Traumatic Bonding: What It Is and How to Overcome It

Traumatic bonding is a strong emotional attachment that develops between a victim and their abuser. This bond can occur as the result of intermittent reinforcement, where the abuser alternates between acts of kindness and cruelty. 

The victim becomes dependent on these moments of “good” behavior, leading them to overlook or make excuses for their abuser’s abusive actions. In some cases, traumatic bonding can also be reinforced by the abuser manipulating the victim’s thoughts and behaviors through gaslightingStockholm syndrome and other forms of psychological manipulation. 

Due to the traumatic nature of this bond, it can be difficult for victims to break free from their abusers and seek help. It is important for friends, family, and loved ones to be aware of the possibility of traumatic bonding and offer support to those who may be experiencing it.

It is important to note that traumatic bonding can also occur in non-romantic relationships, such as with a boss or mentor, and can affect all genders. Seeking help from a therapist or support group may be necessary for those experiencing traumatic bonding in any type of relationship.

Traumatic Bonding

Sign of a Traumatic Bonding

Some signs that you may be in a traumatic bond with someone else include:

– Feeling a sense of craving or obsession for the abuser;

– Feeling like you cannot leave them, or being controlled by them;

– Continually making excuses for their behavior or actions;

– Feeling a strong need to please them or gain their approval;

– Experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety, and/or insecurity in the relationship.

Difference Between Traumatic Bonding and Stockholm Syndrome

While both traumatic bonding and Stockholm syndrome involve emotional attachment to an abuser, there are some key differences. Stockholm Syndrome typically occurs in a hostage or captive situation where the victim depends on their captor for survival. In these cases, the victim may also sympathize with their captor’s beliefs or perspective.

On the other hand, traumatic bonding often occurs in ongoing relationships where the victim may not feel physically threatened but instead become psychologically dependent on their abuser.

Additionally, Stockholm Syndrome is a recognized psychological phenomenon while Traumatic Bonding is not currently recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a specific disorder. However, its symptoms and effects on individuals can still be addressed through therapy and support. It is important to note that both of these dynamics can co-occur in abusive relationships.

Trauma Bonded Relationship, Traumatic Bonding

Trauma Bonded Relationship

Trauma bonded relationships are formed when one person in the relationship is abused while the other person is emotionally attached. The relationship becomes traumatic because it is based on fear, power, and control.

The abuser will often use tactics such as intimidation, threats, and violence to keep their partner in line. The victim may feel like they are “stuck” in the relationship and unable to leave for fear of more abuse or violence.

The traumatic bond between the two people is often very strong and can be difficult to break free from. The victim may feel like they are stuck in a cycle of abuse and that there is no way out. They may also feel like they are responsible for the abuse or that it is their fault. 

What Is Narcissistic Trauma Bonding?

People who are narcissistic can be particularly drawn to relationships that are based on fear and control. They may enjoy the power and control they have over their partner, and they may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships. 

Narcissists often have low self-esteem and need to feel superior to others in order to feel good about themselves. They may also use manipulative tactics, such as intimidation or threats, to keep their partner in line.

Manipulative Trauma Bond, Traumatic Bonding

What Is A Manipulative Trauma Bond?

A manipulative trauma bond is when a person in a relationship uses manipulative tactics, such as intimidation and control, to create an emotional attachment with their partner. These manipulative tactics are often used by abusers to maintain power and control in the relationship. 

It is important to understand that this type of bond is not healthy or consensual, and seeking support from professionals and loved ones can aid in breaking free from the manipulative trauma bond.

How to End a Traumatic Bond and Start Over

One way to break free from a traumatic bond is to seek professional help, such as therapy or counseling. It can be difficult to untangle the emotions and patterns that have formed in a traumatic bond on your own. A therapist can provide guidance and support as you work through these issues.

Additionally, it can be helpful to surround yourself with a strong support system of friends and loved ones who can offer emotional and practical support during this time.

Taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is also crucial in the process of breaking free from traumatic bonds and rebuilding your life. This can include engaging in self-care practices, such as exercise, healthy eating, and spending time in nature.

Lastly, it is important to set boundaries and establish a sense of agency over your own life. This can involve setting clear boundaries with the person involved in the traumatic bond, as well as learning to advocate for your needs and wants in all aspects of your life.

Breaking free from a traumatic bond is not easy, but with effort and support, it is possible to heal and move forward in a healthier, happier way.

Risks of Breaking Free from a Traumatic Bond

One potential risk of breaking free from a traumatic bond without professional help is the possibility of experiencing additional trauma. This can happen if traumatic memories are triggered or if there are misunderstandings about the nature of the bond and its effects on thoughts and behaviors. 

Additionally, without expert guidance, it may be more difficult to learn healthy coping strategies and establish boundaries in future relationships. Seeking professional support can aid in safely navigating the process of breaking free from a traumatic bond and promoting healing.

Road to Recovery: How to Get Started

One important step in beginning the recovery process from a toxic relationship is to understand the concept of traumatic bonding. This occurs when an individual becomes emotionally and/or psychologically attached to their abuser, making it difficult to leave the relationship. 

It can be helpful to seek support from a therapist or a support group in order to process and work through these feelings. It is also important to set boundaries and prioritize self-care. This may mean limiting or cutting off contact with the toxic person, surrounding yourself with a strong support system, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and promote self-love. 

Remember, healing is a journey and it takes time. It’s okay to take things one day at a time and seek help when needed. You are worth it and deserving of a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

Available Resources for the Victims of Traumatic Bonding

Some resources available to those affected by traumatic bonding include therapy, support groups, and hotlines.  It is important to seek help from a trained professional who can guide the individual through processing their traumatic experiences and healing from the effects of traumatic bonding. Support groups can also provide a sense of community and understanding among others who have gone through similar experiences. 

Hotlines, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, can provide immediate support and resources for individuals in dangerous or emergency situations. It is important to reach out for help and support in order to begin the healing process from traumatic bonding.

Roman Russo

Roman Russo

Roman Russo is the founder, main author, and Chief Happiness Officer at Optimal Happiness. He is also the author of Optimal Happiness: The Fastest & Surest Way to Reach Your Happiest Potential, a revolutionary book about becoming the happiest version we can be. After studying this topic for over 8 years Roman believes that everyone can reach their happiest potential, challenging people to reach these highs. Are you ready to accept this challenge?

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