5 reasons why childhood trauma can make you more vulnerable to abuse in adulthood

woman in abusive relationship

you make a little outing and you see love is everywhere. Couples enjoy all the benefits of their relationship. Others, on the other hand, are decidedly not happy at all. These people are victims of abusive relationships.

Abusive relationships can be hurtful in many ways: physically, emotionally, sexually or financially. The abuser is often contemptuous, confusing, intimidating or distant.

People suffering from this type of relationship feel devalued and humiliated, stupid, laid, useless and unworthy of happiness. The abuser may even create a sense of incompetence, inability to take care of themselves or employment in the victim.

The aggressors are in systematic control and criticism. They sometimes manage to alienate their spouse from their usual circle but also from anyone who may recognize the signs of abuse. They destroy their spouse’s insurance and convince him or her that he or she will not be able to survive without them. They may threaten to attack him or her if he or she raises the possibility of a breakup.

Previous traumas cause some to become victims of abuse in adulthood.

A romantic relationship must bring happiness to both spouses. It must bring out the best in everyone and provide a sense of self-esteem. This relationship should be mostly enjoyable and rewarding, although it can sometimes be unpleasant and stressful. An abusive relationship has the opposite effect.

Why do we engage in a relationship that becomes abusive? Five reasons come up frequently. They all have in common and as their point of origin a childhood-related trauma.

A child who has been exposed to abuse, serious neglect, or both, will develop psychological attitudes, expectations, thoughts and defences that will make them more vulnerable to abuse in adulthood. He does not do it consciously and it is his previous traumas that program him to do so.

Here are five reasons why someone can engage in an abusive relationship:

The feeling of not meriting a healthy relationship

A child exposed to abuse experiences this bullying personally. Children think that if they are abused, they deserve it. This convinces them that they are “bad” and that they deserve the same fate as adults.

Expect the worst because it’s a familiar feeling

Childhood abuse is becoming the norm. An abused child grows up with the idea that everyone will treat him this way. In his mind, it is in the order of things. When an abusive person crosses his path, he thinks that all romantic relationships resemble his own anyway.

The repetition compulsion

Some victims of child abuse have a strong need for healing, which they are not aware of. They are constantly attracted to people who remind them of their abusive parents, and compulsively try to make them loving and caring. The underlying desire is to rewrite the end of their story and heal themselves. Unfortunately, this never works because they stay in this relationship in the hope of a change that will not happen.

It is important to note that when a person engages in an abusive relationship, he or she cannot be held responsible.

Blind spot bias towards abusive people

Many people who have suffered child abuse find it difficult to see the truth about their parents. The image of cruel or careless parents, when they are supposed to be loving and protective, is too difficult to accept. The reality about Mom and Dad is hard to admit as an adult. But this denial unfortunately tends to spread to everyone around them as adults. These adults are unable to identify the abusive nature of their spouse, regardless of the severity of the abuse.

Being conditioned to become a prey

Victims of childhood trauma tend to carry emotional wounds that make it easier for them to be abused. They suffer from a lack of trust, and “acquired futility”, as a result of their inability to prevent child abuse. Predators perceive them as easy prey and take advantage of their vulnerability.

It is important to note that when a person engages in an abusive relationship, he or she cannot be held responsible. This has nothing to do with lack of intelligence, madness or masochism. Childhood injuries have led to abuse in his adult relationships. It is not a conscious or voluntary choice.

Hoping that when victims of abusive relationships understand that they are in a abusive relationship, they will recognize the trauma that has guided their behaviour and will seek to get out of it.

Once the likely source of these self-destructive choices is identified, relatives may be more present, including contributing to the search for relevant therapeutic solutions.

We must stop criticizing and holding victims accountable. We need to be more understanding of them and help them find the emotional calm that will allow them to better understand their love life, in order to move forward.

This blog, originally published on the Canadian HuffPost, was translated by Tessa Christie for Fast For Word

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