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awomanscorned's avatar

How do you convince a woman to snap out of that "battered woman" mentality?

Asked by awomanscorned (11261points) January 17th, 2011 from iPhone

My cousin was married, had a baby, and divorced. About 7 years ago she started dating this guy and he was verbally abusive to her for the whole 6 years they dated. Screaming at her, cursing at her, callin her names, and she stuck with him. She moved across the country and now lives near me. She met a new man and he treated her like a princess, very sweet and gentle and they started talking about their future together. All of the sudden, she dumps him and decides she’s going back to her “bad boy” in California. Everyone has tried to talk sense into her. Her parents, her brother, her twin sister and her husband. No one knows what to say to her. She also has a 13 year old daughter and I’d hate for her to be around such a douche.

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21 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

You can’t. She needs to recognize, first, that she’s stuck in a “victim” role, then get professional help. The “victim” mentality gets her a lot of attention (albeit negative) and she simply doesn’t recognize that positive attention is available to her. This goes way deeper than simple information.

marinelife's avatar

You can’t. Unless you can talk her into seeing a therapist.

You can remind her of what he was like, but that is all you can do.

zenvelo's avatar

If you think the child is in danger (13 is still a child), call the local Child and Family Services. That should include physical AND emotional abuse. The child is the powerless person in this mess, and needs to be protected.

Then it needs to be communicated that you will help her leave him, but not listen to her complain about the situation. And the rest of the family needs to let her know you are all available to help her separate or help with kids, but not help her stay in the situation.

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Pandora's avatar

Problem is most of the time people like her think that one she isn’t worthy of care and two that they are the only one who understands the situation, and three that they are the only one at risk.
Point out to her that her main priority at this point should be her child. She needs to stop being selfish. He will learn to treat women the way he is being shown. Since she has no regard for her own welfare he will learn to think that all women are worthless, her included. He will hate and resent her for choosing to be with a loser bastard than look out for his care.
She made him. He did not request to be born. He is her full responsibility.
If she insist on going back than ask her to leave the child with another family member where he can be raised in a loving enviroment. She owes the boy that much.
Ask her to take a good long look at what is it this loser gives her. Does he care about her needs? Is he always gentle, or thoughful? Does he encourage her in her dreams?
Does she really think her respects her? You can’t love someone you don’t respect. So he will never love her. Tell her that one day he will more than likely kill her in a rage and maybe even her son as well and that if the boy should ever get hurt you will never forgive her for harming an innocent child. That she will be as more worthless than her boyfriend because it was her job to ensure his safety. Of course none of these things will change her mind. Don’t look to get into a conversation over it, but rather point it out and just plant the seeds of doubt in her mind.
I was able to convince a woman once to leave her abusive husband but it was by accident.
Her son was two and I told her that one day that man she loved and took abuse from would someday hurt their two year old and hit him with his large hands. One hit from that guy (6’ 4”) and he could kill him. I told her, her son was too young to understand mom getting hurt and will try to get between them when she is being harmed.
I told her that women who wouldn’t protect their children disgusted me.
Sure enough she went back to him and a week later he hit the boy across a room with one hit.
She packed her bags and left and went home.
I didn’t find out till a year later that she told my neighbor that she had thought about what I said and when she saw it happened she decided she was being selfish by staying and a lousy mom.
She said she needed to be reminded that being a mom came first before any man.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, nothing you can ‘do.’ People either wake up to their stuff or they don’t. It’s that simple.

All you can do is let her know that you do not support her bad choice and that you don’t want to hear about it when things go wrong again.

The best thing you can do is free her to her own destiny.

Many, many women, ( and men ) are stuck in a state of arrested development, seeking to recreate their painful, yet familiar, pasts in the present moment.

They continue to choose bad situations to recreate their unresolved past wounds.

Nice guys = boring, bad guys = excitement and pain. It’s all about trying to gain the love of an unavailable, abusive or rejecting parent in their past and low self esteem.

Until they make this connection the cycle will keep playing itself out over & over again.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Good luck w’dat. It’s analogus to alcoholism in its hold on people. They have to want very badly to escape from the addiction.

blueiiznh's avatar

Sadly this is her battle and hopefully will get help when she admits to herself it is an issue for her and her daughter.
Most times, it came from the family or origin experiences and she is the only one that can stop the cycle. You are correct that she is also teaching her own daughter that this is what relationships are about and sadly will follow the pattern.
The only thought of what might be able to have her see this and act on it would be to hear the impact directly from her own daughter. Sadly however, her own daughter thinks this is the norm and accepts it as such.
I hope the cycle stops somehow.

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BarnacleBill's avatar

Nothing you can do about this. I have a friend who’s a respected female attorney, well- educated, does volunteer work with women’s organizations. She is choosing a relationship with a man that she had to get a restraining order against over one with her daughters. She has lost the respect of her children, her children’s friends, and most of her female friends, who don’t want to hear about this guy. She keeps hoping he will move out of town, and the relationship will end. She won’t go to counseling.

Kardamom's avatar

We actually had a similar problem with one of my cousins. She was married to this manipulative douche-bag (they produced 2 kids) He was a compulsive liar who convinced my cousin to move out of state with him and the kids after we all found out that he had lied about being in the military (he didn’t join the military, he actually went to Las Vegas for 2 weeks and then claimed he was released as a 4-F, none of which was true) and he wouldn’t let her use the phone or drive a car or take a job. When she first got pregnant, they were not married. We told her that she didn’t have to marry him and that we would support her if she chose to leave him. She didn’t, got married and had another child. The situation got much worse.

Our family finally organized an intervention and she reluctantly made the decision to break free from him. This was about 15 years ago. If you try this method, it would be best done with a real therapist leading the event. If the dude is potentially violent (luckily my cousin’s husband didn’t seem to exhibit violence, although he was an extreme control freak) then you should also have someone in law enforcement with your intervention group. You need to have all of the friends and relatives on board ahead of time, in agreement as to what will happen and there needs to be a concrete plan set in place before any of this happens. You might consider talking to one of the domestic abuse hotlines for advice before planning anything like this. Also, make sure of the legal ramifications, especially if there are kids involved, a marriage or shared property. But it can work (there is just no guarantee).

Good luck and be safe.

mindful's avatar

Was there ever a time when the abusive husband wasn’t abusive and she and him had an enjoyable relationship? If ever, then maybe she is trying to get that back?

Just trying to find a new angle to the reasoning part of the problem.

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josie's avatar

She likes it. Otherwise why would she go back?

Coloma's avatar


She doesn’t KNOW she ‘likes it’, it’s all unconscious stuff.

Wanting consciousness is what needs to happen.

You can’t like something that you are unconscious of, it’s rote, devoid of presence.

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mindful's avatar


I am interested in the answers of the following questions.
Questions for her
1) What does she like about this guy?
2) What are her future plans with him?
3) Where does she want this relationship to go?
4) Is she okay if her boyfriend has negative effects on her child?

then seperatly the same question asked to her boy-friend.

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Coloma's avatar

Oh God…classic young woman stuff. Change him?
R.I.P. Not! haha

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YARNLADY's avatar

None of us can control the feelings/behavior of others. The snap out of it has to come from a conscious decision on her part. Your job is to be there for her, listen, be sympathetic and understanding, not judgmental.

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