How to Recognize and Break a Trauma Bond
You’re in a relationship that feels like a rollercoaster. When the relationship is good you feel elated and lively, but when the relationship is bad, you feel hopeless and defeated. You rationalize this by saying all relationships go through rough patches, but deep down you know that something isn’t right. Every time you consider ending the relationship, your partner suddenly becomes caring, considerate, and is all the things you’ve been asking for.
Trauma Bonding Cycle
If the above sounds like you, it’s very possible you’re caught in a trauma bond. Trauma bonding occurs when one partner forms a strong attachment to an abusive partner. This attachment is strengthened through cycling periods of emotional abuse and devaluation, followed by loving behavior and positive reinforcement. This cycle creates low feelings of self-worth and cultivates a dependence on the abuser. The partner being abused begins to believe that their abuser is the only one who can make them feel better, even though it’s the abuse that has lowered their self-worth in the first place. This can be comparable to a similar phenomenon known as Stockholm syndrome.
Signs of Trauma Bonding in Relationships
- One person persistently tries to devalue and put down the other.
- You experience periods of intense affection by this partner, often following a fight.
- You find yourself constantly rationalizing your partner’s behavior and making excuses for them.
- Your partner often makes you feel blamed and at fault for the abuse.
- You find yourself withholding information about your partner’s behavior from family and friends.
- Your partner feels competitive with you and appears threatened by your achievements.
- There is ongoing conflict in the relationship.
- Your partner attempts to drive a wedge between you and your family and friends.
Impact of a Trauma Bond
Long-term emotional and psychological abuse can result in the below:
- Constant self-doubt
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety or excessive worry and fear
- Difficulty focusing/concentrating
How to Break a Trauma Bond
A trauma bond is formed by the pervasive psychological and emotional abuse perpetuated by the abuser. This manipulation creates strong feelings of attachment and longing, making it difficult to separate from the relationship. If you find yourself in a trauma bonded relationship, it’s important to reach out for help and support. Share about your experiences with family and friends and seek professional help through counseling.
You can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for additional resources: 800-799-7233.
Get Started with Therapy for Trauma Bonding
I offer therapy for men and women who have experienced relationship trauma, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse. Services are offered online in Tennessee and Georgia. Please contact me today to get started!
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