Home Childhood Sexual Abuse As children, why did we go back to our abusers? Feedback requested.
why do we go back to our abusers?

As children, why did we go back to our abusers? Feedback requested.

by Matt Pappas

As some of you may know, one of the things I’m currently struggling with is talking about my inner child. It’s a potential trigger for me, but I still need to try and understand some things about him and I’m hoping that you, the reader can help. i want to connect with him on a child level but right now I can only seem to do it on an adult level, which of course hinders my healing progres.  As a suggestion from my therapist, I’m posing this question to everyone with the hopes that I will get as much feedback as possible.

In recent sessions I’ve been trying to understand why I, as children who was sexually abused, continually went back to my abuser time after time. I didn’t have to see him, I could have easily avoided him.  Yet I went back repeatedly because I thought he was cool and popular. He preyed on my innocence and groomed me to the point where he had me hook, line, and sinker.  I was a silent, willing, victim as a 10-12 yr old boy.

***Trigger Warning*** Please do not feel obligated to continue reading this particular post if the memories are too hard to relive. I don’t want to trigger you.  However if you are far enough along in your healing that you feel comfortable with sharing this part of your life a bit, I will take any advice and insight you can provide.


Here’s the questions that I’ve been asking myself, my therapist, and now you the reader.

As a child, what made you go back to the person who sexually, physically.verbally or emotionally abused you? What kept you from telling someone about it? Or if you did tell someone, did they do anything to try and help or just brush you off?

Was it a family member you just couldn’t avoid? A church member or staff you saw regularly? A friend you didn’t want to lose? Were you so scared you didn’t know what to do, threatened? Did you feel like being with that person meant so much to you that you that you were willing to risk potentially being hurt again?  Maybe you Dissociated each time to the point where you didn’t remember much of what went on that negatively affected you?

These are all questions I’m trying to understand.

Please leave a comment here on this post, or send me a tweet or DM or send me an email.  No need to go into explicit detail if you don’t want too, general thoughts are more than fine.

Thank you and I appreciate so much the support you all are giving me!  It means the world to me!


Below are some of the responses I received already via Twitter, unedited, and I am so grateful for the input! This helps me understand why I struggle with this and perhaps it can help you as well.

I will keep this post updated as I get more responses on Twitter or Email.  If you do send me an email I won’t use your name if I put your comments here in the post.


Because he was a child & the other an adult & children are taught to do what the adult says. You’re expecting a child to be stronger than the adult…..it’s the adult who knows better, the adult who knows the law. Perhaps ask why the adult would harm him & how evil an adult would need to do that. Now look at that child, wrap your arms around him, protect him & tell him it wasn’t his fault no matter what. Love that child & be amazed at his strength. Hope you feel a bit better today.
Stockholm syndrome would be my guess, and someone is better thanno one, plus if its all you know you dont know normal…
  I still see mine, speak to him, and love him. I try and focus on the good he did thru my life not the bad.
 I’ve gone thru a lot with it. Still haunts me. But he’s my uncle, he’s apologised and explained it. I have forgiven him.

 No one understands how I still ? him but he stopped the abuse from guilt and was a friend after that. I look at the good.

My situation might be different to others but it would have killed me if I didn’t confront him and heal from it.  He is dying from Parkinson’s atm and believes it’s his punishment. It hurts me to know this but it’s his guilt to bare.

  I suspect if not abused you would not understand why we did this

and even in adulthood we try to justify why we remain in contact with those that caused us to be hurt. the excuses I used to make for staying in touch are hard to understand, until one day I finally snapped and walked away. never saw her again. now together with my abuser in their graves.
 ooh that’s a good one as iv lived with a lot of guilt about this particular thing
unsure what was happening, thought we could control it, didn’t want to be non-compliant, didn’t want anyone to know…thought there was no other option, didn’t want to worry others, pretended it wasn’t happening,
I was living between my aunts and moms so I had to see my abuser 🙁 to see my aunt (who was like my mom) I had to see him.
Because we were either told 2, felt like we needed 2, guilted n2 keeping it secret !! It seems 2N the case w/many victims of child abusers. My father did the same. U R NOT to BLAME!! I read UR blog
Because we think they have changed even though they didn’t. We are the ones who changed because of them.
*nod* It’s a toughie- I think has touched on it a little bit, but not as a specific topic.  Maybe ask & if we might discuss it one week for chats?
 (which I did do Jak :))  Thanks buddy! – Lyric
 This is a psychological phenomenon called repetition compulsion. I wrote my first article on it on my blog. But I didn’t do a good job explaining it. If you just look up repetition compulsion you will get better explanations.
Because he was a child. Many things held him to the abuser.


You may also like


TheRealJMBB April 1, 2016 - 8:10 am

He convinced me that he would kill me if I tried to leave, fear can be paralysing literally I would feel my feet so heavy like lead balloons and I couldn’t take a step away..eventually I did leave and he stuck to his word and tried to kill me but I’m still here..5 bullets later and I’m fine!❤️

Lyric April 1, 2016 - 6:54 pm

JMBB, thank you for sharing that! I’m glad you are here too and that your abuser did not succeed in his plan! You are a true survivor in every sense of the word! Thank you for the encouragement and thank you for the online support. I hope we can continue to help each other along the way friend.

Joy Richardson April 3, 2016 - 11:41 pm

There are many reasons why children do this, you said in your case “I went back repeatedly because I thought he was cool and popular”. I was sexually, physically and ritually abused as a child after being kidnapped; when I was set free I never went back to my kidnappers. When I was a young teenager I was physically abused by my father so that is the reason why I couldn’t get away at that point. And then when I was nineteen I was continually sexually abused by my fiance but I stayed with him because I was in love with him. So there are many reasons why people don’t just run away. Sometimes they do. But sometimes if you are a child you don’t know that you are being abused. Does a five year old child know that it is evil for an adult to touch them in certain areas? What about the little girl who is told by her abuser that ‘this is how daddy’s show love’? Children have pure hearts and they trust completely.

Lyric April 4, 2016 - 10:33 am

Thank you Joy, for sharing some of your story! It takes so much courage to open up, but that in turn helps you and helps so many others we may never even realize.

Deep down in my heart, I know how naive and innocent a 5 yr old or 10 yr kid is. We are so easily influenced because we trusted people to not hurt us because we’d never hurt them. In my case, the bullying influenced my need to try and be friends with the cool kids so I wouldn’t get picked on and pushed around so much. That fueled me, along with being groomed to keep going back. At least that’s what I think I’m coming to grips with.

You are a strong, amazing, woman and your story is important. I’m so glad we’re friends and I look forward to continuing to help support you and your blog encouraging me. You are an awesome survivor!

Ray April 9, 2016 - 10:53 am

Terrifying fear, that I, my family, and my dog would be killed. With constant reminders, attempted drownings, guns in my mouth, knives. With that I promised myself never to tell anyone.

Lyric April 10, 2016 - 11:31 am

Hi Ray,
Thanks for reaching out and commenting man. I know it’s unbelievably hard, but there is empowerment and encouragement by sharing your story. Remember, you only have to share what you want, when you want. Little by little is key, don’t overdue and cause yourself anxiety and stress. I’m proud of you dude and I’m glad you are reaching out for help! I’m so sorry for what you have gone through but you can heal, I have faith in you! Just take your time. The survivor community is a great step in a positive direction.

Eve April 10, 2016 - 11:43 am

Sometimes as children we confuse sexual abuse attention for love and caring. Sometimes we go back to abusers or invite similar abusive people into our lives because it’s familiar and comfortable even though we know it’s wrong. We’re stuck in a cycle of abuse and dysfunction and are literally scared of the unknown, i.e., normal healthy living. I used to blame myself as a child for my mother abusing me, because as children it’s natural for us to believe we’re the problem because we don’t understand the concept of “bad” people. When someone is hurting us, we first believe it’s because of something we did wrong. If there was a part of you that felt that you weren’t getting the love and attention at home, you may have continued returning to your abuser because you confused his sexual abuse for love and genuine caring.

Lyric April 10, 2016 - 11:56 am

Thank you Eve for the comment and sharing your thoughts and encouragement with me and so many others. Realizing why I went back is one of the toughest thing to wrap my head around. It’s a constant topic in therapy and in my head as I work through this process of healing. Trying to realize it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t actually like it or enjoy it, and understand that a little kid can be so easily manipulated by someone he looked up too, that’s hard for me. In time though I will get there hopefully.

I’m proud to know you Eve and proud to know that you are a survivor and an encouraging person for so many!

Learning to trust yourself is not an easy task May 2, 2016 - 9:32 am

[…] a 5-10 yr. old, I kept going back to my abuser.  To me even as a child, I should have had enough sense to not keep going back. I realize that […]

Paula September 5, 2016 - 1:56 pm

No, we didn’t go back to our abusers and asked them to rape us. I didn’t! We were forced to go back to them. Because they were our father, brother, uncle, familyfriend, teacher, etc. They were trusted by our (other) parent(s), and therefor by us. We were supposed to like, or even love them. For being our parent, familymember, or good friend. So we did go back to them. Or we were in their neighbourhood. But not to be abused.
I think it also was part of our silence-strategy that we ‘went back’ and ‘let’ them abuse us. We tried to act as normal as possible. Don’t hesitate, don’t complain, don’t ask, don’t argue, don’t tell. Just wait till it’s over. We felt alone and breaking the silence was dangerous. For we might become more isolated than ever. They told us so.
I was sexual abused by my brother. I have three brothers, he is the eldest. He told me that he was smart and my parents would’nt believe me because they always would believe him. He prooved so. He told them lies and they believed him. “See? I told you”, he said to me. My mom caught him once while we were in bed. I was 9y? She was angry at me. I felt ashamed but didn’t exactly know what I did wrong. Years later, when I was about 16, I’ve tried to tell my mom about the abuse. In my memory she didn’t respond at all. Anyway, nothing changed. My conclusion was: silence is the best, My mom doesn’t believe me, so why would anyone else believe me? I was very wrong. Silence is the best for our abusers. But not for us.
(I am Dutch, excuse me for my poor English)

Paul Perras October 12, 2016 - 10:34 am

I am so glad that I am not the only one having trouble with this. I was abused by my older brother who told me it was natural that all brothers do sexual things together but as I found out later it was not. I also grew up with an alcoholic father who beat up my mom when she was pregnant with me kicking her in the stomach with his safety boots. I am the second last child of five kids so when our father left us my mother went nuts so the older kids helped around the house and I had no one to help me grow so when another abuser abused me I would go back to him as at least he was paying attention to me. At least he showed some interest in me. I finally found someone that I thought cared for me and liked me for who I was. Only later did I realize that he was just grooming me so he could have his way with me sexually. I has taking me years to finally come to terms that he groomed me and I wasn’t responsible. My parents never showed us love or what it was to be loved so I was starved for attention and love so that made me a very easy target to be taking advantage of. It has confused me so much that up till a few months ago that I realized that I never let anyone know my truly inner self as I was afraid I would hurt them or be accused of hurting someone. All I can say for me now is even when I think that I am protecting my love ones from me by putting a wall up I am hurting them more even though all I want is love and affection. They cant give me that if I think I am saving them from me even though I know I wouldn’t hurt a fly. Thank you for sharing this struggle as you are not alone in this.
Your friend


Reply with your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.