Abuse victims experience many feelings as a result of the treatment they receive from the abuser. If the abuser wants them to feel angry, he/she is able to create that by creating an experience that will prompt anger in the victim. If it's fear, then that sort of experience is created.
Eventually, those feeling paths for abuse created emotions are so well traveled that it takes very little from the abuser to trigger them in the victim.
But, in addition to the feeling aimed for by the abuser, there is an additional feeling that can come at the time of the abuse or later. And that is the sad, lonely, vulnerable feeling of being unloved.
The abuser may say they love the victim, may even do things that make it seem that they do. But, in the aftermath of the abuse episode, in the memory, whether fresh from the evening's encounter, with the abuser now sleeping his/her satisfied sleep, and the victim lying awake beside them or busying themself with distractions in efforts to get over the abuse, there is the question: If they love me, could they possibly treat me this way? And, the answer that comes back, is no.
Then there is the argument with the self: Well, they do love me, but they have problems. Or, they just don't know how to show it. Or, some other excuse.
And, deep down, the victim doesn't just feel unloved, they feel unlovable. And that's the real problem, abuse affects the victim's feeling of worth. They eventually, if not right away, feel like they aren't deserving of better, that they not only aren't loved, but that they are unlovable as well. It hounds and haunts them, trailing along behind them wherever they go and whatever they do, reminding them that they are unloved, and whispers, "unlovable."
That feeling/belief is the enemy, not the abuse. The victim thinks the abuse or the abuser is the enemy, but that's not the case. What gives the abuser power is what they are able to create in the victim, the feelings of powerlessness or worthlessness, of unlovableness that causes them to become immobilized and frozen.
I think the abuser does love his/her victim. They don't love in the way one wants to be loved, or in the way the victim loves. But, it's love of a sort. It's a needy love. They need the victim in order to have a place to deposit the feelings they don't want. It's the love of a parasite for the host. They believe that you get to do that to the one you love, and to the one who loves you--loves you so much they will let you do it to them.
What the victim can do, needs to do:
1. Separate their sense of connection/enmeshment from the abuser. That is, again, a boundary thing. Sometimes I think everything about abuse is about boundaries. Be sure you know where you end and the abuser begins, and make sure you don't let the abuser engulf you, or invade your own inner boundaries. Keep yourself intact. If you don't feel intact anymore, work on noticing where the boundaries are, where they are being invaded, and push them back to a safer and more comfortable place. Keep pushing them back until you have plenty of safe room. And plug all the leaks.
2. Don't make excuses for the abuser so you can still believe what you want to believe about them,whether it's that they love you, or that you can be close enough to them to continue to get hurt, or any other thing you know in your heart isn't really true.
3. Fight like a tiger for your own internal honesty with yourself. Do not allow yourself to believe the lie that you are unlovable and unloved. Everybody has experienced love, real love, at some point, from someone. Keep that as proof. Keep it big and bright and vibrant in your memory and refer to it whenever you need to, and, often when you don't, just to keep it well polished.
Here is a poem I wrote some time ago. Feel free to copy it for your own use if it helps you. Just keep my name on it as the author, don't sell it, and keep the copyright notice and contact info on it too. If you want to do more than that, you'll need permission from me
There was a time When I was loved
I'm absolutely sure Of that
I must remember It is true
And think of me Instead of you
by Patricia Smith Gundry copyright 2004 all rights reserved Patricia Smith Gundry https://www.patriciagundry.com
Some abuse victims believe God put them together with their abusive spouse, or that they were somehow joined together with the spouse and that is a major reason for staying with them.
One of the unfortunate things the organized church has done is insinuate itself into marriage. Historically, marriage was an agreement between families, a private ceremony. Though it might have religious elements, it wasn't a religious event. It was a practical matter, not a sacrament.
But, that was a long time ago, and many people have come to believe they have somehow been mystically joined to their spouse by God, and thus to separate from the spouse would be wrong or sinful.
That belief can have an unfortunate effect on personal boundaries of the married individuals. The abusively inclined can exploit that belief and feel freer to invade the personal boundaries of their victims. And the victims can feel unable to create the distance and separation they need in order to be free and separate individuals with a right to their own mind and body, to their own choices and preferences.
I don't believe the Bible supports the religious control of marriage or marriage partners.
I believe each of us needs to be free to completely and totally be an individual person, with full rights to their own body, mind, spirit, and decisions.
We need to be able to have a relationship with others we want to be close to in a manner that could be described as having three separate boundaried circles, with each individual having their own, and then a common one in the middle where they can share what both are comfortable sharing.
Abuse cannot flourish where people have strong boundaries and do not allow them to be invaded. It also cannot flourish where people don't try to invade the boundaries of another.
Each person needs to know where their comfort zones are, extend them to provide a buffer zone, stopping incursions when they get to the buffer zone, not waiting until they get inside the personal boundary. And they need to only hang out with those who respect their "no," and don't have to be told repeatedly where the boundaries are.