Which here is a relative pronoun.
Relative pronouns work more like conjunctions than actual pronouns. They don't really have an antecedent but kinda-sorta "pull in" an entire previously expressed phrase and let it fill a subject or object slot in a following phrase.
I told John that I didn't like it (allows "I didn't like that" to be object of "I told John X")
I couldn't ever find out what Bobby's problem was (allows "Bobby's problem was" to be object of "I couldn't ever find out X")
My cat ran away which meant that I didn't have to buy food. (which allows "My cat ran away" to be subject (X) of X meant Y, and that allows "I didn't have to buy food" to be object (Y) of "X meant Y*.)
In your example:
Association with real-life events helps the author maintain the suspension of disbelief without which, the story becomes unrealisti
Which is allowing "the suspension of disbelief" to be the object of the preposition without.