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Thank you for this, exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

Believe it or not, I've had almost every one of these thoughts myself over the last year and a half.

Do you really believe, as a general rule, that the best way to cure abusive people is to give them a supply of victims

Nope. Don't believe it at all.

Do you have any data to support the hypothesis that your "healing" actually works?

I have data to the contrary. I've spent a year and a half trying and the abuse has gotten progressively worse.

Does your girlfriend take a therapy?

No. She doesn't acknowledge that she has a problem. When I try to talk to her about getting help she says that her problems are because of me and if I would just do what she says (a long an unreasonable and constantly shifting list) she would get better. She also believes I deserve what she does because I "push her over the edge."

would you recommend your friend to stay in the relationship?

Absolutely not

Imagine a parallel reality where you live with a girlfriend who is not abusive...

I do this all the time. I of course would not leave her to sacrifice myself for an abusive stranger.

Ask your 50-years old future you, who is probably too emotionaly broken to rescue themselves, if they could use a time machine and send a message back to the past, to your current self, what would that message say?

It would tell me to leave ASAP and never look back. It would be sent as close to the beginning of the relationship as the time machine allowed.

Do you want to have children one day? If yes, do you want your children to have an abusive mother?

Yes and no.

Do you believe that decent human beings should help each other and support each other, as much as possible, especially when they are in a relationship? How does your girlfriend fulfill these criteria.

I believe moral duties apply to everyone and she has certainly failed at fulfilling hers. I don't think it's her fault, however you want to parse that sentence, but the consequences are real for me and should be for her too.

If helping other people is a high priority in your life, is staying with your current girlfriend really generating maximum good?

It wouldn't at all. I do care about helping others and in my normal state I'm an extremely high functioning and successful person. I've basically become a drone that works and worries about her and that's about it. I miss my former self and getting that back is one of the things that excites me most.

Thanks for the long response. The most difficult part of all this is feeling a bit insane myself. My rational mind can output the right answers, but I haven't been following them. Introspection and internal consistency (and a willingness to update) has always been something I'm naturally good at and valued greatly. I'm not the same person I was before this started and that's terrifying. I feel like I'm on the road to recovery though. Your comments are very helpful.

Thank you very much this is helpful.

Thanks for this. I am pursuing help. I have scheduled appointments with two therapists (first office visit today) and I'm looking for a third to try to find one that I can work well with.

Erasing the dangerous thoughts is the hardest part and what I wish I had better methods for. I'm in general the type of person that likes to help others, and feel more empathy for her than any other person. Part of the reason I stayed so long is that I viewed the way she was treating me as an illness and thought to myself, what would I do if she had cancer? I'd stick around and be supportive and try to get her the help she needs. That's what I should do here. That analogy breaks when you start to not feel safe though, something that took me too long to realize.

Thanks for the encouragement, I do intend to write more.

It's only been a week since I removed myself from the situation, and I'm already starting to feel shocked at how much worse it was than I realized at the time. Seeing the faces and hearing the comments of friends and family when I tell them stories makes a world of difference. Not one person has told me I'm making a bad decision.

If you'd asked me 3 years ago if I could ever be in a situation like this I would have assigned it very very low probability. Low probability events happen, but I think what is more likely is that it's a lot easier than I thought to become normalized to an increasingly toxic environment over time.

I think the best advice I could give so far is, if you think you're in an abusive relationship, talk to people about it. On some level I knew something was very wrong, but I began lying to family and friends about what was going on. I did this both to protect her, and to protect our future relationships as a couple. I was always optimistic about getting to a better place, and I didn't want people to hate her once we were there. I told my mother one small story once (far from the worst thing that had happened, and one story among many) and she called me in tears several weeks later saying she was worried I'd hate her for it but she had to tell me that she didn't think the wedding was a good idea (we were engaged).

I'm going to write a lot over the coming weeks and will make a post here if I think I uncover any worthwhile advice.

Does anyone know of any posts or resources that are targeted at rationalists that help with extracting yourself and recovering from an abusive relationship?

I've been a longtime student of LessWrong and related communities, studied physics at a top school, great at programming, very introspective etc. etc. All the regular boxes checked. Just a week ago I left a relationship that I realized has become extremely abusive (both emotionally and physically) and I'm having a lot of trouble understanding how I ever got in that situation. Having intensely strong signals from my rational side (RUN RUN) and even stronger signals from my emotional side (GO BACK, YOU HAVE TO HELP HER) is a very uncomfortable position for me to be in and something I've never experienced before.

I had a moment of clarity a week ago after my significant other threatened in a calm, honest tone to give me sleeping pills, cut off certain of my body parts, and then make me watch her put them down the garbage disposal. I opened up to my entire family about everything going on over a frantically intense few hours because I realized soon I would go back to hiding what was going on so that everyone would continue to love her. They've rallied around me and prevented me from going back over the last week and it's been the most difficult week of my life. I knew I'd need to hedge against my future decision making because in that moment of clarity I saw the abuse victim cycle I was in. I've intensely wanted to go back at times over the last week and I know I would have if not for people preventing and constantly reminding me not to.

On some level it's fascinating. I've never been this irrational in my life. I can analyze the situation and output an answer that I know is correct intellectually... but every feeling I have is telling me the opposite, and they're the strongest feelings I've ever had. It's very uncomfortable and leaves me feeling like things would be easier if I just went back.

That was a bit long. I'll stop there and write more if there is any interest.