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I am a 20 year old college student that is in an abusive relationship with my four year boyfriend-fiancee. I am very afraid that I will get hit by him because he is always telling me that he hates me and I need to shut up before I get hurt and that it will be my fault. I always tell him that if he hates me that much that I want him to leave, but he says he's stuck because he works with my brother, and we live together in an apartment that we are both on the lease. I know that if he did leave I would probably break down, but is it safer? He hits me in the back, grabs me, and sometimes drags me across the floor. I am afraid that it will get worse. I AM AN INTELLIGENT YOUNG WOMAN, BUT MY HEART HAS THE BEST OF ME RIGHT NOW. I NEED HELP.

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for reaching out. If I had responded to your note two days ago I probably wouldn't have been so passionate in my response. However, I just spent all day yesterday with a friend who was in a similar situation. (She's young (28), well-educated, smart, privileged, articulate, etc...) Though I had sent her numerous notes over the past three years, she hadn't responded until she called me last week and we made this date to meet. What she revealed to me over our several hours together is that she has been in an incredibly abusive relationship--it started as verbal and then the physical abuse set in. She lived her life almost as a prisoner: she had to have breakfast on the table by 7, then lunch at noon and dinner at 5. She wasn't allowed to drive on the highway, wasn't allowed to work. It didn't all begin this way, but it ended this way and worse. No matter what she did it wasn't good enough. She thought it was her fault, as he told her it was, so she tried harder and then the abuse only got worse--he smashed windows, threw furniture at her, and repeatedly told her how dumb she was and how bad she was at everything she did.

Although she was too scared to leave, eventually she realized that it was scarier to stay and to continue endangering her life. I don't want to entirely compare her situation to yours, but I hope you can see the similarities. My suggestion is that you leave immediately. How to do that is a much more complicated answer and one that I am not qualified to give. I have two suggestions, one, is that you contact a local organization (such as Victim Services), and, two, I can put you in touch with a friend of mine who is a trained counselor. If you prefer the latter, simply write back to me and let me know how/when you want her to contact you and/or how/when she can contact you. I hope this helps and I hope that you will realize what my friend realized--that as hard as it is to leave, it's harder to stay. I'll be thinking of you, let me know what happens and how I can help.


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