Why You Should Leave an Abusive Relationship

People stay in terrible relationships because of "trauma bonding"

Those who have never been in an abusive relationship often have difficulty understanding why some can stand it in the first place. If someone treats you badly, why “are you staying with him or her?” You ask yourself.

For victims of such abuse, that can be a tough question. Those who are able to break out of such a relationship often find out what happened to them through reports and books only afterwards - and manage to put their experiences into words. Often, however, this insight does not occur at all, and people are never aware that they have been in a relationship that can be described with the word “abusive”.

That's because we all assume that abuse is always physical. On television or in films, these are always evil partners who are violent and aggressive - some even murder their boyfriend or girlfriend in an affect. Unfortunately, this also occurs in reality, but it represents a far too narrow definition of the word abuse.

According to therapist Shannnon Thomas, author of the book "Healing from Hidden Abuse", psychological abuse is very insidious and only very slowly brings the person affected to despair.

This type of abuse starts with a disparaging comment every now and then, followed by small insults that victims of these attacks always dismiss as trivialities. This is because abusive people often act as if they were the best thing that could happen to you at first. You shower your partner with love and affection - love bombing is what this phenomenon is called.

The victims think that this beautiful side is the real side, but gradually the mask falls - and those affected do not realize that they are now dealing with the real person and think it is "unusual for him or her". So blame yourself for making the partner angry.

Those affected stay in the relationship because they think they can win back their old, understanding partner. But Thomas said in an interview with Business Insider that there is another component that such victims are even less able to influence: They become biologically dependent on their tormentor for something called “trauma binding”.

It's like a drug

You get addicted to it like a drug. A psychological abuse relationship is like a roller coaster ride with punishment and reward when the person "behaves". The body of the victim of abuse experiences ups and downs with spurts of the stress hormone cortisol, alternating with dopamine when the victim experiences friendliness.

"Your body gets addicted to this back and forth," said Thomas. “We look for the affection we once had, and that affection is also a physical connection. If someone plays cat and mouse with us, then our body becomes dependent upon consent. "

This roller coaster ride of hormones does serious harm to the body. Quite a few suddenly suffer from acne, although they always had good skin before that. Some also have chest pain. Thomas said she's even seen patients develop autoimmune diseases.

“The body shuts everything down. And suddenly they have chronic pain, migraines, arthritis, and they can barely fight infection, ”she said. "The body just can't take so much stress."

The victims stay in the relationship despite this stress because they fail to see the real problem. They are manipulated, controlled and deprived of love. So the tormentor drives them into a corner full of self-doubt, where they only try to win back the love of the other person.

Even if some manage to break out of such a relationship, it is not uncommon for them to come back because they are dependent on their tormentor. Some do not even try to leave the tormentor and are only released when the tormentor in turn ends the relationship.

An abusive relationship with a narcissist or psychopath almost always follows this pattern: idealization, devaluation, and repulsion. At a certain point in time, the victim is so broken and drained that the tormentor no longer feels enriched for himself. He completely destroyed the victim and then looks for a new one.

When the tormentor is gone, victims have the first opportunity to come to terms with the abuse. You can grieve, but you should also realize that it wasn't your fault.

Then the healing process begins. Thomas is of the opinion that those affected should realize that they were not selected because they are weak, but because they have a lot to give.

According to "Psych Central", these signs indicate that you have a trauma bond with your partner:

  • Your partner promises to change - and doesn't.
  • Others point out that he or she is treating you badly.
  • You feel pushed into a corner and have the feeling that you cannot break up.
  • You keep arguing and you never end up agreeing.
  • Your partner punishes you (for example with ignorance) if you have done something “wrong”.
  • You cannot break away from your partner even though you distrust him or her or you don't even like him or her.
  • When you try to break up, the longing torments you so extremely that you have to go back.