I want what SHE’s having!

A while ago, a friend rang me to ask my advice (yeah, deluded, I know) about a relationship she was in.

I’m in a relationship with this guy..and at first he was really nice, but then he started hitting me, and pushing me around, and calling me these horrible things, you know like bitch, slut, whore… And I’m kind of afraid of him? What do you think I should do?

Ah, let’s see.  Um, that’s a difficult one.  I know, how about..

GET RID OF HIM.  NOW. A guy who whacks you around is NOT relationship material.

But he’s the type I like. He’s really goodlooking. And successful. Well, he SAYS he’s successful, though I don’t know really, I sometimes wonder if he’s bullshitting me about all that money cause he doesn’t seem to actually have any, but – but the thing is, I think I’m in LOVE with him.  I mean, maybe he’s right, maybe it’s my fault he has to hit me.  Maybe I’m just really irritating.

Uh huh.  This is a woman whose ex-husband did exactly the same thing, so I’ve heard these words before.  Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe he’s right about me. Maybe there’s something wrong with ME, to make him abuse me.

So I go on, and on ‘No, there’s nothing wrong with you. No he’s not really a nice guy. No he doesn’t have any right to hit you’.  And she goes on and on ‘But I’m obsessed with him. But he’s just my type. But there MUST be something wrong with me.’

So finally I say (sorry, I know it was flippant) ‘You know what, you’ve convinced me.  He sounds just lovely.  Do you reckon, if you mentioned you had a friend who really likes to be bashed up and called names, he’d come round and visit ME? I mean, you’ve made him sound like SUCH a catch.  Tell you what, after you’ve finished with him, can I have him?’

She laughed (thank god).  Hopefully it got through to her how absurd (though awfully common in people who’ve been abused) her position was.  I’m making it out as funny, in a sad way – but really, abusers TRAIN you. Those who aren’t abused can look down from a height and say ‘I’d never put up with that’, but it’s like (reportedly) boiling frogs – abusers get you used to it, by expert use of the carrot and stick, until finally that’s all you know.

Although, no one’s ever asked a frog, I guess.

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29 comments

  1. Abusers also have a way of finding victims, it is like a 6th sense, they know the ones that are already susceptible. I hope your friend gets out and gets help to break the cycle, if she has been in an abusive relationship before this one I bet it wasn’t the first.
    People who say never are fools. An abuser breaks you mentally long before the start with the physical. It can and does happen in all segments of society, anyone can be caught in an emotionally vulnerable time and end up in an abusive relationship.

    • Oh wow. What happens to a person that they end up thinking that they deserve to be with an asshole? The only thing that she is doing wrong is making a series of bad choices. It’s time for her to make a new set of priorities and put herself at the top of the list. Good thing she has you for a friend. She obviously can make some good choices in relationships!

    • I think that’s right – it can happen to anyone. And yeah, they ‘groom’ you. Power relationships among humans are interesting – we’re always jockeying for it, sizing it up.

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  2. I had a college roommate who was abused by her boyfriend. She kept going back because he always apologized, sent flowers, and promised it would “never happen again.” It took her a few years of marriage and one child to discover this guy had a loose grasp on the meaning of “never.”

    It’s sad to watch another woman go through something like this, but ultimately she has to decide for herself that she deserves a better life.

    • It is horrible. But you know, it’s an awful confession, but I don’t feel that sorry for this woman. She’s one of those people who have constant drama in her life, and will ring you up at all hours wanting to unload – but when my mother died, I didn’t hear a thing from her. She is what she is, no doubt she’s been twisted and abused throughout her life – but as well as being terribly unhappy, she’s one of those vampire people who just suck and suck.

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  3. You know, it’s interesting what you said about abusers training you. I agree. But I also think we train people how to treat us by what we will and won’t stand for. If we allow people to continually abuse us, they learn that they can continually abuse us – because we’ve taught them that by sticking around for the abuse. I hope your friend is okay, and I wish her well. I wish you well too, because it must be hard to watch someone you care about suffer.

    • You’re right, come to think of it, one does ‘train’ people. She’s an extreme example, but I train people too, by being very easygoing. I really don’t know HOW to put up much of a fight. Luckily, I’m not anywhere near THAT meek, though.

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  4. I feel like you should’ve said “Yes! There IS something wrong with you! And it’s that you put up with this kind of bullshit!”
    It is easy to get sucked in, god knows I’ve been the confused one, trying to figure out why Mr. Wondefful was suddenly Mr. Hateful…luckily, it was pretty easy for me to figure out that HE was the fucked up one, and not me. I hope your’ friend grows a backbone and starts doing whatever she needs to do to raise her self esteem to the point where she won’t put up with this nonsense!

  5. You know, your friend sounds more like the “classic” victim, blaming herself. There are a lot of strong women out there who get sucked in and a lot with poor self esteem, too. Actually, I’d venture to say that all of us who survived abusive relationships have self-esteem issues! Still, it is possible to have a head on your shoulders and still get sucked in. Life isn’t always so clear cut when you’re on the inside, you know?

    • I know. I’ve got sucked in myself – though nowhere near as badly. I know there are lots of good reasons why she feels and acts as she does, and it’s classic ‘abusee’ behaviour. Sometimes though, there’s something you just don’t like about a person, despite their troubles. You feel sorry for them, you understand (as far as you can, not really having shared the experience) – but you don’t like them. The friendship in this case came from her wanting help, and I did indeed offer it many times. But then..your sympathy muscle gets exhausted. It shouldn’t, but it does.

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  6. I really like the way you approached this topic, Rose. I always wonder about draws a person to somebody abusive. I suppose we all have our relationship patterns but some patterns are just far more destructive. I hope that your ironic repsonse had an impact.

    • I doubt that it did. I just got fed up with arguing. I’m not very good with self destructive people, after a while I feel like just standing out of the way and going ‘off you go then, tie yourself to the tracks, the train will be along in a minute’. It’s one of those things I need to delegate to other, more patient, understanding people.

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    • Yep. I think she’s too troubled, though, to organise herself in the right way. I have some sympathy – I also fall for men who aren’t quite worth it. But not THAT not worth it.

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    • Actually emotional responses have nothing to do with the intellect. Us ‘clever’ chicks act dumb like everyone else when it comes to feelings and in particular lurve.

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  7. you are absolutely correct about abusers, mostly they play mindgames and convince their victims that the fault lies with them, thats why these people dont flitter around people who are strong. they chose their preys with care, or open themselves up only to those who will yield to their bullying.

    • Or people who’ve already been trained up by other abusers, like their parents – it’s like ‘here’s something I prepared earlier’ on cooking shows.

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    • Not really. The last I heard, I was in Noosa and got a text saying ‘where are you, I haven’t been able to contact you’ (only I’d forgotten to bring my charger so had to leave the phone off mostly). But then I got a call that my mum was dying, so everything was on hold. I told her weeks later what had happened, and didn’t hear anything. You see, this person is the central figure in their own drama and other people are just very minor characters, there I think mainly to sing the chorus of ‘oh how terrible!’ as the heroine stuffs up yet again. I know that sounds mean, but she’s a very troubled person in many ways.

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