Have you ever been in a relationship that was just downright toxic? The kind of relationship where you were constantly walking on eggshells, never quite sure what would set your partner off? And even when you tried to leave, you found yourself drawn back in time and time again? If so, then you may have experienced trauma bonding. Read on for advice on how to break free from this damaging cycle.
What Is Trauma Bonding
Trauma bonding is an exciting term that can be defined in many ways. One definition of trauma bonding is the strong, negative emotional ties between two people who have experienced something difficult or painful together. It’s not uncommon to hear phrases such as “no pain, no gain” when talking about trauma bonds. We will explore this idea and what it means for trauma bonds with our dualistic approach to trauma bonding- exploring both the good and bad sides.
Trauma Bonding Signs
Trauma bond survivors experience a wide range of emotions that are often difficult to cope with, such as shame or guilt. These feelings can lead to self-destructive behaviors like addiction or cutting themselves. Survivors also experience stress reactions in their day-to-day life while trauma bonded, including sleeping and eating properly during periods when traumatic memories do not directly confront them.
One common sign is feeling emotionally dependent on one’s partner to meet all emotional needs without reciprocation from them doing so for you. This lack of reciprocity creates an imbalance within the relationship, resulting in resentment towards your partner even if they have done nothing wrong.
Another common sign of trauma bonding is that you cannot live without your trauma bond, which usually results in fear of abandonment. It’s also not uncommon for trauma survivors to experience intrusive memories or dreams and other symptoms associated with PTSD and depression.
Trauma Bonding With A Narcissist
Narcissistic abuse can severely affect an individual victimized in this type of relationship. The victim may become submissive during these abusive encounters out of fear of their abuser.
- They are often treated in ways where they feel less than human, experiencing verbal attacks, manipulation, or rage whenever it suits the perpetrator(s) needs.
- Another concept inherent to trauma bonding is Stockholm syndrome; this type of trauma bonding usually occurs when the individual is being held hostage or abused by their captor.
Victims may develop feelings of trust and affection towards a person who continues to use fear tactics; part of Stockholm syndrome can include having positive emotions about one’s abuser- believing they are justified for treating the victim poorly.
Types Of Trauma Bonding
The first type we will explore is trauma-based love-bombed relationships which often occur when someone is vulnerable (such as recovering from a traumatic experience.)
Love bombing is a technique used by narcissists to charm and influences their partner.
It involves overwhelming the target with affection or attention, sometimes to compensate for the lack of these things in childhood.
The term “love bombing” was first coined in 1973 by social anthropologist professor Margaret Mead but expanded into pop culture. It is now frequently associated with romantic partners who shower each other with flattery and gifts, not realizing they are masking abuse and control tactics.
Another trauma bond relationship we will explore is the trauma-based toxic relationship between lovers or parents/children. A trauma-based toxic relationship happens when a person becomes obsessed with their partner and refuses to let go of the relationship. Even if it’s causing them harm, they often attempt to control every aspect of an individual who has been abusive towards them in some way (in this case, their partner.)
Toxic relationships are unhealthy relationships that don’t explicitly qualify as abuse. Toxic people engage in passive and covert behaviors, which may not always be easy to identify or contribute to physical and mental pain.
A toxic relationship could involve emotional or physical abuse, but it doesn’t always have to be. Toxicity can come from an individual engaging in harmful behaviors like gaslighting and manipulating.
- These types of relationships are difficult to pinpoint because they involve someone who isn’t necessarily hostile.
- There must be an ongoing toxicity pattern that eventually causes harm beyond the acute stage.
Another critical component is that you cannot separate yourself from the issue with the other person or give up on them entirely too quickly or easily. This helps expose some critical differences between toxic relationships and abusive ones. When it comes to unhealthy relationships, bad behavior is unintentional. An excellent example is when an individual who cares about you doesn’t realize they are harming you.
Trauma Bonding Examples
One example of trauma bonding is when an abuser threatens to hurt or kill the victim if they leave them. This can create a powerful emotional connection between the abuser and victim, where the victim feels they have no choice but to stay with the abuser.
Another example of trauma bonding is when an abuser is physically or sexually abusing the victim. The victim may believe they deserve the abuse or are somehow responsible for it. This can create a solid emotional bond between the abuser and victim, where the victim feels they need to stay with the abuser to protect them.
If you are in a relationship where you feel like you are the only one who cares about the other person, or if you feel like you have to stay in the relationship to protect yourself or the other person, it is vital to seek help. There are many resources available to help victims of domestic violence and abuse. You
We hope this article educated you about trauma bonding and toxic relationships. Since lines aren’t always clear when dealing with relationships, you should ask yourself one simple question when gauging a relationship. That question is, is there growth? Anything else is irrelevant and will lead you to confusion and blame-shifting.