Monday 20 May 2019

Dear Mary: I'm tired of being my boyfriend's punch ball and I need to get out

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Mary O’Conor

I've been with my boyfriend for over a decade but in the past six or seven months he has changed so much.

Last summer my kids from a previous relationship gave me a surprise birthday gift of a trip abroad, to a place I had always wanted to visit but never got an opportunity to before.

My boyfriend was there on my birthday when my children gave me the tickets. He knew about the surprise but he wasn't happy.

This is where everything started. He was upset that I took that trip with people from my family. It was a short trip, and not like he was left alone for long.

Ever since that trip my boyfriend is always in a bad mood with me and verbally abuses me.

Everything my kids do is wrong and bothers him and I feel he is over-reacting to little things.

He has children of his own and I have never said anything bad about them.

Everything has to be his way. He's very controlling.

He dislikes my kids. He dislikes some of my family members. Everything I do is wrong. I can't give an opinion about anything around the house. He always asks his son for his opinion.

He has thrown me out of the house before. He's always telling little white lies. If I cook something for my children it bothers him. I am an animal lover but he refuses to have any pets in the house. I have to ask for permission to do anything around the house. He checks my phone. The list goes on and on and on.

I pray to God and leave it up to Him.

If I try to say something he always has a comeback.

I am very shy and quiet and that's why I think he has me as his punch ball.

But I am so tired - I just want to be in peace. The only time I feel peaceful is when I am at work or outside the house. As soon as I get home, I feel the vibe.

I don't want to lose him. But if he doesn't change I'm walking out. Help please!

Mary replies: Throwing you out of the house constitutes more than verbal abuse in my eyes.

This is totally unacceptable and I cannot find any reason at all for you to remain in this horrible situation.

In a recent Instagram post singer Annie Lennox shows some frightening statistics and one of them is that one in three girls and women are impacted by physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

You are already part of that statistic, and I worry that there will be even more violence against you in the future if you don't get out.

As your boyfriend is very controlling he no doubt felt out of control when you went off on that well-deserved holiday with your family. And you have been paying the price ever since.

He is using bully tactics and because, by your own admission, you are quiet and shy you rarely take him on, which is the only thing to do with a bully.

I realise he wasn't always like this and it was only when the holiday situation arose that he changed.

Praying to your God is all very well and I'm sure you get some solace from that but it doesn't change the fact that you are miserable and your boyfriend is the one who is making you miserable.

If you do decide to stay it has to be on your terms with you telling him that his behaviour is no longer acceptable, that if he continues to bully you he will be left on his own and then let him see that you mean it.

My guess is that you will continue to be walking on eggshells around him but I have no doubt that being on your own, with your daughter and her family, is a far better and less dangerous option for you all.


You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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