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