Overcoming the trauma bond.
People often stay way longer than they ever should in an abusive relationship, myself included, it took me several attempts and a few years to get out, then once out, all hell broke loose as they came at me with one mind game after another. Due to the trauma bond, it is hard for those in these relationships to break free and hard to stay free. However, plenty of people have, so it is more than possible. You can, and you will.
When you are not getting punched in the face, it’s hard to see you’re in an abusive relationship, even when there is physical violence it’s usually twisted around onto you, or you’ve reacted in some way, so you’re left with all the self-doubt, blame and guilt, believing you are the one at fault.
Some people might just ask, “why didn’t you leave sooner.” Or remark, “I’d have never put up with that.” When they have not lived it, they don’t understand it. The power of that trauma bond and the emotional pull to the person who’s actually causing you emotional, physical, psychological and financial pain is a hard one to break.
Those who’ve never been in an abusive relationship struggle to understand why people stay in one. Survivors often also struggle to explain why and what truly happened to them. When survivors connect with each other, it helps give survivors of domestic violence more understanding. You are far from alone in this. Very few get out and stay out on their first attempt. It takes time to piece reality back together after all the gaslighting, it is a learning curve, and it is more than possible to break free and stay free.
It takes an average of seven attempts to break free of a toxic relationship. How you feel is normal.
Most of us have been conditioned from news and films that abusive relationships are always really physical, and although this does happen, it’s not always the case.
Psychological abuse is harder to see; it’s drip-fed over a period of time and is an insidious form of mental torture.
They break your heart, your spirit, your friendships, your physical health, your mental health, your financial health and more, and it takes time to recover and break free. You’re doing amazing.
Living with a narcissist is like living in a war zone, never knowing when the bomb will go off next, and not knowing what you did to set it off. You’re running around a mind field, walking on eggshells trying not to set them off, dodging bullets when you do.
Narcissistic people have a great talent of love bombing and playing nice, with the odd cleverly formed underhand comment here and there like. “Are you really going to wear that?” “If only you’d do this.” Partner’s often have brushed these comments to one side, not realising the actual reality of what’s happening to them. Partners are made to believe that the real person is the one who plays nice and the evil person is out of character, and it’s something they did to cause them to act out of character.
A psychological, manipulative, abusive relationship is extremely addictive. It causes trauma bonding, and you’re riding the rollercoaster of your life that just doesn’t seem to stop long enough for you to get out.
With the punishment of the silent treatments, then the projection and blame-shifting, then the intermittent reinforcement when they play nice again as you’ve behaved for them in the way they wanted and not true to yourself. Your mind and body go through so much turmoil. It releases high levels of the stress hormones cortisol when they’re gaslighting you and giving you the silent treatments, then high levels of dopamine when they reward you with affection for behaving how they want.
The hormonal roller coaster takes its toll on our minds and bodies. Most often, people in these relationships end up plagued by illness after illness, as they develop autoimmune problems when our minds and bodies have been under constant stress. We stay in these relationships despite the pressure on our own mental and physical health, due to not having our own clarity on reality and seeing what’s truly happening to us through the gaslighting, Control, projection and self-blame, the desperation of trying to win back the abusive partner. We get that intermittent relief of love for a time, reinforcing that we were the ones to blame. You were never to blame, and you’re a kind-hearted person who loves and wants to help.
Ask yourself when you feel to blame.
What did they truly do in the right way for you?
What did you do for them?
Most will realise the abuser didn’t do much other than hurt you and that you actually did all you could to love, help, take care and please them while slowly losing who you were.
Narcissists, narcissists, Psychopaths And narcissists Sociopaths tend to follow the same relationship patterns of idealisation, devalue, discard. Some will also hoover to suck you back in.
Signs you’re trauma bonded.
- Your partner always promises things and rarely delivers.
- You feel stuck in the relationship and can not see a way out.
- You keep having the same fights and problems.
- Compromise is never met, it’s always their way, or you get punished.
- If you don’t do something for them, or you do something wrong in their eyes, you get punished with silent treatment and other ways.
- You don’t trust them or even like them, yet you still care for them.
- If you do get out, you believe you still love them and are desperate to get them back.
- You feel sorry for them, can relate to their feelings and want to help them out.
- Make excuses up for their behaviour and treatment towards you.
- Not going against them for fear of reactions, standing up for them when others criticise them.
- You still want them to help you heal from all the pain they have caused you.
Unfortunately, some don’t try to leave, often through fear. Those who do often return, the abuser might break you so much that you are physically, emotionally and financially drained. They just discard you for someone new.
Once they are gone, or you do break free, you can begin to grieve, the person who never indeed existed, what you’ve been through, piece back together with your reality, start to see it wasn’t your fault and begin to heal. You were not chosen because you were weak; they chose you because you had greatness within you, a kind, loving, forgiving soul.
Ways to recover.
- Grieve, write it all out and let it all out, work through your emotions, give yourself a limit, a day a week, especially if you’re struggling to get out of bed, you’re allowed to wallow you’ve been through a lot, just find a way to not stay their, write them a letter explaining how they made you feel, then destroy the letter. Let it all out, work through any guilt, your pride, your own ego, open up to yourself and be honest with your feelings.
- Connect with your emotions, recognising what emotions you’re feeling. My mind controls my feelings, and I control my mind. What is the emotion I’m feeling? Acknowledge that it’s here to tell you something. Remember a time you felt a similar feeling and overcame it, so your mind knows you’ll do this again. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Take action to work through them. What is this telling me? What do I need to change? Then take action.
- Pattern interrupt when they pop into your mind, kick them straight back out, focus on what you’re doing at the moment, call a friend, watch something funny, acknowledge you want to think about them at the start and tell yourself you’re not going to, you no longer have time for them living rent-free in your mind, you only have time to think of creating a new life and start thinking of those original dreams, until you’ve reprogrammed your subconscious, with your conscious thinking ability.
- If you want to check their social media, remind yourself this hurts you, acknowledge you want to and tell yourself you’re not going to.
- Remove any reminders of them. ( if you have to communicate because you have children, set up a different email address, or a second number, so you don’t have to look unless you need to. Respond, don’t react and save all communication in case you need as evidence further down the line. Any reminders you can remove, then remover, places you visited together, try to focus on the times you have visited without them to start. Then focus on when you visit in that present moment, if you’re in the same home you lived together to look for moving, or start decorating, it keeps you busy and changes the house, if you’re in a refuge focus on the new beginnings you’re creating for you, others have done this before you. You can, and you will do it too.
- Learn your triggers for the emotional upset and for anxiety, so you can learn coping strategies before they get a hold of you. When you feel them starting to take over your thinking, tell yourself, “I am safe now.” Focus on good positive things. Focus on the future you’re building for yourself.
- Start creating and living in your own reality again. Start writing out the bad things of the relationship whenever you start dreaming of what could have been, or the thinking they’re not that bad, look at the notes of what they did to you and how much they hurt you. Also, write yourself a letter of where you’d like to be one year from now, creating new visions and dreams for you, then start taking those simple steps to achieve, creating new goals for your future.
- Make one big choice at a time, and take action on it. Once achieved, recognise the achievement, be proud of yourself. Small achievements (if you’re struggling with day to day things like housework.) Set a timer on your phone for ten minutes and just do the quick wins, wiping the kitchen sides, putting the washing on, focus on the task at hand, don’t let your mind drift onto the past, put some music on or a motivational video while you do it. Then do 15 minutes and 20. Keep going until you set up new routines for your own day to day living standards for how you want to live.
- Make choices that support your self-care, choose to put yourself first, taking care of your own needs first so that you can be at your personal best for others. You’re allowed to rest, you’re allowed to go for it, you’re allowed to do what works for you, you’re allowed two steps forward and one back, you’re allowed down moments, you’re allowed to scream, shout and cry them out. You need to refocus on what future you’re trying to achieve for you and the progress you’ve made so far and kept going.
- Get addicted to something healthy you love doing for yourself. Starting new courses, looking for a job, creating a new career, starting new hobbies for you, going back to old hobbies you really enjoyed and stopped doing, learning, reading, connecting with others, especially those who’ve also lived it and understand it, volunteer somewhere, whatever you want to do now, make it a positive contribution for you first, then others.
- Find things that positively fill your human needs. Love and connection, learn to love who you are and connect with your true inner self, then find good positive people to connect with. Growth, forming a new happier life for you, trying new things to see who you are and what you genuinely love doing, learning new things every day. Certainty, creating new routines and habits for you. Uncertainty, trying new things you think you’ll enjoy, significance, be kind on yourself first the, being kind to others, having a job or hobby you love, volunteering. Contribution to yourself first raising yourself back up, then giving back to others. Anything you do through action or emotions, and you will become addicted, find something else that’s positive to become addicted to. Tony Robbins explains a lot about human needs, and these are great for recovery.
- Make choices now that put your own needs first, say no to things you haven’t got time for or you don’t want to do.
- Any setbacks remind yourself just how far you have come and the direction you’re heading in now, then go again.
- Find the funny side; a sense of humour is vital to get you away from all the negativity and into positivity.
- Create and write down a list of your new beliefs and standards, start simple and keep adding the behaviour you’ll accept and not accept from within yourself and behaviour you’ll accept and not accept from others.
- Take action on your new life, focus on the original dream and new goals for you, don’t overload baby steps each and every day, acknowledging your achievements along the way.
- Connect and surround yourself with good quality positive people. It rubs off on you, people who compromise, people who help each other out, people who are happy for you when you are happy.
Click the links below to join, Elizabeth Shaw – Life Coach on social media, for more information on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse.
The courses Elizabeth Shaw has available.
The full course.
The free course.
Help with overcoming trauma bonding and anxiety.
All about the narcissist Online course.
Recovery from narcissistic abuse and help with Co-Parenting.
For 1-2-1 Coaching with me, email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with (Sponsored.) BetterHelp. where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Handling your emotions video.