Dear Barb – Dealing with Abuse

Dear Barb:

My boyfriend and I have been living together for two years. We dated for one year before moving in together. While we were dating he was loving, supportive, and open We had a lot of fun together. I really believed he was the man I would like to spend my life with. Our first year of living together was also wonderful. However, things began to change during the second year. My boyfriend became very possessive and no longer wanted me to go out with my friends. As a result, we began fighting all of the time. Some of these fights escalated and became physical. Although he apologizes after these outbursts and promises he will never hit me again, he always does. I’m afraid for my safety, but I’m even more afraid to leave. I just don’t know what to do. I still love him and really want us to work this out. I think he really is a good person. I just don’t know what to do.

Cindy – Indiana

Hi Cindy. Your confusion is evident. I can imagine how devastated you must have been when the man you love physically assaulted you. Unfortunately, this situation occurs more often than most people realize. This issue is now receiving some recognition, unlike the past when everyone looked the other way. The philosophy then was, “what happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors.” This thinking only perpetuates abusive behaviour. Things have improved considerably with women like you coming forward and speaking out. You realize this is not right and you do not deserve to be treated this way.

For the benefit of someone who may wonder if what they are experiencing is abuse I’d like to quote a definition of family violence provided by the Government of Alberta Children’s Services.

“Family violence is the abuse of power within relationships of family, trust or dependency that endangers the survival, security or well-being of another person. It can include many forms of abuse, including intimate partner abuse; senior abuse and neglect; child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse; parent abuse; and witnessing abuse of others in the family. Family violence may include some or all of the following behaviours; physical abuse, psychological abuse, criminal harassment/stalking, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse and spiritual abuse.” (Government of Alberta Children’s Services, 2005)

Cindy you need to take care of your safety and the only way to do that is to leave this situation. Since you are afraid to leave, you will need some support and a place to go where you will be safe and protected. It would not be a good idea to go to a family member, because that would put them in danger.

Most communities have places for abused women to stay while they, and if willing, their partners get help. These are professional organizations that will direct you and your boyfriend to the resources available in your community. I am not familiar with what is available in the United States, but I’m sure they have similar services to those in Canada.

“Changing Ways” is a support group based in London, Ontario, for men who abuse their partners. This organization also offers assistance to the women in these partnerships. Check your local telephone directory to see if there is a similar organization in your area. Also look in the white pages under “Abused Women’s Centers.” The National Suicide Crisis Line has an abundance of information for individuals in crisis. You can reach them in the USA at 1-800-273-8255.

I know this must seem like a drastic measure to take, but many women wait too long believing things will get better. Unfortunately, for some of them their wait is a deadly one. Don’t become a statistic Cindy. Get help now!

Government of Alberta Children’s Services (2005, November). Definitions for Family Violence and Bullying.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.