Dear Dr. Love,I have been reading your advice quite frequently lately, and although I am getting a better understanding of why a woman as strong as myself keeps ending up with men who don’t treat me right, I am a little confused about my current relationship.We have been together for 3 years and I have lost alot of my independence due to the fact that I am working on my 2nd Degree and financially Retsricted putting myself through school.My boyfriend and I live together and this past year our bickering has turned to verbal abuse toward me. He throws things around, has splashed his drink in my face and even grabbed me and pushed me over. He hasn’t actually hit me, but I have had bruises on my wrists and arms.I know this is not right, but to the rest of the world he is sucessful, sweet and generous. He says it is all me and my attitude and if I wasn’t so ‘hard’and so outspoken he wouldn’t get mad at me all the time.I am a physically muscular woman, and that is his justification for being physical, because I am a fitness model not a ‘dainty’model. Why does being strong have to be such a negative thing? I am sensitive and caring as well.Am I foolish to stay because of my current financial situation? Is the grabbing just as bad as a man who would hit?I really am not argumentative, I am certainly not perfect, but he snaps at the smallest things. Please help me unclutter my mind.
I am going to unclutter your mind really fast. You are being abused verbally and physically, and no matter, what your boyfriend says, there is absolutely no excuse or justification for his behavior.If you called the police, he’d be arrested. And, the policeman wouldn’t say, ‘Because she’s hard and outspoken, he had right to push her around. What your boyfriend is telling you is what all abusers say, ‘It’s your fault. You made me abuse you.’ Pure rubbish.You need to find out why he’s able to snow you out of reality. You and I know that you are being mistreated. How come you are so willing to take the blame?I will tell you that this pattern began in childhood. And, there is a name for it–the narcissistic defense. This defense refers to the way children blame themselves not their parents.The reason for this is because, children don’t know the difference between thoughts, feelings and actions. And they think that if they allow themselves to feel angry at their parents that their parents will actually die.This is the magical thinking of childhood. And, as result of this thinking, the child defends against his anger at his parents, and turns the anger back on himself. This way, he is insured that his parent will remain alive and able to care for him.The turning the anger back on the self takes the form of self-blame and/or self-accusation. And, when the child is mistreated, he says, it was my fault, I asked for it, I was bad, etc. And, this is what you are doing to yourself.In other words, the narcissistic defense is still operating in you. And, instead of being able to put your foot down, and feel the appropriate outrage against him, you blame yourself instead.Your financial dependency on him, heightens your tendency to protect him and blame yourself. That’s the explanation.Now, you need to work on it. If needed, talk to a therapist and don’t stop until you are able to own your angry feelings and not turn them on yourself. Get to work on this now.I don’t want you abused one more day.