When I was in several abusive relationships, I was logically aware that they were abusive and unhealthy.
Even when I felt like I was dying inside I kept choosing to stay with my abusers. I had several relationships that involved this strange bond but the worst was with my ex that was a narcissist.
In the aftermath of our demise, I began to do research to figure out why this breakup had been so different than the ones in my past. That was when I discovered trauma bonding and why this breakup had almost completely destroyed me.
What is Trauma Bonding?
Trauma Bonding is a biological process that happens when two people share extreme experiences which in turn makes it almost impossible to easily break that bond. Normally trauma bonding is the result of shared experiences with an abusive/toxic/narcissistic person.
Nothing ever happens right away, it’s a slow progression that goes through many stages because you’re in the trenches with this person. After months or years of being gaslighted, shamed, and discarded, a huge amount of trauma has been created.
Your body is going to go through the same thing as if you’re addicted to a drug. You’ll experience amazing days and then horrible days, but you’ll stick around because you can’t pull away from this person you have become completely addicted to.
Here are signs that your relationship is a result of trauma bonding.
They give you just enough validation to stay.
Someone isn’t going to only abuse and belittle you because they know that you wouldn’t stay.
They are completely aware that they give you a compliment or do something sweet it’s going to make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
As long as they throw in a few of these moments the abuser is aware that they are going to be home free. If their tactics work according to their plan, instead of focusing on the bad you’re going to focus on the “good” moments in your relationship.
Loved ones are concerned.
I remember that my Mom reached out even though we don’t have a relationship because she saw a photo of me with my narcissistic ex and thought he looked evil. She had never met him, talked to him, but still could sense something was wrong.
My friends shared a similar sentiment. Not a single one of them liked my partner and I couldn’t deny their concerns. Yet I still stayed much longer than I should have.
You convince yourself they are good.
You think that your abuser is going to change because their behavior wasn’t always this way. You dream of the moment when the person that you fell in love with returns and becomes the savior that they promised you they would be.
However, that person is never coming back. Everything that you saw, in the beginning, was a mask. You can believe the best in your abuser but they are not going to change and the person you fell in love with doesn’t exist.
They want to be your one and only.
You will most likely find that you are becoming isolated from your friends and family.
The person that you’re with doesn’t want you hanging out with your friends or spending time with other people because it could loosen their grip on your life.
They will tell you that they would die without you and that you’re the only person they ever want.
How can you begin to break the bond?
You have to accept the reality that you keep denying. You’ve seen behind the mask.
You have to accept that you are addicted to the thrill and the pain. Flight or fight is the constant mode that you’ve been living in and there has been no time to reflect on how you actually feel.
Once the victim begins to see through their abuser's tactics they can begin to accept things aren’t going to change and plan how they are going to break free.