Help! My boyfriend was abusive, and it left me feeling betrayed and badly hurt.

Ellie: I really had an inkling that things might not work out with my boyfriend before I met him, but I didn’t feel right about leaving him either. We’ve been together for seven years and in that time, I’ve stayed pretty open to the possibility of him changing and blossoming, and stayed willing to make changes myself in return.

But on a few occasions, it seemed like he started to become more like the super aggressive, vulgar person that I was the last two or three times we saw each other before we began our relationship. This was also when he was most intoxicated, and he would threaten and cuss and yell, which is not normal for me.

The final straw for me was when he slapped me across the face. I was just trying to act politely to be liked by him and I thought it was sincere, but then I realized that was part of his unhinged behavior and total disconnect with who he is. This was a couple years ago and I have since left him.

Would it have been necessary for me to stay in the relationship after all that he did? Is there a time when you know it’s necessary to walk away from someone?

— Unsurely Leaving

Ellie: Yes. You’ve already identified in particular times during your relationship when this kind of behavior was happening. Is he drinking too much now, even though you’ve been with him for over seven years? That’s a good reason to think about breaking things off.

Is the drink all the blame for his behavior? Who knows. What you can be certain of is that the problem has escalated, and any destructive behavior is not conducive to a healthy, long-term relationship.

Since you mentioned that it seemed like he was hurt that you left and that you never really had a chance to recover from his blow-up, maybe the best thing you can do now is apologize to him and tell him what happened and the circumstances that led to it, ask him to keep his violence and drink consumption in check and suggest that you’re willing to be an advocate for him, or other alcoholics.

But there are no excuses here — just the explanation that you’re uncomfortable with where he’s going in his life right now. So if he asks you to try to be civil now, I’d hold back for now — and give him the space he needs to sort his feelings out.

— Ellie is a life coach and certified hypnotherapist (

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