5 Best Ways to Recover from Toxic Trauma Bonding

5 Best Ways to Recover from Toxic Trauma Bonding

Why is trauma bonding detrimental to your mental health?

 Trauma bonding occurs when a victim develops an emotional attachment to their abuser.

The key element of a traumatic bond is repeated abuse reinforced through a cycle of rewards and punishments.

 Victims of this form of emotional bullying experience confusion and find it difficult to leave their aggressor.

Stockholm syndrome is the most popular form of a trauma bond. It occurs when a kidnapped victim develops a strong emotional bond with their abductor as a coping mechanism.

This term was coined after a bank heist in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1973, during which robbers held four hostages for six days.

 When the hostages were released, they tried to protect their kidnappers because they had developed a friendship with them.

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Marta Schmuki, LPC

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

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When Does Trauma Bonding Happen?

Trauma bonding can happen when one person mistreats or manipulates someone else. 

This could involve situations such as:

  • Abuse and neglect of elderly people
  • cults
  • kidnap victims
  • human trafficking
  • sexual abuse
  • domestic violence
  • employers and supervisors who don't respect their employees

Warning Signs of Trauma Bonding

Abusers draw you into their deceptive ways by using a pattern of abuse.

They would occasionally ask for forgiveness, express their love for you, and make promises to change. These things contribute to the abuse cycle, which results in a wide range of mental health issues.

Exposure to abuse also creates confusion, which explains why victims often remain in bad relationships for a long time.

Victims of trauma bonding often hold out hope that their abusers will change and treat them with respect. Unfortunately, thinking that your abuser will change will only keep you trapped in the cycle of violence.

If you're unsure whether you're experiencing trauma bonding, here are some signs to look out for.

  • believing the abuser's excuses for the abuse
  • trying to hide or deny the violent behavior of the abuser
  • victims often withdraw from friends, relatives, and coworkers trying to help them escape the abusive relationship
  • refusal to leave an abusive relationship
  • refusal to acknowledge that they are being abused and making excuses for the abuser's behavior
  • being unable to make decisions on your own because you must always seek approval from your partner to avoid making them angry
  • being controlled and scrutinized
  • restricting financial access
  • physical and emotional abuse

How to Heal from Trauma Bond

Leaving an abusive relationship isn't always as simple as walking out the door.

You may feel pressured to stay with your abuser for fear of not finding a safe place to live or not being allowed to see your children or loved ones.

Here are a few ideas to help you break free from harmful trauma bonds and reclaim your life. 

Accept That You Are Dealing With an Abusive Person

Have you ever wondered if you were a victim of abuse and then tried to convince yourself that you're not?

You are not alone. 

Others who have been abused by someone they love, such as a spouse, romantic partner, or family member, share the same experience.

Most abuse victims will have difficulty recognizing that a partner or family member mistreats them.

Many people will not admit to being abused until they have managed to escape their abuser and come to grips with their experience.

Admitting that you are being mistreated is the first step toward healing. 

Stop making excuses for your offender's poor behavior and call it out for what it is: abuse.

You won't be able to seek support until you acknowledge that you are being disrespected.

Keep a Journal of Your Experiences

Daily journaling can help you identify red flags, patterns, and behavioral issues that may be previously unnoticeable.

Keep track of what happens when your abuser starts to assault you. 

Also, write down any excuses they'll make later to justify their actions.

Journaling will help you see things more clearly. Include a record of how you felt after speaking with your abuser.

Record keeping will also help you gauge how exposure to repeated abuse affects your mental health

Don't Blame Yourself

It is more difficult to assert your right to fair treatment if you believe you caused the abuse. 

You may feel powerless in your current relationship due to the overwhelming power imbalance you are experiencing, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to stop the abuse:

  • You do deserve to be treated fairly.
  • Let go of self-criticism and instead focus on adopting empowering thoughts. As a result, your self-esteem will be rebuilt following significant damage caused by your continuous exposure to mistreatment.
  • Healthy relationships can only happen in a supportive and mutually respectful environment.
  • Being in a traumatic bond is never your fault. That is your natural reaction after being exposed to various forms of abuse.

Break the Ties of Trauma Bonding 

Once you've decided to leave and break free from traumatic bonding, it's good to cut off any contact with your abuser.

Keep in mind that your trauma bond to your aggressor will take some time to dissipate.

If you stay in touch with an abuser after you leave them, they may be able to convince you to take them back.

Find a secure place to stay, such as with a relative or a friend, to ensure your safety.

Remember your abuser lacks empathy. Keep yourself safe by taking every precaution. 

To ensure your safety, you should also contact the authorities and ask for their assistance. 

Seek Professional Help To Break Free From Trauma Bond

While it's possible to heal on your own, your recovery from trauma bonding will be faster if you seek professional help.

A professional can also help you navigate the healing process and will lessen the strength of the hurt and pain you've carried around for so long in your subconscious mind.

Therapists can shed light on the abusive patterns that led to trauma bonding so that you can better understand it.

Therapy can also help you:

  • Discover the aspects that contribute to a strong trauma bond
  • Focus on establishing healthy boundaries
  • Understand how to form loving relationships
  • Face self-criticism
  • Create a self-care strategy
  • Take care of your well-being and cope with the long-term effects of trauma and abuse.


You never deserve the abuse and trauma you have experienced.

It may take time to regain your self-esteem and identity, but with the proper support, you can cope with the damaging effects of trauma bonding.


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June 5th, 2023

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