One of the most common phrases I hear from women who are staying with their abuser is, “I Love Him.” Well, that may sound all Cinderella and lovely, but it’s a very misleading and dangerous statement. You see, the idea of love is extremely powerful. When we believe we love someone, we will stop at nothing to make sure they’re happy, healthy, content, and peaceful. We will serve their every need selflessly. And being the nurturer’s we are, we often put our personal wellbeing and needs on the side burner while we tend to our loved ones.
Your abuser has taken the time to make you rely on him for everything. You are dependent and needy. He has shattered your self-worth, self-esteem, and any other part of you that he wanted to break. That’s how they get complete control of you. It’s not love you feel for your abuser, it’s dependence. Pure and simple. He has worked very hard to make you dependent.
Your heart races when you think about leaving because you’re scared. What lies on the other side? How will you support yourself? Where will you live? What will others think about you? Questions, questions, and more questions, and none of them seem to have an answer. So it’s easier to stay and say, “But I love him.”
Deep down you know that’s not true, but it’s easy. It’s simple. It solves your immediate needs. You feel comforted. You feel you can put up with his violent, destructive outbursts because you love him. You tell yourself, the outbursts are the worse, in the for better or worse part of your vows. And true love heals and mends so you stay to fix him, to heal him. Completely disregarding your needs and ignoring how lonely and unloved you truly feel.
I vividly remember believing with all my heart that I was in love with my abuser. I truly believed that if I stayed and nurtured his good side, we would survive and our marriage and love would prevail. The truth is that no matter how hard I worked to convince him he loved me and wanted me, it would never happen, simply because he was an abusive narcissist incapable of loving me or anyone else.
Abuse is not love, no matter what your abuser claims. Remember, you are not responsible for your abuser’s actions. You did not make him that way, and you cannot change him.
Breaking free from your abuser is the best thing you can do. Learn more in my groundbreaking book, Courage and Grace, From Broken to Blissful, the Journey of Building Joy During Your Recovery from Abuse