You may not be familiar with the words but if you have been in an abusive relationship you are already familiar with the actions.
Trauma bonding is a cycle that gets stronger and stronger the longer you are in a relationship with your abuser. It’s an emotional cycle of abuse followed by your reward of being treated kindly. It is a part of the brain washing that they use. You become very emotionally dependent upon the abuser because he or she has you believing no one else would want you. So when they reward you after abuse by treating you kindly and with respect and love and telling you how much you mean to them, your world settles down into “normal” and the cycle starts all over again. We need to understand that the happiness does not reflect the true feelings of the abuser. It is all a part of the control. In a sick way, they get pleasure out of controlling and causing you pain, which then in turn causes them to feel happy because they have you where they want you. A person who is not an abuser, is happy because he knows how to make himself happy and you are an extension of him…. Not responsible for his happiness.
Bonding is a normal relationship occurrence. It becomes unhealthy when it is a strong bond in an abusive relationship. When we bond in this way, our bodies naturally shut themselves down. We become numb and in return are unable to allow ourselves to take action. We continue our survival mode by concentrating on the good attributes of our partner. And we are often made to feel we caused them to hurt us. It is our fault. It is for those reasons we are unable to walk away.
In order to break a trauma bond, we need to focus on ourselves as a target not a victim and understand that the abusers objective is to maintain power and control over us. We often find our trauma bonding hard to break because we are constantly made to feel as if we are not enough. I was even told, you can’t leave. Your a stay at home mom. You have no where to go. I will take the kids away from you. I believed him. And it was true. Where was I going? That only added to my trauma even more because now I was dependent on him financially. I gave up everything for him. It was a terrible cycle of inadequacy and shame for me. I was mad at myself for not following my own rules of never depending on a man and for what I could’ve accomplished in my life without him dragging me down. The trade off for that was two great kids who are going places in their lives thanks to my single parenting. I give him no credit. I did all the work.
Once you finally break free you go through stages of emptiness and loneliness. You are so used to being traumatized that on one hand it is relief and on the other it is not normal for you. You flounder around for a while trying to get your bearings as to what is your normal now? You are stuck in a place where you believe that no one could ever understand what you have lived through. And trust me, there will be people who judge you as you continue on your journey to being healthy. And as you continue your journey and he or she continues to abuse you through the Court system and by email or text, you learn to set boundaries and you start to see how desperate they are to have someone to control and have power over. They are NEVER going to change. They will look like they have changed with their new supply, but they have not. Give it time. It took time to win you over and brain wash you. It will take him or her time again to brainwash the next person.
It’s not easy to break a trauma bond but it is not impossible. I did it finally. I still deal with his trying to abuse and control and I still depend on his child support but am trying to get to a place where I don’t need to. For my own sake. To feel I finally made it on my own and am successful. In the meantime, I work like crazy (12 hour days 6 days a week) to support a roof over our heads while he vacations and it’s okay because he made vacations miserable for the boys and I so I’m not missing much. I definitely need more balance in my life but that will come soon enough and I can say I now have a very healthy bond with a wonderful man whose support and love are all I’ve ever wanted. He’s a partner, communicator and truly the love of my life.
It takes work. I still struggle time to time. I probably wouldn’t struggle if he weren’t still trying to control me through the Court system but at least the boys and I don’t live with the wonder of what mood he will be in when he gets home. We just live our life. Do our best and enjoy our time with each other.
Just remember this: YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM, YOU ARE A TARGET.
You’ve got this.