Domestic abuse is like addiction, and addiction is like entropy: a gradual shift from order to disorder that’s almost impossible to stop. You crave the very thing that destroys you, and the worse the chaos, the more you want it. Recovering is so difficult that only 10% manage to outlast five years of sobriety.
If you spend a lifetime learning what makes people stay even though you’re destroying them, you develop quite a talent. Nobody can “love” as intensely as abusers do. How would they? Nobody else needs to orchestrate a false bond strong enough to hold onto you through terror and contempt.
Ordinary people rarely lie to create attachment in their partners. Ordinary people love honestly, consistently, and authentically. Abusers idealise their victims so intensely that they often feel as though they’ve found real love for the first time in their lives. Once in a lifetime sex is typical—abusers are remarkably good at whipping up insanely hot chemistry. How else would they hold onto their partners?
The drastic swing between torture and electrifying “love” creates a potent addiction. The chemicals pumping through your own veins are like heroin.
Even without that part of the compulsion, you’re taught that you make her angry, you cause her violence, nobody else has made her behave that way. It’s your fault. Yours. Then she rescues you from the very same torment she put you through, and the bond strengthens. It’s hard not to feel grateful to an abuser who’s lifting you out of the abyss. That she created it seems besides the point.
Trauma bonding is viciously difficult to undo. You must go cold turkey like any other addict. You must resist a biochemical bond from hell while you endure the drop that comes from all that cruelty. This time, he’s not going to be there to rescue you unless you go back. You will not get your next high. You must climb this mountain until the bond is severed and you’ve healed utterly.
This is the Everest of climbs. Here, corpses are used as landmarks. It’s that difficult to summit. The average abuse survivor leaves seven times before they manage to stay away for good.
There are few things as powerful in severing a trauma bond than the stories of people who’ve experienced the same abuser you have. You learn that your abuser’s behaviour is the same no matter who he’s involved with. Each story is the full tank of oxygen that gets you past that final ridge. It proves that it isn’t your fault. You are not to blame. The better you know that, the easier your climb to the top.
And from up there, you can see for miles.