Potentially abusive boyfriend

 

Potentially abusive boyfriend

QUESTION:

your avatar   Janey, 19-year-old woman

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. We've had our ups and downs but I love him to pieces. He has been known to drink excessively in the past, but that is now under control. He normally keeps his anger suppressed, unless he has had too much to drink.

Recently, we had a very mild argument - we were both very drunk at the time. I lightly punched him as a joke (which I normally do and he isn't bothered by), and he lashed out and pushed me on the floor. I have never seen this side of him and it scared me so much. I know all he did was push me on to the ground but should I be worried? Will he beat me in the future?

ANSWER:

    Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, LPC, LISAC, DCC

Dear Janey,

I am sorry to hear that you were scared by his actions. It is always scary to have someone lay a hand on you, but it is a real shock when it comes from someone you love and trust. For a relationship, it is always a serious sign when it gets physical, no matter what the circumstances.

You say in your email that your boyfriend has his drinking under control, but it sounds as if he still has a problem with alcohol. Whether he has a problem with alcohol abuse or he is an alcoholic is an important issue, but if he can't handle his temper when drinking that is a problem in its own right, whether alcoholic or not.

I would look at what happened as a big danger sign. It might not progress into more violence, but usually these things do not occur in isolation. Some type of impulse control problem or substance abuse is present and I would take it seriously. If not taken seriously, it becomes more likely that it will occur again, because you will be condoning the behavior.

I would suggest reading "Under The Influence", by Milam and Ketchum and "Co-dependent No More" by Melodie Beattie. That should give you a better idea of the severity of the alcohol problem and what it is like to be involved with someone with a chemical dependence problem. I can't be sure from the information that you gave how serious is the alcohol problem, or whether there is an emotional problem, chemical problem, or an underlying chemical disorder such as ADD or anxiety underneath that is fueling the anger. If there is a family history of any of those problems, it makes it more likely that he is suffering from the same issue.

I would recommend that you both seek counseling. Counseling is best when the problem is small and therefore preventative. I certainly wouldn't overreact at this stage, but it is more dangerous to under-react.

I hope this has been helpful. Take care.

Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit: http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/

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