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How to help my emotionally shut down girlfriend

I have been in a relationship with someone for about a year now who was married to a very mentally and physically abusive husband and continues to be this way even after five years of being divorced. The relationship was going good for the first six months because he left the state to do training for a job and her mind was free of him for once,  she was like a new person. Unfortunately for both of us he was placed back in her home state for his new job.  When he came back he acted like his life had changed and he was ready to be a good dad and husband.  So how he managed to convince her to go to couples therapy to try an fix things between them and she decided to put our relationship on ice almost as if it was like we never had one.  One other element of our relationship was that it is a long distance one and it just so happens his change of heart happened to coincide with my trip down there once I left his colors changed and he was back to his old self. Things were moving in the right direction again for the past month and she seemed happy that I am now buying a home down there and then he struck again to the point where she had to get and order of protection.  Things have gone from daily communication to maybe one or two times a week now and it seems the more good I do for her the quieter she seems to get.  It seems to me the abuse has become her normal life and she doesn't know how to deal with the good almost as if she doesn't deserve it.  I am not and will not walk away from her she is worth everything it takes to help her and I want to know the best way to go about it.
5 Responses
Avatar universal
I think you hit the nail on the head. The abuse is what she knows. It must feel strange to her to be away from it. I know this sounds strange but people do get used to a certain way of life.
Can you talk to her about getting counseling? Not with him but only her. Chances are he will not make any changes and she will be back in an abusive relationship if she does'nt break away and gets help for herself.
Avatar universal
It sounds like you raelly love her and that you are a very good man.  First, I would say that you should get some results when you move closer to her.  Having him there and you not is probably very frightening and questionable for her.  Women in abusive relationships usually do learn to be personally abusive as well.  She probably has a very low self esteem and not much trust.  She may be waiting for you to change, he was probably all great and nice at first too.  Just hold on to her like you said you would.  Constantly reinforce that she is deserving of your love and that it will not change for the worse.  She may need a lot of ego boosting and gentle love.  Also, try not to bring up her relationship with him, may trigger some negativity in her mind.  Just be you and love her, comfort her, and remind her of all her good qualities.  It is sometimes hard for a woman to let go of an abuser and move on, just remember that.  I will pray that things work out with the two of you and that she can break free of him and her negativity of herself.
Avatar universal
Until I got involved with her I never believed the stories about staying in or even going back to abusive relationships but as as see recently look at what happened with that runner in South Africa. As far as talking to her about going for therapy I tread lightly because of the experience she just had with her ex talking her into going to therapy with him. Right now I am just reinforcing the fact that I am there for her and whatever she needs to talk about she can.  Like I said before I am not and will not leave her and do whatever it takes to help her.
Avatar universal
You are not the first person to tell me that moving close to her will help. There are possibly trust issues with her because she did continuously for a while ask me if I was really moving over there but ever since I put the deposit down on the house that seems to have stopped. Now she asks me when we talk how are things going with the house so the trust is building. Valentines day was a bit of a challenge for her I did recognize her having a hard time processing what I did for her on that day but did open up about it the following day. I never bring up her ex and usually just focus on what she means to me and her kids and what she has to offer. She also has a problem with always blaming herself for all the bad that has happened to her. This is going to be a long process of getting her back to the way she was but I will be able to tell because we do know each other for thirty years so I have seen the rise and fall of her relationship with her ex and her self esteem. The hardest part of the whole thing is something you mentioned and I just don't understand why can't women just release themselves from an abuser especially when they can see right in from of them how good things can be.  Thank you for your prayers and I will try my best to keep moving forward and try and keep her positive and let her know there truly is light at the end of the tunnel
Avatar universal
I did not know you have known her for thirty years, that puts you ahead of the curve and is very promising.  There is a psychological term for people who stay or even have love for people who abuse or even imprison them.  I do not know what it is...sorry.  Maybe you can google people who love abusers and learn a little more about it.  I was not abused physically but mentally by a man who I stayed with for 7 years.  He cheated on me constantly, always threatened to leave, told me I was too ugly and fat to find anyone else who would have me, and so on.  I went through therapy on my own.  I don't think that therapy with him will work because he can then try to sweet talk.  Have her go to therapy on her own, or even with you, and/or the kids.  Being trapped in a bad relationship makes you feel like everything they say and do is true.  She probably believes that no one could love her for whatever reason.  She is very low right now.  Like I said, just keep reassuring and reinforcing your love.  If you need to you can friend me and we can talk more one on one.  I hope to hear from you and god bless.  
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