Trauma Bonding: How To Address An Abusive Relationship

What can we do if we are facing a traumatic relationship or bond? How to deal with a person who is hurting you? Discover some keys to this situation.

Trauma Bonding: How to Address an Abusive Relationship

A bond is traumatic when we are in a relationship that is being abusive. That is, when a friend, partner or family member is causing us harm with their attitudes, behaviors or words. This emotional bond, known as a trauma bond, involves a relationship that has been based on ongoing abuse, as well as a devaluation of the person who suffers it. But how can we detect this situation? And why can it seem to us that we are not in such a bond?

What is a trauma bond?

We talk about a trauma bond when we interact with a person who abuses us emotionally. These bonds not only occur in romantic relationships, but can occur between family, friends, and even co-workers.

This type of bond is forged through a vicious circle between affection and abuse. In this way, the contrast between these two ways of treating makes the affection seem more valuable and leaves people expecting the affection, also called positive reinforcement.

When this happens, people, despite feeling bad about the abuse they have received, instead of fighting back or running away, focus on the good parts of the relationship and end up ignoring everything else. That is, they look for excuses or think that they are the cause of the problems. abusive situations or words.

How do I know if I am in a traumatic bond?

We must keep in mind that not all abusive situations result in a trauma bond. Furthermore, each relationship is unique, so there may be different signs that may go unnoticed. Taking this into account, some of the most common signs that you may be in such a relationship are the following:

  1. You think it’s your fault: If, when faced with bad words or a difficult situation with the person, you always think that it was your fault, this may be a sign that you are in an abusive type of relationship.
  2. Compensating behaviors: If the abuser repeatedly tries to ‘make up’ in some way with bad words or abusive behavior, this may also be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship.
  3. It promises to change, but it doesn’t: In many cases, you can try to establish a conversation with this person to point out the problem. If this has happened more than once, and the person has not changed or continued their behavior, it may be a traumatic bond.
  4. manipulates you: In these types of relationships, some type of manipulation is usually present. One of the most common is gaslighting, that is, when the abuser tries to make you question reality.
  5. Get family and friends on your side: If the abuser tries by all means to make your family and friends believe that you are a different person than you are, this can also be a sign that you are in a trauma bond.
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People who live this type of traumatic relationships It is very common for them to feel confused due to the treatment they receive from the abuser. This happens because in many cases, despite receiving mistreatment from the other person, when showing positive reinforcement behaviors afterward, this ends up generating a lot of confusion.

Stages of trauma bonding

Although each relationship is unique, these types of toxic relationships often have a common pattern in their behaviors. Mainly, we can focus on the following ‘stages’ in abuse:

  • Love bombing: It implies that the person overwhelms you with great displays of affection. The goal of this type of behavior is to end up gaining your trust and respect.
  • Gain confidence: An abuser may end up taking certain actions so that you end up considering him worthy of your trust.
  • Criticism: Although this may go unnoticed, since they can say it with good words, the abuser will try to hurt you through their criticism. These can take the form of small comments or jokes.
  • Handling: When you try to point out some behaviors that offend or hurt you, the abuser may try to manipulate you into believing that it is something that you imagine or that it is even the cause of your ‘high sensitivity’.
  • Resignation: The victim can often forget the abusive sharing, simply because they have believed their abuser’s words.
  • Distress: This phase can occur when people are doubting whether they are really experiencing an abusive situation or if, on the other hand, they are questioning their own feelings and thoughts.
  • Repetition: Normally, in a traumatic bond, these phases happen cyclically.
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How to end a traumatic bond?

How to end a traumatic bond?

People who live a relationship that is harming them mentally, they should try to put all their effort into ending these behaviors. Some tips that you can keep in mind are the following:

  • Understand what is happening: The first step to breaking up with a relationship like this is precisely to be aware of what is happening. In this way, to know if you are in an abusive relationship, you can try writing a diary with the things that happen (this way you can begin to identify patterns of abuse in the relationship) in addition, you can also seek another perspective by commenting on the situation to an outsider. them.
  • Avoid blaming yourself: One of the most common behaviors when understanding that you are in an abusive relationship is guilt. Blaming yourself for falling into the patterns of such a relationship will only cause you more harm and make you feel worse about yourself.
  • Cut with contact: One of the ways to end this type of abusive relationship is to try to cut the bond completely. Even if it is for a few months, this will allow you to understand how to better approach the situation or you can even consider stopping seeing the person.
  • Go to therapy: Consulting with a mental health professional will help you understand how to approach a situation that may be difficult for you in a conflictive relationship. In fact, if this bond is affecting you in many ways, it is highly recommended to go to a psychologist to talk about it and find the best way to deal with it.
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The traumatic bonds They can end up taking a toll on you in many ways. Over time, a problematic relationship will end up affecting your self-esteem, and can even enhance the development of different mental health problems. Therefore, it is important to start working on setting limits to these conflicts.