Why we stay: trauma bonding

During my abusive relationship, I refused to leave more times than I can count. When I did leave, I soon returned. The justification that I gave to myself, and others, for this? Well, I loved him, of course!

I really didn’t feel capable of living without him. I was miserable, frightened, and angry at myself – and him – every time I let it go. I didn’t understand how I could love someone who treated me so appallingly. What was wrong with me, I wanted to know? Was I really so crazy I thought this was a normal expression of love? Why was I seemingly prepared to sacrifice so much – my hopes, dreams, financial security, and sense of self – to stay in what I knew was a destructive relationship?

It is only after getting out – struggling with feelings of grief and missing him so madly I thought I must surely be the crazy one – that I began to read, and understand.

What I was feeling sure felt to me like love. But, it wasn’t. It was a result of ‘trauma bonding’.


What is trauma bonding?

Stockholm Syndrome is the most famous example of trauma bonding. The term was coined following a hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, hostages refused to cooperate with the police that were trying to rescue them. The hostages viewed law enforcers as ‘the bad guys’ and sided with their captors. Afterwards, one of the hostages married one of her captors, and others refused to testify against them.

That’s the strength of the trauma bond after a number of hours. How strong is the bond when a woman is captive within an intimate relationship where abuse is unchallenged for weeks, months, or years?

Why does trauma bonding occur?

Trauma bonding occurs when your safety, happiness, or security depends upon your abuser. It’s in your interest to keep your controlling abuser happy. The bond works for your abuser: it keeps you tethered to him. It also, at times, works for you: if you resist and challenge your abuser you are more likely to be injured. For many in abusive relationships, the bond is a strong one – and you will see it as essential to your physical and/ or emotional survival.

What you do when the trauma bond is at work

  • You make excuses for your abuser’s behavior – to yourself and others. He’s not mean, really: he’s just had a bad day and he really doesn’t like the short skirt that I’m wearing
  • You deny the abuse is happening. That doorknob hit you in the face again, right?
  • You feel there is no way out – you think that you can never leave him, and when you do get out, you go back to him
  • You worry how you will survive financially, or practically, on your own. After all, you’re not used to making decisions on your own – how will you ever manage without him?
  • You are isolated from friends and family, and believe that nobody would understand how you feel or be able to help you
  • You live in wait (or hope) that he will return to the good guy he once was. You know, the one that treated you like a princess? He promises sometimes but he never does. You carry on waiting and hoping
  • You feel that you’ve already invested so much time in the relationship, and made so many allowances for him, that payback on your investment must be coming. It isn’t
  • Your self-confidence is so low that you believe nobody else would ever want you. And anyway, he has complete control of you and your life, and would kill any man that even looked twice at you, yes?
  • You start to think like him and modify your behaviour accordingly: if I make sure his dinner is on the table when he gets home, he’ll be pleased and won’t abuse me. If I don’t talk to my friends, he won’t be insecure and he won’t abuse me. If we have a baby, he will know I’m not going to leave him and he won’t abuse me. It doesn’t work.

Service providers feed the bond

Less informed service providers see a woman’s willingness to defend or ignore the abuse she suffers as totally perplexing. ‘Stupid woman loves him. See what she puts up with? What can we do?’ They get fed up with us when we go back to him. They give up on us and take our children away. We become ‘no hopers’.

They and we need to understand that the woman are not experiencing a love-bond. Women need to be given the tools to understand the trauma-bond, and to separate their confusing feelings out  from that catch all phrase: “But I love him”!

Text © Avalanche of the Soul, 2013

42 responses to “Why we stay: trauma bonding

  1. Following, on… f you are isolated, your whole reality can be re-written. You might want to look into ‘gaslighting’ for that one. If you are constantly told something is other than it is. “I did not hit you” “You consented” “I never said that” “you wanted it” “You made me do it” then you start to fell like you are going mad, while the other person is sane and calmly in control and pulling all your strings. It is deliberate. I can recommend the book “Living with the Dominator” as a good tool for unpicking how you’ve been processed into upholding their world view so that you’ve apparently collaborated with being a victim.

    Thank you for sharing all your insights, it’s an excellent blog post, really interesting.


    • Thanks for the interesting points you made in comment, Nimue.

      I’ve read Craven’s ‘Living with the Dominator’ too and it’s well worth a read!

      You’re absolutely right – one of the most awful things about the dominator is how we buy-in to their worldview. Sometimes, it’s because their behavior reflects what society tells us – eg. that a ‘real man’ makes the decisions – and other times it is because in challenging them we expose ourselves to greater risk of further abuse.

      I’d love to look into gaslighting properly. Can you recommend somewhere to start?


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    • Hi scotwalker41, thanks for commenting. I’m glad you think to post is helpful. I wish I’d understood trauma bonding a lot sooner than I did – then maybe I wouldn’t have given myself such a hard time about ‘loving’ my abuser!


      • Yes this is the 1st time I’ve ever heard it explained so well so thank you. It’s helped me understand that trauma bond I had with my father x I think another issue is that many people can’t understand how you can still love someone who is abusing you.


  3. Oh yes, that’s such an old chestnut! Whether it is friends, family, service providers – or complete strangers – many people make a judgement that we are somehow complicit in the abuse, because we stay. It seems so easy for people ‘on the outside’ to tell us to just leave! Trauma bonding explains why it’s not. Glad it’s helped you.


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  6. Reblogged this on Family Court Victim: The War on Women and commented:
    Great blog post on Trauma Bonding. I am sharing because I feel it is important for others to know that this applies to children and teens also not just spouses. Especially in cases where children are placed with abusive fathers who are alienating their children from their mothers. My now 13 year old daughter was kidnapped out of school 18 months ago by a father that she feared and has now oddly aligned with him against me. To me, this is very similar to the psychology of Stockholm Syndrome. Also, please know that domestic violence does not mean that you have to have black eyes and broken bones. My ex-husband – a police officer – did and still does everything BUT beat me. The isolation, the control, the emotional abuse and everything else that you see on the wheel of domestic violence fits him to a tee. I truly believe if he thought he could have gotten away with slamming me to the ground and beating me to a pulp while not losing his precious career in law enforcement then he would. He has pushed me using his body to back me up and things of that nature which is very mild compared to what other women deal with, however, it is abuse. It is intimidation and control. I want people to understand the psychology behind domestic violence and it does not always mean you need to have the black eyes so typically seen in the domestic violence awareness photos and ads. There are many forms of abuse! I grew up in a very emotionally and verbally abusive home environment with some physical abuse as well. I know now, in hindsight, that this affected my self-esteem and confidence and played a huge part in the decisions I made for myself including my choice of a husband. Despite the fact that I worked in social services for the majority of my career, had a very abusive boyfriend in my early 20’s (he was arrested and sentenced to jail for beating me) and was educated about domestic violence, I still never related it back to myself regarding my child hood or my marriage. Until now. Denial? I do not want my daughter and other alienated mom’s daughters to suffer the way I did as a child and to make the bad choices later in life that I did when choosing partners. I want them to be educated. I want them to have self-confidence to not settle and/or choose abusive men. I want them to be happy and free. That is what I want for my daughter and all of the other mom’s daughters. I love you, KJ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have not faced any form of physical abuse but this blog post resonated so much even at an emotional level. Have always wondered why it’s been so tough to walk away from a far from ideal relationship. I always put it down to the head vs heart debate. But what you write rings so true.


    • Hi there, and thanks for commenting. I’m glad the information resonated with you. All too often in such situations we think it is our heart telling us to stay in a toxic relationship – but where there’s abuse, there is frequently a trauma-bond. Understanding it is there is the first step to emotional freedom!


  8. I am several years out of a 21 year abusive marriage. I wish more of the public understood this dynamic behind abuse. I have heard so many negative comments over the years regarding abuse survivors. Being a nurse, I have taken it upon myself to educate others as it comes up often in my line of work. Thank-you for helping to get the info out there.

    A persons perception of reality is truly their reality. I know that the only way I survived for years was repression of my situation. When I walked out the door to go to work in the morning, I had honed the ability to totally repress my life situation. Then upon driving home I would literally become nauseated, never knowing what I was walking into.

    Also this repression allowed me to have the energy needed to try to shield my kids and make their life as normal as possible under horrific conditions and that was a full time job. Looking back, I truly don’t know how I survived without having a nervous breakdown. What the mind well do to protect one is amazing.


    • Hi StillStanding and thank you for adding your voice and experience. You are right to say a that much more information and awareness is needed in order to tackle the victim-blaming that keeps people experiencing abuse trapped, and allows perpetrators to continue abusing.

      I was very interested to read how you managed to compartmentalize your life at home (the abuse) from your professional life. I did this too, and in lots of ways my work was my sanctuary – somewhere I felt safe, respected, and in control.

      I don’t know if this happened to you, but I couldn’t always prevent the abuse from bleeding into my work-life. For example, my ex used to escort me to work sometimes, would turn up unannounced, and haunt my workplace from time to time (letting me know I was always monitored, I guess). I’m sure my colleagues realised something wasn’t quite right, but nobody ever said so.

      And that goes back to the point you made about the lack of information out there. Everybody needs to know how to recognise the signs of abuse – perhaps then more vulnerable people will receive the support that they need.

      You are truly inspirational, to have been through 21 years of this and to get to where you are. Massive kudos to you for that, and your bravery in sharing your experience to help others.


      • Thanks for the reply. I too appreciate reading others thoughts and their experiences. Though we share many things, it is also interesting the different coping skills used. When I was living it, I was not as self aware of my coping skills. Of course looking back, I see things much clearer

        My husband was always keeping tabs on me but he but also uber aware of his own reputation. He had many fooled and most people would be shocked to know what he was like behind closed doors. But there we’re cracks in his facade at times that a few people picked up on. So it did for me bleed into my work life too. So humiliating. I think we could all write a book about our lives. It has really helped me to be able to talk with others that get it. Still healing I guess. Our stories now are our strengths and that is a good thing.
        We all have so much to give to each other through our stories.

        I am curious what your aftermath has been like. I have a very nice man in my life now for several years. One day he told me that when he first became aware of me, he felt there was a sadness about me because my affect was so flat. After this conversation I caught my reflection in a window at the mall and was quite taken aback. I thought, he is right. I was shocked at my own reflection. Funny thing is I have always tried to keep joy in my heart but boy my face did not display that. That is when I began therapy.

        I want everyone to know it does get better however. Everyone deserves to live their hopes and dreams. Again thanks for the feedback. I think we are all stronger and wiser for our experiences. : )

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are right, I think each of us have so much to share about what we learned through these negative experiences. Stronger and wiser for sure!

        You ask how my aftermath has been. The best way I can describe it as a journey back to me. I’ve been through the shock, the fear, regret, grief, convinced I’m missing my ex but utterly terrified of ever seeing him again. Nightmares, low moments, sadness, panic. And of course, relief, comfort, security, freedom, self-respect. The whole gamut of emotion, I guess!

        I largely attribute the avalanche of emotions to a delayed reaction to trauma. I put all those feelings on hold while I concentrated on my coping strategies. Once I got out and after his stalking eased off, there was this huge void where the feelings flooded in. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and totally unprepared for the onslaught of the aftermath. So I can absolutely relate to how you describe feeling ‘flat’.

        Getting where I am today has taken a long, hard slog – and I’ve still got a lot further to go before I can say I’ve truly recovered and moved on.

        Still, hard as it has been, I remain utterly certain that I did the right thing in choosing to leave. It was hard, in lots of ways, but my life has improved. Sometimes the toughest decisions are those most worth making! Thank you again for adding your voice, and for reassuring us all that it does get better. Indeed it does 🙂


      • Hi I find a lot of similarities in my relationship. He has never physically abused me or has never put me down in any way, actually he has always told me what a great person I am. I have broken up with him, it’s been 5 months and I am struggling I cry every day. The relationship was destructive in other ways such as financial. Although he had a great job and made great money he never had any. We lived together for 4 years and constantly he would have no money to contribute. He would blame it on bills and so on. He eventually admitted he was a gambler but says he stopped a while ago but still had the money problems. He is a great guy other than he’s immature irresponsible and a freeloader. In the beginning and throughout the relationship he made me feel like the most beautiful women in the world. As time went on I started to resent him due to the financial issues so I changed. When he would lie or do something wrong when I confronted him he would always twist it back to me like I did something wrong. He would not speK to me for weeks sometimes and I would get so depressed I would forget what the fight was even about. We have mutual friends that we would get together with and he would be a show off like buying everyone drinks like he got it like that. I am trying to give you examples of our relationship to know if it is trauma bonding that I am dealing with. We have gone back and forth over the breakup and I have felt that I can’t go on without him even though I was very unhappy but I did love him or still do. He had lost his mom and he lied to me about some things and that is when I had had enough. I told him to go. He had nowhere to go so he went to his ex wife’s house where his 16 year old daughter is and she let him stay there. I know this man for 30 years we dated as kids and he was married for one year 17 years ago. His ex kept him from the kid many times, lots of fighting in courts until the kid got old enough where the mom had no more control. The one thing is he is a great father alwYs there for his kid emotionally and financially. He has hated his ex wife for many years and has nothing good to say about her but is now staying there and we tried to get back together until I found out he was sleeping with her and he tells me it’s nothing. I literally have felt so broken and lost the last 5 months. I am 52 years old I am a single mom. I have felt I cannot make it through some days even though I know he was not good for me. He did not make my life easier he made it harder. Can you please tell me if I am dealing with trauma bonding? I do not know how to go on


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  10. I am a victim of severe emotional abuse for only the last four months, although there were signs for about a year now. If I ever protested or got angry about the mistreatment, he broke up with me ever so often and then I coaxed him back even when he is in the wrong. This time I am not coaxing him back anymore. But the fact that he’s not tried getting back in touch and seems to have moved on (another girl may or may not be involved) has left me feeling not only emotionally exhausted from the abuse, but also with an intense feeling of unfairness at no justice being served. How do I get rid of that?


    • Hi Tee, I’m so sorry that you have gone through severe emotional abuse. You say it was *only* for four months – I would ask you not to minimise what you experienced. I used to say things like that too, because I would compare myself to others that I thought had gone through far worse than me. It’s really not the point. Abuse is abuse regardless of how long it lasted or whether words or fists were used.

      You are doing the right thing in staying away from this man. Emotional abuse is traumatic, and usually always gets worse rather than better. Each time you coaxed him back, you (unwillingly) sanctioned his emotional violence and without having to face a consequence for his action (the loss of a relationship with you) he was increasingly less likely to ever accept responsibility for the abuse and change his behavior.

      The fact that he seems to have lost interest in your may be a fact (this emotional vampire may have found someone else to feed on) or it could be a hoovering tactic. So please be careful. Read https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/how-to-execute-the-perfect-hoover-manoeuvre/ for more information.

      It *is* exhausting. I too felt emotionally, physically and spiritually, drained which are amongst the symptoms of PTSD by the way. Find out more about PTSD in the aftermath of abuse here https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/ptsd-in-the-aftermath-of-narcissistic-abuse/

      I can also relate to your frustration about the lack of justice in the situation. You have suffered, and yet he seems to get away ‘scot free’. It took me many months after escaping my abuser before I realised that actually, the best justice there is is to keep ourselves safe and move on with our lives. The way you get rid of that feeling is to be good to yourself (in the way that he would never be) and take positive steps forward. Please see my post on this exact topic here: https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/why-moving-on-is-the-best-post-abuse-payback/

      I doubt I’ll ever forgive my abusive ex for what he did, but each day things do get easier. Keep moving forward. Put yourself first, for once. Know that you are one million per cent better off without him in your life. Take care and be happy, and please let us know how you are getting on.


    • Hi Tee, Firstly thank you strongersoulsurvivor. So much. This is without doubt the best thing I have ever read about this type of emotional abuse ( and I have read and read and been in therapy four times). I have been trying to break the bond for seven years. I relapsed after nearly 17 years of no contact. This man first emotionally abused me when I was a young adult for around 1 year. I re-established contact after all that time because it alwasy caused emotional blockage in my life afterwards and felt safe in my life, married and stable. I had minimised the abuse I experienced and assumed I had imagined it all or that he would be a better person years later and I would actually heal from the contact. I was unaware the trauma bond was activating for me and how dangerous this would be.

      I have struggled, like you, with the way I have been manipulated to break my no contact or to try and win him over and convince him I am a nice person; not the bad things he says I am. I have been ‘broken up with’ or given the silent treatment when I have attempted to assert myself or not said or done as he wanted ( quite often I am at a loss about what exactly I’ve done to upset him but if it seems I am withdrawing sexual favours he gets very angry).

      The main tactic I deal with is silent treatment. He worked out very early on this was extremely distressing for me – more so that any other type of abuse he dishes out. He uses it as his favouriate ‘punishment’ to me. He also regularly uses a mixture of extremely nasty character defamation or ambiguous statements about my character ( which leave me confused – is he being nice or nasty?) to manipulate me into justifying myself or ‘trying harder’ to please him. This has led me to a physical relationship with him that I really didn’t want in an attempt to try and get resolution and peace.

      Recently he has rejected me because I refused to be a ‘fuck buddy’ – he refused to give me contact unless it was sexual. He has given me the silent treament and character assinated me and told me there will never be a friendship between us because I fuck everything up. He says I can’t help but press self destruct and I am the one who ruins the relationship ( and a list of the things wrong with me).

      It makes me physically sick and frightened when he says these things even though I am physically scared of him as he is very agressive and demanding sexually. I am relieved I stood up to him though and said no to the ‘arrangement’ he wanted because in the past I have been definant to myself and determined to minimise to myself the level of danger I was in. I’ve taken extreme risks in my life this way to try and experience him ‘being nice’. It’s been amazing to me that I didn’t feel scared of the risk at all – only scared of him not speaking to me and refusing to see me in a good light. I have also been scared that I would feel the attachment for the rest of my life with no way out. It made me do crazy things.

      I try to maintain no contact but break it once or twice a year with bad consequences – sometimes I am just taken apart verbally – other times I am duped into thinking we are finally ‘friends’ but very quickly lose any power I think I have established and end up being physically involved with him again. He has with-held ‘friendship’ to control me into a physical relationship which I felt was better than losing him altogether. The shame that comes from knowing I have courted this and ‘seduced’ him has overwhelmed me even though I am aware that he has manipulated me into this so he doesn’t have to take any responsibility. Its been my grubby, dirty secret. Except he knows. And he knows I know. Which makes it feel even worse.

      I understand the key trigger points I struggle with like significant dates or certain films/ music but mostly I am still unsure about how to deal with them. I take steps to minimise the possibility it will activiate but somehow, at some point, I unconsiciously and seamlessly cross that invisible line from feeling stronger and optimistic about my future without him and determined not to contact him to the dark place where the trauma bond feels too much to resist. My compassion and forgiveness kick in and I project qualities onto him he doesn’t have and find it hard not to ‘miss him’. Its like falling asleep: one minute I am awake the next asleep but no awareness when I moved from one to the other.

      In my life without him I am stronger and more informed than ever and positive about my future and I know this is building over time. But when the bond is activiated ( this can also seem to happen if I acknowledge to myself that time has passed and I might finally be moving on??) I am a scared young women again ( I am 44 now!) who feels desperate to only continue in life with his approval and that it surely has to be possible to get him to just ‘ be nice’.

      When the cycle has moved round and I am in recovery after the fall out from contacting him, I have so much motivation to move forward without him. He is a toxic, dangerous and harmful person. But like you feel Tee, I am still not confident I am coping with my trauma bond that well because I am the one initiating breaks in contact. It feels like I’m being reverse hoovered so he doesn’t have to take responsibility.

      Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience. I feel less alone xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Determined2Survive. Thank you for sharing your story here. I’m so sorry that you are going through this, I know how difficult (and ultimately destructive) it is to feel attached to a toxic person. If I could share only one piece of advice with you, it would be this:

        You are NOT to blame, so please do not feel ashamed. The only person responsible for the way you are treated is the man who has dished out the abuse, and who manipulates you into returning to him. He’ll never accept responsibility though, which means he will never change (I’m sure you know this). The only person capable of breaking this cycle is YOU 🙂

        It is discouraging when attempts to leave fail. I tried and failed numerous times in escaping my abusive ex – but once I realised that only I had the power to improve my life, I stuck to no contact and fought every instinct that urged me to break it. Eventually, the pull of the trauma bond weakened. Now, he is not in my life at all and I feel no attachment to him at all. Best of all, I am happier than I ever could have imagined while this soul-sucker had his claws in me. Please keep strong and don’t give up. It’s SO worth it. x


  11. Hi,

    I think you are doing an extraordinary job here. Thank you very much for this.
    My case is a particular one. I met him while I was studying abroad and we truly lived a movie-like relationship. My family and friends loved him and encouraged me to move into his country, where I had nothing. As soon as I got there the abuse started, this and his refusal to work, study or simply to get out of the house. Of course, this was all my fault because I wasn’t supportive enough! Then came the physical violence. Nothing too serious to send me to the hospital, obviously. He would push me against the furniture, bite me, throw me against the floor, punch my arm, stuff like that. Then I finally decided to move out and go back to my country and my family. A week before my departure, he convinced me to go meet him in his apartment. As I was all alone in a foreign country, I ended up staying those final days with him. Luckily my mom had bought me an expensive plane ticket, because God knows I would have stayed with him. He was just so charming and lovely… I almost called off my trip back home. But now I am safe and being taken care of, 10.000 km away from him.


    • Thank you for taking time to share your story, Liana. How traumatic it must have been to be so far from your family and friends whilst all of that was going on. The fact that you were so isolated would have been ideal for your ex – they regularly try to cut off their targets from anyone that may reach out to them and potentially help them to escape. So, a massive well done to you for getting away from him, despite that. I’m really happy to know you’re out and safe again.


  12. Thank you for posting such good info. My situation was a bit different than some of the ones I am reading about here. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my mom remarried 2 yrs later. I was literally kidnapped across state lines when I was 9 yrs old by my mother and stepfather. My dad and my brothers had no idea what happened to us or where we went. My stepfather was a malignant narcissist, sadistic and cruel. He had us isolated and under his thumb. He was abusive to my mom, but far more to me. Eventually my mom conceded and together they used me as their scapegoat for anything and everything that ever went wrong. He was a pathological liar, physically, verbally, emotionally abusive, but what was the worst was being made to believe that my very real (and accurate) perceptions were not only wrong, but incredibly irrational and evidence of being mentally disturbed. When a crazy person wants you to believe that you yourself are crazy, it slowly drives you mad. Especially as a child- being “trained” how to think and feel- and being taught to defer to the disordered individual for your own sense of reality- its sickening and sadistic and tortuous. It ifeels emotional rape. 18 yrs of that. I tried to tell teachers and counselors. No one believed me because he was so smart, so charming, so “kind”. It was all an act. At age 12 he changed the locks on the doors to the house and said I couldnt live there anymore. He tortured me and tormented me for hours on end, removed my bedroom door so he could enter my room any time he took a notion to be in there. Once as a means of self defense at age 12, he had me arrested for attempted murder cuz I pulled a knife on him. A 12 yr old girl against a grown man? I hardly think he was frightened. it was a game to him. My mom just stood there. Always. She just stood there and did nothing to protect me. See I didnt choose this person. I was a child without the benefit of choice. Now, as an adult, I am trained to operate a certain way around these condescending narcissistic types. I feel powerless and completely weak and incapable. And after 15 yrs of being married to my husband, I realize that his sister is exactly the same as my stepfather. After the latest tirade of my sister in law, I have finally begun to put all these pieces of abuse together. I am finally realizing that I AM not crazy. And I did not choose these relationships. How can I heal from this when I am AGAIN the target of another sadistic narcissist? I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD. I am in therapy but my husband’s family wants to stay in their dysfunctional system, and again, I am the scapegoat.


  13. Hi KB

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve went through all of this. You are an self-aware individual and I’m pleased to learn that you are getting support through therapy.

    Unfortunately, when a disordered narcissist is in your life, they will inevitably wreak havoc and pain as easily as breathing. I recognise that you did not choose this woman as your sister-in-law, and that it has implications for your family, but my advice to you is to remove this woman from your life. This does not prevent your husband or any other relative for having a relationship with her, but make it clear to them that you are not willing to interact with her at all. You are not willing to play her games, or be the scapegoat, or any other role she has picked out for you. And, prepare yourself to support them when she turns on them.

    I wish you luck.


  14. I feel I’ve woken from a dream. it was a place where I thought we had a good life, I knew what I suffered was abuse but it was just his bad temper. I was causing it anyhow I thought. I was too pushy, critical or negative about his behavoir. That is what he always said. It was a place he had total control. Control over mine and our kids happiness, freedom, choices, friendships, sense of safety…everything really. But if I just tried hard enough to keep him happy, we would all be okay.

    I see now I wasn’t being critical, negative, pushy. I was resisting his abuse. I’ve woken from the dream. It wasn’t me and the kids causing these horrible outbursts, it was him…he was just having the violent outbursts to up his control of me. I’ve been terrorised and stood over for nearly 18years. The abuse I’ve suffered is horrific if I choose to look at it objectively. I’ve raised our 3 kids almost independently of him while living under the same roof.

    I love the man despite his horrible ways, I always will. I also believe that I share a traumatic bond with him, it’s been absolutely terrible each time I’ve tried o leave him. Last time he held a very sharp carving knife to my throat, told me he would kill me. He then said he was going to kill himself saying “look what you’ve pushed me to !!! “. he left the house speeding away in his car while I called the police. I drove around looking for him, crying saying to myself “what have I done, what have I done ?”. I know now I didn’t cause him to do this behavior, it was a nasty tactic to get me to stay.

    I left him seven weeks ago. Some days I miss him so much I feel I can’t bear it. I think if we didn’t have children I might stay, I could bear the abuse but it is for the love and responsibility of them that I left him. I have lots of professional support. The intervention order I took against him means no contact, I’m glad for it as I don’t trust myself otherwise, I know I can be manipulated by him. It’s easy to manipulate a person who is already damaged and suffering from the effects of trauma. The 12 month order should give me time to heal and get my thinking straight. I don’t want to ever take him back as I believe he really may kill me. I struggle so much with the invisible magnetic pull that seems so powerful, pulling me back to him. I need to learn everything about abuse and traumatic bonding to help me break free for good. Thank-you for the amazing website !!!


  15. You write of Stockholm Syndrome: “Afterwards, one of the hostages married one of her captors,”

    This is an urban myth. Please correct this.
    The Stockholm Syndrome as it is used today in psychology is a valid “diagnosis” in itself, but is has no relation whatsoever as to what happened in Stockholm those days.

    This link is a good start to start separating “historical fact” from “Giving a name to a Syndrome”.

    In summary: the captors started to sympathize with their victims, which made it possible for the victims to start sympathize with their captors. Without the move of the captors towards their victims, history as it played out in Stockholm would probably have been different.
    More like how the effects of “Stockholm Syndrome” are nowadays viewed by Psychology.
    The historical case does NOT fit present day “Stockholm Syndrome”-definition.


    • Okay, so what I understand from your comment is that events as reported during the historical incident in Stockholm were not correct. However Stockholm Syndrome has since become a psychological definition for a very real condition. Arising from factors such as those detailed in the article, it is a survival strategy for victims (captors), as is trauma bonding.


      • Yes, indeed. But since the historical case has little to do with how ‘Stockholm Syndrome” nowadays is ‘applied’, these historical references are confusing.
        And really: this victim did not marry her captor, there was no ‘engagement’ (as in: engaged to be marred) either, nor an ‘affair’.

        It’s a bit like saying nowadays the word “atom” means “indivisible”/”Unsplittable”, and leave it with that. This is ‘true’, it’s what it means in ancient Greek.

        But the comparison is only a bit fitting. This marriage myth has not been true at any point in time. It’s been a misinterpretation/translation of Swedish into English. It’s amazing, and detrimental to the understanding of “Stockholm Syndrome” to keep repeating this ‘false fact’, 50 years later. No matter how innocent the source of this mix-up.


  16. Pingback: TRAUMA BONDING - Signs it may be holding you back. - The Minds Journal·

  17. Pingback: Useful links – Iris Finds Freedom·

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