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I've been dating a really wonderful guy for about 3 months. He is a total gentleman, very sweet and considerate, and I'm close to saying I love him.


When he was growing up, his father abused him mentally and sometimes physically. It was some bad stuff. His dad would lock him in an empty attic for months at a time, with no bed or toys, making him pee in a bucket and sleep on the floor. If my BF did anything bad, like try to run away (which he did when he was little) then his dad would physically hurt him. His parents divorced early on, but I think his dad was somewhat abusive to his mom as well. That might be why she left.


Anyway. Like I said, my boyfriend has been a sweetheart so far, totally laid-back...I've never seen him get very angry. However, he recently confessed that he seriously loses his temper sometimes- not often, maybe once a year- and becomes very violent at that time. I should've asked if he meant violent towards people, or just throwing/kicking things, but I didn't.


He also said that he's terrified of turning out like his father, in terms of abusing children. The abuse runs in his family- his dad was abused by his father, his grandfather was abused by HIS father, and his great-great grandfather was abused as well! And before my boyfriend was born, his dad told his wife he was scared of becoming abusive, and was going to do everything in his power not to...but clearly that didn't work.


I am very scared there might be another side to my boyfriend that I haven't yet seen. Especially about losing his temper. We haven't had any fights so far, though he did start getting mad at me a few times (such as when he tried teaching me to drive a stick shift, and I was awful at it- he got quite frustrated) but it seemed like he could calm himself down without a problem.


He has also struggled a lot with depression, and was suicidal when he was younger, but has overcome both those things. He cut off contact with his father and did a lot of healing after that.


Lastly, I'm his first real girlfriend, so neither he nor I knows how he does in a long-term relationship.


I know very little about abuse, so I'm wondering if anyone else has thoughts on this. Does it sound like he could be abusive in the future? Or should I give him more credit, because he's very determined to NOT end up like his father?



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Hello pufferfish,

first of all I understand your concern, and I commend you for seeking advise, that said, not all adults who have been abused as children become abusive, some become really sensitive and caring human beings, that want to do wat's right and develop healthy and strong relationships. If your boyfriend confessed to you that he has lost his temper, I would encourage him to talk to you further about his anger outbursts. He may be harder on himself than what he actually does.

In my experience and in what I have learned through the years the fear of becoming like a parent is what enables us to do just the opposite. It would not be a bad idea for you to suggest some counseling however, if he loves you and wants to be sure that nothing bad will happen between the two of you he might actually agree to do that, and if he wants and you are up for it you might want to offer to go with him whenever he wants.

Good luck, and welcome to ena

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Hi Pufferfish.


It's hard to know until you get to know this person more.


Does he have any history of being abusive? Sounds like he has already mentioned that he does indeed have anger problems and a tendency towards violence.

The question now is: how deep does it go? How far has he taken it?


Has he sought real help for his issues? What has he done to address all this and to ensure that he does not indeed carry this forward through action?


It's great that he has a resolve not to follow in his father's footsteps. However, abuse runs deep. It doesn't just click off. It can affect people in ways they aren't even aware of until trouble is all around.


Man. Have you known him before you started to go out?


It strikes me immedietly that you know all these details of his abusive upbringing 3 months into the relationship.

I don't know what it means exactly....but to me it almost seems like a scream for help or a 'warning' to you of all his 'faults'.


You will have to decide for yourself, but I have learned to take these things seriously.

Tread slowly. Can't hurt to do so!


And whatever happens: Please remember that this is his to deal with. It is up to him.


So, I would suggest simply going slowly and learning more about this man.

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Hi Pufferfish,


Well you are certainly right to be concerned. Your bf has a lengthy family history of abuse and has been a victim of abuse himself. The possibility is definitely there. However, a person's individual character and ability to overcome that sort of abuse also plays a role in whether or not he will become an abuser himself. Has he ever sought counseling for what happened to him as a child? Has he ever really effectively dealt with his past?


He admits to you that he, on rare occasion looses his temper. He also says that he fears becoming what all the men in his family before him have become. I think it's pretty normal for a person to lose their temper once in awhile- but I would ask him what exactly happens when he does lose his temper, since he said he has become violent. If he finds acceptable ways to get the anger out (such as screaming into a pillow, punching a punching bag or going to the gym, for a run, etc) than I would be less concerned than if he uses destructive methods to get it out, like breaking things, screaming at others, getting physical with others, or damaging property- even his own. So I would definitely find out from him how he handles that.


And if he has not sought any type of professional help to help him process the feelings he has likely pent up, I would ask him if he has considered that as well.


Other than those things, what you've said about how he treats you does not raise any big red flags. I would just be wary and watch out for indicators that he may get aggressive or angry with you- since it's still the 'honeymoon' period for you both, having only been a couple of months. If he continues to treat you well and with respect, just pay attention to him and make sure that if red flags do arise, that you deal with them right away, before things get out of hand and it becomes a dangerous situation for you.


Good luck!

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3 months is not a long time to know someone, so he could just be doing a 'full disclosure', or it could a warning (in advance) that he can behave this way.


but either way, i think he really needs to get some form of therapy to deal with his history, plus his anger. even one explosive and violent episode per year is NOT acceptable, he should never resort to physical violence to deal with his anger, ever.


the other thing could be that he has a violent history with other woman, and is creating an 'advance' lie to account for it should you hear it from other people. so i would be cautious here, and insist on some kind of counseling so that he deals with this, and if you ever sense him getting worked up and angry, walk away before it it turns violent.

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Since it's your first serious relationship, it will probably end. But you care about him, and you can help him now, while you're together.


I have tremendous sympathy for what he had to go through. That's so sad! If I were you, I'd encourage him to seek therapy for his problems.


I believe everyone can choose their behavior. My dad is an alcoholic, but I am not an alcoholic, nor do I date them. Genetics/upbringing would dictate one or the other, but I have managed to escape both because of the support of people around me. Your boyfriend isn't doomed, but it must be very hard for him to deal with those horrible things. I think something that drastic needs outside help.

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The good sign thus far is he has shared his past with you which means he is not repressing these horrible events which often causes one to eventually explode. Counseling is a great idea if he will agree to it if it is needed. Abuse like this can leave some pretty deep scars and it appears that he has managed to control himself so far. If he has real concerns about following a pattern of being an abuser then he should be open to getting help which would be pro-active.



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Since you two talked about him being abused and he revealed how he had a tendency to loose his temper you need to ask him to tell you in which way he looses his temper when it happens.

But be aware that no matter how, he looses temper and that is a RED FLAG


Sadly, abuse is being "transmitted" from abuser onto the vicitim. Chances are big that he could be his dad later in life. Is he going on theraphy?

Pressures of adoult everyday life are big and under such circumstances he could snap.


Also he got angry while learning you how to drive a stick shift. Yes, I know he managed to calm down. But the fact is there is no reason to get angry while teaching someone something. Imagine him trying to learn a kid something.....

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Thank you so much for all the replies. A lot of people mentioned therapy, and I agree that would be a good thing. The only problem is, his father is (ironically) a psychologist, and that has turned my boyfriend off to the idea of ever getting therapy. He does not want anything to do with psychiatrists/psychologists. He actually went to a bunch of therapists when he was younger, because his dad thought something was wrong with him (he was a very gifted but not very social child), but he hated going...they actually started him on Prozac at age 6. So basically, I don't have much hope that he will ever seek help about his issues. He tries to work through them on his own.

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Does he have any history of being abusive?


Not that I know of, but his longest relationship before this one only lasted a few weeks. I do know that when he was younger, he really enjoyed seeing other people in pain- because he himself was in pain, so in a twisted way, it made him feel better to know he wasn't alone. However, he has worked through that issue and no longer enjoys seeing other people get hurt.


Have you known him before you started to go out?


Yes, for one month.


It strikes me immedietly that you know all these details of his abusive upbringing 3 months into the relationship.


Funny you say this! I actually learned about the abuse within an hour of first meeting him. However, those were odd circumstances...we "clicked" immediately and both ended up telling each other things we never told anyone else. He doesn't usually talk about what happened in his childhood.


Thanks so much for your reply.

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If a one on one therapy session isn't something he feels comfortable with, is he involved with/visited any support groupd for men with anger issues or survivors of abuse? Being able to talk about with others who share his experiences may be some help.


I don't know whether he will become an abuser, obviously he has a greater propensity towards it due to his history but I think that the fact he worries about it and tries to work through it alone is as good sign as much as a red flag.

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Also he got angry while learning you how to drive a stick shift. Yes, I know he managed to calm down. But the fact is there is no reason to get angry while teaching someone something. Imagine him trying to learn a kid something.....


That's a really good point. He actually started getting mad when teaching me how to play poker, too, because I wasn't understanding some things. It seemed like he was almost a different person for a minute- but then snapped back to normal. It scared me a little. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, though.

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Honestly, knowing what I know now, I would be very, very careful.


I was in an abusive relationship myself. All the things you are saying...childhood history of abuse, teaching me things and getting angry, the slight mention of "I sometimes get angry but I'm afraid of being my father" are the same things I heard. Within 6 months I was being abused, but within 4 there were definite signs of something not 'quite right.'


Keep your eye open for things that you have already mentioned getting worse..."he was a different person for a minute then snapped back" frightened me for you.


My most important point here, is that if at ANY time he begins screaming, belittling you, or getting angry and then blaming you, WALK and never look back. My ex seemed like the most complete gentleman too, and would also not go to therapy because he was 'turned off' to psychologists.


Point blank: his issues haven't been dealt with. His anger hasn't been dealt with...it will arise sooner or later.

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Beyondthesea- Wow, thank you for posting. On one hand, I'm worried that I'm reading too much into things, and that I'll ruin a good relationship by becoming paranoid. But if this happened to you and it turned into abuse- yikes.


If you don't mind me asking, what were those signs of something being "not quite right?" I occasionally get a feeling that something is a little off, but I think it's just me over-analyzing everything, so I'm curious what your experience was.

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there is a good book out there called 'The Gift of Fear' by Gavin DeBecker that helps you detect warning signs about someone who might have serious problems.


lots of people recover from abuse, but those who are NOT abusers will usually NEVER use violence as a means of dealing with their anger, because they have been harmed so much themselves. so if he has had any violent episodes, i would be very wary, especially if he refuses to get help for himself via therapy. he can join support groups for victims of violence, or take anger management classes, which are targeted specifically to teach people how to deal with anger.


if too many alarms go off in your head over his behavior, please heed them, and read Gavin de Becker's book...

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Honestly, I am becoming more alarmed the more info you share Pufferfish.


Just be careful and listen to your own self first.


Y'know, about him telling you all that info when you first met? ....


Ok, well, I will share that I do indeed have a history of being abused, and I know violence. I also was an abuser.


Sharing info spontaneously to someone rather new - I'll never forget it - my pysch calls that "spilling".


Without going into too much about myself here, I just wanted to mention that though you may have felt 'special' or like there was a sweet 'click' in him sharing all that so soon - it is actually a sign to look out for.


Imagine having this horrible load of a secret inside you. This horrible fear of snapping. This horrible pain.

You hide it and hide it - and then when someone actually listens...or there is someone who you want in your life desperately.....all that info can pour "spill" out.


Just consider it. If it wasn't him but someone you weren't partial to (didn't like so much) - would you consider a lot of what he does appropriate?


Wishing you the best. Take care.

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I agree you should be careful but try not to over analayze things. I'm afraid once you start thinking like this it might end up ruining your relationship.


If he is afraid of being like his father then chances are he will try everything in his power to not repeat his fathers ways.


One thing is as you grow closer he might become afraid of you fearing that you could hurt him the same as his father. I hope this isn't the case but its something to be aware of.


Sounds like you are a very caring and supportive girlfriend so I think you will have a great LTR with someone

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lots of people recover from abuse, but those who are NOT abusers will usually NEVER use violence as a means of dealing with their anger, because they have been harmed so much themselves.


That's really interesting, but makes complete sense. So it's a warning sign that he does lose his temper (even if it's very rarely?). It's really hard for me to imagine at this point, since I haven't seen him lash out at all, and I have no idea how bad the violent episodes are. Next time I see him, I'll try to get more info from him. It's a hard subject to broach though. And I will look into that book- thanks a ton.

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Yes. I see all the warning signs.


Okay. I will be nice and explain.


1. He was abused growing up - many abusers were abused growing up and use it as a justification for why they abuse. But the truth is, if you really knew the pain of growing up abused, you don't turn it on other people. for many abusers, this is an EXCUSE.

2. He has told you that he seriously loses his temper and becomes very violent. - it doesn't matter if it's people or objects because whether he gets violent towards people or objects will still intimidate you and scare you......and that is the whole point of a violent episode.

3.Looong family history of abuse - this is an indication of either extreme dysfunctional behavior or there is brain chemistry/personality disorder here. either way, NOT good.

4. Started getting mad at you a few times - these are warnings...he is getting you used to it in baby steps, right now it's only 3 months so yes, he is controlling it. if you are with him longer, he will let it rip.

5. Depression, suicide, on prozac at age 6. - often used as EXCUSES to abuse. this also is a indication of disturbance. it can be overcome but how did he deal with this? It doesn't all go away just like that.

6. Scared of turning out like his father - this is a credible fear, however, my ex abuser would tell me that he never wanted to be like his parents and that they abused him growing up. However, this did not stop him from abusing me constantly and consistently and then denying all of his own behavior. He would say he never wanted to be like his parents, but he was exactly like them and he was in deep denial.

7. He enjoyed seeing people in pain when he was younger - many abusers enjoy being cruel and hurtful to those weaker. My exabuser was a bully when he was in school.....I put it together that he used to beat up on kids for money and bully. He says he changed and he's not like that BUT he is. This is an indication that he had no empathy for other people when he was younger. Empathy doesn't grow just like that.

8. He told you he had been abused within one hour of meeting him - I don't buy into that whole, we clicked and everything just came out. If you are really excited by a person then you don't spill all these things all at once.....him telling you within one hour shows you that it is at the forefront of his mind.

9. "It seemed like he was a different person for a minute" - you mentioned this when you said you were playing poker. This is a STRONG sign of a dr. jekyll/mr. hyde personality.....quite common to abusers. I have seen dr. jekyll/mr. hyde a lot.....you saw a glimpse of it, you did not read too much into it. It was there.


All I see right now is that you have his "word" that he has healed and isn't the same way. These are just "words." Talk is cheap. I think he is setting you up for the cycle of abuse, it is like he is telling you what he's going to do to you.


But see, the convenient thing is, when he does blow up, afterwards he will say "I'm so sorry baby, I dont want to turn out like my dad, I didn't mean to, you know my history and that I have a bad temper and that I get violent once-a-year, I will try harder and be better." And then......you will stay....and things will be fine for awhile......and then bam, it happens again......then.......same excuses. you will be stuck in the cycle as fast as that.

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Just consider it. If it wasn't him but someone you weren't partial to (didn't like so much) - would you consider a lot of what he does appropriate?


It's hard to say. I mean, 99% of the time he is absolutely wonderful- he is totally respectful, does tons of sweet things for me, is affectionate, is ALWAYS there for me, and hasn't pressured me for sex...it's truly the best relationship I've been in. We were moving a bit fast at first (he said "I'm in love with you" after 2 weeks) but then he appologized for rushing things, and we're going at a really nice, comfortable pace now.


It's just the things he says about his childhood and temper that make me nervous. If I didn't know about his past, I wouldn't think there's much out of the ordinary going on. He does get a little moody on occasion- and when that happens, he does seem like a different person, kind of closed off to the world and really hard to "reach." But apart from that, he's never laid a finger on me, and most of the time seems very happy and upbeat.


But there is that 1% that scares me about him. He used to be VERY suicidal as a kid...he wanted to kill himself to get back at his father. He also used to be completely unemotional to people getting hurt, and even took pleasure out of it- if someone told him about their problems, he wouldn't feel an ounce of sympathy, but would actually enjoy seeing them suffer. I asked him if he still feels that way, and he said for the most part, no. When he told me about that, though, I was completely shocked. It seemed so out of character for him. He strikes me as a very kindhearted individual, and I can't imagine him having ever been something different. It made me question how much I really know him. (I do have a history of wearing rose-colored glasses in a relationship and idealizing things too much/overlooking the problems.)


Part of me feels horrible for even nitpicking about this. I care so deeply for him and just want him to be happy. He's come a long way from his childhood, and even though he still has some issues to tackle, I think he's mostly recovered (I hope?). There's just something that's feeling a little "off" sometimes, but I can't pinpoint it. I don't know if it has to do with me or him. I'm not free of emotional baggage myself, so it's possible my own anxieties are intruding.

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sigh. to be truthful, i think you are already in the beginning stages of the cycle.


so many things you say.....it just all fits together. he IS an abuser. no doubt. it's pretty clear as day.


More warning signs:

1. Telling you he loves in 2 weeks - apologizing or taking it back doesnt make sense...how do you take this back once it's been said?

2. A little moody

3. A different person at times

4. Your feeling that something is off.


I don't think you will believe me or want to believe me. But......yes, he is an abuser.

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Teardrops- Thank you tremendously for that post. With your ex abuser, how long did it take for him to show his true colors? Did it start out as a seemingly healthy relationship? I mean, my boyfriend has mostly been an angel so far, and my only worries are based on speculation...I would feel awful being wrong about this if he turns out to not be abusive. But I also want to avoid getting trapped in a cycle of abuse, should the relationship head in that direction.


One question-


1. Telling you he loves in 2 weeks - apologizing or taking it back doesnt make sense...how do you take this back once it's been said?


Is that really a warning sign? He didn't say it in a manipulative way, just in the heat of the moment. He took it back because he said he felt like we were rushing things emotionally, and wanted to hold off a bit before deciding whether it was love.

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With your ex abuser, how long did it take for him to show his true colors?


- The true colors were always there, I just didn't see them, couldn't see them at the time because I did not even think about abuse or that he was abusive. I did not know about how subtle abuse could creep up on me, I thought I was too smart to get into something like that. He always talked about how his parents were abusive to him growing up, how they would beat him, how they would make him hold heavy chairs over his head at a young age for hours on end. At the time I thought this meant he wouldn't treat me like that. But he was very abusive to me. In the beginning, it was the very little things.....nothing big and scary happened. But like, once I went to visit him at his house, and I asked him if he wanted to take a walk around the block.....and he refused even though I really wanted to see his neighborhood. So I just left the house and took a walk on my own. I was enjoying looking around the area and then I see a big SUV pull up. He was with his mom and they had both come to get me because they thought I had left or run off. But I had just went for a WALK!! At the time, I thought it was a misunderstanding....but now I think that was very weird.


It's the little things that tip you off, obviously, he is not going to do anything big and scary in the beginning because any sane person would run. But if it's small, you doubt yourself....most people want to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Most of us don't want to believe that another person is or could be abusive...but that's how abusers hook their victims.


Did it start out as a seemingly healthy relationship?

It seemed like he was very supportive of me, it seemed like he cared about me, that he was there for me when nobody else was. It seemed like he supported my goals and he promised be he would always be there. It seemed like he was there to listen to me talk about my dreams and my future. It seemed emotionally healthy because he would listen to me as we talked on the phone for hours. He would give me hugs and he seemed gentle. I thought he was like a big gentle teddy bear that I felt safe with. I didn't think he would hurt me. I thought he was nice. But I was SO WRONG. It was all an act. I am sure he is out there abusing some other poor woman now. I felt safe and protected. I thought I had someone who was supportive of me and emotionally there for me. That was really important to me because I was going through a hard time and I didn't have anyone else in my life that was emotionally there for me. And he pretended like he always was. I wanted a friend and he pretended to be. He pretended to be this person that really cared about me and wanted what was good for me.


Later, he admitted that most of the time we were on the phone, he had been falling asleep and that he had no idea what I was talking about. He also became very hurtful and mean to me, encouraging me to steal, breaking my dreams, shattering my goals, and bringing me down in every single way possible. I hit rock bottom with this guy around AND he was there to beat me down and kick me down every step of the way. I DID NOT sign up for that. It was a complete nightmare who he really turned out to be and what he did. It's quite revolting. I could never look at him in the same way now because I know he is very violent and scary.


"Is that really a warning sign? He didn't say it in a manipulative way, just in the heat of the moment."


- Abusers have a tendency to get quickly involved right away. My ex abuser said he loved me within the first week I think. When he tried to get me back, one of the first things he said to me was "I love you" after we had not talked or spoken for a year. I asked him "Why" and his answer was "I don't know."


I think if I love you was said very quickly....that by itself makes one thing...but it's just that with your boyfriend, he said i love you quickly and there are other numerous signs combined. That makes it a warning sign. It doesn't have to be said in a manipulative way because he has put the idea in your mind that he really "cares" and "loves you". And putting this idea in your head will get you to drop your guard with him more, to put more trust in him, and to believe in his feelings for you. It gives him the control over you much faster.


Most men know that "I love you" are very powerful words to say to women.

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Beyondthesea- Wow, thank you for posting. On one hand, I'm worried that I'm reading too much into things, and that I'll ruin a good relationship by becoming paranoid. But if this happened to you and it turned into abuse- yikes.


If you don't mind me asking, what were those signs of something being "not quite right?" I occasionally get a feeling that something is a little off, but I think it's just me over-analyzing everything, so I'm curious what your experience was.


Hey again,


You keep mentioning something is 'off.' That really leads me to believe that something's not right for you.


To be honest, the very fact that you are worried at all, leads me to think that you have noticed some signs that are making you question his stability.


"Not quite right..." - getting into arguments and little tiffs over something you have/have not done that there's no way you would have known to do/not do.


-Apologizing over something simple and it being turned into something huge is a big one. I was constantly getting told "I'm sensitive so you have to expect I'll get upset if you do/don't do _____."


-getting told that something is wrong with you...emotionally, physically, things you wear/things you say/things you do aren't what 'normal' people do and why don't you know that already...


-things getting blown way out of proportion is a big one. My ex was 'happy go lucky' then suddenly something would happen and the world sucks, is a horrible place, everyone is against them, everyone owes them something, etc.


-this is something that I should have known...I was always being 'taught' the 'proper' way to do something, and told that things I did were wrong...the way I talked, the way I acted, that I didn't 'know him' and all sorts of things.


-As soon as you are being blamed over nothing, and start to feel like "am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?" then somehow you get explained to why it's your fault...then you are being abused.


link removed Go to "articles" then "Identifying losers in relationships." It's a very good article written by a psychologist, which shows the warning signs in relationships that are abusive/become abusive.


I just want to point out that he may never become abusive to you. It completely depends upon the individual. BUT, I want you to know, that if he ever does get out of control or shows these signs, NEVER go back.

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What a lot of nonsense !!!


Long term studies have clearly shown that the MAJORITY (more than 50%) of children who are abused will not become abusers themselves...


Why is he being suicidal before a concern ?? Around 60% of people give some consideration to suicide in thier teenage years. It's not that uncommon, and it's not something to be concerned about...


And about you being his 1st girlfriend, why is that an issue ? I know lots of guys who are 22, 23, 24 who have never been in a romantic relationship, and I know they were not victims of abuse, and almost certainly won't become abusers themselves...


You should give this poor guy a chance !!! If you abandon him, then you will be no different that his father was...

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