How Tell If You're In a Trauma Bonding Relationship—and What To Do About It - Deepstash
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What Is Trauma Bond?

What Is Trauma Bond?

A trauma bonding relationship is reflective of an attachment created by repeated physical or emotional trauma with intermittent positive reinforcement, according to licensed psychologist Liz Powell, PsyD . Put simply, in a relationship with trauma bonding, there’s “a lot of really terrible stuff happening and then occasionally really great stuff happening," they say.


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Trauma Bonds Happen Anywhere, Not Just Relationships!

Trauma Bonds Happen Anywhere, Not Just Relationships!

Trauma bonding isn't only happening in romantic relationships. You can see trauma bonding signs in dynamics that include fraternity hazing, military training, kidnapping, child abuse, political torture, cults, prisoners of war, or concentration camps, Dr. Powell says. “In cases of domestic violence or abuse, a lot of people have difficulty leaving abusers, because they have a strong connection to them that is able to keep them there even when things are very bad...”


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The Science Behind Trauma Bonds

The Science Behind Trauma Bonds

Why it is so easy to become attached to anything that helps you get through a traumatic event: your brain associates that thing or person with safety. So, when an abusive person decides to comfort you or apologize—even for a trauma they, themselves, put you through—your brain latches on to the positive reinforcement rather than thinks through the long-term effects of staying with the abuser.


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“There is an intense connection due to the fact that there is a strong hormonal connection between the abuser and the victim. The feeling is that you need the other person in order to survive.”


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Understanding Trauma Bond

Understanding Trauma Bond

What's key to understand about a trauma bonding relationship is that it can't be healthy because it is not equal. “Oftentimes when folks are trauma bonding, it may look and feel safe for some,” says Eborn. “But there is a lot of inconsistency within the relationship, and it can be extremely dysfunctional. There is always a form of manipulation that is involved.”

And remember, trauma bonding can present in various forms of abuse: physical, emotional, and psychological.


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Signs Your Are Trauma Bonding

Signs Your Are Trauma Bonding

  • The relationship is moving at an accelerated pace
  • You feel very close even though you haven’t known each other for very long
  • You make huge life changes for a relatively new relationship
  • You put time and effort into the romantic relationship at the cost of friendships and family and other relationships
  • You have an extreme fear of leaving the relationship
  • You feel like they’re the only one who can fulfill your needs


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How To Deal With Trauma Bond

How To Deal With Trauma Bond

While the presence of the above factors, whether in isolation or grouped together, doesn't automatically mean a relationship is bonded by trauma. It can “feel like pieces of you are being ripped out in hugely violent ways,” Dr. Powell says.

To mitigate this effect and help you stay firm in your choice, surround yourself with a support system of friends, family, and mental-health professionals who can assist you through the process. “Trauma bonding can cause us to question our own reality or to trust someone else's reality more than our own,”


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