Trauma bonding is the misuse or manipulation of fear, excitement, sexual feelings and sexual physiology to entangle another person to them. Perpetrators tend to exhibit extreme behaviours and risk taking. Bonding is biological and emotional, once we bond with someone, they become important to us. Unlike love, trust or attraction bonding is constant that cannot be lost. It gets stronger over time. And often, during times of hardships, difficulties and stress, the bond intensifies more so than positive good times.
Biologically growing up in a chaotic home has a stronger effect than cognitive bonding. This is because the person as a child learnt that during childhood the chaotic home or traumatic event created a numbing effect to intimacy. Therefore their emotional levels were muted. In adulthood they respond positively to a dangerous person because it makes them feel.
In non physical abuse, the perpetrator uses a water-torture technique. Where the perpetrator uses a drip dose of small and demeaning crazy making behaviours, at low volume. Often it is the victim that loses composure and acts out which enables the primary aggressor to use force and restraint in a dominating manner and then is justified with over excessive use of force, to then claim it was self defence. What has really happened is the abuser has used this manipulation tactic to deflect blame on his behalf.
The truth is uncovered when you discover who is controlling and limiting the other because this what drives escalation.
This unhealthy bonding, also known as Stockholm syndrome, the abuser alternates between carrot and stick conditioning. The perpetrator interlaces abuse with lying, cheating, threats, directly or indirectly and physical assault. With acts of small kindness, gifts or cards, flowers and taking you out on a date, apologies and compliments. Any woman without the conditioning of a narcissist, having spent months or years in the cycle of idealisation and devaluation would see that these small acts of kindness doesn’t justify the abuse suffered. Yet women who have been conditioned with cognitive dissonance and have trauma bonded with her abuser, her independent judgement and autonomy has been severely arrested and impaired, these small acts of mercy are a blessing that the pain will stop, that the abuser is committed to changing his ways. She hopes he has learnt to love and appreciate her. She wants to believe him when the pattern of abuse is repeated over and over again. She believes that if she loves him unconditionally, he will eventually see the light. She is subjected to emotional manipulation when he declares he will commit suicide without her in his life. He portrays that he needs her love and support to enable him to change for the better, he cries and sobs to make his disguise believable. He uses overt deception to keep her at his mercy, he strings her along with his promise of redemption, and she sees that he can change, he can behave well, she then takes on the blame that she is at fault. Such is the entrenched conditioning of the relationship, her life is reduced to the one dimension of the narcissist. She dresses, cooks, cleans and makes love to please the narcissist. Through trauma bonding and fear tactics, her life is reduced, her self esteem depends on the perpetrator’s approval and is hypersensitive to his disapproval. As she knows, to upset him could trigger any number of abuses tactics designed to keep her helpless and dominated. For survival, she has to adapt her whole personality, to enable her to cope with the insidious manipulations.
The truth is that perpetrators and narcissists can’t be pleased, it’s all about control, the more they get from their victim, the more they demand. After years of abuse and mistreatment, she may be too depressed or discouraged to leave. She may not have the resources to leave, voluntary homelessness isn’t an easy decision to make. The perpetrator has damaged her self esteem so much that she may feel ugly and unattractive and doesn’t see a future beyond what she already has. Who will believe her, where can she turn for support and comfort. Who will understand that she is terrified for her life is she leaves. The relationship is never about equality or mutual love. This she cannot understand during her life with him, she gave her heart to love him only to discover she loved an empty dark hole. This reality is mind shattering to the person who gave their heart.