Patterns

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
Patterns
12
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 4:10pm

Hello, I need some advice. I am not a victim of abuse but I recent had a relationship with a woman that I believe is a victim. I just need some clarity on the patterns and what I might prepare myself for.

The story:

We met this past spring. I was getting out of a long term relationship, as was she. My relationship ended well, as friends. Hers ended badly. The previous BF was a chronic cheater (they lived together for 3 years) and often made up elaborate lies to cover his sexual activity. When she caught him in the act he would respond by yelling, insulting and blaming her. She never told me of any physical abuse so I don't know if that is in the picture. Most of his antics were the controlling, insulting type. He also often asked her to perform sexual acts that she was not comfortable with but she went along with because she wanted to please him. Finally, after being caught one last time he kicked her out on the street with no where to go. Fortunately, she had a friend that took her in.

She managed to take a few months away from him even though he spent considerable time begging her to come back and telling her he will change. He used the fact that she left a lot of her stuff at his house as a way to get her to come to his home. He refused to bring her stuff to her place but would only allow her to have things if she came to his house alone. It was a major cause of stress to her.

That is when we met. We both fell for each other and had a wonderful 1/2 year together. We often commented to each other about how lucky we were to have found each other. We were like an old married couple even though we were only together a few months. But the whole time we were together he would try to get her to leave me and come back to him. He worked on her for months and it caused her a lot of pain and conflict.

Then something happened... We hit a rough patch. We had a bit of a misunderstanding about something and over a period of 2-3 weeks we were both trying to sort through it. Then suddenly one night I got a phone call and she told me not to come to her place anymore. She seemed very upset but in a disappointed way not in an angry way. I respected her request and wrote her an email telling her how I felt about her and offered an apology. Four days later I received a reply email saying she had decided to go back to the ex. Her words were that she "loved him more than she had loved any other man" and that "she never stopped missing him" and that "she did things to him that she never talked about".

I waited a couple of weeks and wrote one last email. I basically told her I was sorry and that I wished her well. I also left the door open to her if her relationship turned sour again. I haven't heard from her since.

Now all my friends are telling me to expect a return from her. They are telling me to prepare for it because it is inevitable. They all say that abusive situations usually don't change and it's only a matter of time before the pattern repeats and she gets scared again. I'm actually kind of afraid of this happening. I love her still and don't understand what happened other than he was constantly manipulating in the background. All I can figure is that she decided to run back to something that was secure to her instead of dealing with the tough task of dealing with a misunderstanding.

My question to you is... What should I expect? A return or not? If she were to return is it worth my while to even consider putting myself in this place again? What should I prepare for? Is there anything I can do or should I do nothing and just walk away? My hope is that I don't get pulled in to this but you never know and I want to be ready both mentally and emotionally if it does happen.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2000
In reply to: lderryguy
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 8:54pm

Do you like roller coaster rides?..Staying in a relationship with her right now will be very much like that. My advice to you is IF you choose to let her back you need to put a condition on her that NO CONTACT WITH EX NO MATTER WHAT..If she leaves stuff behind then have her request a police escort so the TWO of you can go get the remaining of her stuff so she can be rid of him forever. 

But as long as she remains with contact with him he will manipulate her and she will be like a you-you on a string going back and forth until finally she wakes up and cuts the string or ends up dead..If you are in a relationship with her you are basically that same you-you...

AND before the two of you go any further in your relationship, she will need time to heal from the damage the other guy has done to her..Getting into a relationship without healing first is taking the damage from the one relationship and poisoning the new relationship....

If you want to really get a handle on what her life is all about, you might pick up a book "why does he do that" by Lundy Bancroft...It can help you see what is going on and possibly you can help her realize what is going on as well and possibly help her get out of the endless cycle...If you can get her to contact a DV shelter for advice, counseling and possibly a respite from relationships (including yours) would be one of the best things you can do for her....

That is just my two cents worth, I am sure other ladies here can offer more

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
In reply to: lderryguy
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 10:14pm

Thank you for your response. You said a lot of very useful things and I will look in to the book recommendation.

I do realize that this is not something to tread lightly with. I have experienced abuse in my life of my sister. She spent 13 years living in complete fear. She finally was able to break the trend is not a happy healthy woman. I have see the joy of breaking free. But I do know that it is up to the abused to make the choice and take the steps.

I am not looking to save her. Right now she is probably very happy. It's only been a month since the breakup so I am sure he is on his best behavior right now. I'm sure she will feel this false sense of happiness. But over time he will go back to the verbal abuse and the cheating. Guys like that don't change. I've read a lot and the pattern I've seen is textbook.

I am not pining for her and praying for her return to my arms. I have accepted that this is over. What I am asking is, should I be concerned about a return visit from her at some point? Is that a normal cycle that these relationships fall in to? I haven't been able to find anything on that. I know it is common for abusive relationships to be on again/off again. But is if common for the abused to turn to a 3rd party when the going gets tough? Especially when that 3rd part (me) had a very close relationship with her? I mean she did turn back to him when we had a bump in the road. I just want to prepare myself for what might be the inevitable. She hasn't returned yet and may not. I'm just getting my head and heart ready in case.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2000
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 11:42pm

you probably already know the answer to that question deep down but here is my opinion...as long as she knows you are available and a "safe" escape, probably she will turn back to you when things start getting tough for her with him...there is a chance she will not, but there is a chance she will...each person is different and will react differently providing what is available to them at the time.

It is up to you as to whether you are available for her to escape back to or if you need to move forward and not wait. Frankly, if you move forward, that does make you less available for her to escape to, but you are right in knowing you are not able to "rescue" her from her own choices. 

Since you endured your sister's experience of abuse, you already know it is messy, and tiresome and many "abandon" the victim simply out of the need to protect themselves from the insanity. Only you know if you are up to that roller coaster ride again or if you need to move forward for yourself. 

It is possible that even if you do move forward in your own choices, she may still need a "friend" who "gets it" which apparently you do...hopefully your next relationship will be able to understand and allow you to be there when she needs ...perhaps your new relationship will be able to be there for her as well...

No one knows for sure what tomorrow will bring, but getting yourself educated and prepared for the worst is probably a wise choice of action. I often say "prepare for the worst and hope for the best"...

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
In reply to: lderryguy
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 10:32am

Thank you for this answer. You brought some clarity to my struggles.

I do believe I am a "safe" escape. Hence my concern. In fact, I was her escape for almost 6 months. She left him at the end of last year, after a year of turmoil (that is her estimate but I believe it was longer than that). Three months later she decided to put herself back in the saddle of dating again and we met. She felt 3 months was enough time for her to heal and move on to someone new. Our romance was a complete whirlwind for both of us and we were very happy together. The times when he tried to push back in to the picture were usually met by her with frustration, fear, anger and any number of other negative emotions. She kept asking him to just go away and he found ways to keep himself in the picture. I actually helped her deal with some of his control issues but being with her and supporting her when she needed to confront him and his games. In the time I knew her she never had one positive thing to say about this man even though she claimed the first 2/3rds of thier relationship was "good". I think the thing that bothered me the most was that I did all I could to develop a loving, supportive relationship with her while he spent his time in the back ground slowly pushing, controlling and manipulating. When an issue arose with us, she chose the "safe" (confortable) route of running back to something familiar even though it is unhealthy. The logic of these things blow my mind.

I hope if the day comes that I hear from her that I am ready to deal with it. I am working hard to heal from this relationship and will be ready to move on myself at some point in the near future. Your advice has been very well taken and I thank you for your wisdom.

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
In reply to: cajunharmony
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 5:47pm

Hi, lderry and welcome to the board.  It's very smart of you to ask the questions you are asking.  What I'm about to say is completely my own opinion and is based on years of being cl on this board, so with that being said, here goes.  You sound like a kind and decent guy.  If it were me I wouldn't put my life on hold for this person.  The average number of times that a person leaves the abuser is 7-9 before it is a permanent leave-taking.  Apparently she's only left the one time.  Now some DO leave and stay gone the first time, but most do NOT.  And there are the ones who leave 20-30 times or more and never stay gone.  It's just a chance you take.  However, giving oneself three months to "get over" domestic abuse is not being realistic.  It's hopeful, but not realistic. I was in an abusive relationship for six years and it has taken me eight years just to get to the point where I was even interested in dating or possibly getting into another relationship,and I've attended support group, counseling and done a whole lot of work on myself, for many reasons and to become the woman that I want to be, that abuse took away for a while.  This is the same with any survivor.  Time is needed to clear your head, quiet the old voices in our minds, learn how to live without the constant threat of abuse hanging over heads, how to establish boundaries and basically decide how WE want to live OUR life, abuse free.  And I just don't think that can be accomplished in three months.  As for her coming back into your life?  Who knows what she will do.  Around here we talk about personal empowerment, which basically means looking at our options and making our own choices, based on what we think is best for our life and our situation.  We look to others for suggestions, advice and support, but in the end, the decision is all ours.  The consequences, accountability and responsibility for those decisions are also all ours.  With that being said, it is your choice as to how you want to proceed should she reappear in your life.  I saw a saying a few days ago that really resonated with me.  Why  make someone a priority when, to them, you are only an option?  I think that says a lot.  Before this person you know can make a good partner for anyone she will need to work on her own problems and get to know herself without abuse in her ife.  That can bring on some big changes.  The stress of entering into another relationship too soon can create even more problems.  Also, there is your personal safety to consider.  The time when a survivor is in most danger from the abuser is when they have are in the process of leaving or have recently left.  Do you want to expose yourself to possible danger because "if he can't have her, nobody can"?  You have a lot to think about, but I applaud your willingness to help if you can.  Just be careful and don't let yourself be used.  There are a lot of resources available to people who are leaving abusive relationships and you might want to check on what is available in your area and have that info available for her should you hear from her again.  The only thing you can really do is be there to listen and offer support.  You can't make her change or even help her to change or to make up her mind. It's hard to stand back and watch, but in this case, IMO, getting on with your own life would probably be in your best interests all the way around.  Frustratedwiththree had some outstanding advice and insight for you.  I'm in 100% agreement with her.  I wish you luck. Don't hesitate to post if you have more questions or concerns.  Good luck.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2012
In reply to: lderryguy
Thu, 09-27-2012 - 9:37pm

Thank you. I have gotten a lot of good advice here. This past week I have made major strides in moving forward. I not longer have the empty pit in my stomach like I did. I'm starting to be able to focus longer at work. I'm even starting to feel like I can smile and laugh again.

There is no physical violence in this case (that I know of). This is a case of one person have control over another person through manipulation. I am sure she does not see this as abuse. She never used the word to me. She calls him a control freak and a user and a liar but never abusive. Unfortuately most abuse victims are in denial about these things. I think she saw the pattern at one point (we discussed these things many times) but over time let her thoughts drift away from all the bad.

One more thing to point out for clarity. She has left him several times for short periods. It was only the last time that she left him for a fairly long period (9 months). I really do believe she has it in her to leave (at least from what I learned from knowing her). I think ot would require a complete break from him. It happend for a few months and in that time she was okay. It was only the reappearance of him that brought it all down.

I don't know what I would do if she returned. I've played out both scenerios in my head (taking her back and telling her to go away). I think it will depend on where I am at if it happens.

All I know is that I thought I met the woman of my dreams. She was all I ever hoped for (kind, generous, fun, happy, pretty, etc.). And then someone who has control over her will has taken her away and it drives me to tears to thinks about. There are so many nice guys like me that lose out to jerks like this. It makes no sense.

Anyway, enough about her and on to me. I am working hard to get myself to a good place. And I am making good progess. Thank you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 12:29am
Women who are "lost" to jerks usually have major issues. They are not emotionally healthy. Therefore, it's not really much of a loss.

i know this sounds harsh and I bet you probably don't want to hear that about a woman you obviously care about, but she is broken. You can't fix her. No one can.

It would have been very easy for her to break away from her abuser by simply ending all contact and changing her number, her email and any other means of communication, but she chose not to. The very fact that she chose to allow him to continue to contact her proves she is not emotionally well.

I too was in a 4 year relationship with a manipulator, a liar and a cheater. We've been broken up almost 4 years and I'm still not ready to date because I still find myself attracted to his type. So definitely 3 months was NOT enough...as evidenced by her continuing to allow her abuser to contact her.

She needs professional help. I hope she gets it. And I hope you can let go of the idea she's the one for you because she can't be good for you the way she is now.
Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
In reply to: cajunharmony
Mon, 10-01-2012 - 9:44am
OUTSTANDING post, Still. Yep, the truth can be harsh, but so is pulling off a band-aid. Thanks for putting it in such a straightforward and honest manner. Show up a little more often, why don't you? We could use your input around here. Peace. My best to you.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 1:38pm
Wow, thanks Cajun! I wish I didn't have these experiences. I spent a lot of time fantasizing that I had just told the jerk to take a hike 3 months in. But I didn't, because I wasn't emotionally healthy. I just hope that maybe I can help someone else see clearly, because I didn't. I do now.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-24-2012
In reply to: live1day
Wed, 10-03-2012 - 10:06pm

Hi there. I'm coming out of almost 9 years of hell and I'm glad to hear you say you don't want to save her, because you can't. She has to be ready to leave him, no one can sway her. It seems she is still under his spell and the comment of NO contact is VERY on point. It would be nice if you could be there for her, should she turn to you again, but I'd say do not become romantically involved. Even if she cut all contact, she needs to heal...I don't think you could have a lasting relationship if she didn't.You obviously care, to end up here and ask questions....I don't want you to fall victim (indirectly) to the abuse too.

Good luck to you both.

A

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