If the person who abused you was a parent or family member, you might even have a deep-rooted unconscious core belief that abuse is love.
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2. Start reality training.
A defence mechanism we use to stay trapped by a trauma bond is denial. We block out, quickly forget, and/or rewrite the reality of the abuse and focus on the things he or she promised – that future marriage that never comes, that day he or she quits drinking.
Making a record of everything that happens is a great start to ‘getting real’. But of course this must be something your abuser can never find. Leave the list at work, or in an email draft of an account he or she does not and will never have the pass code to.
Each day write down key points of what happened between you. What he or she said and did. Be as factual as possible. And sure, write down the good things, too. Start to see if there are patterns.
You might even want to write your entire relationship out like a story that happened to someone else. “One day, he was walking into a bar, and he met her…..”. When we remove ourselves like this, our unconscious allows forgotten things to surface.
How long ago did your partner start making promises? What has he or she done exactly to fulfil those promises? What is your ideal relationship? How does this relationship differ? What changes do you want your partner to make? What proof do you have they can make such changes?
4. Shift perspective.
A shift in perspective gives you all new clarity. You can try out the perspective of anyone, real or fictional, dead or alive, and even different versions of yourself.
How would your 80 year-old self feel looking back at your life? What would your 5 year old self tell you about what you are doing right now? If you bumped into Lady Gaga with your partner, what would she have to say? What about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? If you suddenly won the lottery, what would you do about this situation?
5. Start a long put-off project with all of your might.
Abuse is numbing. It leads todissociation, where you feel you are floating out of your body. Or emotional dysregulation, where you have wild fluctuating big emotions, but through the storm don’t know which ones are your real feelings.
Set your alarm to go off several times a day then sit for a minute trying to notice what you feel.
Can you name the emotion? (Bored isn’t an emotion. What is beneath the emotion? Sadness? Grief?). Check in with your body next. How I am feeling in my skin? Do I feel tension, unease, fatigue? Where in my body do I feel unwell or tense?
This does not mean you have to become religious, or believe in God.
For some, spirituality means getting out in nature, for others it is meditating and feeling a higher power. For others, it’s simply taking a quiet moment to think of all the other people in the world going through a similar situation and doing their best.
The point is to realise you are not alone. That there might be bigger reasons for you to be here, and it’s time to move forward.
9. Seek unbiased support.
If there is only one thing on this list you do, make it this one. Breaking a trauma bond is hard to do alone, and support is vital.
Unbiased support means support from someone outside the situation, who isn’t part of your life or invested in your choices. This might at first be a support group, or an online forum of other women who are going through something similar.
Do your best to find some professional support, too. Remember most trauma bonding happens because we already went through trauma in the past. So there is a lot going on, and it can be truly overwhelming to navigate alone. A professional is trained in helping you have clarity of thought and to find your inner resources. They are a willing ear, too, when you just need to rant or cry in ways you never usually let yourself.
Ready to work with an experienced and kind therapist in central London who can help you finally break a trauma bond? Visit our main site. For therapy outside of London, or reasonably priced Skype and phone therapy from wherever you are in the world, visit harleytherapy.com.
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