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The victim, essentially without fail, still loves the abuser. Often hates them too, but those go together in many relationships. So when you talk to the victim, you have to acknowledge the love and value it even if you don't understand it.

True. (Or at least they love the idealized partner they've created in their mind, that they think the abuser can be when he tries.) It's nearly impossible to reach the victim by simply pointing out that you hate the abuser. That just triggers defense mechanisms.

To do that, you have to understand that the abuser lives with extreme amounts of guilt and self-hatred for the things they do. The only way to stop the suffering of the abuser (yes, they are suffering -- I'm not saying they suffer as much, only that they do suffer) is to stop the abuse. Victims will often take a stand to protect their kids and their abusers when they will not protect themselves. It has to do with our biological reactions to sabre-tooth tigers, apparently...

So if you can't convince the victim to protect himself or herself, sometimes you can work with them through love, to protect the abuser from further abuse that worsens the self-hatred and guilt. It is a terrible and frightening journey for everyone involved. But sometimes it actually works.

That's a pretty delicate dance. You need to be careful not to reinforce the abusers assertion that the victim is responsible for being abused. Or that if they would just be a better person, the abuser wouldn't have to hit them.

The abuser has hard-wired (I should probably say firm-wired, as they can be changed) neural connections between feelings of humiliation/hurt/disappointment straight to violent change.

That. xDH was terribly insecure. He's with someone else now and they're both very happy. And I'm fairly certain he isn't abusive. People can change. But generally the victim can't cause that change, and they need to know that. That's the hardest thing to accept, as the victim: You can't change it. You can't fix it. You aren't responsible for it.

That's awesome that you've studied it. I wish, being both familiar with the situation from the inside *and* very interested in psychology, that I could understand the victim mindset well enough to know how to reach another victim in a language they'd understand. I wish I could help others to walk away faster than I did. Instead all I can do is acknowledge that this is yet another situation I can't fix. But that is, in itself, a big step for me.

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