Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results
Unfortunately, many abuse victims stay in abusive relationships for far longer than they should and believe that they can change their abuser.
For example, the singer Rihanna returned to her now ex-boyfriend Chris Brown after being brutally beaten by him. Here are some strategies that are traps:
- Loving them harder.
- Try to be the perfect other in a relationship (whether it is a romantic relationship, a blood relation, or a professional relationship).
- Being a doormat and pandering to the abuser’s every whim.
Why it won’t work
We might learn from our parents, adults, and teachers that being good will be rewarded and that being bad will be punished. However, toxic people are toxic because they exploit normal people rules. They behave selfishly and continue to do so because they don’t get punished for it. They’ve learned that they can manipulate others into giving and giving. Enabling them further will not give them a reason to change.
While abusers do sometimes change, change is exceptionally rare.
- They have to want to change. Staying with an abuser gives them a reason to continue doing what they’re doing because they continue to get away with it.
- They usually have to hit rock bottom. Toxic people usually (but not always) end up destroying every single friendship and close relationship that they have. Their toxic behavior can catch up to them and cause them to lose everything that they care about. Once they realize how self-destructive they are, they may want to change.
- Change is hard. Take psychiatrists for example. Many psychiatrists get into the field because their unresolved traumas have led them to understand the need for therapy. Unfortunately, they never learn about tools that they can use to heal themselves. Alice Miller is a relatively famous psychologist who wrote the popular book The Drama of the Gifted Child, which is about the damaging effects of child abuse. She married a monster and allowed him to abuse her son Martin Miller. Martin Miller was afraid to speak out against his enabling mother until after she had died.1 2 So not only do traumatized individuals have to want to change, they also need to discover tools that work. They may not do so even after going to therapy.
Don’t expect abusers to change
Wanting your abuser to change is a trap that you don’t need to fall into. Do not let it be a reason for staying in a toxic relationship longer than you should.