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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.

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
Replies (11-18):
cmarielin
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 2:49 PM

You're right, boys will pick up on that behavior from their fathers too.  It takes a lot more than the love of a good woman to change that pattern of behavior in a man.  It's a really sad situation.  I'm sorry to hear about yours, and I'm glad you were able to get out of that situation.

hugs

Quoting dr_m:

 

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...  


 


...Ruth...
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Abusive relationships are confusing. It takes a victim an average of 8 times to permanently leaver her abuser. For Rihanna, one down, seven to go.

At this point, Rihanna probably still remembers the good times with him more than the bad and believes that he intends to change the abusive side of him. Hopefully, he will.

 

Ruth...
mother of
3 teens...Max, Alec, Anna


 

...Ruth...
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 6:44 PM

 

One of the biggest misconceptions of abused women is that they're drawn to abusive men. Abusive men RARELY show their abuse upon meeting and courting a woman!! The abuse comes out after he's "hooked" her with his charm, affection, common dreams, flattery, etc.

Abusive men look for their victim's vulnerabilities and prey on them. It's the abusers who are drawn to the woman, not the women who are drawn to abusers!!

I recently left an abusive man. I was drawn to him because he was protective, charming, sweet, funny, affectionate in the beginning. I could never have imagined that he would become violent. I'm now in a DV shelter with a Protective Order against him.

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.

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. 


Ruth...
mother of
3 teens...Max, Alec, Anna


 

jrdnjstn00
by Bronze Member on Mar. 5, 2009 at 7:27 PM

I have been there too.

I moved cross country with my ex when i was 17. He started hitting me and it wasn't a slap here and there. He would hit me like i was a man! He would choke me in my sleep, put knves to my throat and shoot guns at me.

I didn't grow up in an abusive home. He was not abusive the first 2 yrs. we were together, until we moved.

The first time he beat me I did leave, after I went to the cops, who were country hick morons who said I deserved it. I came back because I though I loved him and I believed when he said he wouldn't do it again that he wouldn't. Well what a mistake! He continued to hit on me every week after that. I didn't have anywhere to go because he had it in my head that he would find me. I had no money and no vehicle, he wrecked my car saying it gave me to much freedom. I knew I had to leave because I couldn't take it and he wanted to get married. I went along with his "getting married" thing (no we didn't get married)...I wanted him to be happy so he'd quit hitting me. I finally left when he went to work one day. Actually my mom drove 12hrs to come get me. she told me that if I went back that she wouldn't help me again. I never went back and he never came to "find me". I will never let a man hit me again. if he doesn then he better make funeral arrangements for hisself


hsteele
by on Mar. 5, 2009 at 10:42 PM

Because they're afraid or don't know anything better. My grandmother took nearly 30 years to gain the strength to leave my grandfather who was not only physically abusive to her but allegedly molested his oldest daughter. My step mother was married to her husband for more than 20 years who threatened her with a knife when she finally left him for my dad. She didn't leave him to be on her own, she left him for another man that she knew would protect her from him. The sad thing is that my dad is her 3rd husband. Her first husband abused her too.

To understand Rihanna maybe someone needs to look at the relationship between Rihannas father and mother. There could be something there we aren't aware of. I am not making accusations but you really never know. It should also be important to remember that Rihanna was also allegedly abusive in the relationship. I am not one of those people who believe that if a woman hits a man she deserves to get hit back, because the truth is men are so much physically stronger than women. But there are many who do believe that way, and Rihanna might be one of those people. The sad truth is that their's is probably a doomed sad relationship that will be what others have said before like Whitney and Bobby with abuse on both sides and a downward spiral. I only hope Rihanna who has such great talent gets smart before she ends up like Whitney. Hopefully Chris brown will get counseling, and will mature a little. Isn't he only 19? And they can move past this.

Intrinsic.Elite
by on Mar. 6, 2009 at 3:24 AM

I don't believe at all it has anything to do with women not knowing any better or that they are used to it.  Men hide their abusive behaviour when they start relationships by whooing the woman until she has his complete trust.  Then whammo.  After the trust has been gained then the man starts dismantling her physically and mentally.

I have been abused.  More so mentally than physically.  My Ex threatened to hit me once and I have been seperated from him for 3 months.

There is more to this than meets the eye.  The man can threaten to take her life.  Threaten to kill her children or take them away from her.  He makes her feel useless by saying she will never make it by herself and sometimes deliberately sabotages her efforts to walk out that door.  When or if she does get out he then pleads for her to come back.  That no man can ever love her the way he does.  She believes it and goes back - because he says he will change because he does care for her that much.  Then it all changes back to the old ways and the cycle begins again.

Ever heard of the saying "You can't beat a dog that has already been beaten?"  This is exactly what it is like for alot of women who continually go back to these relationships.  Their self esteem and sense of self worth has been so self crushed that in the end they blame themselves for the behaviour (not all but some).  And just accept it until they snap again and walk out.

My Mother was also in one of these situations.  The woman does not know she is better than what this man can provide for her.  How can she?  When a man is using and crushing you to a living pulp mentally, emotionally and physically it is not easy just walking out.  Not when you have to change your own mindset as well.

wifedoll
by on Mar. 6, 2009 at 4:01 AM

In my own personal experience I was raised in a home where I was always told I would never amount to anything, was fat, was ugly, etc...There was a lot of verbal/emotional abuse by my Mom and Stepdad and a lot of sexual & physical abuse by my Stepdad. When I met my ex-husband I thought he truly loved me and would take me away from the "HELL ON EARTH" I called home.

I never dreamed that he would abuse me in "underhanded ways"; he was determined to be a passive/aggressive narcicist by the AF psychiatrist that performed a psych eval on him after he killed our son by shaking him at 3.5 mths of age. I never knew that he was shaking him to stop his crying because I was working at the times it happened. He was the type of person who would smile in your face and stab you in the back but I couldn't see it because he wasn't "openly" abusive. Also, he DID convince me that I was to blame for his anger, sulen moods, and nastiness toward me. He would say things like, "If you didn't spend over what I give you for the groceries, I wouldn't have to get angry at you." He was an expert at "placing blame" and making me feel guilty. The only place he was blatantly abusive with me was in our bedroom and even then he abused me under the "guise" of playing "fantasy games".

Growing up in a home where my Mom did everything my Stepdad wanted, including turning her head while he had his way sexually with me and my older sister, led me to believe that my "wifely duty" was to keep my hubby happy at any "cost". Had I have known that the "cost" was going to be my beautiful baby boys life I would've thrown him out "on his ear".  

Today I am married to my Godsend husband and he knows that I will NEVER allow abuse of any kind in our home.

Blessings...Karen

CharmaineL
by Bronze Member on Mar. 6, 2009 at 7:05 AM

I don't know what prompted her to go back to him, considering that she is young and there is plenty of fish in the sea! Bizarrely, she must love him.  If my husband ever pulled a shenanigan like that, I'd never go back. I'd be so furious and on some level, deeply humiliated, that I wouldn't be able to see straight. My mother would kill me! And, my father too.  I hope that her family rallies behind her, and that she truly knows (and feels!) that she has support from them. But it's never okay to tolerate that behavior.  I hope his career tanks.

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