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Hot Topic (3/5): Why do some women go back to their abusers? Would you go back?

Posted by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 1:19 AM
  • 18 Replies

Why do some women go back to their abusers?

What do you think?

(CNN) -- A middle-of-the-night fight, a surprise pullout from the Grammy Awards, leaked photos, a police investigation -- new pieces of the puzzle of the alleged assault of pop singer Rihanna by her boyfriend Chris Brown have been emerging since early February.

Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown, shown performing in December, are rumored to be back together.

Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown, shown performing in December, are rumored to be back together.

Then, nearly three weeks after the alleged battery, the couple was reportedly together again. The reconciliation was reported just days before Brown's arraignment, which is expected Thursday in Los Angeles, California. Brown, 19, has issued an apology for "what transpired" but neither he nor Rihanna, who just turned 21, has directly addressed the allegations.

Many would ask why anyone would return to an abusive partner after leaving, but therapists who treat both abusers and victims say it's common.

The effect is like a "pendulum of pain," said Steven Stosny, counselor and founder of the anger and violence management program CompassionPower, which treats people convicted of abuse in the home.

Abuse victims will "leave out of either fear, anger or resentment," he said. "But then, after the fear, anger or resentment begins to subside, they feel guilt, shame, anxiety, and that takes them back."

After a violent incident, there is often a "honeymoon period" during which the abuser may apologize profusely, give the victim gifts and persuade the victim to stay, experts say. But when that period is over, the abuser may once again become violent.

The reasons for returning to an abusive partner may relate to the days of early humans, who had to fend for themselves in the wild. The powerful psychological mechanisms that lead people to stay in abusive relationships may have developed for survival reasons, Stosny said.

"To leave an attachment relationship -- a relationship where there's an emotional bond -- meant certain death by starvation or saber-tooth tiger," he said.

Regardless, women may not want to break off an abusive relationship because they are afraid to be independent, don't know how to take care of themselves or don't want to face shame from friends and family, she said.

"It's really important that a woman reach out and get support from friends, family or a counselor who can help her see that she doesn't have to go back to that relationship," she said.

Can there ever be a happy ending for an abusive relationship? Experts agree that it's unusual, but a relationship in which a partner has been violent can become healthy again if, and only if, the abusive person seeks counseling to change his or her mindset.

"If you don't believe that you have a problem, and you believe the person drove you to it, you're going to have a really hard time seeing that you have a problem," Snawder said.

In practice, however, the victim usually just needs to move on to someone else, she said.

 

by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 1:19 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Armywife6
by Member on Mar. 5, 2009 at 8:36 AM

Since I've been there & done that I'll tell you why I did it. Now that might not be reasons everyone does this is just my personal  experience.

After it happend th 1st time we went through the "honeymoon period" mentioned above then I thought  if he really loves or at least cares about me I can change him. Needless to say it happend again however this time I didn't take it, I defended myself. I remember 1 time I left the room to cool down & he followed me & wouldn't stop that was the bottom line for me.

I know that IF my DH ever did that I wouldn't take it but it would be very difficult to leave cause I don't work & I didn't go to college. Some women go back because that's all they know. Others can't support themselves & or kids without him.

Katie911
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 9:10 AM

I think it is out of fear.  Or the fact some are stay at home moms and don't have a way to support themselves or their children.  Perhaps their SO has threatened to take the kids. Who knows.  I know I am lucky because I have never been in this situation.  But I told my DH if he ever hit me, I was gone and taking my kids with me.  I will not stand for it.

mom_wrhsc
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 9:18 AM

I think it's because a lot of them can't see the reality of the situation. I have been in this situation and I told current dh that I had two rules when we met...one, no cheating and two no hitting. Those are the two main things that will definately end this relationship perminantly.

admckenzie
by New Member on Mar. 5, 2009 at 9:22 AM

It's called Trauma Bonding and it's mistaken for Love. Add that to the guilt of 'not trying hard enough" to make a relationship work  even though it's toxic then add bs like what we're psychologically programmed with in things like songs (Stand by your Man) and you have a recipe for revolving door syndrome with abusers. Not to mention they pull that "I have nothing to live for if you leave me". It's all emotional manipulation and we fall for it until one day we realize "I'm going to die if I go back again" or we see the damage it does to our children and we walk out and never look back. Finding that kind of strength isn't always easy either since friends and family normally don't want to get involved out of fear of retribution from the abuser.

Kudos to all who have walked away and were able to stay away. To those still in the revolving door, use one of the groups here on CM to find your strength to get out and stay out. We're here for you.

heyiitsang84
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I think that women go back to that crap is b/c they think that they can't live or take care of themselves without the man. Well ladies yes u can!!! Men just use and say a buch of shit to make you feel like crap, and then thats when u THINK u need him. I would never stand for it, and if my DH ever hit me I would kick and leave his ass quick!!! For all of the women who think that they can't leave their man b/c of abuse U CAN DO IT AND LEAVE!!! YOU JUST GOT TO BELIVE IN YOURSELF!!! 

grigsbymom
by Member on Mar. 5, 2009 at 9:57 AM

It is all about control.  These abusers have told their women that they are trash and wrong and stupid so many times that their women actually start to believe it. 

cmarielin
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 10:57 AM

As sad as this sounds, for some women, that is what they're used to.  Some women are actually drawn to men like that because it's all they've known.  I can't imagine getting comfortable with a "norm" like that, but psychologically speaking, thier father's were abusive or negligent; thier high-school boyfriends were cocky, criticizing, abusive and pushy; and the pattern continues.  I see it all the time, as I've been a counsellor for a church for many years.  While that's not been the case every time, it often is.

Then when a good guy comes along, it doesn't work out because she's just not into him.  It's not her "norm."  He might actually seem boring to her.  It could be her norm, it should be - but it won't be until she understands that it can be, and that she does deserve a good guy.

I tell my husband all the time, make our girls feel special.  Make them feel loved beyond all reason, because when it comes time for them to choose someone special to spend their lives with, I don't want them settling for anything less.  (It's not a sure-fire thing, I know.  A lot of other factors play into a girls life and psyche as she grows, and things could change anyway, I know.  I just look at that as, doing what we can.)

Anyway, that's why I think they do it.  Would I go back?  No way.  This might make me sound like a jerk, but I don't think I'm physically or psychologically capable of loving someone enough to let him hit me.  Or even shove me.  Or even act like they're going to. 

kittyhut
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 11:09 AM

Ive been there and done that ,when i was married the first time. I was nieve and didnt know any better but it took everything in me to say enough was enough and with a small child.Now those that are in the public eye well i wonder if its for all the drama and wanting rave reviews and to promote or generate popularity.This might be all that she knows and thives on the insanity.

dr_m
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 1:01 PM


Quoting cmarielin:

As sad as this sounds, for some women, that is what they're used to.  Some women are actually drawn to men like that because it's all they've known.  I can't imagine getting comfortable with a "norm" like that, but psychologically speaking, thier father's were abusive or negligent; thier high-school boyfriends were cocky, criticizing, abusive and pushy; and the pattern continues.  I see it all the time, as I've been a counsellor for a church for many years.  While that's not been the case every time, it often is.

.....

Thanks for your post...

I don't know a lot about it, but i agree if someone comes from an abusive family background, it may seem kind of normal  to them...  hard to break the cycle...  I had my own problems growing up, but there was not physical abuse, and when my 2nd started physically "throwing" me around after six months of marriage, i was so shocked..  it wan't anything i had seen.  he ended up arrested and never did that again, however, verbal abuse, and breaking stuff became too much to take.. it's sad cause he is a good person, but both his folks were alcoholics and physical fights / abuse were common when he was growing up...  


 

JJTaylor
by Member on Mar. 5, 2009 at 1:45 PM

I stayed for 5 years, and left once and went back... before I finally left for the last time.  Why did I stay?  I wish I could give you a great reason.  I can only say that as much as I wanted out I also felt lost w/o this abuser... and if that isn't awful enough; he pretty much destroyed what self esteem I had and I didn't know what to do on my own... it was really strange and sick. 

I think women will allow themselves to fall back into these bad habits too easily.  I cannot even tell you how I found the strength I did to finally leave for good... I look back and believe it was my grandmother (my angel from heaven) that gave me strength to walk out that door and never go back.  It's been more the 12 years since that relationship, I look back and can't figure out what I was doing or thinking... I can only say that I truly had a major lapse in judgement... or a 5 year brain fart...

I think it's a habit, it's what you know, and when you give so much of yourself you have literally lost yourself somewhere along the way... you don't feel like you unless you are with this person... as awful as that sounds... it's sadistic and stupid, but, I think for me at least this is the major reason why I stayed for as long as I did.  Meanwhile when you are in the thick of this crap filled life at least for me, I never looked at myself as being abused... stupid huh?  I would agree with things that abuse victims would say... but, I always thought it had to get better and it was always me... there was always something wrong with me. 

As horrible as my life was, I am grateful I found my way out of that black hole.  Looking back, I was smart enough not to allow myself to get pregnant, and he wanted this more then anything... I think in a lot of ways it would have been a control thing for him over me... the person he eventually went to next married him, that is after the first two kids, then they had two more, married/together for 9 plus years, then while she was with one of their kids at a diabetic camp, learning to live with it, he exposed himself to their eldest daughter... she was wise enough to call the police and have him arrested, however, the state they live in allowed him to plead no contest, which means he lost all parental rights, (they did divorce); but he gets nothing on his records (WRONG WRONG WRONG) and he can still be a football, baseball and basketball coach for local youth teams; live his life as normal... just as long as he attends two meetings a month; which are suppose to assist him in correcting this behavior.  Honestly it will never correct this mans behavior.  Sex was one of his tools he used against me and this ex-wife as well...

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