What is Love in an Abusive Relationship?
According to the Women’s Equality Party, 1.2 million women suffer Domestic Abuse each year in the UK.
In the recent Sally Challen case, the verdict was changed from murder of her husband, to manslaughter. Despite the years of abuse she had suffered at his hands, Sally said how much she regretted the whole incident and that she missed her husband and still loved him.
... but I still love him
I have been told by people who work with abused women, and have heard it myself, that they often finish their sad tales with the words ‘…but I still love him.’
That got me thinking ‘What kind of love could this possibly be?’
In my opinion, ‘true love’ is based on mutual respect, a high level of honest communication, and a shared sense of humour. Those elements are usually absent in an abusive relationship. So, what could it be?
I can’t live without you
Could it be that the key is in the phrase ‘I can’t live without you’?
The abusive partner usually works to undermine the confidence of his partner to the extent that she believes that she is incompetent and incapable in most areas of her life. She is regularly told that she is useless and asked where she would be without him to guide and protect her.
She therefore comes to believe she could not survive on her own. In other words, ‘She can’t live without him’.
The horrible irony is that is probably what he believes too, but the other way around.
Insecurity and low self-esteem
We are told the common cause of domestic abuse is insecurity and low self-esteem on the part of the abuser, despite appearances to the contrary. The underlying fear of the abuser is that he is not good enough and that he is not worthy to keep his partner.
Therefore, he works to undermine her confidence and make her insecure and more dependent on him. Violence, or the threat of it, is just one of the tools he uses to achieve his aim.
This is borne out by his frantic efforts to get her back when she leaves. The persistence and deviousness of the abuser to get back, or get revenge on, the abused partner is very well known.
This is only my take on what is going on in these terrible relationships and I would welcome your feedback and your opinion on this subject.
By the way, let me say that all the above can equally well apply to a male being abused by a female partner. That probably happens more often than we know.
To find out more about my views on domestic abuse issues, here are links to a couple of blog posts I have written in the past
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