What is trauma bonding? Signs and how to break a trauma bond
Traumatic or abusive situations often distance or isolate people. But sometimes it can also bring them closer in what is known as a “trauma bond,” an unhealthy relationship between an abuser and their victim.
Contrary to popular belief, it does not describe a shared connection between two trauma victims.
“It describes a bond or connection with the abuser in our lives,” says Cecile Tucker, a registered clinical consultant specializing in trauma. “For example, in an abusive relationship, you might begin to connect with, understand, or even defend yourself against the person who is abusing you.”
To heal an abusive relationship, It is important to recognize what trauma attachment is and is not.
What is a Trauma Attachment Relationship?
In a trauma-bound relationship, moments of distress and devaluation are often juxtaposed with intermittent positivity or intimacy, making it difficult to leave these toxic situations. The victim will often try to rationalize or justify the abuse they are experiencing and, as a result, form an emotional bond with their abuser.
“Trauma bonding is when we bond and associate the perpetrator of trauma or violence with love,” Tucker explains.
When there may be trauma bonds
While most commonly related to romantic relationships, trauma attachments can exist in any power imbalance dynamic, including but not limited to situations involving:
5 Signs of Trauma Bonding
A trauma attachment can be hard to spot because it involves a cycle of abuse and positive reinforcement, sometimes referred to as love bombing.
Common signs that someone is stuck in a trauma bondage include:
- dependency on the perpetrator
- Defense or apologies for an abuser in front of others
- Rationalize or justify an offender’s behavior
- Isolation from friends and family through manipulation and gaslighting
- Blaming themselves or believing that the abuse is their own fault
Why does a trauma bond form?
Not everyone who experiences abuse develops a trauma bond. But Tucker says it can be an unadapted way for our brains to cope with or survive trauma.
Some victims of abuse may think, “If you understand this person on a deeply intimate level, it will be much easier to predict how (the abuser) could harm you in the future.” So it’s really a security strategy that we do unconsciously to protect ourselves,” Tucker said.
However, she warns that staying in abusive and traumatic situations for too long can have long-term psychological consequences, including an increased risk of PTSD, anxiety, drug use and depression.
How to release a trauma bond
Breaking free from a trauma bondage can be a difficult, decades-long process. But the National Domestic Violence Hotline offers some suggestions for those fighting:
Don’t jeopardize the truth for empty promises: “It means being honest with ourselves about how our partner’s decision to be violent toward us in any way has affected us in the past, is affecting us now, and could affect us later, without dismissing that reality. “
Be vigilant and acknowledge what you are going through: This may mean writing it down to recall later and reflect on its impact.
Avoid negative self-talk: Instead, embrace “positive self-truths” by surrounding yourself with a strong support system. “Try something like, ‘I’m smart because I’m taking steps right now to strengthen my future,'” recommends the NDVH.
dealing with trauma
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What It’s Like Divorcing a Narcissist:One woman’s struggle with post-breakup abuse
Her parents were secret swingers:The trauma of a double life
“You are so mature for your age”:is not always a compliment. Sometimes it comes from trauma.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline allows you to speak confidentially to trained attorneys online or by phone, which they recommend to those who believe their online activities are being monitored by their abuser (800-799- 7233 ). You can help survivors develop a plan to achieve safety for themselves and their children.