* Buckle up, this is going to be fairly long and full of information. *
Hi, I'm sure you've seen me around or read my opinions I have posted on some questions, I have talked briefly about my past experiences. That is one of the reasons why I am writing a MyTake. I also want to educate some people on the reasons why people stay or seek abusive relationships. I’m sure many of you noticed a pattern with some people, and maybe this will give you more insight! I have noticed that many men on G@G ask questions regarding why girls go for the “bad boys” or stay with abusive boyfriends. I thought I would make a MyTake to explain this the best I could, based on my experience and research. I might write another MyTake on the warning signs one day...
First things first, What are the main types of abuse?
- Physical abuse - Intentional bodily injury such as punches, kicks, choking, slapping, shoving.
- Sexual abuse - Nonconsensual sex or sexual contact, coercion, nudity, or explicit photography.
- Psychological/mental/emotional abuse - Deliberate emotional or mental pain caused by intimidation, manipulation, harassment, yelling, swearing, degrading, and isolating.
It’s a complex issue. Many don’t understand it if they haven’t experienced it or researched it. Most people do not stay with their abuser or want a person who treats them because they actively want to be treated like that… There is often an ulterior reason.
But what are the ulterior reasons, You ask?
There are so many reasons why someone would stay with someone like that or seek out people who treat them poorly… I will provide some reasons and explain a bit more.
- Abuse was normalized in their life - We all know someone who grew up in abusive households, and you know the negative effects abusive households leave on people, especially children. When that is all you knew growing up, that quite literally is your “home,” your “comfort.” Awful, isn’t it? So… Some people will seek out that same type of “comfort” in romantic relationships later on.
- Low self-esteem - You know that self-esteem is common, but did you know how bad it can affect some people? When someone has low self-esteem, they perceive themselves as less than… They think they don’t deserve someone good, so they search for someone who they think they deserve (typically those with issues and abusive).
- Fear is a reason why they stay - We all know the fear aspect of leaving an abusive partner or someone who mistreats them. Those who are abusive are typically unpredictable and lash out easily. When the victim of abuse tries to leave the abuser will do things to inflict fear upon their victim - Whether it be blackmail or threatening their life. When your life is on the line, staying with the abuser seems to be the best choice.
- Lack of resources - When there is a lack of resources, it makes leaving hard. Not only is it difficult to leave because of fear, but having a lack of resources makes things 10x more difficult for people. This might be because they are dependent on their partner one way or another. For example, a lack of money/shared finances or assets, no family to go to, not being able to work, no transportation, etc. This is a reason why some people stay in abusive relationships.
- Children are involved - Children being involved is one of the worst things imaginable in an abusive relationship. When you are struggling with an abusive household/partner, but you have children, you can’t think only about yourself. You have to think about your children and their safety. That means, if you leave them, the children are now unsafe because the abuser will most likely abuse the children. Children are also used as a guilt tactic to stay with the abuse.
- Comfort/Normalized abuse - Similar to the reasons why people seek out abusive partners, people stay for the same reason. Some people stay in abusive relationships because it is their “comfort” because abuse in their life was normalized and they are simply used to it and can tolerate it. They don’t feel comfortable when it isn’t abusive.
- Stockholm syndrome - We’ve all heard of this. Typically when in a hostage-victim situation. People stay and are compliant with their victim, trusting of the abuser, backing them up, thinking highly of them, thinking that what the abusers are doing is good for them, and distrusting towards anyone who is outside the relationship, law enforcement, or wanting them to leave... This is a very serious emotional response to abuse and a reason why some victims stay.
- The cycle of abuse - I have experienced this personally, and it makes it difficult to leave. The cycle of abuse starts off as the honeymoon phase, getting progressively worse, then the (broken) promises claiming they won't do it again, and they are sorry... Lo and Behold, the cycle repeats. It makes it difficult to leave because there's always the "good" part of the abuser that the victim holds onto, just hoping that maybe next time they will change and things will be different.
- Embarrassment or shame - Yes, I know embarrassment might be the least of their worries, but it is humiliating having to reach out and admit they are or have been abused because it makes it seem like it was their fault for even getting into the relationship. Again, most people who have never experienced it or researched it, don't understand it.
- LOVE! - Love conquers all, right? Victims oftentimes love their abusers, they loved who they were before they started abusing them. Love is difficult to break, it doesn't stop like a flip of a switch. "Love bombing" is more intense than the honeymoon phase, I mean, 10x more intense. Those acts can really attract the victim and make them fall head over heels in love with the abuser, then the abuser starts the abuse. When you love someone, don't want to leave.
Abuse is complex, it is complicated, it is disturbing, it is painful, and it is something no one really wants to be in.
No one deserves to be abused, in any way, whatsoever... So if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, I hope this gave a better understanding understand the reasons why you/they might still be with them in the first place.
I hoped you learned a bit more about this topic and enjoyed reading it! Thanks!
Most Helpful Opinions
I agree with what you wrote and I just wanted to add something to the the "LOVE" section.
Tony Robbins says that we all have stories that we tell ourselves and they are self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, if a woman tells herself, "All the men I'm interested in cheat on me" guess what will happen with the next man she is interested in? He will cheat on her. Even if he doesn't she will "spin" reality so that he is.
One reason a victim will stay with an abuser because the victim is in "love" with the abuser. The victim is telling a story "He/she is a great provider." "He/she loves me." Etc. The victim is viewing the relationship with "rose-tinted glasses." So if incidents happen that conflict with the story he/she is telling themselves, the victim will make believable excuses. "He/she hit me. A person who uses violence doesn't love the other person right? Well, I can be obnoxious and say things I shouldn't. He/she was drinking when I was obnoxious and he/she hit me at their weakest moment."
Even if family and friends, or even a therapist, tries to tell the victim how things are, the victim will ignore the advice. The victim's story has to be true. I hope I'm making sense.
That makes total sense, and the “LOVE” section really hits close to home. Making excuses for the abuser, putting the blame on themselves for the reason why they’re being abused.
Thank you for your additional input!
I’m sure many people can relate.
@Cathy7734. So cognitive dissonance is at play when facts conflict with the narrative that one has internalized.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE "The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change."
As far as people who are telling them stories it seems to me that they don't have inconsistent thoughts. They are pretty clear on what the truth is for them. For example, if a woman tells the story, "All the men that I'm attracted to use me for sex." This is her truth. It's written in stone. Her friends tell her she is right. Her thoughts, beliefs and attitudes narrow straight.
@Cathy7734. Another definition is: "The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes feelings of unease or discomfort.
This inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave motivates people to engage in actions that will help minimize feelings of discomfort. People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information."
I believe it manifests when people convince themselves that something is true and suffer cognitive dissonance when confronted with information that challenges their beliefs. Under such circumstances, reality shakes their world and actually terrifies them. They'll suffer denial and jump through hoops to cling to "their" reality.
I was addressing this to Cathy's comment, "So if incidents happen that conflict with the story he/she is telling themselves, the victim will make believable excuses."
@Cathy7734 I would say I agree with having cognitive dissonance in the part of the abuse and self fulfilling prophecy with getting in the relationship to start? Cognitive dissonance, in terms of what your EYES see versus what your BRAIN will 'let' you think. ''Well, he 'acted' like he loved me to start, and I 'love' him, therefore, this is not possible and I will overlook the abuse, look 'see' there is evidence, he said he was sorry and is giving a gift", 'OUCH! I see him abusing again' but this conflicts, oh look, he said he was sorry again'. Thank you @Cathy7734 Thank you for this perspective! This is brilliant! It explains actually... ALL of the relationships I've been in. Sadly, even the way my bio 'father' treated me. @Lliam Yes, I would say I had cognitive dissonance very painfully, and this is accurate for a lot of women I've met. Also, some women don't know they have resources. Happens with male victims, too.