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The Little Known Phenomenon Of Trauma Bonds

Written by: Lisa Sonni, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Have you ever wondered why someone who is being abused would ever stay in the relationship? This can often be attributed to a phenomenon called a trauma bond. A trauma bond is an emotional connection formed between a victim and abuser, where the victim is subjected to intermittent positive reinforcement mixed with abuse. It makes the victim psychologically addicted to their abuser. This type of connection can be incredibly hard to break, as it causes the victim to become strongly attached to someone who continues to hurt them. Let’s explore what trauma bonds look like and how they form, as well as how survivors of abuse can break free from these bonds.

How Trauma Bonds Form

There are 7 stages of a trauma bond: love bombing, trust and dependency, devaluation, gaslighting, control, loss of self, and finally, addiction. Trauma bonds are incredibly powerful because they cause victims to stay in abusive relationships even when they know they should leave or when their lives are literally at risk. Victims stay because they are holding onto hope that one day things will get better—that their abuser will actually follow through on those promises of change. Victims also become vulnerable to manipulation because they are willing to tolerate unacceptable behavior for the payoff—the intangible hope for fulfillment that never seems to come true.

Trauma bonds require four necessary components that need to be present in order for them to form—intensity, unpredictability, complexity, and a promise. An intense emotional bond forms between the abuser and their victim because the abuser frequently shifts from being abusive one moment to kind or loving the next. This unpredictability keeps victims hanging on for more of the positive reinforcement that follows an act of kindness or love. The complexity comes from the fact that abusers have often groomed their victims over time—making it difficult for victims to understand why they are still in such a destructive relationship after all this time. Finally, abusers often make promises of change or improvement in order to keep their victims emotionally invested in them.

How To Tell If You Are In a Trauma Bond

The first step towards breaking free from a trauma bond is recognizing if you’re in one in the first place. There are several tell-tale signs that you might be stuck in a trauma bond with your abuser including but not limited to: low self-esteem; feeling powerless; feeling like you can’t live without your partner; feeling like you deserve punishment; feeling like you’re walking on eggshells; fear of abandonment; fear of speaking up or standing up for yourself; difficulty trusting yourself and others; difficulty making decisions on your own; and blaming yourself every time something goes wrong. If any of these sound familiar, then there is a good chance you have been stuck in an unhealthy cycle with your abuser long enough for it to turn into a trauma bond.

Breaking Free From Trauma Bonds

Once you recognize what is happening within your relationship dynamics, it’s important that you take steps toward breaking free from this cycle. The first thing you need to do is get clarity by educating yourself on what is happening in your relationship and identifying the abuse tactics being used on you. Next, learn about yourself and what got you here. Learn to set boundaries around what kind of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable within your relationship. Lastly, practice self-care by surrounding yourself with supportive people who can provide guidance and comfort during this difficult time. Seek professional help if needed—there are plenty of mental health professionals out there who specialize in helping survivors recover from traumatic experiences such as toxic relationships or trauma bonds and can provide invaluable insight into how best to move forward with your life without being weighed down by your past experiences anymore.

It can be incredibly difficult breaking free from toxic relationships or trauma bonds but it is essential if you want to avoid further damage down the line both mentally and physically. Hopefully now armed with an understanding of how these bonds form and what steps need taking towards breaking free from them, survivors will feel empowered enough to start taking control back over their lives once again! Remember no matter how hard things may seem to be taken day – tomorrow will always bring something new. So take heart & begin taking back control over your life today.

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Lisa Sonni, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lisa Sonni is a survivor of domestic assault and narcissistic abuse, and her first hand experience led her to where she is today ‒ a certified Relationship Coach specializing in abuse education and trauma bond recovery. She helps clients from all walks of life overcome challenges stemming from traumatic partnerships. She is the author of the Trauma Bond Recovery Course, The Trauma Bond Recovery Journal, and Rebuilding After A Trauma Bond: A Self-Love Journal, as well as a popular content creator known as Stronger Than Before across all social media platforms.



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