In Love With An Abusive Man

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I recently broke up with my ex of 4 years. The abuse was escalating and I had to get out of there. He has chocked me a few times (not to the point of passing out,) done lots of damage to things and my home, he somewhat kept me from my friends, he always blamed me for everything, and controlled who I talked to via phone or internet. He also has a big drug addiction. He wasn’t always this way. He was caring, loving, showed his emotions; made sure I had what I needed.

I have been doing everything possible to ignore him and his constant calls/texts. But, as soon as he leaves a message I am listening to it. I also check his emails periodically to see what he is up to and possibly how he is doing. When he doesnt call for a few days… I’m waiting for the calls. There are times where I just want to call/see him so bad. I never do call him or answer his calls. So, even though I know he is bad for me I still want, love and care for him.
What is wrong with me? Why and how can I feel such conflicting ways about 1 person?

A. I do not think there is anything “wrong” with you. I believe you are struggling with a difficult issue but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is something “wrong” with you.

It can be difficult to understand emotions and feelings. You want your ex, even though he has harmed you. One potential reason is that you are lonely. For some people, being in an unhealthy relationship is better than having no relationship at all. There are obvious problems with being in an unhealthy relationship, especially with someone who is physically abusive. Unhealthy relationships can significantly degrade one’s life. In addition, remaining in an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship may stifle your personal growth and development and significantly decrease the probability of meeting someone better suited to you.

Another reason why someone may be willing to tolerate an unhealthy relationship is that they do not feel deserving of a more suitable mate. This is often due to low self-esteem. If someone does not have a high opinion of themselves then he or she may be willing to tolerate inappropriate treatment from others.

Perhaps when you think about him, you are remembering positive aspects of the relationship. The “how” or “why” you want, love, and care for your ex is less important than seeing the truth about your situation. He may possess good qualities but do not lose track of reality. Let me put your situation in perspective.

You were involved in a domestic violence relationship and are considering going back. It took great courage to leave the relationship. At this point, even though there is a strong desire to see your abusive ex, you have resisted the urge to contact him. This is very encouraging. It is imperative that you surround yourself with supportive people to prevent returning to the relationship. It is best to surround yourself with supportive friends and family, join a support group or to do whatever it takes to remain free of your ex.

Domestic violence is very, very serious. Statistics show that, on average, three women and one man are murdered by their significant others in the United States each day. Unfortunately, there are many stories of individuals who have minimized their significant others’ violent behavior and have paid for this error in judgment with their lives. I do not mean to be an alarmist but it is very important that you are cognizant of the dangers of domestic violence.

If an individual has harmed you in the past, it significantly increases the likelihood that he or she will harm you again. Past violence is the most accurate predictor of future violence. Your ex has a proven track record of violence; he harmed both you and your property and he may do it again. Don’t be blind to the truth. I would advise you not to overlook or minimize his behavior.

His drug addiction is also a problem for the relationship. As you noted, his drug use does not make him emotionally “available” for a relationship. Individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are not ideal relationship partners. They often choose the drug over the relationship, or so it seems to the significant other. Until an addict stops using drugs and alcohol and seeks treatment, it will be very difficult for him or her to engage in a healthy relationship. In addition, your ex’s drug use makes him potentially more dangerous because he may attempt to harm you while under the influence of a mind-altering substance. It is a risk factor for violence.

You deserve to be with someone who does not and who will not harm you, physically or psychologically. You should require and only be accepting of a partner who treats you with respect, dignity, kindness, and compassion. If you continue to struggle with this issue, I would suggest seeing a therapist. He or she could help you to analyze why you continue to desire someone who has harmed you and if given the opportunity, would likely harm you again. Below are some resources that may be of assistance to you. I wish you well. Please take care.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-779-7233. Call this number for confidential and anonymous advice.

Healing Club resources: this link may help you find a support group in your area.

CDC’s guide to intimate partner violence. Educate yourself about the dangers of domestic violence.

Click the find help tab at the top of this page to locate a therapist in your community.

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). In Love With An Abusive Man. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/16/in-love-with-an-abusive-man/