A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Is there something in the victim that the perpetrator latches on to? And do women ‘attract’ abusers?

Some people think there is something in the victim that the perpetrator latches on to, otherwise he wouldn’t have someone to abuse.
Is this true?
Another, perhaps more hurtful way of putting this idea is that victims need to work on why they attract that sort of dynamic.
Women often feel great shame because they believe they somehow attracted the abuse.

Here are my thoughts in progress… which may be subject to change. The points are not ranked in significance, they are just my thoughts.
1) I admire the book by Joanne Robinson called He Loves Me Not? [*affiliate link] (You can see my review of it on Amazon UK.)  Joanne’s ministry is to Christian women who are tired of having disappointing, destructive or heartbreaking relationships. Some of these women have formerly been in abusive relationships, either marriages, dating, or boyfriend/girlfriend. Joanne herself  experienced an abusive relationship in the past, so she doesn’t look down on survivors, she empathizes with them.

One of the things I appreciate about Joanne’s book is that she combines the principles of discipleship and relationship-recovery in a gentle way that is appropriate for many women. Readers of her book may discover that it not only helps them heal from the disappointments,  it helps them in their desire to find and maintain a healthy relationship in the future.  This is not to blame women who have been through abusive relationships; nor is it to say “They attract abusive men!”  It’s simply acknowledging that personal growth – which as Christians we call discipleship – is a good thing to be doing, and there are specific areas of growth that are beneficial to women who’ve had bad relationships with men.

2) The psychiatrist Robert Hare, who is an expert on psychopathology, says that a psychopath can pull the wool over absolutely ANYONE’S eyes.  Who am I to question him? Nor do I wish to question his statement, because it fits well with my experience and the reports of so many survivors. So it’s not the victim’s fault that she got targeted or sucked in. He (the abuser) deceived her.

3) But it appears true that abusers tend to target women who have lower self confidence or have been previously traumatized. An abuser often tests a woman out very subtly to see whether she has strong or weak boundaries, whether and how far she tolerates mild disrespect.  (Read Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear [*affiliate link] chapter one for a  brilliant and chilling account of this.)  Women who are more complaisant and willing to please are easier targets; it seems that abusers tend to go for them, whether instinctively or with full cognizance I don’t know, but they do.

3) But we also hear stories of emotionally healthy, confident and un-traumatized women who get targeted, trapped and severely damaged by abusers. So in my opinion it’s wrong to say, “There is something in the victim that the perpetrator latches on to”.  Sometimes this might be so, but not always. And I would never say, “These women need to work on why they attract that sort of dynamic.” That is blaming the victim, no matter how much you deny it. It blames the victim because the victim in that sentence is the agent of the active verb – she attracts, meaning she is the one doing the attracting. And that is not true. I don’t believe any victim deliberately sets about attracting abuse. We want to be loved and to give love. That’s all.

Rather than telling a survivor: “You need to work on why you attract that sort of dynamic,” it would be better to say:
“Perhaps, only perhaps, there is something in you, some natural quality or way of thinking, that the abuser saw and utilized against you…
[In that sentence, the abuser is the agent of the active verbs, not the victim:– he saw, he utilized.] … If  that is the case, it might be worth working out what aspects of your personality he manipulated, so you can try to protect yourself against it happening again. However, there are no absolute guarantees that you can prevent it re-occurring, because abusers are so skilled at camouflage.”

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

38 Comments

  1. joepote01

    Just thinking out loud here, and I’m certainly not an expert…

    It seems to me that, if there is a common trait among victims of abuse, it is probably the willingness to place a higher value on the relationship than on self.

    There can be a variety of reasons for this, including multiple reasons for any given individual.

    For me, I think the initial attraction was a need to feel I was special to someone. That neediness did play a dynamic in the relationship. I’m not saying the abuse was my fault, but it did make me more vulnerable to an abusive relationship.

    Also, I had a strong sense of family commitment based on how I was raised, combined with a strong negative view of divorce based on religious beliefs in which I was raised.

    All of those worked together to cause me to place a very high value on the marital relationship.

    Not that placing a high value on a covenant relationship is a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing, at all. In general, it is a godly thing. However, the relationship should not be valued higher than the people in the relationship.

    Relationships are made for people, not people for relationships.

    Just my thoughts based on my experiences and observations…

    • Joe I agree. And I appreciate how you articulated this with the nuances it deserves, including how there may be multiple reasons for each individual that may cause them to place a higher value on the relationship than on their themselves.

      For myself, I can say that in my first marriage the biggest reasons I placed a higher value on the relationship than on myself were (a) I had become pregnant with his child and didn’t believe in raising a child in a single-parent home; (b) I was a bit afraid that if I left him I would end up slipping back into my former addiction of bulimia; (c) I was very ashamed to admit that I was being abused because society – and my own judgmental thinking – labelled abuse victims as dumb, silly, crazy and bitter. I didn’t want to place myself in that category, so it was easier to continue under the veil and believe ‘it isn’t that bad’. And also (d) support for women leaving was not all that great in the early 1990s. When I’d sought help at the women’s refuge, they gave me a roof over my head a few times, but they made me feel like it was my fault for being such a ditz for being with a man who hated me. And then they encouraged me to talk to him when he tracked me down at the refuge! In fact, they put me out on the pavement to talk to him, because “We can’t have men in the refuge; it’s a woman only place!” By the way, I mustered the courage years later to talk to a refuge staff member about that incident, and she said it would never happen today, and it probably happened to me that day because they used to have some volunteer staff who didn’t know the dynamics of DV well enough.

      If you analyze your reasons Joe, your strong sense of family commitment, and your religious rejection of divorce, were both what would be called positive reasons: you held values that are considered virtuous and admirable in our society. The only one of your reasons that could be said to imply some ‘weakness’ on your part, is the one of needing to feel special to someone. And yet, that’s not pathological – it’s pretty normal to want to feel special to someone. After all, God said “It is not good for man to be alone…”

      And if you analyze my reasons, three of them are pretty virtuous too: wanting to raise a child in a two-parent family, not wanting to be stigmatized as a victim of domestic abuse, and lack of support services at the time. No-one would blame me for any of that, I think. The only one of my reasons which had to do with personal inadequacy on my part was the one about bulimia, and in the end, I didn’t slip back into it. I had been afraid I would, but I resisted the old pull of escapist addiction, and raised my daughter okay on my own.

      • Anonymous

        That’s the gist of it, Barbara. The “weaknesses” that are preyed upon are good qualities. Should we shed them? Of course not. Even the weaknesses that all victims eventually work through – that of craving approval, romance, etc – are very common in every young person, even those who marry normal people. It is good for us to keep renewing our minds and grow through every life experience, but I don’t think it is helpful to imply that if not for those weaknesses, we would not have found ourselves abused. That is in fact what is referred to as the Just World Fallacy, where we fallaciously believe the world to be just in order to feel safe, and so we attribute abusiveness to something the victim does. It is otherwise too horrible to comprehend.

        The other point is that while predators have their radar out for those with weaker boundaries, they also prey on strong people – people with status, money, knowledge, confidence, spiritual strength, etc. They like to be a parasite and suck the life of someone else to fill their own emptiness. As an example, they get attracted to successful businesspeople so they can defraud them of their finances. Numerous people have gone into psychopathic relationships with healthy finances, only to come out with a huge debt.

      • joepote01

        Yes, very astute observations, Barbara!

        Maybe it would be more accurate to say that an abuser takes advantage of anything they see as an opportunity, including the virutous character traits of kind and loving people.

        Thanks!

    • Bonnie Edwards

      I agree that the abuser searches out traits in his victims. My husband was a charmer and abuser. He and I had a conversation on our first “date” that has haunted me for years. If I had listened to the meaning he was giving I would have walked away from him that very second and never looked back!
      I asked him about his hobbies, if he liked to fish or hunt? He replied something along the lines of “yes, I am a hunter, but I hunt a different kind of prey”. When I questioned further he told me that he knew exactly what kinds of people he would allow into his life and what ones he passed by. That was nearly 20 years ago and after suffering 10 years of emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse at his hands I finally escaped with my life but little else. I still have trust issues and wake up from nightmares of running and hiding from his beatings. What is most disturbing is just during those years with me he also left a trail of hurt among his other victims. All of us (men and women) fell for his charm. He took all of us for everything he could and then moved to the next person. Just as one of us would gain strength he would come back, cry and beg and start the cycle over again. He went to great lengths to keep us in his abusive grip. He seemed to get a power high from seeing how much he could get from us all.
      I have remained friendly with some of the others that he had affairs with and then took them for as much cash as he could. Then there are some that are still involved in his twisted cycle that I do not understand. If I had seen the red flags I like to think I would have left, but I am not sure that things would have been different. The need to be the one that could change him or truly win his love was greater than protecting myself at the time.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Bonnie- Very, very hard lessons. But you survived and you are wise now. It is incredible when we consider the path of destruction that such people create in so many lives and their ability to deceive is amazing. You weren’t stupid, you were lied to and as you say, charmed. This man has the qualities of a full-blown sociopath and as experts have written on the subject, anyone can be victimized by them. There is One who will never be deceived by him however and one day soon he will stand before Christ and have to give account. Perfect justice will be effected.

      • Dear Bonnie, thanks for sharing. What a chilling story: his semi-revealing that he was a psychopath, even in your first conversation, but hinting at it so charmingly or enticingly or mysteriously, that it was like just another one of the glittering lures he used to suck people into his web. Have you read the books about sociopaths and psycopaths? Yours sounds like a real classic. Getting high on catching his prey and bleeding them dry, then coming back for more when they somehow resurrect from the walking dead and have enough blood in them again for him to scavenge a second meal. UUUGH .

  2. Good thought, Barbara. If it is indeed true that psycopaths can pull the wool over ANYONE’S eyes, then we all have something in us that attracts them. I myself have been fooled at least twice (temporarily). It was not until I saw for myself their disrespect of the ‘boundaries’ of others that I realized what I was seeing. I think that all good people operate with the attitude of giving others ‘benefit of the doubt’ and I believe that this is the arena in which the abuser seeks to operate. We do not want to call a person evil for one event, nor for two, nor for three, nor for……… We want to believe that they are who they represent themselves to be and any wickedness is incidental and not a pattern. When does the ‘incidental’ reveal itself to us as ‘pattern?’ Depends on how many times we have been exposed to psycopaths.

    • Larry, thanks! You’re helping me un-tease this tangle more.

  3. For me, I think it is because I had no boundaries. I was raised to put up whatever treatment I got and never complain, and also to think that I was somehow responsible for it. I still really tend to put up with a lot of bad treatment from others without complaint- which is a real juxtaposition to the way I live the rest of my life-that is not my personality with anything else. I am an avid defender of my kids, of the Gospel-of proper doctrine and have offended many people (not because I am offensive) because of these things without caring-but in my personal relationships, I am totally different. I have to unlearn this ,but I don’t know how to defend myself and my boundaries in the proper, healthy, biblical way. I don’t even know what they are probably.

    [note from Barb Roberts: I created a new post about Pamplamousse’s comment and my responses to her. You can find it here.]

    • Dear Pamplamoussejuice (whooo I love your screen name, even though it’s so hard to spell!)
      You raise a really important point, and one that I think many survivors, especially females, will identify with: “I was raised to put up whatever treatment I got and never complain, and also to think that I was somehow responsible for it.”
      Let’s examine this for a moment.
      Martha Stout, PhD, author of The Sociopath Next Door, has this to say (p.100, my emphasis added)

      When you teach your daughter, explicitly or by passive rejection, that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are not strengthening her pro-social sense; you are damaging it – and the first person she will stop protecting is herself. … Do not set her up to be gaslighted. When she observes that someone who is being really mean is being really mean, tell her she is right and that it is okay to say so out loud.

    • Pamplamoussejuice, maybe you have a better sense and command of your own boundaries than you realize. If you are an avid defender of your kids, and of the Gospel and proper doctrine, you are not an essentially silent or timid personality.

      Maybe the problem is not that you are unable to know or set boundaries in personal relationships, but that the person(s) you have had important relationships with have been so abusive and disrespectful that it was not possible to maintain boundaries with them. This often occurs in abusive scenarios. When the victim sets specific boundaries, the abuser deliberately and strategically runs roughshod over those boundaries. Often the victim may chose not to set certain boundaries because the consequences of saying “No” are even more dangerous than not saying “No”. When we overtly resist, abusers often escalate and punish us further. So we choose our battles carefully, and we covertly and creatively resist, biding our time, trying to gather our wits despite his fog-machine working overtime, and nurturing what we can in ourselves and our kids until the time is right to institute that one big boundary: Separation and Zero Contact if possible.

      Here is what a survivor wrote to me recently (paraphrased and reprinted with her permission):

      I, too, used to note that apart from relationship with my then-husband, I had the capacity to say “No”. The reason why I couldn’t was due to my safety – and I was doing everything I could to keep everyone safe. My ability to say “No” is pretty average: sometimes, it is hard, sometimes it is only a bit uncomfortable. But everyone seems to find it very difficult to say “No” to my ex, not just me, but also his kids, his friends, my friends, church leaders, the police, the legal system and his colleagues. The only people who managed to say “no” were abusive people themselves – my mother, who had no trouble slamming the phone down, some of his brutal co-workers, and a tenant who is pretty big and scary. So the inability to say “No” was not a fault of mine, it was a feature of anyone in relationship with him.

      Here is an article that you will find useful. I’ve added it to our Resources page as well.
      Resistance to Violence: A Key Symptom of Chronic Mental Wellness – by Martine Renoux & Allan Wade (secular therapists)
      The article by Renoux and Wade is discussed at my notunderbondage blog.

  4. Maybe consider thinking like this. It is ungodly, unbiblical and heretical for anyone to treat you with disrepsect and without honoring your boundaries in the same way they would have you honor theirs.
    Acts 23:3
    3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? KJV

  5. movedbyfaith

    LOVE -Rather than telling a survivor: “You need to work on why you attract that sort of dynamic,” it would be better to say:
    “Perhaps, only perhaps, there is something in you, some natural quality or way of thinking, that the abuser saw and utilized against you…
    [In that sentence, the abuser is the agent of the active verbs, not the victim:– he saw, he utilized.] … If that is the case, it might be worth working out what aspects of your personality he manipulated, so you can try to protect yourself against it happening again. However, there are no absolute guarantees that you can prevent it re-occurring, because abusers are so skilled at camouflage.”

    Thanks Barbara!

    -Emma

  6. KayE

    Well there might be something about me that makes me vulnerable to an abuser.But there is also something about me that has enabled me to finally see through the lies and stand up for what is right.Those who criticise me haven’t yet been able to do either of those things.

  7. This was a very healing post for me to read. It is years since I ended an abusive marriage yet I still ask myself why I signed myself up for that mess. And why did I have two children with him? But then I feel guilty for that thought because I dearly love those two, my son and daughter. Yet what sort of life did I bring them into? But would I choose not to have . . . it goes around and around and it is exhausting. But it all starts with the question, what is it about me that so attracted this kind of man? And why did I respond to him?

    • Glad you found it helpful, Becky. And welcome to our blog, if this is your first time. (((Hugs))) as well, for all that hurt you’ve felt.
      I know that merry-go-round of rumination and self-questioning. Go-round it is. Merry it is not!

  8. Samantha Davidson

    Thank you for creating this post. There is nothing worse than going through trauma, after having your confidence bashed around, & then having those who love you & want to support you say, “What did you do to attract this? You have to look at your issues!”. Although done with good intent, it unwittingly creates further trauma, psychological confusion & self esteem issues, therefore opening the door to further abuse or a repeat pattern of abuse, as one’s subconscious is being programmed to believe they attracted this somehow & it is all they deserve. We don’t say to a 5 year old who’d been sexually abused “What did you do to attract this? It’s time you self analysed!”, yet we do it to adult victims & we shame them.

    Just like our partner was once the person we looked to for love & support, hearing this attitude from others we seek love & support from is destructive to one’s psyche because it places BLAME & SHAME where it should not be placed.

    We’ve become a society of “Self Help” gurus & analysts, but unfortunately in this we point a finger of judgement rather than an open palm offering support, understanding & love. All to often it is not the pain of abuse that a victim battles after the event is over, it’s judgement & shame society places upon them. The victim is often left feeling “What is wrong with me?” long after the event of abuse, funnily enough, that is exactly what the abuser originally wanted them to feel – that they deserved that treatment.

    We think of abuse as physical, but in fact we heal quickly from that. It’s the psychological abuse that takes a long time to heal, & it can be the type of abuse where the someone may never physically touch you in violence, This is the worst kind, as it can take a long time to recover mentally & emotionally from the confusion, blame, guilt, manipulation & mind games the abuser put you through. As I once said, you can spot when something isn’t quite right in a relationship, “Look out for the ones who have more shop-front than Myers [that’s a giant department store in Australia, for those who don’t know], could sell ice to an Eskimo while their partner sits quiety unnoticed in the crowd they are with – something is wrong – empty vessels make the most noise & do the most damage”.

    From what I have observed it IS NOT a weak person that attracts abuse, rather the very opposite. I’ve met so many women who have been through this & in each case you would never have expected that they would fall victim. They have all been very strong & independent. They are the types who show an enormous HEART to those around them, offering generosity, empathy, understanding, good morals, patience & loyalty – they offer the “open plam”. They are the types that will stay through thick & thin in the name of love & their beliefs. Those who I have met who have been through this DO NOT come from an abusive childhood background, a rough home, or a broke family – quite the opposite!!! If you think about it carefully, a person who is selfish or lacks empathy for others would simply walk away from the first signs of mistreatment. A person who is weak would break instantly. It is the strong person who an abuser is attracted to, for they are the ones who are loyal enough to cover up for their abuser, who will battle it out hoping for a better day, a person who will analyze themselves in order to find empathy or an excuse for their partners wrong doings. And society treats them as if they deserved this abuse?

    Quite often, the abuser will make their way into the victim’s life playing on this strength or kindness of heart. Sometimes it will come when the strong person is in a place where they need support themselves, because so often these people don’t ask for help in their time of need, instead carrying the weight of their burdens alone.

    I personally call this attraction the “Wild Horse Syndrome”. A person [the abuser] is attracted to the beauty, strength, power & magestic free spirit of a wild mustang, but wants to harness this beautiful horse for self-desires. But instead of becoming a companion to this animal, offering trust & kindness, they instead use cruel means to “break” the horse in – violence, mental torment, separation & isolation from the herd it once knew, until it’s beaten into submission. Over time the majestic animal’s spirit is broken, it’s natural instincts ignored – the same instincts that kept it alive when running in the wild. The mustang become nothing more than a tired old trekking pony & finally becomes discarded because it no longer shows the qualities the person was attracted to in the first place.

    All I can say to any person who is the victim of abuse, is to not play into the battle between your heart & your head, not to allow society to place further weight to your burden, but to be like the Mustang & listen carefully to your instincts. Your instincts are your spirit talking! It is your instincts that tell you right from wrong, not your heart, head or the people around you.

  9. Hi Samantha, thanks for your great comment. I especially like the part where you say,
    “We don’t say to a 5 year old who’d been sexually abused “What did you do to attract this? It’s time you self analysed!”

    Too right! This double-standard all the time. Society’s thinking is upside down and round the wrong way in this area. It’s one of the big consequences of the Fall. The world is under sin, and inverted and twisted thinking is one of the results.

    I might use some of your comment to start a new post, titled something like “The high level of empathy and compassion displayed by many victims of domestic abuse.”

    Thanks for coming to our blog, and hope to see you here again!

  10. Christine

    I know this is a more than year old topic … but I was googling and came across it, trying to understand that very question. Why do I attract abusers?

    It has almost become politically incorrect to frame the question that way – and perhaps it really is just a continuation of the same syndrome of “always blaming myself” and proof-positive that I STILL don’t have a healthy mentality as yet. But I want to know.

    Is it just that I stay? Is that all it comes down to? That anyone else in their right mind would walk at the first hint of it??

    Then WHY do I stay? What can I change about myself to stop it happening. I cannot change others – I can only change myself so what can I DO?

    I really want some help with this. I am currently in a pivotal moment so I need to understand more. I broke up two months ago with abusive man but also let’s face it a man who is strong, capable, completely obsessed by me (which I find flattering or something) and that I have a level of respect for – especially his success. I think I am attracted to that. Not for any material benefit, I don’t need that I am not particularly materialistic at all but I admire that quality overly much. That quality of success and he is successful because of his unpleasant traits – he bullies, demeans and demands at work as much as he does anywhere else and he coerces.

    He offers me no respect but then of course that is fine by me. Why is it fine? Why do I say/think I don’t need that, that it is ok? I am tough enough. I don’t need that.

    What can I change. He is strong mentally. WAY TOO strong for me.

    Why does he like me?

    Is it JUST because I will put up with this abusive behaviour? Is that the sole reason and the fact that he physically is attracted to me?

    He phoned yesterday – from a different number – so I answered because I thought it was someone else and then already, by the end of the conversation he has twisted everything around and now I am already supposed to be phoning him tomorrow. I don’t want to speak to him. But I almost feel compelled now I have been confused into saying I will call. What IS this hold he has – that even over a phoneline he can control me. Get into my head and I need help. I need to know what I CAN DO to change. I can’t change him. I can only change myself. Does anyone have any advice?

    (And just for the record he is the third relationship I have had — the previous one was also abusive, the only one that wasn’t was my very first but I never really fell for him. What is wrong with me?)

    • Hi Christine,

      In my opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with the questions you are asking about yourself. It sounds like you want to grow in wisdom and learn how to protect yourself and that is only a good thing.

      Here’s a thread where the topic of the who is responsible for what was discussed.

      https://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/interview-with-catherine-deloach-lewis-part-2/

      Here is another thread where a new book by Leslie Vernick, coming out next week I believe, is reviewed and recommended.

      https://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/review-of-leslie-vernicks-the-emotionally-destructive-marriage/

      Vernick has a blog also where she interacts with commenters.

      http://www.leslievernick.com/blog/

      Also, the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is very good.

    • Dear Christine, have you ever thought about this — that it may not be that you ‘attract’ abusers, but rather, that there are lots of abusers out there lurking to find their next victim.

      Please don’t blame yourself so much or look for the problem being ‘in you’ so much. Most of us have found that kind of self-scrutiny not all that helpful. What we find helpful is to read a lot about the mentality and tactics of abusive people, and how to set boundaries and protect ourselves against them once we realise they are in our lives.

      I encourage you to search round this blog for things that interest you. I think you’ll find quite a lot that you relate to, and may help you. And I encourage you to read the links that Barnabasintraining suggested.

  11. Christine

    Thank you both so much. I am still struggling on with this issue but now am trying to put down some boundaries ….. Deep down, I think the better way is to finish this relationship in entirety but the complications!! How will I afford rent on my own, will I get panic again on my own — I don’t know. They are just practicalities but they loom large and it is the same for him – neither of us could really afford a one bedroom flat on our own here in London (rent prices are through the roof). These practicalities are no reason to stay but they are quite a persuasive motivation to stick my head in the sand and just hope it all goes away.

    But it won’t go away. And I don’t know how much more my body and soul can take of this constant undermining/controlling/gaslighting destruction that I can’t understand or comprehend or deal with ……..

    • Dear Christine, fwiw, when I was with my first husband I used to fear that my bulimia would come back and get out of control again if I left him. I had had bulimia so badly in the past that at times it had made my life totally unmanageable. But when I did finally leave that man, while I had some recurrence of the bulimia, it never got so bad as to make my life anywhere near unmanageable. And it has diminished as the years have passed. I think once we grasp the necessity to understand the abuse we’ve been through, and get good counsel / read good books and other things (like blogs 🙂 ) about it, then we can be a lot more confident that we will gradually mature and become more able to manage our emotional potholes or negative patterns. Wean off them gradually, and grow stronger and more confident and more resilient. And more able to keep healthy boundaries when faced with character-disturbed people.

    • If you could manage to immigrate to Oz. . . I have a room to rent in my house. 🙂 And renting in my town is much cheaper than in London.

      Maybe you could go to your nearest Womens Aid centre and see if there is another survivor who would like to share a one bedroom or two bedroom flat with you. Even if you took turns month by month sleeping in the lounge-room, it would give you both a way out of the abuse and a chance to regroup your lives without being under unbearable financial pressure. You might even find such a fellow survivor if you joined a DV recovery group.

      And even better if she were a fellow Christian.

  12. Christine

    Hello Barbara. Reading about the tactics of an abuser has been such a relief! It all makes sense, it all rings true, it all resonates and miserable as it is to think that many others are or have suffered the same – their wisdom and insight and ability to articulate it is so beneficial to those like me (what did people do before the internet???).

    You are right self-scrutiny is perhaps not the most useful thing but I wish I understood better nonetheless – the analogy with the child above is not quite the same because that child has no independence and is too young, s/he cannot be complicit in the action – whereas I have independence and am an adult so I must be allowing this (either through effective grooming practices on his part or some stupidity on my own – who knows).

    I do believe though that it is true that I do not seek them, they find me —- but then I give in to their persistence.

    • “what did people do before the internet???)”

      You’re so right. I think the internet is opening up a magnificent opportunities for mutual support and recovery and peer advocacy for victims of abuse.

    • Christine, in reading your posts, I must say that it is reminiscent of what I went through not so long ago. The never-ending questions, the doubts about the future, etc. The Lord provided a way for me, and many others here, when there didn’t seem to be a humanly possible way, because He is mightier than any tactic an abuser can think of.

      Your statement that the child “has no independence…and cannot be complicit in the action..whereas I have independence and…so…must be allowing this…” is how I used to conclude too, but now I think differently. An adult doesn’t magically think differently the second and they day he/she turns 18. What we were taught and told over and over again, remained with us when we became an adult. We didn’t have a choice with what to believe when we were growing up, and until we are aware that the worldview and “framework of truth” drummed into us was wrong, we have little choice as an adult either. For sure, as an adult, we can take responsibility for our actions and choices, which we couldn’t do as a child. But we can’t take responsibility for something we are not aware of. The sad part is that it is difficult to begin to take that first step of awareness if we remain with an abuser because the abuser constantly attacks our thinking.

      That “they” find you may be true, because you may possess some qualities they like, but that’s not to say that those qualities are bad ones to have. A mouse was created by God to be a mouse and shouldn’t try to be anything else. But a mouse is prey to a cat, so a mouse needs to be know what a cat looks like, and avoid falling to its tricks.

      You may have given in to their persistence in the past, but that’s not to say that that will be the story for the rest of your life. Most normal people give in to their persistence. That’s how they get away with it. They know how to dupe authorities – from the time they were young, they were fooling their parents, teachers and principals. Then they went on to exploit and manipulate their employers, employees, partners, the police, judges, etc, you name it! They make it their agenda to capture and control people’s minds, so it’s not surprising that it’s hard to get away. But the fact that you are able to articulate what has been happening to you tells me that you are putting up resistance. I pray that God will guide your steps and provide for you in many different ways, so that what seems impossible will become possible, and you will look back astonished!

  13. Isaiah40:31

    I really appreciate this post because I was victim to not just one, but two abusive marriages. The first lasted only 2 years. The second was 21 years. I definitely have those moments where I wonder what in the world is wrong with me. This post brings some clarity to that whole picture.

  14. jenn

    Thank you for this site. I have been out from the abuser for 13 Years and divorced for 11. The abuse in other ways continued with the legal system or withdrawing child support, rages at the front door. Finally, I was awarded conservatorship of my son with autism and he no longer can threaten custody legal hearings or have police at my door.

    After all of this twisted mental cycles, I took very seriously to heal and creat boundaries and value myself and my relationship with Christ above all else and did not rush out to get a new partner to fulfill society’s expectation of happiness or fulfillment. he had faded out again for 9 months to see our son, but I let it go and didn’t react. Suddenly he appeared and wanted to go to my special needs son’s soccer game. I saw the sick charm cycle and he was insisting he sit close to our chairs and started to ask if we could take my son out together that he needed to see us together. I saw the cycle. All I said was, No.

    My first date conversations he told me that he had said I love you to girls he dated but didn’t mean it so he could have someone. Then he said, but you are different I would mean it if I said it to you…I did come from childhood abuse, but he played the act of valuing my values for 3.5 years. As soon as I got married the anger and demands and put downs started. he knew my value was family commitment and the catholic vow marriage. he played on all of it. none of it was anything he valued. I found out later he popped in to that soccer game because he had been dumped by his 9 year girlfriend and it amazed me how he immediately defaulted to charm, attention, insisting to sit near our chairs at soccer and manipulating to get me to go with him. It took decades but no is powerful.

    The abuser has gone silent again, he doesn’t want to be apart of my son’s life. I am seeing how my values were exploited against me and I see how he uses thes entiment of my son’/ situation to STILL try to manipulate. Today, I just quietly by passed his weak attempt to get hooks in me and even though life has been hard as a single parent with a handicap child, it was peaceful compared to living with an abuser. I did cut off all ties with him and his family and refused to be pressured into coconservatorship. I don’t trust easily and I wanted a partner by now, but I was focused on healing, giving my son a life and not rebounding into another abusive cycle. Life is truly a gift and everyday is precious.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Jenn, You have learned a lot about the way that abusers operate and as you say, no is powerful. You kept to your boundaries beautifully and the abuser’s insincerity was made evident. You sound like an excellent mother and wise lady. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you.

      • soldiergirl

        Jen, Thank you for sharing you story.
        When you described your abusers twisted cycles and how your abuser valued your values, and exploited them against you, it sounded exactly like mine.
        I am thankful to hear that you have created the boundries that are helping you to heal, and give the opportunity to appreciate what life has to offer.

  15. Annie

    I needed to read this post and the comments today. Since I labeled my husband’s behavior towards me as abuse a few months ago I have been struggling to understand why or how I attracted it. This post has helped a lot!

    It occurred to me as I was reading that those same qualities that my husband has exploited are the same qualities I share with others and those people haven’t abused me!

    My husband has never complimented me about any of my good traits. Yet those are the very things he’s exploited over the years. Last year we had a horrific argument –actually I remained silent as he raked me over the coals as to how horrible I am. Remaining silent and listening to him tick off my many faults (rather than trying to defend myself) made me see how pathetic he is. In 12 minutes with a tone as nasty as he could muster, he spewed forth a list of all my crimes and ended it with “You used to be so kind!”

    It was stunning and chilling to realize how he defined my “kindness”–letting him have his way.

    Outside of my abuser, other people like me, want to be with me and do things with me. He can’t say the same thing. He’ s had many difficult relationships with friends and family, co-workers and employers.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post and the comments. Today is going to be a good day!

  16. nae90

    Honestly I would say from life experience that abusive men are attracted to me cuz I portray feminine qualities, I figured it out a while ago, I actually asked one of my abusers once why they treated me like that and they said “cuz u remind me of my mother” I met their mother ND it was true I was a lot like her, really kind, caring, understanding, smaller built, so yea that’s from life experience

    • loves6

      I’d have to agree with you.
      I think it’s also the vulnerability of a women. Not hard .. just vulnerable and sensitive in personality also attracts an abuser

    • standsfortruth

      I have to say nan90, i have removed much of my internal/and external female responces just to keep myself from attracting more abusers.
      They do seek out the niaeve, meek and vunerable, and the coy and shy types.
      When i work, i apply myself as diligently as a hard working man.
      This is a skill that took me a while to develop, but it has paid off well in keeping the unwanteds at a distance.

  17. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing…led here by the Holy Spirit….)

    There are a number of similarities between the content of of this post, the comments generated, and the Don Hennessy series.

    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2018/02/06/don-hennessy-digest/

    In re-reading this post after completing the Don Hennessy series, the Holy Spirit led me to the following paragraph:

    Samantha Davidson commented Quite often, the abuser will make their way into the victim’s life playing on this strength or kindness of heart. Sometimes it will come when the Strong person is in a place where they need support themselves, because so often these people don’t ask for help in their time of need, instead carrying the weight of their burdens alone.

    I tend not to ask for help. It was rarely provided and promises made were broken.

    I carry the weight of my burdens alone. There was no one with whom to share who did not have a hidden agenda.

    The support I needed was not financial.

    The support I needed was learning the truth of my past.

    To learn the truth of my past, I needed to re-integrate fragmented memories.

    To learn the truth of my past, I needed to be safe, no strings attached.

    Samantha Davidson commented I personally call this attraction the “Wild Horse Syndrome”. A person is attracted to the beauty, strength, power & magestic free spirit of a wild mustang, but wants to harness this beautiful horse for their self & desires. But instead of becoming a companion to this animal, offering trust & kindness, they instead use cruel means to “break” the horse in – violence, mental torment, separation & isolation from the herd it once knew, until it’s beaten into submission. Over time the majestic animal’s spirit is broken, it’s natural instincts ignored – the same instincts that kept it alive when running in the wild. The mustang become nothing more than a tired old trekking pony & finally becomes discarded because it no longer shows the qualities the person was attracted to in the first place.

    This process started with my family of origin.

    The process was completed less than one year ago.

    (That “journey” lasted over five decades.)

    Revelation 2:8-11 (NMB)

    8 And to the angel of the congregation of Smyrna write: These things says he who is the first and the last, who was dead and is alive: 9 I know your works and tribulation and poverty, but you are rich. And I know the blasphemy of those who call themselves Jews, and are not, but are the congregation of Satan.

    10 Fear none of those things that you will suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison, to try you, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful to the death, and I will give you a crown of life. 11 Let him who has ears hear what the Spirit says to the congregations. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.

    Barb commented You’re so right. I think the internet is opening up a magnificent opportunities for mutual support and recovery and peer advocacy for victims of abuse.

    Amen.

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