Ceecee has left her abuser seven times in 18 months. She has cut off communication with him, but continues to struggle against the trauma bond – and her own heart. What advice do you have to share?
This message was posted as comment on the My Story page. I’ve been where Ceecee now stands. I know how it feels to be buried under that avalanche of complex emotions. And, I also know that this is a critical time in escaping domestic abuse. I’m therefore flagging this comment up as a post because I’m hoping you all will also share your advice to help Ceecee in her quest to break free, permanently.
Ceecee: I can’t take much more of this
“I am struggling desperately with trauma bonding now. I have left him seven times in 18 months. I just got him out of my place and changed the locks, blocked all lines of communication, and sent him an email that I do not want to see him again. He seems to have accepted it. However I am still missing him! And it is hard not to think of him.
“My brain seems to work okay but my heart is all messed up. I am so scared he will be back in my life again – with my permission!! I feel he has hypnotized me. I’m trying to make sure I am with friends as much as possible so I can pull away. I will get the book Living with the Dominator – I’m reading everything I can.
“Any more advice is welcome. I need to straighten myself out and fast. I can’t take much more of this – – I’m in treatment with a Narcissist Recovery Program and it helps. If it weren’t for Facebook and the internet I think I would be dead either from suicide or him killing me. This is something no one else can understand except those who have been there. Thank you for your blog. It’s one of the things that saves lives of victims of abusers.”
Avalanche: It’s a tough road, but you are on the right track
I’m so sorry that you’ve been through this, and that you are feeling this way. I know it doesn’t make things any easier, but I need to tell you that what you feel is absolutely normal. I know this because I felt the same way too. Many women who have been through domestic abuse feel that way when we make the important decision to get out.
It sounds like you are a switched-on woman who is already doing your research – including into trauma bonding. You’ll therefore know that the ties you are experiencing are the direct result of the abuse that you have suffered. It is a strong emotional (and, according to some, also biological) attachment to someone on whom we feel we depend.
The bond feels enormously powerful. It may feel like we are going mad with pain and sadness when we resist it. I missed my abusive ex too. I secretly hoped that maybe this time he’d change, and turn back into the wonderful man that I fell in love with. I’m pleased to say that I don’t think that way anymore. I managed to get to that stage by determination to ignore that soul-destroying impulse to bounce back to him – and by hard graft. I invested in my own recovery. You are clearly doing the same.
It took three serious attempts before I was able to leave my abusive ex forever (and the countless times I was determined to leave but didn’t get past the end of the road). Here are the top three things that helped me to make my last escape a permanent one:
Like you, I stuck rigidly to No Contact. This, without doubt, was the single most powerful tool in enabling me to fight for my freedom. It gave me the space I needed to begin to think again. My abuser couldn’t try to hoover me back up. Without him to stoke the fires, the trauma bond weakened.
- Among others, I read Living with the Dominator, which you mention. I also took the Freedom Programme, which was developed from the book. It is slightly dated but it did switch on a whole lot of lightbulbs.
- I engaged with my local domestic violence service. Through this, I gained an awesome support group of fellow survivors. Having others to talk to really helped. We shared our experiences and motivated one another to keep strong. If you can’t get to meet survivors face-to-face, then as you suggest, there is a wealth of experience, strength and solidarity to be found online – just look at the fantastic WordPress community!
You can find other tips in my Checklist for staying out of an abusive relationship. But most important of all, I want you to know that you are the one in control here. You have the power to make a better life for yourself. You are stronger than your abuser. You are stronger than the bond, too. You are taking proactive steps to keep yourself out of the toxic relationship. That’s something to be proud of.
You are on the right track. Research shows that, in time, the pull of the trauma bond does weaken. I’m living proof of that. And you will be, too!
Be free, be safe, be happy.
Did you struggle to close the door on your abuser? Do you have advice to share with Ceecee and others in a similar position? Please share.
ALSO SEE: Information on disengaging from abuse, permanently, in Escaping Abuse.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14