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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

My girlfriend of 5 1/2 years with whom I've been living for two years is very loving, giving and hardworking. However, she is extremely jealous. She accuses me of lying, cheating and being untrustworthy, when in fact it is she that is the guilty one, and has been caught red-handed.

She wants to monopolize all of my time and resents any time I spend with my children. She cannot take even slight criticism without blowing up. She is capable of striking out both verbally and physically without warning for hours at a time. She becomes physically abusive with fists flying. One time she ripped a hand-full of hair out of my head. The police have been called several times because of her violent behavior. She yells and screams at her children.

I love her but feel that the time has come to recognize that she has a serious illness of mental health that is affecting everyone close to her. Any suggestions or thoughts will be very much appreciated.

Answer

It is surprising that you waited this long before your realized that something was wrong. You should have left long ago and saved yourself and your own children a great deal of unnecessary pain. You are in an abusive relationship with someone who is very disturbed. Until she sees that she needs psychological intervention, however, there is nothing that you can do to help her. I suggest that you read some of the other material that appears at this site at Verbal Violence: When Words Wound as well as other sites dealing with spousal abuse.

Your girlfriend can be helped if she wants to receive it. There are mental professionals that specialize in dealing with people who cannot control their emotions to the point of becoming verbally explosive and physically violent. There are support groups for youngsters to help them cope with abusive parents. You would be doing well to help her children find such sources.

If she has been physically violent with her children, you might consider calling you local social agency or the police. No one should have to put up with physical abuse, especially children. If she has been abusive toward the children, you would be doing both she and the children a favor by reporting her. This way she might recognize the seriousness of her behavior and get the help she needs.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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