What is trauma bonding? Previously known as Stockholm Syndrome, trauma bonding is the attachment that a victim feels for their abuser because of the love-abuse-love cycle that happens.
This makes an abusive relationship very difficult to leave because the victim always has this hope that things will get better.
The victim is also attached to their abuser through trauma bonding.
While this usually occurs within romantic relationships, it can also happen within parent-child bonds, employee-employer dynamics, cults, and other relationships where one person is in an authority position.
Victims that experience trauma bonding can lose their self-esteem, sense of reality, and identity.
They can also have deep-seated mental issues that, if they don't address them, can cause several problems coping with life.
But why does trauma bonding occur?
Trauma bonding happens when the abuser shows their victim love and affection after the abuse.
The abuser might buy an expensive gift, take the victim out for a luxurious evening, or even give the victim the loving attention they so desperately crave.
Then the cycle continues, and eventually, the victim forms a bond with their abuser because they hope the person will change somehow.
An attachment forms during the reconciliation phase, making them feel safe. This safety gives the victim a false sense that everything is okay and things will finally change.
Because the victim wants to feel loved and cared for, they stay even though they know the relationship isn't healthy.
But why would someone stay with an abusive person, especially at the beginning of a relationship when the bond isn't as strong?The abuser might be a master manipulator and uses "love-bombing" techniques to get the victim to trust them and bond with the abuser early on.
You might have made excuses for your partner's behavior for so long, or you might have believed your partner's lies for so long you might not recognize an abusive situation.
Put simply, abuse is to "use or treat something or someone improperly for another's benefit or gain."
If you're hurt or injured in any way, whether it's physical, psychological, financial, or spiritual, and it benefits your abuser or gives them control, it's abuse.For example, a woman was in a relationship with a man with an overactive sex drive. At least, that's how she saw it.
If you're making excuses for getting hit, raped, belittled, or humiliated, that's abuse. Nothing more, nothing less.
And if you feel like you're to blame for the abuser's behavior, emotions, or actions, it's abuse–it's not your fault.
Whether you've left the abusive situation or not, breaking the trauma bond first requires you to realize that you're not to blame for the abuse.
Create a journal about what you're experiencing and the patterns you're seeing. However, you might need to hide it if your abuser constantly needs to know what you write or do.
If you trust them, talk to others, such as your family members or friends, about your situation and ask them their perspectives.
Don't blame yourself for your abuser's actions. Humans make mistakes, but the mistakes are never so bad as to warrant abuse.
Practice self-care, which might be as simple as stepping outside for a few minutes of fresh air and breathing deeply.
Talk with a trauma-trained counselor, such as here at Overcomer's Counseling.
Someone that's trained in healing trauma can help you heal from the trauma bond and go on to live a healthier life.
Trauma bonding can be very confusing, especially if you aren't able to recognize the abuse. It can create low self-esteem, emotional numbness, and losing who they are.
If you've identified with any of this and you think you might have a trauma bond, it's best to seek help from a certified therapist who can help you work through the issues you have.
They can also point you in the direction you may need to go if you're currently in an abusive relationship.
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