Breaking the Betrayal Bond

Betrayal Bond. Trauma Bond. Stockhom Syndrome. These terms all describe the same thing: a deep, inexplicable bond with someone who has hurt you.

Perhaps the word “hurt” is an understatement.

This phenomenon is caused when a victim of abuse feels a strong bond to their abuser. These victims develop compassion and loyalty to their abusers, whether that abuse be physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, or a combination thereof. They tend to see the lack of abuse or periods between abuse as kindness, as proof of their abuser’s humanity.

A trauma bond is where an intense, traumatic experience or betrayal of trust takes place, forming an equally intense relationship/bond with the perpetrator. (ptsdme blog)

Trying to understand why you were betrayed can most certainly be an exercise in futility. I’m always trying to figure out why. Why do I feel so sick constantly? Why am I having these panic attacks? Why can’t I stop thinking about him? Why didn’t he still want to be friends? etc. etc. etc.

Ultimately, why doesn’t matter. What is…is. This is your reality now. This is where we must practice acceptance and just let go of the reason “why.” I know that we feel that if we could just know our abusers’ motives or thoughts or reasons, we might be able to understand the betrayal, after all we are nurturing, compassionate people. But we wouldn’t understand, because there is no excuse or valid explanation for abuse, for deception, for betrayal. Ever.

The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil. (Atwood)

In fact, it’s traumatic. The betrayal of a friendship or a lover (or worse, both) is highly traumatic, and your body (and mind) will likely respond as if you have been traumatized. Because you have been traumatized. The level of the abuse related to the impact of the abuse varies from person to person, as we all have different capacities for dealing with stress, anxiety, and pain.

As to what betrayal does to a relationship, and ultimately, a person, it’s a constant war between illusion and reality, between believing in love and explaining away lies. There are those people who excel at causing this type of betrayal and bond, especially (but not limited to) those who have NPD, HPD, or other such psychopathic disorders which are characterized by a lack of empathy hidden behind a very believable mask.

The path to betrayal looks something like this:

Validation: The victimizer validated the promise in some way so that you believed things are actually the way they were presented. [Regains confidence]

First betrayal: The real intention becomes clear in early abuse or exploitation. What really happened[.]

Reseduction: The victimizer adds an explanation to the story so that the abuse is understandable. [New promise or explanation]

More betrayal: The abuse and exploitation continue in a number of forms. [Now you examine your own sanity, value, and costs for having stayed.]

Reframing: The victimizer interpreted costs to you as minimal and reframed them as necessary for the good of the relationship.

Life crisis: Ultimately, reality asserts itself and you realize you can go no further. (Carnes)

Yet the bond remains even after the relationship is severed.

According to Carnes, “there was just enough truth to make everything seem right. . . . a little truth with just the right spin.” The rest was exploitation and a harsh form of abandonment, which he connects to the core of addictions and shame. It is worse than neglect, being purposeful, in my case even intentionally cruel. And “if severe enough, it is traumatic,” he concludes, creating “a mind numbing, highly addictive attachment to the people who have hurt you,” leading to self-distrust and self-abandonment. (ptsdme blog)

People who are caught up in this type of bond experience symptoms similar to PTSD like nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. Even before the relationship is over, your body might know before you do. For the first time in my life, I was thrown into daily panic attacks, and I couldn’t understand why. Looking back, and after a lot of research, this is common to those victimized by Narcissists. People who have had no history of an anxiety disorder or panic attacks suddenly are finding themselves popping Xanax just to make it through the day. Constant nausea. Inability to eat. Weight loss.

The body knows. It has encountered a poison, and it’s trying to purge. It’s thrown into a survival fight or flight mode, and it remains there day after day. It’s exhausting.

But that is not the worst. The worst is a mind-numbing, highly addictive attachment to the person who has hurt you. You may even try to explain and help them understand what they are doing–convert them into non-abusers. You may even blame yourself, your defects, your failed efforts. You strive to do better as your life slips away in the swirl of the intensity. This attachment causes you to distrust your own judgement, distort your own realities and place yoruself at even greater risk. The great irony? You are bracing yoruself against further hurt. The result? A guarantee of more pain. This attachment to the person that betrayed you has a name–they are called betrayal bonds. (Carnes)

And of pain, or the remnants of the pain, the fading scars that never seem to go away…

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind. (Atwood)

As for the unending circular questions, try these on:

Why would you want to be friends? Why would you go back into a situation of abuse?

But those questions, as logical as they are, don’t have answers yet because the betrayal bond is not broken. Some part of you is still empathizing with the abuser, rationalizing his/her behavior, wondering if it’s something that you had done wrong.

As Carnes says, “You will never mend the wound without dealing with the betrayal bond. Like gravity, you may defy it for a while, but ultimately it will put you back. You cannot walk away from it. Time will not heal it. Burying yourself in compulsive and addictive behaviors will bring no relief, just more pain.”


If you think you might be still trapped under a betrayal bond, here is an online assessment from Dr. Carnes’s website. I wish there was a step-by-step method I could give you on how to break these bonds, but it will likely be a lot of work to break the bond and end the pattern. The first step to healing, of course, is to identify the root problem. I have known “decording” and “soul retrieval” to work for some people, if you have a more alternative spiritual outlook. The latter has worked for me in the past. If your beliefs tend toward the conservative and “traditional” medicine end, psychotherapy and time may not be enough. Please look into Carnes’s book for help.


Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel.

Carnes, Patrick J. PhD. The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships

Find samples of each on Google Books (Carnes) (Atwood).

~ by omgrey on May 18, 2011.

113 Responses to “Breaking the Betrayal Bond”


  2. […] Sometimes called Stockholm Syndrome, a betrayal bond is an inexplicable bond one makes with his/her abuser. Until that bond is recognized and broken, the victim of abuse cannot heal or move forward. Often times, we see the periods between abuse as kindness, and we start to empathize with our abuser. It is very important to recognize this pattern and break it. For links to helpful books and the quotes from the sources spoken about in this podcast, please visit the original blog post. […]

  3. I love this. I recently got out a relationship that was physically and emotionally draining. While he never put his hands on me other then to restrain me, he did hurt me mentally. The manipulation was the worst! Once I was able to recognize the mental abuse, I ran. Problem is, he’s following me. He doesn’t want to let go of me. Horrible…

    I love this post. I’ll be following.

    • Emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse. One friend suggested that it might even be moreso because it’s so very intangible, like invisible to anyone outside of your mind. Harder to see. Harder to define. Harder to prove. With physical abuse, there is no denial of abuse. The bruises and physical pain, even from forceful restraint, are quite evident, not only to you but to others. The unquestioning validation can be healing, and I have been very fortunate to have that sort of validation from friends regarding my recent emotional abuse. In fact, they defined it as such before I did, helping me accept that’s what had happened. It is wonderful you were able to see it yourself and leave on your own. It shows that you are a very strong woman, and I admire you for having the ability to do that. I’m sorry to hear he’s following you, and I sincerely hope that you can get rid of him for good. The Narcissist sites might help you. Have you gone into No Contact with him? It is the only way.

      Thank you for your comment and for the link.

      • It is very reassuring to read others also wrangle with the intangible nature of emotional abuse. I often believe it might be so much easier for me if I had more physical, and therefore tangible evidence. A few minor physical incidents have not been sufficient for me.So I continue to blame myself for the emotional abuse and he has even made mention that he has been punishing me, which further cements I must be to blame..A vicious, vengeful and callous individual.Soul destroying.

      • That is the insidious nature of emotional abuse and manipulation. You’re constantly questioning your own perception and reality. You have no physical proof. Your community has no physical proof.

        Thankfully, more people are speaking up against emotional abuse. Our activists and culture are finding the right words to convey the deep damage this kind of insidious abuse causes. Doesn’t do much for us, but hopefully it will help those in the future.

        I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. You are most certainly not alone.

  4. […] year I also wrote about shame, victimization, and betrayal bonds. All well worth another read. No doubt. Gaslighting and Projected Abuse are two types of very […]

  5. […] for the health and well-being of one or both people involved, especially in cases of abuse. That betrayal bond must be broken, as painful as that is. Sometimes it needs to end for other reasons. One of the […]

  6. […] PTSD and Emotional Abuse. If you are exhibiting any of the signs, you might be trapped in a betrayal or trauma bond with the abuser. This makes it even harder to get away and […]

  7. […] fears and live in deep denial. But this is also very accurate, in relation to being trapped in a trauma bond and the struggle to first see and then break that […]

  8. So glad you mentioned HPD Here. HPD sufferers,because of the often- accompanying dependent personality traits,are sometimes in a bizarre, emotionally abusive relationship with the person they depend on!! It increases the misery. I lost my grandpa 2 months shy of my 4th birthday and I was taken to a wake when I was only 4 years old! Definitely had authoritarian parents, but dont understand how this would create an overly-dramatic personality,as indicated in the HPD page. The person does not feel their emotions are excessive. They have interests and a lifestyle that are the opposite of “shallow”, I, for one, lead a pretty buddhist lifestyle of no possessions, dont even own an Ipod! but yes, I allow for the possibility we may appear this way to others. I hope we can remember to change these parts of our ingrained personalities. Despite attention, we feel ‘ignored’; a very uncomfortable thing. Very brave of you to write this, dear.

    • Wow! You said it perfectly. I didn’t even know what was happening to me or what I was experiencing. I was numb until I could not even feel anything at all, like a robot going through the motions. My brain felt like it couldn’t work. I couldn’t think rationally at all and I couldn’t understand why, yet I felt like I deserved it in a weired kind of way. This is about the warped definition of love and connection that I learned growing up and then I met someone who matched that deffination to a tee and we re-played it perfectly so I dont blame him. I just look at it as a very painful lesson that i had to learn so that I can have a better understanding of myself and the relationships that I tend to keep creating in my life. Good luck to you in your future.

      beginning to understand my truth for the very first time.

      • It sounds like you were having a dissociative episode. Read my posts on PTSD.

        Yes. Blame him. As you get further out of the betrayal bond you’ll see more of the abuse you endured. He might have fit the definition of love and connection, which likely looks a lot like abuse and cruelty if it’s like what I was taught, but that doesn’t make it your fault. Sounds like you were raised by an abuser, so that’s all you know. Just because you’re attracted to well-disguised abusers doesn’t make you responsible for their abuse. They choose to abuse and hurt others, as that may be what they learned to do.

        Victims of abuse either become abusers or are attracted to abusers, usually. But some self-analysis and different choices can free you from either role. It’s not an easy task to break from from childhood norms, but it can be done with introspection and self-awareness.

        May you find peace.

  9. […] psychiatrist says this thinking is part of the trauma bond, and that it will lessen with […]

  10. I took that test and scored a 25, if 11 is bad I must be really terrible. But thanks to you I am no longer flailing around blindly in the dark. I can start to see what I have done wrong and now act better and try to heal myself. I may be messed up and having to totally start over, but at least I know WHY!
    ITS not all my fault, but its me who has to clean up the mess. Long road ahead. I just hope you are there to help me on.

    • You’re not terrible and you didn’t do anything “wrong.” I challenge you to stop using these judgmental terms to describe yourself.

      If you took the Betrayal Bond test, you’re trapped in betrayal bonds with one or more relationships. Now you know. Examine those ties, the behaviors of others, and start to break those bonds & ultimately those patterns.

      Get into therapy to help. It’s certainly helping me.


  11. 1 thing that really helped me break my primary betrayal bond was learning to tell the difference in spoken words & true intent. My abuser saying he was “sorry” , versus being truly remorseful. If someone is remorseful they dont give u 5-10 reasons why they behaved badly, (& those reasons are almost always somehow your fault), their “reasons” never justify the behavior: ex: “u were indecisive so I screamed insults at u in front of everyone…. ” and doing that helped the situation HOW exactly?? The truly remorseful person doesnt continue & repeat the offensive behavior. A remorseful person won’t minimize the offense or its effect on u. Basically actions > words. Anyone with a tongue can talk & talk is CHEAP! Watch & see how they act & it becomes crystal clear abusers arent sorry. They use us as emotional dumping grounds. I refuse to be dumped on anymore!

    • Agreed. Easy to say the words “I’m sorry” or “I love you,” something entirely different to mean them. Although I got a lot of “I love you”s, and they were so very believable, he never apologized for anything. Not even once that I can recall.

      Good for you for taking a stand.

  12. […] suicidal ideation. Expect confusion. Expect them to love their abuser through it all. The trauma bond is extremely strong, and confusing feelings around abuse and assault are completely normal. Someone […]

  13. […] Ah, yes. The joy of the trauma bond. […]

  14. My therapist just introduced the concept of betrayal bonds, and, fortunately, I found your post. Can’t thank you enough, not only for the content, but also for the way you brought Atwood and Carnes together. (Oh, I scored 29 on the index.)

    • I’m so pleased you’re finding the blog useful! The more people learn and understand trauma bonds, the more we can support loved ones and avoid abuse…and heal.

  15. […] back, I can see that I was deeply trapped by the Betrayal Bond. I’ve learned a lot about Betrayal Bonds, PTSD, and survival between now and then. So many people have written me just having been victims […]

  16. […] falls in love, although it would more realistically be categorized as Stockholm Syndrome, aka The Betrayal Bond. Derek isn’t quite as bad as the other vampires in the Blood Shade, an enchanted island under […]

  17. […] falls in love, although it would more realistically be categorized as Stockholm Syndrome, aka The Betrayal Bond. Derek isn’t quite as bad as the other vampires in the Blood Shade, an enchanted island under […]

  18. […] I had emerged from the trauma-bond cloud and accepted that what had happened back on February 12th and 16th, 2012 was, indeed, rape, through […]

  19. […] of trauma can be quite debilitating, as I’ve discovered. I’ve spoken a bit before on The Betrayal Bond, and I’ll be looking more closely at this phenomenon as well as things like Gaslighting and […]

  20. […] own assaults, just as this culture teaches every woman to do. Besides, I was still trapped in the Betrayal Bond with him when I wrote this. I’m far out of it […]

  21. “Why” they hurt others (and us) is easy. They are inconsiderate selfish sadists. They don’t care who they hurt and they get off on it. They are paying the whole world back for whatever wrongs they felt have been dealt to them, and if you are in their path you are going to pay. They are scorpions, poisonous spiders and snakes. I grew up with every one of them. It’s that simple. And that explains it all. Do we want to handle these types of destructive creatures? If the answer is “no,” then give them wide berth. Don’t touch them. They are toxic and that’s the end of the story.

    Now just how to not get caught back up in their trap, wishing hoping praying that “this time will be different.” Hah… that’s what they are looking for. The trauma triangle in action. No more for me, no matter what they say! Dear God please protect me and guide me and show me The Way.

    Thanks for this wonderful blog. I can see there’s lots of reading here for me.

    • Well said.
      No more for me either.

      May you find peace.

      • wow this is very helpful…I have been away from my emotional abuser for 9 months and still struggle with missing him…I wanted it to work so much. I feel stuck, and really have been challenged with wanting to meet anyone else. I was a sex addict and manipulated for years, however, I went to treatment, went 2 1/2 years without getting involved but then got involved with a man that had been my friend (so I thought) for 10 years. However, he is a sex addict and had not had any recovery…..WOW….what a roller coaster! I can not see and have experienced what I did to others. It was a very crooked path and one filled with buried mind fields.
        Letting go and trusting God one step, one day, at a time is what I do now. Thank you for the blog. lustkillslove1

  22. Gracias, amiga! More to come I hope… progress, always progress at least…

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    Dear God please show us The Way.

  23. […] not a lover. The vacillating (mostly covert) abuse and (mostly overt displays of) love creates and extremely strong bond, as shown in Skinner’s experiments with pigeons: intermittent reinforcement. This is […]

  24. […] The Betrayal Bond. Once you understand The Betrayal Bond, you’ll understand more of this. […]

  25. I am so relieved, and also really horrified, to have discovered through my therapist that the relationship I have been in for two years … was a trauma bond. I’d never even heard the term before! It explains everything, and now that I have answers (I have been so confused, tormented, hurt, in love, completely unable to leave him, and totally dedicated to him while compromising almost every aspect of myself) I can let go and begin to try to work through it and hopefully heal. I scored a 25. My GOD! I’m very scared that I will relapse, and that I could end up in another relationship with a man who causes me such ongoing trauma while I remain unquestionably dedicated. It’s frightening. But, now I have a gameplan, my therapist is wonderful, and I am determined to heal. Thank you for this. All information providing insight into this confusing and damaging kind of relationship is very helpful.

    • I’m so pleased you’ve found it helpful and so very sorry you had to experience it.

      It’s is a frightening prospect, moving forward, especially knowing how effectively some people covertly abuse and manipulate their partners. I’d suggest, and I’m sure your therapist is on the same page, to take some time and heal yourself. This kind of emotional abide is a significant trauma, and it will take some time to unpack a lot of beliefs. It’s important to do so you don’t fall into the same pattern with another abuser.

      It is horrifying to realize how cruel and downright evil some people can be under the guise of love.

      May you find peace.

      • It’s been a couple of years since I commented here. Unfortunately, despite tons of therapy and dragging myself out of the trenches more times than I can count, my experiences with abusive men have left me alone and determined to remain so. My very soul is battered beyond recognition; I barely remember who I used to be and who I could have become. Every day is a struggle. There is such a thing as being beaten down so far that it just ruins you. It has me.

      • I can certainly relate, Anniegirl. I’m in the same position. I continue to self-isolate, to struggle, to protect myself from all relationships, even friendships. I’m mostly alone these days. Perhaps we are better alone, at least for now.

        I’m so sorry you had to endure all of this.

        May you find peace.

    • Thank you Anniegirl… I will have to take that “test” again myself. I am sure I will score 100%. You – and this website – have given me hope for the future, which I needed so much.

    • Amen!!!

  26. I’m so glad my therapist told me about Betrayal Bond, Trauma Bond. It makes so much sense, and we both agree that I have suffered with this for a long time. I’m healing right now, and am no longer with my verbal abuser. I am still thinking about him, though I know I would never put myself through the abuse with him again. It is so true. I’m a nurturer by nature, and always look at the positive side of everything, including people. Because of my personality, I have been in 3 bad, long term relationships. I felt like I had the word’s “abuse me” written across my forehead! But, I was strong enough to end and leave all 3 relationships. I am very happy being single right now, and want to heal first before I feel that Mr. Right will walk into my life. I will no longer allow anyone to treat me with disrespect and any kind of abuse. No excuses for them anymore. I will definitely read the book soon. God Bless all of you who suffer from this.

    • Thank you Celia… your story is just what I needed to read tonight! Gives hope to us all. Hugs, Catherine

    • Thank you for your comment, Celia. I’m so pleased you got away from your abuser. It’s a wise choice to heal completely first before entering into another relationship. You are more aware of the way abuse manifests, sometimes so covertly, that you’ll be able to see red flags early on now. Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy at all, get out of there. Mr. Right is out there. So many Mr. Wrongs use his disguise, but by healing first and learning more about your patterns and vulnerabilities, especially as a nurturing woman, you can learn to listen to your gut and tell the difference between genuine excitement for a new relationship and your nervous system saying DANGER!! They feel quite similar to someone unaware.

      May you find peace.

      • Best thing you said: ” learn to listen to your gut and tell the difference between genuine excitement for a new relationship and your nervous system saying DANGER!! They feel quite similar to someone unaware.”

        I can attest to that. I learned that I was “always wrong” when I was being abused in my family, so my personal relationships are a mess. I learned the exact opposite in my business affairs, as I learned from experienced, truthful business people who taught me to trust my instincts and what to look for and how to protect myself. And most importantly, how to get out before I got hurt! So I practically never got burned in my business affairs, but constantly burned in my personal ones. Talk about opposites!

        I’m now trying to learn to apply the same principles to all the relationships in my life, business and personal. Meaning if someone lets me down in a personal relationship, I don’t make excuses for them or give them “second chances.” And I don’t listen to so-called “friends” who start defending wrong-doers and telling me I’m wrong for going with my own perceptions. All those kind of people have to go!

        Life is starting to become easier, when I learn to listen to myself. But I still ignore far too many warning signals and red flags, all because I am desperate for support. That has to change.

        Thank God for the internet and sites like this one, and people aware and courageous enough to share their tales. Gracias Dios, for favors large and small. Amen.

  27. PS: I don’t mean I never “forgive” or “cut people off” completely in my personal life. I do mean that I don’t keep giving in the hopes of receiving. I will do a small transaction to see how it turns out, before I give them all my trust and confidence. “Friends” are confidence people too… both men and women. Time to see who is a user and who is not! If they are really trustworthy, then I know to be friendly but keep my distance as well.

  28. I pray this blog sets free victims of what has been called “the worst form of child abuse”: parental alienation. Thank you.

  29. Reblogged this on Moms' Hearts Unsilenced.

  30. […] μέσα στον τραυματικό δεσμό (trauma bond)/δεσμό προδοσίας (betrayal bond). Ζητούσα από το βασανιστή μου να γλείψει τις πληγές […]

  31. Excellent article.
    The problem lies with the fact that somehow you say, hurt people hurt people. So you see their pain and then try to keep the friendship. But that’s when you forget your own pain. And that is self destructive.
    If that person scares your heart, and your heart still feels the trembling.
    Then it’s better to move on.
    Love isn’t supposed to hurt, even with friends.

  32. Thank you for this most insightful and profound entry. Breaking the betrayal bond is definitely what I have to do, and finding a way to stop wondering “what did I do wrong?” It’s been years and as you mention, nothing has fixed this on it’s own. Now it’s on to find these books and start reading, and “doing the work” whatever that entails.

    Dear God please show me The Way. Amen.

    • Contrary to popular belief, time does not heal all wounds. It’s quite unfair that people hurt us in this way, and it’s even more so that it’s up to us to repair the damage they caused. I think you will find this book most helpful, as well as the PTSD Sourcebook. Both, in addition to the other books I’ve blogged about, have helped me.

  33. “Hurt people hurt people.” Yes, and so do SADISTS. No reason to feel sorry for them. That’s the “hook” that has always got me in the end. And I paid the price for “trying to be nice” or because I “felt sorry for them.” That’s how they get you. They wait for someone to fall for their need to kill.

    Just like the man who found the rattlesnake frozen in the snow and brought it into his tent, and when the snake thawed out he bit the man and killed him. Read the rest of the story. It’s a good one.

    • Agreed. I don’t feel much compassion for them. Many people have been hurt by others, but these abusers CHOOSE to continue the cycle. My compassion stops when these “hurt people” hurt more people, especially when they take no responsibility for their actions or the consequences and damage their actions cause.

      If they were to own it, apologize (sincerely), and make reparations (whatever the survivor wants)…making the kind of sacrifices that would equate the suffering and loss of life/income that their abuse/assault caused their victims, then my compassion would return. But if they just use it as an excuse (or others make excuses for them) because these predators were also hurt, fuck that and fuck them.

      No excuse. Words mean nothing.
      They must step up, take responsibility, and dedicate their lives to healing themselves and those they hurt, no matter what the cost.

  34. […] […]

  35. I’ve been really struggling. I was in a relationship for 3 years (right after my divorce to a man who cheated on me over and over again) to a man who was very fun and exciting. We lead a fast pace of friends traveling, and hanging out. I finally felt like i was living. After 6mo he moved in with me and I never had my space back. He started to become demanding that it was my job to cook, clean, do his laundry, and take care of his kids (one being disabled and unable to talk, the other an angry teen. Both lived with us). My former life was me having all the time to myself and having coffee with friends because my ex never wanted to do anything with me.
    This man became so demanding and telling me that I have to ask him before I could go with my friends or even how long I could go visit my grand kids. Then he constantly was going places with his kids and i always had to be with him! never any alone time! I finally kicked him out after 3years and he got another girlfriend in less than a week. All along still begging me to marry him. I was crushed. His daughter struggled because I was a mom to her and she wanted me at her track meet instead of his girlfriend. He told me then that she would not be second to me and we broke up so I needed to get over it and move on and stay out of her life. Now really crushed!
    I moved on and found a really nice man who is calm.
    After 6 mo we got back together because he promised change and said he loved me so much and broke it off with his girlfriend. but when he started chewing me out again I walked away. He’s threatened suicide, had people call me and beg for another chance, made an appt with a pastor, proposed marriage, and called me bawling etc… I rejected all of it.
    Problem is… I’m so torn with him. He was so exciting and we use to talk on such a deep emotional level that we know each others soles. He sends me love notes, begs, misses me, loves only me, etc… And I find myself missing him to tears. I don’t want to but I can’t stop! He says we are sole mates and we will never find a love as strong as ours. He said there is something in his every day that reminds him of me. I end up bawling. No matter how he has hurt me he keeps saying that he was hurt too. Help! When he loves me it can be so powerful! Why am I so easily drawn back when my head says stop? I just miss him so much

    • This is exactly why people like this guy are so dangerous. You’re hooked in deep, and you love them so much. He’s exciting, yes; but is it worth it? Threatening suicide is highly abusive, as is manipulating his friends to beg for him, and the rest of his behavior is misogynistic. You must go to NO CONTACT with people like this. The only way is to cut all ties, I’m afraid.

      The man who raped me was also very exciting. Best sex ever. Transcendent. In the end, a few weeks of bliss was so not worth years of agony. I paid for a few moments of heaven with years of hell, not to mention the thousands spent in therapy and lost because I’ve been unable to work with the PTSD.

      It’s not worth the cost.

      You’re describing the *classic* abuse cycle. It doesn’t end until you get away. You miss him so much, and I get that more than you know. That will fade as you get further and further away from him. Think of him like crack. Glorious short-lived high followed by weeks or months of withdrawal. Keep doing it, and you’ll rot from the inside out.

      May you find peace.

      • Thank you. I needed to know that! Thanks also for telling me about the rape. He came over one night to get his stuff and we talked for hours until he raped me too. I bawled for weeks. When I brought it up to him months later when he wouldn’t leave me alone, he was upset and said he didn’t do that and would never hurt me that way! He said we were so attracted to each other and he thought we both wanted it. I said no several times but when he told me to get my pants off I just took them off so I blame myself for not fighting hard. It all happened so fast that I was a zombie and disconnected. Now I know he raped me too. Thanks for your response.

      • Yes. It was. You were in a freeze response, dissociated. I’m so sorry he did that to you.

        It wasn’t your fault. You said no, and he didn’t respect that no. More importantly, you didn’t say yes.

        May you find peace.

      • Thank you so much omgrey! Your words are so encouraging you identify with all the drama each one of us have lived through. It seemed like a great relationship at the time because of the excitement involved but we all were so brain washed we couldnt see the abuse. Its been 3 years since my ordeal and i can finally say it has opened my eyes and made me a stronger, wiser woman. Many Thanks to you omgrey!

      • You’re so welcome. I’m glad you found my words helpful, and I’m even happier you’re away from that toxic relationship.

        May you find peace.

      • Don’t ever be fooled into thinking you can skirt around the dangerous parts of a treacherous individual. There are so many avenues of betrayal, deception, & abuse & they can be put into effect so gradually that it goes unnoticed. Once you realize a person is a narcissist or worse- do your best to avoid them at all costs. They are like sirens who lull you back with manipulations & disguises then leave you blindsided with your worst nightmates . I don’t know why they get such a kick out of torturing good people but it doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they should be seen as lions who want nothing more than to feed on your flesh.

  36. Reblogged this on trainerchick and commented:
    I can relate to this in so many ways. Im reblogging because i want others who may be dealing with the same thing to be enlightened and hopefully seek the necessary help.

  37. It is essential that you figure out why…..why you stay, why you allow another person to treat you so badly, why you feel that you do not deserve better, why you think that it is your fault. If you do not figure out Why then you will repeat the cycle or choose to be with another person who hurts you. The healing begins when you start to look at yourself and not the other person. When you can answer the question Why then you can begin to change your behavior so you will never find yourself with a person who hurts you over and over and over… That is when your life will begin.

    • Jean, thank you for your important and profound comment!

    • Agreed.

      However, when one is socialized into such a role, it’s virtually impossible to look at oneself without unraveling all of one’s reality. This is the problem.

      • That’s it exactly. I have been so “well-trained” by my mother that all the beatings and verbal attacks were ALWAYS “my fault” that I don’t even realize when I am being abused. I take criticism and anger as “normal” just like I can’t tell when someone has been drinking, after being raised in a household of alcoholic deniers. That is the problem. And I’ve been working on changing this inside myself my whole entire life, and I don’t know if it will ever end. But at least I didn’t marry men who beat me, as some of my sisters did.

  38. Thank you thank you thank you for writing this its so important and validating for victims.

    “Even a dim light in a dark tunnel is still a light.” Klangan

    • Edit: btw I am trying to drop my narcissistic boyfriend. I agree wholeheartedly that the only whys worth asking are from victim to self. One great mistake is to wait for the answer that will make it comfortable to leave and keep you from mourning the relationship. Leave now think later. Write the big goal down and work only to illuminate the immediately poss first the abusers presence. All else can be thought over (or should I say over thought??lol victims know), somewhere much more peaceful. Klangan

      • There is no easy way to cut ties with anyone. If one finds it easy, then one is likely a narcissist or other type of person with limited capacity for empathy.

        It’s harder than I can express, but it’s essential to cut ties and go into No Contact (NC). The pain might very well be near-unbearable, but it will only increase the longer you wait. I’m here if you need support through it. Email. steampunkgrey (at) gmail

        May you find peace.

    • Thank you for your comment. May you find peace.

  39. Those who were only verbally abused find problems finding a therapist who can get the part that you can still blame yourself for going back.

    • Agreed. Finding a decent, trustworthy therapist is extremely difficult. In my experience, therapists have done as much harm as good. Maybe more.

      Even worse when dealing with verbal abuse, gaslighting, and any type of sexual or domestic violence.


      • By no means am I trying to downplay therapy when I say this, but writing my feelings down on paper has been tremendously helpful for years. I can’t count the number of life changing revelations I’ve had while doing this. I am not certain why or how, but it really works as a catharsis to release all the anger I had pent up. On a few occasions years ago, I actually snapped on my narcissist & became, momentarily, more evil than him. It was neither an ideal nor an acceptable way to deal with my anger. It’s dangerous to keep it all inside when you have justified anger from being victimized by soul leeching narcissists. I just thought I’d mention it because it might be helpful to others. Be well! Don’t waste your lives being mad or sad.

      • Certainly knowing yourself, learning your patterns, and reading up on how to deal with C-PSTD and recovery from narcissistic abuse can go much further than therapy at times. As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, therapists have done me as much harm as good, maybe more.

        Writing is a fabulous method of catharsis. If one can find a good, reputable, courageous, skilled therapist, all the better, but writing can do wonders (as can reading what others have written).

        We are not alone in this fight. By writing and reading and supporting one another, we can heal from these betrayal bonds and from the narcissistic abuse.

        May you find peace.

  40. Exactly what I have lived in the lsst 20 years.

  41. This was exactly what I needed to read….I have been in this type of relationship for 4 years. When I read about the rape….That also happened to me. I had been assaulted earlier that evening in a grocery store parking lot. I had my front teeth knocked out when I fell from my purse being snatched. My bf/abuser, went with me to the hospital, the police station, and then asked if I wanted him to come back to my place to just hold me. I agreed …but once we got into bed, he got on me after I told him NO. WOW!! Reading this was a God send.

    • I am so sorry he did that to you.

      It is very difficult in the beginning after you get away. Not only are you dealing with the loss and the trauma, but you are doing so through the very strong Betrayal Bond between you. It takes a lot of understanding and talking to yourself to change those beliefs, so make a list and write reminders. When you find yourself missing him, read your list of the things he did to you, how he treated you, and what the reality it…and that helps some.

      Remember that in grief, the pain comes in waves. Dive into them; don’t run from them. The pain is not bottomless, although it feels as such at the time. When it passes, and it will, wipe away the tears and do something for yourself. Don’t hold on to the tears and pain when it ebbs, as it will be back soon enough. Again and again, until it gradually fades.

      May you find peace.

      On Sun, Jun 7, 2015 at 7:19 PM, Caught in the Cogs wrote:


  42. it feels like i just woke up from a coma after 12 years. I used to write his words down… i knew they were bad but his words became my words. it started with our first Christmas together.  i was wrapping presents and doing a terrible job. he started laughing, said i didnt do anything right.  i didnt cook right, didnt dress right, didnt wear make up.  after that i became the bad welfare mother he would never take parenting advice from. The night he said that, i cried all night and he sat there and watched. The next morning i was exhausted, red eyed and swollen, i took the kids to school and came back and cried some more asking him why he thought so badly of me why he was with me. he told me he never said it. it didnt make sense to me, nothing made sense. i started seeing everything through his eyes. he attacked everyone i got close to and i started seeing them as a threat too.  He told me, look at the way people are looking at you and I did.  They were looking at me the way he was looking at me. I was sure of it. I stopped talking to people, i stopped talking to them mostly because I couldnt explain in my words what he was doing because i had his words in my head.  Every time I left him, i was drowning in the misery of his lies.  it is only now that I remembered the fear he put in me, how when I started talking to a friend I had isolated myself from, my heart beat out my chest when he found out and I never understood why.  At one point i even called a friend to tell him not to post on my status because it would make him mad.  I remember now, all of the words other people have said to me, you put up such a fascade… how do you do it?  You’re in pain and you dont even act like it.  You should be screaming at him, it’s your life… why aren’t you angry?  I wasnt angry… i was confused. I was numb with grief.  I was silently drowning.  I could never understand how my friends could hold me while I cried but he couldn’t.  That’s not true, he held me while I cried about the people i felt completely isolated from, asking me ,”Do you want me to beat them up for hurting you?”  I literally had flashbacks about the things people would say, “What’s the matter with you?” I told you that you were bad? “why don’t you want to sit by me?” is there something wrong with me that you wouldn’t want to sit by me? All of which confirmed everything he said about me, that there was something wrong with me. I remember all of it, all of the nasty things he ever said to me, did to me and I wonder how long it will stay with me?  I also wonder after I leave him when the numbness will come and then the pain, the drowning…I remember I used to watch and wait for his lips to thin out, tried to prevent it with everything i had inside of me because I knew what it meant.  It meant that those bad words were coming but would it mean that this time he would ridicule me like a child, point his finger in my face like last time, what name would he call me this time.  The worst part is that my daughter will grow up and find a man just like him and he’s gonna make her cry and he’s gonna steal her joy and her hope and she’s gonna wonder why she wants to die.
    i just wish he would have just hit me, atleast then I could have found the right words to explain what was happening to me. I tried to tell people but I didnt know how… i couldnt explain it… all i ever said was he was mean or he doesnt contribute… he’s bad with money…or he mistreats me financially because I was trying to make sense of it by looking at his actions but i never thought about the words. I remember when i would pray out in pain, I knew in my heart God was trying to tell me something. All I heard was, finish your book, finish it… what you are looking for are in the words.
    I remember when i first moved here to Texas, God was stronger. i would look at signs find words, put them in my book. And I heard God again. The words are every where.. now that i know and have found the right words… i want to shout it from the rooftops… I’m not crazy.

    • You are not crazy. You have been severely abused and neglected. I understand what you said about wishing he had just hit you. If he had hit you, the abuse would’ve been tangible, undeniable. With emotional and verbal abuse, gaslighting is a big part of it. That mixed with the lack of social support and understanding make abuse victims constantly question whether or not it’s them or their abusive partners.

      I hope you are away from him now. If not, do what you can to get away. Go into No Contact. Break that betrayal bond.

      There are resources available to you. Call RAINN, and they will find you a local women’s shelter with free support and counseling.

      May you find peace.

  43. I am so greatful that I found your web site. I know now that what I am going threw and what I lived threw has a name! I was married to a man( married him while he was in prison, knew him before, became friends and led to marriage) . Waited 4 years, I had an11 year old son raising him alone, my white knight came home, only to be shocked when we went to parole the very next day to find out he would be a registered sex offender! He said nothing until we were in car. When he was 17 she was 14 sexual assault filed from parents. That crime stayed with him and he never told me, well over the years 23 he was on parole for18 years and the year he gets off , he drastically changed where I could see, every one else tried to tell me but always a grand story of lies. He has had a lot of sexual encounters with friends, family, and a lot more I did not know. Constantly quit jobs but never disrespected me to my face, my white knight! Would knock his self out to be # 1 at every thing , when we had arguments ( I don’t know what I did but I am sorry) then came my fav. flowers. We had homes, we had a 9 year old son together, the person every one called on and wanted to save the day type. He was soccer coach and we had a farm. On his 48 b-day, he walked out not even taking tooth brush. he was building our dream home also and it was about 30% finished , all that was said was ” living with you is like a chocked on my neck ” and he left! Changed # lived 8 miles down the road and me and our son was taking the air that he breathes. Refused to aknowledge us in any way. I filed divorce and temp custody orders and every thing final in 45 min! Lawyers we amazed. No word still and we costantly go to court for non support. Our son has reached out, cards packages no response . I love this man with all my heart but I can see the mask he wore. It’s been almost 4 years we moved 5 hours away and no contact with our son either. He lives in a broken down trailer with a women that is a meth user and half his age. I still think all the time about this man I married, I know what he can be, but who he is now I do not know. He made me feel loved and secure and safe. It’s gone now and I found my self blaming me! Bondage, yes that’s it. He was a great person but I see I never knew the true him, I saw what my heart wanted to feel! I trusted and believed him over every one. I am going with GOD now and he has shown me so much, enemy, opened doors and above all , he has a demon ! I have tried reading all I could find when and what makes a person do this, drugs? I am sure that had some part but never ever in my face, he hid every thing. We went to counceling for 3 years my son and I . He is thriving but still miss’s his father as well as I .all these things were reviled to me after he left. Now where does the hurt and love stop! I am still hurting after 4 years. Thank you so much any advice on what to read will so be appreciated . GOD BLESS

    • I am so sorry you went through this. As to your question “what makes a person do this,” I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. Sometimes drugs, usually not the kind you buy though. Some kind of unending search for an elusive fantasy (narcissistic fantasy), wanting that next oxytocin high. Or surviving abuse themselves. Often these people are severely broken, but they’re unaware they are. They hurt others again and again in their ignorance and inability (or unwillingness) to be self-aware and take ownership of their actions/choices.

      I’m glad you got away from him. The more you read about the betrayal bond and the more you see him for who he really is, the more you will heal. A betrayal after such a long relationship will take years. You’re well on your way.

      May you find peace.

  44. Website for betrayal bond test has changed:

  45. […] These victims develop compassion and loyalty to their abusers, whether that abuse be physical, psych… […]

  46. It was only about two weeks but I can’t get him out of my mind.
    Every relationship I’ve ever had with a man has been exploitative…usually narcissists, but also players. I sometimes feel it in the beginning…and quickly pull away. Which hurts me at at an existential level. It’s like an infant being forced away form its mom. I have had dozens of such relationships if they can even be called that.
    Trying to be aware, heal, walk a new path. But then I fell into three more…in just a short time period.
    The last was one of the worst. My hopes were the highest.
    We are all a little broken…he wrote. He sounded so validating. He even would say things like ” Thanks for the validation.” And ” I just wanted to write you back so you didn’t think I was ignoring you.” And “no goodbyes… see you soon.”
    He then ghosted me. Without a word. Refused all communication. Right after sex. I am in the middle of the cognitive dissonance. Was it ALL a lie? HOW? HOW? He seemed so kind, compassionate? Had I run into the most evil one yet? A sociopath? A sadist who intentionally targeted formerly abused women?

    The pain..the abandonment…missing that persona that was presented to me….wanting to see him/kiss him just one more time.

    You just want to scream as loud as you can, in a field. NOOOOOOO!! Because it was a violation. Theft.
    The bible says that the ENEMY comes to lie, kill and destroy. In this relationship, I experienced all three. Lying, destruction, and an attack on my personhood. That’s what abandonment and abuse tell you…that you are worthless but its a LIE. I have great worth and the thing that caused him to overthrow and rejection my kindness, warmth, flirtatiousness, love, care, and generally fun to be personality, is a deep sickness or even evil in HIM.

    I hope he regrets/ repents of his treatment of me. And is not doing the pity party….poor me…..At least **I** can love!
    And I will heal and one day look at these betrayal bonds as a sad fact in my past. At least I will look at myself, my failings and my pain. I don’t suppress them by abusing others!!!

    • I doubt he has any remorse. From the little you described, he indeed sounds like a sociopath, at least a narcissist.

      They are so dangerous. Block him. Go into NC (no contact). Find support.

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. May you find peace.


  47. I relate to this so much. I cannot get help as I’m too upset to be calm enough to keep asking nicely for help. I gave up & feel it’s up to me “law in own hands deal” to stop this perp who charms the pants off everyone! I was doing so well before I met him but he sensed I had past child abuse by the way I walked! Yes these peeps notice everything weak about you. My perp is stalking me giving gifts & offering help coz he don’t want to go to jail. I have 5 affidavits from his children & his ex wife’s who died of a heart attack freind. We believe he has murdered more than once. The 1st red flag was the bragging of money & fame but this was the 1st stage of minimizing, ignoring problem’s, gaslighting, emotional blackmailing & the silent treatment. When he was being intimate I’d vomit. I felt like my head was in a vice, couldn’t funtion cognitively nor eat or sleep. Got sleep paralysis or nightmares that my chest had a demon sitting crushing me, I called for God to help me. My gut still hurts like I have peritinitis. I want my perp to feel but I know everything I done to please him was just amusement for him. The worst is he would act like nothing happened. I couldn’t breathe properly due to my body’s fight flight reflex. I have to cut this short as it’s making me I’ll.

    • I’m so sorry to read about this. So sorry you’ve had to endure it.

      Yes. They can sense it, indeed. Predators are drawn to it.

      You must go into No Contact if you haven’t already.

      May you find peace.

      • Thankyou. Yes no contact is in order. I thought ide be ok yet I’m Being hoovered, he’s trying to take my dog as it was in his name. He swapped the dog for a Tv, that’s what a depraved person he is & now he wants to take a 10yr old dog back to where he bought it? No regard for the animals feelings! This dog was bald shaking from fever & near emaciated when I met him. This bloke would hit & punch the dog like a body bag. I stopped that 1st thing. Actually most the reason I stayed so long was to protect his dog & teenage daughter who was so beat down sitting alone all day. She’s fine now that she knows her father’s sick. I done a lot of good before I left.

      • Ugh! I’m so sorry you’ve experienced those horrible things! Glad you got away and took the dog.

        Animal abuse is now a felony. Is like him to do time.

        May you find peace.

  48. I like that you mention relationships with persons who have personality disorders. I’d add BPD to your list. The question I have with beyrayal bonds is whether it would apply to parents with adult childten who have these disorders.

  49. Some people are just trapped, the abuser is the bread winner and you are broke with no one to turn too and stuck. Planning an escape and staying safe takes a great effort, especially when the abuse has brought you to state of helplessness and depression, but it can be done if you want it badly enough.

  50. This is a huge step for me. I have been struggling in a relationship for 9 years. It gets so bad I have to leave with my 4 kids and relocate. But for some reason I always go back. I have participated in domestic violence counseling support groups and so on. I know the vicious cycle and have found myself moving foward until……. he make that call to me. I fight it every time but could not truly understand why I keep going back till now. I’m just starting to try and break this bond and seeing how many ties their are to this person is scary. But I am ready for change and willing to do anything to get out of this bond.

    • The betrayal bond is very difficult to break. The best was is No Contact, period.

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. May you find peace.

  51. […] — reveal it by being authentic, open, and compassionate. Still results in heartbreak and betrayal/trauma bonding, but the sooner you see it, the less pain there will […]

  52. […] — reveal it by being authentic, open, and compassionate. Still results in heartbreak and betrayal/trauma bonding, but the sooner you see it, the less pain there will […]

  53. […] be kind if you comment. It’s difficult to break that betrayal bond, as we all know. Once you already have PTSD and a history of surviving emotional abuse, sometimes […]

  54. What is the best software to design websites and blogs?

  55. Traiteur Rabat Regal; Traiteur de ronome au Maroc

    This is my expert

  56. It felt so surreal reading this. I was married to a serial cheater and (suspected) Narcissist. Within our 2nd year of marriage I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Within 7 years I was suffering from anxiety. In about our 10th year I started having panic attacks and that is when I walked into a therapists office ready to face the fact that I must be crazy. 2 weeks later I was faced with the first revelation of infidelity. I stayed 5 more years because “people can work through Infidelity and come out stronger.” The revelation of his ongoing prostitute habit was the straw that broke the camels back. Ironically, I’ve had no Crohn’s symptoms, little anxiety and no panic attacks since he moved out. Coincidence???? After reading this I’m inclined to say “it’s no coincidence!”

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles, but I’m glad you’re away from him. You’re very strong to have survived that.

      May you find peace.

  57. Wow…after 40 plus hours in manic mode of trying to help mr.wonderful even acknowledged what the problem is.haa turns out hes a smart charming evil prick.The lies cheats abondoment deception and bullying had me wondering who really was the recovering addict.Hes the abuser as we say and im the wounded recovering addict….smh…his lil tantrums were so insane it insulted my intelligence and well being to the point were i am know drinking almost a 5th a day.may i add untill this point i was drunk off buzzed on two beers.not a huge fan of drinking either.well untill now that is. I find self in savage mode and after physical harm and in my face screaming he will kill himself.taking a box cutter to his chest he sadly made the mistake of handing me the knife and screaming go on just cut me.causes anxiety just thinking how quick i stabbed his neck.Naturaly i new to just barly nick the side his neck toward back causing no seriouse(thank the stars) injury. Now this man almost took a thumb off using a saw yet one lil tiny flesh wound brought such a dramatic response it just pissed me off enough to have no sympathy.mind you hes known few yrs and i explain how healthy boundaries play a important role in everyday life for me.see because of abuse from infant to now 36 if anyone backs in a corner i black out to thus beast mode hulk.(very dangerous to myself and others ) it took us watching “friends with kids”tonight for me to become aware hes freaking pulled nothing trickery to seduce me into signing a 12 month lease together.we both got issues but damn it im fully aware and try to acknowledge my faults and help myself learn healthy boundaries.He’s no longer jay but jayella i call him to myself. Almost married this jerk and why it hurts loving him.reading your post helped me identify my problem..ptsd..not bat shit crazy.thanks for posting saved his life and my sanity freedom self loathing even empathis.nope in the morning ill see what local shelters before allow him continue his evil charm and fake love

  58. […] betrayal shatters her trauma bond with Yon-Rogg and her understanding of the world, as she begins to realize her part in […]

  59. […] These victims develop compassion and loyalty to their abusers, whether that abuse be physical, psych… […]

  60. […] These victims develop compassion and loyalty to their abusers, whether that abuse be physical, psych… […]

  61. […] PTSD and Emotional Abuse. If you are exhibiting any of the signs, you might be trapped in a betrayal or trauma bond with the abuser. This makes it even harder to get away and […]

  62. […] survival mode, displaying signs of PTSD. Her testimony reveals she certainly was tightly bound by betrayal bonds, aka trauma […]

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