You can feel shackled to your partner, unable to leave them, along with worries about finding a place to live, providing for yourself, or being denied access to your children or loved ones. A trauma bond relationship results from a continual cycle of abuse, devaluation, and encouragement. It makes sense to form a connection with someone who is kind to your abusive remarks. However, this article explains all you need to know about the trauma bond relationship.
Trauma Bond Relationship
When it is emotional, physical, or both types of abuse in a relationship, a trauma bond—a strong emotional attachment—emerges. In this unequal power relationship, the abuser keeps control by employing a variety of strategies that ultimately lead the victim to believe that leaving the abuser is a terrible, or even impossibly difficult, proposition.
A trauma bond is created by an exploitative relationship. These take place when a victim forms a link with someone who is harmful to them. For Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP); “It is a type of insanity to be loyal to that which does not work, or worse, to a person who is toxic, exploitative, or damaging to the customer.”
What is Trauma Bond Relationship
Trauma bonding is the development of an emotional tie between a victim of abuse and their abuser, which frequently causes the victim to feel obligated to continue the relationship.
Meanwhile, these trauma connections are the attachments we have to our abusers. It’s when we build a bond with our attackers and miss them because of the warm feelings we get with them. Things may be going well one moment, but not the next. “
What Trauma Bond Relationship is not
Sometimes people mistakenly believe that bonding over shared tragedies constitutes trauma bonding or that it simply entails conquering challenges and trying times with a partner. In actuality, a trait of abusive relationships is trauma bonding.
Trauma Bond Relationship Signs
Here are a few signs of a trauma bond relationship:
#1. The Abuse Cycle
It can be simpler to recognize and choose to end a relationship when everything is going wrong. However, abusers don’t necessarily treat their victims cruelly; they can express regret, make promises to behave differently, claim to be in love, and take other actions to maintain the relationship. There could be one of five primary types of abuse:
- Psychological abuse
- Physical violence
- Verbal slander
- Sexual assault
- Psychological mistreatment
It may be simpler to spot some of them than others. The cycle of abuse starts when certain behaviors start to occur repeatedly.
#2. Power Inequality
When the abuser has control over the victim, the victim may be reluctant to leave an abusive environment. This can be emotional power, where the victim’s emotional barriers have been breached. More so, they feel defined by their relationship with their abuser or by their financial power. It applies where the victim is unemployed and the abuser has a job and pays rent.
#3. Being Unable to Depart
The disparity in power may also be the reason why some victims of abuse go back to their abuser after leaving since they find it difficult to function independently. Trauma ties can be difficult to dissolve because they are so strong. This normally entails counseling, but it may also involve friends or family holding the person responsible and encouraging them as they attempt to sever the bond.
Threats of physical violence are another factor that could discourage someone from making an effort to leave. It’s possible that the process of leaving is when a victim of domestic abuse is most at risk. One-fifth of homicide victims, according to researchers, were not the abusers’ original targets but rather their children, other family members, new romantic partners, friends, or law enforcement who tried to intervene. One of the most potent deterrents to leaving can be the worry of the violence intensifying.
#4. Offering Justifications for the Behavior
By downplaying the severity or placing the blame on oneself, the victim may attempt to rationalize the abuse. Justifications for abusive behavior include saying things like “it’s not that horrible, they didn’t strike me that hard,” or “I made them jealous, so I deserved it.”
Gaslighting is another reason why this could occur. The abuser tells the victim it never happened, wasn’t that bad, or they’re at fault.
No matter what, there is never a reason to hurt someone physically or mentally. Nobody deserves that.
#5. Refusing to Talk About the Abuse
Why would a victim of abuse attempt to conceal it? They might be justifying the behavior and believing that others wouldn’t see why it wasn’t a big problem; they might be afraid of the repercussions of it being public; they might be ashamed of being abused, or they might be all of the above. Not to add, trauma bonding can result in strong emotional ties, which means the victim may feel what they mistake for love for their abuser and wish to defend them. Celeste’s relationship is a wonderful example to use if you’ve seen Big Little Lies.
#6. Trying to “please” the victim
A victim of abuse might think that appeasing the abuser will prevent things from getting worse. They may sincerely desire the abuser’s approval because “they do things for me” (like provide financially). Hormones can also be involved; during the cycle of abuse, the strong love displayed results in the production of dopamine, which acts as a “reward” for the abuse. It’s comparable to how people develop an addiction to any other high-dopamine activity, such as sex or gambling. Most addicts are aware of their addiction’s harmful repercussions, but they nevertheless rely on dopamine to experience pleasure.
Can you Fix a Trauma Bond Relationship
Yes, you can. However, it’s crucial that you grasp what trauma connections are before you start the healing process. Trauma bonds are emotional ties that form as a result of the constant cycle of mistreatment, undervaluing, and encouragement. In fact, the brain responds neuro-chemically to this kind of cyclic activity. Breaking free from toxic relationships is not only a cognitive (thinking) decision; it is also a decision that is related to neurochemical and physiological moorings since the brain can get addicted to the loop.
To mend your heart and reconcile with your past, use the advice given below as you think fit.
#1. Do Not Contact
Going no contact is the first step in repairing a trauma link. Because of a fiction you’ve made up that says “this time will be different,” you must be more willing to change than to keep in touch.
The neuro-chemical addiction to the emotional highs and lows that came along with an emotionally abusive relationship makes it difficult to break free from all contact with someone when you are trauma connected to them. (To maintain a connection with them so you could get your “love-drug” fix, your brain was physically programmed to do so.)
#2. Improve Your Conscience
When you don’t have any awareness of your trauma-bonded attachment style, you’ll say anything to justify your dysfunctional romantic dynamic. Sounding things include:
But I’d be miserable without them.
“This time is unique.”
“I think it was my fault for upsetting them,”
But despite everything, we’re meant to be together.
#3. Continue to be Single for a Long Time After
Everyone experiences recovery from a trauma-bonded relationship differently, and there is no standard amount of time for healing. You might need a few weeks of no touch before you start to feel better. Your capacity to recover and move on with your life will depend on how well you communicate with your ex and how well you manage your boundaries. Staying alone during this period will prevent you from entering another harmful relationship. Give yourself some time to heal so you can attract better. Again, there is no defined period of time for healing; so, take your time.
#4. Create an Emotion Diary” Post-Breakup
You can gain a sense of empowerment and agency by tracking and recognizing your emotions on a daily basis. It’s critical to establish a barrier between who you truly are and how you truly feel right now and what your ex projected onto you while you were dating them. Additionally, the feelings you are experiencing right now will be very different from those you experience in a few months or a year. In fact, there are moments when it seems like your emotions alter hourly! You can follow the development of your emotions over time by maintaining this diary. I can promise you that one day you’ll read what you wrote and say, “I can’t believe I felt that way!” in shock.
#5. Be Accountable and Honest
When we’ve been injured, it can be simpler to blame someone else than to look within. To heal from a trauma-bond relationship, be honest with yourself and accept responsibility for your role in the union. What part did you play? There may have been moments when you unintentionally or purposely hurt someone. You can start by forgiving yourself once you are entirely honest with yourself and admit your role in the relationship.
How to Get Out of a Trauma Bond Relationship
#1. Look for Resources Locally
There is no shame in asking for assistance to leave an abusive situation if you are in one. Along with therapeutic support, there are numerous options that can aid in your recovery from trauma and ultimate forward motion. Make contact with loved ones or trusted friends to help you leave the tumultuous relationship and find safety.
Numerous domestic violence shelters and organizations provide victims with access to financial aid, legal support, counseling, child care, healthcare, employment support, and educational resources. Because abusers frequently look for their escaped victims, shelters make sure that your information is kept confidential and secure.
#2. Make Your Needs Clearly & Assertive Communication
It’s crucial to understand how to establish clear boundaries in all relationships so that you may express your requirements in them with clarity and assertiveness. Keep in mind that limits exist to assist you in maintaining good relationships with others. Boundaries can be about anything and can take on different forms for different people, which means that they may be tested by the other person, particularly in situations where there has been a history of trauma bonding. However, if someone disregards a boundary you’ve set up to protect yourself, becomes enraged and strikes, or makes threats to leave, it can be a sign of something more serious.
#3. Retract from the situation and disengage from it
Even while it might seem counterproductive to the problem-solving process, it might be beneficial for you to step back and leave the situation, especially if it has the potential to turn dangerous. Disengaging and retreating in this circumstance can be highly beneficial for you, in the long run, to help reduce the heightened emotions brought on by a trauma bond. You should allow your spouse—as well as yourself—to soothe yourself if you find yourself wanting to comfort your partner in this circumstance. This could indicate that you are in a trauma bond or a dependent relationship.
Trauma Bond Relationship FAQs
Can a trauma bond relationship be saved?
It is possible to prevent a trauma bond from forming before it is too late, but it seldom happens that a trauma bond transforms into a healthy attachment. Seek assistance if you are aware that your relationship is poisonous. It could appear challenging or even impossible.
Can trauma bonds be healed?
There are actions you may do to break free and find healing if you’re trapped in a trauma bond or you’re having trouble moving on after terminating a trauma bond relationship. You may gain new skills, unlearn the coping mechanisms you’ve built to live, recover from the trauma, and sever the ties that have bound you.
Can you love someone you are trauma bonded to?
Trauma bonding frequently takes place in the setting of romantic relationships and usually happens where there has been some sort of perceived abuse. Trauma bonding in relationships is on the same track as any toxic relationship in that there are significant mood swings within the partnership.