This is the most commonly misunderstood truth about abusive relationships:

They are usually incredibly good in the beginning.

Abuse nearly always starts with love-bombing.

Anyone can become abusive, because abusiveness is a mindset, not a character trait. The abusive mindset categorizes people as either all-good or all-bad. No in-between. This mindset makes it impossible to respect or admire a person while angry, disappointed or frustrated.

Seeing everyone (including themselves) as all-good or all-bad also makes it easy for the abuser to love-bomb. They usually really believe it. Then, when the object of “love” dares to win an argument or say no, the abuser becomes angered. Unable to see people as anything other than all-good or all-bad, the abuser now sees the love object as all-bad. In other words, the abuser flips, or “splits”.

The abuser cannot take any responsibility or accept any blame for anything in the relationship, because then they would be in their own “all-bad” category. So everything has to be the love object’s fault. Blaming the object (who may also be abusive, may be a victim, or may be neither) then fuels resentment, which escalates the abuse.

This is why:

  1. The person who comes to you angrily claiming to be a victim is actually an abuser.
  2. Actual victims make excuses for their abusers and bend over backwards to understand their perspective. They remember how the love-bombing felt, and emotionally they still want to take the side of the person who made them feel so good.
  3. If you notice yourself “splitting” a lot, going back and forth between admiring and despising people, you are probably being abusive.
  4. The best warning signs that someone else is abusive are blame, resentment, and a habit of turning on people suddenly and completely. (And then sometimes turning back.)
  5. Any attempt to harm, offend or criticize the abuser will usually make the victim more likely to defend the abuser and blame themselves, because now the abuser really is being victimized!

So yeah, stop blaming the survivors of abuse by asking stupid questions like, “why did she stay?” But on top of that, if you actually care about the survivors, stop blaming the abusers too. And quit with the ridiculous memes about knocking out abusive boyfriends. If you want to get a woman killed, knock out her abusive boyfriend. Abusers are masters at pretending to be the victim. If you turn abusers into actual victims by beating them up, they will use that to further control the real victims.

Finally, if you actually care about the survivors of abuse, stop teaching them to be abusive by identifying as victims. Their lives will not improve if they try to be as toxic as the person who harmed them.