Till Death Do Us Part; Trauma Bonding

Till Death Do Us Part; Trauma Bonding

Have you been in an abusive relationship but you couldn’t let it go? Or do you come across someone in a toxic relationship but can’t come out of it? Gender-based violence has become rampant in the world, with the most victims being women and young girls. Unfortunately, the victims cannot escape from the abusers. They are clinging to the common phrase “till death do us apart”. But why is that? Why shouldn’t I run to save my life? Why wait for someone to take my life in the name of love?

Trauma bonding

All those questions can only be answered by the words “trauma bonding”. A trauma bond is a deeply emotional attachment that develops in an abusive relationship. The abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological.  

The abuser takes control over the victim through manipulation. The abuser makes the victim believe she cannot live without the abuser, and he is the only person that cares about the victim. Therefore, it becomes so difficult for the victim to escape from the abuser due to the trauma bonding. Some victims will leave abusive relationships but still comes back. The cycle goes on and off.

How does it happen?

At the beginning of the relationship, the abuser appears to be so charming. He loves to bomb his partner by displaying excessive attention, admiration, and affection. The goal is to make the victim dependent and obligated to him. I know it makes us feel good whenever someone showers us with love, attention, and gifts. You feel special, worthy, and valued. That feeling boosts our self-esteem. Unfortunately, it won’t last for long because that is a tactic of the abuser. He is faking to get you and when this phase is over the same person who made you feel special and valuable will be the same person to devalue you. 

Watch out this

In trauma bonding, you will find yourself making excuses on behalf of the abuser. We have seen women who lie to cover for their abusive partners. Or you justify what the abuser has done to you-believing that you deserved the ill-treatment. 

You will also find yourself apologizing for the things you have not done to make peace with the abuser. You are more likely to change your behaviour to please the abusive partner. He makes you believe that you are at fault and they may even say you are crazy.  

As a victim, you become used to the violence and normalize it. You no longer live your life, and you are constantly lying to your loved ones about your relationship. 

On the other side, the abuser seems to be very charming in public but unkind to you. He isolates you from friends and family to control you and ensure you don’t speak up. The abuser is always ill-tempered, possessive, and jealous. 

What to do

You can break the cycle of the trauma bond when you decide to be free. Have a safe exit plan without telling anyone because it can be dangerous if the abuser realizes you want to leave. 

Speak up, you will be surprised to see how many people are willing to help you. 

Set some boundaries for your next relationship. Know what you can take and what you cannot stand. 

Ensure to have no contact or minimize contact with the abuser, it will help you to move on and also protect you. 

Finally, have a self-reflection to find yourself again and to go through the healing process.

Remember to seek professional help. The cycle might continue from one relationship to another. Being in a toxic relationship can make you toxic to other people. Therefore, take action, say no to abuse, build your self-esteem, and seek professional help. Do not let the phrase “till death do us apart” permit the abuser to take away your life. 




Charity Nyambura is an advocate of women's wellness and a voice for gender equality. She graduated from Egerton University with a Degree in Gender and Development studies.

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