Is it abuse?

Hey everyone, it’s Jamie.
I just had a therapy session yesterday, and with the way my relationship is with my partner, is considered domestic violence.
No, there is no physical violence, but at times he would threaten suicide/self harm if I ever left, threatened to kill me if I cheated (stemming from a horrid nightmare).
She just doesn’t think I should move back and pursue this relationship, but all in all, he promises to get better and things will be better and different. But, I’m still wary and will believe him and trust me when I see it for myself.
He doesn’t beat me, yell, rape, or anything, but I just feel like sometimes he brings me back to what Bryant and Jesse did to me…
I just need insight.


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17 comments

  1. MarySueWho

    Thank you for sharing. I agree that this is definitely abuse. Mental abuse can sometimes be worse than physical. I agree with your therapist. Do not go back.

  2. Edjay Volunteer

    Hi Jamie,

    As others have said below, abuse can take on many forms, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. You know your relationship with him the best, and the decision is for you to make. It’s a tough decision to make, but hopefully you are able to do what’s best for you.

  3. mkyuellig Volunteer

    Hey Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing with us. You can absolutely be in an abusive relationship that is not physically violent. Threats, manipulation, lies, and gaslighting are very serious and traumatic behaviors that can have lasting negative effects on people. I would say it’s smart to trust you instincts. If you feel unsafe with him and don’t believe he’s shown that he can change, it may be best to move on from that relationship. I sympathize because it is very difficult to move on from relationships, and you can still love someone, even if they are emotionally abusive to you. Perhaps you can speak more with your therapist how to set boundaries and discuss with your partner how what they do effects you.

    Stay strong and be gentle with yourself,
    Keight

  4. Brianna W Volunteer Volunteer

    Hey there,

    It seems as in your in a tough spot and I know it’s a hard choice to make but maybe you should listen to your therapist and do what’s safest for you.
    Stay safe and strong

    -Brianna

  5. Lizzi Volunteer

    Hi Jamie,
    Domestic violence is such a confusing term to most because they think of physical abuse, but forget that there’s so many other parts that play into it. Any kind of manipulation and threats that hurt you emotionally or make you stay in the relationship is still abuse. Him telling you that he would kill himself if you left is not right. Even if he may feel that strongly about the relationship that he’d struggle with his mental health if it ended, he can’t guilt you into staying. I would be wary of him changing and getting better until I saw that it was actually happening, but maybe your therapist is right that this relationship just isn’t going to be healthy. I hope you get some insight and are able to make a decision you’re okay with when the time comes to make a decision.

    Much hope,
    Lizzi

  6. Graciegrace22

    Hello,

    It seems like you are in a very tough spot at the moment. I hope you are able to find some healing through therapy. Just know nothing that is happening is your fault. I wish you the best of luck.

  7. CarmenR Volunteer

    Hi there,

    Thank you for returing to our site and updating us. It sounds like you care deeply about your partner, but you do not have to stay in a relationship that is manipulative or makes you uncomfortable in any way. Your partner should not be using threats, whether they be against you or himself, to manipulate you. You need to do what is best and safest for you. I too have been in a similar relationship. I took a step away from the relationship and realzied that my partners decisions were his to make. Ultimatley you have to decide what will make you feel happy and safe. We are here for you no matter what. Stay strong, and let us know if there is anything we can do to help you further.

    Carmen

  8. Zoe Volunteer

    Hi, Jamie Marie.

    Thank you for reaching out to us. I think anytime someone threatens to hurt themself because of something you do or might do, it is manipulative and abusive behavior. And it is certainly abusive for them to threaten to harm YOU if you do something. I think these are major red flags. Just based on that kind of language and behavior alone, this doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship for you (or anyone, for that matter). Anyone can say they’ll get better in the future, but words at that point don’t mean much.

    You deserve someone who will value you and respect you. You deserve to feel safe and loved and happy. I’m not sure you will genuinely have these things with someone like what you’re describing. So please, don’t settle for less than you deserve. I know it can be really difficult, but in the long run, you’ll be much happier if you avoid unhealthy relationships like this.

    Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do to support you. We’re here for you, regardless of what you choose.

    Zoe.

  9. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Jamie Marie,
    I’m so sorry he is acting like this. One of my ex boyfriends when I was in high school acted like this too. I used to self harm and he noticed so he said if I do it again he would do it to himself, which turned into if you do something I don’t like (even if it was just wanting to hang with my girl friends) he would threaten to self harm. When I saw how controlling he was and that he wasn’t changing (along with other things) we broke up.
    I think if your boyfriend says he will change give him some time maybe a month or two and see if he really had changed. If not you have every right to leave. He shouldn’t be putting you in a position like that. It’s great he’s not hurting you physically or sexually, but mentally and emotionally is just as bad. I would watch how he is doing and see if he is changing.
    Thank you for writing back. Always good to hear from you.
    -Alyssa

  10. sfmbelle413 Day Captain

    Hey there Jamie Marie,

    Abuse is a tricky topic. There’s dictionary definitions. There’s applying what you learned in school in the social science world. Then there’s also the “it’s whatever you yourself defines it as”. There’s so many different ways abuse can come out. I can tell you really care for your partner. Sometimes it can be hard to see the true traits when you really care for someone. And sometimes others (like a therapist) don’t truly know the whole story and only know what has been told.

    I know my response isn’t giving you great insight on what to do, but I just wanted to highlight that abuse can be extremely tricky. You know your situation best so in the end, follow your gut and know what is right for you.

    If you ever need more immediate support, like if things go sour, please know our friends at Crisis Text Line are available 24/7. You can reach them by texting VOICE to 741-741.

    Sending light your way,
    SFM

  11. Jess Volunteer

    Thank you for entrusting us with your story and I’m so sorry that you’re having to ask yourself this question. Abuse comes in many different forms, not just physical. It can be physical, mental, sexual, or emotional. I will say that the things you’re sharing fall into the “gaslighting” form of manipulation.

    In the end, this decision is up to you. The suggestion below about taking some time to yourself to pursue your own thoughts/ideas about the relationship seemed really good for the situation, in my opinion. It’ll be incredibly difficult, but it seems like some processing time would be good for you.

    If there is any other way we can help, please let us know. We are always here and we believe you. Stay strong. <3
    -Jess

  12. Ryan4121 Volunteer

    Thanks Jamie Marie for sharing. What he is doing isn’t right and is certainly something you may potentially pursue from a legal standpoint if you feel comfortable doing so. I think reaching out to a local crisis center, calling a crisis hotline or reaching out to police to discuss options with them is completely acceptable. Most importantly, I hope you do what you feel is best for you. Thank you for continuing to trust us. We are always here for you.

    Ryan

  13. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear Jamie Marie,
    I have to agree with your therapist and everyone else on here…it is emotional abuse. It takes a very hard toll. As others have said, we gravitate towards that abuse because it is what we know and we think that the little bit of love they throw our way to string us along is what a relationship should like; we don’t necessarily know better and maybe they don’t really either. Kudos to your therapist for pointing it out to you! I have had two serious relationships in my life and both of them were with men who did not treat me well while I poured myself into holding the relationship together until I couldn’t do it any longer. The second one lasted for 16 years and I realized that I wasn’t able to be my true self for the entire time. Take the time to hear the stories of others and to consider their opinions/advise before making your decision. Ultimately, only you can decide if you want to pursue the relationship or if it is right for you, but don’t rush it.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  14. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi Jamie Marie,
    I personally think that what he’s doing is abusive and manipulative. Abuse comes in multiple forms, and I think this is one of them. I don’t think a relationship in which these tactics are used is healthy, and you don’t deserve to be treated that way. It’s scary that you’re being reminded of what past assailants did.
    I agree with Solongago’s suggestion. I think it could help to take a break and think about how you feel as well as how he’s been treating you. That time away from him could be beneficial in terms of making a decision.
    No matter what you decide, we’ll be here to support you. Thank you for updating us. We’re here to help in any way we can. You are strong, and you can get through this.

  15. Marissa Day Captain

    Hey Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing with us. I’m no expert on this, but I think if your partner is consistently making you feel less-than, they don’t deserve you. That personally sounds like a method of manipulation to me, and it’s not healthy. Just because he doesn’t beat you, yell at you or rape you doesn’t mean he respects you – especially if he threatens you OR himself. That’s not fair for you to be held captive by his hypothetical threats. Please know that we support you in whatever decision you make, but I want you to be aware that I don’t think you deserve to be treated like that.

    Stay strong. You’re amazing!!

    Marissa

  16. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Anyone who would try to manipulate or threaten any harm against you or themselves, and then blame it on you, is not someone who cares about you. People don’t have to be physically abusive in order for it to be abuse. I dated a guy in high school who never hit me or even came close, but would put me down, call me names, tell me what to do. I felt terrible about myself the whole time I was with him. He never changed, and we broke up, and I’m so thankful that we did, because he was not someone who cared about me. We support you in whatever decision you decide to make, but I hope this and therapy helps. Let us know how else we can help you.

    Erin

  17. Solongago

    Sometimes it helps to take a break from something, give yourself a set amount of time outside the situation so that you can make your decision without as much pressure. If you therapist thinks it is abusive (I do too), then maybe giving yourself 3 or 6 months away from the situation, while you are healing, you can come at the question from a better perspective. You can come at the relationship, if you choose to pursue it from a better place.

    A lot of us make a lot of bad decisions with guys. We repeat abuse, and often choose abusive people because that is what we know, or what we believe we deserve. We tend to be victimized over and over. Threatening suicide to manipulate you into doing what he wants, staying, not doing what he doesn’t want, is really abusive. And it tastes like what many of us have been through with our original abuse. That manipulation is so damn familiar.

    None of us can make this decision for you. But giving yourself a break for enough time to give yourself an opportunity to become less dependent on this person, and to see things more clearly/without constant pressure, well that is the only insight I can offer. And I won’t think any worse of you if you don’t follow it. It is just an opinion from someone who has zero experience with romantic relationships.