Research shows that if a woman has been mistreated in the past, even in childhood, there’s a good chance that she’ll be mistreated in her next relationship as well. It’s called, “multiple-victimization,” and it is often misunderstood.
I have heard far too many women clients say things like, “I could walk into a room full of doctors and therapists and fall in love with the one criminal.”
Or they ask with sad and bewildered eyes, “Why do I only attract resentful, angry, and abusive partners?” They wonder if they put out signals that say, “Please abuse me!” This particular misconception has even infected a few professionals who have ridiculously theorized that some women “want to be abused.”
If you’ve experienced multiple-victimization, please understand this: The problem is not that you attract only resentful, angry, or abusive suitors; it’s that, by and large, you have not been receptive to the gentler, more respectful men you also attract. This is not due to your temperament or personality; it’s a normal defensive reaction. After you’ve been hurt, of course you’ll put up subtle barriers for self-protection. Non-abusive men will recognize and respect those barriers. For example, suppose that you work with someone who’s attracted to you. But he senses that you’re uncomfortable with his small gestures for more closeness. He will naturally back off and give you time to heal, or he’ll settle for a non-romantic friendship. But a man who is likely to mistreat you will either not recognize your barriers or completely disregard them. He will continue to hit on you, until he breaks down the protective walls that surround your hungry heart.