What is a Trauma-Bonded Relationship?

A trauma bond is an attachment that develops from a cycle of physical and or emotional trauma followed by positive reinforcement. Trauma bonds most commonly develop in romantic relationships but can be between a child and abusive caregiver, a hostage and their kidnapper, colleagues and friends. In other words anyone. The sad part is that leaving these relationships is extremely hard. When a person experiences emotional or physical hurt, it’s hard to process your feelings and cope. It is especially confusing when the abuser acts kind or loving afterward.

At the start, it can be hard to believe that your person would do anything to hurt you. It is hard to process, and the abuser often tries to talk their way out of it and manipulate you into thinking they love you, that they will change, and that it will never happen again. The other person, believes and hopes it will get better. This is how trauma bonds starts and it happens again and again. The feelings of fear and abandonment become stronger as the cycle continues, making the victim want to stay because this is all they know.

Asl people experience trauma differently, typical signs of trauma bonding include:

  • denial of the other person’s fault
  • justification of their actions
  • increasing isolation from support structures
  • increasing dependence on the partner

Here are the seven stages.

  • love bombing
  • gaining trust and increasing dependency
  • criticism and devaluation
  • gaslighting
  • submission and resignation
  • loss of self and value
  • emotional dependence

Abuse is never your fault. nor is being in a trauma bond. 

Healthy relationships involve:

  • Respect
  • Safety and Security
  • Trust
  • Support
  • Accountability
  • Willingness to grow and work through challenges

It may take some time to regain a sense of self-worth and feel like you’ve finally broken free, but time will heal all wounds.

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