Along with the reasons discussed in a previous post, another reason victims return to an abuser is because often the abuse isn’t over after they leave. Especially when there are children involved in the relationship, the abuse continues. Even when there are no children involved, the abuser will stalk and continually try to reconnect with their victim. It’s a little like an addiction, they need a victim, they find it very difficult to let go. The abuser has put a lot of work into the molding and preparing of their victim, they don’t want to let that go.
It’s a weird thing, but an abuser will try to abuse you right back into the relationship. They are so used to having control of your life they can’t imagine you choosing another way, they can’t imagine you will stand up for yourself so strongly.
Among other techniques, abusers combine gaslighting, honeymooning (aka love-bombing) and stalking to try to pull their victim back in.
They’ll use gaslighting to convince others that the victim is making things up, and to try to convince the victim things weren’t as bad as they believed. Usually it is worse than the victim realizes. Too often others will buy the abusers stories and work with the abuser to try to “repair” the relationship. This advances the abusers cause and further isolates the victim.
Honeymooning is used to make the victim believe the abuser has changed, that they truly love them, that they are sorry for for what has happened, to draw the victim back into their grasp. Some abusers will send flowers, gifts, love notes, etc. They will draw you into conversations and express how much they desperately miss you, can’t live without you, and can’t sleep or eat.
Stalking is used, not just to track their victims, not just to intimidate and harm, but also to contribute to the love-bombing. If the abuser is always there, always around, no matter where the victim goes, it makes it harder to stay away.
The best way to stay off the abusers radar is to go No Contact. No phone calls, no texts, no emails, no conversations. If there are things that need to be resolved, communicate by written communication (email) only, through a lawyer or even through a supportive friend or family member.
Unfortunately, when there are children in the relationship, this is impossible and things get even more difficult. With children involved, the abuser will take advantage of discussions about the children’s needs, exchanges of the children for shared parenting time, and any other excuse to be in the victims presence. It is still possible to insist that communication be done only in writing and to reduce contact as much as possible. It is far healthier for the children to not live in an abusive home. It is not safe to remain in an abusive relationship for the sake of children.
Because my ex was abusive to the children, I insisted they be protected with supervised visits. Not realizing resources were available, and not wanting to deny the children time with their father, I became the supervisor. Those were difficult times. He took the opportunity to harangue me, to accuse me of having affairs and sleeping with other men, of making up stories about how he treated us, of telling the children it was my fault Daddy didn’t live with them anymore.
These are the most basic of examples. It’s not as simple as it sounds. It’s very complicated and it’s dangerous. There are many, many levels of abuse wrapped around an abusive relationship. An abuser will never allow a victim to walk away easily.
It hurts to realize people are willing to believe the worst about you, that they are willing to buy into the abusers deceptions, but it is to be understood because at one point I believed him too. The problem is that while you are speaking truth about the abuse, the abuser is speaking lies about you in an effort to diminish your voice, to silence you and to get you back.
A victim, nay a survivor, of abuse has to remain very strong. They need to be firm in their resolve to end the cycle of abuse and to stay away. It is terribly sad that they often have to stand alone in their determination. Hope is available. You can break free, you can end the cycle of violence, you can move forward into happy, healthy relationships. Take the chance, you’re worth it!