Have you ever had a friend or relative that was in a relationship that seemed abusive? Maybe you were in one yourself and found it difficult to break up with your partner. This might have been because of a trauma you were experiencing or due to trauma bonding.
To find out more about what trauma bonds are and what you can do about them, keep reading this article.
What is trauma bonding?
Trauma can occur for several different reasons, such asfrightening or scary events or when you experience any type of violence. This is along the same lines as trauma bonding.
This type of bonding happens when you bond with a person that is abusing you. This doesn’t just occur with romantic partners; it can also occur with family members or platonic friends.
Essentially, if you have a relationship with a person and he or she mistreats you, this can be traumatic.
However, when this type of behavior goes on for quite a while, you may find yourself unable to notice that you are being abused and think that it is how this person shows love.
The person that is mistreating you will likely convince you that the things they are doing are normal or perfectly fine, when in fact, they are not.
This can cause the victim to think they are imagining the mistreatment, and it can take a while to understand that abuse is actually taking place.
For example, suppose you have a mate that does nothing but calls you names and talks bad about you, and you become used to this, where you need them to talk about you even though it may affect your self-esteem.
In that case, you could be experiencing a traumatic attachment to this person, which is unhealthy.
Trauma bonding may also occur in cyclical relationships, where the same patterns occur at regular intervals.
5 signs of a traumatic bond
A person who’s being abused can sometimes stay totally unaware of the signs or effects of trauma bonding leaking out of a relationship. It’s important to know and notice these signs beforehand.
There are a few ways to tell if you or someone you know has a trauma bond with another person. Signs of trauma bonding may include the following.
1. Ignoring what family and friends say
When your family members and friends are telling you that there is something wrong with your mate and you are ignoring them, this may mean that you are experiencing trauma in your relationship.
If you ignore their advice, even when you know that they are truthful and their arguments are valid, you need to think about whether or not you are putting up with a trauma-bonding sociopath.
2. Explaining away the abuse
There are different types of abuse in abusive relationships, and you may be overlooking what is happening to you.
When you tell yourself that it isn’t that bad or ignore theabuse you are experiencing, you are likely going through trauma bonding pain that should be addressed.
3. Feel like you owe them something
Sometimes, a person that is being abused feels like they owe their abuser something. This may be because they live with them or that their mate is paying their bills or buying them things.
It is important to remember that there is no reason that someone should abuse you, no matter what they are providing you with.
4. Thinking it’s your fault
Trauma bonding tests your decision-making abilities. You may feel like you have done something in the past to warrant the behavior you are enduring from your partner. You should know that this is not the case.
Relationships are a give and take, so even if you have messed up in the past, your mate should be able to forgive you and move on.
5. Afraid to leave the relationship
If you find yourself afraid to leave the relationship, this may indicate that you are experiencing trauma bonding.
In some cases, a person may be fearful for their lives and not leave a dangerous situation.
Trauma bonding can be a result of one’s survival mechanism erupting out of the need to stay validated and useful in some sense. Let’s look at some top reasons behind trauma bonding.
1. Domestic abuse
A person who is repeatedly subjected to physical abuse may develop tramatic bond with the abuser over time. He or she will most likely accept it as a part of life. Recognizing physical trauma in relationships is important.
2. Sexual abuse
A sexually abusive relationship is worst a person can imagine but sometimes, it can leave the abused person with a sense of belonging and dependence.
3. Emotional abuse
Playing with someone’s emotions can be a real tactic to gain control over them. Emotional abuse can range from gaslighting to brainwashing.
A bad memory or experience from one’s childhood can take the shape of trauma bonding in adulthood. A person who had an abusive childhood, can look upto their abuser as a savior or guardian.
5. Personal beliefs
Many times, people have their spiritual or religious reasons to NOT break away from an abusive relationship and form a trauma bond with their partner.
5 stages of trauma bonding
Each trauma bond can be different than the other since reason behind the bond may vary in each case. Generally, there can be 5 major stages of trauma bonding we can discuss.
Showing love and affection to the abused person and gaining their trust over time
Criticism to make the abused person openly receptive of mistakes and errors
Defending attitude of the abuser to appear flawless and incapable of mistakes in front of the abused person
Manipulation of the abused person to create a chain of habitual trauma
Resignation of the abused person to align with the actions and behavior of the abuser
Impact of trauma bonding
The biggest impact trauma bonding leaves on an abused person is positively associating the trauma despite its adverse effects. The trust and affection gained by the abuser can let the abused individual suffer in oblivion for a long time without anyone realizing or finding out.
Trauma bonding can also have certain after effects like depression, anxiety and low self esteem. It is important to identify symptoms of a trauma bond and seek help immediately.
How to break the trauma bond: 10 steps from a therapist
The good news is that there are ways of overcoming trauma. You don’t have to keep putting up with it, and you can start healing and approach your trauma bonding recovery. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this.
1. Break the cycle
If you were abused, do your best to keep from harming anyone, and make sure that your kids, friends or relatives are not being abused as well. This may be a big step in stopping the trauma bonding cycle.
2. Get advice
Talk to your friends and family about what they think you should do. Chances are, even if you have been isolated and haven’t been able to reach out to those close to you, they will be willing to help you out.
When you talk to people you trust and ask them for advice, you will have more points of view to consider, so you can decide what is good for you.
3. Think about what you’d say
It would help if you also thought about your relationship objectively. If your friend or a family member were experiencing the same things you are, what would you tell them to do? Think about this while you are working through how to get over trauma bonding.
4. Take care of yourself
Once you are going through trauma bonding recovery, you should make sure that you are taking care of yourself. This means getting the proper rest, eating right, exercising, and doing things that you want to do.
You may consider writing down your thoughts on paper or doing other relaxing things to help your mind recover.
How to break a trauma bond? You will need to break ties with the person who has abused you to stop experiencing trauma bond symptoms over and over again.
This means all contact, even things that seem innocuous, such as emails or text messages.
To learn more on how to end an abusive relationship, watch this video:
6. Plan a safe break out
Once you’re determined to get out of an abusive relationship, plan for your safety. Prepare to go somewhere where you’re sure to find genuine support and care. You can reach out to family, friends and helpline numbers available in your locality.
It would help if you also reached out for therapy when you think you need it. There are resources like the National Domestic Abuse Hotline that can assist you in emergency situations.
Seeking professional help is important if you suffer from after effects of a trauma bond. A therapy can help you recover from the damage and make sure that you don’t end up in a similar situation again.
Ending a relationship is hard and coming out of a trauma bond can be even harder for a person who has suffered emotionally. Relationship counseling can help you rediscover yourself, free from the baggage of the past.
8. Self talk
A little pep talk to self can be beneficial for any individual. It can instantly boost one’s confidence and helps in preparing a road map ahead.
Make it a habit to engage in positive self talk every now and then and give yourself reasons to be happy and motivated about.
Peer help and support groups are quite popular these days. Coming together in a group of like minded individuals who have suffered the same way as you can be really empowering.
Find a suitable support group and share your thoughts with them. It can help you let go of the past for the better.
10. Change your phase
How to heal from trauma bonding? Do something entirely new and different to keep your energy and thoughts constructively engaged. Start a new job, find a new hobby or plan a road trip… anything that sounds exciting and fresh to you.
Just try not to stay in the same phase of your life as before.
Does trauma bonding ever go away?
For people who ever faced a trauma bond relationship in their lives, it could feel like the struggle never actually goes away. The after effects like depression, anxiety and trust issues can stay with you for a long time if left untreated.
So, can a trauma bond be fixed? Yes, trauma bonds and their adverse effects can go away with the help of appropriate help sources and resources. Be more outgoing, share your story with people, seek their suggestions, do everything you can to heal yourself properly.
It’s a bond worth breaking!
Trauma bonding can happen to anyone, but certain risk factors make it more likely to occur in your life. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you did something wrong and deserve to be mistreated.
Anytime you are being abused or mistreated, you should know that there is help out there and that you can make a change if you want to. Once you realize you are being abused, do what you can to leave the situation and stop making excuses for this disrespectful treatment.
Breaking trauma bonds may be difficult and take time, but it is worth it, so you can move on with your life and be happy. Count on others when you need to and take the next step when you are ready.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle Read more in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.
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