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Is It Normal For My Girlfriend To Hit Me? Let’s Talk About Abuse.

So many of has seen it, even lived it. 

You’re at a party or gathering, maybe there’s some drinking, and a couple starts arguing in the corner. 

The girlfriend starts to get heated. She’s yelling and starts shoving. There’s an escalation and then it happens. 

A powerful slap or punch across the face. 

She hits him and everyone is left stunned. What do we do? Anything? The boyfriend stands in shock. He can’t hit back (right?), and tries to walk away. 

But she doesn’t let up. 

Her friends intervene. The night carries on. 

What just happened?

If you’re asking, “Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me?” the answer is a resounding no. This situation is never okay, and it’s important to talk about why.

When Your Girlfriend Hits

Domestic violence is wrong, no matter who does it. Unfortunately, as a society, we tend to focus more on men who abuse women. But women can also be abusive towards men, and that’s not okay either.

It happens more than you might think Here are some staggering statistics by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 1 in 4 men experiences some physical violence from an intimate partner. This includes behavior like slapping, shoving, and pushing.
  • 1 in 25 men has been injured by an intimate partner.
  • 1 in 7 men has been a victim of severe physical violence (ex: burning, beating, strangulation) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Men can be victims of abuse, just like women. However, men are often reluctant to report this abuse because they feel embarrassed.

Don’t be.

Even if you are physically stronger than your partner, it’s no excuse for them to hit you. There are healthier ways to express frustration and anger.

A woman stands with fist clenched ready to hit her boyfriend
Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me?

Lesbian Partner Violence

Abusive girlfriends do not only hurt men. Women can experience intimate partner violence from their girlfriends, too.

A study by the University of Missouri at St. Louis found that 17-45% of lesbians report having been victims of at least one act of physical violence by a female partner.

The bottom line is that women also perpetuate violence and abuse against their partners, and we need to discuss it more.

Why Do Girlfriends Hit?

With the caveat that understanding doesn’t equate to justification, it’s worth exploring common reasons why women abuse their partners:

  • Past Trauma: She might have grown up in an environment where violence was the norm and is repeating those patterns in her own relationships.
  • Mental Health Issues: Conditions like borderline personality disorder can manifest as aggressive behaviors.
  • Control and Power: For some, violence is a means to establish dominance in the relationship.
  • Emotional Regulation Issues: If your girlfriend struggles with healthy emotional regulation skills, she may resort to lashing out and hitting in response to intense feelings.
  • Using Angry Outbursts To Get Her Way: If she is accustomed to or even learned growing up that she can get her way by throwing a tantrum or acting out, then that could explain her behavior. 
  • Communication Problems: If your girlfriend never learned how to communicate her feelings in a healthy way, that internal frustration can escalate into physical manifestations like hitting.
  • Alcohol and Other Substances: If your girlfriend is prone to drinking and violence, it could be that when her inhibitions and judgment are artificially impacted by things like alcohol, she gets really aggressive (the stereotypical angry drunk). 

Again, it’s essential to differentiate between understanding the cause and excusing the behavior. These are not problems for you, the abused partner, to solve. But, rather, this is framework for understanding where the behavior comes from. 

Additional Signs of Toxic Behaviors in Partners

Beyond hitting, there are some telltale signs that your girlfriend is abusive. HelpGuide has a great list. Do any of these sound familiar to you? An abusive partner might:

  • Verbally abuse, belittle, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, family, or social media.
  • Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
  • Take away your car keys or medications.
  • Try to control where you go and who you see.
  • Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
  • Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
  • Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.

All these are signs you need to leave your relationship and seek help for abuse.

Being the victim of this type of relationship takes its toll on you. This is true for men and women alike. So let’s explore the next steps if you’re in a situation where your girlfriend is abusive and/or hitting you. 

What To Do If Your Girlfriend Hits You

  • Acknowledge the Issue: The first step is admitting there’s a problem. Speak to friends and family about what’s going on and acknowledge that something has to change. This includes addressing the problem with your girlfriend.
  • Step Away: In the moment, try to remain calm and step away from the situation in an effort to de-escalate. Tell your girlfriend you need to take a break and calm down. Then you can continue the conversation.
  • Personal Reflection: Are you also contributing to the cycle of abuse in this relationship? Sometimes it is the case where both partners are engaging in emotional and/or physical abuse. If this is the case, you will both need to get individual support to improve this situation.
  • Seek Professional Help: Consider counseling, either individually or as a couple. Professionals can provide tools and strategies to address the root causes of the violence.
  • Establish Boundaries: If you’re going to give your girlfriend an opportunity to fix her behavior, you have to establish firm boundaries. What behavior is and is not acceptable in order for you to stay in this relationship? These are things you an work out with a counselor or in couple’s therapy. 
  • Lean on a Support System: Trusted friends and family members are critical during times like these. Lean on them for emotional support and have a back up plan in case you need a place to go if things escalate again. 
  • Prioritize Your Safety: If the violence escalates, don’t hesitate to leave or contact authorities.
  • Leave the Relationship: At some point, you may have to decide that leaving is the only way to maintain your personal and emotional safety. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it may be a necessary one.

Resources For Male Victims of Domestic Violence:

There are several resources available for men who are being abused in a relationship. Some of these resources include:

1. National Domestic Violence Hotline: This hotline provides confidential support 24/7/365 for anyone affected by domestic violence. You can reach them at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit their website at https://www.thehotline.org.

2. Men’s Domestic Violence Group: Facilitated by Sean Galla, this online support group offers a safe space for men to share their experiences and receive encouragement to overcome domestic violence. You can learn more about the group at https://mensgroup.com/mens-domestic-violence-group/.

3. Local Domestic Violence Organizations: Many states and cities have organizations that provide support and resources for victims of domestic violence, including men. You can search for local providers and resources in your area.

4. HelpGuide.org: This website offers an article specifically addressing help for men who are being abused, which includes information on recognizing abuse, overcoming barriers to seeking help, and finding resources. Visit https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-men-who-are-being-abused.htm for more information.

5. DomesticShelters.org: This website provides a guide for male survivors of domestic violence, including information on identifying abuse, reaching out for help, and practicing self-care. You can find a shelter near you by visiting their Find Help page at https://www.domesticshelters.org/articles/ending-domestic-violence/a-guide-for-male-survivors-of-domestic-violence.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you. Reach out to these organizations and take the necessary steps to ensure your safety and well-being.

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