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Dissertation Title:

Trauma Bonding in Intimate Partner Violence: A Depth Psychological Understanding


Heidi Christensen

Date, Time & Place:

December 11, 2022 at 1:00 pm


Trauma bonding within intimate partner violence consists of strong, relation-based, emotional ties between an abuser and victim. These ties reinforce powerful paradoxical attachments which leaves victims feeling confused and internally conflicted about deeply caring for someone who is abusive. Trauma bonding thus involves power rather than love. This study explored the experience of trauma bonding within the context of violent intimate partner relationships. An interpretative phenomenological methodology was utilized to draw meaningful information from the participants’ experiences. The Stockholm Syndrome and depth psychological concepts regarding complexes and archetypes were explored to interpret participant data gathered from interviews with four cis-gender women. Data analysis offered insight into the participants’ experience, showing that the abuse they endured was difficult, painful, and fit a pattern of power and control that is consistent with domestic violence research. This study clarified that early developmental history has a profound effect on a person’s need to be mirrored, and that the presence of an abusive, neglectful, or engulfing parenting in participants’ lives which left them vulnerable to a demon-lover partner. In this state, powerful complexes were activated encapsulated by complicated feelings elicited by unconscious states that were part of the abusive dynamics. The study found that each participant’s ability to survive and leave an abusive relationship was due to her tenacity to pursue personal growth while facing the pain of her experience. Extricating themselves from the relationship was painful and challenging, and all the participants were able to go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Psychotherapy, T, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Marybeth Carter
  • Reader: Dr. Jennifer Sasser
  • External Reader: Dr. Susan Schwartz
  • Keywords: Trauma Bonding, Domestic Violence, Stockholm Syndrome, Demon Lover, Depth Psychology