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To Sam

My boyfriend...

What's the definition of abuse?

My boyfriend gets angry at me all the time and he nor me know why... He hits me occasionally and then hits me again for being a bit sad about it. He also swears at me a lot and hurts my feelings but when he's out of his angry stage he apologises and treats me like I'm his true love.

I don't want to break up with him but he wants me to leave him. I can't because I love him and I'm scared if I do he'll commit suicide. A couple of months ago he helped me to stop self-harming and I don't want to leave him. He saved my life. And if I found out he started self-harming again or committed suicide... I don't know what I'd do...

What should I do?

Ask Sam



Thank you for your letter. It sounds like you’re having a really difficult time at the moment so well done for contacting me to get some support. You ask about the definition of abuse. It sounds like you might be asking this question because you’re unsure whether your boyfriend is being abusive towards you. You talk about him hitting you, swearing at you and saying things that hurt your feelings and all of those things would be considered abuse. I understand that may be something difficult for you to hear as it sounds like he is someone that you care about very much.

It might be helpful for you if you want to understand more about abuse, you might want to take a look at the Abuse and Domestic Violence pages in Explore. Another really useful website is this is abuse.

I want you to know that your boyfriend’s abusive behaviour is not your fault. While he may have helped you with some difficult times, it certainly doesn’t give him the right to hurt you. It sounds like your boyfriend is well aware that what he’s doing is wrong, particularly if he then apologises and treats you differently afterwards. It’s quite common for someone who is abusive to be loving and kind at times too and that can add to the confusion about how their partner is left feeling. It can also sometimes encourage someone to stay with a partner, even if deep down they know that the way that they’re being treated isn’t right. Sometimes the violence can get worse and put people in extremely dangerous and life threatening situations. Please remember at any time you feel in danger you can call 999 to get some emergency help.

You say that you don’t know what you’d do if you found out that he was self-harming again or if he committed suicide. I can hear how much you care about him, but you cannot be expected to try to always keep him happy at the expense of your own safety and happiness. Your feelings are extremely important too and it seems like his behaviour in this relationship is really hurting you. Sometimes people will use threats of self-harm or suicide as a way to pressure a partner into staying with a relationship, and that is really not ok. If you’re very concerned that he might do something to hurt or kill himself if you break up with him, perhaps you could share that with an adult in his life, such as a parent, or a teacher at school, so they can give him some support.

I understand that you probably have a lot of mixed and confused feelings and that could be leaving you really unsure about what to do next. You’d be very welcome to talk this through further with a ChildLine counsellor by calling 0800 1111 or logging in for a 1-2-1 chat.

Take care,


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