Why Does the Abused Person Stay?

Have you ever wondered why a woman stays with or returns to her abuser, again and again? Were you taught that abused people recreate what is familiar in their relationships, even if it is destructive? This is not the reason. No one in their right mind would seek a relationship that causes suffering!

Allow me to tell a story that will answer this question.

There was a little girl born 41 years ago to a married couple in Canada. As she grew up, she noticed that her father didn’t treat her quite as well as her siblings. She was always messing up. She could never please him. In fact, she eventually felt like he didn’t even love her. She developed tools to cope with her deep feelings of unworthiness.
When she was eight years old, her parents divorced. At age seventeen, her mother came clean, “Your father is not your biological father.” But she could not tell the young woman her real father’s name.
For the next thirty years, the woman wondered who her real father was? She longed to meet him. Finally, for fear of his dying soon, she hired a genetic research firm to track him down. After many false starts, one day they got a hit! The woman was overjoyed! Excited and scared. The firm told her, “These situations don’t always turn out well, so be prepared.”
The woman, trembling, called her real father. He answered. She nervously stuttered her name and told him that she was calling regarding a family matter. He interrupted her and said, “I’ve been waiting for you to call. I’m the one you’re looking for. I have never met you, but I love you already.”
All her adult life, the woman had wanted to find the father who truly loved her, loved her and accepted her with no strings attached. She had finally realized her dream. She was on cloud nine.
She and her father now text or call each other every single day.

An abused woman starts off just like this little girl. She has a father who uses her, or is unpredictable because of alcohol, or treats her like she has no needs of her own. She has a father who doesn’t truly love her. She dreams, her whole life, of making this right, of correcting this relationship. She dreams of finding the father figure who does love her and who gives her the unconditional acceptance that she has always craved but never received.

She meets a man and he is everything that she has dreamed. He tells her that she is perfect, that she can do no wrong, that she is beautiful and smart and that she is everything he has always wanted. He tells her that they are soulmates and they were meant to be together. He tells her that his whole life up until now was preparing him to meet her.

He idealizes her.

She has finally found him! She has finally found the love and approval that she has always needed but never got. She moves in with him, or marries him, or has a child with him.

But now that the chase is over, her perfect man begins to devalue her. She is less than nothing. He begins to control her, lie to her, manipulate her, and abuse her. You see, he was looking for a particular kind of person: a kind person, an empathic person, a person who would tolerate the coming abuse. He was waiting for his prey to come along and he said what it took to hook her.

But his unexpected abuse does not make her go running. She has the tools to cope with a man who doesn’t really love her; she is well practiced at it. And besides, the man she fell in love with, the man she knows he can be, is still there somewhere. He will come back. She has only to endure and wait for him to return to give her the love that she craves more than anything in the world.

When the abuse gets really bad, things blow up: a huge physical conflict occurs or a huge argument. She leaves him. The loss scares him and he reverts back to idealizing her, “I love you, I cannot live without you. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I will never do it again, I swear! Please don’t leave me, I’ll die without you! You are everything to me. You are perfect.”

Oh my God! He has returned, she thinks. The man she fell in love with, the man she knew he really was and always could be, is back! She really is worthy and loved. He has come back to make it right.

She returns to him.

But now that he is confident that she is once again his, he devalues her once more and the cycle begins again.

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It took me three years to realize that I am a fallen creature. I have been struggling and groping my way back to the Light. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way....

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