Social Question

Lady_Love's avatar

If I have been physically abusive towards my girlfriend is it possible for me to get help and it actually work?

Asked by Lady_Love (74 points ) June 19th, 2011

So my girlfriend and I have been together for about a year now. We have an amazing relationship. We are both really good about talking out our feelings, understanding one another, and giving space when needed, etc. About 3 times now so far when we drink we get in fights over things that don’t matter and they escalate quickly and I end up punching her or getting physically abusive in some way shape or form. I am not saying she deserves it or anything like that but neither one of us are innocent, but I am the one who brings it to the actual physical level. Anyways, so it only happens when we drink and I already suggested to her that I quit drinking. She said it wasn’t necessary as we are both young and we like going out, etc. Each time after an incident happens, I stop drinking for a few weeks, and when I do end up going out and having some drinks with her I control my drinking and will only have 1–2 drinks and things are fine for a while. Like I said, the actual fights have happened so far 3 times and I don’t want to hurt her ever. The moment I hit her I snap out of whatever rage I am in and immediately I feel like a complete scum bag and wish I could turn back the clock. I am going to see a therapist about my behavior along with quitting drinking. These incidents only happen when we have liquor in our systems, but I feel like even with quitting drinking that somewhere inside me I still might have that rage or anger. Is it just the alcohol? Or is it something in me?? I really care for her and her daughter so much, and I don’t want to lose them. I want to get help for myself and for them so we can have a life together and a future. Ive never hit any of my other ex’s before but when I was straight I had an ex-boyfriend hit me before on a few occasions.

So, my question is – do you think that getting help will actually help me? Is it possible to change? Obviously anyone can change if they want to change-and I DO. But is it REALLY possible? I’ve read a lot of articles on this and its scaring me because so many people say that once an abuser, always an abuser. I want to take control of my emotions/actions before they take control of me…

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34 Answers

_zen_'s avatar

First of all, you can change if you want to – for you. Not for anyone else.

You are aware of the problem, you discuss it and want to do something about it. This is a first step.

Get professional help. Quit drinking. But it is possible if you do this.

john65pennington's avatar

You two have three equations involved in your domestic problems.

You, her and the alcohol.

Eliminate the alcohol and see what happens.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Yes, it’s possible. You need to quit drinking, but that’s not the whole of it. You need to dig deep down and figure out what makes you drink, and what makes you want to use violence, and work on not doing that. AA is probably a good starting point. It’ll be a ton of work, but it can be done.

jrpowell's avatar

Start with stopping drinking. You obviously can’t handle it. You might want to talk to someone if you feel like you can’t have fun of be fun unless you are drinking.

tedibear's avatar

I have a question, why does your girlfriend think that you can’t go out and have a good time without involving alcohol? “She said it wasn’t necessary as we are both young and we like going out, etc.” Does she really think that’s true? Does she not want to give up alcohol? Just something for you to think about.

And yes, it’s possible for you to do. In my humble opinion, the sooner the better. Today might be a good time to start. Best wishes to you! :)

Lady_Love's avatar

Like I said- I have never been abusive towards any one I have dated and with her it has happened 3 times… 3 times too many. I don’t mind giving up alcohol but the thing is that we go out for dinner and drinks, concerts, etc all the time and have drinks and 99.9999999% of the time it is not an issue. I don’t think it is just the alcohol effecting me, I think it is something deeper which is why I said I also made an appointment to talk to a councilor as well. I want to change for me, and for her and her daughter but reading all of these articles and q&a things is scaring me because soooo many of them say that “I wont change”. I know I have the will to change but is it actually possible? I am not trying to sugar coat it and pretend that just because you want something to be a certain way that it will happen. I am not expecting a miracle without the hard work that goes along with it. Has anyone known someone personally who was either the abuser or the abusee in a relationship and has gotten help and it actually worked??

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Lady_Love The thing about those articles is that they’re trying to keep in mind the number of people who stay in abusive relationships because they think the abuser will change. Most don’t – not because it’s impossible, but because they don’t want to badly enough. If you do get better, it will most likely be when you’re not in a relationship and can focus entirely on yourself – trying to work on that stuff while in a relationship is like trying to cook a gourmet meal while juggling the entire time.

Lady_Love's avatar

thanks @josie… I did read it, and like I said I am giving up alcohol and doing counseling but I want to know has anyone known someone in a similar situation that has actually a good out come where things actually got better instead of worse.

tedibear's avatar

@Lady_Love – Someone on Fluther may eventually answer your request for anecdotal evidence. Until then, maybe go to an AA meeting (they’re free) and listen to the stories that people tell.

You know, I just realized that I had an uncle (my dad’s oldest brother) who was an alcoholic. He quit (with AA’s help) and went on to a productive, successful life. However, I didn’t know him when he was drinking, so I can’t really comment on how much better things were.

Lady_Love's avatar

thank you everyone, definitely helps me be more optimistic about the whole situation. live and learn right??

quiddidyquestions's avatar

I don’t mind giving up alcohol but the thing is that we go out for dinner and drinks, concerts, etc all the time and have drinks and 99.9999999% of the time it is not an issue.

The 0.1% percent of the time you physically abuse your partner is the only time that matters.

Stop drinking. Get help.

Lady_Love's avatar

I already said I am quitting drinking and getting help. That was not what I was asking. I am asking if getting help works in reality….. thanks though.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

@Lady_Love Yes, getting help can help as long as you stop making excuses for not quitting alcohol, which it seems like you are doing.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@quiddidyquestions Perhaps we should leave the actual helping to the professionals, since @Lady_Love didn’t ask us to be her therapist.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs She asked if therapy could help, in social. Thanks so much for the tip, but I’ll stand by what I wrote.

Lady_Love's avatar

I didnt make any excuse for not quitting. I never had a reason to quit before this, and I most definitely do not have an issue with quitting, I said in my original statement that I was quitting…. . Drinking is not what is important to me here. I want to be a stable functioning person for myself and be a good wife one day to my girlfriend.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

A man never hits a woman. If you can’t drink and not hit I think the answer is obvious. Although I believe the woman should leave. 0 tolerance for abuse. Also, if you hit her, you don’t have an amazing relationship. Get real. Get help and if you care about the girl, let her go.

Lady_Love's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet ... I am a woman. Either way I know I should not put my hands on anyone.. male female, whatever….which is why I am getting help.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Yes, it is very possible to get help for this. As others have said, it all stems from your desire to do so, and then taking action. The physical abuse should be your main concern about learning to overcome. The alcohol sounds like it is only a catalyst and not the cause. There are oodles of people who drink alcohol, and even many who are alcoholics, that never turn to violence.

I second what @tedibear asks about the girlfriend’s statement. Will she stick around if you give up alcohol but are still willing to go to events with her? It almost sounds as if she wants a drinking buddy. She might benefit from attending some AA meetings, or possibly Al-Anon meetings.

Both an uncle and a cousin (the uncle’s son) are alcoholics, and they were able to quit drinking with the aid of professional help and the support of their families. Please note that neither one was physically abusive. Again, there is something else going on inside you that most likely cannot be addressed through just AA meetings. It might take professional therapy to get the right help for this.

Please keep us posted on what you do and how it works out. We care and will do our best to cheer you on.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What therapy modalities and methods will help you varies, and depends upon your pre-existing beliefs, specific issues, etc. However, I think if you could find someone that does DBT work (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), either solo or in group, that might be a good starting place, and the facilitator can probably help you figure out what therapies will work best for you, and give you some names.

ninjacolin's avatar

Sorry, I don’t have an anecdote for you, just some thoughts.. AA scares me more than you scare me, @Lady_Love. You don’t sound like an alcoholic to me. Me and a lot of my friends also drink at 99.99999% of the events we go to and few (if any) in my group would qualify as being alcoholics. It’s just the way some people party. Nothing wrong with that.

From your description (assuming it was completely true and honest), alcoholism doesn’t seem to be the problem at all to me. Sounds like drinking incidents are where the catalyst is but I doubt drinking is the catalyst itself. It could be, I’m not ruling it out entirely but I highly doubt it.

Sounds more like what you have is poor anger/debate skills. A lot of people have that. For one thing, your anger/debate etiquette while drunk has now been trained 3 times to approach violence. I think you’re unwittingly conditioning yourself to get to that place while drunk. (ie. You know how some people who’ve quit smoking still smoke while drinking? That kinda thing.) The more fights you have that don’t erupt into violence, the easier it will be to have fights that don’t erupt into violence. Just as the reverse is unfortunately true. Basic human behavior stuff to keep in mind: Whatever you practice you get better at.

You should take an anger management course. You should just do some reading online about it to start right now. You’ll probably learn a lot in the next 5 minutes with google on this topic. Your local book store probably has a beautiful section on psychology and behavior with hundreds of titles on the matter. The next time you’re by there, put your nose in a few of those books, find one that really suits you.

Anyway, onto your big question:

YES – I think getting help will actually help you.

People do change. As I said, I have no anecdotes about this in particular because I don’t usually research this topic specifically. But if you take close note of how the human mind functions, I think you’ll see that the decisions we make are based on our momentary beliefs. If you fill your head with entirely new beliefs, you will react differently to your situation. That’s where things like anger management come in. They give you new raw material to work with, so you end up with different conclusions. (one simple example: Imagine if when an argument was getting bad, you pretended to go to the washroom, then snuck out very quietly from the house and didn’t come back until you had cooled down completely. How could you hit someone you don’t believe is near you? The urge is defeated by your beliefs about your location.) The information in your head or the lack thereof is what is actually causing your desire to throw punches in fights. Change that stuff and you’ll notice a change in your behavior as well. Change can even be immediate. It may be that you never hit your girlfriend ever again starting today.

Getting help is where it’s at. You need new ideas on how to deal with this stuff. I think you’re gonna do well.

manolla's avatar

“I am not saying she deserves it or anything like that but neither one of us are innocent, but I am the one who brings it to the actual physical level. Anyways, so it only happens when we drink and I already suggested to her that I quit drinking. She said it wasn’t necessary

Getting help is somthing that is really needed, but your girlfriend needs it too because she is some how supporting you to stay the way you are and is convinced that it is okay, well if one day you accidentally end up killing her if you continue not having control of your actions, the fact that she said that it wasn’t necessary for you to quit drinking isn’t going to do you any good.

If you really care about her and her daughter and want to be there for them, then you need to change and get help.

Lady_Love's avatar

thanks @Pied_Pfeffer , neither one of us are heavy drinkers in general and like I said we are very good about talking things out and understanding one another on a day to day basis. I know for a fact that she does not need a “drinking buddy” and that she would go along with anything that would help our situation out -including me or both of us quitting drinking.

@ninjacolin BIG thank you.. I dont think I even looked at it from that point of view before. I am definitely googling away and looking into some of the things you mentioned.

this is my first post ever on any site like this, I am so surprised how helpful everyone is being and for that I am extremely thankful for everyone’s replies and feedback.

also- not that it matters or not but I am a woman not a man so if everyone could stop calling me “he” because it is confusing me when I read the replies, I am like..“wait.. who??” haha.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Lady_Love Male or female abuse is wrong. I hope you find the help you need.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Quit drinking and go to anger management classes and counseling.

Porifera's avatar

The first thing to start an effective process of therapy is recognizing that you do have a problem and that you need help in order to solve such problem. And yes, therapy helps, there is no question about it. The problem is how much you are willing to give up and how much you really want to change for therapy to work. No one can guarantee 100% if it will help or not though. It is up to you to go under therapy with the determination of making it work with the help of your therapist. Therapy helps because it makes you dig deep inside and find and recognize those thoguths and feelings that lay hidden in the depths of our minds. It also helps that you have to put a name to your feelings in order to express them and explain them to your therapist. They are trained to pick up on stuff that goes unnoticed to the average eye. They know the right questions to ask and give you the right advice so that you can get better. You will never know for sure if it’d work or not if you don’t give it a try.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It sounds like you want to change your behavior patterns, so you might actually be able to. The reason most people with abusive behavior patterns don’t stop is because they don’t really want to.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, getting some anger management counseling/therapy will help you. You need to learn what lies behind your triggers, how to slow yourself down and dissect moments in order to head of taking actions you’re going to regret. Call up your local police or sheriff dept and ask them what non profit outreach they can recommend.

DesireeCassandra's avatar

I think that if you really want to stop, and its seems like you do. Then you will. :) Stay strong and positive!

Stinley's avatar

I think that a lot of the advice that you read on sites like this is given to the person who is being abused and it is generally along the lines of “it’s not your fault you are being abused” “you can’t change them”, “they need to get help”. It’s not that you can’t change it’s that they can’t change you.

What you are asking is that will conselling help you stop behaving the way you do? It will.

But you have to want to change and you have to put the effort into making those changes. You won’t change overnight or after 1 session or even if you attended counselling for the rest of your life. You have to put the advice into practice. Then you will start to change. It will be a long process and there may/will be slip ups.

Asking for help here is a good first step too

_zen_'s avatar

I thought lady love was a kinda strange handle for a guy – but she wrote “my girlfriend” – whoda thunk that on this gay site we’d automatically assume she was a he. :P

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@zen The real clue is the part where “lesbian” is a tag… But I agree with you about male still being the default here.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Stop drinking. That sounds simple enough to me. Drinking causes you to be violent, so it makes sense for you to quit. As for getting help, yes, that may be exactly what you need. You can be helped.

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