My boyfriend is an abusive alcoholic

I think I ought to leave him but I'm scared and can't think straight.

Cary Tennis
May 26, 2006 2:55PM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I am 26 and I've been in a relationship with a 28-year-old abusive alcoholic for over two years. Thankfully, it did not take me more time to realize that I was in a bad place and had to go. That's the good part about this situation. I loved this man and believed he loved me too. We had such good times and so many plans for the future and I am devastated to have to let go of that. But he has this problem, so I'm smart enough to realize that no matter how much I love him, it's not going to make a difference. I say this because at some point I did believe that I could change him. This sounds so clichéd to me now that I want to throw up. I want to throw up because I always mocked all those Lifetime Network-type women, women I see as weak, pathetic, dependent, naive, ignorant. And now here I am. I despise myself because I have allowed someone else to make me feel weak, afraid and vulnerable.


Now I am ready to leave but have not told him. I am afraid because in the past when I have tried to leave him, he goes on crazy drinking binges, loses his mind and hurts me and threatens my family. This man is a monster when he drinks (and lately, when sober too!). I have had him arrested in the past but he would always sweet talk me into not talking to the D.A. You see, he's got a criminal record -- no violence against women (I'm the first woman he's ever hit, I don't know why me, but whatever), but there are some felonies in there. He always told me that if I pressed charges he would go away for a long time. I didn't want to be the one responsible for him going to jail for years and years so I always obeyed. But now I've had it. I'm not taking this anymore, not for one more day. It is just ridiculous! Why does he think he has the right to treat me like this? And I have been so good to him, really.

Now, I'm just mad. I have four days left before my temporary order of protection runs out against this man. That gives me four days to talk to the D.A. and put him where he belongs. If I do this, I know I am doing it out of anger, yes, but also safety ... he's going to come after me and attack me and my family if he thinks I dumped him. But yet, I still feel bad! I still have compassion! Ugh, Cary, should I just try to disappear until he gets over this and meets someone new to terrorize? Should I put him in jail? Maybe his resentment will grow in jail and when he gets out, he'll come after me? And everything aside, I do love him. I can't explain it, it makes no sense, but it is complicating the situation, so I need a sound mind like yours to help.

Fragmented Mind


Dear Fragmented Mind,

You need to get somewhere safe.

To do that, it helps to have a clear head. But if you don't have a clear head, you can use somebody else's.

I suggest you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and talk to a clear head there.


That is what you need to do first. You need to get somewhere safe. But you need somebody else to think it through for you. That's what they're for.

You are used to making decisions for yourself and protecting yourself and being strong. But there is no need to despise yourself because someone made you feel weak, afraid and vulnerable. Think of yourself as a woman pursued, running through the jungle, looking for shelter. There is no room for shame or self-doubt when you are running from a beast. It wants to eat you. It would never occur to you to think that it's your fault that the beast wants to eat you. It has its reasons. It's hungry. It's angry. It's mean. Maybe it's drunk or crazy. How can you know? It's not your fault the beast is hungry. It's not your job to understand the beast or make the beast happy. You have to get somewhere safe away from the beast.


After you are safe and have been eating regular meals with the other people who have also escaped from the beast your head will begin to clear up and with their help you can begin the process of dealing with the courts and so forth. You don't need to think about the courts right now. You just have to get somewhere safe.

Women have been going through what you are going through for a long time. Eventually, when your head is clear, perhaps you will want to study the whole situation and see how it fits into the bigger context. Wouldn't it be great, actually, to have the time and the leisure to look at what has happened to you and see how it's part of a great historical continuum, to begin unraveling the mystery of how the beast found you and seduced you and kept you in fear for so long, and to begin to construct a new set of principles for living without fear and without being prey to an insidious seduction that fragments the mind?

But don't worry about that now. You don't need strength, or a clear head, or anything for now. You can use other people's strength and clarity. All you need to do is call that number and take their suggestions and get somewhere safe.


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