What abusers hope we never learn about trauma bonding

Do you think you can’t leave your abusive partner? Do you feel hopeless when you return to a relationship filled with pain? Or, do you dwell on your toxic ex and struggle to stay away? Then you may be caught in a carefully crafted trauma bond – but you don’t need to be Houdini to escape.

Photo by Clearly Ambiguous

Photo by Clearly Ambiguous

Traumatic bonding is a hit with abusers, because it helps him to maintain much-needed control. It helps him keep you where he wants you: tethered to him and his soul-destroying behaviour. But, the bond isn’t as iron-clad as he imagines. Here’s FIVE things he hopes you don’t know about traumatic-bonding, and how to shake off the shackles.

1. What is trauma bonding?

Traumatic-bonding is an intense attachment to your abuser. It happens when you feel emotionally and physically dependent upon a dominant partner – who dishes out abuse and rewards so you believe that he’s all-powerful.

“powerful emotional attachments are seen to develop from two specific features of abusive relationships: power imbalances and intermittent good-bad treatment.”(Dutton and Painter, 1981)

2. Abusers reward and abuse to maintain power

Your abuser is all about power and control. He (or she) systematically erodes your ability to think and act independently, using a range of manipulative tactics which may include:

  • physically abusing or intimidating you
  • gas-lighting you so you doubt our own judgement
  • isolating you from friends and family that may be able to help
  • manipulative lies designed to undermine your self-esteem and run you down
  • making sure that your time, energy and other resources are focussed on solely his needs
  • keeping you continually short of money (financial abuse).

What’s more, most abusers pepper their abuse with ‘rewards for good behaviour’. Maybe you get a thank-you kiss for managing to get his dinner on the table at the right time. Perhaps he takes you out for dinner to make up for last night’s drunken tirade. You may have heard – at least once, and probably repeatedly – that you are the best thing that ever happened to him (when he isn’t labelling you a  worthless whore, that is). You feel relief, hope, and even happiness – however temporary.

3. Abusers want us to feel dependent

Photo by Occhi Rivoluzionari

Photo by Occhi Rivoluzionari

He controls whether you are happy or sad, whether you are safe or in pain, if you are secure and comfortable or lonely and filled with self-loathing. Under this determined conditioning, you may (inaccurately) believe he is stronger than you. While this may make you cleave to him for protection, it also fuels your sense of powerlessness – making it harder to challenge or escape him.

In time, like a baby, you feel dependent upon your abuser for all of your emotional and physical needs. You form a powerful emotional attachment to him, which he doggedly reinforces through a pattern of abuse and reward.

Learning theorists have found that this intermittent reinforcement/punishment pattern develops the strongest of emotional bonds. Particularly intense relationships and extreme abuse forms even stronger feelings of attachment.

The trauma bond from intermittent abuse and power imbalance makes it hard but not impossible to escape domestic violence.

Tweet: Trauma bond from intermittent abuse & power imbalance makes it hard but not impossible to leave #DomesticViolence http://ctt.ec/kbZHn+

This powerful attachment – which arises directly from sustained periods of intermittent abuse and power imbalance – is known as traumatic-bonding.

4. Resisting the bond isn’t easy, but we can break free

Some suggest that the trauma bond triggers biological changes as well as emotional ones. This may cause you to be dependent on the highs and lows of the abuse cycle. Going ‘cold turkey’ seems impossible.

In addition, abusers are difficult to shake off. To get free, you have likely endured physical or emotional assaults including emotional blackmail and hoovering campaigns. These are the abuser’s attempts to maintain control, and they haul repeatedly on the trauma-bond to do it.

Often, you bounce back because – painful though it is to live with an abuser – your sense of self-reliance is utterly eroded and it hurts to battle the emotional attachment to him. I was only able to successfully leave my abuser on the third serious attempt. Many other times I was determined to leave, but didn’t.

5. Time really is a healer

Photo by wwarby

Photo by wwarby

To stay out, I had to fight not only my abuser and his determined hoovering – I also had to fight myself. Many times I wanted to answer his calls. Often, I lay in bed at night, imagining the route I’d drive to get back to him. I could just hop in the car and go! That would stop the ache in my ribs, right? When he came to my door to insist on my return, a part of me cried out to give in each time.

I was exhausted, hypersensitive and anxious – all symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Waves of grief and pangs of longing left me breathless. But, as his hoovering turned to stalking, I listened to my head rather than my heart. Sticking to my Essential To Do list, the trauma-bond weakened with each day that passed. Life got easier. I grew stronger.

Researchers have found that after six months, attachment decreases by about 27 per cent. For those of us struggling with traumatic bonding, time really is a healer.

REMEMBER:

“You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win.” (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels)

You are always stronger than your abuser. You have the ability to leave, at any time. Getting out is hard, but not impossible. You  can help yourself by recognising that it is not love that’s pulling you back – rather, it’s a powerful emotional attachment that he created as a direct result of his abuse. The avalanche of emotions that you feel are normal. You are not crazy or weak because you feel that tug on the trauma-bond. In time, the bond will weaken – and working on your own recovery can help this process along.

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Have you felt the pull of the trauma bond? How did it make you feel, and what impact did it have?

ALSO SEE: Find out if you are trapped by traumatic-bonding, in Why we stay: trauma bonding.

162 responses to “What abusers hope we never learn about trauma bonding

  1. Trauma Bonding–I hadn’t heard of it till now–and I believe that’s what I experienced (my post today writing the letter to Daddy. This is really helpful to me now. Thank you.

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      • That means the world to me, thank you. You know so much more than me about abuse. I’ve much to learn and your blog is a great resource. Thanks!

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      • Well, you do a terrific job. I guess we never feel like we have all or enough answers. If we all do our part in sharing our stories, one by one victims will find the courage to step out of the shadows.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You mentioned a letter to daddy, and there was a recommendation that all of its should read it. I’d really like to! I have “leftover issues” from my last husband..over ten years since we divorced.. and I’d like to be able to see myself in another relationship at some point. I have Enormous trust problems! Is there a link to where I might find your”letter to daddy”? Somehow, I have a feeling it might help me, too.
      Thank you ever much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Writing letters to my parents was extremely healing for me. I left no stone unturned in them. I had to take them off my blog for now, since they are now in my memoir Secrets in Big Sky Country due for release in Sept. The book is on my blog and Amazon. I highly recommend writing it out!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the best information on trauma bonding that I’ve seen. It’s so complicated, my heart is heavy, almost paralyzed just thinking if going no contact again. I left 3 times. A few months break each. I’m do strong and then I give in. He doesn’t give up. It’s no compliment either. It just means he thinks I’m a sucker. Thank you for writing things out very clearly.

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    • Welcome and thank you Bunnyshy

      I’m passionate about this because I was caught in a trauma bond too. I’m sorry that you are going through this. I know exactly how daunting and exhausting it is: that’s how he wants you to feel.

      No contact is like going ‘cold turkey’ – total withdrawal from your abuser, so it IS hard. But, it is worth it because we effectively close down his emotional blackmail and hoovering. I believe it to be a huge factor in making my last escape attempt a successful one.

      You seem an astute, aware woman – and you know what you want to do and what it takes. Please don’t be discouraged by previous unsuccessful attempts. Reach out to people who can help. Involve the police if he won’t respect your wishes and stay away.

      Take care, and keep safe.

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      • I have tried for years to put into words why I have repeatedly went back to my abusive husband. My family has helped me start over with my children more times than I can count! Every time that I went back to my husband, I truly believes that this was the time that our lives would be different. And every time, the abuse would resume and I was left confused, feeling crazy and hating myself for putting myself and my children in the position again.

        My family and friends still feel the pain and anger that I experienced with them over the years. I can recall many incidents, but the feelings of fear, pain and betrayal are not there for long. I always wished that I could continue to feel it all because that was my barrier, my reason not to trust him again. I am realizing now that the barrier is this trauma bond.

        I recently left my husband again. My children are now teenagers and I have spent 20 years immersed in this cycle. Thank you for this post. I am going to read it when I feel my resolve weaken and look forward to the bond with my husband weakening until it completely falls away!

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      • Dear anonymous

        Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post, which I hope will be of help to you. I’m sorry that you have endured what you have, but you are clearly an extremely aware and determined woman.

        I know how it feels. Those negative emotions can spur us to action, but with distance they can lessen – and feelings like longing and regret can creep in.

        However, your resolve to be free, as well as the information you are equipping yourself with, WILL make a difference. It did for me.

        You of course know by now that your husband won’t change, but you have already made a huge step forward in escaping him, and reclaiming your power. Understanding how traumatic-bonding works was a light-bulb moment for me, and whilst I can’t say it was easy to stay out, the knowledge helped enormously. Each day, it gets easier.

        Please do let me know how you get on. Be free, be safe, be happy!

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  3. If there is anything I learned from my experience with an emotional/verbal abuser is they got a lot of issues (and they are not your problem to fix) underneath their horrible treatment towards others. I vowed to myself to learn every possible lesson I could so I wouldn’t mistaken abuse again. I understood why I became a victim but once a good friend approached me and sat down with me and explained to me that what I was dealing with wasn’t at all normal and I started to see things that my ex was doing. I started to read up on emotional and verbal abuse- things started to make sense. Thank God for my support system that I was fortunate to have. Not only that but I found a video recording on my phone that I hadn’t known was recorded a moment that he was verbally and emotionally abusing me. I felt I had a guardian angel by my side thought my life but even more so I felt something was protecting me. And that recording was to me a confirmation. There was no way I would have gone into my phone, click the video recording app and recorded that moment. Anyways, when I listened to that video, afterwards I knew if I stayed, I was no longer a victim but the perpetrator myself because I would allow myself to succumbed to such treatment and underneath all my pain and low self-esteem something pulled me right up to say “Christina, get the hell out of there!” Christina, why are you even here right now? Christina why are you crying? You deserve to feel happy, safe and be respected. Today, I have those times when I go, has he changed? Is he treating that new gf of his well? or how much I would like to tell the next woman-RUN for the hills from him!! However, it’s no longer my business. Just be glad you are out and educate those around you that you love and do your best to educate others if you can. I want to protect the world but I know all I can do is help in the small ways I can. That’s what keeps me going. God bless.

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    • Hi Christina and thank you for your comment. You make some great points.

      You are right – many people try to cope with verbal/emotional abuse without seeking help, because we may not realise that we don’t have to accept it.

      I am sorry that this happened to you, but I’m glad you are out of that relationship. It sounds like you are doing a great job reaching out to others in the same situation. It may seem like small things that you are doing, but they can make a huge difference.

      Like

  4. Thank you so much for this. I left my ex a year ago but I thought I was still in love with him until a brief internet search today helped me find out about trauma bonding. Recently I have trouble sleeping and nervous stomach aches again. But I have book-marked your Essential To Do List which is really good advice. I try to do No Contact but we have kids so I see him briefly at handover. The Freedom Programme was helpful, but I’m surprised it didn’t mention trauma bonding.

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    • Hi Anastasia and thank you for commenting. I wish I knew this long before I did, too.

      I’m sorry to hear you went through traumatic bonding, but pleased to know you’re recovering. That’s a huge achievement.

      Like

  6. I came across your site and I am lost I have been in a 9 yr relationship with a wolf in sheeps clothing. I guess all the signs were there but my love rather my uncondtional love superseeded all the obvious red flags. I have had a few manic days where I show up at his job crying for him to love and he ignores me and wondering why he has given me mixed signals and how can he love another female while on social networking sites fishing for others, I have watched his movements and I am ashamed. I am ashamed of myself and my life that I have allowed a man to have so much power on my being. I feel like I am i know that i am the common denomiator here and its all my fault for accepting the things he has done to me.. I am completely depleted and i have no self worth. he is the source of my misery and my happiness and I cant seem to let go or move on. I have been enduring this abnormal relationship for 9 years and i feel i have wasted my life away. I am so ready to give up on life I cant move forward I question myself as a woman why me? what did I do to deserve this. I am a walking zombie, a lady came to me today and sat mext to me and prayed she said she sensed something was wrong.

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    • Hi Lost, and thank you for visiting. I’m glad you found my blog and I hope that something on here is of help to you.

      First, I want to say that I am sorry that you are in this position. Nine years is a long time to have to live like that – long enough for traumatic bonding to convince you that you love and need him (when the opposite is true).

      But you need to know that it is absolutely NOT your fault. That is what he wants you to think, because then you stay and he doesn’t have to change. Each and every time he lays the blame on you, is him trying to consolidate his control over you. You don’t have to accept it.

      Getting out and moving on is hard. I won’t lie to you on that. But, I can tell you that ending this relationship is the one single most important thing you can do to improve your situation, and to win the happiness that he is trying to keep from you. You may think you are not strong enough. Well, I thought that too. I was ground-down, exhausted, doubting my self-worth and judgement – but there came a point when I realised there was only one person capable of changing my situation: me. And if I can do it, so can you 🙂

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  7. Pingback: I found a letter I wrote to my abusive X before the divorce…. Have you ever wondered how abused people think? | This is Important·

  8. Lost: You did nothing to deserve this. This man has reduced you to this state of misery because he needs to control you. Getting out is incredibly difficult, especially when he has depleted all of your energy and self worth. For me the first step was to read a book called The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverley Engel. My second step was that I phoned Relate – they will give you a telephone conversation for £40. My third step was to begin seeing a counsellor and this finally gave me the strength to leave – plus the love and support of my friends. I hope that sharing my steps might help you. xxx

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    • Great advice here Narrowboat Wife! Thank you for sharing your experience, I’m certain it will help.

      The only thing I’d add is that there are lots of free sources of professional support available too. For those that live in Britain, Women’s Aid runs a confidential and free helpline (though it is not counselling) and if women have experienced domestic violence they can refer themselves (usually via social services) to local domestic violence services, which often offer support groups, counselling, and classes which are well worth checking out!

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  9. “Traumatic bonding is a hit with abusers, because it helps *him* to maintain much-needed control…
    So when a woman is the abuser, is she merely acting in a masculine way?

    Why is it that most writers on relationship abuse cannot fathom that abuse is an equal opportunity gig, dished out equally by both sexes?

    The form abuse manifests may take one predominately different forms over another depending on the gender,, but physical abuse is no more important than emotional and mental abuse.
    There is no such thing as the morally superior sex. Both human sexes are equally capable of and in fact equally participate in relationship abuse.

    I’m sure the rate of male suicide over victim of relationship abuse is much higher than that of female suicide over relationship abuse. Abused men tend to suffer in silence. Doesn’t mean we can’t keep them in our thoughts too.

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    • Hi Andre

      As I say here (https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com/about/) I use the male example for consistency and fully acknowledge that women can be perpetrators too.

      I disagree with your point that women are as likely to be abusive as men – the research doesn’t yet back up your statement.

      Whoever is doing the abusing, domestic abuse is horrific and unacceptable, and men who are suffering at the hands of an intimate partner are of course in my thoughts.

      Like

    • Abuse is not “an equal opportunity gig, dished out equally by both sexes.” Personality disorders do afflict both genders, but the fact remains that around the globe and throughout history, it is predominantly men who commit crimes, including violence; from wife-battering to genocides, and it is men who fill the prisons. Testosterone and the “warrior gene” account for the lop-sided statistics.

      Liked by 2 people

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  12. Wow,THANK YOU ! I’ve been trying to break free from a highly emotionally abusive marriage for the last 2 1/2 yrs.I’ve been studying about Narc abuse,borderline personality disorder ect..anything I can to figure out what’s happening.About 6months ago,I found info on a Trauma Bonding,more is coming out all the time about it.Your article is the best, it just nails it.My ex and I have broken up countless times and we don’t even live together but the hovering,gets me every time..I’m stronger though,each time,I learn more and get stronger..the more I understand , the easier it gets to stay away and do no contact.I have my phone blocked from him,I’m not answering emails ect..but he’s not trying much at the moment..it’s been worse..coarse we have gone almost two months before and then,the hovering..as soon as I open at all,he’s there,with his empty promises ect..he’s like a bad drug,I miss him,I want to unblock the phone ect..but I need to fight the urge..it’s always the same ole thing and I get hurt,abandoned ect..I’ve called him a monster..sometimes it really feels like he is..but he’s a just a sick ,lost,weak ,broken man…I am trying to let go,let go of the pain,betrayal,hate ect..and forgive and move on..it’s not easy,I’m doing it though.Your article is going to be used by me,when I miss him,I’m going to read it again…thank you,THANK YOU

    Like

    • Dear beachgerl50

      I’m so sorry that you have been through all of this, and that you are finding it hard – but many congratulations to you on making the break. Massive kudos to you! I know how hard it is to make that step. I’m extremely impressed at your self-awareness, and that you are working so hard to understand what has happened to you and to steel yourself against your abuser’s hoovering tactics.

      Escaping from abuse, and recovering from it are processes that we need to work at. You’re doing exactly that, so I have every confidence that you *will* escape this man forever. I sincerely hope that my experience and research, which I’ve shared in this post, will be grist to your mill.

      You seem a strong, determined woman. I know it can be disheartening when past attempts to leave fail. It took me several serious attempts before I was able to resist my ex’s hoovering. I was convinced I loved him. I felt sorry for him, because he was broken and I thought only I could fix him. I now know that I wrong on all counts – I was thinking exactly what he wanted me to think. I couldn’t fix him because he didn’t want to be fixed. You can’t change your man, either. But you are making a huge step forward in improving your own life, by building one without him.

      Don’t give up. Keep safe, be happy.

      Like

  13. Reblogged this on Killing Me Softly: Emotional & Psychological Abuse and commented:
    For the past week I’ve been mulling over writing a post about ‘Abuse and the Psychology of Addiction.’ Having studied some psychology at university years ago, and keeping up with a lot of the literature over the years, I could see clearly how the emotional attachment that forms between an abuser and his/her victim can be so intense and all-consuming. The same dynamics are at play when we are addicted to a substance – the cravings, not being able to live without our ‘hit’, the desperation and despair when we’re separated from our substance – it all feels the same way when you’re ‘in love with an abuser’ and the bond is actually established in the same manner. That is, through conditioning. It is maintained via a method that is well-known by psychologists, who agree that an emotional response formed by using this method, is incredibly hard to extinguish. The method is that of intermittent reinforcement. I will leave my ramblings there and allow my fellow blogger at ‘Avalanche of the soul’ to inform you in her own eloquent words.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this post and I have come back to it time and time again, today another person’s blog suggested that writing about these things may suggest the trauma bond is still in place, it is a fascinating concept. The trauma bond does weaken, thankfully. Thank you for your helpful post.

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    • You’re very welcome, and thank you for commenting. There’s truth in what you say – we do write about issues that are close to our hearts.

      Interestingly though, studies have shown that *writing* (rather than talking) about trauma is hugely beneficial because it forces us to articulate ourselves coherently. It works for me, anyway 🙂

      And you’re right – if we work on our recovery, the trauma bond does indeed weaken.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Today is my third day ALONE! Just me and my rescue doggie! I am 62, female, retired (homemaker? lol) Spent 27 years totally abused. Came from abusive past. Raised 5 daughters. Three are abusive. Two are not. Unbeknown to me, remarried, yep, a snake in a suit! Stalked me down at church! Another abuser, it was another 10 years of hell. Which ended Friday. If it had not been for internet, I would have never figured things out! Narcissism was never discussed in my generation of Baby Boomers. Trauma Bonding is a new find today. Last week I learned hoovering. A little slow on the uptake, it took me a while to learn love bombing concept. Boy have I woke up thanks to all you lovelies!!! I was actually able to tell him I do not love him any more the day I kicked him out last week. I had tried two weeks prior, but he hoovered me by saying he nearly froze to death (it is cold and snowy here). Well I did not want to be guilty contributing to his death!! Not morally right! (He got me on that one). Ha! But I kept surfing the net and God helped me! The day, the morning, of his exit, I was praying for help, and strength and for things to go smoothly! Surprise, like the lady with the video on her phone, it was another miracle! The telephone rang at 7:45 AM! NO ONE CALLS ME AT THAT HOUR! IT WAS THE FREAKING FBI! (FOFL)
      THEY WANTED TO COME INTERVIEW ME ABOUT MY SON-IN-LAW. HE FLIES OSPRAT HELOS THAT TURN INTO JETS. HIS CLEARANCE IS WAY HIGHER THAN FBI. BUT I CANNOT TELL YOU THE CORRECT ACRONYM THE AGENT THAT CAME, HAD. ALL I KNOW IS THAT I WAS SO RATTLED BY SUCH A QUICK RANDOM ANSWER TO PRAYER!
      I FELT SUPERCHARGED, AND SO I HAD BACKUP IF HE GAVE ME ANY TROUBLE! BWA HA HA! HE IS GONE!!!!!;-) I love this blog! Stay strong sisters!
      He said the funniest thing packing…I hate psychology!!! lol

      Like

  15. I keep coming back to this and your other posts. Thank you for writing and sharing them as resources. I left an abusive situation four months ago and struggle with PTSD and traumatic bonding. Knowing I’m not alone has been such a powerful notion, slowly helping me to realize that I did not fail, I am not crazy, and what has happened is not ok and not worth going back to. I want to desperately to move forward but feel as if I’m up against an invisible wall and my inability to move any further away leaves me exposed to my ex and in a place where he can constantly find me to erode away at my logic, play on my guilt, and create opportunities to coax me back towards his direction. He tells me he’s changed but refuses to put those changes into practice. This is a toxin that’s altered the way I react and think about myself and my future. I recognize how my thought patterns have changed and it’s frightening. Thank you again for sharing your story and this information because it’s the reminder I need that life is possible past this situation that sometimes seems too heavy and crushing to endure. Just as so many survivors have inspired me to both leave in the first place and stay away (with varying degrees of success) since, I really hope one day I can feel strong enough to do the same for other people. No one deserves to go through this pain and hopelessness. Thank you to all of the survivors who are brave enough to share.

    Like

    • You’re very welcome. You are clearly an intelligent person, who is striving to improve their life and to escape this destructive situation. You are SO much stronger than your abuser (that’s why he is so determined to try – unsuccessfully – to pull you down to his level). There are so many survivors out there, as you say, who have stood where you stand and hopefully can show you that there *is* a way out of the avalanche of abuse. Take care, keep strong.

      Like

  16. Wow this really hit hard to home for me. I never knew what that was called, but I terribly suffered from it, and know I’m still going through it. But the time healing really is true and every day gets easier. I’d really like to talk with ppl who understands this, if anyone wants to talk, I’m here.

    Like

    • Dear Paige, I’m so sorry that you are going through this. There is a wonderful community of survivors here on WordPress, who helped me hugely when I was still raw. Please know that it *does* get better and easier, it did for me. Keep reaching out and I’m sure we will all be there for you.

      Like

  17. Outstanding article! In my opinion, the lack of understanding about trauma bonding frequently leads to victims and survivors believing that the feeling of being “stuck” is just more evidence that something MUST be wrong with them. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Michelle. Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m glad the article resonates with you – I wish I’d known about trauma bonding when I still felt trapped in an abusive relationship. You are so right to point out that it feels like there is something wrong with us because we can’t easily break free – when in fact, it is the person that is supposed to love us and lift us up that is the one with the real issue. In peace, Triple S

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I am currently in the deep grip of trauma bonding (diagnosed). It has crushed the life out of me. I have given and done everything for the perpetrator. No amount of reading and understanding has managed to change how I feel. There is a sense nobody will ever match, what clearly is a delusion.. and trust? I now feel I could never trust anybody. Discovering they can appear normal for periods up to years, creates anxiety for me; how can we ever know? Certainly, there are red flags but it seems a very big risk to even contemplate a new relationship…the PD statistics are alarming. I also feel far too worthless now. I was told I am weak because I am generous and qualities I thought were good and human were criticised relentlessly. Yes, I have been and continue to be in the grip of suicidal ideation…Just seems a scary world of destructive people and I believe I will never be free of this feeling. There is some solace in reading the plight of others and knowing it’s not us with the real problem. Unless you have lived this; nobody truly understands. An excellent description of trauma bonding to share with those who cannot fathom whywe cannot leave.

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    • Hi connieindia2013

      I’m so sorry that you are feeling this way. I can relate, because I’ve been there and felt that way too. The good news is so many people can and do climb out of the avalanche of abuse successfully. I’m one of them. The trauma bond feels enormously powerful, but please believe me when I say it DOES weaken in time.

      I also emphasise with what you say on trusting another person, fears about starting a new relationship. Again, I felt that too – I was pretty much terrified even of the idea. But then, I gave myself a chance. I am now in a relationship with a man who understands what I have been through and supports me. There ARE good people out there.

      Take some time to get comfortable in your own skin. Take time out for yourself. And then, when the time comes – and it will – tread cautiously, be kind to yourself, take things at your pace and nobody else’s and you will come out of this stronger and more self assured than ever before. The wounds will heal and the scars will fade.

      In peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi. Interesting reading but it made me think that trauma bonding is very much like Stockholm syndrome. Do you know about it and what do you think!

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    • Hi Mary J

      I absolutely agree – 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?

      https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/why-we-stay-trauma-bonding/

      Like

  20. Your article has brought hell lot-ta sense to me… In fact I am relieved to know what I am going through.
    I was in such a relationship for two years. It’s the worst predicament that he was my best friend.. Hence it transformed into a relationship.I was pretty much emotionally dependent on him by then. I am pretty sure he was sincere too.As time passed it somewhat transformed it into some sort of a showdown . Suddenly he got a problem with every single aspect of mine. I mean why he suggested to get into relationship if he wasn’t ok with even normal nature of mine. Furthermore he started with verbal abuses. I tried to make it work sometimes by shielding myself sometimes fighting back. It just wasn’t working. I changed, fabricated myself according to his liking just to be accepted as I valued the friendship and attachment we had in good old days, but they merely seem to be the lost cause. He would come up with new ideas, blames every time we would talk leaving me hating myself for being such a awful person. He wasn’t into a break-up neither was I.Yup he definitely came up with this ‘awarding’ idea. by that time I was too numb , I just couldn’t get it why would he hate me so much and what’s the point of constantly degrading someone just to get your point across ? I mean that’s not what loving someone is like right? I got a loving family and I am pretty sure there are hell lots of ways to make someone listen to you and love you.
    Well I had been going through this emotional trauma till I realized that it wasn’t worth it. We get what we deserve and that wasn’t what I deserved. So all those girl’s who are going through it , it’s ok to cry out one last time to let go of frustration and agony but after that Never Ever go back there. Take it as a lesson learned and passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear you went through this Meadow, and so glad to hear you are out of it. It’s very hard to understand why they do it isn’t it? Especially when he started off as your best friend. I know they do it out of a need to control their partner, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to control another person. It sounds like a lot of effort to keep degrading and bullying someone. 😦

      Like

  21. I believe my husband experienced this with his ex for many years after they “separated”. Now that she has successfully transformed their daughters into a mirror image of herself my husband continues to be victimized by his own daughters.

    Like

  22. Ive been trying to put this into words for the last year, for my own head to be able to process what on earth has been happening to me and to be able to understand. For a very logical person its been a tough ride trying to unpick tales and not second guess myself throughout months of emotional and then physical abuse. Thank you so much for putting this up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re most welcome. I am glad this article was of some help. I also struggled to make sense of what had happened to me, and especially how I could consider myself in love with someone who would do that to me. The more we learn, the more knowledge and power we have 🙂

      Like

  23. Great Post & I have shared on my Facebook page Awareness of Disordered Minds & surviving toxic personalities. Hopefully you will get some feedback.

    Keep up the great work & spread the awareness 🙂

    Love & Light to you 🙂
    Awareb4

    Like

  24. “You may have heard – at least once, and probably repeatedly – that you are the best thing that ever happened to him (when he isn’t labelling you a worthless whore, that is).” ~ This describes my relationship with my husband perfectly. I am on my third time leaving him. I’ve been on my own for nine months this time around. It’s still difficult, but getting better all the time. The longer I’m away, the more I see him for what he is. And the more the bond weakens. Thank you for the “cold turkey”advice. I’ll remember this the next time he tries to contact me. And, thank you for the article. Reading this affirmed to me that I’m actually NOT crazy!

    Like

    • I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I know how powerful a trauma bond can be, and the guilt that we feel for ‘missing’ someone who treated us this way. It certainly feels like crazy, but it’s not.

      So, MASSIVE kudos to you for your hard work to stay out. It’s a wonderful feeling when you feel the bond weakening, and I’m living proof that it does 🙂 You’re on the right track, arming yourself with knowledge. Wishing you a safe and happy future.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Wow….27years for me, blinkers on unaware of my journey in life that first sexual experience was someone I knew and trusted….date rape just before turned 18. I could never tell anyone as so ashamed, lost depressed but pulled my socks up and moved on with live and I guess no healing! Each relationship I chose was attracted to people I felt comfortable with (controllers/abusers) to 13 years ago I married a deceptive (money controls, friend controls) I go out one night in 13yrs without him and now in a horrendous situation …. Fortunately he was removed from house (due to behaviours of bullying, standing over me to completely unhinged all because I wanted to go to counselling on my own) so I have a forced break the pattern and in doing so and the trauma it resurfaced all my past that I suppressed and I so see it all now.

    Very sad that you can get to 45 be blind to everything, have kids and a broken family unit……I know it’s going to take time to heal, never find myself in that type of cycle again but often wonder if children from broken home are going to have anger issues without fater putting in decent effort for them?

    Certainly a hard journey but anyone out there suffering please stop and get to the bottom of why you choose these reptitive relationships before you marry and have children……very hard road!

    Like

  26. Thank you so much for your wisdom and the info. It does help to know the why of the guilt, depression and thoughts of going back to a relationship that was miserable. I left my angry, disrespectful, emotionally abusive, alcoholic husband 2 months ago and the hoovering started immediately. According to him he stopped drinking…it wasn’t hard cause he is doing it for me, is going to AA…and has done all 12 steps already (hmm haven’t heard an apology yet), he also tells me that he doesn’t want to live, can’t eat ( he has lost weight, but needed to), and that all of this would be easier with his soul mate by his side, I have never heard him use that term before. There are subtle hints about what I have done to him by leaving and not so subtle statements about how bad this is for him. No inquiry as to my feelings, no respect for boundaries I set. I have found my self doubting that the relationship was as bad as I thought it was and feeling that I am alone even though I have lots of support. As time passes I seem to be getting better at recognizing what he is and not worrying about him or his pain. This info helps alot. Thank to you and for everyone who is going through this, stay strong, there are better things to come

    Like

    • I’m really sorry to hear you’ve been through all of this, and glad the information here has helped. You come across as a very switched on individual, who recognises attempts at manipulation. Keep strong, maintain your boundaries – every day you are away from an abusive person you grow stronger 🙂

      Like

    • Interesting how – out of this whole article – THAT was the only thought you chose to express. I refer to males for consistency, and because I’m a woman that has been on the receiving end of domestic violence by two men. Oh, and because the research still suggests that women are overwhelmingly the victims and men the perpetrators of this form of violence.

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  27. Pingback: A Good Post…should be reposted | Escape of the Project·

  28. Hi to the writer . I did not know this and this makes perfect sense on why I feel like I do and i keep thinking maybe he just needs to change or maybe is my fault I wasen’t enough and I see your article and is so nice to know that I’m not stupid or naive cause other people go through this . Thank you

    Like

  29. Omggg! This is so me, i’ve been with my ex boyfriend for 7 yrs, we have 2 boys together. Right of the start he cheated on me with so many different women,beaten me, verbally abusived me telling me i was fcken ugly,fat, that he knows he could get someone way better than me. He nearly killed me more than twice, and i still forgave him.. When he drinks and uses drugs he turned into a different person. & after i forgave him, he’ll award me with material things.take me out to places ect. He’ll kiss ass to the max, he’ll begg me and stalk me. Talk to my relatives on how he could get me back etc.I thought that everytime i forgave him we’ll start all over & hopefully he’ll change his unfaithful ways. But every new time he’ll just get worst! Now i broke off him in july 2014 because he was drugged out & started beaten me and used a knife around my neck.. After that he calmed down and tried talkin to me, but i didnt want to and told him to leave me alone already.. And the next day he came and took the kids to play and from there tried to get me back. I deleted my facebook, didnt have a fone so i wont have that lil sense of contacting him, and just ignored everything.. By just 1 1/2 month he already started to live with a new girlfriend away from here. And he was still kissing ass that he didnt love her and he will always love me no matter what..that he just got with her because i wont take him back. So on nov 2014 he was arrested and went to jail for a felony of drug charges on him. He spend 4 months in jail and through those 4 months he sent me letters every other week telling that he loves me & wants me to forgive him for everythin and wants me to fall for him again, but he was telling me things while still being with the other girl too. 2 weeks ago he came out of jail & told me to go back with him, that he’ll leave his current gf for me..i ignore everything, but once he left from seeing the kids idk what happened to me!! I start thinking that maybe this time he’ll change! That what if he’s treating his new gf better than me? What if this time its different? All of a sudden im rethinking everything that happened to us in these past 7 yrs! What is wrong with me? I feel like im necer goin to get rid of him and now im caring if he’s happy with her.. Idk i had my mind straight when he wasnt here and now that he came back i feel confused. I feel like im not goin to be happy with no one else! That im always goin to be thinkin about him 24/7 & thinkin what if that other girl changes him.. I need advice plz

    Like

    • Hi Mary

      I’m so sorry that you went through all of that. You and your kids are worth so much more than what he could ever offer you. I know exactly how it is to hope and pray that this time he’s changed. But please believe me when I say he hasn’t. I’ve never yet come across an abuser who has changed. He won’t change for you and he won’t have changed for this other girl. The best advice I can offer you is to do whatever you have to in order to keep him out of your life. Don’t allow him to tell you the things he KNOWS that you want to hear – it’s just lies designed to get you to go back to him so he can abuse you again. Reach out to any friends or relatives you have, or contact a domestic violence charity for professional and impartial support. Please, again, don’t believe and trust this man. I know the trauma bond feels very powerful, but in time you will feel better and life will be better 🙂

      Like

  30. Thank you so much, you are so strong & i wish i was as strong as you, i feel so weak. My family and friends ALL tell me the same thing, that he won’t ever change. That if my kids and I didnt make him change, no one ever will. You cant change some one that doesnt want to change. Im just confused if he really loves me how he says he does, why did he move into another girls home? So quickly! I know im pissed off because he ‘moved on’ so quick and im just stuck here all dumb you know. I feel so low and not wanting to do nothin. I feel like i miss him. My dad and sis say that if i wouldnt of left him i would of probably be dead by now or worst. I just feel like im never goin to get over him

    Like

    • I wasn’t strong when I left him, believe me. I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, miserable because I thought I loved and missed him, with PTSD symptoms and fearful because he was stalking me. But I got stronger every day that passed without him. You will too. You know you’re doing the right thing by exorcising him from your life. It’s not easy but it’s what you must do to stop him from destroying you and your children. If you feel like I did, you may be feeling very low and alone now, but please know that this does get better. You’re already so much stronger than you may think – just look at everything you’ve done just to reach this point!

      Like

  31. Thank you so much for your advice, hopefully we’ll stay in contact, im tryin so hard and yes im tired of all of this. I just cant wait for that day when i just wont care about him! Im tryin to do better, i went back to school,got a job, and everythin was goin very good. Until now, i know i’ll get over this.. It’ll just take me a LONG time.. Thank you very much😄

    Like

    • Your life really *is* on the right track, this is just a bump in the road. It’s wonderful that you’re working for a better future, so don’t beat yourself up for what are perfectly normal feelings. You’ve been through trauma, that’s not something you just ‘get over’ in an instant. If you can, I’d really recommend you look into some counselling to support you through this process – and of course do let me know how you’re getting on.

      Like

  32. Pingback: A monster is someone who thinks it’s okay to be a monster | Some Open Space·

  33. Pingback: 15 reasons why “Christian domestic discipline” is a terrible, anti-Christian idea | Biblical Personhood·

  34. Pingback: The Volcano is Awake | The Aspie Teacher·

  35. Reblogged this on Emmagc75's Blog and commented:
    I never knew that it was not only possible but common for someone to be so closely bonded and addicted to their narcissist spouse. It happens without them even realizing it. It is why so many choose to stay trapped, feeling alone, miserable and unloved for years, even decades.
    It is not your fault but there is a way out. You can break free of the cycle of abuse and learn to love yourself again. But the first step is to see the truth and stop being in denial. The overt and/or covert narcissist will not change and things will never get better as long as you stay with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Traumatic bonding is a hit with abusers, because it helps him to maintain much-needed control.
    A little sad you talk of him when saying abuser.
    Its both genders who abuse.

    Like

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