Even if you have, you STILL have an advantage
Targets of abuse have some advantages over abusers. One of them is that if we work at it, we can CHANGE our behavior if we need to. That’s something abusers rarely do, and when they do it is a much more difficult undertaking for them. That means YOU have the advantage!
If you’ve been involved in more than one abusive relationship, you might want to look at some of the possible reasons. It’s certainly true that there is no shortage of abusers out there, poised like vultures just waiting to take advantage of a kind-hearted or vulnerable person. They LOOK for them, in fact – and they choose them deliberately. Abusers are often charming, slick, wiley, and difficult to resist with their attempts to “sweep you off your feet” in the beginning. But, this isn’t about blame. *Blame is for abusers, and I’ll get to that further down the page.
This is about helping yourself to a happier future by developing some understanding of yourself and your past. For instance, looking at some reasons why it might be difficult for you to recognize potentially unhealthy or abusive relationships when you’re targeted for them, or why it may be difficult for you to recognize non-abusive people, and why you may not be as excited by or as interested in relationships with them, instead.
“Huh? What’s THAT About”? — Questions to ask yourself
Have ever you asked yourself if you may be unconsciously picking partners who are in some ways similar to an abusive, neglectful, or emotionally absent parent because that’s what you’re comfortable with or find most “exciting”? Women often unconsciously seek out relationships with men that are in some way similar to the relationships they had with their fathers. Likewise, men often unconsciously seek out relationships with women who are in some way similar to their mothers — even if those relationships are abusive and unhealthy.
Or, are you addicted to drama or is your partner addicted to drama – such that you (or they) consider a relationship “boring” if there isn’t constant emotional upheaval or some drama going on all the time?
… “you may find it extremely difficult to get off the roller coaster or avoid becoming involved with abusive partners. If you don’t recognize that you are addicted to drama, and do some inner work with yourself, you will likely find yourself continually back in abusive relationships. So, how do you know if you are addicted to drama? One indicator: You may find those gentle and loving men will seem boring… “He’s just too nice.”
In a blog entry about Archetypes, Neuroses, and “Templates of Behavior” Michael J. Formica says:
So, why did you marry your father? If we consider that question within the context of this system of understanding, the answer would be “Because he didn’t love you in the way that you needed to be loved”.
Your father’s failure to activate the Mother (nurturance) allowed the Victim to become dominant in you — leaving you feeling both unlovable and unloved. Since we typically seek out what we know, and nature tends toward balance, we would, in this example, be prone to choose someone who exhibits that same quality of non-nurturance in an effort to bring the Mother/Victim archetype back into balance within ourselves. We are trying to fix what we unconsciously and psychodynamically perceive as broken.
If there is a pattern in your life of involvement in abusive relationships, then these things are worth examining – maybe with the help of an experienced therapist or counselor . You may be able to help yourself resist abusive relationships by understanding why you might unconsciously tend to gravitate towards them.
In another entry on EscapeAbuse.com, Michael J. Formica explained the “Dynamics of Abusive Relationships” this way:
The pathological need to control on the part of the abuser and the pathological need for attention on the part of the victim is a match made in heaven. We are all just a bunch of neurotic habits that tend to find a fit with our opposite to create a psychosocial balance. Abusive relationships are one of the most extreme cases of this dynamic.
You can’t make an abuser stop being angry and controlling, and abusers rarely change. But you CAN work towards understanding yourself better so that you will not “need” to be loved or accepted by another person so badly that you will tolerate being abused by them out of fear of being considered unloveable, fear of abandonment, or fear of rejection. Or, so that you will not be so inclined to unconsciously choose partners who may hurt or neglect you in similar ways that a parent or caretaker may have in childhood — because that’s what’s most “comfortable” to you, or what’s most “exciting” to you, or because you’re still trying to resolve broken relationships from the past from within your present one.
In other words, the type of people and relationships you may tend to gravitate towards or that “excite” you might NOT be good ones for you. Your mission is to find out why you might tend to gravitate towards unhealthy relationships or abusive type people.
*Blame is for Abusers
If you’ve found such a pattern in your relationships, know that there is NO shame in it! Things that happened to you as a child were beyond your control. You are not to blame for those things. But you may be affected by them NOW and it is worth looking into the possible effects that childhood programming and environment may be having in your choice of partners – even without you realizing it!
It’s important to know, too, that this doesn’t necessarily mean you had a “bad childhood” or that your parents or family were intentionally neglectful or abusive! Children do not come with instruction manuals and every parent and family does the best they can. So if you’ve noticed such a pattern in your relationships, that does not necessarily mean that your childhood was abusive. However, it is true that children who are subjected to abusive environments often will become abusers or victims of abuse as adults.
If your partner berates you about your childhood past like mine did, ie: “Well, I can’t help it YOU had a bad childhood!” — then that IS ABUSE!
Many abusers like to accuse their targets of having “had a bad childhood” (whether they actually DID or not) because it’s another convenient blame tool for them. If they’re berating you over your past, they are using information they may know or have about you to avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior NOW. Even if there was abuse in your childhood, it is further VERBAL and EMOTIONAL abuse to be devalued for it as an adult by your partner.
Interestingly, abusers often like to use their own “bad childhoods” (whether they actually had one or not) as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior too. This type of blame is for abusers and it is simply a way of shedding responsibility.
Whenever anyone puts you down using personal information against you which you previously trusted them enough to share, or they denigrate you about things in your past which you had NO control over (and therefore are NOT to blame for), that is ABUSE!
Are you “filtering” out non-abusive people without realizing it?
Steven Stosny says, in regards to “multiple-victimization” (ie: having had multiple abusive relationships in your life):
If you’ve experienced multiple-victimization, please understand this: The problem is not that you attract only resentful, angry, or abusive suitors; it’s that, by and large, you have not been receptive to the gentler, more respectful men you also attract. This is not due to your temperament or personality; it’s a normal defensive reaction. After you’ve been hurt, of course you’ll put up subtle barriers for self-protection. Non-abusive men will recognize and respect those barriers. For example, suppose that you work with someone who’s attracted to you. But he senses that you’re uncomfortable with his small gestures for more closeness. He will naturally back off and give you time to heal, or he’ll settle for a non-romantic friendship. But a man who is likely to mistreat you will either not recognize your barriers or completely disregard them. He will continue to hit on you, until he breaks down the protective walls that surround your hungry heart.
So, if you have noticed a pattern in your life of getting involved with abusers, it may be time to look at the reasons behind it – things you may not even be consciously aware of – as a means of making some changes in your choices. This may help you to protect yourself from being abused again.
You are NOT to blame!
Blame is about the past – things that have already happened. There’s nothing you can do about the past except to evaluate it as a means of better understanding yourself so you can make healthy changes. Your past doesn’t have to be a life sentence!
Responsibility is about now and the future. You are worth YOUR every effort to make yours a happy one — because you DO NOT deserve to be blamed or abused!