Agony Aunt Annie offers advice to a reader who loves her abusive partner and hopes he will change his ways…

Dear Annie
I’m a 29-year-old woman engaged to a 30-year-old guy. We’ve been together for four years and my problem with him is he can get very short-tempered especially when under the influence of alcohol.
A year into our relationship he beat me after we had an argument and we broke up for a week. He came back and told me he will seek counselling as what he did was not necessary and he couldn’t explain why he was filled with such rage.
I gave him another chance provided he went for counselling: I even offered to accompany him if he needed me to.
He NEVER did and things carried on perfectly until another time when he slapped me again after a heated argument.
I left him again (also for a short period because I still loved him). He came back,apologised and promised me that this time he will go to seek help.
I forgave him and this again went on as usual until last Saturday

I was upset with him for choosing his friend over me because we had a movie date on Friday but instead of keeping to his promise, he went on a drinking spree with his friend.
When he got back on Saturday I told him not to come to my place and would call him over when I felt like having him around.
He came in spite of my telling him not to. When he got to the house he found me and my friend in the bedroom chatting. He sat in the living room and after a few minutes he called me and asked me if he was invisible because I was paying attention to my friend and not him.
I reminded him that I asked him not to come. He then asked me if I wanted him to leave and I said yes. He slapped me twice on my face and I felt I was fed up with his abusiveness so I fought back. Before it went further, my friend came out of the bedroom and came between us.
I left him at the house and slept over at my friend’s. In the morning he apologised AGAIN, and said it will never happen again.
As much as I love him I cannot tolerate his abusive behaviour…
…but my problem is I always find myself back together with him.
Is it obsession that keep me going back or lack of self-love?
Is it my fault that this abuse keeps happening because I allowed it from scratch?
Is there an alternative way to help both of us without breaking up, or is separation the ONLY answer?
If counselling does work for the abuser, is there a quarantee that he will not go back to his old ways?
Please Annie, I really need help. We love each other so much: our only problem is when he starts with the slapping which in all occasions happens when he is drunk.
Thank you in advance.
Dear Yvonne
Thank you for your letter. From your letter I can gather that on at least three occasions your boyfriend became violent with you.  Each time you refused to see him again until he had undergone counselling.  Each time he didnâ??t and then you took him back again. 
If you were writing to Albert Einstein, instead of me, and asked him to tell you what was wrong with you he would say that you are insane!  His definition of insanity was: doing the exact same thing over and over again but somehow expecting a different outcome.
In comparison to old Albert I lean more towards the pretty face side of the scale so I canâ??t offer you a better definition than he has, but I can say the same thing with a charming smile if that helps?
Dear old Dr Phil will agree that we are seldom motivated to change what works for us
Look at this from your boyfriendâ??s point of view: why would he change?  Why go through a counselling process that involves commitment, resources and taking responsibility for his behaviour if simple lip service will suffice? 
He just waits for you to cool down and then says what you want to hear and then his back in the game.
I believe that people can change
When a man (read as a person, rather than implying only men make mistakes) takes responsibility for his choices and decides to make better ones, with counselling, support and accountability he can get to the bottom of his anger and deal with it in constructive ways. 
This will take commitment, determination and hard work! If alcohol is the catalyst for violent behaviour, is he prepared to give it up?
Abuse left unchecked tends to escalate
The man who feels contrite after slapping his woman the first time, seems to show less remorse the more frequently the abuse happens, as one slap quickly turns into two.
If you are in a situation where you are being abused and you fight back to try and get out to safety, it is completely understandable and probably even advisable. Hitting back is never going to be a solution to the abuse (unless maybe if you are built like Mohammed Ali). 
If anything the abuse will get worse and afterwards the abuser will be far less inclined to take responsibility for his behaviour, by justifying it â?? â??yes I hit her, but she hit me and so we are equally to blame.â?
You say that you really love each other
Sometimes love is candlelight and romance and sometimes love is really hard work. If you are hoping that your relationship will last till rocking-chairs-in-the-sunshine-on-the-stoep, you had better be sure that you are both willing to put in the labour!  Alternatively, just go with what Einstein said.
You are beautiful!
Love and blessings
Annie                      

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