How To Break a Trauma Bond

When someone is in an abusive relationship, it’s easy to tell them to simply leave it. But it’s not as easy as that. Despite the abuse taking place, individuals can feel an emotional attachment to their abuser, and find themselves in a pattern of behavior that can make it very difficult to walk away. 

This is what’s known as a trauma bond. And breaking away from it can be very difficult. However, in this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to break a trauma bond, and outline the different treatments available from Peaks Recovery.

What is a Trauma Bond?

In the simplest terms, a trauma bond is the bond between someone who’s abusive, and the person they’re abusing. It happens when someone repeats a cycle of behavior that includes periods of physical and emotional abuse, followed by positive behaviors and affection that can make it difficult for the victim to escape. A trauma bond can have a serious impact on the victim, leaving them feeling trapped in a situation they can’t get out of.

Signs of a Trauma Bond

While trauma bonds can vary in their nature, there are some common themes that run through trauma bonds.

The first is that there tends to be a pattern of abuse. While one-off incidents or consistently negative experiences can be easier to walk away from, with a trauma bond, abusers will often demonstrate abusive behavior, while also occasionally being nice through a series of gestures, declarations of love, and even gifts. This is called ‘love bombing’ by many people, and over time, makes it difficult for the victim to realize that they are being used.

Secondly, there is a difference in the balance of power. Abusers can become controlling, making it difficult for the person being abused to trust their own judgment and decisions. This makes it very tough for a person to escape a trauma bond, as they learn to fear being alone and are conditioned to feel as though they can’t survive without their abuser. 

Trauma bond victims can start to feel sad or depressed, and dissatisfied with their relationship, although they may struggle to end it. It becomes easy to fixate on the positive things about the relationship, hoping things will change. Trauma bond victims may also hide their partner’s abusive behavior and acts, which can make it difficult to get help.

Examples of a trauma bond

There are different examples of a trauma bond, including relationships between two partners, family relationships, a hostage and a kidnapper, and is also something observed in cult behavior. Trauma bonds can exist in many types of relationships, even ones you may not expect.

Trauma Bond vs. Codependency

Trauma bonds and codependency are often confused, with some similar behaviors observed with each. However, codependency is quite different. People who are codependent are often with someone who has an addiction or a condition who may need help in one way or another. A codependent will dedicate a lot of their time to caring for this person’s needs in order to help them, but at the expense of their own life and interests. They rely upon the relationship and may live in fear of leaving, and may also feel a sense of purpose or satisfaction from feeling needed by the other person.

Trauma Bond vs. Love

Many people can mistake trauma bonds for love, which is why it can be very difficult for someone to leave an abusive partner. This is because there is an element of niceness in trauma bond relationships, helping to offset the abuse enough so that it doesn’t fully lean towards a purely abusive relationship. 

Trauma bonds can feel a lot like love, especially at the beginning when everything is new and exciting. But over time, this is countered with abuse, and leads to many highs and lows within the relationship. Love, meanwhile should be more stable, with both sides able to communicate and feel safe, without an element of fear. While a loving relationship can mean both partners are attached and depend on each other, there is a balance and security there to keep the relationship grounded.  

How to Break Free From a Trauma Bond

Breaking free from a trauma bond can be difficult, but it is possible with the right help. Whether recommended to by others or realizing the situation for themselves, people experiencing a trauma bond can seek help through therapy or coaching that can help give a more objective perspective, and get some practical support to leave the situation.

Individuals will also need to find a strong support network to help them move on from an abusive relationship. Space from the abuser is important, as well as keeping busy to help distract from any feelings of wanting to return.

While it’s not easy to break free from a trauma bond, it can be done with some help and support.

Types of Trauma Therapy

There are many effective therapies to help individuals overcome trauma. These therapies are based around helping individuals to heal from their experiences, reconnect with themselves, as well as learn how to develop healthier behaviors for the future. 

With multi-step programs, trauma victims can get the help they need to overcome their trauma, and prevent it from affecting their future. A residential treatment can be an effective way of getting dedicated help, while also providing some much-needed space for the victim. 

Trauma therapy will vary from person to person, and there may be other mental health issues or conditions that may need addressing too to help the individual fully heal.

Trauma Treatment at Peaks Recovery

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a trauma bond, you can get expert help from the team at Peaks Recovery. We have a range of treatment programs designed to help treat trauma, this could be the first step in a new chapter.

Find out more and contact Peaks Recovery today.

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.