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why are some wonen attracted to abusive men

(81 Posts)
londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 09:20:19

Some women seem to be serially attracted to abusive men. Nature or nurture?

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 12:36:39

**Errata Seem decidedly boring

Jan45 Thu 03-Oct-13 12:42:04

Cog, no of course she shouldn't be abused but she clearly has very low expectations from men, i.e., any attention is better than none. The way the men ignore her after they've had their fun will not be helping her self esteem either, I wish she did have the guts to actually say no, enough is enough, it's been going on for a while now.

Keepithidden Thu 03-Oct-13 12:43:44

Cog - That "motivated by self" thing suggests a paralell with psychopathy/sociopathy.

Quite a scary thought that there are so many people out there (majority male obviously) displaying these traits. I thought I had quite a lot of faith in human nature, but the stats on abusive behaviour do distort that somewhat.

Londonniceguy - I don't think I have ever abused women either, but having been on this site for a while I've learnt that a lot of my behaviour has been mysoginistic. The line between that and abuse is open to intepretation... ....cue lots of soul searching.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 12:50:43

"Cog - That "motivated by self" thing suggests a paralell with psychopathy/sociopathy"

I think abusive people are sociopaths and I don't think men are in the majority. Men may be more likely to be physically violent or aggressive because they have the size advantage, but I've certainly met plenty of women who use some pretty unpleasant psychological methods to get their own way and don't care who they harm in the process.

PedantMarina Thu 03-Oct-13 13:23:34

Wasn't there a link a while back, to a good explanation of why an abusive man might seem attractive at first. Something to do with how he doesn't respect boundaries that a good man would, and that this seems like he loves the woman, etc. Wish I could find it again.

For the woman's part, there's usually an element of just not having had the upbringing to believe she's worth better, or the "training" in how to see that courtesy does not equal apathy, nor does passion equal stalking.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:26:09

Dahlen's replies are perfect imo. I want to elaborate on this, though:

I fear I have become addicted to the "highs" of the abusive relationship. This is possibly something that should be given more prominence when talking about abusive relationships. Erin Pizzey got a lot of flack 30 years ago for saying this very same thing.

I, too, spent many years in therapy identifying this issue and then changing myself. I almost didn't 'see' non-abusive people, as their style made no sense to me. Brought up in an abusive household, the adrenalin cycle was my normal. I described my relationships using popular expressions, like 'passionate' and 'intense', where they actually were abusive. I honestly didn't know my relationship style was abusive, nor that people have abuse-free relationships.

Now I'm aware of the myriad small clues abusive people give one another: they use more violent language, react to stories of abuse with understanding & acceptance, appreciate 'edgy' humour, and even display controlling body language in everyday situations. It's very subtle. These tiny signals show an abuser that a potential target has been pre-trained, as it were, and the target recognises their potential for 'exciting' highs & lows.

Like you, Chelsea, I've ended up with long-term disabilities from the constant cortisol floods to my brain.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 13:28:19

Hi Marina! smile

I think a lot of abusive people don't seem abusive at first. Certainly this has been my experience. Most of them are socially functional, hold down good jobs and appear pretty normal.

It is not until you are considerably further down the road that you discover their abusive traits. At that point, an emotional healthy person, ups and leaves but those people who have many years of practice in dysfunctional, abusive relationships stick around.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:30:00

In threads on here, we sometimes see a poster whose abusive partner 'trained' her from scratch, using acclimatisation techniques (frog-boiling.) They are far less frequent than those whose childhood prepared them to be abused, though.

One huge red flag is when a target says something like "I can handle it." The very assumption that mistreatment is something to be handled tells us they've been trained sad

BeCool Thu 03-Oct-13 13:38:10

as many threads on here will illustrate, they often don't start out by being abusive - though there may be red flags early on, often these are easy to ignore/overlook if you aren't tuned into them.

And an emotionally unbalanced upbringing may mean you are not tuned into the red flags at all. Once you are well into the relationship the abuse proper starts.

And if you stay in the relationship then it can escalate.

PedantMarina Thu 03-Oct-13 13:44:00

Hello, back, PBB! Were we on another fred togethere recently?

I also agree to the concept of "boundary pushing", and signals.

I think, bottom line, we all agree that there is no one reason to be "attracted" to abusers, any more than there is no one way a person may become an abuser.

But I do like finding some common themes, like the boundary pushing and the signals.

garlicvampire Thu 03-Oct-13 13:49:04

YY, both my exes did this thing of turning up in the middle of the night, on some emergency pretext. There were other signals, too, but I was amazed to learn how many other abuse survivors had experienced this late-night boundary check.

ChelseaBun Thu 03-Oct-13 14:05:07

Garlicvampire, I am on the same search that you have been. My counsellor says childhood abuse meant that my boundaries are different to normal people's. And that I'm almost comfortable with abuse- because I understand and react to it more clearly than kindness.

I guess I was lucky to get away with so many years of being in relationships with nice guys and abusers didn't seek me out because I gave out quite an aggressive persona.

I don't believe my abuser sought me out as a victim - I think he was looking for what we're all looking for. But I didn't act in a certain way and it brought out something in him that was already there- no surprise he had an abusive childhood. We were like two peas in a pod.

The turning up at night? Yep I had that - him climbing up a drain pipe to get on a flat roof and come through my bedroom window. He was no respecter of boundaries whatsoever and if I'm honest, it was hugely attractive.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 14:06:03

I think the "coping / handle it" thing is very pertinent. I see myself as one of life's copers. I know I'm good with difficult people. I spend a lot of time in my job being good with difficult people. One of my DCs is autistic & I'm dealing with him, I'm coping, I'm handling it just fine thank you very much!!!!!

I know now in my mid-40s that all my partners have abused me. Not physically, thank god but they've gas-lighted, been cruel, withheld love, emotionally black-mailed me, put me down, undermined me, excluded me, cheated on me, taken me for granted and used me as their own personal human polyfilla.

I've had a fair bit of counselling to recognise that I am attracted to these people because that was what my childhood was filled with. You can add physical abuse in there too, just for good measure - but somehow I have managed to filter that one out, or maybe I've just been lucky.

So, I'm aware but I don't trust myself to make the right choices yet. Consequently, I am single and I think I may be single for a long time to come, because I don't know how to choose well.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 14:27:04

I think, as a guy, I can see what LondonNiceGuy is getting at. It's something I saw a lot of when I was younger and hopelessly single. I knew many girls who would go out with total wasters who didn't treat them very well at all, and then see them make the same mistakes again.

The truth is, London, that mostly they don't really know what they are looking at. They think they are looking for exitement and as some people have pointed out, abusive relationships offer high's as well as lows. In most of the cases you are probably thinking of, these women will learn to recognise the signs and who they are going out with.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 14:41:34

Seeing one of your posts here stating that having never abused a woman makes you boring, this is decidedly not going to be the case to the majority of women.

True enough, many will (for reasons posted all over this thread). But take a look around. There are many a nice guy in a happy relationship. The horrid ones are just the one's you see often because they are being complained about a lot.

Anohter question to ask, London, is are you attracted to these women who are seeking abusive relationships? Not for the same reason, that's not what I'm saying. Maybe you view them as interesting? Maybe you want to be a hero to someone. In turn, perhaps you to are overlooking the "boring" nice girls out there. There are many of these, as well.

I went through a stage of believing the same thing. I see now that it was me who was making me single back then.

NotQuiteSoOnEdge Thu 03-Oct-13 14:45:53

Garlicvampire I'm really interested in what you've said about addiction to highs and lows. I had an EA childhood from both parents, and now, in my forties, I have escaped a very abusive man. I have many friends who have rallied round, yet I have no idea how to 'connect' with them. They are lovely, but seem bland somehow. I'm always looking for this kind of buzz which is missing. A new female friend has all the buzz I think I need, and I suddenly see how she is the one who crosses boundaries with impunity, who offers 'intimacy' and 'connection', and now I wonder if in fact she is no good for me at all, despite offering incredible help at a difficult time.

Never mind new partners, I don't think I can even handle normal friendships right now. Trying to work out what's abusive, and establish boundaries, when you are drawn to it, crave it even, is very confusing.

MatildaWhispers Thu 03-Oct-13 14:47:21

My parents were actually very, far too over protective, and I can see now that when I first left home and went to uni, I was drawn to someone who seemed so exciting and 'romantic' in comparison. But actually he was abusive, and walked all over my boundaries.

usedandabusedthentossedaside Thu 03-Oct-13 15:15:43

Julia contrary to you post men are also victims of abuse and not by other men. We tend to see abuse nearly always in terms of women being the victims this is not the case. Men are also victims but society seems to play down the notion that men can be victims. A vast majority of social research focuses on women as victims ignoring the reality that individuals regardless of gender are capable of abusing another. Men and women are both conditioned by society to downplay abuse it has only been relatively recently (historically) that domestic/relationship abuse has been recognised for what it is "unacceptable" towards women but towards men is still hidden behind walls of silence which men have been conditioned by societal values to uphold.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 15:25:16

Used, that is an interesting point. I would say my father was the victim of my mothers abusive personality. He is a very timid person, and she is quite a vile person.

He left after she threw a hot pan of beans over him, and proceded to stab him with a kitchen knife. She would regularly through household crockery at him and was one of those people who really gets into verbal abuse.

Yet he is still too embarrassed to call this what it is.

jasminerose Thu 03-Oct-13 15:27:47

Low self esteem or poor childhood role models. Abusers can see vulnerability/low self esteem and prey on it and thats why it happens over and over again to those people.

NutritiousAndDelicious Thu 03-Oct-13 15:36:20

I think as a whole it's society, women are expected to 'fix' bad relationships and damaged men. And nurture.

My own personal reasons, I think were:

Emotionally cold parents who put me down and critisied me continuously. I've never had a compliment from them. But practically they were always there. So my perspective of relationships was the practical matters, my emotions don't.

Very low self esteem and eager to please, due to above.

And as a defence mechanism, I somehow became a 'fixer' I used to be convinced I could love anyone better no matter how vile or useless. hmm

I was just used to it, and thought its ok I can take this, I'm strong I just get on with things.

Secretly I had an awful fear of abandonment and to be honest, deep down I knew I was better than them, so that gave me the comfort of thinking they would never leave.

Fucked up I know!

After counsilling and a period of singledom, focusing on myself and raising the bar and realising my self worth,hopefully I've broken this pattern.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:44:26

TheKnightsWhoSayNi . I recognise women who are seeking abusive relationships very quickly. They will do things to try and provoke you, which is a waste of time with me. I just ignore it. That is a clear signal to me to steer clear of them.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:51:46

Wow, londonniceguy - that is quite a strong statement. I think a lot of women don't know they are seeking abusive relationships. They have been abused all their lives & don't know any better. I'm not sure that categorises them as "seeking abuse".

I don't think I've ever been provocative - far from it. I'm the eternal pleaser, smoothing over rudeness, unkindness, cruelty, adultery etc - because i'm a 'fixer' convinced that my abuser is loveable and I can polyfilla over all the cracks and make it better.

TheKnightsWhoSayNi Thu 03-Oct-13 15:56:40

As most of the posts here are trying to show you, these particular women you are referring to are likely suffering the aftermath of some sort of neglected or abused childhood. I sense a real distaste towards them coming from that post, which is a little concerning.

I have known many women who've been in abusive relationships and some who have searched them out. And many nice girls. I've never experienced anyone who deliverately tries to provoke a me into attacking them. Except for when my DW does it during one of her bipolar episode, but that's quite rare and it's not really her.

londonniceguy Thu 03-Oct-13 15:58:00

Postbellumbugsy, of course i didn't mean all women. I love women totally and love their company and femininity. But there is a small minority who i avoid like the plague. Your good with polyfilla? OOoooo please message me

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