Betrayal Bonds. (Shifty Brain Dump)

Okay. In this post I’m going to collect some information, to share. For myself, and for you if you find it useful. It’s going to be a dumping ground for the past few weeks in therapy. Snippets, information, anything that helps me when I need it to.

In black and white, I’ve been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The reality of that is much more grey and foggy than simple words on a screen. There’s going to be lots of research and background info for me to come to terms with understanding what’s physically happening to my brain. I’ve worked out that if I understand the theory behind what’s happening to me, it enables me to process it and take control of it.

Pull up a chair if you so wish, or scroll past this one altogether if you don’t find it interesting or helpful. This post may be triggering.

‘A trauma bond is characterized by betrayal that is so purposeful and self-serving it moves to the realm of trauma. Trauma bonds create chains of trust that link a person to someone who is exploitive, dangerous, abusive and or toxic. A person in a trauma bond feels very confused about their relationship, yet they are unable to break free from it. (1)’

‘The victim engages in denial of the abuse for emotional self- protection.  In severe abuse (this can be psychological or physical), one form of psychological protection strategy is dissociation.  Dissociative states allow the victim to compartmentalize the abusive aspects of the relationship in order to focus on the positive aspects. (2)’

“Ultimately, trying to understand stuff like this is like Nietzsche says: “if you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you.” It literally made me insane. I had to learn that I was not how other people constructed me…I was and am in charge of my own identity, who I am, and why I do things. This is basic for most people I guess, but it has been a real task for me. I had to come to an understanding that what had been done was abusive, because in the manner of good psychopaths, they made everything look normal on the outside, that it was me with the problem. And so it was: their lives weren’t being torn up, mine was.” (3)

“It’s important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it’s easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers.”

“Bonding is a biological and emotional process that makes people more important to each other over time. Unlike love, trust, or attraction, bonding is not something that can be lost. It is cumulative and only gets greater, never smaller. Bonding grows with spending time together, living together, eating together, making love together, having children together, and being together during stress or difficulty. Bad times bond people as strongly as good times, perhaps more so. Bonding makes it hard to enforce boundaries, because it is much harder to keep away from people to whom we have bonded. 

Moreover, experiencing together extreme situations and extreme feelings tends to bond people in a special way.. Trauma bonding, a term developed by Patrick Carnes, is the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.

The survivor can come to find that it can be almost impossible to relate to anyone, even family or old friends, except superficially. There is a biological craving for intensity that no normal relationship will satisfy. This provides a feeling of being totally alone, and totally empty. At first, only going back to the primary aggressor can overcome it.(4)