What is a Trauma Bond?
Trauma bonding happens when an abuser uses manipulation tactics and cycles of abuse to make the victim feel dependent on them for care and validation, causing a strong attachment or bond.
Trauma bonds have often been associated with Stockholm Syndrome; a psychological syndrome named after a hostage situation in 1973 in Stockholm. In that case, the hostages formed an emotional attachment to their captors. Trauma bonds can occur in many different situations: romantic relationships, parent-child relationships, cults, hostage situations, etc.
7 Stages of Trauma Bonding
1. Love bombing
Often in the beginning of a relationship, you are showered with love and affection. It feels like the connection is so intense you believe you’ve met your soulmate.
2. Gaining your trust
This other person will do everything they can to gain your trust. They make lots of false promises of things you will do together and your future life. Once you become attached to them, they will back out of the commitment and slowly distance themselves.
3. Shift to criticism and devaluation
It all begins so slowly; you may not even notice it. As they start criticizing you and belittling you, you may begin to believe that it’s all your fault and that you deserve such treatment.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that can make you doubt your own reality. The other person will gaslight you by twisting facts and denying your experiences.
5. Resignation and submission
This is when you realize that having an open and logical discussion with your abusive partner is impossible. If you attempt to reason things out, they’ll blame you and criticize you. This is mentally and emotionally exhausting and leads you to resign and submit.
6. Loss of sense of self
As a result of your decreasing self-esteem, you find yourself neglecting your needs and desires and losing any self-awareness you had before. You are solely focused on the abusive person and their needs.
7. Emotional Addiction
Trauma bonds create an emotional dependency that can feel very similar to drug addiction. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”
“What you allow will continue. Learn to let it go. These are the narcissist’s issues, not yours. If you remove your tendency toward ownership, you can learn and move on. Let it go. This isn’t about someone who hurt you once and made a mistake. This is a pattern of repeated emotional abuse. You can forgive, as you break the cycle. Victims of narcissists are conditioned over time to accept emotional abuse and outright destructive behavior as normal. “That’s just dad. Sometimes he stops talking to me,” they say.”
If you’ve suffered this type of relationship, it helps enormously to talk to someone.
I’m a survivor of narcissistic abuse and now I coach people on their healing journey. I have purpose in what I'm doing. I give people clarity, validation & comfort.
Learn more about me here: https://buff.ly/3wf6tgQ
Click here to book a free session with me. We’ll figure out if we work well together.