I was almost too embarrassed to reach out, but I’ve gotten to a place where I do not know what to do and I’m very confused. I’ve been seeing a woman for the past several months and what started out as a dream has really turned into somewhat of a nightmare. I met her through an online dating app and we seemed to have a lot in common. Things between us moved quickly and within a few weeks we were spending every day together, and most nights. By the end of our first month she had moved a lot of her things into my place and insisted that if I cared about her, I would let her stay with me.
After she moved in, things got bad very fast. She started wanting to know where I was all the time and would accuse me of hiding something from her if I didn’t respond immediately. She would text me and call me repeatedly. Recently she even attacked me physically, calling me names and yelling, and she destroyed stuff in my house. I hear my father’s voice echoing in my head telling me I’m a wimp if I let a woman control me. She has been putting me down and calling me a crybaby and a wimp when I try to call her out and say that her behavior is not ok, so I realized it’s better if I just don’t say anything. What makes it even harder is that sometimes she is super sweet and loving, like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-type of person. I feel like I shouldn’t be upset about this, but I am, and I’m afraid. I don’t know who to talk to about this, and my friends would think I was a wuss if I tried to talk to them. Am I being too sensitive?
First, I want to highlight the fact that reaching out to us took a lot of courage, and I am so happy you did. Domestic and dating abuse carry many myths, one of which is that men cannot be victims, whether the person perpetrating identifies as a male or female. However, this is simply not true.
To answer your question, you are not being too sensitive. Your girlfriend’s behavior is abusive in many ways. The way you have been feeling — confused, afraid, upset — is a completely normal reaction to what you are experiencing. The description of your fights — that they have a circular nature: for a while everything is great, then things are not so great, and then you have a particularly abusive episode — is typical of the cycle of violence.
Society today tells many boys and men that they are not “real men” if they are hurt by their wives or girlfriends — after all, a man should be able to control his household. This places a lot of shame on male victims, making it harder for them to talk about their experiences. I want to assure you that your girlfriend’s behavior is inappropriate, unacceptable, and you do not deserve to be treated in this way. Many individuals think that they somehow cause the abuse, but that is also not true.
If you would like further information about what to do in your situation, please feel free to call JCADA’s free and confidential helpline at 1-877-88-JCADA(52232). We provide services to all victims and survivors of power-based violence, regardless of gender, gender identification, gender expression, or the gender of their abusive partner. JCADA is a safe space in which you can talk about your concerns openly and receive non-judgmental support and safety planning. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
For the past 17 years, JCADA has offered support to victims and survivors of domestic and dating abuse. These free clinical and legal services are available to any resident of the Greater Washington area, 14 years of age and older, who is affected by any type of domestic abuse. Staff are available to answer questions, offer support, and connect callers to services on our free and confidential helpline Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1-877-88-JCADA (52232).