Why Women Return to Their Abusers
It’s not uncommon for abused women to return over and over again to the men who abused them. This obviously begs the question, “Why?” Another common question is why do women repeatedly enter abusive relationships with different men?
These questions are on a lot of people’s minds this weekend after reports that 21-year-old hip-hop superstar Rihanna is considering reconciling with Chris Brown, 19, who allegedly assaulted Rihanna on February 8. Reports of a reconciliation were released by People Magazine and Us Magazine on February 28.
A lot of the activity on various blogs is critical of Rihanna’s decision. I think a lot of people are wondering why a beautiful, intelligent and successful woman would return to an allegedly abusive relationship.
There are several possible explanations for why a woman does this:
1) Many women, whether in an abusive relationship or not, believe their man will change.
As one woman wrote on WikiAnswers.com, “We, as women cannot control the type of men we love, and we sometimes make the wrong choices, and sometimes we don’t even realize it until its almost too late. However, we love them so we tell ourselves that they may change eventually, and keep making up excuses for them.”
What we’ve found is that men won’t change unless they are either moving toward something that feels good- like a renewed sense of purpose for example – or moving away from something that occurs as a huge loss. Men prefer a steady state, so they won’t typically change just because women want them to, hope they will or tell them to.
2) A key concern for all women is safety in a variety of forms. They want to know the bills are paid, they have a roof over their head and the kids are taken care of. Sometimes these concerns outweigh a woman’s personal desire for her own physical safety. She will return to a relationship where financial needs are met even if that means sacrificing her physical well-being. Obviously, Rihanna has no financial challenges, which further begs the question as to what else she might see in reconciling with Chris Brown.
3) Women typically get into, and stay in relationships with men they know how to “operate”. In other words, they hook up with a type of man whose way of being or lifestyle they are familiar with. This familiarity is born of her experiences with men in her past, whether it be her father or other male influences. This can go both ways. Women treated well by men seek men who treat them well because these women are comfortable in that situation. Conversely, when women get into abusive relationships, often it is because they are familiar with that abusive lifestyle or environment. Seldomly is this a conscious decision. This can also explain why women return to an abusive relationship – “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”.
What do you think? Do you have any thoughts or experiences you want to share? Please comment below.