Group photo from The Kronzek Firm

Trauma Bonding: Why it’s so Hard to Leave The Narcissist in Your Life (Pt 2)

Welcome back and thanks for joining us again here at The Kronzek Firm. We’ve been discussing trauma bonding, and why victims of emotional abuse have such a hard time leaving their narcissistic spouses. So far in the previous article, we looked at what trauma bonding is, and the role it plays in an abusive relationship. Moving forward, we’d like to dig a little deeper and look at how it happens, and why. After all, this is a conversation we’ve often had with so many clients in Lansing, Okemos, Dewitt, and Holt, so we thought we should share it with all of our readers. Whether you’re in Clinton County, Eaton County, Ingham County or Jackson County, narcissistic spouses have a similar pattern of destroying relationships. 

A woman sitting alone on a pillar by the beach, looking out at the sea. There is a bag on the ground at her feet.

Narcissists use very specific tools to achieve trauma bonding with their victims.

When a narcissist is working to bond their victim to them, they use very specific tools to get to that result. In the beginning, the rewards are constant, even when you’ve done nothing to “deserve” them. (Love bombing, remember?) Later on, this switches to rewards for your performance. When you do what they want, or act in a way they approve of, you get rewarded. 

But slowly this shifts to intermittent reinforcement. This means they use unpredictable patterns of reinforcement, that leave you confused, and this is where it starts getting awful. You never know when you’ll be rewarded for good behavior, but you remember how amazing those emotional rewards were and you desperately want them back. So you just keep trying, over and over, hoping that this time you might just get lucky. And if you happen to have enough strength to leave this unhealthy relationship, they just “hoover” you back up by amping up the rewards and the affection. That is, until you’re hooked…

All of this makes it very hard to leave a narcissist.

Narcissists need to be in control. And they believe that their needs and wants are more important than everyone else’s. So when their victim tries to leave them, they take it as a personal insult. That’s why a narcissist doesn’t get over a divorce in the same way that regular people do. You might be hurt and angry, and will need time to process what’s happened before you can move on. But a narcissist doesn’t move on. Instead, they stay full of indignant rage and a desire for revenge. In many cases, this can last a lifetime.

So if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to leave a narcissist in the past, and this time you’re finally ready to cut ties with your abuser, you need to know what you’re up against. Narcissists are very good at deceiving people into thinking they’re the “good” person, or the “victim,” and that you’re the “bad” one. Gaslighting! So you need to know that if you’re going to try to go through with this divorce, you’re going to be battling someone who will do practically anything to regain control over you, or get revenge against you for making them look bad.

Make sure you get help from the experts at The Kronzek Firm.

While we understand that the prospect of divorcing a narcissist can be very scary, we also know that anyone living in an abusive relationship isn’t going to be happy either. Narcissists can be very charming and likable when they want to be. As a result, attorneys, mediators, judges and even Friends of the Court workers can be fooled by them. So if you’re going to be successful at finally breaking free, then you need help from lawyers with lots of experience dealing with narcissism.Strategize with an expert attorney before you do anything else. 

At The Kronzek Firm, our skilled family law attorneys have decades of experience handling contentious divorces, and understand the difficulties faced by anyone divorcing a person with this particular personality disorder. We’ve spent decades helping families in Okemos, Grand Ledge, and East Lansing with all of their family legal issues. Whether it’s divorce, custody, alimony, child support or CPS defense, we’re here for you. Don’t stay trapped in a cycle of abuse. Call us today at 517 886-1000 and get the help you need.


I could not be happier with the help & guidance that I received while working with Brandy & her team! Brandy is thorough & to the point. She listened to my wants, needs & concerns. She was honest & clear with her responses (even when she knew I might not like her answer). I would recommend Brandy & her team to anyone looking for a no nonsense team that has the ability to be sharp, professional & yet compassionate!

Jennifer on Avvo, 2016

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