Toronto Sun

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Abuse by women often not reported

By VALERIE GIBSON -- Toronto Sun

When people hear there's abuse in a relationship, most immediately assume it's perpetrated by the man.

But despite the fact that this is statistically true, many are unaware that there's also a considerable number of relationships where the abuse comes from the woman. This can take the form of constant emotional abuse or, sometimes, it can be physical.

Abuse by women is reported far less often, as men are often too embarrassed to admit their partners have abused them.

DEAR VAL: I've been violent towards my boyfriend twice after I've been drinking and we were arguing. I felt terrible about it afterwards as I love him very much and he says he's forgiven me each time.

I decided to cut back on my drinking which I've now done and everything was great for a time. Then we had another argument and I lost it and lashed out at him again and gave him a black eye.

We're going to a big function shortly and I know there will be drinking. How do I try and make sure I don't do this again?


DEAR WORRIED: Your boyfriend must really care about you to put up with such violent behaviour. Most men wouldn't stand for it and no-one should have to.

It seems you're aware it's very destructive behaviour and want very much to deal with it and control it.

The drinking is obviously the catalyst and you should set a strict limit for yourself when you're out or, better still, order non-alcoholic drinks. It's possible you're repeating a childhood pattern where there was abuse in your home, or you have deep seated anger from then. Therapy could help you deal with those issues.

You also need to investigate the reasons you and your boyfriend are having arguments in the first place.

Choose a time when neither of you are drinking and try to discuss the causes without anger or recrimination.

DEAR VAL: Five years ago, I fell very much in love, but it was a volatile relationship -- on one minute, off the next. My girlfriend dumped me and got engaged to someone else then suddenly got in touch with me again after he dumped her. We started seeing each other again. But then she started going out with two other men (she told me about them) and now says her former fiance wants her back.

I know this isn't a good situation, but I find it impossible to walk away from. What do I do?


DEAR FEELING USED: Maybe you're attracted to this woman because she's elusive and treats you so badly.

I suspect the woman is attractive and desirable but, although she may want a loving relationship, she's unable to do so as she pulls away as soon as the man is committed to her.

It's emotional abuse and you may be attracted to women like this because of childhood experiences with your mother. Perhaps you now have low self-esteem.

Get some therapy to help resolve these issues or try to boost your own self-esteem by taking related courses, reading books on the subject and making an effort to mix in with new groups so that you can make fresh contacts and friends.


Abuse should never be tolerated, but I know personally how difficult it is to deal with, especially physical abuse.

I've experienced it in the past and learned how it can insidiously undermine your self-esteem until there's nothing left -- whether you're male or female.

I also learned that few people understand this.

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