Traumatic bonding occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse…
…in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change.
Within the cycle of abuse, it is easy to fall into the emotional trap and pattern of thinking “but I love him/her” or “I left, but I miss him/her.” What you are actually experiencing emotionally is known as Trauma Bond. There is indeed an emotional bond, but it is not actual love or the missing of the abuser. You may have loved or may miss the life you wanted to have with the abuser, but you do not actually miss who he actually was.
These emotions are complicated when one is immersed in the cycle of abuse. It is certainly a very drowning feeling. The person you feel like you love is not actually the person in front of you, but rather an emotional bond to your own desire of who that person should be if they were to change. This is not actually realistic or true love.
An Unhealthy Bond: Not Love
Trauma bond experienced after leaving your abuser may make it feel like you miss him or her. But the reality is that you have an unhealthy bond to this person that has developed during the abuse cycle.
Abusers solicit this bond tactfully by breaking you down emotionally and creating a codependent situation that tricks your mind into thinking you need them. They will trick you into thinking that “no one else will love you as they do” or through financial abuse and emotional breakdown will make it difficult for your to leave and make you think that you cannot make it without them.
Y’all, the devil is a liar. You do not have to remain bonded to this person in any way. Your abuser is an addict and you are their drug of choice. You cannot keep alcohol in the presence of an alcoholic or allow a drug addict access to drugs. They will not break their cycle of addiction as long as they have access to a fix. This is why leaving the situation is not only healthier for you but healthier for them.
This Can Be Healed – With Distance
The good news is that with distance, no contact with your abuser, and time the emotional bond that makes you feel tied to that person will resolve itself. A healthy support system is important to this process.
Reaching out to people who love you is the best means of support. Even if you feel like your family or relatives no longer care or would help you, this is most likely not actually true. Your abuser has conditioned you to think this way. The first step is reaching out for help from your family or friends, as hard as this probably feels to do.
You may think you don’t have any family or friends because you have been isolated from them by your abuser. But if these people are still breathing you do have them. Making in-roads with these people is a big step, but a crucial one. It might actually surprise you the amount of love and support that is waiting for you to reach out.
Support also comes from counselors, DV organizations, domestic abuse ministries,, and abuse hotlines. You are not alone and we are here to provide support during this season of your life and beyond.