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It is all about the trauma bond

The intention is first to groom the victim into gaining trust and creating an illusion around the relationship. As time goes by, the tactics become more overt when the cycle spins again. The abuser will often start the cycle of abuse by using very subtle and covert tactics.

Narcissists and psychopaths don't constantly abuse their victims.

Intermittent reinforcement is a pattern of cruel, callous treatment mixed in with random "rewards" of affection. The narcissist or psychopaths hands out rewards such as affection, a compliment, future faking, or gifts sporadically and unpredictably throughout the cycle of abuse. 

Victims are conditioned to look for the good in their partner.

Often in situations when the abuser would have normally been subjected to abuse in a certain way, and the abuser does not abuse, victims might give their abuser positive credit for not abusing them. Victims, therefore, form a psychological connection with their abusers and begin sympathizing with them. They experience guilt and shame for misjudging the situation. 


When the abuse is intermittent, it often leads to cognitive dissonance for victims.

Once the victim starts trusting the abuser again, they will then alter between their abusive and "non" abusive ways. With cognitive dissonance and a feeling of constantly walking on eggshells while looking for the good in their partner. 

not fighting against an abuser, victims may secure their safety. When not harmed by their abuser, a victim may feel grateful and even view their abuser as humane. remembers why she fell in love with her partner and believes they can get back to where they began

Each time the narcissistic cycle of abuse spins, victims become conditioned to the intermittent abuse dynamic of the relationship. As a result, victims become trauma bonded with their abuser. 


in an attempt to survive the overwhelming abusive, turbulent relationship. 

Trauma bonding leads victims to live in a state of fear, obligation, and guilt (FOG), learned helplessness, cognitive dissonance, and learned co-dependency. 

The narcissistic cycle of abuse has three to five specific phases: 

  • idealization

  • devaluation

  • discard

  • hoovering 

  • stalking 


The first three phases work together to keep someone trapped in the narcissist's or psychopath's web. If the cycle breaks, hoovering is a fourth phase abusers use to lure the victim into a new cycle. Stalking comes into the mix as a fifth phase, mostly by psychopaths. They will often also stalk their ex-partners during hoovering, let alone if hoovering is unsuccessful. 

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