Is it normal for your girlfriend to slap you as a result of your own actions?
September 23, 2012 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Is it normal for your partner to slap you if you yell hurtful things at them?

My partner slapped me last night because I was yelling "fuck you" and "I hate you" last night and she wanted me to stop saying hurtful things and I'm sure it was even more jarring for her because I'm a quiet person and don't yell. We were arguing and she was hurting me by what she was saying before then but she didn't know it at the time. I tried to leave the room and she restrained me and was apologetic for a moment then started saying the things again and I felt cornered so I snapped at her.

I can't remember if it was before or after the slap but she ran at me and pushed me against the wall and it hurt my arm and back and now there's a crack in the paint. She has rough housed me for awhile now but nothing that really hurt that much. But still scary things like physically preventing me from leaving a room by holding me even when I ask to be let go and try to get away or throwing me on the couch or bed or pinching my jaw with two fingers to make me look at her or something. Or dragging me back into the car when I tried to walk away from the argument and pinning me down while I struggled to get away.

It stopped for awhile when I told her if it happened again I would leave. But then it started again and I feel so horrible because I recently bit her when she was restraining me and I freaked out and started screaming so she put her arm over my mouth and I bit her and she has this nasty bruised that hasn't healed and I feel so ashamed.

She feels alone when I try to leave and like I'm abandoning her, she'll beg me not to go and that it reminds her of when her father walked out on the family when she held onto his leg and begged him not to go. She'll say that she was not restraining me, just hugging me and desperately didn't want me to leave and because of what happened to her when she was a child she's afraid I'll never come back. She's told me that the emotional pain I inflicted with something I was saying is equal to the physical pain she gives me and just as bad. Please tell me if this is true. She told me she feels completely ashamed of herself and hates herself sometimes and has apologized and said she wants to go back to therapy.

Sometimes she tells me I just play the victim and although after every time she'll tell me she's sorry and that wasn't true and she just said it out of anger, she's said it so many times that I've started to believe her and sometimes she'll say it again minutes after she apologized for it.

I feel so hurt and confused and alone and I need to know if I am just victimizing myself, overreacting to being slapped, am I just playing the victim is it normal for someone to slap you if you yell hurtful things at them? Did I deserve to have that happen? Before she had roughhouse me but never hit me. I only try to walk away from arguments because I just want to talk things out with a calm head and I can't do that if I'm getting upset at what she's saying and I just felt so frustrated that she was still saying hurtful things and wouldn't let me go sleep in the other room that I snapped at her and I feel horrible and I know it was wrong to say what I said.

I haven't told anyone any of this. How can she love me if she hit me? And is it dramatic of me to even wonder that? I just don't understand it at all, she puts her hands lovingly on my face so many times that I just can't understand the discrepancy. I still just want to hold her but I'm so hurt and confused I have cried so much since last night. Is there something wrong with me that makes my partners treat me this way?
Is it my fault be because of my actions?
I am a woman but she is stronger than me so she's able to hold me back. I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better and there are good things I didn't list because of length. I just cannot understand what happened, it's like an oxymoron. I apologize for the length also.
posted by Autumn to Human Relations (124 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It is never okay for someone to hit you! Other people will have more personal experience, but please consider leaving before things get worse.
posted by ruhroh at 12:14 AM on September 23, 2012 [12 favorites]

It is not "normal". In other words, striking another person violates societal norms.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:16 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

It isn't normal, and I don't think it is OK. This is domestic violence. Please protect yourself by getting out.

If she wants to get better, she can do that (therapy!), but you aren't safe with her in the meantime.
posted by janell at 12:17 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would say it's not okay, but it's also not okay to yell "Fuck you" and "I hate you" so maybe this relationship isn't bringing out the best in either of you.
posted by Xany at 12:19 AM on September 23, 2012 [107 favorites]

It doesn't matter how many good qualities someone possesses if they are physically violent. You need to protect yourself and rethink your stance on "I'm not going to leave her." Judging from your AskMefi history, you're young and you've had problems with the same person for a while. Therapy would be the best route IMO to understand why you allow yourself to be treated this way and why you don't think you deserve better.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 12:22 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You both either need to get counseling (individually AND together) or need to get out of this relationship (and I would still suggest that you get some therapy). There is both verbal and physical abuse happening in your dynamic, and it's not constrained to just her; it's you too.
posted by violetk at 12:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

But still scary things like physically preventing me from leaving a room by holding me even when I ask to be let go and try to get away or throwing me on the couch or bed or pinching my jaw with two fingers to make me look at her or something. Or dragging me back into the car when I tried to walk away from the argument and pinning me down while I struggled to get away.
It sounds to me like she's escalating from milder, but still totally not OK forms of physical abuse, to actually striking you. It's not okay. And it's not because there's something wrong with you. Abusers want you to think that it's your fault.

Get out of this relationship. You are being abused physically and, at best, being emotionally manipulated, at worst also being emotionally abused.

I disagree with the other posts who say that you're being abusive too because of the yelling-- it's possible that her abuse just pushed you to the brink-- but it is possible that you are. Either way, this relationship is obviously toxic.
posted by NoraReed at 12:26 AM on September 23, 2012 [23 favorites]

This is a bad relationship. She should not be hitting or restraining you, especially not to the extent that you feel panicked. Healthy relationships are possible for you and would not involve 1) yelling obscenities at one another or 2) physical force. Please be willing to set a boundary that you will not allow people who use physical force against you to remain in your life.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:31 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're both engaging with each other in deeply unhealthy ways. You both need to figure out how not to engage in physical and emotional abuse by changing your dynamic. If you guys want to make it work, that is.
posted by discopolo at 12:31 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get out now. This will not get better.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [18 favorites]

Verbal and physical abuse are awful. One does not excuse the other and both occurred.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:34 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

posted by atrazine at 12:34 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

You are both to blame, and I suggest breaking up, getting therapy for you own issues, and moving on.

Sometimes, people bring out the worst in each other. This is one of those times.

Why are you even debating this? You are behaving badly. It can not be fixed. Just let it go and try to treat your next partner with respect - providing you do the work necessary that enables you to NOT choose another partner with similar issues to the ones you clearly have.

You have issues. Clear them up. Leave this dynamic so you can do that.
posted by jbenben at 12:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think some of the comments are missing part of the post. OP tried to leave the room during the argument, her girlfriend physically restrained her preventing her to leave and that's when the OP said what she said. I would not categorize that as abuse from the OP's end.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 12:41 AM on September 23, 2012 [34 favorites]

You haven't just been slapped, you've been physically restrained and controlled in a number of situations. Your body is your own, it isn't your girlfriend's to do whatever she wants with simply because she's not happy with you.
posted by heyjude at 12:45 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I told her if it happened again I would leave

That is what you should now do.
posted by ead at 12:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [69 favorites]

I suggest you leave at least long enough to show her there's a meaningful consequence to this. Long enough that she has time to work on this without just apologizing and forgetting about it until it happens again. Long enough that you're not really together. And long enough for you to figure out if you actually want this kind of emotional turmoil again or if you're just too frightened to leave and/or imagining more to the good parts than really exist. See what happens then.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:56 AM on September 23, 2012

It's not okay for her to hit you, restrain you, or otherwise physically intimidate you like she's making a habit of doing. I think you need to get out of this situation.
posted by springbound at 1:00 AM on September 23, 2012

Autumn, the stuff you're describing is not normal, and if you don't do anything, it's probably going to keep getting worse. It is wrong to hit, slap, pinch, drag, etc., and it sounds like things between you two are escalating.
posted by feets at 1:01 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is not normal or okay, and it sounds like it is getting worse. You need to leave. This isn't good for either of you.
posted by Area Man at 1:06 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

nope, very abnormal. you did the right thing in telling her you'd leave if it happened again, now you've got to follow through and do it.
posted by facetious at 1:12 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is not normal or ok. It's a violent relationship and it sounds very unhealthy. I suggest you extricate yourself before she really hurts you badly. And while it's also not ok or healthy to yell "fuck you" and "I hate you" at your partner, there's no excuse whatsoever for things to get physical. If she doesn't like the things being said to her she has a myriad of better options than hitting or restraining you (leaving, asking you to stop, even yelling back would be better than hitting someone).
posted by katyggls at 1:15 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

God. This is heartbreaking.

Your partner was actively saying hurtful things to you, had been rough with you in the past, and was physically restraining you. Like a caged animal you shouted back, asserting yourself, and then she slapped you. And the discussion is about how this might be your fault. Good God. Physical restraint, multiple times, and when you struggle against it you are the one who gets the blame.

This looks like a textbook abusive relationship. Aside from the repeated occurrence of physical violence, there is a denial of the validity of your feelings, rewriting history and denial that the abuse took place (hugging you rather than restraining you), turning the blame back on you (you provoked me / you hurt me first), making you feel guilty when you assert yourself. It's all designed to give her absolute control, so that you walk on eggshells and submit to her will for fear of setting her off. And look, it's working. You blame yourself, you totally imagine yourself to be in the wrong for yelling at her, when she was holding you down and saying hurtful things and then slapped you and threw you against the wall. You even wonder if you deserved it. You did not! No-one deserves be treated this way.

Loving partners do not deliberately say hurtful things, ever. If it happens by accident then they apologize and they don't do it again. They don't hurt you continually while saying it never happened or promising it won't happen again or begging for you to not leave. They don't (ever) use physical force against you (ever, ever, ever), and that includes all the rough housing and restraining, it includes the slap even if she says you provoked it (which is nonsense), it includes holding you down, all of this. They don't make their love conditional on you behaving a certain way, they don't minimize your feelings or make you wonder if you're crazy, they don't make you feel worthless. When you get upset they do not take it as a justification to inflict more pain. Loving partners love you and support you and build you up and make you feel happy. You're in a prison right now and you won't be able to see it until you've escaped, but you need to leave, immediately and permanently. Once you've left and there is no-one to filter and bend your reality you will start to realize that you are not worthless, none of this is your fault, there is nothing wrong with you. Rather you are with a violent abuser and you are her victim. It's not going to stop or get better; it will only get worse.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:19 AM on September 23, 2012 [147 favorites]

This is an abusive relationship. This level of escalation is unacceptable. Her baggage does not excuse her actions. We are all responsible for our own behavior regardless of what kind of trauma we encountered in the past.

If you don't feel prepared to get out now, at least do this: tell a friend what's happening. Ask that friend of you can keep some clothes, money, and emergency things at their place. It's best of your girlfriend doesn't know this person or at least doesn't know where they live

Contact a local domestic violence shelter and ask for information and referrals. They won't tell you that you have to leave before they will help you. They will help you make a safety plan.

Google "cycle of abuse."

I'm worried for you. Good luck.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:37 AM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

Please, please read what PercussivePaul said. He saved me from having to type all that out, and it's exactly what I would have said.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:40 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's normal in an abusive relationship, yeah. It's not normal in a good and healthy relationship, but that's not the kind you're in. You're in an abusive relationship, and many of the things you say sound oh so depressingly familiar from when I was in one myself. Here are some of the things you said that really rang a bell:

she wanted me to stop saying hurtful things and I'm sure it was even more jarring for her because I'm a quiet person and don't yell

You say this before you explain that she was, at the time, physically restraining you and preventing you from leaving the room. So you're not only describing the situation in a "well, there are two sides to every story" way, but you're invested in explaining her behaviour in the best light possible.

When I did this kind of thing, it was because I had this idea in my head of What Abuse Looks Like - that it was a bad person doing bad things to a good person with no reason or provocation in their head except being mean. So when my boyfriend hit or restrained me, I thought: well, he's not a bad person, and he was really upset, and anyway I wasn't the 100% innocent victim there because I'd yelled at him to back off me or hit back or something, so this can't be abuse.

She has rough housed me for awhile now but nothing that really hurt that much.

I also thought of abuse in these terms: "it can't be serious, nothing really hurt that much." But this is wrong. It is really, really seriously bad if someone is physically restraining you, throwing you onto a couch or bed, or pinning you down as you struggle to get away. You don't need to have a broken rib before it counts for something.

I feel so horrible because I recently bit her when she was restraining me and I freaked out and started screaming so she put her arm over my mouth and I bit her and she has this nasty bruised that hasn't healed and I feel so ashamed.

You describe this as though your actions are remarkable, but hers aren't - as though it's quite reasonable for her to be restraining you and blocking your mouth when you scream. It is not. And you know that she wasn't 'just hugging' you.

She feels alone when I try to leave and like I'm abandoning her

My abusive partner was also psychologically torn up by childhood experiences, and when he explained his behaviour in those terms, I felt terribly sorry for him. But I also started seeing him in that moment as the child these bad things had happened to, not the adult who'd just grabbed me by the throat or slammed me against the wall. And that wasn't helpful, not for him and especially not for me. Your girlfriend is also an adult - if you walk out, you are not abandoning a traumatised child.

She told me she feels completely ashamed of herself and hates herself sometimes and has apologized and said she wants to go back to therapy.

My abusive boyfriend also said he hated himself and was ashamed of himself, and I think those things were true. But they did not stop him from hurting me - and really, the only purpose it was serving for him to tell me that was to make me reassure him that I loved him and he was a good person. (You've done that too, right?)

Is there something wrong with me that makes my partners treat me this way?

Good Lord, no. You cannot make a partner treat you this way - it is something the partner chooses to do. And I know it feels like she's not choosing it, that it's outside her control in the moment she's hurting or restraining you, that she hates herself for it afterwards - but she is choosing to make no changes to the situation in which she knows this will happen again. She's getting something out of this.

I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better and there are good things I didn't list because of length.

There are always good things. My abusive partner was generous, sweet and funny a lot of the time, and I just knew things could get better because we had such great times together. But things didn't get better, they just steadily got worse and worse. As they will for you. The only way for things to get better is for your girlfriend to be willing to do the hard, hard work necessary to change this behaviour in herself, with professional help - and if she was willing to do that, she would be doing that already.

I used to think it was unhelpful to have a broad definition of abuse, which doesn't take into account all the individual details of the circumstances and the relationship and just assumes physical violence = abusive relationship. These days, many years out of that relationship and looking back, I am glad of that broad definition and those unwavering bright lines. When you're in the middle of a situation that's messing up your head in the way that abuse messes up your head, you need those bright lines there to remind you that you've crossed them - that no matter how many "oh but it's different because..." lines you can come up with, no matter how much you might blame yourself, no matter how much you might start believing the partner telling you it's all your fault, you are standing on the wrong side of those lines. Your relationship is abusive.
posted by Catseye at 1:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [37 favorites]

Right now, get out. Go somewhere safe, if your partner hasn't already left. This is not a time to be together. Every issue can be sorted out later but do not ever stay in a place where you feel unsafe or where you feel that a physical fight is imminent. It's late, who cares, call your family or your best friend or anyone who you will be safe with and go there. This is the most important thing.

Make a rule for yourself right now and never deviate from it. When you're in a relationship, nobody raises a finger against the other in anger. I personally also insist that nobody fucking cheat, but that first one, an absolute minimum, needs to be non-negotiable. The next time someone hits you or cheats on you they've lost you forever. You deserve at *least* this much. Now go.
posted by mcrandello at 2:04 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think a lot of the responses that are finding equivalence between the physical violence and the verbal outburst ("you're both to blame", or some variation) are missing the pattern of abuse described by the OP and also not fully appreciating the situation she was in. You might get this impression if you skimmed the question. Please consider carefully before replying.

I had posted a Meta about this but talked to taz and we decided to yank it to avoid shining a big spotlight on this thread, an effect I hadn't considered.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:06 AM on September 23, 2012 [20 favorites]

If her actions are causing you to react verbally in ways that are out of character for you, there is a good chance you could also start to react in physical ways that are out of character, especially if she has already physically struck out at you. And no matter what has happened in the past, if you strike her you are going to find yourself in a lot of trouble. Only you can know if this is a reasonable assumption for your case, but I'd advise you to seriously reflect on it.

Regardless of how right or wrong I might be in the above, the fact remains that this is an abusive relationship, she is behaving abusively toward you, and you should get the hell out. Ignore any rationalizations from her; you are not responsible to prevent her from feeling bad about her daddy issues. She can work that out with a trained counsellor.

(Some counselling would do you good, too.)

Good luck.
posted by themanwho at 2:20 AM on September 23, 2012

This is not ok. At all. Ever. Period.
Get out of this, you are not being treated properly. I'm rooting for you.
posted by quince at 2:21 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

This is intimate partner violence. Verbal provocation does not justify physical retaliation. You and your partner need help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Their website is here. Here is a page discussing violence in LBGTQI relationships.
posted by gingerest at 2:26 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

It simply does not matter if your yelling was right or wrong, because two wrongs don't make a right. The conclusion from both sides is that you're in an abusive relationship; when you get out of it, both of you would benefit from therapy or counseling, and both of you will be better for not being in a relationship with one another.

That being said, I don't think your actions are in any way equivalent to hers, and I wish you the best in extricating yourself from this situation. Please remember, it is in no way a weakness to ask for help. It's strong to recognize when you need it and to ask the right people. I really recommend the links and numbers gingerest left you in the comment above mine. It might feel silly to call them, like you're making a mountain out of a molehill, but you're not, and they will be able to help you in a directed, productive way.
posted by Mizu at 2:35 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Leave. This is not going to get better, and will probably get worse. At the very least, google for "fair fighting" to learn how to argue and work towards resolving disputes. It's okay to not know what to say during disputes, and to momentarily walk away to compose yourself. You can't do that if someone is verbally bombarding you and physically restraining you. Go get professional help and learn what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Think of it as life coaching.
posted by SillyShepherd at 2:35 AM on September 23, 2012

This is not OK. When your partner accuses you of self-pity because you're distraught after she's physically hurt you, she's just trying to deflect blame from her own actions. It's no wonder you're confused; you're living with an abusive partner in what sounds like an incredibly toxic environment, and head-fucking comes as part of that ugly package.
posted by skybluepink at 2:38 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

People who do hurtful things will always have a reason. Maybe their dad left, or their mom hit them, or they were abandoned, or they felt unloved...etc. etc. The thing to remember is - bad things happen to a lot of people. You could probably say that they happen to all people, but most people don't hit the people they claim to love. They don't hold them down, or throw them around or manipulate them. You have to leave. You know it or you wouldn't have written this post.

When you finally decide to go, do NOT tell her you're leaving. Wait until she's out and then go. Don't try and talk it out with her and whatever you do, don't be alone with her after that.

This is not a temporary thing. It will only get worse and you will spend the rest of your life wondering why you didn't get out sooner. So do it now.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:00 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

She's told me that the emotional pain I inflicted with something I was saying is equal to the physical pain she gives me and just as bad. Please tell me if this is true

It can be. Emotional pain can hurt far worse and for far longer than a slap or a shove. I've been hurt so bad by 'words' that it felt like I had been stabbed through the heart with a burning hot sword, a slap would have been preferable. Do these violent outbursts only happen when you've been saying hurtful things to her? If nasty words don't hurt you in the way they hurt her, physical violence may be her only 'defence'. When I was a kid I was violent with my sister, she used to tickle me but she wasn't ticklish so my only defence was to kick, bite and scratch, people who aren't ticklish don't understand, they think its a bit of fun but a sustained onslaught of tickling is basically torture. I'm not excusing her behaviour but as someone says upthread, this relationship isn't exactly bringing out the best in either of you. We have only 1 side of this story and limited information. Abuse is a abuse, it doesn't make a difference whether its physical or emotional abuse, both are equally bad.

Does she self harm (or threaten to)? Is she reckless in other areas of her life? (drinking, drugs, gambling, shopping/money management?) Does she have a temper? Take a look at this, in particular "Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment" - borderline personality disorder is the first thing that came to my mind when you described her behaviour. I think this is something you should both seriously consider, (even if she doesn't have bpd) her fear of abandonment is preventing you from having a safe, calm way to extricate yourself from a situation before it escalates. You're reacting like a cornered animal and that isn't healthy for either of you. If you're committed to staying in this relationship, she needs to work on her abandonment issues, I think the first thing you should do is make her an appointment to see her GP. If she does have a mental health issue, it can be very hard for her to get help on her own, and even if she gets that help she may very well be non-compliant, (another key sign of BPD is self-destructive behaviour) and will need you to make sure she takes her medication and/or goes to therapy. You have to ask yourself if that's something you can deal with.

How can she love me if she hit me
Do you love her? By your own admission you said "fuck you" and "I hate you" to her prior to the slap. If you can still love her after yelling "I hate you" at her, why are struggling with the idea that she could still love you even if she slapped you?
posted by missmagenta at 3:15 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better and there are good things I didn't list because of length.

This is like going to a doctor with a broken leg, and saying "please heal me, but I REFUSE TO PUT MY LEG IN A CAST".

Without question, the two of you are eventually going to separate, and your life will not start to get better until you do. How many weeks / months (years?) of abuse, suffering, and misery do you want to go through before that happens?
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:33 AM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

Holy crap. No. This is not OK. Run away. Fast.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your girlfriend might not be a bad person, but in this relationship she is acting like a bad person. IF you stay in this relationship, you are enabling and encouraging this behavior, and she will develop stronger habits of using violence to win arguments, making it harder and harder for her to ever behave like a normal person again. You will develop habits and attitudes of appeasement, self-doubt and insecurity that make it harder for you to have a relationship with someone who is behaving normally.

You should leave her for both of your sakes.
posted by jacalata at 5:03 AM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

When she says you are abandoning her if you leave, she is fully totally manipulating you. Making sure that you think that leaving makes you the worst person in the world. I've had exes do this to me. And it worked because they were manipulating me. They knew my weaknesses and exploited them. And that is what is happening to you now.

Hear what people in this thread are can't see it now but you leaving will absolutely be the best thing for both of you. This relationship is toxic and destructive.

When you go, she will do everything she can to make you hate yourself for doing it. That you're the worst person in the world. I promise you're not. You're not a bad person. You're just in a bad relationship. She will survive and so will you. It will get better for both of you, but it can't while you're together. It won't. It will get worse.

I agree with others. Leave while she's not there, don't contact her. Go somewhere she can't reach you, or find a friend that will help you restrict her access to you.

I know it's scary. You can do it. Once you do, everything will start getting better.

Good relationships don't just have some good stuff sprinkled with the fighting yelling and abuse. They have mutual support and love ALL THE TIME. They don't come with caveats. They don't involve hitting, they don't involve restraining, they don't involve you telling your partner you hate them.

Good luck. I promise you're not a bad person for leaving. Even though you can't see it now, and won't see it right away when you leave, this will make life better for both of you.
posted by dry white toast at 5:22 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

>I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better

This appears to be self-delusion. Things are getting worse, not better. Can they get better? Sure. Will they? Probably not.
posted by megatherium at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am adding my voice to the chorus in case it is helpful to hear it multiple times. This is an abusive relationship. It is not your fault - you are reacting normally to being abused.

Here is a list of LGBT focused domestic violence resources. Some of them are location-specific, but if you call or email, I'm sure they will either talk to you or point you toward resources for your location.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't get couples' counseling. It's not appropriate in relationships where there is abuse, because the abusive party will use it as a tool of the abuse.

It sounds like she is either extremely manipulative to a sociopathic degree OR mentally ill to the point that she cannot function in a normal relationship.

It sounds like you want to stay and help her with her mental illness, but at this point, you didn't cause it and you can't fix it. You absolutely can't. You also don't deserve to suffer for no reason (and make no mistake, you are suffering in this relationship and it's not improving her mental illness--if anything it's teaching her that it's okay to do these things to get what she wants).

I've been in a decent number of bad relationship and said any number of awful things (and had them said to me) and no one has ever slapped anyone, or pulled their face, or prevented them from leaving. It's really very abnormal.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:43 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

Also, yelling "fuck you" and "I hate you" isn't great behavior, but it doesn't rise to the level of verbal abuse if it's a one-time thing said during a fight where you were being abused. Responding badly to abuse isn't abuse.

Anyway, here's the thing: it doesn't matter who is abusing whom, it's a distraction. The relationship has abuse in it, you don't feel healthy, happy and safe and neither does she, and that means you need to avoid couples' counseling and make a safe plan for leaving in case you decide that's what you want to do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2012 [22 favorites]

She's told me that the emotional pain I inflicted with something I was saying is equal to the physical pain she gives me and just as bad. Please tell me if this is true.

This is not true.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2012 [13 favorites]

Your partner
slaps you,
pushes you against walls,
restrains you,
shoves you
throws you,
drags you,
pinches you,
puts her arm over your mouth to shut you up...

She also is emotionally abusing you: the name-calling, the guilt-tripping ('you can't leave, I'll be alone!') and the plain old-fashioned gaslighting you into believing any of this is your fault, not even your biting her to get her to take her hands off of you. I'm sorry, but I think you really, really need to get out NOW --- contact that National Domestic Violence Hotline gingerest mentions, and get therapy yourself. Anyone who thinks that this kind of physical and emotionaly abuse of their partner is NOT a good partner themself, and you need to leave her before it gets even worse --- which it is 100% guarenteed to do, if you were to stay.

Do not tell her your are leaving: just do it, for instance while she's at work or something. Do NOT tell her in advance, and do not tell her where your are going/how to contact you..... get out, and cut off ALL communication with her.
posted by easily confused at 6:16 AM on September 23, 2012 [17 favorites]

You need to leave her. She is abusing you.
Her emotional black-mail trying to get you to stay is just another form of control.
posted by Flood at 6:22 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I once dated someone who did this sort of thing to me. I later realized not only was the one time they slapped me abusive, but all the "rough housing" and physically restraining and victim mind-games and begging me not to "abandon" them when I threatened to leave? That was abusive, too. One of my proudest life achievements is leaving this person and moving on with my life. Though it took a long time, and sadly was not the moment after I was slapped for the first (and thankfully only) time.

Also, to be honest, even aside from the standard "this is abuse, get out" script, your relationship sounds toxic and miserable. You don't have to put up with this in your life. It is possible to be with someone who respects you and treats you like the amazing person that you are, without all the screaming and restraining and hand-biting.

You do not deserve this. There's nothing that you did that caused this to happen. Please get out.

By the way, I know it's frowned upon to look at posters' past questions when forming a response, but I can't help but notice that you might not have a ton of family support right now. I was in a very similar situation when I got out of my abusive relationship. Please feel free to MeMail me for advice, support, or anything at all.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

You are describing an abusive relationship.

As the young rope rider said, couples counseling is inappropriate for abusive relationships, and no ethical therapist should see you two together right now. If your partner is committed to getting better, she will find an abusers' group to join (NOT just individual therapy, NOT anger management; those have been found to be unhelpful in ending abuse long-term).

Whether you decide to stay in the relationship or not, you can contact your local domestic violence shelter (people have listed numbers above) for counseling for yourself, which will likely be low-cost or free. The therapists there will NOT pressure you to leave the relationship against your wishes. They can help support you as you make the decision about what to do going forward.
posted by jaguar at 6:26 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


None of this is normal or healthy or even remotely okay. This relationship really, really isn't good for you and it's twisting the way you view it. Get out ASAP.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been there. Leaving was the best thing I ever did for the BOTH of us. It took me walking out after 6 years for me to realize relationships didn't have to involve violent fights, and it took me leaving for her to finally hit bottom & seek help.

I'm in a loving, calm, quiet, mature relationship now, and man, I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that I left, and I wonder to this day what took me do long.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

In a twisted way the slapping may have been a blessing in disguise as it made you realize that something's really wrong.

Something's really very much wrong. The physical restraining, as you describe it, is what's wrongest.

Do not feel like you have a responsibility toward her childhood traumas. That's not what partners do. Partners are kind to each other, most of all.

Do not hesitate to get yourself out of this relationship quickly for your own sake.
posted by Namlit at 6:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Someone can "love" you, and still be a harmful person. She's unhealthy and probably not capable of loving someone without hurting them.

Please do get out.
posted by bunderful at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better and there are good things I didn't list because of length.

To be quite clear, you're in an abusive relationship, and you should leave. If this isn't bad enough to end the relationship, what would she have to do that is? Do you want to be the person that happens to?

Because that day's coming. That's how abusive relationships work. And if you stick around, on the day it finally happens, you'll be asking yourself what you did to deserve it, and making excuses for your abuser.
posted by mhoye at 7:20 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to note that it sounds like you don't believe this relationship is abusive, but after listening to you describe it from your "this is not abusive" perspective, 53 people have chimed in to tell you that it is abusive.

But to answer the exact question you asked, I think that there actually is a norm of adult women slapping their partners during disagreements. But if you watch some old movies (e.g., Scarlett O'Hara slapping Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind) you'll notice that it's a very safe slap. You're not supposed to haul off and break somebody's nose, but rather slap him on the fleshy part of the cheek to create some sound and a stinging sensation without injury.

So, while this norm does exist, it's rooted in three assumptions that aren't true in your case: that their partners would of course be bigger, stronger men, that they would of course be so weak that the slap would be more of a signal than an actual assault, and that they would perform the slap in a safe way meant to get attention or emphasize a point (usually, "get away from me") rather than causing injury.

tl;dr the slapping in particular may not be the most relevant part of this situation to focus on.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:21 AM on September 23, 2012

Those are movies.

Movies are not a great way to judge the appropriateness of actions in one's everyday life.

Also, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler is really not a relationship you want to model yours on.
posted by Sara C. at 7:23 AM on September 23, 2012 [20 favorites]

Is there something wrong with me that makes my partners treat me this way?
Is it my fault be because of my actions? I'm not going to leave her, I think things can get better and there are good things I didn't list because of length.

First, Nothing you can do "makes" your partners (plural?!?!) abuse you. However there is a decent chance there is something in your makeup that causes you to choose such partners.

Second, her abuse of you is not your fault. Nothing justifies physical abuse other than in self defense situations.

Third, yes you are a typical victim of domestic abuse. Most refuse to leave for the same delusional reasons you allude to. They choose to stay and continue to be abused. Likely for the same types of reasons that caused them to choose abusers as partners in the first place. Leave now. Don't look back. She is not a good person. Every sociopath and asshole on earth has reasons in their history for their behavior...doesn't change the fact that they are sociopaths and assholes.
posted by txmon at 7:28 AM on September 23, 2012

The "movie slapping" thing was a very old fashioned trope that wasn't part of a couple fighting - it was a gesture of a (physically weak) woman nonetheless rebuking a stronger man for impugning her honor, or whatever silly business. It has nothing to do with what we have here, which is domestic violence by a stronger partner against a weaker.

OP, yes of course you need to leave her. ALL ABUSIVE PARTNERS have great traits also, that is how they are often able to get their victims to hang around for years and question their own sanity instead of just packing up and leaving the first time the abuse happens!
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

OP: She is escalating, which is a big warning sign. Don't stick around to see what she escalates to next, just because you said you'd give her another chance. In no way do you "owe" her sticking around until she slaps you or breaks your arm or punches you. If you want to leave, please know that you can do it whenever you want.

How can she love me if she hit me? And is it dramatic of me to even wonder that?

It's not dramatic. It's actually pretty healthy. Lots of abusive victims start out thinking that being hit is a sign of love, or get to that point. You're not there yet, so that's great. Get out.

She feels alone when I try to leave and like I'm abandoning her, she'll beg me not to go and that it reminds her of when her father walked out on the family when she held onto his leg and begged him not to go.

This doesn't matter. Adults don't hold other people responsible for their emotions or behavior. If you don't have the right to leave whenever you want, it's not a relationship, it's a prison sentence and the term is life. You get to leave, she gets to feel alone and abandoned for a while. That's how relationships work sometimes. It's a risk everyone has to take. She's trying to put all the risk and potentially bad outcomes and heartbreak on just one person: you, her victim. Get out.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 7:46 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Just on a hunch:

You should know that you can have a functional, loving, healthy relationship. You deserve a functional, loving, healthy relationship. Regardless of whether it is with a man or a woman. This dysfunction you've described isn't some penance you're paying to society or your parents or whoever for being gay or for the other things it sounds like you blame yourself for. You're not broken. You can do better. You deserve better.
posted by AV at 7:52 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

You are not victimizing yourself, the reality is that you are already a victim. A victim of abuse.

You did not overreact to being slapped. You were standing up for yourself in a fucked up situation. But, at the same time, abusive people like your girlfriend do not like being challenged because that means that you are testing their perceived power. That's why she responded in that way.

This is a trait that abusive people have. Abusive people also try to make the relationship appear okay by doing other things. This can mean showering you with lots of gifts, telling you that they love you, taking you to special places, etc... but this is only to make you believe that the relationship is normal. It's also because they want you to think that it's worth staying in the relationship.

Abusive people like your girlfriend are so incredibly insecure that they try to feel in control by doing fucked up things. I don't know how she can love you, but hit you at the time. This isn't you being dramatic, this is a question that many people have in your situation. I have no idea why people like your girlfriend do this. I would argue that she's battling fucked up demons inside which is why she acts this way. She wants to feel loved, but she also wants to feel in power.

This is far from healthy. You also deserve much, much better than this! Nobody deserves to be treated this way. Seriously.

There isn't something wrong with you that "makes" your partners treat you this way. People have the power to choose between reacting or responding to a situation and how to react/respond to a situation. You are not to blame for this by any means.

You say that you don't want to leave, but this is another common statement among abused individuals.

Is it because you are afraid of leaving? Is it because you think that there's something worth staying for?

If you look at the countless amount of posts that this question has received then the consensus is 1) this is not normal and 2) you need to leave.

Do not talk to your girlfriend about leaving, but please, talk to someone like one of the friends that you mentioned in a previous post. Your friends clearly care about you and want better for you. I know that can be scary, but you can also talk to a women's shelter volunteer or employee.

Despite your situation, despite being abused-you have the POWER to leave this situation. You need help, but you can do this.

posted by livinglearning at 7:58 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not to join a pig-pile.

It sounds like you're dating my ex.

I've been in your shoes. I know how hard this is. I know that very little about it makes much sense.

Run. And don't look back. That's all I can say. You deserve better.

Call the number Gingerest
posted if you are unable to get help from your family and friends.

Memail me if you want to talk.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2012

I was your girlfriend once. I spent 4 years in that relationship ignoring the fact that I was in a bad situation, and my hitting him came of my actually being made THAT angry for the first time in my life and being too young to know how to process my anger properly. But whether or not I was abusing him -- and he probably would say I wasn't -- is a separate question from "should a relationship be making me that angry on a regular basis," and the answer to that question is "hell, no."

Whether you want to call your relationship "abusive" or "normal" is up to you. But that amount of anger, happening on a regular basis, is NOT normal. For both your sakes, please end this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

The two violent actions of yours you cite:

1. saying "fuck you" and "I hate you" to someone who was saying hurtful things to you (unwittingly, you think) and who, when you objected, physically restrained you from leaving the room. I agree that these were not awesome things to say, but they don't constitute abuse. As you affirm, you are a quiet person and don't yell.

2. Biting her because she was physically restraining you with her arm over your mouth. IANAL but I wouldn't be surprised if your biting her constituted legitimate self-defense.

Meanwhile, you say that she is routinely rough with you and frequently physically restrains you from leaving the room. Her slapping you is not an isolated incident, but an escalation of a pattern of physically violent behaviour that she has shown to you.

This puts your partner firmly in the wrong here. The apportioning of abusiveness in your relationship is: You, 0%. Her, 100%.

I get that she is really nice sometimes. What's really hard to grasp is that the niceness is part of the abusiveness. It's a way of fattening you up for the next episode of abuse. Also, it takes a lot of energy to be mean all the time, just as it takes a lot of energy to be nice all the time, and nobody can pull it off 100% either way. Sometimes the abuser can be in a good mood and not feel like smacking someone down this afternoon, so they don't bother. But they're still abusive.

I am aware of the face-slapping trope in TV and movies. The scenario you describe is not like a scene from a movie, so it wouldn't count even if TV and movies were a good guide for acceptable everyday behaviour, which they aren't. TV and movies are one setting in which it is normal to slap during a disagreement, and the other setting in which it is normal, is an abusive relationship. One is fictional, and the other is toxic, so these are not versions of "normal" that anyone should cheerfully inhabit. You probably want healthy, not normal.

If I had to pick one thing you are doing to "make" someone else treat you this way, it would be... Nothing. Abusive behaviour is caused by abusers. It will help you to identify the signs of dodginess very early so you can disengage long long before it gets to this point, rather than sticking around questioning yourself. Sticking around questioning yourself may be the reason why you often find yourself in abusive relationships, but it's not something you do to make someone abuse you because the rest of us wouldn't abuse you no matter what you did. If you behaved really really badly (*if*, hypothetically), and talking about it didn't help, we'd leave. We certainly wouldn't consider shoving you around or slapping you under any circumstances. Hell, no.
posted by tel3path at 8:28 AM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]

Nthinh that this is both of you. You need to exit this relationship, NEVER speak to this person again, amd get your ass into therapy. It's NOT OK for anyone to hit you. It's also not ok for you to yell things like "fuck you" and "I hate you" at your partner. You need to figure out why you stay with people who act that way, why you act that way, and how to recognise warning signs and red flags, and how to communicate like an adult. You're both too old to be throwing temper tantrums like this, and to be putting up with them. Neither of you is five years old.
posted by windykites at 8:29 AM on September 23, 2012

Oh, and how can she love you, but hit you at the same time? Ever read Coraline? She realises that the villainess is telling the truth when she says she loves Coraline, but she loves her the way a miser loves money. It is a kind of love, but it's something perverse and unholy.
posted by tel3path at 8:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think that there actually is a norm of adult women slapping their partners during disagreements. But if you watch some old movies (e.g., Scarlett O'Hara slapping Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind) you'll notice that it's a very safe slap.

Yeah, and the hero in movies always manages to dodge all those gunshots that the bad guys fire at him. But in real life, you want to make sure not to get into a situation where people are shooting at you.

I wouldn't call it normal to act as if violence is OK as long as it reflects what happens in movies.

Anyway, the question as posed — whether this is "normal" — is not the most important thing for you to decide right now. It doesn't particularly matter whether it would be worse if the gender roles were reversed. They're not! You have to deal with reality, not fantasy. The big question isn't whether she acted normally in that moment, but whether you should stay in a relationship that led to that situation in the past, which will probably recur in the future if you stay together. I think the answer is obvious.
posted by John Cohen at 9:14 AM on September 23, 2012

This is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. I would suggest you call the national domestic violence hotline at 800-799-SAFE to talk to someone about it. It's anonymous and safe. They may be able to connect to you someone in your area where you might be able to see someone in person as well, sometimes at no charge.
posted by kdern at 9:14 AM on September 23, 2012

Mod note: Folks, this is a difficult thread and people are showing up with some touchy opinions and I guess it's time to make a short statement. Please be aware that discussions of moderation go in Metatalk and critiques of the general MeTa community, arguments with specific other commenters and or non-answers to the question go there also. If you want to answer the OPs question, please do so without all the other pieces. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:36 AM on September 23, 2012

Just for reference:
My mom once leaned on my car window and yelled at me in front of her neighbors, preventing me from leaving. I am twice her size and twice as loud, but her presence threatened me and stopped me from leaving the scene. Even for THAT -- and I love my mom, and it was the only time she'd done something like that -- I considered getting a restraining order so she would stay away from me and not even try to contact me.

Continual, physical, emotional abuse like you describe? Get out. Now.

You have created a "new normal" in which you are so used to this harmful behavior that you discount how serious it is. But when you tell someone who is not wrapped up in that day-to-day, you can see that this is absolutely not the way that most of the world lives.

I want to make it clear that we are not judging you for staying in this relationship. We all have reasons to stay and we naturally think the best of the people we love. It's easy to say that these are isolated instances when you think about how good it's been with her.

But now is the time for you to put your own needs first and be safe. You need to take care of yourself and your own physical safety and security before you can be a good partner. I know you care about your partner right now. Your life just demands that you choose another way.
posted by Madamina at 9:37 AM on September 23, 2012

Are people realizing this is a lesbian couple? I wonder if that would that change the opinion both members are 'in the wrong?'

The problem here, is that we don't want to reinforce the idea that a woman who yelled at her partner somehow deserved the abuse, which is a common enough problem amongst abused women.

I suspect not realizing the OP is a woman is unfortunately affecting opinions in this direction.
posted by namesarehard at 9:41 AM on September 23, 2012

Just to weigh in without reference to earlier posts in this discussion, Autumn, I want to say that your relationship sounds like an essentially abusive relationship, and it sounds like an abusive relationship that could quite possibly see an escalation in violence.

I am concerned for you -- none of this is your fault in any meaningful sense -- and I hope that you seek whatever help best suits your needs. Please be safe.
posted by mr. digits at 9:51 AM on September 23, 2012

Separate from the issue of whether you end the relationship or try to work it out, the fight you are describing is serious and is very concerning (and not normal).

Consider a break to cool off, whether its a few days or a few weeks or a few months. Do you have a friend or family member you can stay with? Or can you afford to go to a hotel for a few days?

If you do decide to stay in the house, please look at online advice for women in controlling/abusive relationships. Basically, collect your important documents, keys, have cash available and a (small, hide-able) bag packed so that you can leave in a moments notice if you feel your life is at risk.

Many people here are concerned for you. Take care of yourself.
posted by artdesk at 10:03 AM on September 23, 2012

Your partner is using emotional manipulation, and now escalating to violence. You sound like you're both deeply emotionally enmeshed. It's not healthy. If someone is being mean, leave. Leave the room, leave the house, leave the relationship are all options, but don't let someone be mean to you. If someone restrains you, that's physical aggression and control. If someone hits you, it's physical violence. In my experience, physical violence always includes emotional abuse, so, yes, it's a step beyond.

You know things are out of control. I don't know if the relationship is salvageable or not, but you need therapy to help you learn how to set boundaries, and how to be happy in your own self, and not so dependent on someone else's emotions. That sounds more blame-y and judgmental than I intend. Your partner would probably benefit from therapy, but you can't control her life or her choices. You can choose to be healthy, behave in a healthy way, and only accept reasonable behavior. How she responds to that is up to her.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on September 23, 2012

This happened because your girlfriend is abusive. You didn't do anything to cause it. She has screwed your head up to the point where you're wondering what you did to get slapped and you're believing the horrible things she's telling you about yourself.

It isn't going to get better. I know you want to believe it will, but it won't. It's going to get worse. Here is a really important part of what you wrote:

It stopped for awhile when I told her if it happened again I would leave.

You knew you needed to leave, and you didn't, because this woman has screwed your head up. You need to leave. I'm sorry. It isn't going to get better. It can't get better. You're in an abusive relationship and you need to get out of it.

There are some good ideas and resources in this thread. Take advantage of them. Use them to do the following:

1. Leave this woman. Block her number, block her Facebook. Never, ever speak to her again or you'll be back in this pattern and sooner or later you'll have a black eye or a broken wrist and you'll be trying to figure out what you did to deserve it.

2. Tell your friends. Tell anyone you can that this has happened. They need to know about it because you're going to need a support network.

3. Get into therapy. Start unscrewing your head.

I know you want very badly to believe that there is some other way, some happier ending here. I am telling you for an objective fact that there is not.

You can do this. You need to do this. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:22 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hey Autumn,

There are plenty of people telling you that this is abuse, but just in case you're concerned that it might/should be perceived differently because you're both women, as a lesbian my thoughts and advice are exactly the same as theirs.

This is not a healthy dynamic, it is not bringing out the best in either of you, and you need to get away.
posted by zug at 10:35 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

Simply put: you are poisoning yourself in this relationship.

Abuse victims come to internalize the awful things their abusers say. In other words, you will come to believe that you play the victim. Then you'll believe that you're not a good person. Then you'll believe that you aren't worthy of anything better.

And when you finally leave the relationship, and you *will* eventually leave this relationship, you will take all those awful feelings about yourself with you. And it's probably going to happen again, because now you believe that you don't deserve someone awesome.

So, please please please, get out now. You're not playing the victim. You're not worthless. Don't get to the point where you really believe you are.
posted by bpm140 at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

When AskMetafilter is unanimous like this, it usually means something.

She feels alone when I try to leave and like I'm abandoning her, she'll beg me not to go and that it reminds her of when her father walked out on the family when she held onto his leg and begged him not to go.

Hm, I wonder what else she's re-enacting by getting physical with you like she did last night?
posted by hermitosis at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey there OP. A lot of people are telling you to leave, and I know it probably sounds hard and like they don't understand the relationship or what part you play in probably sounds almost foreign to you, because leaving is likely to be really difficult in a number of ways. I will say this, having been in a long-term relationship with a similar dynamic: deciding to leave was difficult, heart-rending, painful...but it was the hardest part. And it was so, so worth it.

I also wanted to say that if it takes you a long time to leave, that's understandable. Leaving relationships like this is actually harder than leaving relationships with people who are stable and don't hit you or hurt you. It might take you a while to get to a place where you have the motivation and resources to leave and you're sure that it's the right thing to do. That is okay.

You can work to put that framework for leaving into place, even if you don't do it all right now.

You can start saving up a little bit of money where she doesn't know about it.

You can make sure your birth certificate, family pictures, driver's license, and anything you might need for employment and renting an apartment are out of the apartment and in a safe place.

You can ask a friend if you can stay on their couch in an emergency and memorize their cell phone number and address in case she takes/breaks your phone.

You can leave a change of clothes at work or with a friend.

You can make sure you always have enough cash on hand for a cab, and memorize local taxi service numbers.

You can get an emergency credit card that she doesn't know about.

Be safe. Ending this relationship will be hard, but if you decide that it's worth doing, I am confident that you can do it.

I can't speak for everyone else, but I personally will still be here for you 6 months from now, and a year from now, and two years from now, and however long you might need support. No matter what you do or what kind of person you are or feel like you've become. Even you think that everything is your fault. I am here to support you in whatever way I know how.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2012 [35 favorites]

Also, if you read my list above and say "she'd never break my phone" or "she'd never destroy my family pictures"...this is just in case, so you don't have to think twice about leaving or contact her to get your employment information. There's nothing wrong with being prepared.

Hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:41 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is an abusive relationship. You either both need to see a counselor, or break up.

If what you were describing was being done by a man to a woman, than pretty much everyone would be telling you to leave now, call the police, and find a domestic violence shelter for protection. The fact that it is a woman who is being abusive doesn't change the fact that it is abuse, and should not be tolerated.
posted by markblasco at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2012

Not normal, not ok. There is some good advice here. No one here wants you to come to any more harm.

I don't know the right words to say, but, as hard as it is to imagine, leaving is the right thing to do. If you don't know how to do it, people here can help you find the resources to do so.
posted by stowaway at 10:47 AM on September 23, 2012

Here's a fact sheet about lesbian partner violence.
posted by xyzzy at 11:02 AM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

She feels alone when I try to leave and like I'm abandoning her, she'll beg me not to go and that it reminds her of when her father walked out on the family when she held onto his leg and begged him not to go

It's easy to fall into supportive partner mode when you hear this. You're not doing anything wrong--you want her to feel safe and loved. You want to help her. In a relationship with a healthy person, your willingness to hear her out and reassure her would be enough. You would not be subjected to further suspicion, restraint and abuse. However, this is not a normal relationship. She is out of control.

It sounds like her fears of abandonment are a serious concern to you. They seem like a reasonable justification for not leaving. They are not. I wanted to address all the false assumptions in the statements she's making about her fears, as I imagine they must come up again and again in your arguments.

1) She is not a child. She was that child once, but she grew up into an adult with agency. It is her responsibility to heal her hurt, as unfair a burden as that is. No one else can fix it for her, not even you. There is no all-giving, all-blessed love that you can provide that will make her feel safe. She needs to seek out professional help. Also, as an adult, the fact that she suffered as a child does not give her the right to inflict suffering upon others. She does not have special dispensation to hit you or restrain you.
2) You are not her father. You do not owe her unconditional love and support. You do not owe her a home.
3) Her needs do not trump your needs. She feels threatened and scared. That does not mean your need for safety and respect should be put aside. You deserve to be safe. You deserve to be trusted.
4) On some level, she thinks she can keep you from leaving by wrapping your head with distortions of the truth and by scaring you into submission. This probably isn't a conscious decision; it's a set of internalized behaviours that play out every time she feels anxious about your relationship. To change these behaviors, she needs objective, professional help. She also needs to believe that she needs help before she can accept it. She will never learn from you that the only way to keep you from leaving is to treat you with trust and respect. That is not your relationship dynamic, and she is too entrenched to be able to change it. Don't hang around hoping that she'll come around to trusting you; she won't. You can't teach her to believe that someone she loves can be trusted. That decision to trust and have faith in you comes with a lot more self-awareness than she has right now.

Once someone gets to the point she has, no amount of reassurance or placating will keep things from getting worse. She knows on some level that she's treating you like shit. She's knows that if you have time to observe a healthy relationship or to think clearly, that you will leave. Any self-respecting adult would leave. Therefore, she's only going to get more and more desperate to tie you to her--more lies, more restraint, more violence. She's set it up so that you have to leave her. If you leave, she's going to blame you for leaving. This is crazy and unfair. You can't win. Don't play this crazy game she has set up to deal with her issues. She needs to go back to therapy, and she needs to come down hard on herself and her issues. She is hurting you emotionally and physically while recreating old traumas. Nobody is being helped if you stay. You will only be perpetuating the problem.

And yes, she does love you, and she does treat you like crap. I don't think she knows any other way to love. It sounds cruel to say this, but she really should not be in a relationship with anyone right now. I hope this doesn't make you feel sorry for her and consider staying. She's capable of finding another relationship; she won't be all alone if you leave. But if you stay with her, you're signing up to slowly be taught the message that love means equal parts pain and tenderness. And that's just not true. Most healthy people are capable of loving in a way that doesn't hurt. Love that hurts makes you both lesser people. The good kind of love makes both of you better than you are because you're both supported in your choices to grow. Do you really, honestly, think this relationship can give that to you? Or do you think you'll always be bounded by her fears that you'll leave? Can you imagine her saying or wishing any of these things? "Don't travel abroad, you might change too much. Don't make friends with that girl, what if you fall in love with her. Why do you have to have that hobby, isn't our shared hobby enough?" Be with someone who makes your world bigger, not smaller. She's currently not capable of doing that for you.

I say all these things as someone who grew up with parents who had abandonment issues and who has some of her own. The emotional state you describe is very familiar to me, in the sense that I've experienced them and had to observe them in others. I had to have a painful wakeup call to learn those things that I just told you. I'm sorry she's like this. Good luck.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:03 AM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

The answer to the question you asked at the beginning is "yes, this is depressingly normal." That said, it's not acceptable behavior. Verbal abuse is not acceptable, but physical abuse in response is even less so. I strongly suggest you DTMFA like yesterday.

If and only if she gets professional help would I suggest you even continue to interact with this person at all. And I would suggest you also see a therapist. Not because you've done anything terribly wrong that needs to be fixed, but because you've been abused and having someone to talk it out with can be a big help in getting your head around what's really going on.
posted by wierdo at 11:37 AM on September 23, 2012

I just want to repeat after the young rope-rider.

I am not going to think less of you if you fail to walk out this minute declaring, "Boy, was MeFi ever right! The scales have fallen from my eyes! Good riddance to bad rubbish!" Nobody does that.

I mean I think it would be a good idea if you did that, because I'm scared for your safety and I think you need to be clear about what's really going on here. But I want you to know that when I urge you to leave, I'm not doing it to blame you or hold you to some standard of the perfect victim.

I'm here for you too, as long as the green is here, as long as you need.
posted by tel3path at 1:00 PM on September 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'm a 31 year old lesbian who has walked more than a few miles in your shoes and lived to tell the tale. This is not normal and you need to break the cycle now. MeMail me if you want to talk. Phone, email, IM, whatever. I hope I can help you with a little perspective. I'm so sorry you're going through this. And I really, really disagree with the commenters who are telling you you're partially responsible. That is just going to reinforce the cycle of shame.

Love doesn't feel like this. You know you need to leave. You're going to be okay.
posted by Lieber Frau at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

Not only is it not normal for your girlfriend to slap you, it's not normal for people to slap other people. I have never slapped anyone, and neither have most of the people I know, and I expect most of us to live out the rest of our lives without ever doing it. Adults who hit people are not fit to be in relationships. Please, for your safety, get out of this relationship.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I really really hope you're not letting your girlfriend read this Askme. I know that were I in your shoes, I would want to do just that, and I know it would be a bad idea.

But if she is reading this, I've got a message for her: If you love Autumn (and I think you probably love her desperately), please cut her loose and refrain from contacting her. The best way you can show her your love is to go away and fix yourself. It's not her responsibility and she deserves to be safe and loved by somebody whole.

Now with that out of the way: Dear Autumn, I don't know where you're located but I'm in Portland, Oregon. If you're near and you need some additional support, MeMail me.
posted by dchrssyr at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2012

In addition to all of the great advice in this thread, I just wanted to suggest that you look around at the other people in your life at the moment and think about if you'd feel safe talking to any of them about the problems in your relationship. Do you have any good friends, siblings, mentors, family friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents who you could talk to? If not, do you have an LGBT resource center anywhere nearby? A women's health clinic in your city?

People on the internet are great, and MeFi in particular is amazing, but I think what is going to help you the most in getting out of this bad situation (I agree with everyone else here that it is a bad situation, and it sounds like it is only getting worse) is to find some real-life support. I know that can feel really daunting when you're so upset and freaked out, but once you've had a couple of days to catch your breath, I would really strongly encourage you to reach out to some more people who already know you personally. I also know that it can feel even harder if you're feeling like that and have to take up the challenge of going out and finding new people who will be able to help you, but I have faith that you can do it.
posted by colfax at 2:08 PM on September 23, 2012

It is not normal. It is not ok. It is not acceptable. You did not deserve it. She can love you and still hit you. That doesn't make it healthy or mean that you should necessarily stay together. Two people can love each other and still be TERRIBLE to each other.

I was in a horrible relationship with a guy who pushed my buttons like he had an owner's manual. He could get me from completely calm to ABSOLUTELY FUCKING ENRAGED in about two minutes. I remember, crystal-clearly, one time when I desperately wanted to slap him across the face. I was so angry I could barely speak, I was crying, he was about 10 inches taller and had at least 65 pounds on me, so I knew I wouldn't really hurt him, and I knew it would get his attention in a way my words and tears weren't. But I still couldn't bring myself to hit him. It was a line I couldn't cross. Something inside me just said, "no" and I walked away.

Your girlfriend crossed that line.
posted by Aquifer at 2:11 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sometimes two people, no matter how much they love each other, cannot be a couple. This is that situation. I'm so sorry, but you two should break-up.
posted by deborah at 2:47 PM on September 23, 2012

OP, you describe biting your girlfriend during arguments. You detail an escalatiion of violence and abuse on both of your parts.

I mention this just in case it get's lost in the chorus of "it's not your fault!"

Even if there was room for doubt earlier in the relationship about whether it was healthy or viable, the moment you bit her during an argument was the moment you should have called it quits. Biting your partner during an argument (whether provoked, self-defense, or whatever) signifies you are in a relationship that needs to end immediately. It's 300% not OK to bite someone, it's not fixable with an apology, it's not something that can be swept under the rug and ignored. it signfies an escalation in violence, as you are finding out. The only sane response to that event was for you to walk away and get help.

It's not good that you've stayed in the relationship past that point. I think you know that now, and that's why you are here.

Walk away before someone gets irreversibly injured or worse. Then seek therapy. Be honest about you participation in the escalation. Work on yourself from the inside.
posted by jbenben at 5:11 PM on September 23, 2012

Biting someone because they have a hand/arm over your mouth (which can make it difficult to breathe) isn't an escalation. Doing something that makes it hard for someone to breath, talk, communicate--that is an escalation and a very dangerous one.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:23 PM on September 23, 2012 [22 favorites]

jbenben, really? The OP bit her partner because she was being physically restrained against her will. How was she supposed to "walk away" from that?

If there was a moment during which OP should have called it quits, I have a hard time seeing why that moment is her biting a partner who has otherwise been "physically preventing me from leaving a room by holding me even when I ask to be let go and try to get away or throwing me on the couch or bed or pinching my jaw with two fingers to make me look at her or something. Or dragging me back into the car when I tried to walk away from the argument and pinning me down while I struggled to get away."
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [10 favorites]

Just to chime in. Get the fuck out of there. This is a physically abusive relationship. Leave. Now. Someone's going to get injured.
posted by Francis at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2012

Here is some impartial information on domestic violence from The Mayo Clinic (includes consideration of non-hetero relationships) and Manitoba's Department of Justice.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:47 PM on September 23, 2012

If someone had their hand over my mouth I would bite them too.
posted by space_cookie at 6:16 PM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

Leave now! You are the victim in an abusive relationship. This is a deal-breaker, no matter how otherwise great you think she is. Leave now and avoid her like the plague. The longer you stay, the harder it will be to leave.

(My credentials: I watched my mom struggle through a couple of abusive relationships.)
posted by fullerenedream at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2012

Loving partners do not deliberately say hurtful things, ever.

Despite a lot of other good and reasonable advice in this thread, the above statement is absolutely not true.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:30 PM on September 23, 2012

It is not normal, or healthy, or morally defensible to behave the way your partner has been behaving.

You deserve (much) better.

Quite frankly, being alone would be (much) better.

I concur that you should call the domestic violence hotline previously mentioned, and I hope you get out of this relationship soon.
posted by SMPA at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2012

From an anonymous commenter:
I agree with jbenben. This is escalating on both your sides, and that's not good for either of you.

It's always interesting in these sorts of discussions that there are people who will flatly assert that "Violence is NEVER okay" - and then bend over backwards to excuse violence on the victim's part. There's a disconnect in play here.

I was brought up with the language of violence - my abusive parent regularly broke wooden spoons, coathangers, etc, hitting me with them, or used metal things so they wouldn't break. That was part of my formative years, so I internalised it and it became part of how I learned to relate to people I loved. It took time, proof that that was not a healthy way to relate to people, and the conscious choice that that was not a part of who I wanted to be in order for me to change that part of me.

And I'll admit: before I reached that conclusion, I'd slapped a lover myself. I had reasons, but they are not excuses so I'm not going to try and justify my action with them. Suffice to say that in that moment, I learned the hard way that trading pain for pain was not a constructive approach to solving problems.

Your girlfriend needs that time and understanding to change herself. That she wants to go back to therapy is good - a good therapist will be very useful to her in changing this. But there is NOTHING that obliges you to stick around while she does. In fact, breaking out of this relationship dynamic is probably a key part of that change for her, since once you're enmeshed in a pattern like this, it's very, very hard to break free.

There was something else that stood out me in what you've written. You know your partner is terrified of abandonment, clings to you during moments of conflict... and you're walking away, refusing to look at her, shutting down and shutting her out during arguments? You have your reasons for doing so, but you also know that it escalates things and sends her into a frenzied panic, and you're still doing those things. Whether you mean it consciously or not, you're pushing her buttons - buttons that you know are there, because she's told you about them - and the results are horrible for both of you.

To me, it sounds like you're bringing out the worst in each other when you fight - you are working each other up into an emotional maelstrom - to the point where you freak out and start screaming or shut down and walk out, and where she is driven to physical violence by the emotional pain or desperately trying to stop you from leaving.

This is not a good relationship for anyone in it.

You felt you had no other choice but to bite her; she probably feels she had no choice but to push you around to get you to stay, or listen. I don't think either of you are right, but it takes time to learn that.

So learn from this. You're stung by being slapped; she has a mark from your teeth. Things are getting worse, not better.

Choose to end things before you end up with physical scars. Sadly, I expect the emotional scars are already there for both of you.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:41 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's always interesting in these sorts of discussions that there are people who will flatly assert that "Violence is NEVER okay"

There is a difference between abuse and violence. Abuse is never okay but violence sometimes is. If I'm attacked on the street, I might have to use violence to get myself to safety. And no one would fault me for it. If someone is physically restraining me covering up my mouth with their arm and I'm out-powered and can't get away...I will bite the hell out of their arm.

she probably feels she had no choice but to push you around to get you to stay, or listen.

This sentence is a textbook example of victim blaming.

You felt you had no other choice but to bite her

Well no shit she had no other choice. She was being physically restrained by a person much bigger and powerful than her and her girlfriend's entire arm was covering her mouth...not hand, ARM. That is a potentially life threatening situation.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2012 [14 favorites]

Rights and responsibilities

"I have the right to do what is necessary to protect my physical and mental health
even though this sometimes requires non-assertive or aggressive behavior and
discomforting others.

I have the responsibility to do this in a way that causes the least amount of harm to both myself and others."

I think you fulfilled your responsibility and stood up for your rights. I don't think your partner did the same.
posted by jaguar at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I did not read the other comments, but my two cents is:
a) her behavior sounds abusive and controlling,
b) being with an abusive partner can cause someone who does not normally behave in extreme ways to do things like you describe,
c) the ways you are behaving (yelling "fuck you," biting) are aggressive, and are not appropriate behavior,
d) the ways that YOU are behaving should be a red flag to you that all of this has gone way too far for you to handle,
e) regardless of what you did, she should NOT slap you; two wrongs do not make a right,
f) her slapping you should be a red flag to you that this has gone way too far.

I would advise you to break up with her. If you won't, I would advise you to learn to defend your boundaries and your standards for how you will and won't be treated in non-aggressive but powerfully assertive ways. You probably need someone to help you figure this out, to practice with you, and to encourage you to keep doing it.

Best wishes for quickly finding more peace here. Remember: the fastest way to get someone to stop abusing you is to break up with them (keeping in mind that the danger may escalate while you are doing this). You can change how you behave more easily than you can change how they behave.
posted by salvia at 9:06 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You know your partner is terrified of abandonment, clings to you during moments of conflict... and you're walking away, refusing to look at her, shutting down and shutting her out during arguments?

I personally do this because I don't want to exacerbate the problem. I don't want to be nasty, rude, swear at, or antagonise the situation, so I shut myself up and try to remove myself from the situation to calm down. I am often emotionally overwhelmed and cannot think about anything other than protecting myself.

The other person's emotions pertaining to abandonment are not my responsibility, but the responsibility of the person who is scared of being abandoned. The onus is on them to get help for those feelings. The responsibility I have is to protect myself and to not escalate the problem.

The OP should not be forced into the role of playing mental health professional.

Biting and swearing at someone are not appropriate, but nor is forcing someone into that position.

Ultimately, this is not a healthy relationship and I hope the OP realises this by now.
posted by heyjude at 9:40 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I actually bit someone years ago during an argument when I was being physically restrained.

The person I bit was my mother. I promptly dropped out of college, got a job, and moved out of my childhood home within a week, being careful to stay at friends' houses in the meantime.

Like the anonymous mefite above I also grew up physically and emotionally abused, and had a skewed sense of how to behave appropriately in intimate relationships in my early adult life.

I am sorry if my original two comments incited heated debate, triggered anyone, or was inflammatory. None of the was my intent. Rather, I noticed a dangerous pattern the OP is actively participating in, and I know where it eventually leads.

Abused or not, we all must draw boundaries on our own behavior. In a very practical and self-empowering way, this is more useful for the OP than focusing on the wrongdoing of the person who initiates the abuse or violence in intimate relationships. Forget what the other person is doing! Worry about what you are doing!! The moment you find yourself biting someone during a confrontation is the moment you say to yourself, "Self, it's time to end this relationship and break up! I don't like who I am with this person, I can't afford whatever might happen next."

If you do the self-work, and in the future learn to refuse relationships that push you into behaviors (during arguments) that are in deal-breaker territory in terms of your own sense of responsibility towards yourself, you are MUCH better off. It's much easier to avoid abusers, because it's about you and who you want to be, not them.

I'm not always elegant here in my answers, but I did mean well.

Incidentally, here's how my story turned out...

Within about two years of the biting incident when I was 18, my mother engineered it so that my dad cut me off financially mid-semester while I was away at school, so that I felt at the time I had no choice but to move back in with her. Within four months, long story, something pretty bad happened at her instigation and I'm fairly certain to this day her intention was to cause a fatality (mine) and claim self-defense. I say this because I heard her claiming to the police on the evening in question that I was on drugs and she was afraid I was going to kill her - neither was at all true. We had not even argued, although she had raged around the house for a bit while I was locked in my bedroom before calling the police.

In short, I would have been better off if I had never ever gone back.

For the OP, she keeps going back even though it is clear the whole situation has descended into deal-breaker territory.

Did I engage similarly with intimate partners of the wrong stripe after getting free of my abusive childhood? YES. Was I responsible for acting inappropriately with these partners? YES.

When I realized that avoiding abusive types kept me from behaving badly or being abusive myself, my life improved immeasurably.

OP, this is the self-work that I am referring to in my original two comments.

Based on direct personal experience, there is no way I can tell you that you have no power in this situation. I know better because I've been there. Every time I chose to continue on in a relationship that turned abusive, I was re-enacting abuse from my childhood, just from a different perspective.

Autumn, work this out in therapy, not with romantic partners. Your life overall will be better.

Again, sorry I upset anyone. Hope this clarified it all.
posted by jbenben at 11:19 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

OP, as some others have suggested, I would also very, very strongly suggest that you contact an LGBT support service to talk with someone who has professional experience with domestic violence in same sex relationships, because as much as everyone in this thread would like to help, most people are going to approach it through their own lens which may be a very different life experience than yours.

I hope the voices here have been helpful in assuring you that this is not okay, you do not deserve it, you are not not to blame, not victimizing yourself, not overreacting, as you mentioned in your question, and also, I hope, have convinced you that this is not something to ignore. But for more context sensitive and pertinent advice, you should definitely speak with skilled, trained, qualified sources. Insectosaurus posted some helpful info above, and if you would like to contact any of us to help you find qualified LGBT resources in your area, we would be happy to.

I feel like there's a possibility that someone in a same-sex partnership will often feel that they are less supported generally in their communities, and even (or, in some cases, "especially") by friends and family than someone who fits the "typical" profile of a domestic abuse victim, thus feeling even more isolated within what is already a very traumatic and isolating experience... and I also imagine that the feeling of marginalization because of one's sexual orientation makes it even more difficult to seek out help in this situation since there is probably distrust and wariness of official channels and bodies. So speak to someone who is explicitly sympathetic, informed and experienced on that front, and who understands not only the typical pernicious patterns of abusive relationships, but the further unique stressors involved for LGBT partners.

Good luck, and don't be afraid to reach out for help finding qualified advice!
posted by taz at 12:54 AM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Is there something wrong with me that makes my partners treat me this way?

No, and there never is. I have been in relationships with women who had been hit by previous partners. One had been in a series of such relationships. In exactly none of my relationships did anything about these women make me punch, slap, push, smother or otherwise physically abuse them. There is nothing about a person that makes someone else treat them like this. Even if I discovered out of the blue that something about a partner caused me to feel uncontrollable rage, the solution would be to immediately leave the situation.

If this has happened more than once ('partners'), it might be that you aren't great at noticing warning signs in relationships, but the responsibility for hitting someone is with the person who hits.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:22 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone above asks if we realize this is a lesbian relationship, and if the replies would be different if we did. Short answer: No, the answers would be exactly the same.

It doesn't matter if this was a situation between two men, two women, one man/one woman or a group of people....

The OP is a victim of domestic abuse (that bite while being restrained? Purely self defense), and needs to get out of there before the abuse escalates even more than it already has --- and it WILL escalate, this stuff always does. OP is not to blame in any way for her partner hitting/punching/slapping/etc. her, nor is she going to be responsible if Partner 'feels alone' when OP leaves.
posted by easily confused at 4:26 AM on September 24, 2012

I am very very sorry, and I understand your confusion. You are in a very difficult situation, it's not easy but you need to do some very difficult things.

Any physical restraint, nevermind violence, is abuse. Screaming and shouting is awful, hurtful and wrong but both of you should always have the option of just walking away.

There's nothing wrong with you; but you are in a relationship which is going wrong.

I'm just another +1 in the answers here but; please go and stay somewhere else, now, tonight and see if you can (both) get some help to sort things out.
posted by BadMiker at 5:40 AM on September 24, 2012

No no no no no no this is not normal. Get out, and get out now. You are being physically and emotionally abused. Hitting you, and then blaming YOU for her violent outbursts is abusive behavior.

There is nothing you could do to her and nothing that could have happened to her in the past that makes it okay for her to hit you. Nothing.
posted by inertia at 8:29 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here are two articles you may be interested in reading on this topic.
posted by sugarbomb at 9:11 AM on September 24, 2012

This whole relationship sounds liek it has gone on far too long before either party established boundaries. It's good that the slap is finally highlighting the need, but really the restraining, yelling hurtful tings, biting, crying jags, blaming, etc that have occured in teh past before the slap should have been triggers that more boundaries need to be defined.

You should break up. None of this is ok and quite frankly doesn't sound saveable without some time apart.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:50 AM on September 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thought I'd update that I did not leave her, things escalated and eventually I hit her back. She hit me again and I hit her again. We're living apart now and I'm in therapy, she may be attending with me in the future.
posted by Autumn at 1:47 PM on January 2, 2013

oh come on. What part of 'you two should break up and have no contact for ever' was not clear in every question you've asked about this relationship?
posted by jacalata at 2:48 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Couples therapy is not appropriate for an abusive relationship. Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:37 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm glad you're not living with her and pursuing therapy. Take this time to figure out what you need to do for yourself.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:21 AM on January 4, 2013

Thanks for the update. I know leaving is not straightforward or simple. I'm glad you have some measure of safety in not living with her. But your update says only one thing: things have gotten worse, not better. There is nothing here that should be rescued. You need to need to end this.
posted by dry white toast at 9:23 PM on January 4, 2013

Response by poster: Did not know people were still following this! Final update: We're broken up now. She broke up with me. She was talking for weeks about how she loved me and wanted to be with me but that she didn't feel she should be together. I got tired of it and told her to just choose and she chose to break up.

I'm more OK than I thought I would be. I cried when she was here and when she called, then the tears dried up and my life has gone back to normal. I still carry a pain in my chest but I've felt much worse. I'm worried this is just temporary and I'll break down later.

I've asked her not to contact me or come over anymore and she said what if she came over anyway. I said, "I'm either going to kick you out or beg you to get back together." And she said, "But what if that's what I want you to do?" then she went on about how she didn't really want to break up but thought it was for the better and we both cried and haven't spoken since. She has already tried to call me again even though I asked her not to so there might be more problems with that in the future, I don't know.

But this will be my final update to avoid threadsitting. Thought I'd at least let you know that we did break up, one way or the other. I don't have any hard feelings regarding the things she did.
posted by Autumn at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2013

She has already tried to call me again even though I asked her not to so there might be more problems with that in the future, I don't know.

Even if it feels like something you don't want to do, I think it might be really really helpful right now to block her on your phone, email, and anywhere else she can contact you. If you want you can have emails forwarded to another address before they're deleted, or dumped automatically in a folder and removed from your inbox or something. Make it easy for the boundaries you've set to be respected, and give yourself a breather from all this.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:18 AM on January 9, 2013

I still carry a pain in my chest but I've felt much worse. I'm worried this is just temporary and I'll break down later.

Be prepared for this to go in cycles. Don't worry if you sometimes feel sad, or angry, or idiotically happy, or guilty or whatnot else. It is part of the process of dealing with loss, but also of de-compressing. All the same, a partnership where people hit each other is not worth having, ever, so it is worth it.

Eat some chocolate. Worked for me.
posted by Namlit at 2:06 AM on January 10, 2013

I've asked her not to contact me or come over anymore and she said what if she came over anyway.

Just to be clear, this is not okay on her part, and neither is her calling you. If she came over despite you asking her not to, it would not be romantic or sweet or dedicated--it would be abusive and a continuation of her pattern of abuse. She might see breaking up with you as something that does not release you from your obligation to do what she wants, be available when she wants you, etc. That is nonsense. She has no right to infringe upon your boundaries, call you, or visit you.

You probably don't feel as badly as you expected to because being out of this relationship is the right thing. That doesn't mean you won't feel upset or hurt in the future, it just means that bad relationships are so bad that getting out of them often brings a feeling of relief.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:09 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

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