Is he abusing her?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My best friend has self worth issues. I know that for a fact. She started dating this guy almost 3 months ago. He is a well known player so she was skeptic at first. He always pays for dates and he is always getting her gifts. Since their third date she has been showing up with bruises on her arms, sometimes bite marks. They started out little and worried me a little, but I trusted her judgement and dropped the subject. She went from becoming unsure about him to head over heels in love with him in one week. By the end of the next week she gave her virginity to him. From what I know of her and what she told me, he guilted her into it. She is very naive. She doesn’t hide bruises and shows me the ones on her stomache from him “tickling” her. She acts like the bruises never hurt when she gets them. Ever. He calls her a slut and whore all the time, but he is “just kidding”. He tells her he is cheating on her all the time also. (I know for a fact that this next part happened exactly as told.) They were at youth group and he jumped on her back for a piggy back ride and then started asking around for someone else to get on his back. He found someone and they ran and jumped on also, knocking her over. She needed stitches, but she is so afraid of needles that she convinced her mom to use some type of hospital glue instead of going to the emergency room. (I’m not entirely sure this incident occured as I was told.) They were sledding together and he accidentally pushed her into a thorn bush in his own yard. Her leg from her ankle to her knee was covered in pretty deep scratches and her jeans ruined from the blood. There were rumors going around school that he had cheated on her and when she found out she went straight to him and asked him about it. He was offended and for the next couple of weeks he was off and on nice to her. She has often wondered if he is bipolor because he can “has pretty intense mood swings”, according to her. I don’t know the guy personally. She still gets bruises on her arms and sometimes shows me her stomache. The bruises are normally quarter size give or take. I ask her about them, but she says she REALLY loves him and promises me he treats her great and he is the best boyfriend. Any boyfriend I have had would feel disgusted if they left bruises and would be careful not to accidentally hurt me. The other day she had a bruise from him pinching her that was the size of a fist on the underside of her arm. Her parents love the guy. The guys sisters have recently come to me and told me he treats her horribly at their house and asked why she is still with him. I am confused. IS IT ABUSE WHEN IT “DOESN’T HURT? It isn’t like she has black eyes. I know it hurts when he calls her names though and I wonder if she is worried about admitting the bruises DO hurt because of it maybe being abuse and then she would have to break up with him. She loves being in love and has a dream of marrying her high school sweet heart. Am I just reading into this way too much? Her parents have to see the bruises. She doesn’t hide the ones on her arms. Oh and he used to smoke pot, but I don’t trust his word. He quit “6 months ago”.

Sorry it is so long!

A: Is he abusing her? Yes! I don’t believe for a minute that bruises like you describe don’t hurt. You are a good friend indeed to be concerned. Your friend is in serious trouble. It sounds to me like this boy is increasingly abusive to see how far he can go. He’s already bruised and bloodied her. What’s next?

I’m very concerned that her parents somehow “love” this guy. If you’re right that they see the bruises, they ought to be even more concerned than you are.

Please consider having a confidential talk with your school guidance counselor or school nurse. An adult should step in and help your friend understand that love doesn’t require putting up with abuse and someone who loves her wouldn’t hurt her physically and verbally. It may be tough to talk her out of this relationship if she is so needy that she will accept this behavior in exchange for a fantasy that she has true love in her life. But someone should at least try. It might have some impact on the boy’s behavior if he knew that people at school are watching out for her.

I wish you – and your friend – well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Is he abusing her?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/26/is-he-abusing-her/