In the first blog of this series, I introduced you to how a trauma bond was formed. Also known as “Stockholm Syndrome,” trauma bonding is a form of addiction. Named after the 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, after many of the hostages refused to leave their sometimes very sadistic and cruel captors, psychologists understood that humans can sometimes form very intimate relationships with their abusers, under specific circumstances, such as when an abuser uses intermittent reinforcement or a system of punish/reward at inconsistent intervals. In the 1973 robbery, some of the hostages adamantly defended their captors, and a few even ended up marrying them while they were in prison!
Why Didn’t You Just Leave? The Nature of Addictive Relationships
Our society has a really screwy way of victim-shaming, and I’m sure you heard people ask why you didn’t just leave this person as soon as you saw the evil lurking beneath when the mask first slipped. Heck, you probably would have asked the same question if you would have had the great fortune of never becoming intimate with a psychopath.
The reason you couldn’t leave was because you were addicted to this person. The charming mask lured you in and you didn’t know “people” like this really existed. You thought this person loved you. After your discard, you’re horrified to realize just how untrue your belief was. Like all addictions, an addiction to a person means you will be susceptible to further abuse if you keep engaging in their manipulative behavior toward you.
Signs of Trauma Bonding/Betrayal Bonding
Betrayal bonding occurs when there are periods of intense intimacy and a breach of your trust.
If you are indefensibly loyal to a partner who is not and who has repeatedly broken your trust, then you are trauma bonded to this person. Some of the signs that you’re trauma bonded to the psychopath include the following:
- Do you keep trying to defend or explain your marriage/relationship, while your friends don’t understand why you stay?
- Do you believe the Cluster B’s false promises, even though he repeatedly disappoints you and lies?
- Do you have circular arguments or arguments involving deflection, word salad, or constant victim-persecutor shifting without any resolution?
- Do you seem unaffected by the narcissist’s behavior, when your friends or colleagues seem shocked about it?
- Do you repeatedly attempt to prove to your partner that his treatment of you is bad or unfair? Do you repeatedly attempt to convince your partner that her beliefs about you are untrue?
- Do you feel like you are helpless or can’t do anything about your situation, even though you realize your partner is toxic?
- Do you try to get your partner to become nice or non-abusive?
- Do you keep going back to the intermittent periods of calm and charm or return to the idealization/love-bombing stage to convince yourself that this person may exist, if only you somehow could change YOUR behavior?
- Do you still have periods where you pine for your partner’s return, even though you realize your partner was completely toxic and abusive to you?
- Do you place the importance of your partner’s reputation or professional achievements as the reason to stay?
- Do you have intense or extremely intimate reconciliations after being abandoned and hoovered or cheated upon and lied to, or when you’ve decided to leave?
Breaking the Trauma Bond
If you don’t start your recovery from the Cluster B and stay away from this person to the extent possible, you will not break the trauma bond. A trauma bond is an addiction. Like any addiction, returning to the point of addiction or substance – even once – can keep you addicted to the perpetrator. Recovery includes trauma recovery and therapy and the art of mindfulness and detachment.
Breaking the trauma bond also includes dealing with your cognitive dissonance and longing for a person who didn’t exist. The charming narcissist that you fell in love with was only an illusion, and he doesn’t really exist. Once you truly understand this, you can begin your journey of recovery. This mask was custom-created just for you, and as soon as the narcissist deems you poor supply, you’re out, and he goes to the next town looking for his next victim. He is a cunning actor. He has no emotions, although he can fake them pretty damn well!