Are You in Love with Your Abuser? If So, There's a Reason
Being in love with your abuser is painful and confusing. On the one hand, you may fear for your sanity, your sense of identity, and possibly even your life. On the other, you may cling to the times your partner is loving and thoughtful, and feel that you're too in love to ever leave. You know he sometimes makes you miserable, but what about the times he makes you happy? Being in love with your abuser you is not unusual, and there are, in fact, logical explanations for your feelings.
Firstly, it's important to realize that having feelings for your abuser is not shameful or wrong. It is, quite possibly, an indication of your capacity to love, but that doesn't make it healthy. Secondly, you falling in love with your abuser did not happen by accident. There are well-documented cases of Stockholm syndrome that show how easily people form attachments to their captors, subconsciously trying to influence their fate. When you also consider that most abusers are "nice guys" and seem charming and attentive at first, it's easy to see how "love" often thrives in abusive situations.
Being in Love with the Abuser Is Part of the Abuse Cycle
Do your feelings of being "in love" with your abuser feel strongest after incidents of abuse? This is no coincidence. Part of the cycle from the victim's perspective is wanting the relationship to feel safe again. This is why you believe your abuser when he says he loves you and it'll never happen again.
You shouldn't feel ashamed for taking your partner back each time he abuses you. By doing what he wants, you are following a normal and natural impulse to protect yourself at all costs. Add financial, physical or emotional codependency into this toxic exchange and it's understandable why so many victims convince themselves to stay.
However, recognizing these impulses and giving into them are two different things. Our largely primitive minds don't always factor in our need for long-term safety, they only see the danger straight ahead. Staying in an abusive relationship out of love won't protect you and it won't make you happy. In fact, in almost every relationship like this, the abuse only gets worse over time.
In Abusive Relationships, Love Is Beside the Point
Love is part of the abuse cycle, but it is not a reason to stay. As the writer, Cheryl Strayed once said of her experience of growing up in an abusive household, when it comes to abuse: "Love is beside the point."
In other words, it's easy to say the words "I love you," but what do they actually mean? Love is not a reason to stay, nor does it equate to a healthy relationship (Verbal Abuse Disguised as Love). Love is built on mutual respect, trust, and proper communication and neither physical nor emotional abuse should have a seat at the table.
Being in Love with Your Abuser Could Be a Survival Technique
Do you often find yourself agreeing with your abuser after a fight or beginning to see things from his point of view? Again, this is a coping mechanism whereby you detach yourself from your pain or fear to cope with the situation. During these periods of detachment, you may even take on certain aspects of your partner's personality or fall more in love with the abuser all over again -- which is what, ultimately, you feel he needs.
By doing this, you learn to "appease" your abuser which may temporarily stop you getting hurt and ignite a loving response. This impulse to disconnect and absorb responsibility in the hope you can fix the abuse is natural. It also makes it easier for your abuser to gaslight you into submission.
Being in Love with Your Abuser Isn't Real Love -- But It Feels Like It
Trusting your own feelings and instincts can be difficult when someone is telling you they're always wrong but try to pay attention. Often, we cling to any scrap of love our abusers give us because those seldom repeated words and actions reinforce what the abuser wants us to believe -- what we want to believe -- which is that they love us back (Love Bombing: The Gaslighter's Most Effective Weapon of Abuse).
However, love means respect and without respect love is useless. The fairytales would have us buy the notion that love conquers all, that a relationship can withstand anything as long as there's love. I can recall saying these exact words to my abusive ex, but they weren't true. I don't doubt that he loved me in the only way he knew how, and I loved him, but this didn't stop him abusing, gaslighting, insulting, devaluing and isolating me. In the end, his love was irrelevant.
If you remain in an abusive relationship because you're in love with your abuser, you should also consider these facts: One in three women in the U.S. (and 10 million men and women) experience sustained verbal or physical abuse from a partner, and more often than not this is not a one-time occurrence. According to a CNN report on Intimate Partner Violence, half of all female homicide victims worldwide were killed by partners or family members, while verbal/ emotional abuse remains the single biggest precursor to physical violence.
These facts are not meant to scare you but to make you aware of what's at stake. Being in love with your abuser won't stop him from hurting you, so if you have an out, you should take it and give your love to those who deserve it. Domestic violence helplines and resources can be found on our site for those who need them.
I'm In Love With My Abuser — With Esta Soler. Dear Sugars podcast. April 21, 2018.
Domestic (Intimate Partner) Violence Fast Facts. CNN Library. June 1, 2018.
Smith, E. (2018, June 12). Are You in Love with Your Abuser? If So, There's a Reason, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2018/6/are-you-in-love-with-your-abuser-if-so-theres-a-reason
Author: Emma-Marie Smith
I am sick of seeing everything I read about domestic violence assumes the man is the perpetrator. I had to finally be life-flighted away from my abuser, and spent several weeks in ICU. Three years later and I am still recovering. I am permanently disfigured, and embarrassed when I meet people. The person who did this to me is wealthy and well connected in the community. There is no voice for men who are victims of domestic violence. If you look for help online, there is only satire. It is not acceptable for you to assume, within the first paragraph, that the abuser is a man. I very nearly lost my life to the violent act of a woman who used money, sex, and manipulation to isolate me from everyone I knew. I had no idea what was happening until she started telling me that I had to live with everything she did because she paid the bills. I worked so hard to try to make myself worthy of what she gave me, and she was always dismissive. When I finally made plans to leave, she held a gun to my face, and said “Is this what you want from me?”
The first words through my broken and bleeding face to her just after she pulled the trigger were “I love you.” I had hoped that saying that would make her understand that I only wanted to be a good partner. Now I relive that moment over and over again every day of my life.
I am a combat veteran. Nothing I ever experienced before this came close to harming me this way, and all I can think about is how I ruined her life.
Thank you for speaking out. I also have suffered abuse by women. In my most abusive relationship she used the fact that I was a man and she was a woman to cast herself as the victim even though she was the abuser and manipulator
I met the most Amazing sexy charismatic and charming narcissist. He was perfect. Physically he had all the "goods" and he sure could deliver. He and his friend Jay came into my job one afternoon riding thier Hyabusa motorcycles and wearing their sport vests. Like a school girl I was interested immediately in the motorcycles. I noticed him staring at me and the intensity of our eye contact almost shocked me. He was basically a wolf and I was to be his sheep. I didn't realize it at the time but he knew exactly what he was doing. After exchanging numbers and talking for a few weeks we started dating. Like a regular couple. We'd go out to dinner and meet up with his friends for things...but time passed about 5 months and I realized I have only met one of his children...I had never been to his place...and he never spoke highly of his mother. I am a working proffessional and was rather busy with my job and raising my own child. But red flags were exposed and I just went color blind. I started to investigate him online. Its amazing what you can do with this social media these days. Anyway come to pass that he is actually a married man. Not a separated one who had a WIFE that left him and went to live with her mother , it wasn't hard to put his wife's name through face book. I see this picture pop up on the screen of this guy who tells me he loved me and, get ready for the "cliche" We Are Soul Mates ,and was confused and hurt and very very Angry. I wanted him caught. Busted. I bet you are thinking would I Send information to his wife via social media, yep sure did. But to my surprise nothing happened. I never told him I did it...he didn't even get caught? So now I knew he was still married, I knew I was lied to, I knew he never got busted or I would've been called out, I had real true feelings for him, and I knew they were all wrong. I was being played. I was the other woman. Holy s***! So I decided he could just go on be married. I didn't want to keep being a mistress. And that's when the on again off again push and pull really began. He would get enough control over me to secure a key to my home. He had free reign. He was after all my soulmate? He became possessive, he began to say things like "b**** if you ever try to leave me, I'll f****** kill you." Breaking up with him over and over, changing my job, changing phone numbers depressingly often. He always came back. Usually no longer than a week. He would show up at my job with *** or whoever he wanted to. And I had to be proffessional and smile. He had me emotionally and mentally trapped. When it began to get physical, well let's just say a few busted lips and black eyes later, you know from my good old soul mate, I began to realize the depths of which I had fallen. He doesn't love me. Love doesn't feel like that. He doesn't love anyone. He can't. The final straw, he strangled me in front of my 16 year old daughter. He decided to enter my place one morning and he forgot my kid was out of school for summer vacay. We start arguing about our relationship or lack thereof and I knew he had other girlfriends besides me so I was trying to end it once and for all...that's when all the love in the world couldn't have saved me from what his hands would do. On the ground struggling for my life, in and out of consciousness trying to pry this 6'3 220 lb man built of pure muscle off of my body was an impossible feat. Then my hero, the child who is afraid of her own shadow, comes out to the living room to see what the commotion is...well she sees this wildabeast on her mother suffocating her and she jumps on his back. She gave me enough time and distraction to get away out from under him. And that was heartbreaking. To know that if my child would have had 1 more day of school, if she wouldn't have been home that particular morning of June...I would not be here. The police were called this time. All of the other abuse was just leading up to this...I went to court several times, my daughter took the stand as a witness, he was found guilty, serving 150 days in the county jail as I type this. I actually feel sorry for his real family. His other girlfriend did in fact make contact with me via social media, they have a daughter that he has never told his wife about, and he's never paid child support for, she decided to contact his entire family and his in laws, they all know what's happened. So this story is really about being abused and getting to be free from abuse. People will only do to you what you allow them to do. I never wanted to fall in love with a narcissistic abusive sociopath. No one does. But you must love yourself enough to know what you will not accept. God bless you. Good luck.
Just googled this... Felt the same as read the
replies before. Came across as so Female sided. Guys can and are going through this too.. be it physical or emotional but this seems as if it is all about guys being bad From the off.. it's not.. help is needed on both sides. Even more for the guys as it's can be seen as so week.. domestic a use works both ways.
I've been with my fiance for almost 4 years now and we have a one year old little girl now. He has hit me for the past 3 years but I can't seem to leave. I love him so much and i can't image being with anyone else but I'm scared he's going to wind up killing me or pur little girl. I don't know what to do everytime he shows up I take him back no matter how much I know I shouldn't I jist can't seem to say no cause I love him so much.
I understand your feelings of love, but since there is physical abuse, I highly recommend reaching out to a professional. Here are a few resources to get you started: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I know this feels like love, but love does not have to involve pain of any kind.
I wish you light and love on your journey towards peace--Jenn
I dont know how old your post is but i feel for you I too was in a abusive relationship I needed help on leaving also i couldnt do it alone I needed some outside force and therapy to help me
I new him from kindergarten we went to the same school until 4th grade I home schooled then went back and forth from a school to home school and I suffered from being sick all the time I was always at a hospital not knowing what was wrong with me then I meant Eric my abusive now ex
He found me online he told me he couldn't forget me he told me he had a wife but she left him and their still married he said he wants to see me and I really had a big crush on him forever so I wanted him badly expecially after him posting his penis to me being a virgin I wanted him more. After I meamt him we had sex he helped me get my first job i told him my doctor told me they cant find anything wtong with me that it must be emotional and i need to see a therapist he told me he could be my therapist next I know he's seeing me every week and in two weeks away from me he goes insane talking about seeing other women and I lose it. He so I can only spend a week away from him
He would message me constantly every day i thought it was love but it was control to find out what im doing who I'm doing it with where I'm at how many days I work what times I get off and he had felonies i thought I could help him I saw us as being beautifully broken that we could help each other at this time he has hurt me yet. He would sneak into my window never wanted to meet my mom and said it was for the best I believed him. He wanted me to get him money funds in a bank so I mzde his own bank account with my name not his cause he didnt have his social security to get one and he didn't want any thing traced back to him.
So he told me he dies drugs I thought I shouldnt judge him he had a hard life like me traumatic past of our dads but his beat him and his mom left him
With a abusive dad he talked about he hates his mom and his family how his brother would fight him as a kid
I fell in love with him not knowing had stock holme syndrome he wanted me to quit work so I did he wanted me to not get a car so I didnt he wanted me to move in with him and go camping so I did while camping he beat me I still went back was with him for 2 1/2 years for two years he would choke me through me down beat me if I cry then say he loved me wrestle with me then say he's only teaching me how to defend my self he beat me when I cried stating ill make you stronger ill give you a reason to cry
I was terrified but in love agreed eith everything I couldn't imagine him not in my life he said im making you better I'm saving you I believed him
Soon I got better over time not because of him I had to want to get better and only I could save my self and only he can save himself in 1/2 a year he let me meet his family after he made me what he wanted me to be then he took everything again from me he said the vehicle i bought was mine but it was his I bought from his mom not knowing she and him had a plan to put it in both their names so I bought him a car not knowing I trusted a man a person with my life you didn't care about my life enough his love is selfish love thats the only kind he knows he told me I need to leave him cause one day he's gonna choke me and kill me not letting go I was in shock with his words he smashed my phone when I asked him to change he threw me on the floor and went to work I hug him and kiss him and he punches me or chokes me then crys and says hes sorry that hd can't control himself I got pregnant that month may he acted happy but later tried to kill the baby he said hes a athiest Buddhist I found out are athletic his dad believes like that his mom is catholic and they allow him to stay this way he doesn't want to move out he has his grandma mom and dad pay for everything and has a job to make it look like he's trying but he get no where saves nothing and he tells me he's not gonna change that he needs help but he doesn't think I have the authority or way to make that happen he said he loves me but I deserve better and he doesn't see a life without me I left once i new he didn't want the child and child to kill our baby so my baby gave me strength to leave to care about myself now im getting therapy counseling getting my life on track and moving on please leave this abusive man don't allow your baby to see the violence he does and her or him grow up traumatized like I was or my ex and them have problems in life it shows you if you grow up in that you grow up find a relationship similar to your childhood and you abused as a kid you will abuse people please leave him if not for you for your self my ex would tell me if I left him he would kill himself listen my ex admitted that he would never kill himself he said I love myself too much I just said shit and you believe it
He said I see you as weak
He said he could never be loyal
And what is marriage
He said when he writes poems or sings a song from his guitar he just says stuff that ryhms and sound good then wants to see my reaction I said to him so when you say you wrote it for me or random song thst come on the radio makes you think of me its just bullshit he said yes
He manipulates me by using my weakness against me these men womanizer NARSISTIC men find out your weaknesses and play mind games they see abuse as love and love is hate to them and abuse is obyeing them
So please leave him you deserve better or st least your child does
I wish I could leave my husband. I’m only 24 years old been with him since I was 18. 😥
Have you tried reaching out to your family members or a licensed professional for help? Sometimes outside support can be the thing we need to get us where we want to be. I wish you love and light on your journey.
I left my abuser but I keep having flash backs of the good times and the abusive times. I feel the withdraw from the “love bombing” the constant reward and then punishment for no reason except his made up reasons to be angry. He has a mental illness so I tried to help with that and be understanding. But I just got literally beat up trying to help. I was brain washed over time to believe that being hardassed and attacked was something I deserved “for making him angry”. But I knew deep down that these things he was angry about were not my fault. I would get set up to fail so he had a reason to abuse me. He tried to alienate me from friends and family. Even if someone gets angry with you, there isn’t a reason to be called horrible things or told horrible things and physically abused. He tried to make me believe that I’m abusive and gaslight him because I would get upset when he used dating websites while we were engaged and living together. Also I would not go along with his tactic to make everyone hate my mother on Thanksgiving. When I look back on all the things he tried to make me believe were wrong for me to get upset about I get very angry. I was being treated horrible and it made me feel like I’m not worthy of love. But he tried to make me believe that how he treated me was normal and that there’s something wrong with me. If I feel betrayed alienated manipulated and abused by my fiancé then there isn’t something wrong with me.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It seems to have so many parallels to mine. I couldn’t ever get myself to fully leave (even after moving to another state), but he found someone else and started sleeping with her before he devastatingly and brutally cut me out of his life completely. Knowing that you have flashbacks of both good times and bad - I hate that so much for you - but I honestly feel like it lifted some weight from me for experiencing it myself. So, thank you for being open and sharing.
They will make you believe its your fault and you can fix people but you can't and you can't save them your only human you can only reach out for advice and then decide what to do about it
You need a push you need hope you need to know his love is selfish not true his love is for himself alone I bet his mom left him and his dad beat him or uncle some childhood abuse leave him he will only get worse I know because I was in an abusive relationship for 21/2 years new him from when I was a child so you can imagine how hard it was for me to leave him the one i thought I loved but I was really just trying to survive please go to therapy I am its helping me stay away from my abuser hes gonna kill you my ex even told me one day he was and that he just says things and I believe it so who's fault is it really.
These men don't really know what love is and they hate affection and change so don't give up your dreams and hopes on him your holding your breath im 25 was in a relationship with him since I was 24 as an adult but as a child I new him when I was 4 or 5 years old they are not the same as children as adults they become worse
Hello Jen, I'm so sorry about what you're going through and how you're feeling right now. I encourage you to reach out to one of the lifeline numbers on our page to help talk you through what's going on more in depth: https://www.healthyplace.com/suicide/suicide-hotline-phone-numbers/ Also, I'm going to encourage you to take a look at our resources on domestic violence: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer… Your husband is psychologically abusing you. A domestic violence resources center can help you figure out the steps you need to take to leave the relationship. You don't need to go through this alone. There are many people and organizations who can help you. Thank you for having the courage to reach out. Please take care of yourself. -Kristen
my husband has been stalking me for years and i gave in and married him bc im a idiot, and [weak]. hes always calling me suicidal even though im not. i think hes trying to make me depressed bc its working. i am trying to leave its really hard hes better looking than me, and a bully and is stronger, so i need to cut him off no contact and im scared i wont be able to get my things. i might have to get a restraining order bc this cat is scary af, brings out the worst in me and vise versa. im at the point were hes right i should just kill myself nobody loves me anyway.
Im sure your beautiful he's beat you down my ex beat me down and im very beautiful women could have any man waiting at my door but I don't want any man you see my ex made me bulimic and anorexic way worse than what it was I am getting healthy eattinf now but i had to leave him and go to therapy
You knowing your in a bad situation is the first step to happiness divorce him if that's what I takes move out first find a place to stay to get help second file a protection order and later after the divorce if he tries to contact you or hurt you put charges out for his arrest no one deserves to feel ugly and hopeless if you have some weight on you and he won't let you go outside or do anything when you leave go to the gym believe in yourself love yourself take car of you ok
I was on and off with my abuser for 5 years. I recently took me and my children out of the situation for good about a month ago. There were threats of killing me, threats of taking the baby away from me, calling me worthless and other demeaning names, he pushed me around and smacked me. I'll admit that I've always had insecurities about myself, about loving myself. And he just made it so much worse, and now I'm completely broken. He still gets to me, and somehow I still care, and I still love him. I had to get away though, because my oldest daughter would say things to me or my parents, about him being scary and such. I'll never forget the way the baby looked when he took her from my arms , when he shouted. I left for my kids. But I just have a terrible time second guessing myself. What if I communicated better? He thought I lied all the time. I did withhold the truth at times just to keep the peace. I still feel guilty for some reason. He said he gets angry because I'm a liar. I never did it maliciously. I did it bc I didn't want him to be mad at me....whether it was me taking the blame bc my daughter broke something. Or me lying about visiting friends. My friends tried to like him, and I did tell my best friends about things going on, bc I couldn't talk to him about it. If I did he would leave me feeling stupid, or get mad, or just leave me feeling invalidated. He knows how to get to me. Knows how to hurt me. How do I stop second guessing myself? How do I get rid of the feelings I have for him....even if he did make me feel so miserable at times? How at 30 years old do I began to love myself, to not feel numb, to pick up the pieces? I just want to be ok again.
He says stuff that's manipulating cause he knows your weaknesses poses be smart and get therapy if it still bothers you it might mess up a new relationship you need to know if you stay in it longer he would have beat your ass he might not do it physically but he does it mentally did he ever brake your things when he got angry that's what he wanted to do to you. So you did the right thing him not letting you be comfortable telling him things is why you lied if you did tell him he would have controlled you and told you can't go to your friends amd possibly hit you
I was 15 when this 40 sth man my teacher started touching my body in a kind of playful way. It wasn’t rubbing or anything. This one time I wasn’t being able answer this math question amd he was being rude to me and then when I was on the brink of crying he suddenly hugged me. I went to wash my face and I came out of the bathroom and I found him waiting for me. Then he started hugging me and tossing me up. It was very strange and I left. After a few months I went back to him because he was charming. And the physical stuff that he did to me didn’t feel right at all. I was never attracted to him. He said what he had was very special and I believed him. We were together for many years. A year ago I broke up with him. He never tried to hurt me physically or anything. He didn’t have sex with me that much. He always seemed to mystic. He was the intellectual type which drew me towards him in the first place. I just wanted to learn from him. I didn’t want him to touch me. This is still so mind boggling to me. Explain please somebody.
My name is Natasha and I want to answer your comment.
What you seem to be describing is the process some predators use to gain unwilling victims. And yes, I believe that a 40-year-old acting that way towards a 15-year-old is a predator. This process is known as "grooming." It's when a predator makes a victim feel special and makes them, at least initially, feel safe. The predator then uses these feelings against the victim by crossing lines the victim doesn't want.
You didn't do anything wrong. You came across a predator and, unfortunately, he preyed on you. I know this feeling. It happened to me in a very similar way.
People like him know what they are doing. They know how to manipulate you. And, certainly, a grown man can easily manipulate a teen. He got what he wanted and you didn't. It was a classic power-imbalance relationship. You didn't have the power and he exerted his power in a horrible way.
What you need to do is look for help. Find resources for those who are sexual assault survivors. These people can help you make sense of what happened and help you move on. https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I'll say it again. You were the teen in the situation -- you did nothing wrong. You didn't have the power. Your choices weren't respected. It wasn't your fault.
- Natasha Tracy
Girls are actually more inclined to manipulate and ruin men who they see are weak. I have been in a severlely abusive relationship. She sends me pictures of drugs like she is going to OD to get a response out of me too. A girl that keeps score, manipulates, makes you look bad to others, treats you like a joke, and has no respect is someone you need to get away from. Abuse from women is was underrated, and this article needs to make it so that both sides are heard.
I am having the exact same problem. My girlfriend uses these ex used to use everything that I used to share against me. She kept passive aggressive lists in her phone of things I have done to piss her off. She keeps score and turns every situation to be on me. All of my male friends have left me because they view me as weak. It sucks, when your with an abusive person, RUN!!
All you authors always assume the abuser is a guy. I'm a guy being abused by my girlfriend. Correct your article so it applies to everyone.
You hit the nail on the head.
Mine isn’t as bad anymore but it still happens. Sometimes I’m safe to share with him my struggles to feel things and sometimes I’m not safe. Safe as in feeling that I can say anything without it becoming him twisting it around on me, getting passive aggressive, acting out towards me or my kids, not psychologically messing with me, that kind of thing. He’s not physically abusuve but can be physically aggressive and hurt me. Anyway, after I took the chance to speak to him again about why I am like I am. He basically said nothing he does is good enough and asked what do I want from him? After this, I DID actually try to get close to him. So now I understand why that it is.
Thank you for your comment. Also, your relationship sounds stressful and exhausting, so I'm sorry about that. I've been where you are, and I remember vividly what it's like. We cling to the times that things are "normal" but before we know it, they've swung back the other way and we're left wondering what we did wrong and how to fix it.
I agree that the psychological abuse and manipulation comes in waves, but it often treads a fine line between physical threat and verbal intimidation -- even if it's not explicit. Just be careful, as it certainly sounds like there is a physical element to his behavior.
From my experience, abusers (especially narcissists) rarely take responsibility for their behavior, and will almost always try to pin it on the victim. I wish you well and hope you manage to find a way through this without getting hurt any further. Just don't expect him to change, as I fear you will be disappointed.