But they were so much in love! How could there be abuse?
Abuse hides behind legitimate, loving actions.
(Please remember that abusers can be either male or female!)
- He enjoys her company, so can’t stand to be apart from her
- He loves her so much, he doesn’t want to share her time with others
- He values her so much, he needs her
- He wants the best for her, so he must teach her how to be better
- He trusts you, but he doesn’t trust other guys and must protect you from them
- He is protective and keeps you close to make sure you are safe
- He is capable of providing for you, so you don’t have to work
- He loves you so much he can’t live without you and is contemplating suicide if you go
- He’s so affectionate with her, their desire is wonderful after all these years
- He is so sorry about hurting you but…
- he’ll never do it again (til the next time)
- here’s an (amazing!) gift for you to make up for it
- you deserved it because you didn’t do what he wanted
- you hurt him first (Did you? Really?)
Abuse looks like love to outsiders. It is rare for an abuser to leave visible bruises … and by the time they do they have such complete control over their victims that the victim has been taught to lie and cover them up. Doctors and hospitals are avoided, or lied to. An abusers love is conditional, it depends on their needs being met completely and constantly.
People get used to seeing them always together, it’s romantic how he gives her gifts all the time and gets jealous over her. How lucky she is that he provides for them and she can stay home with the children. How he just dotes on her and loves to be with her.
We watch movies and we read books, and … let’s face it, we yearn to be fought for by our love … and we see romance in abusive behaviors. Jealousy is considered a sign of love. Forced affection can become true expressions of love.
An abuser uses the very normal, natural things we desire, the things a relationship should be, to mold the victim and turn the relationship into the exact opposite, while maintaining the facade of love and perfection.
For someone who has experienced child abuse, it feels great to have someone want to protect you, to want to be with you, to take care of you. Those aren’t bad desires or dreams. Those are things we should all have and experience within our relationships. What’s wrong is when an abuser appears to protect you, desire you and take care of you when in reality they are the ones hurting you, controlling you and deceiving you.
Relationships should not be controlling. Gifts should not be given as an apology. There should be activities and places that each person in the relationship pursues independently, things they can do alone and things they can do together. If a couple is constantly together, it’s a red flag of abuse.
Love is worth pursuing. It’s wonderful to be desired, to be wanted, to be provided for. It should not cause pain.