“If her boyfriend hits her and she keeps going back to him, she deserves it.   She’s obviously stupid for putting up with that.”


How many of you have thought this at some point?  Thought that maybe the person complaining about or talking about the abuse they’re experiencing is exaggerating, deserving of the abuse, or maybe secretly ‘likes it?’ because they don’t do anything to change it?  Odds are, we’ve all known someone who admits that their partner does things that we might view as abusive.  And we’re all equally as confused as to WHY this person would continue to date someone who hurts them, emotionally, physically, or otherwise.  Unfortunately, we probably only know half the story.  Let’s take some of these observations and put a “reality lens” on living with an abuser:

“If her boyfriend hits her and she keeps going back to him, she deserves it.   She’s obviously stupid for putting up with that.”

So let’s clear this up first and foremost:  There are plenty of people out there, of all different levels of intelligence, that would not tolerate being punched,  kicked,  slapped,  shoved etc by anyone, let alone someone that’s supposed to love them and care about them.  So why is this person?  Typically, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes in a physically abusive relationship that the public doesn’t catch wind of.  For example, he may be controlling her finances, making her unable to leave because she doesn’t have the funds or access to bank accounts.  He may be using manipulation techniques, telling her if she tries to leave him that he’ll blackmail her at work, with her friends and family, or on social media.  He may also be threatening people or things that are special to her, like her children, siblings, or pets.  She may feel like taking the physical abuse is her way of protecting others from the same experiences she’s having.

Often times in a physically abusive relationship, the hitting, shoving, and slapping doesn’t happen right away.  It’s likely that they entered into the relationship for the same reason most of us do; they fell in love and developed deep feelings for each other.  When you love someone, you think that emotional and verbal abuse are just ‘arguments;’ you want to believe someone when they hit you for the first time and then apologize profusely afterwards, saying they’ll never do it again.  No one who has experienced intimate partner violence would tell you they thought that this would ever happen to them.  And by the time the physical abuse starts, ‘love’ has become such a confusing, twisted, double sided aspect of the relationship because the abuser has used their power to make it that way.

The next time you hear about a person in an abusive relationship and think that they deserve the abuse because they won’t leave, take a second and think about what else might be going on beyond the bruises and the black eyes.  There’s so much more to it, and odds are this person is living a life of secrecy, fear, and isolation.  Instead of assuming information and being negative, offer your support.  If you don’t know what to say but think the person could use help, you can always refer them to our office, our live messaging service, or our 24 hour hotline.

-IH Teen Counselor

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