Is It Normal for My Girlfriend to Hit Me?

Relationship Rules
20 Sep 2023
13 min read
Is it Normal for My Girlfriend to Hit Me & How to Protect Yourself

Is it not normal for my girlfriend to hit me? Of course not. Intimate partner violence is never okay, and it doesn’t matter what the gender of the victim or perpetrator is. Any sort of domestic violence should be taken seriously. Anybody in this situation deserves help and support.

You may already know this or even seek help and insights in dealing with physical violence. Nevertheless, you deserve answers to your questions and the support you need to navigate this difficult situation. Please continue reading for useful information, but don’t hesitate to contact helpful resources. Some people care about male victims. Nobody deserves to be used as a punching bag.

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What is Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or spiritual abuse perpetrated against a family member or romantic partner. It often involves people who live together.

The abuse often occurs behind closed doors and involves an imbalance of power. For example, one person may be significantly physically stronger. That’s just one imbalance. A woman may also have more power in the relationship because of her authority, financial imbalance, or other dependency. The same applies to men, as the imbalance has no gender specifics.

Intimate partner violence is indeed a severe problem that can take the forms of physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and physical aggression, with about 41% of women and 26% of men experiencing any of them and reporting it has significantly impacted their lives. That’s why tracking and stopping domestic violence timely is important before it becomes the norm.

Related reading: 11 Common Relationship Issues and What You Can Do About Them

Is It Ever Okay If My Girlfriend Hits Me?

It can be normal for a girlfriend to hit you in rare situations. For example, consensual hitting may occur if you agree to participate in certain types of erotic or sexual play. Also, playful hitting is fine as long as it is genuinely okay with both of you and boundaries are respected.

But it isn’t okay when it is not consensual or the ‘playing’ is simply a cover for angry or threatening behavior. This is why getting and continually affirming consent in these situations is important. Too often, domestic violence is excused or justified as playing around or exploring a kink.

Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me?

Why Does My Girlfriend Hit Me? 10 Possible Reasons

“Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

Barack Obama

While it is helpful to be informed, it isn’t your job to identify the cause of your girlfriend’s physical violence. As you explore the topic, ‘Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me’, know that many of these reasons may apply or none at all. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to identify the possible cause of her behavior to know how to defend yourself next time she hits you.

1. She Has Been the Victim of Domestic Violence

Past trauma is never an excuse, but women who have been victims of intimate partner violence may go on to be violent towards others. If your girlfriend hits you, she may be processing past physical abuse that she has suffered.

You can empathize with this and encourage her to get help, but it doesn’t mitigate the domestic violence she perpetrates against you.

2. She Has a Need to Control You

Your girlfriend may be using physical violence to gain the upper hand in your relationship. Even if she isn’t capable of doing much physical harm, you likely feel alarmed or even embarrassed when she treats you that way. So, you may allow her to dominate the relationship just avoid her violent outbursts.

You might:

  • Stop socializing with friends
  • Drop your hobbies and interests
  • Not stand up for yourself when she insults you

Simply to avoid triggering her rage. Remember that your girlfriend hitting you is probably less about causing you physical pain than it is about controlling you.

Related reading: Gaslighting Phrases Everyone Should Know About

3. Physical Aggression Has Worked for Her in the Past

Physical or emotional abuse may have simply gotten her what she needs in the past. This means that her violence may not have originated with her romantic relationships.

Some people are simply aggressive and will abuse indiscriminately. Most of us have encountered somebody who thinks violence and fighting are effective tools to get what they want.

Does she have a history of fighting or other forms of violence that are unrelated to her romantic relationships? What about bullying people or being generally aggressive in a way that pushes societal norms? If others have caved to this behavior and refused to hold her accountable, it is no wonder she normalizes violent behavior towards you and others.

4. There Is a Cycle of Mutual Abuse

When you asked, ‘Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me?’, have you also considered your actions? Sometimes an abusive relationship is the result of toxic behavior on the part of both people.

This might include:

  • Mutual physical violence
  • One partner commits emotional abuse and the other becomes physically violent

If this is the case, addressing the issue holistically is important. Both of you will need to deal with intimate partner abuse.

5. She’s Suffering From Mental Health Issues

Sometimes, mental illness can cause an inability to control one’s emotions or actions. This can lead to violent behavior, such as your girlfriend hitting you.

These mental health issues include conditions that may make someone delusional or psychotic. These are serious illnesses that require immediate intervention and a safety plan. Someone struggling this badly may be a danger to themselves or others.

6. A Parent or Caregiver Abused Her

Abuse is a learned behavior. If she experienced abuse at the hands of people who were supposed to take care of her, she may perpetuate violence in her own relationships.

Even if an abusive parent didn’t hurt her directly, she may have witnessed them physically attack other family members. This can normalize violence for them and make them believe that people hit one another when they get angry.

7. She Has Anger Issues

Sometimes, anger management issues can lead to hitting and other abuse. If you suspect this when you wonder, ‘Is it normal for my girlfriend to hit me?’, be careful. It is possible that this is the case, but not often.

Consider this. People who cannot manage their anger tend to lash out at everybody. They have a low frustration tolerance.

Here is a bit of a litmus test:

  1. Has your girlfriend struggled with this behavior in other areas of her life?
  2. Has she gotten into fights at work or with family members?
  3. Alternatively, is she able to control her violent reactions until she is with you?

If you answered yes to that last question, it’s a huge sign that she is an abuser. She can control her behavior if she wants.

Related reading :Toxic Love: Are You Feeling It?

8. She Has a Personality Disorder

Your personality is the combination of traits that influence your thinking, behavior, and interactions with others. Personality disorders are a kind of mental condition worth mentioning on their own.

People with personality disorders often resist doing the work to make changes. This is even the case when they suffer from a lower quality of life because of their disorder.

To be clear, most women with personality disorders don’t hit men. They are more likely to be victims of abuse than to be abusers. However, some types of these disorders are more likely to be associated with violence. A person with a dependent personality disorder is less likely to engage in domestic abuse than someone with borderline personality disorder.

9. Your Girlfriend Can’t Regulate Her Emotions

Emotional regulation is the ability to control one’s behavior when faced with an upsetting, infuriating, traumatic, or stressful situation. Sometimes, a person may hit an emotional limit where they are no longer able to self-regulate. Instead, a fight or flight response kicks in.

Think about the situations in which your girlfriend hitting you occurs. Does your girlfriend hit you when you don’t give her what she wants, or does she hit you when she has some sort of trauma reaction?

10. Drug or Alcohol Abuse Is Causing Her Violence

Drug and alcohol abuse aren’t always a factor in relationship violence. However, one or both are often present in these situations. If you or she is struggling, be aware of the warning signs. Neither of you may be violent yet, but you could be on your way to having an irretrievably toxic relationship.

Related reading: 21 Things Your Partner Should Never Say to You (and Vice Versa)

How to protect yourself from physical violence in your relationship

Domestic Violence: 7 Things to Do When My Girlfriend Hits Me

It started out as a healthy relationship. Then, she lashed out at you violently. At first, you shrugged it off. It was probably a one-time thing, you rationalized. But, that didn’t turn out to be the case. The physical or mental abuse has continued. It’s starting to take a toll on your mental health. Something needs to change.

Before you read these strategies, know that relationship abuse isn’t your fault. When women hit men, that behavior is just as unacceptable as when men are the perpetrators. There should be zero tolerance for this in intimate relationships.

1. Remain Calm And Walk Away – Don’t Lose Control

When your partner hits you or abuses you in another way, you likely feel angry, hurt, and confused. Every instinct might tell you to lash out similarly. Don’t do that. This never turns out well. Instead, both of you are now failing to handle the situation in a healthy way.

But isn’t this self-defense?

Only an attorney can tell you if and when a violent response is legally justified. That may not be something you can correctly discern in the moment. It’s almost always better to create separation between the two of you while things are volatile.

2. Build a Support System and Let People Help You

There are resources for men who are abused. Additionally, you should reach out to friends and family members. Having people to talk to or a place to stay can be so helpful when you can’t be around your abusive girlfriend anymore.

Why it’s important to notify your friends and family

Your friends and family care about you. They believe you deserve to be treated with respect. They feel anger when they see your partner hit you. You know they will help you if they ask, but working with a professional to navigate this situation may be better.

The average person just doesn’t understand that is involved in an abusive relationship or the process of getting out of it. People who are victims of DV rarely make a ‘clean break.’ That’s something that a domestic violence counselor understands, but not necessarily a close friend who might become frustrated at you and say things that are not supportive of you.

Also, many people have some rather outdated notions regarding women and domestic assault. Be wary of people who minimize her behavior or say it isn’t a big deal for women to hit men. These views are emblematic of toxic masculinity.

Final thoughts: Reach out to people in your life who will truly support you. Then, find a source of professional help if at all possible.

Related reading: 14 Red Flags in Women – Here’s Your Checklist

3. Document the Abuse

Although things are changing, many people still don’t believe that men can be truly harmed by a woman hitting them. Men also have to worry that their partners will deny or minimize the abuse. But you can protect yourself and save evidence by documenting the abuse you experience.

If your partner’s hitting causes physical injuries, take pictures of those. If possible, go to the emergency room or medical clinic to have your injuries treated and documented. It is okay if you don’t feel safe filing a police report. It may be helpful if you document what happened with date and time stamps, and then send that information to a friend, family member, or your lawyer.

4. Seek Individual Therapy

You want a healthy relationship. Shouldn’t you and your girlfriend go to couples therapy to work this out together? Absolutely not!

In domestic abuse situations, both of you should speak with your own mental health professionals. Here are some of the reasons:

  • You may fear being forthright in therapy sessions with your abuser
  • Couples therapists don’t always have expertise in DV
  • Your partner may manipulate the counselor to believe her side of things
  • What you say in therapy may be weaponized against you

Your therapist will focus on your mental health and safety. They will help you evaluate your relationship, and be able to point you towards helpful resources.

5. Consider The Role That You Play

Nobody deserves to be hit or emotionally abused in their intimate relationships. This is not a suggestion that women hit men for justifiable reasons or vice-versa.

That said, mutual abuse exists. So does reactive abuse, or when a physically or psychologically abused person hits a breaking point and lashes out themselves. When this happens, the abusive partner often claims that it is really them who are being abused.

If you realize that your relationship has been impacted by this cycle of abuse, don’t let shame stop you from getting help. Be honest with yourself, your girlfriend, and your therapist. You can use talk therapy and other strategies to interact with women in ways that are not abusive.

6. Talk to Your Girlfriend When Things Are Calm

It probably won’t help to speak to your girlfriend when she is consumed with anger, and certainly not when she is hitting you. The best time to talk to her about getting help is when things are calm between the two of you:

  • Let her know that you care about her and you want her to be healthy in the future
  • Encourage her to see a therapist and work on her issues
  • Recognize that if she is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or other issues, she probably feels a lot of shame about her behavior.

The best thing you can do for her at this point is to encourage your female partner to be accountable in a productive way. She can do this by getting help in dealing with her reasons for hitting you and committing to not being violent in any future relationship.

7. Consider Leaving

Abuse is a huge red flag. Often, men tend to tell themselves this isn’t a big deal. It can also damage your self-esteem if you believe that you can’t get the woman you love to stop hitting you. Some guys even worry they will lose the respect of people they care about if they can’t fix things.

Remember that you are just as deserving of a safe, loving relationship as any woman is. Most people would never tell women to stay in a relationship where they are being hit.

If nothing else, you might consider a temporary separation until she is willing to work on whatever is going wrong with her that leads her to see hitting as an acceptable response.

Related reading: What Are the 5 Signs the No Contact Is Working?

Can you reunite and be happy after a physical abuse experience?

Can a Relationship Work After Intimate Partner Violence?

Yes, people can build healthy relationships from abusive ones. It takes so much work to make this happen. That includes a lot of self-work and accountability on the part of the abuser.

There are certainly some situations in which it is more likely for this to happen than others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is causing my girlfriend to hit me?
  • Does she take genuine responsibility for her actions?
  • Is she willing to get help?
  • Will my girlfriend respect the boundaries I set as we work on our relationship?

If your girlfriend is a malignant narcissist who hits you to humiliate you, gaslights and blames you for everything, and refuses to get help there isn’t any reason to give her a second chance. On the other hand, if the hitting occurs during trauma-related flashbacks, and she clearly wants to get better, the two of you have a chance with a lot of professional support.

Related reading: Recognizing and Dealing With Narcissists in Relationships

What If I Can’t Work It Out?

She admits she is wrong. She gets help. Things are back to normal. Hitting and verbal abuse are no longer part of your relationship. Despite this, you are simply done with the relationship.

This is a perfectly normal response. Hitting is a violent, traumatizing act. It doesn’t always matter what the reasons for it are, or even that women who engage in this kind of behavior are genuinely contrite. If your feelings change, or you still don’t feel safe you should not feel guilty about ending things. You have been given numerous reasons to leave.

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When to Get Professional Help For Physical Abuse

Women are usually advised to contact law enforcement when they are hit. Men are often hesitant to do that when women hit them. Those fears are often justified, but there are legal protections for men when hitting is involved. If you aren’t sure how to navigate the process of getting a restraining order, filing a police report, or even pressing charges you may be able to get the help you need from a:

  • Domestic violence hotline
  • Counselor or therapist
  • Court advocate
  • Trusted friend

This resource may not be available to everybody, but an attorney can advise you if your partner is hitting you.

Resources for Physical Violence and Other Forms of Abuse

No woman should ever consider hitting a man. Violence between partners is wrong no matter who is involved. Please stay safe, and reach out for help.

Here is a list of resources for men who need help protecting themselves from their violent partners:

If the woman you love is hitting you, the most immediate help you can receive will be from local resources. Contact your local domestic violence shelters, court victims advocate, homeless shelters, or social services agencies. If the people working for these organizations can’t help you directly, they may have resources for you to get the help you need.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.
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