What is a Trauma Bond?

Defining a Trauma Bond

There have been some misconceptions about what this phrase is and what it means.  It was actually coined by Patrick Carnes and is defined as the misuse of fear, excitement or sexual feelings to entangle another person.  It is a strong emotional attachment between an abused person and their abuser.  This is formed as a result of the cycle of violence (tension building - incident happens - reconciliation or "honeymoon phase" - then a calm period).  During the reconciliation phase is where a person has the most inner conflict "Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought."  "Maybe they do really love me and this is how they show it."

Why Does Trauma Bonding Happen?

Sometimes a person can become addicted to the hormonal and emotional roller coaster.  Even though the abuse is terrible and the person hates it, the love and attention that is given in the aftermath can become a craving that makes a person forget (or excuse) how bad they'd been treated.  Our brain releases Cortisol when we are stressed.  But it releases Dopamine when feeling loved and this can trigger the reward center in the brain.  When this happens sometimes a person can 'feel' the abuse was worth it.

Signs You May Be in a Trauma Bond

*Feeling stuck in the relationship

*Finding yourself "walking on eggshells"

*The person is doing things that hurt you, but you are afraid they will hurt themselves if you leave

*People around you suggest that you leave

*When you leave or try to leave, you feel a sense of longing for the person (the pain of longing brings you back to them)

*You're punished (in some way) when you do something they consider is wrong

*People around you are disturbed by the relationship, but you don't think it's a big deal

Healing from a Trauma Bond

It's normal to miss a person who is mistreating you.  Be patient with yourself and give yourself time and permission to grieve.  Seek therapy if you are able.  Grieve what the relationship meant to you (ignoring only delays healing).  Writing about it sometimes helps process the loss and can lend to healing.  Join a group or reconnect with healthy supports.  Feeling like you aren't alone can be healing.

Need Additional Support?

Have you experienced a difficult relationship? Recovering from a trauma bond? Unsure and want help navigating a challenging partnership? Thrive for Life Counseling is here to support you in this journey!  At Thrive, we are committed to providing accessible, high-quality mental health support tailored to the diverse needs of our clients. As a 100% virtual counseling practice, our team of seven experienced clinicians offers comprehensive services to individuals residing in Florida, Illinois, and Indiana. Our hybrid model ensures flexibility, with some counselors accepting insurance while others operate on a self-pay basis, making mental health care more accessible to all. Whether you're seeking therapy for yourself or a loved one, we're here to help you thrive. Visit our website at www.thriveforlifecounseling.com to learn more and schedule an appointment today. Your journey to a thriving life starts here.