Need help breaking free from addiction?
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

Is It Abuse? - Erin - Jun 24th, 2008


I’m not really sure if my boyfriend is abusive.

Everything was really nice in the beginning, he was a great boyfriend. But now he is always suspecting that I did something wrong, was flirting or cheating on him; and I don’t get to see my friends anymore – if i ask, he gets mad. He is always implying that I am such a slut, and he’s even called me that. He pushes me into doing things I don’t want to. He says he’s sorry after I start crying, but if I don’t do it, he gets mad at me. He’s always telling me I’m ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ or calling me an idiot when I have accidents, like dropping a cigarette. I have no privacy: he checks my phone, emails, everything. He even tried to go through my fifth grade journal. And if I simply want my privacy, he says I’m ‘hiding something’ from him and gets angry. I can’t talk to my friends anymore. I have to pretend I don’t have a phone. And I’m not allowed to have any guy friends or even talk to any guys. And I can’t wear certain clothes. Yes, these clothes are small, but when I get ready he tells me they’re slutty and I have to change into something too hot for the weather and watch other girls walk around in smaller outfits than my original one. And he gets angry out of nowhere and starts to ignore me or interrogate me. I’ve even had to tell him I slept with guys who I didn’t actually sleep with, just so he would leave me alone about it. And he thinks I still will get with them, even though I have no contact with any guys. But he talks to girls and in messages I’ve seen him ask them to hang out, give out his number. And there was one he wouldn’t even let me see. I wonder if he’s cheating, because he won’t even hold me anymore or let me cuddle with him.

But here’s the thing: every time I try to leave, or tell him I’m going to, he apologizes and promises that he will change, and he tells me he really does love me, he can’t be without me, and he would do anything for me. And for a little bit, he acts like it, he treats me nice, he holds me, kisses me, tells me good things, says he’s sorry. Then it always goes back to how it was, and he interrogates me and disrespects me.

What do I do? Is this abuse, or is it just a rough patch or something? How do we get out of this vicious cycle?

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

The answer to your question is Yes, he is being emotionally abusive towards you.

First, he is going to great lenghts to control you in every way. You are not allowed to wear clothing of your choice or have your own friends. He invades your privacy by looking into your journals and E. Mails. He is always suspicious of what you are doing, who you are talking to and where you are going.

Second, he tears at your self esteem and self confidence. He calls you names by telling you that you are a "slut," calling you "stupid," and forcing you to confess to things you never did. It seems that you go along with him just to appease him and that is dangerous for you. There is no way to appease a bully and, later on, he will get worse and could even begin to hit you.

Third, his apologies when you threaten to break up with him and his promises to improve the ways he treats you are typical of abusers. Your problem is that, when he begs forgiveness, you feel sorry for him and take him back. Typically, he treats you better for a short while, and then falls back into the abuse.

This is not a "short patch" of trouble in your relationship. This is serious abuse and the only thing to do is end it: break up with him and ignore his begging. You deserve to be treated much better than how he treats you. Stop convincing your self that all is well. All is not well. End things now before it’s too late. Too late is when he will harm or even kill you. You think it’s not possible? The cemetaries are filled with women who never believed their abusive boy friends or husbands could go that far into violence.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • JR

    My wife has accused me of being manipulative. And, as I am an ex-alcoholic not exactly lacking in intelligence, I must suppose that she has a point. Mind you, if I had exhibited towards her the sort of behaviour(s) that your partner has exhibited unto you, I would have been on the street. And rightly so.

    OK, she does get to exhibit similar behaviour(s) unto me, but that is another story ...

    Best regards,


  • BlackAngel

    My husband was becoming emotionally abusive (never calling me names) but in other ways,like wanting to know where I was? things like that- I simply stated "I am a grown woman if you do not stop this emotional abusive behavior, we will be in Divorce Court buddy" that was 17 years ago we have been together 18. In other words you have to stop it before it gets out of hand.

  • nicole

    get out now i am in this situation wiht my boyfriend. I have been wiht him for 8 years and he calls me names and tells me i have slept wiht guys i have never slept wiht and he has driven most of ym friends away and he is trying to drive my family away he always thinks i am cheating on him even when i go to my parents. he told me i slept wiht my neighbor at my old apartment when i hated that guy i lived next to. i am finally leaving now i am moving to my parents i am financial in debt becasue he will not pay bills. and now he is crying and moping around all pissed off. he has no money no job and barely any family. i fell horrible but i haev to do for me and you should to get out now i have lost so many friends in the past 8 years and i am so mad at myself all ymy gy friends are gone and half of my girlfirnds. i have pushed most of my family away and i feel empty. leave the looser he wil never change even if he pretends to i am 26 now i am moving back in to my parents house wiht no money and a low self asteem, the friends i have elft are the ones i know are truley great to me becasue even tho i tryed to oush them away they didnt let me.. leave before it is to late or you have a child wiht this ass hole he will tell you it sint his and make you havea peternity test

  • sera

    i was in the same situation, except my boyfriend had raped me - he didn't call me any names but he did ignore me, manipulated me into pushing away all my friends (to which I eventually got stuck in his world with only his friends as my own), & expected more of me than of him such as not hanging out with the opposite sex. I had severed all contact with my ex best friend who was male after our friendship was starting to come back together - biggest regret I have. It took me two years, but I finally saw a therapist and found validation for this subtle manipulation. He may not be physically harming you but you need to trust your instincts. The thing that held me in such a damaging relationship was that I kept telling myself he hadn't done anything during the duration of our relationship to me physically - something I can replay in my head clearly (besides the rape but I was in denial of it and ignored it the whole time we were together).

    Finally I have gotten out of that situation - it's hard to do but eventually with therapy you can transform your way of thinking in a more personal respect rather than subjective (having respect for everyone but respect for yourself.) Take care of yourself, hun. Think about it: life is short, do you really want to be stuck with this? Do you really want to invest your whole life into this? The only hope in him changing is the tough way - without you. Otherwise he'll just take you less and less seriously because he knows it's easy to snuggle in your forgiving heart.

    I wish you luck, girl - remember you're not alone.

  • Anonymous-1

    i lived with my dad two brothers and my real mom for a while then they divorced for some reason...... we constantly moved supposively because 'she' was chasing us. well we finally settled in a home and my dad found a old friend of his from school years back and he proposed to her. she said yes so they got married i was to young to understand it all. but i WAS really attched to her. then we moved again 4th grade year and i lived 2 mins away from the school. i made friends and i was happy then i dont know what happened me and my step mom started arguing alot i didnt think much of it until it got physical. she would beat me and my dad would watch and say it was my disiplinn i hated it i couldnt defend myself i was scared. i was 12 and didnt even know i had another mom and family. i was abused ( i guess) and blamed on for everything. i cut i was suicidal i was gothic..... was i a bad kid? what do i do i no longer live ther i finally found my real mom and am now living with her but they still taunt me to this day..... was it abuse??


Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.


Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand