Should one pursue someone who’s been a victim of abuse?

PERFECTION asks: I had a fling with someone two years back.  Recently she broke up with her boyfriend, due to physical injuries she’s experienced when they were still together, and I am kind of lost on how to handle things with her. I mean I don’t know what to do, should I lend her some time and space? Or should I keep talking to her? I don’t want to take the advantage of what happened to her lately. It’s been a week and 3 days since the day they broke up, and truth be told I’m scared she’s gonna go back and be with that horrible guy again. 


Often I don’t have strong opinions on when to start to pursue someone after a breakup, and just suggest you go with your own sense of where she’s at.  But this sounds like a different situation.

She broke up with him due to physical injuries?!  Does that mean he was beating her up?  Or was he insensitive to her needs after, maybe, she was hurt in a car accident?  Whatever the case, I would imagine she is feeling horribly alone and vulnerable.

Which means it’s a GREAT time for you to reach out.  But not for romance.  

This guy, you say, is horrible.  And I know you’re not.  That’s all you need her to experience.  Call or write her, or even show up at her door.  Be friendly, be caring, be EVERYTHING HE’S NOT.  And be patient.  

Remember, in this regard you humans aren’t that different from us dogs.  We begin as playful trusting puppies, but if some human is mean to us, we’re going to question every human we meet after that.  And we can develop bigotries too – a tall white man kicked us so we’re fine with other people, but will try to bite any tall white man who comes near us, for example.  And while you’re not just like her ex, you’re still a man.  So understand that YOU ARE A THREAT, at least to the traumatized part of her.  As nice as you are, as kind as you are, you need to get her to trust that you’re just as much better than this jerk as you are.

So again, just as if you’d just brought home a rescued abused dog, be Patient, Patient, Patient.

But be there for her.  Today she needs you.  And another day, she may well want you again to.

All my best,


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