Do you have a friend who is in a bad relationship? Does she call you crying and tell you the same story every other week? He hit her. He cheated on her. He called her names. He lied to her. You say, “Why don’t you just leave him already?”
The question sounds logical. I mean, why would anyone subject themselves to being hit, cheated on, lied to, or talked down to? Especially when it happens over and over again and isn’t just a one-time thing. Leaving him would resolve the issue, right?
My question to you is, do you think your friend wants to be abused? Don’t you think if it were that easy, to just leave, she would have done it by now?
The truth is: it’s not that simple. Even though your friend is miserable, depressed, and probably suffers from high-levels of stress, fear, and anxiety, she stays in the abusive relationship. Let me explain a few reasons why, that might make you think twice before the next time you judge your friend who is dating a piece of crap (pardon the language).
- Abusers isolate you from your family, friends, and coworkers. Abusers prey on vulnerable people. If their next victim is surrounded by loving friends and family, the abuser must break down that protective shield so that they can take full advantage of their victim without being hindered. Family and friends will not get in their way. The second abusers feel threatened by a family member, a friend, or a coworker of their victim, their strategy is to plant negative thoughts about those people in your friend’s head. Before you can even warn your friend, her abuser has already planted several thoughts in her brain. Examples include, “Your family doesn’t love you like I do,” “Your friend is jealous of you and you do so much more for her than she does for you,” “Your boss is way too critical of you, I would give you so much more credit.” The abuser turns your friend against everyone, even her own family.
- Abusers are expert manipulators. Your friend is brainwashed. Her abuser has repetitively manipulated her psychologically. Her abuser has repeated statements and lies that over-time manifest in your friend’s brain to be the truth. She cannot distinguish love vs. abuse. An example of how an abuser would manipulate a situation could be: He punches your friend in the face because she went out with some friends the night before. After he punches her, he immediately apologizes and says, “I’m so sorry honey. I have never loved a person this much before, and I cannot deal with the emotions of loving a person so deeply. I am going crazy over you, because I love you so much and I just wish we spent more time together.” As a result, your friend believes her abuser hit her out of love. She does not see it as abuse.
- Abuse is a cycle of euphoria and destruction. Trust me. If your friend was abused 24/7, she would have left her abuser by now. Something I bet you didn’t know, is that victims PRAY their abuser would be a bad person all of the time, because this would make it way easier to walk away. The part that makes it extremely difficult to leave an abuser, is they often do out-of-the-ordinary things for you to show you they “care.” What’s sad is, these acts of kindness aren’t genuine, they are used to control your friend and keep her trapped in the abuser’s evil spell. The constant cycle between abuse/violence and happy moments create a state of confusion for your friend. Victim’s often have a battle back and forth in their brain after a traumatic event with their abuser. They are confused because, “He must not have meant to hit me, right? Because he loves me so much. He took off a whole week of work to take care of me while I was sick. Just last week he surprised me with roses and jewelry. He wouldn’t do that for just anyone.” Chances are, your friend’s abuser has gone above and beyond to do nice things for her. She probably struggles with leaving, because all the extremely nice things he’s done make it hard to hate him.
- Your friend has no self-worth outside of the relationship. Going back to abusers being expert manipulators, one of their manipulative tactics is to destroy your friend’s identity and self-esteem outside of the relationship. They will say things like: “You’re not special,” “I am the only person who sees your beauty and all the things that make you unique,” or “Nobody sees how special you are. I am the only one that appreciates you.” Over time, your friend subconsciously starts believing that her abuser is the only person who values her (ironic, because in reality he is the one who is destroying her). This type of mental abuse will cause your friend to look for signs to seek out whether there is truth behind all the things the abuser has said. She takes things very personally. If other men, her supervisor at work, or complete strangers don’t validate her often, the thought of “my boyfriend really must be the only one who sees the value in me” grows even deeper inside her brain. She stops loving herself, and she stops believing that anyone other than her abuser loves her.
- Abusers are skilled at shifting the blame. When confronted for their wrongdoing, abusers have an excuse or an explanation for everything, typically where they are the victim in a situation. Most likely she is dating a narcissist and narcissists never admit any wrongdoing and instead shift the blame onto others and make themselves out to be the victim. Example scenario: your friend’s abuser cheats on her. He tells your friend, “I did not intend to cheat. It’s just that, since you are so busy with work and rarely make time for me, I was feeling really lonely and unappreciated, so I acted on those emotions. It won’t happen again, as long as we spend more time together.” Your friend now blames herself for his actions and thinks it is her fault for being a “workaholic.” She puts pressure on herself to spend more time with him, to avoid him cheating on her again. How can she be mad at him and leave him for cheating, when it was her fault?
These are only 5 reasons why your friend might not have left her abusive boyfriend yet. There could be other reasons. Abuse comes in many forms. Despite how simple it seems to just walk away, knowing that there is often deep-rooted psychological manipulation involved, can help you to pose a different question to your friend if you want to help her get out of the situation.