I started up a relationship with an ex who has been sexually and emotionally abusive to me in the past. He convinced me that he's changed but the sexual violence is starting to show up again. I'm scared it's going to get worse, but I love him and didn't handle our last break up well. I don't know what to do.
Hi anon, thanks so much for reaching out. That sounds like a difficult and alarming situation. You are not alone; people often get back into relationships with abusive partners because their partner promises to have changed. However, change is not easy. Change takes more than apologizing. For an abusive partner to change, it is essential for them to take responsibility for their actions, understand how their actions affect their partner, and take concrete steps towards changing. Some examples of taking the necessary steps towards change include utilizing a control log or attending a Batterer’s Intervention Program. You could also check out this resources on our website called “Is My Abusive Partner Changing?”
It’s definitely not uncommon for people to still have feelings for someone that is abusive. It sounds like you cared about him and wanted to believe him. However, partners that are abusive often say they will change as a way to keep you in the relationship. It can be a technique to maintain power and control in the relationship.
From what you told me, it sounds like he is still choosing to hurt you and I’m very concerned about the signs of sexual violence you mentioned. You deserve to be in a safe relationship based on respect, and it’s never ok for someone to disrespect your boundaries or use violence against you. It’s common for abuse to escalate over time — especially if there is a previous history of abuse. Ultimately, your safety is a priority. If you don’t feel that leaving the relationship is an option right now, there may be ways to plan for your safety while together. If possible, trying to avoid being alone together could be one strategy for protecting your wellbeing as you decide what you’d like to do next.
For more information about safety planning and dating abuse, check out our website, where you can read articles, take quizzes, and talk with one of our peer advocates. We are available 24/7 via phone, call, chat, and text and our services are anonymous and confidential.