Just recently, there was a story in the news about a Pastor who killed his 90 year old wife.
She lived with her abuser for years and you know, in Ghana when a woman gets married and the husband presents the family with the dowry, they’re saying she is yours now. God forbid if your husband is an abuser, you can’t run back to the family as your husband is in control. If the woman is financially dependent on her husband, it puts her and the children at risk as they don’t have anywhere else to go.
The government doesn’t have a shelter for women nor do they take abuse seriously until someone gets hurt.
Recently, Jerry John Rawlings died. If I didn’t witness what he and his regime did, I would probably not be affected by the terror he launched on us. He didn’t take responsibility for his actions, never apologized to the victims’ families and continued to justify what he had done.
The victims’ families must be relieved that he’s gone because I am but it doesn’t make it easy when people make it look like he was a hero. He wasn’t! I was only 9 years old when he staged a coup and took office.
I’ve never been so terrified of the horrible stories and the ones presented on national television.
To give just some examples: We were told that personal savings in the bank should not exceed 50 cedis or the government will take the rest of it. My parents were scrambling to remove their life savings before it evaporated into thin air.
There were incidents of women stripped naked in Makola market in broad daylight and whipped by his men. In another incident, a priest in our area in Kumasi was tied to a car driven by his men and dragged along the street for people to see before they finally burned him.
You probably know the stories of the past presidents that Rawlings killed alongside the judges who put him in jail. Rawlings had suffered atrocities in jail which made him take vengeance on the people who did that to him but why the Ghanaian public? We did nothing wrong so why did he take the nation hostage for almost 20 years?
How do we put a stop to it when you get the whole nation glorifying the abuser?
There is no simple answer to your main question – Why do people love their abusers? – because there are many reasons why this may appear to be the case in the various contexts in which it may occur.
For example, a person who was badly abused by a parent or parents might end up with a spouse who is less abusive. And, even though abusive, because the abuse is less, the spouse might be ‘loved’ simply because they abuse less than the individual’s parent(s).
But this example also illustrates why there is a deeper issue here: Does the person actually love their abuser? Or is it really that they are too terrified to challenge their abuser so they unconsciously delude themselves that they love them?
Some people ‘put up with’ abuse because they are deluding themselves that they are somehow loving their abuser by doing so. Of course, ‘putting up with’ abuse does not help the abuser but the fear of the abused person prevents them from perceiving this.
Other people tolerate abuse because they fear that they will be subjected to even worse violence if they resist the existing abuse.
So, you see, there are many reasons why someone might appear to ‘love’ their abuser. But, in each case, they are actually terrified of their abuser, and this fear (of which the victim might not be consciously aware), will make the victim too scared to stand up to their abuser or even to seek help. It takes courage to experience violence and to then stand up to the perpetrator. Unfortunately, not everyone has this courage.
If someone wants to acquire this courage, they can do so by devoting time to consciously feeling their fear and other suppressed feelings so that they can be released and no longer have unconscious control of their life. See ‘Putting Feelings First’. If someone wants to help another to feel their fear and other suppressed feelings, they can do so. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.
If someone claims to ‘love’ a violent political leader such as Rawlings or even a violent regime, they do so for the same reason given above; they are terrified. But when people do this in retrospect, it is usually because their memory is delusional (and possibly inspired by a desire to believe that the past was better than their present circumstances, even when it wasn’t).
But the reality is that all governments are violent for the simple reason that they make and implement policies to benefit select groups of people. It is just a question of how violent they are and in what contexts. And clearly the Rawlings regime was brutal. People who do not resist this violence are, once again, terrified. In this circumstance, a person might delude themself that the government is okay because it means they do not have to overcome their fear to resist the violence that is being inflicted upon them or other people whom they love (including those they are bound to defend, such as their children).
Of course, in contexts such as those involving brutal regimes, it requires courage to resist. But it helps enormously if people have a powerful strategy for resisting the violence too. See Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.
Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes (Yaw) has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is email@example.com and his website is here.