Q. I have a friend who was recently beaten up by her boyfriend. He battered her face requiring stitches. She filed a VPO. He talked her out of it. She said it was a “misunderstanding.” She resumed her relationship with him. What is wrong with her? — Brittany
A. “Falling in love” with an abusive narcissist can be synonymous with “falling in love” with heroin, gambling, food, alcohol, etc. When its good, its REALLY good but when its bad, its HORRIBLY bad. The cravings are even the same. Nothing can get in the way when the “trigger” is flipped.
When your friend was beaten by her boyfriend she was mad, hurt and filed a VPO “to protect herself.” The VPO was not going to protect her “from herself.” Once she had time to recover emotionally, even though her wounds were visible she began to think about him. He did what any good narcissist does; he apologized, professed his undying love and begged her to come back to him.
The dopamine is released in this “feel good moment.” All is good. She is loved. The bruising and battering to her face is somehow less noticeable, although she is startled from the pain when eating.
She is a victim of domestic violence!! As long as she derives pleasure from the “good times,” she will stay. The good times override the bad times. There is no dopamine released when she is being beaten, it is not pleasurable, it is painful. She is not addicted to the pain, although she will probably tell you that she expects it will happen again and walks on eggshells hoping it won’t.
Men who batter women are predators. They are dangerous. They will leave damaged victims in the wake of their violence, both physical and emotional. And the really scary truth, you do not see them coming. Usually by the time you begin to see it, you are already hooked.
It is good that your friend has a full time job and her own apartment. The less dependence on him, the better for her. She needs to maintain as much independence as possible. These men want women to be needy, lack self confidence and believe the bull@3# they spew.
Your friend could benefit from counseling but she may not be ready. It may be hard for you to continue your friendship because it can be disheartening to see her physically battered and watch her go back to him.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org