We all know the common questions about abuse, “why does she stay, why does she keep going back.” It’s an easy question to ask when you’re on the outside looking in. However, abuse is complex, especially for someone who feels trapped by trauma bonding. And yes, trapped. As much as people on the outside believe that it is easy to leave, “just pack your bags and go” they say, it’s not that simple. Yes, the financial constraints are amongst the obstacles victims face, but more than that is the psychological abuse and manipulation they face. And it’s called trauma bonding.
In this blog post we unpack the term trauma bonding.
According to an article by Jenn Rockefeller on BreakTheSilencedv.org, “a trauma bond is a type of unhealthy attachment to an abuser. Another term under this same umbrella is the term intermittent reinforcement – a type of abusive seduction that keeps the victim hooked.”
Rockefeller explains that “Intermittent is the sporadic and irregular timing of a particular action [and] reinforcement is process of encouraging a desired behavior by handing out a reward.”
The abuser will make promises of a brighter tomorrow; promises that they will change, and they show affection through what they say and do. It is not long before these promises are stained with fits of anger, rage and violence. The victim feels like they are walking on egg shells and they don’t know what to expect, they live in constant turmoil, not knowing what the mood will be of the abuser when they step through the door. Home becomes merely a house, a place where the victims eats and sleeps, if the abuser allows them sleep.
When the victim starts showing signs that they want to leave the abuser, then the abuser sporadically changes his mood. He changes his attitude momentarily to reel her back. As Rockefeller states, “the abusers mix the good times in to cloud the victim’s mind and make them forget about the abuse.”
To find out more about trauma bonding read the Rockefeller’s article here.