A trauma bond refers to the complex and often dysfunctional relationship that can form between two people who have shared a traumatic experience. Trauma bonds are created out of fear, pain, and guilt and are unhealthy for both parties involved, often leading to further emotional damage.
Despite their dangerous nature, trauma bonds can be very hard to break as the victims may feel dependent on the abuser for protection or love.
What Causes Trauma Bonds?
Trauma bonding is often caused by prolonged exposure to difficult or abusive relationships. It can be a result of abusive relationships, such as physical, emotional, psychological, and/or sexual abuse.
Family dynamics can also play a role in creating trauma bonds, as poor communication within the family can lead to feelings of fear and insecurity that cause one person to bond with another out of desperation.
Prolonged stress, such as long-term financial problems or chronic illness, can also create an environment where trauma bonds form due to the overwhelming feeling of dependence on another person for comfort and security.
Despite the negative effects that trauma bonds may have on both parties involved, people may stay in these relationships because they feel emotionally dependent on the other person or fear repercussions if they try to leave.
Signs of a Trauma Bonded Relationship
One of the most prominent signs of a trauma bond is the development of an unhealthy dependency between two people, such that one person relies heavily on the other for emotional and physical needs.
The relationship often becomes co-dependent and can be characterized by feelings such as desperation, fear, guilt, and insecurity.
While there are usually periods of calm in any relationship, there will frequently be intense conflict in a trauma bonded relationship due to underlying wounds that have yet to heal.
These conflicts are often unresolvable because each party feels very defensive about their perspective and feelings.
A trauma bond typically involves one person trying to control the behavior of the other through manipulation, threats, or punishment.
This type of behavior can extend beyond relational interactions into how the individual lives their daily life as well.
Lack of Boundaries
Oftentimes in a trauma bond, boundaries become blurred or nonexistent between two people; each individual may feel like they must always “be there” for the other regardless of personal needs or wants.
This lack of boundaries can cause further problems down the line as it can lead to resentment and even isolation from friends or family members who may be unable to understand why someone would stay inside such a toxic dynamic with another person.
Fear is commonly present in this type of relationship as well; both parties may feel an immense amount of anxiety whenever they try to leave or speak up against wrongdoings within the dynamic.
Additionally, one person may also become fearful that if they leave then no one else will ever love them again due to feelings derived from past traumatic experiences in their life before meeting this individual
Things a Trauma Bonded Victim Will Say
“He complains when I go out with my friends because he misses me when I am gone. He loves me and wants me to be with him all the time.”
“She is going through a hard time at the moment. She did not mean what she said. When she calms down she will apologise.”
“I know that she is difficult and demanding, but she is my soulmate. I cannot live without her.”
“I’m sorry he got so angry. It was my fault. I should not have contradicted him.”
How to Break Free from a Trauma Bond Relationship
Here are some tips for how to break out of a trauma bonded relationship:
Reach Out to a Trusted Friend or Family Member
Reaching out to someone you trust is an important step in breaking free from a trauma bond.
This person can provide emotional support and help create space for you to figure out the next steps.
It also helps to be surrounded by someone who has your best interests at heart so that they can give feedback on the situation as well.
Start by asserting yourself when it comes to decisions about major topics such as work or finances, and then move on to smaller areas like spending time with friends or family members outside of the relationship.
Seek Professional Help
Therapy can help you uncover and address the underlying issues that caused you to enter into this type of relationship, as well as provide guidance on how to establish healthier relationships in general.
Spend Time Alone
Take time away from your partner so that you can begin processing all that’s happened and start building a sense of self-confidence without their presence weighing heavily on your shoulders.
Doing activities alone such as going for walks, reading books, or exploring new places can help with this process immensely.
Have an Exit Plan
Having a plan ready if things get too intense will provide much-needed reassurance of safety during these difficult times.
Having someone on call who could offer assistance if needed would be especially helpful in this regard (such as a friend or cab service).
Make sure all important documents such as IDs and legal papers are readily available just in case an emergency arises where evacuation becomes necessary
Final Thoughts on Recognizing a Trauma Bond
Trauma bonds are an incredibly complex type of relationship that can be difficult to break out of.
It is important to understand the signs of a trauma bond and take proactive steps to create healthier dynamics.
By seeking professional help, setting boundaries, reaching out for support, spending time alone and having an exit plan in place, individuals can begin taking control of their lives and ultimately be empowered to break away from the trauma bonds that have been holding them back.