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