How to Love a Woman Who Has Been To Hell & Back


When she feels too much, love her.

When she feels not enough, love her harder.

Sometimes she won’t hurt and the light will shine from her eyes and her laughter will be a rare and precious melody.

But sometimes she will hurt so much from the trauma still in her body; she will ache, she will feel pain and anguish. The light will grow dim and the music will fade.

When she is the light, love her.

When she is the darkness, love her harder.

She will always love you with caution, with one foot out the door. For she does not understand a love with no conditions, one that is powerful enough to withstand hard times.

She cannot allow herself to fully trust in your love, and she will keep parts of her heart hidden—the parts that have been hurt the most, the parts she can’t risk being hurt again when she has worked so hard to stitch them together.

She will always watch, wait and expect you to leave first.

And when you don’t, she has a truth written upon her heart that says you will—it’s only a matter of time, for everyone who loves her leaves her.

And so she will seek to sabotage the relationship; she will seek to destroy it, she will seek to leave first, she will seek to hurt you before you can hurt her.

This is how she stays in control, this is how she survives, how she will ensure she will not get hurt again.

When she wants to love you, love her.

When she wants to hurt you, love her harder.

Being out of control terrifies her. Don’t ever make her feel powerless, trapped or without her freedom.

She needs to dance barefoot under enormous blue skies, to feel sand between her toes, to run with wolves as the wind weaves magic through her hair, for here is where her healing is found. Never clip her wings, for if she has the freedom to fly, she will always come back to you.

Love her when it’s easy, and love her harder when it’s not.

Love her in a way that will defy all she has ever known love to be.

Love her because you understand with every fiber of your soul the gift of her love, what it has cost her to offer you her fragile heart.

She does not need you. She has chosen you.

Because you have what it takes to survive the storm.

Because even when she doesn’t know how to love, you know how to love harder.

Because that is the way to win her heart and soul.


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By Kathy Parker
Printed with permission

*EDIT* – From the author

Last year I published the article, How To Love A Woman Who Has Been To Hell and Back. This article has since been republished on more websites than I could even tell you. It has been shared hundreds of thousands of times all around the world, and has received millions of views. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of messages I’ve received from women who have thanked me for giving them the words they could never say.

Writer. Poet. Survivor. Warrior. Word Alchemist. Kathy Parker is a lover of beautiful words and wide open spaces; a wild heart, passionate soul and gentle spirit. She is a survivor of abuse, a sufferer of Complex-PTSD. Her greatest desire is to see all women empowered with the truth of their glorious worth. She is a contributor for The Mighty, Thought Catalog, Truth Code, Lessons Learned In Life and The Minds Journal and also has writing published at Huffington Post Australia and Elephant Journal. The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon he Unravelled Heart


  1. So many misunderstand the premise of this essay. It is NOT about taking abuse from someone. The author is NOT talking about the damaged woman abusing anyone, unless you call a damaged woman fleeing to take time for herself abuse. A damaged woman often takes one step forward and two steps back in her relationships. I believe the author is saying to have patience and understanding and love. There is a difference between loving a damaged woman and loving a sociopath, narcissist, abuser or mentally deranged person.

  2. This whole piece is utter garbage. You’re excusing some of the worst behavior I have ever encountered. I was strong, I did try to stick it out and she just took that as a license to become an absolute monster.

    You are advocating taking abuse and basically suggesting that anybody that cannot love a borderline doesn’t have the stomach for it.
    You are delusional and almost certainly BPD yourself. If a man wrote this and said: “When he gets angry and gives you a slap, hug him,” the world would be up in arms.

    BPD women are the most destructive people I have ever encountered. I understand that it comes from trauma, but it manifests itself as pure evil.

    Anybody that is being abused should run in the opposite direction and excusing the behavior with this ridiculous diatribe makes you a massively sub-standard person. If anybody listens to you, then you could seriously have blood on your hands.

    If you’re locked in this broken, horrendous type of relationship then please ignore the psychotic ramblings of this disordered author. I found some really great people that helped me leave and get through it, they have their own websites and Youtube channels.

    Dr Tara Palmatier and Richard Grannon might just have pulled me back from the brink and you can find links to their material in this article:

  3. No surprise that your readership tends to be 100% against the crap that is being encouraged by your essay. Of course, you hear praise from the afflicted and those who thoughtlessly abuse their partners and excuse their behavior because nobody knows what they have been through and if they did they would understand why they are the way they are.
    EveryONE…all of us…have been through struggles and have issues. Sure, some worse than others. But, we have to draw the line when people refuse to accept accountability for causing others pain and continue to do it for selfish reasons and childish reasons.
    The first thought I have is that if there were an article that urged women who were victims of abuse, especially physical abuse, to just love their abusive partners harder claiming that ‘they only hit you because they are afraid to get hurt themselves,’ then there would probably be riotous boycotts and internet mobs setting fire to the cyber aether.
    Truthfully, if someone wants to love her more, help her work through it all, tolerate what happens, then may they be happy and successful with their partner. But, if someone wants to run, then they should run and run fast. And, by the same token, if someone wants to push back by being aloof, by leaving the second they are told to “Just go”, by answering their abusive games with a well-developed set of counter-measures, then let them have at it with as much support and urge those who are strung about by fleeting men who they can’t figure out and who lead them chasing from one year to the next to just ‘love and chase them harder.’

  4. In really don’t know how I got here but after reading this I feel I need to chime in. This article is complete and utter BS!

    It’s trying to say is that if a woman has been hurt/damaged than her new “lover” will need to put up with her abuse and love her unconditionally until she hopefully “sees the light” and trusts him. The truth is, the relationship will never work.

    Plenty of people have been hurt or abused and have moved on to normal relationships. If anything, the women who have been “through hell and back” should be the first to understand that acting like the ones in this article is abusive,

    It’s simple really, don’t get in a relationship if you can’t trust others. If you are with someone who plays games like this then just leave, it will never get better.

  5. Sorry, but this is a recipe for disaster. Yes it is asking the man to take the higher spiritual path, which is always recommended. But what does it ask of the women?
    And here lies the problem, grant me carte blanche, and in return….”don’t smother me with expectations! Don’t you know I’ve been to hell and back!”

    This will not work simply because, when a damaged women, has gotten everything she can out of the men, she has “conquered him” and off to the next conquest she goes. In an attempt to feed her broken ego.
    Good try, the wisdom in this article is alright. but its a fantasy, as it does not account for the role and behaviour of the female.
    At what point does she have to “love him and love him harder”?

  6. I would try to translate the text, based on my experience with girls, feeling the same way.
    “It is not that I was not loved, or they failed to love me the way I demand. It just me, I am broken, incapable to love and trust. That is why they all left, but I am incapable to find something wrong inside me.”
    What does it mean “love harder”? Is it a name of a low budget p*rn movie?
    It is sad that somebody hurted you Kathy, but sometime people do, except some broken individuals that hurts everybody who loves them. It is also sad to see that there are a lot of enablers online.
    The saddest thing is that all of the “broken hearts” are not considering that it is all their fault. I will put it in this way. Why should somebody leave you, if he is feeling good with you? And how it is all his fault? There is in my country some thing like this ” Who has been pis*ing and sh*ting in my pants?

    Wish you fast recovery and finally meet someone “good enough” and “capable to love you the right way”. Leave this “harder” for expressing the feelings in the night. It is not connected in any way with loving somebody.

  7. I was on board with this article until this line:

    “And so she will seek to sabotage the relationship; she will seek to destroy it, she will seek to leave first, she will seek to hurt you before you can hurt her. This is how she stays in control, this is how she survives, how she will ensure she will not get hurt again.”

    Just because someone has been through hell and back doesn’t give them the right to put others through hell. This only perpetuates the cycle of abuse. If she copes by hurting others then it’s only reasonable that her previous partners left her; no one deserves that.