Why do smart women date abusive men? I was asked this question countless times as I found myself stuck in an abusive relationship that began to spiral even more out of control. He didn't seem abusive in the beginning, but the longer we were together, the more his abusive behavior began to seep out. It started off with frigidity and verbal abuse but it soon became evident that the man I was dating was very spiteful and would go for the jugular in the most minor of disagreements. Even after all these warning signs, I still didn't believe anyone when they told me that one day it would escalate to physical violence. I will never forget that day, the day I almost became a statistic -- another homicide victim resulting from domestic abuse.
Certain family members continuously asked me why someone like myself, a person with a seemingly high IQ, would allow themselves to be treated this way? How could a smart person end up in this situation? Every time I was asked this question, I cringed. The inference that I was stupid or ignorant because of my poor relationship choices did not help make my already out-of-control situation any better.
Anyone who is familiar with the dynamics of an abusive relationship knows that falling prey to one has nothing to do with a person's intelligence or even their socio-economic status; rather their vulnerability.
Vulnerability leaves a person wide open to falling prey to an abuser. When I fell prey to my abuser, I was at a very mentally and emotionally weakened state because of all things I'd been through. In addition, I had just been dumped by a guy after confiding in him that I'd been raped. I had never felt lower. This vulnerability allowed for easy manipulation and I was inevitably sucked into a relationship by a man who made himself out to be my Knight in Shining Armor. In retrospect, there were many things I could've done differently to prevent this situation.
Four Tips and Warning Signs to Help You Avoid an Abusive Relationship
1. When You Are Vulnerable, Dating Is a Bad Idea Period. In war, soldiers must fortify their base before carrying out any other tasks. You too must "fortify your base" if you are feeling vulnerable. Until you have secured your base and found healthy emotional ground, it is not a good idea to date.
2. Always Follow Your Gut With the aforementioned man, I had a hunch that his kind gestures in the beginning were just an act and that he might really be a psychopath. At the time, I thought this was such a ridiculous assumption that I blew it off. He had done nothing up to that point in time to prove my hunch correct; little did I know that one day I would be shocked by the accuracy of my gut instinct.
3. Don't Be Vulnerable I cannot stress enough that you should not bother to date if you are vulnerable. A lot of people will ignore this suggestion because when you are vulnerable you often become needy and want to find another person to fill this void. Very bad idea.
4. Depend on Yourself The only person you can truly depend on is yourself. You must cultivate this self-assurance and independence to avoid falling prey to abusive relationships in the future. No one else can save you. If you end up in one of these rescue types of relationships, where a white knight proclaims to take all your tears away, brace yourself. Often when we allow these types of people in our lives, we give away our power without ever realizing it.
Falling prey to an abuser has nothing to do with a person's intelligence. Do not let anyone make you feel stupid for ending up in an abusive situation. Vulnerability and self-esteem issues that often stem from childhood are common reasons people fall into these relationships. Even after leaving an abusive relationship, until you are able to understand more about your own weaknesses and fortify your base, you might still fall prey to abusers. Counseling is one indispensable tool that can help you build your self-worth and cultivate ways to avoid falling prey to abusive relationships and unhealthy friendships in your future.
If you or someone you know is trapped in an abusive relationship and needs help, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is open 24-hours a day.