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Dating a woman who has been physically abused, want to understand it better


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Old 11th June 2012, 9:56 AM   #1
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Dating a woman who has been physically abused, want to understand it better

I am dating a woman who is starting to share some of her past relationship experiences with me. One had extreme physical abuse, like threats with a gun, physical abuse, etc. She stayed with this man out of fear and was eventually able to leave and hide in a shelter for a while. Her last relationship, though not as severe, had some physical abuse too. She did leave him because of the emotional and physical abuse.

I do not want to judge her, I want to understand her. I am having a difficult time doing so, which is why I am posting this. Regarding the one that involved a gun and threats, I can't understand why she did not leave sooner, and I want to. The abuse was bad, real bad, like she could have died bad. The separated once, he convinced her he was better, and she returned to him...which does not make sense to me. She even left her family, for fear of their saftey as he was threatening them too, to go live with him, knowing about his violent behavior and tendencies.

I grew up with this. My dad physically abused my mom. My mom is still with him, 40 years later. No guns or anything like that, thought the physical abuse was bad.

I like this girl, I do not want to judge her, I want to have compassion and I want to understand her. Some of my thoughts are questioning her judgement in staying with this man. I do not want to do or feel this. I want to understand and have compassion. I am also concerned this could be a red flag for our relationship...should I "run now"?

Any thoughts or comments are appreciated. Anything I can do to "calm down" or help her is appreciated too. It's embarassing to post here as I feel judgemental, and I do not want to. I want to try to understand this and move forward with her.
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Old 11th June 2012, 10:09 AM   #2
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Put your focus on why you, coming from abusive home life, choose a relationship with a victim. Instead of trying to focus on her psychological process, understand your own. Knowledge is power and you too have been affected by your parents' abusive marriage.
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Old 11th June 2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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Thanks Balzac. I have been thru a lot of counseling to try to understand and deal with myself. I understand your reply, and I have not thought about it this way, so thanks.

What I have thought about is wheter or not she is subconsciously attracted to me because of this "in me".

I was emotionally abusive in my last relationship, not physical, though I own the emotional abuse. I do not think it was as extreme as her case nor do I think it was as extreme as my ex said it was, though I get it and I own it.

At the end of the day I am wondering if this can be a healthy relationship for both of us (are we both to unhealthy), or, if we "met for a reason" and can help each other grow. She seems very strong now, independent, care free spirit type, which I am attracted to.

As she was telling me this story recently I felt compassion and sadness for her, I could see and almost feel her pain, yet I was also asking myself why did she stay with this man? I shared my youth with her after she finished, how it made me feel, what it felt like, etc.
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Old 11th June 2012, 12:49 PM   #4
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After thinking on this a bit, I do not see her as a victim..maybe at one point in her life..I see her as a survivor, one who has dealt with and moved forward from the abuse I describe. It started to happen again in her next serious relationship and she left immediately. And, honestly until she talked about it recently, which I asked her to, I have not seen any signs of being a victim. She comes across as a very strong willed woman.

From this link: Dating a Victim of Domestic Violence? What You Should Know and How You Can Help

the only thing I see in her is this "If he kept her from seeing or talking to family or friends, then she now feels obligated to tell them everything and not pass up an opportunity to attend a family gathering". She spends a lot of time with her friends and family, which I respect and i am OK with.

Last edited by Babolat; 11th June 2012 at 12:53 PM..
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Old 11th June 2012, 1:10 PM   #5
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From my perspective, I wonder why she is so easily sharing this with you. Some people welcome drama and love the attention the 'victim" stance garners them.
I would not share my abuse in much detail, or in depth, with someone close to me, for the fear they may use it against me at some point.
When people ask how I am doing, or ask about the person in question, I just answer they are wonderful, the best, a great person.
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Old 11th June 2012, 1:16 PM   #6
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It takes two healthy adults to have a healthy relationship. How much therapy has she had?
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Old 11th June 2012, 5:21 PM   #7
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I am not sure how much therapy she has had. She has read a lot of self help books I know as we have talked about it...I have too. She was in counseling recently and still sees a psychologist from time to time.

Brit, she is not easily sharing with me. When I first asked about this relationship a couple of months into dating she said it was too soon (in our relationship) to talk about it. There has not been any drama about talking about it..in fact she has been slow to share this kind of info with me, which I like and respect. She spoke frankly and matter of fact, no drama. I asked again, she decided it was time I guess and shared with me.

She has not shown a single sign of being a victim, quite the oppositie actually. This information surprised me and it surprised me how comfortable she was talking about it. It was like a normal tone conversation for us.

And I am not 100% healthy, I know that..I work on myself often and still read a lot of help - relationship type books and still see a counselor from time to time.
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Old 11th June 2012, 5:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babolat View Post
Regarding the one that involved a gun and threats, I can't understand why she did not leave sooner, and I want to. The abuse was bad, real bad, like she could have died bad.
Abusers are very good at the pulling, just as they are at pushing. As cruel as they are when abusive, they are also that intense in showing affection and love. They are also good at causing the abused partner to believe it's their own fault. So the abused person ends up thinking if he/she says or does the right thing, he/she will be able to have the loving, passionate partner without the abusive part. It takes a long time to realize that the abusive traits are part of that person too, and that nothing is going to change things.

Quote:
Anything I can do to "calm down" or help her is appreciated too. It's embarassing to post here as I feel judgemental, and I do not want to. I want to try to understand this and move forward with her.
The most important thing: respect her opinions, respect her boundaries, and never cut her down. Encourage her to use her voice and learn to trust herself again.
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Old 13th June 2012, 11:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteromom View Post
Abusers are very good at the pulling, just as they are at pushing. As cruel as they are when abusive, they are also that intense in showing affection and love. They are also good at causing the abused partner to believe it's their own fault. So the abused person ends up thinking if he/she says or does the right thing, he/she will be able to have the loving, passionate partner without the abusive part. It takes a long time to realize that the abusive traits are part of that person too, and that nothing is going to change things.



The most important thing: respect her opinions, respect her boundaries, and never cut her down. Encourage her to use her voice and learn to trust herself again.
Thanks...what's amazing with her is she seems well adjusted from all of this. It happend 10+ years ago. I am the one who was a little freaked out..though I have calmed down over the past few days, with help from this post too, so thank you for the feedback.
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