Dr. Turndorf,I really need your help. I’ve been in a relationship with a woman for almost a year now who has been in abusive relationship (physical/ emotional) in the past.I really love her and want this relationship to work out. She has a child with one of the abusers. She doesn’t quite know how to pull away from him. He’s using the child as the bait to continue his control.I did some research for her in the past and she recognized the symptoms/patterns. She changes her ways after recognizing the problem but shortly goes back to her old self again and puts up with the abuse.Please, help. . . I just don’t know what to do anymore. How can I help her out without her being defensive? Please help I don’t know what to do.
I’m afraid that your girlfriend is locked in what’s called a repetition compulsion.As I explain in my Advice Archives, we are all drawn to recreate the traumas we suffered in childhood, partly because we’re creatures of habit and familiar pain is preferable to the unknown, and partly because we’re hoping to finally obtain a healing of the early wound. Your girlfriend keeps returning to an abusive ex hoping because she’s hoping to get something from him that she didn’t get from her parents.If she can manage to get him to give that something to her then she will feel as though she finally succeeded in getting what she needed from her parents. Unfortunately, she has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a healing from her ex because he’s as incapable of giving to her as her parents were. But she keeps trying because she desperately hopes to heal.No amount of behavioral tricks will ever help her, as you now realize, since the emotional wound that needs healing will always drive to try again and again and she will always go back for more. You may be thinking that this sounds hopeless. It’s not.In order to break free of the pattern with her ex, she needs to uncover the emotional source or ‘core’ of the problem and heal that. Encourage her to do my Personality Profile, which contains over 100 questions that will pinpoint the origin of her early wound and then give her guidance on how to heal it.I would also encourage her to read the articles in my Advice Archives which talk about unfinished childhood business, early wounds, and the repetition compulsion. To break free of an abusive ex, she must heal her early wound.I understand how frustrated and helpless you feel. Nobody can do the healing for her. I know if you could you would.Let me know how you make out with her.