Is He Hurting You? Love Doesn't Hurt
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Is He Hurting You? Love Doesn't Hurt

Is He Hurting You? Love Doesn't Hurt The following 750-word article is available for publication in print or online. There is no cost to use the article, but full credit must be included as it appears at the end of the article. Please let us know in advance of your intent to use the article, and when; then a hot link or two copies of the article must be sent to us after publication. If you have any questions, need to slightly edit the article or credit line, or wish to discuss other reprint rights, please contact Kate Bandos, KSB Promotions at 800-304-3269, 616-676-0758 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Is He Hurting You? Love Doesn't Hurt

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

I read with sadness about Rihanna's situation with her boyfriend, Chris Brown. She was in the hospital after fighting with him. What struck me was the way Chris Brown claimed that Rihanna started it. He said that she was cheating and that arguments escalated to a point where he "hit, bit and left her on the road in shock." Unfortunately, this happens more frequently than it should. Many of my patients are in abusive relationships and have stopped caring about themselves. They are at their lowest point and don't know how to get out. Many of them are married with kids and the kids have to watch this helplessness and fear. Chris Brown was subject to abuse as a child. It's difficult when you see a man (dad, step-dad or boyfriend) beat up your mom or friend. You don't know what to do, especially if you're a child. You live with that anger and sense of helplessness only to repeat it with your own girlfriend or spouse.

 One out of five teens report that they have been in a serious relationship where they have been pushed, slapped or hit by their partner. This particular study, conducted by Love is Respect (a national teen dating abuse organization), reported that a fourth of respondents said that their partner pressured them to stop spending time with family or friends. This is a "hallmark" of abusers. They have more control over their partner if they can isolate her.

How do I know if I am dating a person who will become physically abusive?

1. Has he (I say "he" because the majority of abusers are men) ever trapped you in a room and not let you out?

2. Does he make gestures that are aggressive, such as raising a hand or putting his hand over your mouth?

3. Has he ever thrown anything at you?

4. Does he hit walls or slam doors?

5. Does he rage while driving or when you're telling him how you feel?

6. Have you ever seen him hit someone?

7. Has he ever hurt an animal?

8. Has he ever restrained or held you down?

9. Has he ever shoved, hit, or grabbed you?

10. Does he talk with anger and swear frequently?

11. Has he ever threatened you?

Abusive people usually start the relationship by isolating you. You may even feel flattered that he loves you so much that he wants you all to himself. Don't be fooled...this will not last. He actually wants to control you.

How do I get away from an abusive relationship?

1. Remind yourself that this person is not being honest with you. He will tell you that it won't happen again or that he was under stress. No matter what degrading names he calls you don't let yourself believe these things. He's trying to humiliate you so he can control you further.

2. If you're a teen or in college, tell your mom or someone you trust. It's better if you tell someone with experience. This is not something you can fight on your own. If you are over 25 or if you are a mother, tell your doctor. She will help you report him.

3. Make a plan and tell two of your best friends what that plan is and where you will be. Make sure you can escape quickly. Pack your things (and your children's) and put them in a safe place. Do not tell the abuser where you're going.

4. Don't look back. He will tell you that it's your fault, but remember that no one can cause another person to hurt you. He has a problem managing anger and the only option for him is to get help.

5. Recognize that this person has led you to believe you are nothing without him. Realize that you will be so much better without him. The road to recovery is not easy, but there will be people to help you. Just don't go back!

6. Counseling is so important for your healing. It will be important to find out why you thought you ever deserved this sort of partner. Take time to rebuild your self-esteem. No woman deserves this type of relationship, and no child should ever have to grow up in it.

 If Chris Brown's mother could have gotten this advice when Chris was small, he may never have turned to hurting a person he supposedly loved. Children become what they see and hear, even if it's negative.
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at
Start Talking features succinct yet lively answers, sample conversations, and real life stories to help open the door to better mother/daughter communication. Rapini and Sherman have compiled more than 113 questions girls (and their moms) routinely ask - or should be asking - about health, sex, body image, and dating