The Signs of Trauma Bond Relationships

 In Relationships

A trauma bond is an emotional attachment with other individuals that develop through cycles of abuse. This can be in both platonic relationships and romantic relationships. These are very unhealthy relationships that are complex, inconsistent, and usually involve forms of abuse whether it is emotional, physical, or psychological. 

In a relationship that is trauma bonded, one person starts very loving and emotionally receptive to the needs of the other person. As time passes, the relationship becomes toxic and introduces a narcissistic side of the abuser. The person who is being abused will try and make excuses or justify their partner’s behavior. 

Risk Factors 

Although it can happen to anyone, some people have a higher risk of engaging in trauma bonded relationships. People at higher risk include those who have:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Past or current trauma
  • Mental health issues
  • Negative experiences
  • Little or no sense of identity
  • No support system
  • Financial dependency

Some people stay in trauma bonded relationships because they benefit in some way from staying with the other person. For example, if you rely on your partner for financial support, you may feel you cannot leave that relationship. If you have no social support from friends or family, you might latch onto your partner because you feel their partner is the only one who supports or pays attention to you. If you deal with a mental illness, you may feel as though your partner is the only one who understands what you are truly going through or vice versa. Abusive partners may use manipulation and narcissistic behaviors to keep someone tied to them and the relationship. 

Signs of a Trauma Bond Relationship

There are specific signs to look for when determining if you have a trauma bond with someone or a group of people. You may want to end a relationship with someone but cannot bring yourself to do it even if you know it has become unhealthy. You may even be able to pinpoint all the reasons that it is time to cut this person off, but you feel a strong pull towards them and can’t seem to leave or fear that you or someone you love will be in some kind of danger if you do. A few major signs that you have created a trauma bond with someone are outlined below.

You excuse or justify their negative behaviors. Holding someone accountable for the negative behaviors they engage in helps create a healthy relationship. When you find yourself making excuses or justifying unacceptable behavior, chances are you have a trauma bond with that person. 

You feel you can save them. Oftentimes, the person being manipulated will feel like they can save or help the other person. If they are struggling with mental health issues, you may feel as though you need to dedicate yourself to supporting them while they work through them. This can cause you to ignore and even push away people that tell you to leave the relationship. 

Your friends and family don’t support the relationship. The people around you can see your relationships from an outside perspective. They can pick up signs you might miss and, because they don’t have an attachment to the other person, can often see them or their behavior toward you more clearly than you can. If your friends and family are not supportive of the relationship, talk to them and see if there are red flags you may be ignoring or brushing aside. 

You experience explosive arguments. If arguments between you and your partner are frequent and consistent, this is a clear sign of poor communication. Relationships that have explosive arguments can cause you to hide your emotions out of fear of triggering an argument. These disagreements can even turn physical if the abuser can not control their anger and there is no conflict resolution.

They pressure you into things you wouldn’t otherwise do. When someone has the power to force you into things you wouldn’t normally engage in, especially if you’re worried something bad will happen if you don’t, it’s a sign that you may be trauma bonded. This can be in the form of substance use, public humiliation, unwanted sexual acts, or anything else that makes you feel pressured into discomfort.

Releasing Trauma Bonds

There are ways to help you break free from these damaging relationships.

  • Separate yourself from the abusive partner emotionally, mentally, and physically.
  • Lean on your family and friends for support. If they don’t agree with the relationship, chances are they are ready to help you leave it.
  • Talk to a therapist to help you identify the traits of the relationship that are toxic. They can also help you work through your attachments and help you deal with the trauma that has caused you to become dependent.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them.

It can be very hard to find the strength to leave a relationship. Even if there is real love between you two, it may still be toxic. Releasing yourself from the bond you share with them is the only way you can heal and move forward to create healthy and fulfilling relationships. 

Learning how to build healthy and meaningful relationships first begins with you having a healthy relationship with yourself. Working through any past traumas by speaking with a therapist can help you release any attachment or feelings toward past traumas. At Mountain Peak Recovery, we offer various treatment programs that help you work toward sobriety, create a healthier social circle, and restore your overall quality of life. We give you space to rebuild the confidence you need to set healthy boundaries for yourself. When you go through life events that leave you with trauma, it can be easy to cling to others that share the same pain. Clinging to those people can leave you both with more pain to eventually work through later in life. If you’ve created a trauma bond with someone, give us a call at (801) 824-8829 to learn about how our treatment programs can benefit your growth toward recovery.

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