This is some basic information that I gleamed from the “It’s my life now” book. It a great resource and I recommend it to anyone trying to heal after an abusive relationship. Check out the book page for more information.
According to the author… How could you have become so attached?
- Traumatic bonding
- Relationship contains an imbalance of power
- Sporadic nature of the abusive behavior- on again off again abuse and affection
- Denial- emotional self-protection “It isn’t all that bad and you somehow convinced yourself that if you didn’t keep making mistakes none of it would be happening
- Cognitive dissonance- to mentally survive you had to change your view of reality
- Masking the abuse- drinking or medication something to escape your thoughts
- Once the bond is formed it is very difficult to break
- The Stockholm Syndrome
- Victim are threatened with death or great physical harm
- Victims see no means of escape and therefore see their lives dependent on the capture
- Victims feel isolated from family or friends
- Victimizer offers kindness along with the violence increasing the victims complete helplessness on the capture
- This bond however unhealthy can sometimes feel stronger even than a bond that grows out of a love in a healthy relationship
Victim, victimizer, and capture are very strong descriptor words and I am not sure how I feel about them but the point is there.
I discussed in my previous posts about the imbalance of power my ex had over me and the sporadic nature of the abusive behavior… remember the cycles of abuse? Those cycles of abuse increased in frequency the longer the relationship went on. The most relatable however is the Stockholm syndrome. I didn’t realize it till my father mentioned it to me one day and then coming across it’s description in this book. I’mm break my experience down by each point.
- There were a couple of death threats and they were always said when my ex was at his most angry. But mostly it was the physical harm that I was afraid of… especially when he began to hit me in the head because “no one can see bruises under your hair.” The last one knocked me to the floor. The room went dark, I couldn’t really move, and I almost went unconscious. I really should get my head scanned but I stall.
- I didn’t think it would ever end. I use to tell myself “one day I will look back on this and it would be a distant nightmare.” At the time it was wishful thinking.
- Isolation from family and friends. Yes and Yes.
In regards to my family, I think this became true after my sister got engaged which was 8 years into our relationship. He felt disrespected by my family because of this wedding and I was not allowed to be the maid of honor. He felt that they should have put money aside for me because I was the oldest and should have been allowed to marry first. Meanwhile he never put a ring on it! He used to be in my ear about how I should be at my house throwing TV’s upside down and fighting with them. He used to make me call them and complain about the wedding and money. I had to do it. Anytime I refused only caused me physical pain. I had no desire though. In fact I wasn’t upset by the wedding at all. All I wanted at the time was help getting a house but I realize now that even if they put that money aside, it would have been impossible with our finances. Besides, I lost my car because I put it in his name. Can you imagine if it was a house? All of this was a blessing in disguise.
My friends… my lovely friends I’ve known since high school. I was allowed to hang with them in the beginning. In fact he used to hang with them as well. Somewhere along the way he grew a dislike for my friends and he slowly would give me problems. Make me feel guilty for leaving him behind to hang out with people that he didn’t like. Very rarely was I allowed out and it was usually for birthdays or special occasions and if I begged. His fear of me hanging out with my friends was so strong he did not support my going to a college two boroughs away because I might cut class and hang with my friends (I spoke about that in a previous post noted above.)
When I first started dating my boyfriend I asked him one time if it was okay if I went to dinner with my friends. His response was “why are you asking my permission of course!
Old habits die hard!
- Did he offer kindness? What do you define as kindness? I suppose he used to buy me stuff since he controlled all my money. We’d go to Walmart and I’d get to buy some clothes. For Christmas one year I got a Kindle Fire. One birthday he bought me a new phone. It was a sidekick that I wanted because of the keyboard! What happened to all these gifts? He ripped the clothes, sometimes right off my back… sometimes in public! Especially if it was an item that I really liked and wore a lot. That Kindle Fire? Threw it. Cracked the screen and it bled black ink. I tried to use it anyway. Fun times. Then that annoyed him so he threw it in the toilet bowl! Good bye kindle! Hey Stephanie, what about the phone? Oh that? Snapped in half! Things bought were always on borrowed time! Stuff didn’t want to come home with me because they would meet a gruesome end.
- I don’t know about this last one. I mean I am currently in a loving and healthy relationship and I feel closer to him this past year than I ever have with anyone else. This man has me wanting things I never wanted before. Like children. I definitely was NOT bonded to my ex like I am to my boyfriend so I can’t really speak for it. All I know is that my ex and I were together for 12 years so there were feelings in the beginning. There is also the whole length of time of knowing someone and being in each other’s lives. But the feelings I developed from this very loving and health relationship surpass anything I have ever experienced. My happiness might be fogging memories. I mostly remember being treated like an indentured servant. If anyone wants to jog my memory by all means. I’m in therapy it’ll get worked out!
All in all I think it came down to him wearing me down till I didn’t think I was worth anything better. I was also afraid to be alone but that’s a story for a whole other post.