Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me? [Science-based]

Sami S
Sami S

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When we discuss domestic abuse, it is often approached as men being the abusers, particularly towards female partners. 

However, we often fail to talk about the fact that men can often be the victims and women the abusers. 

Even though the percentage of women arrested for committing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is rising, because the dynamic of a woman being the abuser in a heterosexual relationship is rarely talked about, many men feel as if they are alone in their suffering. 

They often question their reality and if it is normal for their girlfriend to hit them. 

Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me? 

No. It is never normal for any person, regardless of gender, to hit or abuse the partner that they claim to love. 

You must know that there is nothing that you have done to deserve being a victim of violence, especially if you are a man suffering abuse from your girlfriend. 

You are not less of a man or any less worthy of safety and support just because you are a male victim of Inter Partner Violence. 

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and be carried out by anyone, regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation. Therefore, being a victim of abuse is not a moral failing. 

The reasons why women become aggressive towards intimate partners can be separated into two categories – reactive motives (i.e., done in self-defense, even if the apparent threat they are reacting to is only perceived) and active motives (i.e., goal-orientated motives, such as expressing anger or to control their partner). 

Research done into women’s reasoning for carrying out violence has identified the five most common motivations for their behavior. However, it is essential to note that abusers often have more than one motivation for their behavior. 

Reasons women hit their partner

The five most common motivations are:

Your girlfriend hits you to express her negative emotions

Aggression is often used to express strong negative emotions such as frustration and anger. A study that was done into why women commit violence found that 39% of those arrested attributed expressing anger as one of, if not the primary motivation behind their violence towards their partner. Expressing the anger, they feel in the moment is often the primary motivation behind violence for these women. 

Your girlfriend hits you to try and control you.

Many women who contribute to IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) do so to control their partner and get him to feel and act how they want him to. 

Both the threat of violence and the carrying out of violence are used as methods of control in these cases. They give the woman in the partnership, control and a feeling of power, which can be intoxicating and ego-inflating for them as abusers. 

Some women feel that their abusive attempts to control come from a place of lacking control or power over themselves or their feelings or actions, however, rather than a place of empowerment, and attribute their attacks in these instances to losing control of themselves. 

IPV(Intimate Partner Violence)  from lack of control is typically the escalation of previous and likely simultaneous verbal and emotional abuse. 

Your girlfriend hits you out of jealousy.

Jealousy is a natural human emotion that we all feel from time to time. However, that does not make it acceptable to initiate IPV or physically harm another human being. 

None of the motivations mentioned here are acceptable. For example, women’s jealousy of their partner or towards others who might steal their partner’s attention was found to be a significant indicator of IPV. 

Wanting to prove her love to a partner, or initiating violence because a partner cheated on her were other reasons given by women that link their displays of IPV to feelings of jealousy.

Your girlfriend hits you in self-defense.

Many women who report having been involved in violence claim that their reason for doing so is self-defense. Considering that the majority of Inter Partner Violence done by women is done to partners who are also abusive, this is not surprising. 

A study of women who used IPV found that 75% of participants cited self-defense as their primary motivation for using violence. Of the most common motives we are discussing, it came up the most frequently in the study results. 

Women who report that self-defense is their primary motive for committing IPV are typically thought to be victims of their partners more often than the aggravators and primary abusers.

However, just because many women cite self-defense as the main reason for committing IPV, that does not mean that all women do so in self-defense. 

It is important to remember that women can be the instigators and primary aggressors in IPV situations as much as men can, where they perform more violent acts towards their partner than they receive. 

Your girlfriend hits you to put on a tough guise.

The last of the most common reasons why women commit Inter Partner Violence is what is known as Tough Guise. 

Tough Guise typically refers to a victim of IPV who uses aggression to warn their partner not to mess with or hurt them to get the abusive partner to take them seriously and listen. 

It is an intimidation tactic rather than a control tactic and is less commonly given as a motivation for women to commit IPV than the other reasons on this list. 

What do I do if my girlfriend hits me?

If you are asking the question – my girlfriend hits me, what to do?

There are many things that you can do about it. 

We have listed a few of the best actions you can take below that will hopefully help you make the first move in seeking safety from abuse and getting away from an abusive partner. 

You always deserve to live safely and securely without abuse, regardless of what you think or what you have been told.

There are no justifiable reasons for you to be abused, nor do you ‘deserve’ to endure any physical violence.

Below are listed some of the steps that you can take to protect yourself if your girlfriend, wife, or partner hits you:

Protect yourself

The most important thing you can do if your girlfriend hits you is to protect yourself. Physically protecting yourself from repeated hits is the most important thing that you can do in the moment – though we do not recommend attacking back in self-defense, as this could further escalate the situation. 

If you can move away from your girlfriend and find a safe place to hide or a heavy piece of furniture that you can put between you and her, e.g., a couch, then do so. Avoid lighter objects such as chairs which are easily thrown and could become weapons. 

If you cannot put distance between yourself and your girlfriend to dodge further attacks, then the best thing you can do is block as many blows as possible. Then, raise your arms and try to intercept, protecting your face and abdomen as much as possible. 

Call or contact the police.

If you can get away for long enough or dissolve the situation, call the police and explain the situation. If you can get away or hide but do not feel safe enough to make a phone call, many police services now have a text line set up for those wishing to report domestic violence. 

Contact a Domestic violence hotline.

Similarly, if you do not feel comfortable calling the police or you are not in imminent danger, you can call a domestic abuse hotline, such as The National Domestic Abuse Hotline on 1800 799 7233 in the USA or the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010372 in the UK. 

Most domestic abuse hotlines help people of all genders. Still, if you feel uncomfortable calling a unisex line, there are male-only hotlines and support groups available which you can seek help from. 

Many domestic abuse hotline services are run by charities with safe houses for those who are fleeing domestic violence and IPV. 

If you feel you are in significant danger from your girlfriend and she has repeatedly displayed manipulative and abusive behavior, then it is worthwhile considering an escape plan to stay either at one of these charity-funded shelters or with friends or family. 

Plan any escape ahead of time, and pick a time where you are likely to be alone – for example, when your girlfriend is at work or out with friends. 

Discuss the situation with your girlfriend in a public or neutral space 

If this is the first instance of your girlfriend hitting you, and she regrets her behavior, once the situation has de-escalated and you have both cooled down with time to reflect, suggest that the two of you meet somewhere publicly, such as a coffee shop, to discuss the incident, re-establish boundaries, and discuss a plan for how you can move forward in your relationship without any further abuse. 

Consider couple’s counseling. 

If your girlfriend is remorseful for a single incident of violence and you can reconcile, such as through a discussion held in a neutral setting, you may want to consider couple’s counseling for you both to help further resolve the situation and for you both to understand the reasoning behind her actions. 

She may also want or need to attend individual counseling to work on any anger issues. Treatment in any therapy scenario will only work if an individual is willing to change their behavior. If you live with your girlfriend, couple’s counseling may be a more dangerous option. 

Issues raised during a therapy session can be brought home and continue to cause problems, which may lead to escalation and further violence.

Consider ending the relationship.

If there is a repeated pattern of abuse from your girlfriend, we do not recommend that you seek out couple’s counseling and instead focus on your safety. 

It is important to consider whether this relationship is right for you and your girlfriend and whether or not it is safe for you to do so. 

If you can, plan before you break up so that you have savings stashed away in a sole account and support from family and friends where possible.

In breaking up, you remove yourself from an unsafe situation and indicate to your girlfriend that you are not willing to tolerate IPV. Women who commit IPV are more likely to end the abuse when the relationship ends rather than continue further targeted violence once their partners have moved out. 

However, it is still crucial that you take additional steps to protect yourself if you decide that a breakup in person (as opposed to fleeing in secret without telling your girlfriend) is an option for you. 

Do the breaking up in a public place, so that your girlfriend is less likely to lash out at you physically, and make sure that all your belongings are ready to go, and that you have a plan of what to do after you have broken up, which may mean you leaving immediately, or may mean that you agree with your girlfriend. However you decide to act, you must put your own safety first as much as possible.

Is it okay for your girlfriend to hit you?

It is not normal or okay for your girlfriend to hit you, especially if it is done with malicious intent. While there are many reasons why your girlfriend might hit you, such as to express emotions of anger, jealousy, or frustration, to control or present a tough guise, or as a means of self-defense, there is no good reason as to why anyone should hit someone that they claim to love. It is not normal behavior. 

There are many options that you have to remove yourself from the situation, whether it be calling the police or contacting an IPV or domestic abuse hotline in more violent, prolonged, or serious situations, discussing her actions and your situation when you are both calmer in a public setting and seeking out counseling, or whether you decide to end the relationship. 

Whatever you decide to do, it is important to remember that such actions are not normal and that you deserve safety and security, particularly around those you love most.