Trauma bonding and the cyclical pattern of abuse
Individuals often feel like they are to blame for staying in a toxic relationship, or for going back to the toxic relationship instead of leaving for good. Understanding the theory of trauma bonding can help see that this is a ‘normal’ response to a very difficult and confusing set of relationship dynamics.
A trauma bond is when a person who has been abused feels a connection towards the perpetrator of abuse. It is a deep emotional attachment that manifests even though the person has hurt you.
The pattern of abuse is cyclical -the perpetrator will have a nice phase when they will be very kind and loving towards you, then they build up tension, then an incident happens followed by remorse and apologies, then it is the honeymoon phase again built on fake promises, then the cycle starts again.
It can feel good again at one stage of the cycle and at this point you may forgive and forget and you get sucked back in and the cycle repeats. You may find yourself justifying the person’s actions, diminishing the abuse and denying the negative aspects of this person’s behaviours.
In reality a person can be cruel and also kind. A person can be multifaceted but sometimes the kindness is not real, it is used as a tool for manipulation.
When you experience the conflicting parts of the perpetrator (one side of him is loving caring etc, other is hurtful, toxic, damaging, mean, distant,) there is fear and love within the same relationship. The Intense attachment through trauma bonding becomes addictive. Many will come at you with recommendations and this can make you feel misunderstood or stupid.
You may be unsure what to do for the best. You will want to do right by your children but you are likely doubting yourself. It is a roller coaster of emotions but you are not to blame for the abusers' behaviours.
The conflicting emotions that arise when someone that you love hurts you, can create cognitive dissonance and you start to mourn what you think was there or what could have been.
The grief you feel can be like a bereavement. Understanding that it is ok to feel whatever it is that comes up for you, instead of judging yourself will help you heal from this situation and grow in the long run.