Trauma bonds, Carnes explains the addictive cycle of. With the “misuse of fear, excitement, and sexual feelings” the abuser will trap the victim. By the time the bond is solidified, the victim can’t even tell it’s there.
The CPTSD Foundation explains the bonds further. The cycle starts “when we go through periods of intense love and excitement with a person followed by periods of mistreatment.”
“The cycle of being devalued and then rewarded works to create a strong chemical and hormonal bond,” continue reading. Victims of abuse may feel closer with their abusers than with those who treat them well.
Signs You Might Be In A Trauma Bond
Like signs of abuse, there are many ways you can get help. The trauma bond could manifest itself. One major red flag is a partner’s willingness to justify, defend, and protect their abuser.
Victims may defend their partner from fear. Victims could feel indebted or defended their partner out of fear. For example, if the victim made a mistake early in the relationship, an abuser might hold that mistake over the victim’s head.
The victim may feel too guilty to leave. Worse, the victim might feel like they deserve the abuse.
Another sign is for victims to cut off all contact with their loved ones. An abuser might make a victim of trauma bond feel insecure or dependent. Hidden negative emotions are another sign of trouble.
Why Are You In A Trauma Bond?
David Mandel, executive director of the Safe & Together Institute, poses an interesting argument in his blog as Mandel lists four reasons trauma bonding is a way to place blame on victims in the post.
There are many factors that increase the likelihood of creating trauma bonds. Risk factors include low self-esteem, financial difficulties, poor mental health and low self-esteem. A history of being bullied and the absence of a support system or personal identity all increase your risk.
A history of abuse is the biggest risk factor. According to the CPTSD Foundation,“[Previous abuse victims] nervous systems are already wired to respond to the up-down cycle of intermittent reinforcement that is so characteristic of toxic and abusive relationships.”
Past abuse, especially during childhood, can lead to tyranny. Victims of abuse will be able to recognize this and take steps to prevent future abuse. “seek security and safety from the same person that is initiating their need to seek safety or who is the cause of their fears,” Health.com reports.
Simply put, domestic abuse victims are never responsible for being in trauma bonds. Domestic abuse victims will never be able to leave their homes. Their abuse is their fault.
As difficult as it can be to remember that while in the throes of a toxic relationship, it’s critical to try. Then, you can move on to the next step—getting out of that toxic muck once and for all.
It is possible to break a trauma bond. It can be life-saving or fatal in certain cases. So, it’s important to act as swiftly as possible.
Health.com’s medical sources suggest first reestablishing communication with family and friends. If you can’t, then try to make new friends. It is important to have a support network.
Next, gain as much independence as possible. Get a job—especially if you feel financially dependent on your abuser. Find other interests that are not tied to your abuser.
Get counseling from support groups and mental health professionals. You can find one in your local area. Hotline for Domestic Violence Prevention can help you. Remember—trauma bonds are strong, but you are stronger.