I am a twenty year old woman and I will be a junior in college in the fall. I have been dating my boyfriend for two years, since our freshman year of college. He is also twenty and attends the same college.
In order for this to make any sense, I need to provide you with a bit of a back story, so bare with me.
I did not bring my car to college, so my boyfriend willingly and eagerly volunteers to drive me places every once in a while. I take as much responsibility for the places I need to be as I can, using the bus and walking whenever possible as not to impose upon him. I never force him to take me anywhere, and I respect his time and property.
I work at a newspaper on campus, about two miles from my house. Two nights out of the week, I am required to work a late shift because we are sending the paper to print. I usually leave work on those nights anywhere from 11:00pm and 1:00 am. Before even considering helping my boss with these shifts, I asked my boyfriend if he wouldn't mind picking me up on those nights so that I would not have to risk walking home alone so late at night, and he more than happily agreed.
However, he has recently made me walk to and from work alone, in the dark. Generally, this happens because we have had a petty fight- the most recent was about socialism vs capitalism, a completely impersonal subject. He has made me walk home alone at 1:00 am more than 5 times over the past few months.
I feel very frightened because although the town is relatively safe, it is still a city- there are homeless people and scary people lurking in the shadows along my route home. It's not as though I am walking through fields, I have to walk along a highway, dark parks, and the deserted campus, a known spot for predators. Recently, a man who makes me feel very uncomfortable has insisted upon "walking me home"- I felt threatened to let him walk me home, lest he get upset. So the past three times he has seen me walking home, he has followed me home, and now knows where I live. I have told my boyfriend this story and he said that it's not a big deal and that it doesn't concern him at all that strange, possibly mentally disturbed man has figured out my schedule and knows where I work and sleep.
I would call a friend to give me a ride home, but I don't have any anymore. I always had a ton in high school and my freshman year of college, but ever since dating my boyfriend, he isolated me more and more from my friends that I slowly lost them due to lack of contact. A lot of them have moved, and now I am left with very few contacts beside my boyfriend in this town.
I realize the chances of being robbed, raped, or murdered are low, but they are still a possibility. I don't want to be niave. In our town, there are a lot of rapes reported each year, and I feel very defenseless being a woman alone at night. I would have quit these shifts long ago and not taken on the responsibility if my boyfriend would stop infrequently leaving me high and dry, ditching his promise whenever he feels like it, and then following through randomly.
What upsets me about this is his indifference to my emotions about the issue, and that he doesn't seem to care about my safety or well-being. This is my real problem. He doesn't take my concerns seriously... he says that he doesn't care if I walk home from work for two miles alone in the dark because he says that I PROBABLY won't be in any danger. I expressed to him my fear of being robbed, raped, or murdered when he chooses to ditch me and he has replied that it probably won't happen so he doesn't care.
I feel as though that means that he can't possibly love me. He says he loves me and would do anything for me, and yet when he have a tiny fight, he decides to gamble with my safety instead of working out the argument. When I expressed this to him on the phone tonight, he called me a bitch and said I was being overemotional for feeling scared to walk alone late at night, and that it was my fault. He never appologizes or takes responsibility for putting me in danger, or for anything else, for that matter. I realize that it is my choice to work there, but I would never have taken the job if he had been acting like this in the first place. I will definitely need to quit if it persists, and take responsibility for my actions. But for now, my problem is that my boyfriend promises to give me a ride home, and then randomly backs out, putting me in danger and not caring at all.
He has never admitted any wrong in our arguments. He never appologizes. I am always the one that is wrong. Sometimes I feel as though I must be crazy because he acts as though the way he treats me is normal and that his threats are normal He rapidly switches from telling me he loves me to telling me I'm a bitch, then from saying that he has done nothing wrong to MAYBE he did a few things wrong.
This particular example is just the tip of the iceberg. There is much more that I don't have space to get into. I guess my question is: can someone really love you if they knowingly, unappologetically put you in danger? I feel that the way he argues with me, talks to, and treats me is mentally abusive. I want to leave him sometimes, but I realize that my life would be very empty without him now- I have no car and no friends. I almost feel as though he has purposely isolated me, and now that I am truly alone, he feels he is free to start abusing me.
In the first year, he was just the sweetest guy. Everyone could tell you that he would have done anything for me- and he did. We almost never fought. When he messed up, he would always appologize. But as I've lost more independence, especially over the past few months, his mental abuse has gotten worse. It's as though he's not afraid of losing me anymore because I have conditioned him to treat me this way: that he can be mean and horrible, not appologize, ignore it for a while, and then I'm still around. We fight, and I stand up for myself, but he refuses to acknowledge that he has any part in the argument. I ask for some closure and try to talk about it but he just ignores the problem and it blows over, but it just becomes larger and uglier in our next fight.
He has hit me once, not horribly hard, but hard enough and on the head. We were playing around but it still felt... odd. I feel that I have a pretty good sense of humor, as well.
I guess I'm just concerned that I am being abused mentally. I am also concerened that if I stay with him and nothing changes, perhaps the abuse with grow into physical, even sexual abuse. I am so heartbroken at the moment that he couldn't even have sympathy for me being in harms way. Please, if you are able to, please please give me any advice you can manage from this confusing, jumbled letter. It would be greatly appreciated... more than you can imagine.
Posts: 1 | From: USA | Registered: Jul 2009
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Alexa, I'm so sorry you're going through this.
You are absolutely right: this is very clearly not a healthy relationship, and yes, what your boyfriend is doing is most definitely abuse. He has isolated you from your friends, calls you names, and is repeatedly putting your safety at risk. It's also very typical for it to take awhile for abuse to start in a relationship; that's how people wind up in abusive relationships to start with. To put it bluntly, you need to get away from this guy, and the sooner the better.
-------------------- "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy Posts: 5799 | From: Canada/Australia | Registered: Sep 2004
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Hey Alexa, I agree completely with Karybu that this relationship is abusive. Abuse doesn't have to be physical in order to exist. Many abusers do start out with manipulation and psychological abuse before working their way up to other types of abuse. One book on this kind of abuse is No Visible Wounds: Identifying Non-Physical Abuse of Women by Their Men by Mary Susan Miller, if you are interested in doing some reading on it.
I understand how tough it is to see psychological abuse for what it is. My last partner was abusive in many ways, but sometimes it felt like the psychological abuse was the worst because, unlike the sexual abuse, I could never "prove" it was happening but I knew I felt awful after it happened. It can be even harder sometimes to convince those around you that the relationship was unhealthy. Psychological abusers, and abusers in general, really, are powerful manipulators and can make people think they're really wonderful people or perhaps just a little "misunderstood."
That's how they can lure people into relationships with them. If a person slapped you on your first date, you'd never give them a second date. But by acting like their charming selves, they can convince you to stay around, even after things get bad. I want to point out something you wrote as an example:
quote:It's as though he's not afraid of losing me anymore because I have conditioned him to treat me this way: that he can be mean and horrible, not appologize, ignore it for a while, and then I'm still around.
The thing is, it's not you who has conditioned him, but he who has conditioned you to normalize and accept his abusive behavior. No loving partner would ever force their partner to walk home alone late at night through a dangerous area. I can't even imagine doing that to an acquaintance.
I'd also say that one hit is too many. Maybe a little kid who still thinks eating boogers is funny might playfully hit his or her friends, but an adult hitting their partner "playfully" just shouldn't happen. There's nothing playful or cute about physical violence. And there's nothing wrong with your sense of humor for being bothered by it. I have a pretty decent sense of humor, too, but I don't find things like that funny.
Now for some safety tips in case you do end up stranded again. I understood from your post that the job is on your college's campus, correct? If so, you might try going by campus security's office in the daytime, explaining the situation, and asking if an officer could escort you either all the way home or at least part of the way. Many colleges would consider it something of a liability if one of their students was attacked while on campus or leaving campus (especially if they were leaving a job they had on campus).
You might also consider carrying as few things with you as possible, so no iPod or expensive items that could attract attention. A cellphone is good to have on hand (or at least in your back pocket where you can easily reach it), perhaps with an emergency number on speed-dial. You can also contact your local police department (not 911, though, unless it's an emergency because that can tie up the phone lines) for more safety tips and referrals to self-defense classes.
As for this man who's followed you home, how do you know him? Does he work at the college or was he just some random guy on the street? If it was close enough to your college campus, you could alert campus security about it. That doesn't guarantee they'll do anything, but it will at least be on file. Also, do you have a dog? Personally, I feel a lot safer when I have a dog with me, whether big or small, because they can make a LOT of noise and attract attention. If you have one, maybe you could take it to work on the nights you have to stay late.
-------------------- Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007
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