Why do they treat me like this?

Is it ‘cos they’re stressed? Because they were drinking or using drugs? Or because they had a bad childhood?

A handrawn image of someone confused

Is it because they can’t handle feeling angry or jealous? Is it low self-esteem?

It can be hard to understand why someone who is supposed to care about you can hurt you.

He took everything out on us. Sometimes it could be that he had been told off at work or he had done something stupid in front of his mates. The tension was building up and he wanted to get that sense of being in control, having power. Then he would come home and just snap… If he didn’t have a reason, he would just make one up. I felt like a punching bag – it was easy for him, he thought I’d never go anywhere, I’ll be there.

Read Donna’s story

Lots of us have bad times, get stressed, get drunk or use drugs, but we don’t all treat others badly because of it. An abuser often uses these things as excuses or blames others.

They say things like “You made me jealous” or “It was your fault” to justify their behaviour.

The reason people hurt, threaten, control or manipulate others is usually because of their attitudes and values.

People who are abusive know what they are doing – abuse is usually deliberate, and isn’t because someone has ‘lost control’.

But often they don’t fully understand why they act the way they do.

They often believe their own excuses.

They want to feel powerful or important

Sure, sometimes we all want to feel powerful or important. But putting someone else down is a really nasty way to make yourself feel better.

Someone who is abusive may like feeling that they’ve got power over their boyfriend/girlfriend and can tell them what to do.

I was told by him how to wear my hair and clothes, who I could and couldn’t be friends with and what I could and couldn’t say.

Irene’s story

They like to get their own way

He would order me around and tell me what to do, how to do it, put me down if I got it wrong.

Fiona’s story

They see their partner as an easy target

When their partner seems committed to or dependent on the relationship, they may think they can get away the abuse. They can take their stresses or anger out on their partner.

He was not abusive before the baby, just insecure. When the baby was born he felt he had a hold over me.

Jacq’s story

He’s proving he’s a ‘real man’

He wants to prove he is a ‘real man’ by keeping his partner ‘in line’. Some guys have a judgemental attitude towards women and think that men should be ‘the boss’.

The worst of the abuse was probably constantly being told I was nothing more than a “whinging, stupid bitch” and that I was “never going to be as pretty or sexy as other girls”.

Irene’s story

It’s all their partner’s fault

Too easy – they don’t have to take responsibility for things going wrong, since it’s always their girlfriend’s fault, right? Wrong.

Some people always feel that other people are to blame.

Every problem he had, he blamed on me, and would always start fights. He was never happy, I was never good enough.

Carla’s story

They want to be the only one

They don’t like it when their partner is independent. They feel powerful when their partner is dependent on them, and use jealousy to control their partner and to keep their partner isolated.

It started when he got mad if I’d talk to my friends or overly jealous if I talked to any guys. Then it became worse. Towards the end of our relationship, I didn’t have any friends, hardly even left my house, didn’t go to school or work (he would have been mad), and spent all my time with him.

Krissy’s story

It was the drugs/grog, not me

They use alcohol, drugs, or other things as an excuse so they don’t have to accept that they are responsible for their actions.

He started to get controlling about what we ate, what we bought, and where we would go. …. When he had alcohol or drugs, he became extremely violent and would hit, kick, throw, and head-butt me… He would always say sorry afterwards and that he would take himself into counselling, but he never did. He made me feel sorry for him.

Jade’s story

What about rape or sexual assault?

Rape or sexual assault doesn’t happen because a guy can’t control his sexual urges.

It’s usually because:

  • he enjoys feeling that he has power over someone else
  • he is focused on ‘scoring’ and proving that he is a guy who gets lots of sex
  • he believes that his partner should meet his sexual needs and ‘owes’ him sex.

I didn’t want to sleep with him because of religious issues, but he nagged me and kept touching me until I did. When I did, there was no focus on me – it was me “serving” him, I had to do exactly what he wanted when he told me to, or he’d go in a complete mood with me until I gave in and apologised – and he got what he wanted.

Read Beth’s story

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6 Responses to “Why do they treat me like this?”

  1. My ex used to say that he hated me, but i just thought it was a joke because he didn’t like public affection, i felt really nervous around him all the time and used to not say things or say sorry for saying things all the time. One day we were really good, it was amazing, he was so nice to me and i was completely inlove with him, but the next day it wasn’t so good, he was ignoring me and making fun of me infront of his friends and i didn’t understand what was going on most of the time, i didn’t know if he loved me or if he was just using me, my friends said that he was bad news, but i could see that he could be so nice… i think about him all the time and i still don’t know what happened or how we really broke up…

  2. just curious as to why every example on this site is about guys treating girls bad, it almost puts me off having a girlfriend just cause i don’t want to turn out like these guys.
    this site might help chicks that have bad boyfriends, but everything on this site says that guys are dangerous.

  3. Hi Sam

    When we were making the site, we tried really hard to NOT make it seeem about “guys about treating girls badly”.
    We deliberately use ‘gender neutral’ language like ‘she/he’ and ‘your girlfriend/boyfriend’ because the site is for both guys and girls.

    However, research shows that guys are much more likely to be controlling, abusive and/or violent towards their girlfriend than the other way round – so our example stories are biased towards young women’s experiences.

    We know that most men are not abusive, and like you, most want to have good relationships.

    Some men can be victims of abuse or violence – from female or male partners. This may not occur as often as abuse towards women, but abuse is never ok, and every victim deserves support.

    If you know of guys who’ve been victims of abuse or violence in their relationship, we encourage them to tell us their stories.
    We also encourage men to send us your positive stories of good relationship experiences too.

    Thanks for your comment, and for bringing this up. We are trying to add more stories of guy’s experiences.

  4. on july 14,2010, i was violently head butted in my face by my 35 year old nephew. he hit me with a powerful blow breaking my nose and i have cancer and a steelr plate in my head. what is wrong wiyh him, i hope he does not hurt or kill anyone. it has changed my life forever

  5. I finally made the move and left him this week. This was after a year and a half of him isolating me from friends, putting me down for making small decisions on my own, stalking me the one time i tried to meet girlfriends out for dinner, checking my phone constantly, hacking my email, and making comments about me simply laughing at work as I picked up the phone when he called (thought I was “flirting”). We are both highly educated professionals; this mental abuse does not discriminate. I was a powerful business professional with everything going for me when we met. The mental abuse threw me into a spiral of second guessing myself, hating myself and everything about my past and friends. He would tell me that I will never be everything he wants but he loves me anyway. He would yell at me in the morning if he had tried and failed to wake me up in the middle of the night to satisfy his needs. I tried to talk things out with him all the time. I went to counseling. I tried to analyze myself and our relationship to find some rationality to it. Bottom line is there was no rationality to it. I only have the power to fix myself, not him. All of our extra time had to be spent together or else I “didn’t care”; this is probably the hardest aspect of my leaving him. Now I’m lost, scared, sad, and don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow let alone this evening. But if my post reaches anyone on the fence of leaving an abusive relationship I want you to know how RELIEVED I am. AND all the friends I shunned, while I was with this ‘great guy’, are the same people helping me move my belongings and get back on my feet. I am truly blessed to have them and ashamed I allowed some guy convince me otherwise. My goal now is to focus on me. I want to do my best NOT to have this experience ruin my ability to see and be open to that truly ‘great guy’ in the future.


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