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Please note: I have referred to abusers as male and their targets as female, simply because it has been my subjective experience and I write from my phenomenological perspective. I would like to highlight the fact that abusers and their victims do not fit neatly into gender-based categories. Men are just as easily victims and women are just as easily perpetrators.


My ex-abuser asks himself the question of why he was attracted to two nutcases; two sick and twisted women. The first part of my answer is simple. I am, most assuredly, not a nutcase. That’s simply a facet of his delusion.

The second part of my answer is more complicated. Yes, I am a wounded spirit. I have yet to meet a human being, over the age of forty, who doesn’t fit this definition. Life batters us, we get up and keep moving forward; we make a fist of it, and succeed in varying degrees. But we are all wounded.

It’s true I was wounded in a particular way, which abusers seem to zoom in on. They detect victims of childhood abuse with a radar-sense a bent-wing bat would be proud of. But why? And here’s his answer. Because we’re easy targets for further abuse. Let’s read that again…’because we’re easy targets for further abuse.’

Does this mean we’re weak? No. In fact, we need to be incredibly strong just to survive. Are we sick? No. But we’ve had sick acts perpetrated against us; and that makes us vulnerable to further sick acts, emotional, psychological, physical and sexual, depending on the penchant of our particular abuser. The developmental damage done in early childhood is particularly recalcitrant and can, at best, be managed. It is rarely expunged completely. Our boundaries have been severely damaged and are more permeable than they should be.

Are we capable of rage? You bet. To express rage in the face of such severe mistreatment is a normal, healthy response, one that was silenced when we were children – a protective defense mechanism that we should never be shamed for. But we are, of course, shamed for it; it is twisted and used against us as a justification for all the crazy labels our abuser uses to define us. This is another reason we’re chosen. Those without significant abuse in their past would simply walk away, having a healthy self-belief nurtured into being during their developing years. They know they don’t have to stay and’ take it’.

Inside every victim of childhood abuse is a tiny wounded child who desperately wants to defend herself against the harm she was unable to defend against as an infant. She wants to step up and protect the sad and frightened inner child. We do this in various ways, all of which are attractive to our abusers. Some of us plead for understanding and love, hoping to recreate a loving bond with the adult who hurt us, and who is represented by the current abuser; thereby healing the wound. Narcissistic abusers interpret this as weak and pathetic, justifying their treatment of us. They don’t see a precious human being who is crying out for love and care. They see a pathetic, sick, twisted thing who isn’t strong enough to stand up to them.

Inside every adult survivor of childhood abuse, there lives a tiny, wounded child, crying out for help.

Some of us challenge the maltreatment dished out to us. This enrages our abuser even more. How dare someone thwart the will of one who perceives himself as the center of the universe, whose needs will always trump ours, whose wisdom is always greater and whose intellect is always superior? How dare we? At this point, all restraint will leave a narcissistic mind as it batters us into submission. It matters little whether the battering is verbal, emotional or physical. The impact on us is the same. We are confused, frightened (just like when we were little), without any defense against the onslaught because there is no defense against lying, manipulation, gaslighting, labeling, defining, deceit and other crazy-making behaviors. There is no defense against passive aggression. There is no defense against irrationality…and it is all irrational.

Once again we become a perfect target, an easy target. Instead of walking away from the relationship, we are challenging our abuser the way we wanted to challenge the abuser of our childhood. We were silenced then and we’ll be damned if we’ll be silenced now.

One of the main aims of abusers is to ‘silence’ their victims, leaving us voiceless and without a means of escape.

But what are the shared characteristics of people ‘chosen’ by abusers? Why ‘us’, as my ex-husband asks, albeit in a convoluted way?

I expect most of us are sensitive. Every nerve-ending was lit on fire all those years ago. We will never forget; we remain sensitive not just to further wounding of ourselves but also to the possibility of hurt in our fellow human beings. There is often a melting compassion at the heart of victims of abuse – we can’t abide the thought of another human being crushed by pain.

I expect many of us want to show abundant love and caring because we were so bereft of it ourselves as children.

I expect many of us have calm exteriors from years of practice at being ‘unseen’ and ‘good’ so that our childhood abusers will leave us alone. I expect many of us have developed an attitude of humility, having been brought so far down into the depths of depravity that we have no illusions about the human condition.

I expect many of us are practiced ‘deep processors’. Having had to face our problems alone, analyze them alone and make sense of the world alone, with our dark secrets safely hidden from view, we are likely to be introspective; deep thinkers who are largely disinterested in superficial pursuits.

I expect many of us have a strongly developed morality, having been so profoundly violated in our pasts. A strong sense of morality helps make the world a safe and decent place for us. We cling to it like a life-raft.

I expect many of us have developed a strong spiritual core, having spent so many years calling out to God, the universe, the Great I Am, to keep us safe, to remove our pain and to heal our broken hearts and spirits.

I know that all of these qualities attracted my husband during our days of courtship. In fact, he was intoxicated by them; rapidly and passionately… until they became the very qualities he most despised about me, seeking, at every opportunity, to destroy those very aspects.

So that is why he was attracted to two women with wounded spirits – both wounded in similar ways in our childhoods. He smelt us out because we filled a deep need inside him to tear apart a vulnerable human being. Women, and men, who have not been through childhood abuse, would simply walk away.


It is not an answer he would wish to hear.