In honor of Christmas and the need for both Martha and I to have a less stressful week, I thought I would repeat a blog I did several years ago about a person’s vulnerability to being a repeat victim in abusive relationships.
Please do not take this to mean that you cause someone to abuse you. That is not true. If not you, it would be someone else. However, when you have any or several of these following traits, abusive people find it easier to take advantage of you and you may be victimized more often.
Question: Is there a prototype of person who is more likely to accept abusive treatment in relationships? My guess is that It’s someone with damaged self-esteem.
Answer: Many women wonder if there is something about them that attracts abusers, especially when they have experienced multiple abusive relationships. For a number of reasons, some women (and men) may be more vulnerable to predators. One reason you mentioned in your question is that they don’t value themselves or don’t think they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, which is definitely an issue with damaged self-esteem.
But another reason a woman may be more vulnerable to being abused is that she is too naive and/or too nice. She has not been taught by her mother or father to “bare her teeth” when she is in relationship danger. Instead, she learns to ignore the warning signs, to pretend everything is fine, to make nice, to be accommodating to her own peril, and to go the extra mile.
While being accommodating and kind are fine qualities, a girl must also be taught how and when it’s time to speak up, set boundaries, say no, and walk away from a relationship that is disrespectful and dishonoring to her before it ever becomes abusive.
When a woman does not know how to protect herself against a predator, or she’s taught it’s ungodly or unfeminine, she is far more vulnerable to being manipulated, intimidated and abused.
Thirteen Traits That Make You a Magnet for Abusers (tweet that)
In my counseling and coaching work, I’ve observed 13 traits people possess that make them potentially more vulnerable to being abused. Having any one of these traits or all of them does not make the abuse you experience your fault, but in your naiveté and/or unhealthiness, you do become a magnet that attracts abusive people.
These traits are not in any specific order nor do you have to have all of them to make you more vulnerable. Just having one of them can make you more susceptible to abuse and put you in an unhealthy or dangerous place in your relationships.
- When you initially become attracted to someone, you don’t look for good character qualities (such as honesty, faithfulness, diligence, and responsibility) but easily get swept away by charm (such as a great smile, a lot of money, the way he kisses you, his flattering words).
- You frequently ignore your gut instincts that something isn’t right. Instead you rationalize, minimize, or tell yourself you are imagining things or overreacting.
- You believe you don’t deserve a better relationship, therefore, you settle for what you can get and what he gives you, even if it’s hurtful and abusive. You believe that having someone is better than having than having no one.
- You fall for smooth words and fast-talk over looking at the hard facts and his or her past behaviors.
- You feel empty without a man (or woman) in your life.
- You have a hard time sticking up for yourself in assertive ways. When you get frustrated you may try, but in your anger you may sound overly aggressive. Then you feel guilty and revert back to your passive accommodating ways.
- You typically over-function and/or under-function in your relationships. You feel all the responsibility to repair what is wrong and take all the blame. You tend to not think for yourself or make your own decisions. You allow yourself to be controlled.
- You perpetually avoid conflict and feel bad or guilty saying no to people.
- You cling to fantasy story lines and love myths such as if you love someone enough he/she will change, and God will make everything work out in the end.
- You have few or no boundaries or you allow others to violate your boundaries with no consequences.
- You accept unacceptable behavior from others and blame yourself for what he does or says.
- You do things for the other person that are against your own values and better judgment (like co-sign a loan, let him sleep over when you barely know him, lie for him).
- You make excuses for abusive behavior or minimize and rationalize it. (He’s tired, he had an abusive father, he’s depressed, he’s had a hard day, he has poor self-esteem).
If you recognize yourself as having any of these thirteen traits and are tired of being an abuse magnet, NOW IS THE TIME to make some changes.
If you recognize that you need help to stop these patterns, check out my 6-month coaching class Empowered to Change starting in January
Friend, have you recognized yourself in any of these 13 traits? What steps are you going to take in 2016 to get healthier?