We will features an honest look at intimate partner violence, what that means, why it happens, and what you can do about it.
Before we continue, understand that you don’t have to put up with the violence of any kind, even from your intimate partner, and support is available if you find yourself in an abusive relationship.
Is it normal for my boyfriend to hit me?
Intimate partner violence is never ok. It’s normal to have disagreements – conflict is a normal part of mature, healthy relationships – but how those disagreements and conflicts are dealt with is essential.
Healthy, emotionally mature people prioritize authentic communication and practice mutual respect in their relationships, and seek mutually beneficial solutions to problems that arise.
They don’t abuse their partners verbally, emotionally, or physically. An emotionally immature person may resort to physical aggression or other abusive and manipulative behaviors when things don’t go their way.
Living or dealing with an abusive partner is a challenging experience.
Sometimes we get so consumed in a relationship that we overlook red flags when they come up. We may even endure abusive behavior for a long time before we realize what we’ve been tolerating.
However, being the victim of physical aggression and abuse is detrimental to your mental health, so the sooner you can resolve this situation, the better off you’ll be.
Why would a boyfriend hit his partner?
What reason does a man have to hit his partner?
Some men and women alike justify physical violence in a relationship as an appropriate, provoked response to unfair or unreasonable behavior. However, healthy mature adults do not justify such actions, so it’s vital to establish what is ok and what’s not for yourself and trust yourself enough to set appropriate boundaries.
There is no excuse for physical violence in a relationship, but some causes of this behavior include:
1. Learned behavior
Physical violence in a relationship is often a learned behavior. Some people resort to aggression when things don’t go their way because that’s how they learned to respond to perceived injustice as a child or from other influential sources growing up.
So, if your boyfriend hits you, he may have perceived something you did or said as ‘wrong’ and worthy of punishment.
However, you’re both adults, so neither of you has a right to punish the other with abusive behavior. Moreover, just because he may have learned this behavior in childhood doesn’t take him off the hook.
We are not responsible for the traumas and challenges we experienced in childhood, but we are entirely responsible for our healing as adults.
There is no excuse for abuse in a relationship, physical abuse or any other kind.
Many people who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence in their early life grow up to be compassionate, understanding people who choose not to engage in those behaviors.
You may feel sorry for an abusive boyfriend when he tells you about his difficult childhood, but don’t let your empathy blind you. Engaging in abuse is a choice; if he claims he can’t help it, that doesn’t mean you need to tolerate it.
‘Being abusive is a decision: it’s a strategic behavior by your partner to create their desired power dynamic.’Domestic Violence Hotline
2. Need/desire for control
According to the Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence/intimate partner violence/IPV is defined as ‘a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.’
Your boyfriend may hit you to exert dominance over you or to control you into behaving in ways that he deems fit or acceptable for the relationship. He may also use violence to intimidate you away from behaviors threatening his sense of security or the benefits he gains from being in the relationship.
3. Poor impulse control
Some people who engage in physical aggression in their relationship act that way because of poor impulse control. Because they find it difficult and emotionally overwhelming to try and contain their emotions and urges, they end up taking out their aggression, anger, or other emotions on those around them.
Understanding that someone’s aggressive tendencies stem from poor impulse may be another reason a partner will feel sorry for and be forgiving of this abusive person. However, remember that doing so enables behavior – the more you tolerate it, the more you allow it to happen again.
Each person is responsible for learning to behave and cooperate with the society in which we live. One key aspect is learning to control our unhealthy urges and impulses.
If someone can’t control themselves, it’s not your job to fix them, and they must deal with the consequences of their actions.
What should I do if my boyfriend hits me?
The easy answer to this question is that you should leave him, but leaving an abusive relationship is no easy feat.
The fear and intimidation that abuse creates in its victims is a powerful force that can keep us stuck in this type of relationship. Moreover, important shared responsibilities such as children or financial ties may make it hard to ‘just leave.’
Still, despite these difficulties, it’s essential to do what you can to maintain your physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being. If you find that your partner is behaving aggressively or violently and you’re worried for your well-being, consider the following.
1. Talk to a trusted loved one
It’s essential to speak up about your experience. You may want to give your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt and believe things will get better, but it’s wise to let someone know about what’s going on.
You don’t have to call him out or confront him aggressively or publicly, but by letting someone know about your concerns, you establish a point of safety for yourself in case things get worse.
A trusted person will likely feel angry and concerned about your boyfriend’s behavior, so ask them to be there for you as a compassionate ear if they can.
2. Speak to a mental health professional
Tolerating any abuse takes a significant toll on your self-esteem.
A physically aggressive boyfriend is likely to also engage in other forms of abuse and manipulation, so check in with a therapist or counselor to assess your mental and emotional health.
A trained mental health professional can help you identify the limiting beliefs that may keep you in an unhealthy relationship.
Abuse is not your fault, but it’s your responsibility to recognize and address it if it’s affecting you. A therapist can help you gain the mental clarity and self-awareness to identify and address unhealthy patterns in your relationship.
Abuse is more than just physical
It’s wise to seek answers online and from trusted friends and family about your boyfriend’s physically aggressive behavior. If something doesn’t feel right, you can trust your instincts and wonder what’s happening. While on the topic, remember that abusive relationships are not just those that involve physical outbursts.
Abuse can also be verbal and emotional. Physical violence is the easiest to notice because it’s immediate and can leave a mark. Emotional/verbal abuse is less obvious, and its covert nature is well-known by those who commit it.
It’s essential to notice the signs of emotional/verbal abuse, particularly if you’ve experienced physical violence already in the relationship. A man who hits you once may apologize and not do it again, but the fact that he has engaged in one type of abuse indicates his potential for engaging in other types.
Signs and examples of non-physical abuse include:
- Threatening comments
- Constant monitoring
- Excessive criticism
- Unwarranted intimate contact
- Coercion into sexual behavior
- Threatening self-harm
- Attempts to isolate you from loved ones
We all deserve a healthy, loving relationship. Nobody’s perfect, but our flaws don’t mean that anyone is justified in punishing or abusing us.
If you recognize the signs of physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse in your relationship, don’t let it slide. Let someone know what you’re going through and seek the counsel and advice of trusted loved ones and/or a mental health professional.
If you need immediate support, don’t hesitate to contact the domestic violence hotline at thehotline.org or 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).