QUERY: My boyfriend and I are engaged and live together. He is faithful and always helpful. He wants marriage and children. When angry, he is insulting, verbally abusive and has threatened to “smack’ me. He then calms down and asks for forgiveness for the hurtful things he says. Although I am established, confident, and have good friends, the accumulative insults make me feel worthless, and sometimes I feel he does mean what he says. I cannot take his moods and verbal abuse any more, regardless of how great he is when he is “good”. He has previously promised the problem would not happen again.
RESPONSE: Unless this person gets “outside” help his episodes of anger will only escalate. When they occur, believe everything he says, and act accordingly. Leave the home, get protection, and never blame yourself for his outbursts. If he says, during the “apology phase”, “You know I don’t really mean it,” you must say, “Then do not ever say it.”
Verbally abusive people try to change the language to suit themselves, and the victim is supposed to adjust accordingly. You appear to have a lot to lose if you leave this man. You have whole lot more to lose if you stay.