Trauma Responses in Relationships: Are You Affected?

Trauma bonding often happens in abusive relationships, whether romantic or otherwise. Since trauma bonds can be challenging to break and cause lasting effects even after leaving the abusive relationship, it’s important to get professional mental health treatment as you begin to heal moving forward.

What Is Trauma Bond Relationship?

Trauma bonding occurs when repetitive emotional or physical abuse is intermittent with positive reinforcement. Trauma bonds are prevalent in domestic violence situations, including those revolving around childhood trauma or an abusive partner.

Basically, traumatic bonding is a lot of really negative stuff and occasional really great stuff. This type of relationship can cause strong attachments that make it challenging to leave the situation. Over time, an unhealthy relationship can cause mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to form. These mental health problems can make it even more difficult to leave, as they exacerbate the feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness resulting from trauma-bonded relationships.

Why Does Trauma Bonding Occur?

Trauma bonding is a psychological response to abuse. An abused person may develop sympathy for the person causing them pain, which is reinforced by the cycle created by the abusive person. Abusers often claim the person they’re abusing is at fault. Or, they claim they’re the one being abused or they’ve generally had a traumatic life themselves. While this is sometimes true, no type of toxic relationship is okay or healthy.

If you or a loved one is the victim of parental or intimate partner violence, resources are available to help you create a safe leaving plan. Anyone can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 to speak with a trained crisis counselor.

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Signs You’re in a Trauma-Bonded Relationship

Initially, the signs that a trauma bond is forming seem very positive. For example, you may feel close to someone you haven’t known very long or think your new partner is the only one who can fulfill your needs. You may make significant life changes for a relatively new relationship and spend all your time on your new partner at the cost of everyone and everything else in your life.

Not every relationship that moves quickly will turn into an unhealthy one. However, a healthy relationship respects your boundaries and the fact that you have a life outside your partner. If you feel that saying “no” or slowing things down would make your partner angry, you’re likely beginning to experience trauma bonding.

Once toxic relationships have fully formed, there are other signs of trauma bonding. These may include:

  • You agree with the person’s reason for treating you poorly (and likely experience a lot of self-blame for the situation).
  • You try to cover up for the abusive person or make excuses for their behavior.
  • You distance yourself from anyone who tries to help.
  • You feel reluctant to leave the relationship, despite undergoing emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse at the hands of your partner.
  • You become defensive (or even aggressive) if someone tries to intervene in the abuse.
  • Your self-esteem relies entirely on what the other person thinks of you.
  • Even after realizing you’re in an abusive situation, you feel an emotional connection to your abuser.

Breaking the Trauma Bond

The first step to breaking trauma bonds is leaving the traumatic relationship. Once you leave your abuser, the healing process can begin. However, it’s essential to understand that violent relationships aren’t usually easy to leave. You may need to take big steps like getting a restraining order to ensure the safety of yourself and anyone else involved, such as your children.

Once they leave, many people feel sad or miss their abusive partners. Remember that these feelings are normal and will eventually go away with help. While healing from a trauma-bonded relationship, the most important thing is to lean on your support network. A few ideas for building your support network include:

  • Reaching out to your friends and family
  • Joining a support group
  • Seeking professional help

Transformations Mending Fences Can Help

If you believe you or a loved one is currently in (or has┬árecently been in) a trauma bond relationship, it’s crucial you get the professional help you need to move forward. Transformations Mending Fences can help you on the journey to heal, recover and become yourself again. Call us today at (888) 995-6013.