Becoming Dependent on an Abusive Partner

by Susan Peabody , A.B., Author of Addiction to Love; Overcoming Addiction and Dependency in Relationships .

Most of us in abusive relationships fall in love or get married before we find out that our partner is abusive. After the abuse starts, some of us continue to love our abuser. We tell ourselves that we are just taking the good with the bad.

Dependency on the relationship: Sometimes we are dependent on the relationship, and we would rather suffer physical pain than endure the emotional pain of breaking up. They cannot tolerate separation anxiety.

Low self-esteem: Sometimes we have such low self-esteem that we don't think we deserve any better. So we just stick with it. They think this is better than nothing.

Abusive parents: Sometimes we had an abusive parent so this abuse is not out of the ordinary for them. It is seen as the norm. It may even be equated with love. An abusive parent can also be loving, so battered children grow up confusing love with abuse. This confusion becomes a distorted value which influences them as adults.

Neighborhood norm: In some case, abuse may seem ordinary because all of their friends are being abused as well. In some neighborhoods domestic violence is the norm. It may seem futile to try and change the status quo.

It's my fault: Sometimes we blame ourselves rather than their partner. We are sure it is our own fault that we did something to provoke our partner. Sometimes we even think we deserve the abuse. We keep trying to change ourselves so it won't happen again.

Gullibility: Sometimes we are gullible and don't learn from the past. We believe our partner when he or she says the abuse will never happen again. Like children, we cling to the fantasy that this person will change.

Sympathy: Sometimes we feel sorry for our partner when he or she asks for forgiveness. We know our partner is sick so we decide to take care of him or her rather than end the relationship. Caretakers are used to putting the needs of others before their own. This is misguided compassion.

Loyalty: Sometime we feel that we made a commitment and we must be loyal no matter what - that it would be wrong to change their mind. We feel guilty if we reject someone, even if that someone is abusing us. This is misguided loyalty.

Fear of abandonment: Sometimes we fear of abandonment onto their partners.

Fear of revenge: Sometimes we are terrified of leaving an abusive partner because we fear revenge or because we are financially dependent on this person.

Martyr's complex: Some of us have a martyr's complex. We feel superior when we suffer in the name of love. We wear abuse like a badge of courage. In a twisted sort of way this actually elevates our self-esteem. Christians especially fall into this trap. They think that because Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind that we should die on the cross for the sins of our partner. Some Christians read in the Bible that "love bears all things" and we think that this includes abuse. I don't think it does. Non-Christians fall into this trap also. They listen to the song "Stand by your man," and think it is romantic to stick with a relationship no matter what.

Making up: Sometimes we don't like being abused, but we like making up. For instance, when their partner is begging for forgiveness we feel superior and in control. They like the attention. They like the flowers and apologies, so we talk themselves into believing that these gestures of remorse actually make up for the abuse.

Negative attention: Sometimes we are so starved for attention that even negative attention will do. We might tell ourselves that if he/she didn't love me so much he/she wouldn't be so angry. This is twisted thinking and can lead to trouble.

Sexual stimulation: Some of us find some aspects of abuse sexually stimulating, so we endure the pain to get the pleasure that follows.

Archived Articles Not On Main Website: Sexual Addiction: When the Sex is Too Important Boundaries Tools of Respect. Leaving A Partner with Borderline Personality How to Forgive an Abusive Parent The Perceptions of the Loved-one and the BPD are Very Different. Is Your Partner Serious About BPD Therapy. Now That You Are Separated. Becoming Dependent on an Abusive Partner. Stockholm Syndrome in a Romantic Relationship

Updated: 06/03/14