Why do abused children look for abusive relationships?

I'm specifically talking about children who were abused as children and once older specifically look for abusive relationships. Not anyone who started in a nice relationship that went bad and stayed hoping for it to get better, but someone who was abused as a child and wants to be in an abusive relationship.

I'm more interested in studies, articles, and educated opinions as opposed to personal opinions or thoughts on the subject. Listing sources is extremely encouraged.


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Most Helpful Girl

  • In my experience, it's what they are used too. You can feel comfortable with bad situations too. When I was going through abuse in a relationship, I was almost addicted to my sadness. It felt so comfortable because it was what I was accustomed too, even though it was a negative emotion, I still craved the feeling because it felt like home. Also I think they want acceptance. The abusive person I dated is very similar to my father, who has never accepted me or changed his narcissistic ways for his family. Going into that relationship, I thought I could get it right this time. I thought I could save them from themselves and become accepted by a person who rejects everything. I wanted a second chance, but I definitely learned my lesson. I think I was also drawn to the nostalgia of it, as a kid I always thought the abuse was normal as well, I see it negatively now but at the time I didn't see it this way. I would just believe his words but not his actions because he's my father. Witnessing and experiencing abuse was my childhood, which is the time that shapes you, so of course it affects your future. Also people that are abused usually feel like they deserve it and they need to stay with someone like that. They are traumatized. I think eventually (at least for me) when/if they practice self-love/acceptance that they can break free from this and realize that they deserve much better.

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    • 3mo

      I of course didn't know this person was abusive until later.. so maybe you subconsciously attract them? Or you're easier to pick on and be taken advantage of because you're used to it and they can see that.

What Girls Said 16

  • My mother in controlling to the point of emotional abuse. I've dated three men that turned out to be stalkers.
    Our base personality is set in by age 7. We learn what "normal" is during the first 2 years of life in how we are treated by those who raise us.
    We were raised to associate these unhealthy behaviors with normal and correct. Since babies are only mirroring and mimicking, and don't actually understand what they do, these behaviors become a subconscious instinct.

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  • I can speak on this from personal experience. I was abused horrifically as a child, sexually, mentally and physically. I often go for relationships with older men that treat me like garbage. My dad was always in jail before he died when I was 8 years old. I've heard a lot of people talk behind my back about me having daddy issues. I honestly agree.. even though that's pretty degrading and embarrassing to me. I'm sometimes actually the abuser. I have been physically abusive toward boyfriends before but eventually went for anger management and no longer become violent I've learned ways to cope. I'm not sure why it carries on later in life through the victims. Probably they feel they deserve nothing better than what they were given and possibly act out in the same manner because they're angry and bitter for being treated so poorly and want others to feel what they felt.

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  • There are quite a few studies that show you look for similar characteristics you're parents had when looking for someone to date. The reasoning behind this is that your parents are usually your symbols for masculinity, femininity, and most importantly what a relationship looks like.
    So if your dad beat you and you're mother subconsciously you'll think of that as how man should act and how a relationship should look. So you'll probably date someone who is abusive because that's what your mind thinks a good relationship looks like.

    Hope this helped, if you know anything else on the subject I'm vary interested in phycology and would like to hear it.

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  • images.booklooker.de/.../1378.jpg

    Nobody WANTS an abusive relationship. According to what I read in this book, some people with an abusive past grow up subconsciously sabotaging their lives and they do that unknowingly because deep inside, they're ridden with guilt. In this book, the author gave numerous examples of Casey and stories of adulte who could otherwise be very successful in all aspects of their lives, but for some reason they unknowingly and subconsciously Sabotage their own chances of success and/or happiness. The reason behind this behavior can be traced to their chilhood or their roles in the family.
    Some people subconsciously Sabotage their chance of having a healthy relationship with a non-abusive partner, maybe because subconsciously, they do not want to "surpass" their mothers (who married the abusive bastards who abuse them). They would feel guilty if they have a spouse who is better than what their mothers have/had. These guilts are not rational, but I could believe that these actually drive people to do harmful things to themselves.

    Then of course, a simpler explanation that I concluded myself is that if these individuals have been raised in an abusive environments, then maybe they just don't know any better. Maybe they are then not used to someone not bossing them around using violence, and that Kind of. "Independence" might be intimidating for battered individuals. Hence they would go back to the world they already know how to handle, which is the abusive one.

    There, I gave a scientific theory from a book and my own theory XD

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  • Because that all they know

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  • because they weren't taught what to look for. they equate abuse with love because that was all they knew.

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  • I feel abused children attract more abusers in life without actively looking for them.

    ie: The wounded prey and the observant hunter.

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  • It's all they know in their life.

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  • No one wants to be inam abusive relationship, they just may subconciously attract that type of person sometimes

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  • Some think it's normal while others try to resolve the past

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  • I've always thought about this for myself

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  • Cause that's the only type of love they know.

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  • abusive relationships seem normal to them because it's what they are used to. They think that's what love is.

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  • Thats what they know. Wut their defination of relationships are and what they know them to be.

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  • They only know that I think. My father yell a lot and be the "boss" in the house take descision for everyone, etc...
    And when I think of my boyfriend they're like that too. I think people are just used to it and are more alike to go to things they're use

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    • 3mo

      I tried that and only one of the links is what I was looking for and it only slightly touches the topic. Thank you though I appreciate it.

What Guys Said 3

  • Because it offers a semblance of normalcy. I was never abused per se, but came from a dysfunctional family and thus my idea of "normal" was in actuality anything but. So being in an environment similar to the one I grew up in, relationships included, felt more "normal" and secure despite actually being toxic and dysfunctional. We are creatures of habit.

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  • Because they think it's normal. It's all they know

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  • Abused children had an abusive parent and an abused parent as role models.
    People tend to conform to their role models without realizing it.

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