Abusers choose strong people because they ‘like a challenge’

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It has often been said that time is a great healer. I think there is an element of truth in that but from my point of view I think time is a great period of reflection.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Abusers choose strong people because they 'like a challenge'

I recently read a question whereby it asked if abusers were attracted to certain kinds of people. It transpired that they seem to like people in a caring profession. I cannot profess to know why but I assume it is because a caring person can feed the abusers ego. Perhaps carers are always trying to find the best in people and so, therefore, forgive any negative attributes that they may initially find in an abuser.

Track record

When I gave this some deeper thought it dawned on me that during the trial it transpired that my ex had a history of abuse towards her partners. What I also found relevant was that a majority of us worked in a uniformed public service. Namely I am a paramedic and her previous was a policeman. OK, it may be a coincidence but there is certainly enough there to feed a thought process.

Of course, before I write a blog I do a little research to either prove myself right with my thoughts or to find an alternative view. However, I have discovered that many victims of psychological abuse are often strong, confident, and successful people.

Is because abusers are attracted to someone they think will be a “challenge” to break?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Abusers choose strong people because they 'like a challenge'

When I’ve thought about some of the people I’ve met following my abuse (or for that matter people I have known to have been abused) I have found people to be broken both physically and emotionally. In fact, some (ignorant) people (and I have recently had the displeasure of meeting a few) think of someone in an abusive relationship as being someone weak. From my point of view based on my own experiences this may well be the end result of being shaped and abused, but in reality, they probably didn’t start that way.

If you would have asked me at the start of my abusive relationship if I considered myself to be abused I probably would have said “no”. From the outset, I have had to fight for what I have achieved. I was never given a positive start in life but what I had achieved I had done through my own hard work.

Would I ever have considered myself to be strong and successful? I probably would have said “yes”. Obviously, this would have been under certain situations. But I was successful. I had attended University three times, I had held a commission in the Royal Air Force and I always seemed to have done well at things I had put my mind to.

Shannon Thomas

But according to Shannon Thomas, a therapist and author of the book “Healing from Hidden Abuse,” success and strength are actually what attract abusive narcissists and psychopaths to their targets.

Shannon further states that..

“Psychological abusers are attracted to what is going on within the person’s life that is shiny, glamorous, or exciting, or successful, or dynamic, or vibrant,”

Why bother working?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Abusers choose strong people because they 'like a challenge'

I see it therefore, that the abuser feels that they are also entitled to this reward and so latch themselves to their victims like a moth to a flame. Why should they work for it when it can be handed on a plate to them? This is certainly a characteristic I now recognise as being a part of my ex.

I could list the things and benefits she had obtained from me and her many ex’s. However, when her world was about to be turned upside down (ie when I told her I was leaving her) she could only turn to the one defence mechanism she had and that was a full frontal attack of which she tried to destroy what I had worked for. In effect, if she couldn’t have me then no-one could.

Other topics

I have written many topics about what it feels like to be depressed or to be abused. I have also reflected on personal characteristics of a victim. But now it is clear to see.  The perfect victim has to be successful and strong, but they also have to be very sympathetic to other people which allows the abuser to abuse unchallenged for so long.

Mutual understanding – master and slave principle

Abused and abuser live under a ‘mutual understanding’. This is similar to the master and slave relationship mentioned by Plato many centuries ago.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Abusers choose strong people because they 'like a challenge'

The master was dependent on the slave’s loyalty and the slave dependent on the master’s maintenance and humane treatment of him. While slaves had to bow to their master’s wishes under the constant threat of punishment, they could also become indispensable to them, function as their confidants, and be party to their secrets.

The abuser abuses because they can. But if the victim stops it, they no longer have the power and so may move to their next victim. The abuser now thinks that their new victim/partner understands them better than you did and so the cycle continues.

The making of the perfect storm

As I now see it, perhaps being a paramedic was the perfect ingredient to create her perfect storm. But many other people can put themselves down on this list. Success is subjective, and when each victim compares themselves to their abusers they have had success in life by recognising the decency of themselves and not enduring the relationship anymore.

My abuser is left with nothing. Her youngest daughter moved out shortly after her lies were exposed. She does not have the capacity to understand what it is like to treat people with respect and her ride will continue until the metaphorical wheels fall off.


The problem is that we may over-give. And when we continue to over-give we find it very hard to say no. Therefore, we have become their chattel. They have complete ownership of our thoughts and emotions.

The stereotype is that abusers prey on the weak, because they will be easier to manipulate and bully. This has perhaps been portrayed by victims in soap operas and films.

Weakness is not a challenge

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Abusers choose strong people because they 'like a challenge'

However, this isn’t the case because a vulnerable target isn’t appealing. They are weak and have not achieved anything from which they can milk from. My abuser wanted someone who was already doing well in life, and also someone who had their emotions under control. My ex, like so many other abusers wanted a “challenge” from which would reward them for their efforts.

From conversations I have had with people who knew her she enjoyed winding me up because I was seen as laid back and not wound up very easily. She saw it as her challenge to get that reaction and when I no longer fell for the bait the challenge was too much. This made her a very toxic and vicious individual.

Every dog has it’s day

For her, it’s all about feeling superior. Like I have said, it was the ‘master and slave’ relationship. But without her slave she couldn’t be a master anymore. People who engage in abuse of their partners, are often narcissistic and believe everyone is beneath them.


6 Replies to “Abusers choose strong people because they ‘like a challenge’”

  1. Man, this hits home. My Nex used to call me a “giant.” I am a doer; I get things done. I am strong in my “get it done” attitude, and I am an excellent planner. I know how to make things happen.

    She deliberately tried to undermine nearly all of my effort, except for those efforts which benefited her. She envied that I am a strong person, and she resented it. She wanted to take down a “giant.” I even told her in the end, “Congratulations, you finally managed to take the giant down.” I asked her, Why? She claimed she didn’t know what I was talking about. I knew that was a lie.

    So, yeah, they do like to challenge strong people, but in their challenge it’s not encouraging and supportive, as in a relationship of love and care. It’s destructive, abusive and hateful. It’s designed to shut the “giant” down; to break them so they can no longer be effective just like them. To them that’s an “accomplishment” which becomes, in their spiteful mind, a challenge.

    I have come to a point in my life to never become involved with women anymore. Most of them feel that men have treated women as “lesser” human beings, and many men have done that. I’m not one of them. I hope there are still good women left in the world who aren’t like those who have abused me. But it doesn’t matter, really. I’m no longer willing to take the risk. There’s no incentive to become involved with women anymore. I guess permanently walking away from all women can be considered a s a strength and not a weakness. I’m OK with it, so it’s a strength for me.

    Good article you’ve produced here. -Thank you!

  2. Hello, Keith. From the time I was a child, my father treated my mother and the rest of my siblings with such disdain. I believe, he relished on the moments that were at our weakest.
    I think that is the only part of this that I don’t agree upon. My entire family was affected by his verbal, emotional & physical abuse (Not so funny part, he was a detective).
    Out of curiosity, did your ex-sustain her employment after the court hearing?

    1. Hello Beckie
      Thanks again for your comment. I have given this some serious thought with regards to my ex. After the trial I asked my solicitor about the counter claimmi had made. He suggested that I just let it drop and move on. I don’t actually consider this as good advice but my views on the police is very poor and I consider that they would do nothing with my claim anyway. I had looked into complaining about what happened to me but the police would blame the CPS and visa versa.

      1. Hello, Keith, I am so sorry for the late response. This is the first time I got a chance to see this.
        How do I go about reblogging part of this into my blog. I am doing a piece on sex addiction/harassment. Your story is one that I really want to share with my readers, but I don’t see an option to reblog.

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