He Said He Loved Me: the Psychology Behind Intimate Partner Violence

Understanding the motives and actions of an abuser is often difficult and confusing for a  victim to comprehend. How could he say he loved me, share a roof with me, and children with me yet hate me so much? Many women and men find themselves pondering this question because even when the relationship ends there are a multitude of questions left unanswered.

When I was a teenager I went out with a guy who was the classic abusive boyfriend in every way. He tried to dictate who I spent my time with, didn’t like any of my friends or family, and tried to isolate me from them. Although he didn’t want me to be around any of them it seemed that he didn’t want to be around me either.

Ten years later I met up with him again. Enough time had passed for me to start to see the relationship in a different light. I thought mainly of the good times and romanticized the whole thing. And somewhere along those daydreams I started to believe that he really had loved me.

So we started communicating again and one night we met up. That night he tried to sleep with me. I politely declined. The next day after exchanging a text or two I never heard from him again. I was devastated. How could he have no feelings for me? How could he have said he loved me, then years later not even like me? He wasn’t even considerate enough to answer my last text message.

When I realized he had cut me off and that I was never going to hear from him again it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. It was soon after that that I had the realization that he never loved me. He hadn’t even liked me.

The more I thought about it the more it disturbed me. During our relationship my whole life revolved around him. He made it that way. He didn’t want me to see my friends, especially of the male variety. He hated my family and made it difficult and stressful for me to interact with them. I missed both school and work because of the emotional roller-coaster he put me on and became extremely unreliable.

He separated and isolated me from everyone I knew until he had me completely to himself and even then he didn’t want me. He wanted me to have nothing. Once he accomplished that rather then spend time with me he went out with his friends and other women. Not only did he not want anything to do with me, but he even pitted me against myself saying that I was fat and ugly, knowing I would believe him.

Looking back on it now I realize that what he wanted was to destroy me. This is exactly what abusers do. They destroy. Domestic violence starts out small, but then it escalates. It does not only escalate to physical violence but often murder as 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victim are killed by romantic partners. But what causes abusers to do this?

Abusers set out to destroy their victims; people they loath from the very beginning yet can’t live without. Abusers loath their victims because they need them. They loath their victims because they hate themselves. Abusers take this deep-rooted self-hatred out on their significant other because the significant other disgusts the abuser. Why?

The significant other or victim disgusts the abuser because the abuser cannot deal with the fact that somebody likes him or her! Each day the abuser becomes increasingly frustrated and resentful of their girlfriend or boyfriend because this person loves them enough to continue to stick around despite the poor treatment. And the longer the victim stays the more the abuser hates them. Of course, they are not bad all the time. There is the classic cycle of abuse at play here in which the abuser is kind, generous and charming to the victim after a period of turmoil and violence. It is this glimpse of the abusers good side that perpetually solidifies the bond and keeps the victim not only confused, but coming back for more time and time again.

Years later I still struggle to understand what happened. Maybe I will never know. Can you relate to my experience? Were you ever caught up in the cycle of an abusive relationship? How did you get out and how did you move past it? Please share your experience and advice in the comments section.


Filed under Domestic Violence, relationships

5 Responses to He Said He Loved Me: the Psychology Behind Intimate Partner Violence

  1. My first husband was like that and for 5 years I was a captive. When he finally left it was like someone had lifted a great weight from my shoulders.
    These people are poison . Move on

  2. Jeanette

    I hope that knowing the signs will help prevent you from getting involved with another abuser.

  3. Paul Roese

    good point in the book and movie.

  4. Paul Roese

    just in case i am referencing the quote; “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.” p.27 in “the Perks of Being a Wallflower“

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