This is how abusers get you to drop your guard and willingly become attached

Hard facts and research data often cannot replace a true account of what someone has been through personally. We have asked those who have experienced abuse situations to come forward, anonymously, and share their story with us. Through the weeks, we have been focusing on a series of these personal accounts. This story is about a young woman who married an abuser and was lucky enough to get aid from others before serious damage was done.

“A few years after getting out of a previous relationship with an abuser, I met a guy at my place of employment. At first, we became good friends but then it quickly turned into a full-blown relationship.

I’m not sure I was ready for a serious relationship but his story of being kicked out when he was a teenager and becoming homeless before turning to drugs was heartbreaking. He was open and honest about his experiences, which was something that really drew me in. Plus, when I shared my own story with him, there wasn’t any judgement. It was comforting to know that somebody accepted me entirely instead of pushing me away because of the mistake I made as a teenager with that other boy.

We fell in love and married but it was not what I expected. He frequented the local bar and often came home drunk. He would also have his friends over who were obnoxious and belligerent and he wasn’t respectful to me. After a year of living in a marriage that wasn’t bringing joy and happiness, I left.

He refused to accept our separation and began stalking me. One evening as I was leaving a bar, he was waiting in the dark for me. As I approached my car, he grabbed my arm and threatened my life. Thankfully, a patron exited the establishment and scared him off.

On another occasion, he arrived at my apartment asking if he could use the bathroom. I told him that the pizza shop downstairs had bathrooms that he could use but he forced his way through the door, shoved me on the sofa, and attempted to rape me. Thankfully, I was able to shove him off of me and ran to a neighbor for help.  

I’m not sure why he gave up his obsession for me but grateful he did.”

When someone seems to let down their guard and shows us that they are vulnerable, we often respond naturally with letting down our own guard. We are pulled in by the person’s honest and genuine manner, or at least what we believe to be genuine and honest. This is a very common tactic used by abusers and those looking to manipulate others. They play the sympathy card and act as though they are the victim of cruel circumstances, when really they are using the other person’s sympathy to get them attached. First impressions are incredibly powerful and difficult to break. If someone can make you believe they are a kind, honest, genuine person who has been hurt when first getting to know them, they would have to work hard to change your perspective later on. Abusers are often intuitively good at manipulating others. They do not even need to think about tactics and strategies, somehow inside they know what needs to be done to elicit the response they are after. And they use it. Pay attention to the kind of reaction you are giving someone when you first meet them and their response will give you a clue as to what they are looking for from you.

There are many people who truly are open and genuine and not looking to harm you in any way who may seem similar upon first meeting to those that are trying to manipulate your sympathies. However, those that are looking to gain something from you will seem somehow happy when you show sympathy and you will feel that they are milking your sadness. Feel out the energy… ask yourself if you believe they like what you are showing, and if your gut instinct is that they do, be careful. Someone who is telling you something honestly without looking for anything in return, may seem a little uncomfortable with your sympathy, the more sympathy you show the more they may seem awkward about their story. They will not lap it up like would an abuser who would only lay it on even thicker. The genuine person will be telling you only to let you know. Not to gain. They will not enjoy your sorrow and may take a step back when they see you feel bad for them, as that was not their intention. An abuser wants the attention to their “pain” so that they can hook you, making you vulnerable right away and giving them the upper hand in the situation. Keep in mind that wanting acknowledgement is not the same as wanting sympathy.

Once someone like this is rejected, they can quickly become obsessive. Getting other people involved is the best thing you can do as this may ward them off. They feel powerful when they have a hold on you, but they are usually cowards when it comes to stepping up in a crowd. Stay by others with whom you feel safe until this person leaves you alone. It may be best to get the police involved in more serious situations.

When overcoming an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.

Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

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Authors' Bios

Speaker, mentor and author Cherie Faus-Smith is a beacon for victims of domestic abuse. She shines a light on survivors and illuminates a path of prevention toward healthy relationships with an end goal of helping them recognize the signs of abuse.

With over three decades of real-life experiences, Cherie shares that there is hope after abuse. Her open heart has a way of bringing out the best in others.

Cherie’s book “The Cycle Ended: Saying Goodbye to Domestic Abuse” details the struggles in her past abusive relationships and how she found love after breaking the cycle of choosing unhealthy relationships.


Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here:

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