The CPS have recognised 'love bombing' as a sign of abuse: here’s how to spot it. Gemma Lindfield comments in the Metro.
Have you ever dated someone who took the relationship from 0-100 miles per hour, flooding you with affection so fast your head was spinning? Were you, either pleasantly or unpleasantly, overwhelmed by the pace and relentlessness of their wooing?
If your answer to either of the first questions was ‘yes’ then you may have been love bombed.
And now, the Crown Prosecution Service has updated its guidance to include ‘love-bombing’ as part of coercive and controlling behaviour in relationships.
According to the CPS, suspects may ‘intermittently do what appears to be loving acts’, which can then be used as a way to interrupt or negate ongoing abuse.
She explains: ‘Love bombing is excessive and inappropriately showering someone with gifts, compliments, texts, phone calls, promises, attention, or affection.’
‘At its worst, it could be seen as a manipulative, narcissistic attempt to emotionally blackmail a person into feeling they should be grateful for “love”. ‘It soon leads to control.’
‘All too frequently the police can misunderstand the subtleties of domestic abuse and the genesis of it in a relationship,’ said Gemma.
‘Immediate abusive behaviour would not work, and therefore there has to be a period where there is an obvious showing of love and affection which perhaps gives the impression that the abuser has the victim’s best interests at heart.
‘Abusers can sometimes point to the times that were very good or friends and relatives get the wrong impression about their intentions.
‘It makes a victim question the bad times and also make them more willing to find excuses for abusive behaviour.’
Perhaps the scariest part of love bombing is that it can feel great – that’s the whole point – and thus can become harder to recognise.
How can you beware of something that feels like the opposite of a problem?
But Shelley says there are also negative ways that love bombing can stand out, telling us: ‘Signs may be neediness, intensity, and excessive adoration that make you feel uncomfortable.
‘This person might “fall in love” with you rapidly, avoiding real conversation, and showing a disinterest in working through difficulty.
‘You are also likely to see moodiness if you try to draw boundaries or create distance, and feel subject to many demands and uncomfortable control.
‘This attention may feel good at first, but may soon fill you with anxiety, and feeling trapped or smothered.’
Gemma adds: ‘Being manipulated is a very confusing state for a victim to be in and it’s important that when they report it, they have the ability to understand what has happened to them and that they aren’t considered weak for falling prey to manipulative tactics.’
So what do you do if you think you’re being love bombed?
Shelley recommends trying to set out and stick to a set of boundaries, saying: ‘In the early stages of love bombing, you can try limiting texts, phone calls, gifts, or any attention to in-person contact, once or twice a week only. ‘This is the way to build a real bond, over time.’
However, if you’ve set boundaries and it hasn’t worked, you may have been sucked in by the love bombing. ‘You may be wondering whether the love bomber is right when they say you are the one overreacting,’ Shelley tells us.
‘Insecure thoughts like, ”I’ll never find anyone else,” or, “He could do better with someone else” are signs that your self-esteem is suffering. ‘It’s time to admit to yourself that this person doesn’t see your point of view, and isn’t able to face life’s challenges by your side. Do they even know much about you?
‘Seek support for your self-worth, and start making your life your focus.’
It’s also important to remember that ending up alone in situations like this isn’t a bad thing – far from it.
‘As painful as it sounds,’ says Shelley, ‘facing what fears and beliefs you have about being alone are the key to recovering your personal power and happiness.
‘You can – and are more likely to – thrive without this relationship.’
Gemma Lindfield is an experienced family, extradition, criminal and public law barrister with a particular focus on human rights. Gemma is ranked in Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.
The full Metro article can be found here, published on 25 April 2023.
Domestic Abuse Helpline Details:
If you are in immediate danger call 999. If you cannot talk, dial 55 and the operator will respond.
For emotional support, you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Alternatively, for practical and emotional support, please contact Women’s Aid Live Chat 10am – 6pm seven days a week.
You can also reach the National Centre for Domestic Violence on 0800 270 9070 or text NCDV to 60777.
For free and confidential advice and support for women in London affected by abuse, you can call Solace on 0808 802 5565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Male victims of domestic abuse can call 01823 334244 to speak to ManKind, an initiative available for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK as well as their friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and employers.
Alternatively, the Men's Advice Line can be reached at 0808 8010327, or emailed at email@example.com.