Conversations about domestic violence usually involve men abusing women.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three women is abused, as is one in four men.
Regardless if it’s a man, woman, or non-binary person doing the hitting or shoving, it’s wrong (if not legitimate self-defense).
Abuse — physical or mental — is never okay.
So today, we’re breaking down the ins and outs of abusive girlfriends and providing tips on what to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship where the female is the aggressor.
Why Does My Girlfriend Hit Me?
Why does your girlfriend hit you? Reasons abound. Let’s look at some common scenarios.
She’s Nursing Unaddressed Trauma
Victims of abuse and other horrific experiences hold onto that trauma — mentally and physically — if it remains unaddressed.
In these situations, the person may not even realize what’s causing them to misbehave and may not even be aware of their actions.
While it’s not an excuse, there is hope that you two can turn things around with the help of a counselor, coach, or mental health professional. If the situation is mild, self-help books may even do the trick.
She Doesn’t Respect You
Does she treat you like a child? Shuffle you around like a chess piece? When something good happens in your life, is she dismissive? Immediately put you down?
Do you feel more like her servant than her partner?
If you’re bobbing your head up and down, there’s a good chance you’re in a toxic relationship with someone who doesn’t respect you.
In the worst-case scenarios, the offending party may hit, pinch, and shove to impose their will.
She Wants Revenge
Did you hurt her in the past? If so, that doesn’t mean she has free reign. Abuse is abuse is abuse.
If she cannot get over your infraction, it may be time to end the relationship.
And for any revenge abusers reading this, remember what they say about digging two graves when embarking on a pay-back mission.
She Had an Abusive Parent or Guardian
Statistically, people raised by abusive parents or guardians become abusers as adults. It’s a vicious cycle that walks the nature-nurture line. Without therapeutic intervention, humans tend to mimic the behavior we see modeled in our formative years.
Encouragingly, many individuals who seek professional assistance in these situations go on to lead happy, healthy lives and can maintain loving relationships. The key is getting the needed mental health help.
She’s An Addict
Addiction is a ferocious, insatiable beast, and when addicts are jonesing for their fix, their inner animal often emerges. Furthermore, many substance-dependent people behave violently while high on their supply.
Sobriety is the only way to stop these assaults, and the addict is the only person who can decide to get clean.
That said, there are programs for spouses and family members who want to help their loved ones overcome obstacles. If the relationship is worth saving, look into them.
She Has Anger Issues
Does your lady have anger issues? Do small things turn her into “She-Hulk?” Is her fuse about as long as a thimble? If yes, they’re likely the impetus for her physical outbursts.
Scientists have recently discovered that neuroticism and anger issues may be related. It’s an interesting factoid to remember when searching for “red flags.”
She Is Naturally Aggressive
For every amazing thing we understand about the human body, there are ten more we don’t. Hormone research falls into the elusive category. While we know some things, researchers are still chipping away at others — like “aggression quotient.”
To be crystal clear: We are not suggesting that some groups of people are more prone to violence than others. That myth has been busted repeatedly. Bottom line: People from all ethnicities commit violence in equal amounts.
However, some data suggest that being born with either an excess or deficiency of certain hormones can suffer from mental health issues that affect impulse control.
Encourage your partner to see a doctor and get a full workup. The solution may be as easy as balancing out the body with either diet changes, nutritional supplements, or a combination of both.
She’s Hiding a Big Secret
Another common reason people hit their partners is that they’re hiding a big secret. Unable to properly process the situation, they push it down and generate pent-up energy. When they reach maximum capacity, BOOM!
If you’re serious about the relationship and want to fix the problem, being 100% open and honest with one another is step one. If she is hiding skeletons in a closet, therapy is probably appropriate.
Is your girlfriend hyper-controlling — and not in that always-pays-bills-on-time-likes-people-to-remove-shoes-inside kind of way (#goals)?
We’re talking about the women who must have the last say on every little thing. In some ways, you feel more like her ward than her partner.
People with this personality type frequently wind themselves up to the point of explosion and may end up hitting.
Keep in mind that many individuals who act out this way experienced unstable childhoods. So if you don’t want to lose your partner, and her issues are rooted in a rough upbringing, encourage her to seek therapy.
You guys may be able to turn things around with the right support.
She’s Suffering a Medicinal Side Effect
A common side-effect of steroid-based drugs is increased aggression.
Unfortunately, many people have conditions that can only be controlled by pharmaceutical intervention, including arthritis, asthma, and various inflammatory ailments.
These are no-win situations. On the one hand, your partner may need certain medicines to keep them alive and comfortable, but taking them changes their personality.
In these cases, keep working with your doctor until you land on the best cocktail for both body and mind.
She’s an Asshole
Look, sometimes, people hit others because they’re assholes. There’s nothing more profound to it than that; there’s no extenuating circumstance or understandable factor at play. Sometimes, a spoiled brat is a spoiled brat is a spoiled brat.
If the lady in your life worships at the altar of Veruca Salt and grew up wailing on their nannies without consequence, there’s a good chance she’ll carry that behavior into adulthood.
Is It Normal for My Girlfriend to Hit Me? 11 Ways To Respond and Deal With It
Is it normal for your girlfriend to hit you? Not if you’re a living, breathing homo sapien. Abuse, in any form, is unacceptable.
So what should you do if your partner treats you like an inanimate object upon which they can take out their frustrations? We’ve got 11 tips.
1. Protect Yourself (and Kids)
First things first: Do what you must to stay safe and protect other vulnerable parties also living in the home — like children or elderly relatives.
If the situation is fraught, call in the authorities for help. If you can leave without escalating the trouble, do so. Whatever the case, the most critical factor is to remain safe.
2. Talk to Her
Sometimes, a talk is all it takes. Has your girlfriend been under a tremendous amount of stress? Is this behavior uncommon and fueled by another hardship? Does she even realize she’s behaving so aggressively?
Set up a time to have a serious talk. Make sure you pick someplace appropriate. If there’s a risk she could fly off the handle, go somewhere public, just make sure it’s not loud.
Before sitting down to talk, plan what you’ll say. It’ll help things go smoother, and in the majority of minor cases, this type of heart-to-heart is all it takes to uncover the root of the problem and yank it out.
3. Practice Restraint
Violence is never the answer. Moreover, it could land you in the hot seat.
Imagine this nightmare scenario: Your girlfriend hits you, and you hit back. Unaware of your strength, you knock her down; she cracks open her head and dies. Ultimately, that could land you in prison for a long time.
And if there’s no evidence of abuse, people may not believe your side of the story.
So avoid making a bad situation worse, and don’t hit back.
(Caveat: If your life is in danger, defend yourself by all means.)
4. Seek Professional Help
Thankfully, therapy is becoming much more mainstream than it was even 15 years ago.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, consider signing up for a round of sessions to address the issue. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance doesn’t cover mental health, consider using an online counseling service.
A trained psychologist can spot patterns and help pinpoint the problem areas in your relationship. They’ll also be able to teach you tools that will allow you to acknowledge the problems and heal, freeing you to move onward and upward — alone or together.
5. Confide in Good Friends and Family
Every situation is different, and many can be very tricky to navigate. For example, if your partner is having an adverse reaction to a medicine, you don’t want to reveal their health issues without permission. At the same time, it’s good to have support from friends and family.
Assess the situation fairly, and then confide in people you know you can trust. Everyone in your office doesn’t need to know. However, you may want to have a private conversation with HR if you anticipate that the situation will impact your job.
6. Do Research
If your partner’s actions are rooted in something medical, read up on the issue. Getting a better understanding of what they’re going through may shed new light on the situation.
It may also help you develop workarounds until the ailment becomes manageable and your lady works out an effective attack plan with her physician.
7. Draw Boundaries
Boundary setting is an integral part of living a well-balanced life. But when you’re dealing with a difficult person, it’s absolutely vital.
Start by determining your limits. Then, clearly communicate these lines to your partner. Don’t scream and yell. Be calm and polite, but lay down the law.
If they cross the boundaries you draw, stick to your guns and enact the consequences.
8. Document Offenses
If the abuse is recurring, document everything.
To put it bluntly: Make sure you have the receipts. Because if you do land in a legal entanglement, they could prove vital to your defense.
9. Work on Your Self-Esteem
We are not victim-blaming by suggesting self-esteem work. Your partner’s abuse is in no way, shape, or form your fault. However, a healthy sense of confidence will help you better navigate the terrain.
When you’re comfortable in your own skin and clear about your boundaries, clarity follows, allowing you to make the best decisions.
10. Contact Authorities
Don’t be a victim of toxic masculinity. We cannot say it enough: Abuse is abuse is abuse. If she assaults you or goes on a rampage, call the police! Nobody will make fun of you for doing so, and that’s what they’re there for. Good cops use de-escalation tools to cool the situation.
Moreover, if it’s not safe for you to spend the night in the same place, they’ll help facilitate a temporary separation.
Your taxes pay for civil assistance — take advantage of it.
11. Move Out if Serious
Never stay in a dangerous living situation if you can escape. And if you feel like you cannot extract yourself safely, take advantage of local and national domestic abuse services.
Do not worry. They will not alert your partner. Their goal is to help get you out.
And yes, they work with people of all genders. You won’t be turned down because you’re a male.
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What You Should Never Do When Your Girlfriend Hits You
We’ve answered the question: Is it bad if my girlfriend hits me? We’ve also discussed steps you can take to deal with a girlfriend who hits you. So now let’s examine what to avoid.
- Hitting Back: Violence is never, ever, never the answer. So unless you’re in immediate danger of being seriously injured or killed, do your best not to hit back. This can be difficult because of fight-or-flight instincts but cling to your calm.
- Name Calling: Verbal harassment is abuse, so be careful with your tongue. Refrain from name-calling. If the situation escalates, she could use it against you legally.
- Exaggerating: Male domestic abuse is a real thing. Unfortunately, some men make a mountain out of a molehill to gaslight their partners. For example, accidentally bumping into you is not abuse. Neither is mistakenly dropping a pot that happens to land on your toe. Those are mistakes.
- Making Personal Threats: Just as it’s never okay to hit someone, it’s never okay to threaten someone with bodily harm.
- Involving the Kids: Of course, you should protect any children (or older adults) who also live in the house and may be affected by your partner’s behavior. However, if the problem is related to a medical issue, consider how much you share with the children. There’s no need to muddy the waters if the problem is pharmaceutical, fixable, and a biological reaction.
What happens behind closed doors is often obscured. Many people put on a facade every time they leave the house.
Resultantly, a lot of people suffer domestic abuse in silence.
But there is help. You don’t have to go it alone. In the U.S. you can call the National Domestic Hotline at 800-799-7233.
If your girlfriend’s behavior is a one-off thing related to stress, trauma, or medical issues, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to work through things. But if the situation is more serious, seek safety and save yourself.