Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Domestic Violence

Am I Being Abused By My B/F, or is it Me?

10/20/2008

Question:

Hope someone can shed some light on my situation. I am a freelace artist & for the past 3 years my boyfriend has been pushing me to break into comics. He loves comics & really wants to break in as a writer. It`s an extremely difficult field to get into and I feel being an artist is hard, especially when he yells at me constantly about the way I`m drawing. He gets furious and blows up if I draw a finger wrong or anything. I mentioned to him that doing the art is stressing me out & perhaps I should consider getting a job so I can make more money. He then gets angry & says I`m too stupid to get a `real` job & doing art is my only option. He threatens to throw me out on the streets or make me have unwanted anal sex if I don`t draw everything perfect. He insists that I`m not trying to draw correctly and thus I don`t care about him, which makes me feel aweful. One minute he says I`m making his life miserable, then he`ll say he likes me the next. I`m confused. Is this my fault or is my b/f being unrealistic? Also, he has gotten to where every time I do something wrong he wants to `discipline me` by letting him have anal sex with me (which hurts and I do not like). It`s always over silly little stuff too. For instance, if I draw a picture wrong he freaks out or if I talk back to him I get asked why I`m talking back. I don`t know what else to do, so I just let him do it to get it over with. He says that when I let him `discipline me` it`s me showing him that I`m truly sorry for what I have done. So I do it to try & make it better, but things only get worse. He`s hot tempered about everything and when he gets angry about something I did he yells at me and calls me names such as jack@$$, moron, dumb@$$, bi^&h & stupid c*nt.

My question is, why does he treat me this way? Could it be because I push his buttons or deserve it somehow? Would there be any justification to his actions? I just need to know if it`s me so I can fix it.

Thanks for taking the time to read and for any advice you can give.

Answer:

Without knowing more about the dynamics in your relationship, it's hard to know whether you're "pushing your partner's buttons." It's also unclear to know the motivation for your partner's behaviors; there are many theories to explain the unjust use of power and control in intimate relationships, which is what your partner is doing in your relationship. Often a person who uses these tactics has chronic low self-esteem, poor regulation of his/her emotions, and intense fear of being abandoned. This is ironic because the very behaviors you describe often push away the victimized person. The bottom line is this: regardless of what you're doing or not doing in relation to your partner or the motivation for your partner's behavior, NO ONE deserves what you're experiencing in your relationship. The behaviors your partner is using in your relationship fit the Centers for Disease Control's descriptions of 1) sexual violence ("sexual violence is any sexual act that is forced against someone's will" - your partner forcing you to have anal sex or threatening to make you have anal sex with him is consistent with the experience of "sexual violence") and 2) emotional abuse ("...involves trauma caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, etc..." Your description of your partner insisting that you're not trying to draw correctly and thus you don't care about him fit the definition of "humiliation." Your description of your partner's name calling ("jack@$$, moron, dumb@$$, bi^&h & stupid c*nt") and put downs (telling you you're too stupid to get a real job and doing art is your only option) meets the definition of humiliation and doing something to make the victim feel diminished and embarrassed. Who deserves to be called the degrading names you have been called? No one, no matter what the circumstance! My recommendation is that you reflect on what you're getting out the relationship by staying in it. Surely, the behaviors you're experiencing are not good for your self-esteem. Studies have showed extremely negative health outcomes for women in relationships such as what you're describing, even many years after the abuse stops. If financial security is the major thing driving you to stay, bite the bullet and get a job. You deserve more. Treat yourself with kindness and respect.

For more information:

Go to the Domestic Violence health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Amy E Bonomi, PhD, MPH Amy E Bonomi, PhD, MPH
Former Associate Professor
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University