a classic example of why male domestic abuse is considered a joke.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2008 [7 favorites]

If it makes you feel any better, Ynoxas, I was very disturbed by his description of what his girlfriend did to him, and I don't think she deserves any further "chances". I don't think domestic abuse is a joke in any case, and I wish he lived nearby so I could offer the poster a room in my condo until he gets himself together.

I'm concerned that he went off to confront her on his own; he needs back up, and he needs a quiet time with her gone to move his stuff. She's not likely to respond to this well.

I hope he gives us an update soon so I can stop worrying.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2008

Oh also, re: thinking woman:

I have been diagnosed with depression (post cancer treatment), have had various thyroid problems (hashimoto's thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, and severe and prolonged induced hypothyroidism), have polycystic ovarian disease, and have often switched my hormonal birth control. I have never, ever hit anyone. I got a bit grouchy and bitchy with my husband while I was in radioative isolation, but I have never ever even DREAMED of being violent toward him to make myself feel better. These conditions are no justification for violence. End of story.

Why she felt compelled to hit him is her issue to sort out, not his. He's not a punching bag.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would suggest that the OP take a look at the case of David Richmond of Oviedo, Florida, who at first was just slapped by his girlfriend, but then the beatings got to the point where he had black eyes and broken ribs. She eventually stabbed him as he slept and her family helped her to dispose of his body.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

She's not likely to respond to this well.

If she hits him when she's merely frustrated, it does unfortunately seem likely that violence will be her recourse when he tells her the relationship is over.
posted by jayder at 1:52 PM on December 13, 2008

I'd like to third (fourth? fifth?) that thinkingwoman, amtho, and particularly polychrome's answers are awful, sexist, and possibly dangerous.

This person hit you so hard that you saw stars and had ringing ears. That is hard. If you had done that, you'd probably be in jail right now. It doesn't matter who struck you that hard; that kind of physical violence is completely unacceptable.

I hope you asked the question because you were looking for moral support for what you already knew; you should leave immediately. At the very least, you should leave immediately if she ever again so much as touches you in anger. Second chances are one thing. Third and fourth chances are quite another.

You know how you hear about women getting beaten by their SOs and you wonder why they stay with them? Now you know. Don't do it.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2008

Ok, it's good that you're going to go talk to her. But have a witness! Someone who loves you, in case she starts hitting again.
posted by stoneegg21 at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am a victim of domestic violence, which destroyed my life, my selfsteem, and my confidence for several years, I am out of that situation now, but it has been so difficult to recover of the emotional damage all that caused me.. I wish I had finished my relationship the first time I received a slap, instead of justifiying him..I also really liked and loved him with all my heart ..

The most beautiful treasure of a relationship is Respect, when any of the couple lost it, there is NOTHING to do, just tears and discomfort come along... don't stay longer to prove me right.
posted by zulo at 3:13 PM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Regardless of whether you consider it abuse, she doesn't respect you, and i think it's safe to say that means she also doesn't love you. Not because there's anything wrong with you, but because there's something wrong with HER.

I used to be a real pain in the ass with former boyfriends. I never slapped anyone in the face, thank god, but your February post about her sounded a little familiar in spots. The only way I learned that my behavior sucked was by the relationships ending badly. (even though I was always the one to end them, I totally deserved to be dumped- and in retrospect cannot believe that I wasn't.) obviously, her behavior is unacceptable and I don't know if there's anything you can do at this point. once the dynamic is established in which she dishes it out and you take it, well, there really is no going back. she needs to get dumped and go to therapy. after fucking up a few relationships in a row, I went to therapy and now I am a much better girlfriend. she doesn't deserve you with this self-centered behavior. If you break up with her, make it clear why. Not just "because you slapped me." obviously that is the reason, but she needs to get WHY it's such a big deal: "Slapping is totally unacceptable and the fact that you don't seem to realize that is a big problem. Maybe you need to seek some professional help to figure out where this is coming from and how to stop. Unless you get that resolved, I can't be with you."

Although personally, I wouldn't get back with her either way. there are so many better girls out there. don't sell yourself short. you need to be in a relationship with an emotionally mature girl who can collect herself during arguments and remember that even when you're both mad, you still love each other and treat each other with respect, and actively avoid doing or saying things you'll regret later.
posted by lblair at 4:01 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

nthing that what you've described sounds abusive and I hope you get out.

also, the comments above re "What if you have kids with her," in addition to the risk that she'll physically damage children, this relationship as described would certainly corrupt their understanding of how mommies and daddies are supposed to relate to each other.

General UK resources for abused men (from googling around, looks to me like there are various resources specific to Ireland, Scotland, various municipalities too, etc, so hopefully there are local resources to help you sort out next steps):


Mens Advice Line (web page dated 2006 though, so I don't know how current it is)

Domestic Violence Forum: Planning to leave, safely

Hidden Hurt: Men Can Be Victims Too! (message forum has active posts and answers, so hopefully the "support" links and phone numbers are up-to-date)

And I'm sure you know how important it is to clear your browser after reading any site about domestic abuse.

On one hand this is unacceptable, on the other hand I think "don't be a baby, its a slap".

Gavin de Becker in The Gift of Fear (targeted at female victims, but some insights strike me as still applicable to men) observes: "Being struck and forced not to resist is a particularly damaging form of abuse because it trains out of the victim the instinctive reaction to protect the self. To override that most natural and central instinct, a person must come to believe that he or she is not worth protecting. Being beaten by a "loved one" sets up a conflict between two instincts that should never compete: the instinct to stay in a secure environment (the family) and the instinct to flee a dangerous environment. As if on a seesaw, the instinct to stay prevails in the absence of concrete options on the other side."

Good luck. Please protect yourself from further damage. You deserve a partner who consistently treats you with respect.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:04 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with all of the posters that think this is a horribly wrong, completely unacceptable and dangerous situation. I also agree that this will end...either after years of torment and heartbreak or now, when the damage (and there is damage) is limited to these two slaps and the emotional and psychological abuse you have been suffering since February.

But having been there, I know it is hard to see clearly when you care about the person. And it is not easy to "just leave" when you do care. But I truly hope you take all of the very good advice above and do just that (carefully).

But I wanted to post mostly just to say that I am so sorry you are hurting and that this has happened to you. Big hugs.
posted by murrey at 4:25 PM on December 13, 2008

Good luck mate, there is no need for you to feel the way you did when you asked the question. Don't doubt yourself and be strong.
posted by fire&wings at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hmm, based on your update and the previous question (didn't think to look for that before), I'm changing my answer: don't even try to talk about it, just leave. (I mean, tell her why you're leaving, I guess, but don't bother getting her response or anything.) Good luck.
posted by equalpants at 5:51 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

good luck, and do take care of yourself.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:58 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

From someone who once was involved with an emotionally abusive person:

Don't expect her to let you go without a fight if you choose to try and leave. Pull your walls up high before you face her. She will use every weapon she has.....she most likely will try to make you feel guilty and like a terrible horrible person. She will try to argue you into circles until you think it must be YOUR fault and that YOU are the one in the wrong. She may cry and beg and plead. She may threaten. She probably knows your buttons by now, and knows what angles to try to work.

Just be prepared, ok?
posted by Windigo at 6:27 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

As I tell the kids I nanny all the day long: WE. DON'T. HIT.

Full stop. This is something you learn as a child to cope with anger. If she's having trouble with it as an adult, that's something she needs to address personally. Your co-existence as a couple and her anger management skillz in disagreements are an important secondary concern, but she clearly needs to get the message that this is NOT adult behavior.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:38 PM on December 13, 2008

Leave this relationship. Do not have any contact with her without a witness/ friend accompanying you. You are being abused, and, you, the male victim, are the one who will be hauled off to jail when she escalates the violence.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 6:46 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Re-reading the thread: Best of luck, and while I hate to give "DTFMA" sort of advice - everyone who says that this is NOT what a relationship is right is dead on. You need mutual respect and she clearly has none for you.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:49 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

What concerns me with him going back, is the possibility of her getting violent, yet turning it around that he was the violent one, and getting him into heaps of trouble. I don't think they should be alone together.
posted by Vaike at 6:57 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd like to third (fourth? fifth?) that thinkingwoman, amtho, and particularly polychrome's answers are awful, sexist, and possibly dangerous.

If my fiance, (who is male; I am female) who until this point has been nothing but sweet, supportive and loving suddenly began losing his temper during conversations that I thought were innocent and then actually resorted to hitting me, I would seriously think something was amiss with him. If he had never done anything like it to that point, my first response would be to figure out what the hell had gone wrong--not to run far, far away. The poster has been with his gf for a year. The initial question did not make it apparent that her behavior had regularly been on the explosive/erratic side, and I did not check his posting history.

I don't want to give dangerous advice and I am certainly not advocating that anyone stay with an abusive partner. I was married to someone for two years (and obviously with him longer than that) who regularly lost his temper and took it out on me with physical violence. I would never want to be in that situation again, I wouldn't want anyone else in such a situation and I am extremely sensitive to that sort of behavior in people around me now, but again, if someone who I was in a committed relationship with and who had previously showed no signs of abusive behavior suddenly started acting unacceptably, I would question it before automatically leaving.
posted by Polychrome at 7:53 PM on December 13, 2008

The poster has been with his gf for a year.

You say that like it's a long time. I think a year is a short time, and if she's beating up on him that quickly, it's likely a sign of her true character, not a sign of some medically explained behavioral aberration.
posted by jayder at 8:12 PM on December 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

Bring a friend and a truck w/ you when you go "home", and begin loading the truck with your things. When she asks why, tell her, in front of the friend. Keep loading the truck.
posted by mumstheword at 8:54 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've dated physically abusive women, and now I understand why women in abusive relationships "don't just leave." (I got better, thankfully!) Leave. You're in a physically abusive relationship.

Healthy people don't hit the ones they love. Ever.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:23 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would say there's something wrong with this woman's brain, the way she processes emotional information. You are just the target of her misfiring emotional programs. You can't help but take it personally since you're being battered, but your first impulse would be to stick with a loved one. The reality is you're living with a misfiring cannon that's liable to go off upside your head at any time, or worse as some posters have pointed out.

You could say it's bad modeling from childhood, a brain imbalance, chemical mood swings, bipolar, whatever. Many people have had serious mental problems without resorting to violence. Somewhere in her personal matrix slapping the shit out of her partner has become her default reflex in some situations. In fact, when she's hitting you, you are not her partner, you are the focus of her frustrations.

So, yes, get out now, get out clean, and protect yourself with witnesses and help from your family and friends. Keep loving her if you can...from a safe distance. Use a restraining order if she keeps trying to draw you back into her 'loving' embrace, and she probably will try.
posted by diode at 9:31 PM on December 13, 2008

I am certainly not advocating that anyone stay with an abusive partner.

Well that's provably untrue.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:14 PM on December 13, 2008

the fact that she did it twice in two weeks after a year of never having done anything like it suggests that this is not her normal behavior. something has changed. i think it's unlikely that this is her "true" self finally revealing itself after all this time,

Not to pile on to thinkigwoman's opinion, but I don't think anyone here has specifically mentioned that it is actually pretty common for abusive behavior to surface after a while (after the wedding, surrounding a pregnancy), whether there were indicators or not. Also, a year is not a very long time.

And to reiterate--having happened twice, my bet would be more occurences and escalation.

To the OP: I'm sorry, this is awful for you. Good luck, be strong.
posted by Pax at 11:43 PM on December 13, 2008

Aw, man, gadha, now that I've looked back on a couple of your earlier posts, my heart goes out to you even more... It seems like you've never been in a nice, straightforward non-crazy relationship, and it sounds like that is what you really want. To quote from another Ask conversation, you once said you were interested in someone because "the thing that REALLY makes me attracted to her is her very laid-back, relaxed nature. Everything is face-value. No hidden meanings, no suspicion".

I know exactly how you feel. Having once been in a marriage where I never knew when I woke up in the morning whether the day was going to be a storm of anger, tears and black moods, or a happy, sunny cuddle picnic, I don't even have words to explain how happy it makes me that my second marriage is all about boring old predictable, even-tempered sweetness, day in and day out (for almost 20 years now). Don't give up on that ideal. Don't fool yourself into thinking that women are just different and any relationship is going to be fraught with anger and accusations. I know that we tend to say "see a therapist" a lot around here, but it really might benefit you to talk to someone and try to work out a strategy to avoid being caught up in another dramarama next go 'round (because, yes, you really do need to extricate yourself from this one).

The ideal of a mutually loving, gentle, tender relationship where the two partners help each other through the tough patches and the home is an oasis of peace and love is not an unobtainable dream. Every couple has their misunderstandings and spats, even their standing disagreements, but it's completely possible to live together with few arguments and little anger, with humor to smooth over rough edges, forgiveness and tolerance the norm, and mutual respect and true affection governing the conflicts that do come up. I promise.
posted by taz at 3:40 AM on December 14, 2008 [10 favorites]

Hey folks,

Thanks for the comments and the support. So I went home, talked to her, I don't want to go into the details, but in short, she broke my laptop (she'll pay for it), and it's over. I'm giving her a couple of days to sort herself out and then I move back into my place. Thanks again for everything.
posted by gadha at 3:41 PM on December 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Be well, gadha. And best of luck getting a new laptop. It's a small price to pay for peace and sanity! (Ok, well, maybe not *small* but at least *you* are safe!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:04 PM on December 14, 2008

Glad that it's only a broken laptop. Stay safe and take care, gadha! Lots of us are pulling for you.
posted by scody at 4:04 PM on December 14, 2008

Gadha, you're brave. I'm so sorry you had to go through this, but you did absolutely the right thing.

Best of luck to you.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 4:05 PM on December 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Good for you for taking care of yourself Gadha. It's often hard to do. Just keep reminding yourself that regardless of all of her good qualities, you don't deserve to be slapped by another person just because they feel you've done something wrong. It doesn't matter what you've supposedly done or not done. Maybe one day she'll learn that, but good that you know it now.

There are lovely people out there who don't hit. I hope you find one of them to be your special someone.
posted by anitanita at 5:06 PM on December 14, 2008

Good luck, gadha.
posted by rodgerd at 5:24 PM on December 14, 2008

take care, gadha.
posted by plep at 5:42 PM on December 14, 2008

Good for you, gadha. Hard as it was, you did the right thing -- not only for you, but for her. She has to learn that her behavior is abnormal, abusive, totally out of bounds. Maybe this is the beginning of that process for her.

Not that your primary concern should be for her. Focus on yourself and what you need right now and in the future. (And maybe think about how you make romantic choices....) But if you ever feel a twinge of guilt about this, remind yourself that she's simply facing the consequences of her own actions.
posted by dogrose at 5:46 PM on December 14, 2008

Wish you the best, and good luck. You made the right choice.
posted by xammerboy at 8:22 PM on December 14, 2008

Wow, gadha, that sucks about your laptop! Nevertheless, you have shown bravery and done the right thing. Best wishes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:38 PM on December 14, 2008

Maybe the damage she inflicted upon the laptop serves to reinforce the fact that your decision to leave this relationship was the right one!
posted by kosmonaut at 8:53 PM on December 14, 2008

You did the right thing by yourself, gadha, and I'm sorry you had to go through that.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:54 AM on December 15, 2008

You made a difficult but necessary decision. When I was in similar circumstances, this couplet from a song kept playing in my head:
We'd never know what's wrong without the pain
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

At Once, The Fray
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:22 AM on December 15, 2008

Good for you, gadha. I'm glad you're getting out. I still hope you pursue therapy so that you can learn what is normal and what is not in relationships.
posted by desjardins at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2008

I still hope you pursue therapy so that you can learn what is normal and what is not in relationships.

I hope SHE pursues therapy. Did you manage to throw that suggestion out there before shit hit the fan? :-)

Good for you for getting through it, and best of luck to you on your next relationship. Nothing like a terrible one to make you appreciate a really good one. And I hope she comes through with a new laptop for you, although if she is as immature and petty as she sounds, i wouldn't be surprised if she didn't. still, i think you cut your losses pretty well.
posted by lblair at 10:47 AM on December 15, 2008

Good for you! That is great news. You sound like such a nice guy. I wish you the best.
posted by saucysault at 9:33 PM on December 16, 2008

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