Why Do We Torture Ourselves?

I have a friend who is going through a tough time. They are in a relationship that is clearly not one where she is loved and treated well. It has gone on for sometime and she continues to stay in this abusive relationship. I wish she would realize that she truly does deserve better for herself. I know on the outside, it appears that she is a confident person but I know on the inside, she truly believes that she does not deserve to be happy. Instead, she continues to be in a relationship where they are continually told how worthless they are and over time they have begun to believe it is indeed the truth. I don't know if they know it but I cry for them.

We know that spousal, or partner, abuse happens every day. Usually, people think of battered, beaten wives or girlfriends when you mention domestic abuse. It does happen to men as well - and more often than you think. Yes, the number of men in this situation is much lower than for women - but it really is a growing epidemic in this country. That begs the question, "Why?". Why do we stay in these relationships? At one point or another in our lives, most of us have been in a "relationship", romantic or otherwise, that has been "abusive". Most of us get out of them when we realize how harmful the continued relationship is to our psyche - but some don't.

For some, they are too dependent on the perpetrator to find a way out. For example, an abused stay-at-home mother may feel that she cannot leave her abusive relationship because if she did, she would have no way of providing for her children. Or, if she left the kids, she is afraid the abuse will be transferred to the children in her absence. Others cite cultural or religious reasons, such as Catholics avoiding divorce, to rationalize their decision to stay.

A more common reason, and one the individual may not think of, is the "cycle of abuse". Most abusers are not abusive all the time. Many go through "periods" of abuse - say a day or two - and then are perfectly loving. They apologize and do something to make up for the abuse and the abused person rationalizes staying because they think the person could change or that it's not so bad most of the time. Others accept it because they were brought up by their parents believing that they are worthless. This is the case, I believe, with my friend. Their dad constantly told them how worthless they were - and still does at times. So much so that over the years, my friend has tried hard to prove their worth but always coming up short in their own mind - despite people telling them otherwise.

So I ask - why do we torture ourselves like this? Even those who know the psychology behind it can still get themselves into this mess. Maybe we will never know just why we are willing to accept the abuse.

But I will say this - let's make a resolution. No, not a "new year's resolution" that we will keep for a week then discard. A real resolution. Let's resolve to not let those around us to diminish our personal worth. To not let ourselves continue to be unhappy. To make sure that we remind ourselves every day that we have worth - we deserve happiness - and we deserve love.

And if/when my friend reads this - I hope you know you are worthy of happiness and love.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 16, 2009 and is filed under , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


Dave - Alls I can say is "well said" - I am sure your friend knows how very much you care for her and that you only want the best ... I pray she reads this post and understands how much you care ... and thank you for the PSA on this issue - it is so important!

Hugs from MN!