Tag Archives: abuse and love

Obsessive Love

“Romeo and Juliet” by Frank Dicksee (1884), Southampton City Art Gallery, Source http://www.odysseetheater.com (PD-Art, PD-Old-80)

The TLC channel is currently running a series titled “90 Day Fiance:  Before the 90 Days” https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/90-day-fiance-before-the-90-days/ .   Alternately engaging, appalling, and cautionary, this reality show depicts couples whose relationships began online.

Though most have never met, all program participants feel certain they have found true love.  The question presented is, have they?  A more telling question might be, do they understand the nature of love at all?

The latter is a question abuse victims must confront, themselves, if they are to heal.

Online Relationships

Unfortunately, online relationships are prone to the distortion of projection.  We see what we want to see; hear what we want to hear.  We fill in the blanks with the image of our ideal, hope fueling our fantasies.

Abuse victims are especially vulnerable to this distortion.

Abuse and Our View of Love

Child abuse – whatever form it takes (emotional, physical, sexual, or neglect) – skews our view of love.  Abuse teaches us that love must be earned, and requires sacrifice on our part to the point of self-destruction.

Deprived of real love, we become desperate for it.  This continues to play out in adulthood.  We settle for crumbs, for partners who beat us, rob us, and cheat on us – all the while sure that we cannot live without them.

Destructive Love

No mere post (or reality show, for that matter) can capture all the complexities of love.  We can though clear up a few misconceptions.

A great deal done in the name of love is destructive.  Women are frequently stalked in the name of love.  Murders are regularly committed in the name of love.  Teens, in particular, commit suicide in the name of love.

Obsession is not, however, genuine love.

A.  Stalking

Social media and romantic comedies portray stalking as a compliment to the object of the stalker’s “affection” – something funny, even sweet [1][2].

In reality, over 7 million people are stalked each year, most by a former intimate partner [3].  Many are physically attacked, raped, and/or killed by their stalker.  Others live in fear – their privacy violated, their sense of safety gone, their loved ones placed in jeopardy. Continue reading

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 3

“Healing of the Blind Man” by AN Mironov (2009), Author Andrey Mironov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“…He [Christ] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6-7).

The miracle of the blind man is recorded in the Bible to teach us that infirmity is not necessarily the consequence of sin.

Certainly, as the victims of child abuse, we did not, ourselves, sin.  Trauma, however, lefts its mark on us.  Among its scars is the tendency we have to seek out and return to dysfunctional relationships.

What Christ’s love does for abuse victims is heal (or reduce) those scars, and cause the scales to fall from our eyes.  We can see the world more clearly, undistorted by the lies we were told by predators about the nature of love and our own supposed lack of value.

Christ’ love for victims is tender.  “A bruised reed He will not break…” (Isaiah 42: 3).  Rather than inflict pain on us, He grieves over the pain we have endured.  That tenderness restores our self-worth, eliminating the need we feel to return to toxic relationships, and making us again whole.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 2

Poster for the film Basic Instinct (c) copyright TriStar Pictures and/or the graphic artist, Source http://www.impawards.com

In the 1990s thriller Basic Instinct, Michael Douglas plays a troubled homicide detective who becomes involved with a female serial killer.  Despite this woman’s overt sexuality, others can see that she is dangerous.  The detective is blind to that.  He believes he has found true love and redemption.

What motivates the detective is not, however, love.  It is a deep sense of guilt over a shooting incident that occurred while he was high on cocaine.  He has, in effect, a death wish.

This is not to say that abuse victims have a death wish, when we return to toxic relationships.  Love can though be a minefield for us.

We are all too easily blinded by our childhood experience – experience that was tainted by abuse.  We frequently mistake dysfunctional relationships for love, and fail to recognize real love when we actually encounter it.

Having been trained to tolerate abuse, we do not see the danger.  We settle for what we had in the past.  That feels “right”.  That resonates with us, striking a profound chord, so “must” be love.  Other relationships pale by comparison.

It does not occur to us we deserve better.  Until we come to that realization, toxic relationships will continue to hold power for us.

This series will conclude next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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When Mr. Right Is Mr. Wrong

Monument to Cervantes (statues of Don Quixote and his companion Sancho Panza) by Lorenzo Valera (1930), Madrid, Spain, Author/Source Luis Garcia (“Zaqarbal”) (PD)

“He thought that every windmill was a giant.  That’s insane.  But, thinking that they might be… Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat.  But, what if it isn’t?  It might be round.”

They Might Be Giants, lead character commenting on Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes in his great classic Don Quixote celebrates the individual, and the unique vision that can see beyond the limitations of this material world.

We get the phrase “tilting at windmills” (pointlessly assailing imagined foes) from the scene where Don Quixote – an elderly gentleman who believes he has become a knight – mistakes certain windmills for giants.

On the page, this is laudatory.  We are elevated by the call to idealism.  But in practice – especially where love and romance are concerned – this approach has serious flaws.  In fact, it can be downright dangerous for abuse victims.

Fixing Mr. Right

We meet someone.  We like his appearance or his sense of humor [1].  Whatever the attraction, whether he is a loner or the center of attention, we find ourselves drawn to him.  At long last, we have found Mr. Right.

We may, on some level, notice in the early stages of romance that there are problems in store.  But we dismiss those.  So he drinks a little.  OK, more than a little.  We tell ourselves he has his reasons.  We are sure we can “fix” him.

In reality, the problems may be precisely what we find appealing.  Reminiscent of problems in our family of origin, they feel “familiar” – as if we had met this man before.  We convince ourselves that fate has selected him for us.

We determine to defend him against the world.

If Only

What women often see in their beloved is the man he might be.  We fall so deeply in love with that man the thought of leaving him, of abandoning our dreams (especially dreams in which we have invested precious years of our lives), is unbearable. Continue reading

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Full and Satisfying

Tree decorated for Valentine’s Day, San Diego, CA, Source/Author Johntex (GNU Free Documentation License/CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, CC BY 2.5 Generic)

Can the victims of abuse ever lead full and satisfying lives? That depends, to a large extent, on how we define “full and satisfying”.

There is no question that abuse can kill. Those of us who survive may be left with lifelong physical and emotional scars. Abuse can leave victims struggling with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Abuse can turn sex into a weapon, in the desperate search for love. Abuse can lead to self-medication, with drugs or alcohol.

But that is not the whole story. Not by a long shot.

“…even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph.”

– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning described his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp. He concluded that human beings strive for purpose, and that – whatever our circumstances – we have the ability to give life meaning through love, work, and suffering.

At first glance, that may not make sense. Oh, most of us would agree that life can be given meaning by romantic love, perhaps brotherly love. After some thought, we might be persuaded that life can be given meaning by work – even tedious or menial work, if done to support the ones we love.

Yet suffering? Not such a stretch as it might seem. We recognize the concept of sacrifice in a noble cause (love of God, love of country, etc.), and sacrifice for the sake of a beloved. Mothers who have lost a child will understand that their grief is, in part, a testament to that child.

How does this relate to abuse victims? Well, we have certainly suffered. That our suffering was not to any purpose makes it all the more cruel. We were innocent victims. Blameless.

And that is the place to start… Continue reading

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