No Contact is the First Step in Breaking the Trauma Bond
You may be reading this article because you’ve been considering leaving your abusive partner. You daydream about a life without them and for a moment, you feel a small shimmer of hope.
But that small shimmer went away, didn’t it, when you remembered the reality of it all?
They’ve been abusing you for so long, you settle back into believing you will never win.
That’s exactly what the narcissist wants you to believe.
What if I told you that your toxic partner is a coward? They don’t have any real power, only that which you give them. What they’ve done is systematically brainwash you, and thereby made you believe you have no control over your life.
But you do.
Lots of people, including myself, once believed we’d never be free from the twisted, dysfunctional Hell that is a relationship with a narcissist. But we’re out now. And though recovery is something that will take time, the first step in healing and getting your life back is to leave and go No Contact. If you have kids with your abuser, it takes a little more discipline and determination, but a strict modified contact plan will illustrate to your Ex that they can no longer rule your life.
“But what if they just need more time and patience?”, you ask yourself. “Maybe if I just do such and such and completely give up my identity, they will change and we’ll live happily ever after in a forest.” a.k.a. self-doubt, confusion, and wishful-thinking.
You’re not to blame, though. Those are all thoughts of someone who’s entangled in a vile Trauma/Betrayal Bond.
Do you experience any of the following?
- You remain loyal to your abuser, regardless of the pain they’ve caused you.
- You keep forgiving your abuser over and over, though they’ve never come through on their promises and continue to lie.
- You keep trying to do more and more to please your partner, but nothing you do is ever good enough or acknowledged.
- You continue to ruminate over the hurtful things your partner did, even though they might be out of the picture now.
- You find yourself trying to get back with your abuser, even though you know logically that you’ve been violated.
- You create a fantasy that leads you to falsely believe things can go back to being good. Not just for a day or two…or five minutes, but forever.
If any of these things sound like you, you’ve developed a Trauma Bond with the narcissist. And guess what, it wasn’t accidental…your abuser implemented this from day one. According to Michael Samsel, author of the blog Abuse and Relationships:
Bad times bond people as strongly as good times, perhaps more so.
Bonding is in part why it is harder to leave an abusive relationship the longer it continues. Bonding makes it hard to enforce boundaries, because it is much harder to keep away from people to whom we have bonded. In leaving a long relationship, it is not always useful to judge the correctness of the decision by how hard it is, because it will always be hard.
Moreover, experiencing together extreme situations and extreme feelings tends to bond people in a special way.. Trauma bonding, a term developed by Patrick Carnes, is the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.
Strangely, growing up in an emotionally unsafe home makes later emotionally unsafe situations have more holding power. This has a biological basis beyond any cognitive learning. It is trauma in one’s history that makes for trauma bonding. Because trauma (and developmental trauma or early relational trauma is epidemic) cause numbing around many aspects of intimacy, traumatized people often respond positively to a dangerous person or situation because it feels natural to them.
The above reasons are precisely why people have such a hard time effectively fulfilling No Contact.
People also fall by the wayside by fantasizing that they will talk to their abuser “one last time” to gain closure. Often, that one last time turns into more years of abuse.
Or, they believe that if they show their abuser how serious they are about leaving, he or she will change. Your abuser will never change. The only way off of this crazy-train is to make changes yourself.
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