Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why Abuse Survivors are Targetted by the Wrong Sort of People

Why Abuse Survivors are Targetted by The Wrong Sort of People

Predators Hunt the Wounded

An abuse survivor e-mailed me saying how she seemed to attract men who want to exploit her. On the other hand, good people seem to run from her. Tragically, this is the common experience of abuse survivors. I have always puzzled as to why this is. She sent me a couple of photos of herself. Then something clicked. I was a little gentler, but here is the essence of my e-mail to her:

Your photos, though nice, give the impression that you are sad, shy, lacking in confidence and aching for love. An evil man might look at those photos and think to himself, “Her need for love and for a boost in self-esteem seem so overwhelming that if I let her think that I could meet these needs, she would be so scared of losing me that she would find it hard to resist the urge to do anything I want. If I initially treat her tenderly and kindly and flatter her, I’ll have a good chance of turning her into virtually my slave. I could then treat her however I wish.”

If, on the other hand, a man saw you as happy, confident and relatively content, he’d assume you are quite choosy as to who you relate to and how far you would go. He’d assume you have none of the desperation that pressures some women to compromise their morals to get the love they crave.

Not only could this be a factor in men with evil intent being attracted to you, it could cause good men (or good women) to feel tempted to try to get their way with you. Because they are honorable, they might run for fear that if they stayed close to you they might yield to that temptation.

Regardless of how resistant to sexual pressure she really is, a person with low self-esteem and who craves love gives the impression that she is vulnerable to seduction. Upon finding such a person, immoral men feel emboldened to test their suspicion that they have found someone they could seduce.

To resist sexual advances, a woman craving love and lacking in self-esteem needs far superior self-control to that of other women, if she perceives that she must yield to those advances in order to receive the love she desperately needs. Furthermore, an abuse survivor is strongly tempted to accept the lie that because she has been mistreated before, she has little purity left to protect. This lie is yet another burden weighing down abuse survivors.

Moreover, in addition to these strong pressures, she will find resisting an evil man much harder than other women find it because she has a history of having done everything possible to resist and she was still overpowered. Her past tragedies cause her to lose hope that she could ever successfully prevent a man from exploiting her. She feels sure that any attempt to resist would be a futile waste of effort. Sexual predators know this, so they are on the look out for abuse survivors.

A tragically large number of abuse survivors have mistakenly thought that perhaps they have low morals or are evil or that God is against them, since that they seem to attract sexual predators. This is most certainly not so. The thought is so obviously incorrect that, theoretically, there should be no need to deny it. Sadly, it needs to be spelt out because sexual offenders are skilled at cruelly manipulating tender consciences, causing their victims to have a mistaken view of themselves. The truth is that abuse survivors tend to attract repeat offenses simply because they are hurting; and sexual predators, like beasts of prey, think the wounded might be an easier target.

If predators imagine they have a chance with you, it means nothing. Simply by refusing their advances, you can prove them wrong.

Knowing why the wrong sort of people might try to exploit you can be a relief. There is nothing wrong with you other than the simple fact that you are hurting. I am sure what you really want to know, however, is how to prevent this attention. It’s easy to say that self-esteem, confidence and feeling loved is the answer, but the difficulty is knowing how to grow in these things.

Grantley Morris:
We are NOT 'magnets' for abusers
They TARGET not just the vulnerable but those who's qualities are admired.  Strong, intelligent, well-spoken, self-aware, attractive, successful.  Then they take these people apart piece by piece.  And enjoy doing it.

Click here for a Facebook Group for Survivors

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shared by Barbara at 12:20 AM



I am troubled by the suggestion that people who have been abused "attract" abusers in any way. Abusers typically try to make the victim think it is their fault, and the experience of being victimized usually leads to shame which can be difficult to overcome. To suggest that a former victim "attracts" more abusers adds another layer of shame to someone already struggling and lowers, rather than increases, self-confidence.

The author seems to assume that the woman's assessment that she attracts abusers while good guys run is accurate. I'm not sure that is true. She may be having identical experiences that a woman who has not been abused has, but is explaining the phenomenom differently due to her victimization and these types of common attitudes.

There are a lot of men out there who are looking to exploit women. I think they typically cast a wide net and make overtures to large numbers of women. A woman who has not been abused would just write it off as "There's another jerk trolling for victims" and not take it personally.

A man who wants to exploit, only needs a vulnerable target. A man who wants a relationship will be more selective because he has more compatibility criteria. It may not be that the good guys "run", it may simply be that it wasn't a match for them.

Victims don't "attract" abusers. Abusers target potential victims. And they consider most of the female population their potential market.

4:15 PM  

I used to always attract guys who wanted to move in with me and have me support them because I am kind hearted, can pay all my bills, and live alone. They would keep jobs only long enough to date and win me over and then something would happen to that job once they moved in. Usually I only kept them for two months before kicking them out with restraining orders.

3:55 AM  

Patricia Gallegos -

You do NOT attract these losers; they TARGET the vulnerable.

1:13 AM  

I was abused mentally and physicaly growing up. My real father was never in the picture, and I think I have a classic case of "daddy issues". I am responsible, kind, and sincere. Unfortunately I must appear to have low self esteem, although most of the time I am happy with myself. Men that are interested in me always prove to be predators, preying on the weakness I have under this mask that I wear...I wish I knew how to cure myself of this terrible disposition.

7:44 PM  

I think it is the repetition compulsion. We repeat. We are drawn to what we know. That which is familiar to us, is comfortable to us. We are attracted to people who synch up with our own pathology. Abused people are more apt to repeat those same cycles of an abusive relationship, over and over. I think self-awareness can help, along with knowing your boundaries and rigidly enforcing them.

8:51 PM  

Thanks for your comments. It's a relief to know I'm not alone. :) I've done a lot of reading and research into this and ladies and guys (like myself) I hear what you say about it being a shame thing saying we are Sh*(*&t magnets. There is however a horrible biological truth to that. Any kind of abuse emotional, physical etc especially in early childhood affects how the emotional part of the brain develops. In other words our early attachments create quite a permanent emotional template that we then have to be very conscious of to avoid problem people. The truth is when we feel the emotion of attraction and desire for a person - for us it is often a BIG RED FLAG to go VERY SLOW and be very conscious of abuse (especially emotional abuse as this is how it starts), we have to know what it is and use the thinking parts of our mind to identify the behaviours - obviously without getting all paranoid. If we don't do that it's really creepy how they find us and we find them. One thing I found is that there are very few people in the world that I immediately find attractive, that is because my mind is unconsciously looking for something that compliments the messed up emotional mind and fortunately they are in the minority. It's hell creepy to see the patterns but once you see them you can't not see them. I've attracted and been attracted to some seriously disordered people personally and professionally most of my life - but NO MORE. The real loss for me is that having suffered abuse I now know for a fact that when it comes to choosing people to be with, Abused people CANNOT trust their attraction/love feelings and get all intuitive. We have to think it through rationally but I have found that being more conscious and aware, I'm getting better at it. It's quite a slow part of the healing and it has taken me quite sometime to accept that I really do have an emotional disability. I often feel very angry about it, as it's like being programmed for failure after having survived the ongoing abuse ordeal. Anger can be useful, it makes me more determined to overcome the past.

What I try not to forget, is that there are MANY great people in the world. We may not be attracted to them, but with some patience and time we come to love them in time. It is hard for people that haven't been abused to love us, so we also have to understand and by finding ourselves we make it easier for them to find us.

Thanks for your sharing and MORE POWER TO US

7:52 PM  

I also attract abusers. Somehow they find me and target me. I have been hit, tied up, drugged, held hostage, sexually abused and emotionally abused. They are always nice in the beginning and then after they think they've 'caught' me the abuse starts. I hadn't had a relationship in 12 years and when an old friend came back into my life I decided to give it another try. He gave me flowers, told me how beautiful I was and when he finally won me over that's when the bad treatment started. One night he thought I looked at him funny and he took all the dishes out of the cupboard and threw them on the floor and smashed them. He made a scene in a restaurant, threatening to leave me sitting there by myself because I asked him to have a glass of wine with me. (he said he didn't want to spend the six dollars). I knew he was off mentally but I didn't trust my intuition to leave. My dad had abused me emotionally and physically (but not sexually) so I know that the roots of my problems with men go back to my experience with him. He told me no man would ever want me, that I was ugly and stupid. My mother didn't help because she didn't want to lose the nice lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Yes I've seen therapists and I understand intellectually what he did to me but the hurt and damage from him and the other abusers remains. Finally I decided to stop dating for good. I devote my energy to helping animals and have placed many in loving homes.

12:59 PM  

I was emotionally abused by two narcissist parents and had a nervous breakdown at the age of 20.

It is not true that predators simply target women who look like pushovers. I have been targeted by both when I was very vulnerable but also later in life when I was pretty strong, successful and dynamic. In fact being this way, seemed to be a great challenge and fun for at least 2 predators.I have often wondered what's wrong with me. I don't think it's in what you seem to radiate, but in not picking up on the early signals, not early enough.

Predators aim to completely fool you pretending to be someone else, and then once they have you, the abuse starts. I thought myself a pretty suspicious person but clearly I wasn't enough.

Here is what i would do differently:
a. don't be too sympathic to guys who seem to want your sympathy for their tough breaks when you are first dating or barely know them-- it's a trick to reel you in

b. Back off completely if something doesn't feel right, sound right or make sense

c. Don't make excuses for them.

d. Three lies (small or large) and they're out

e. Don't trust big, romantic gestures, they're so often a con

If you've been abused in life, you have been trained to make excuses, to forgive and tolerate behaviour that doesn't make sense. And also to trust others, including abusers---rather than your own judgement. YOu keep on hearing people saying that theyc are about you, and then they harm you. So I think people who have been abused don't expect the behaviour of someone who cares, to match the words. They have been trained to think they are too sensitive or wrong to even want this.

5:53 AM  

I disagree with the concept that abused people don't attract abusers and that abusers simply target abused people. This kind of BS psycho babble absolves people (ladies) of any accountability for their choices which led to the circumstances they find themselves in.

I'm certain that abusers are attracted to those who would be abused. But that doesn't mean the abused has to imbibe of the abusers.

It's a symbiotic relationship. Can't have one without the other. To render the abused powerless by not being able to choose good mates, relegates them to a life time of slavery as a victim - always the target, never the captain of her own ship. Her "victimhood" is required to propagate institutions that make a fortune off of victims.

Instead of empowering people by saying, "These events occurred, a dispassionate object review of all the circumstances reveals factors which could have changed the outcome had you been empowered with the following skills..." That says to the mind; "hey, bad things happened, but we can do something about it so we are not only never in this situation again, but so that we thrive and reach the full measure of success our God given talent can achieve."

That message is a damn sight better than, "There are predators out there, and they can take you at will, and do with you as they choose, whenever they choose, because they are evil" Such a message makes the victim little more than a defenseless sheep in a den of wolves, absent any hope of salvation. We have washed our hands of her, and told her that she is bound to a lifetime of abuse unless people smarter than her can make her choices for her. That INFURIATES ME with righteous indignation! SHAME! To hell with these slave traders!

People at their best are powerful souls, not feeble weak slaves. All humanity is disposable otherwise. I am not willing to accept that.

Big G.,
Getting Minds Right
Empowering Humans
Producing National Champions
Getting kids to top colleges
and in general kicking ass since 1969

11:44 AM  

I agree with Big G. Perfect.

5:25 PM  

I found this page because I have realized that I have been attracting "users" for years. I was adopted by a family with an NPD mother, so I became used to seeking solace and soothement from someone who would almost by default take the other person's side despite not even knowing them.

I am going through a terrible time whereby the costs of having these users in my life has put me in a horrific financial situation. My remaining friends, I dont expect them to bail me out, but now that times are tough they wont even take a few hours out of their week to hang out with me. This has caused me to realize that my so called "friends" arent really friends at all.

I could go on and on but a prime example is my friend "J". I have bailed him out and given him a place to stay, smokes and food so often that I have what I call the "J program" whereby he cleans the kitchen bathroom and floors each day when he's staying with me for free.

Well I really just needed a friend and he was going downtown on transit and said he'd stop by on his way back in about an hour. A few hours passed and I called to follow up and he said well he had to go and buy saran wrap one station away from my house and if I wanted to hang out with him I could get on the train and come with him while he buys saran wrap. I mean who does that, it was absolutely insulting. I didnt want money food cigarettes alcohol in fact I had all of the above and was offering them to him I just wanted a friend to hang out because due to this debt I've been left with by helping all these people I'm behind on my rent so I come home to an outright hostile environment and for the same reason I cant really afford to go out either.

Then there's the other "friend" well call him CJ who I've known for almost 30 years. I helped him out because he wanted to move to my city. Out of 7 months living here he paid rent for 2 and a half months, stole my food, liquor, cigarettes and denied it every step of the way. Guy even drank my vanilla extract. He said he'd have money for rent just one more day one more day and kited me forever, eventually I told him to get out because I had to rent his room to someone who would pay. He didn't leave for five weeks. During this time he also managed to try to kiss two women that I was seeing and tried to screw up yet another relationship - all while living on basically my charity!

The ex girlfriend who was living here with a kid and all I asked her to do was pay the utilities and I'd cover everything else. Well she left me with thousands in unpaid bills nearly ten tons of junk in my garage I was a father to her daughter and she wont even give me the time of day to respond to a message. We broke up because after nearly 4 years I got fed up with the quarter million fruit flies and garbage all over the house and was demanding that she start picking up after herself and start cleaning the house (she didnt work either). Shortly after that conversation she just broke up with me and left.

I am tired of attracting all these users and last night I actually contemplated suicide for the first time in my life because I am feeling so lonely and let down. I'm OK now but the aftermath of realizing that I'm nearly six thousand dollars in debt and it's all messes left behind by other people, I'm left holding the bag and I barely even have a friend who will stop by just to hang out for a while.

12:20 PM  

I met a man who took me on an expensive holiday without hardly knowing me and told me I was a special girl. He wanted to get married on the third date and acted super nice. There were too many things to mention so I left him and became strong even after the abuse in the past I suffered. It's not easy to break the chain but possible. Your right about the fact we need much more self control than none abuse victims. After Ieft him I manipulated money off him. I'm not proud of it but I was skint and I could have done a lot worse believe me. We have to learn to trust ourselves and our own judgement and not ignore the red flags. He was good to me in a lot of ways but time grew me wise and I knew he would end up an abuser.

9:33 PM  

I also attract abusers. They claim to love me more than any other women from their past, yet neglect me and abuse me. I spent three years healing from a 13 year long marriage and was finally able to attract healthy men, but I couldn't feel safe enough to be physically attracted to them. They sensed my fear and all asked "What is wrong with you"? which confirmed my feeling of being defective and broken. I am now in another abusive marriage that worse than the last. It's the FAMILIARITY from my past that makes me think I'm safe with these men. Because of my childhood, control, mistrust, emotional neglect, and refusal to allow me to express displeasure is the norm. Whenever I stand up for myself and, have them arrested, and file for divorce, the physical abuse stops and they use the court system to fill me with fear threatening to take my children. I'm dealing with two right now in the state of SC (The state who has been at the top for killing their women). These men HATE that I have gained knowledge of their schemes. They HATE that they can not make me think I'm crazy. The husband I have now ....his first wife died of an overdose after years of abusing pills right after he told her he was taking custody of their boys. Oh how scary he is when makes those promises. And he has the nerve to say "maybe he could have HELPED her more" like he can be a hero.

11:45 AM  

I am a man and the number of psychopathic women who have passed my life even now is troubling to say the least. I think i have a kindness of some kind and so some wolves imagine i am fair game from morning to evening.

This is sadder than sad.

So this is not a woman thing. I think its a heart thing.

1:03 PM  

(I'm a man) but I seem to be attracted to girls who have been abused. Does that mean that I have a tendency to exploit women?... I'm very insecure myself though... Do I put off the vibe that I will abuse someone???... I'm terrified for my relationship right now

10:48 AM  

Hey Unknown :)
No I don't think you exploit Women or want to exploit them. Battered Women if in a healing process will try to find a kind emotional guy to be with. Let's face it it's the opposite to characteristics of their abuser. Let yourself to you. Never change who you are ;)

9:10 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:02 AM  

The 'losers' are also vulnerable and likely to have been abuse victims. Abuse tends to play out differently in male lives - t emotional and physical aspects of it more general bullying and less of a sexual nature - but they will be victims nevertheless. My view is that victims 'find' each other because they inhabit similar paths. And when I said 'they' I really mean anyone who has not had the fortune to see the dynamics and find opportunities to shift themselves towards positive interdependency with others, a struggle writ large for almost everyone across all our socio-economic relations

2:22 AM  

I would like to thank the author for this post. The paragraph about how sometimes we don't resist a new sexual predator because when we tried in the past we were overcome. I read this paragraph over and over. It made me feel good, like I didn't have to feel guilty for all the times I gave in when I could have stuck up for myself better.

12:03 AM  

Having viewed over some of these responses & having experienced 2 similar forms of abuse, I agree with both concepts of being vulnerable, being targets in attracting predators & deficits of my admitted disability (highlighted target?). Included in my introduction would have been my apparent 'acceptance of anything' (to remove imagined rejection?). I often mention these matters with my Counsellors, reinforcing my unsurety.

7:17 AM  

I agree with your suggestions. I think you have to be strong and ok with yourself and willing to keep to standards and not make excuses and fall into patterns of living for the moment without seeing the bigger picture. Also, dont get too giddy and like you wisely stated, dont fall for romantic gestures. Trust needs to be built over time with someone coming through for you, not romantic gestures aimed at getting you to be sexual or trick you into thinking someone loves you to use you. And I agree dont feel too sorry for men too easily, narcassistic types love that and know how to exploit and trick a woman with a bunch of sad tales, that your devotion will heal while meeting all his needs. I think the biggest reason why people who have been mistreated attract that again, is fear. You attract that which you fear. Somehow they need to feel empowered enough and strong enough before they can go out and risk it again. They've got to be strong enough to be able to accept reality and walk away if a guy acts like a creep.

2:45 AM  

The article along with all the comments has been incredibly helpful and enlightening today. It's been a tough couple of days whereby a seemingly promising new relationship has gone to the Darkside very fast. I am not surprised that I have yet again made - I offered myself on a plate , all exposed and vulnerable - and I almost want to carry on down this path with this person just because at least pain is better than nothing . But I won't this time . Maybe this time I can begin to break the cycle and redraw and redefine, reinforce my boundaries for personal safety and sense of self-respect and worth.

1:57 PM  

I'm here seeking answers. I left an abusive marriage and then have dated MANY abusers and users. The last was a particularly brutal discard by what I now think was/is a psychopath. My question....WHY? And when will it stop?? I have read and done so much healing. I thought my boundaries were in place but I'm noticing several vulnerabilities in me:
1) Extremely hungry for romantic/emotional intimacy due to the abuse in my path.
2) Tendency to bond almost instantly
3) Attraction to hot guys who flatter and flirt. (Vulnerability to being love bombed in a manipulative way)
4) Pacing. (Get too deep and too attached within days/weeks of meeting)
5) Over disclosing my abusive past to new men. Opening up too quickly.
6) Possible repetition compulsion and/or The Human Magnet Syndrome (Ross Rosenberg)
7) Fantasy. Projecting fantasy of "the ideal love" "the One" or "the ideal boyfriend" on virtual strangers before they have proved their character and ability to bond.
8) Believing words versus actions. Not guarding my heart in the beginning.
9) Excessive one- on-one intimacy versus getting to know him in a group setting with others around. ( Harder to deceive and manipulate in a crowd)
10) I'm a bit gushy and groomed/used to dating narcissists. I know how to give high levels of attention, flirting, comfort....I am a good source of "supply" as horrible as that sounds. Except I'm also an amazing, loving, attractive person who has a huge heart.
11) The belief in scarcity of love. That if I don't grab it NOW, it will vanish. (Manipulators always rush you to -sign up it quick)
12) Belief/lie, I'll never find love.
13) Belief/lie I can love a hurt man and save him. (Straight up codependency but it tends to be an unconscious thing)
14) Not trusting my accountability people. Getting into an instant relationship and not telling anyone because I know they'll disapprove...and then having my heart smashed a while later due to the very reasons they would have warned me about.
15) Using dating/love/romance to escape from problems and stress.

I welcome your insights. I'm so sick of this crap....

5:26 PM  

Hi Jenny ! I am also concerned that they say those that have been abused will turn into abusers themselves. In my case this is just not true as i am kind loving sensitive and gentle.
i think that there is a lot of rubbish banded around by those who have learned about this stuff from reading books. Someone with personal experience would be a better source of information.

No one said it would ever be easy !

Look after yourself.

Fingers 1

3:17 AM  

But it must get weary that you keep picking up men whom you have to kick out with court orders!
I love you for this.
you are my female version of me.
Kindness seem to be our common trait... and the big disadvantage if it can be called that. Giving our best to the worst riff raff out there.
At least there are others out there having my same and only struggle.
Thank you very much.

12:21 PM  

thank you for anonymous for listing out the very long list of the same disposition and descriptions of what i've been doing like ground hogs day since i started dating and being in relationships. i often find men who have been abandoned by their fathers as I was abandoned and also abuse me as I was abuse. The pathology has stuck with me for my whole and now i'm extreme when i sense their misgivings and i run for the hills. i feel like i'm always running and instead of being attracted to someone who genuinely cares about me and is interested in my heart and spirit.

12:58 AM  

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