Many men and women find themselves in relationships that are dangerous. Unhealthy relationships need to be talked more about in the school system to educate young people about their dangers. An unhealthy relationship can occur when there is the presence of physical, emotional, and/or psychological abuse. Sometimes, when we think of a toxic relationship, we overlook psychological abuse (which involves purposeful manipulation by the abuser to emotionally and/or mentally harm an individual). Even though abuse can have detrimental effects, an individual in an abusive relationship might form a trauma bond with their abusive partner. A trauma bond is a strong emotional attachment that exists in a relationship between an abused person and the person who is abusing/traumatizing them. Oftentimes, an abuser may suffer from narcissism (which we understand as Christians to be the spirit of Jezebel) and/or anti-social personality disorder.
There are many things to know about trauma bonding, but one very important fact is that if a person is in an abusive relationship and a trauma bond is formed, it is certainly not the fault of the abused person. A trauma bond is formed in a relationship due to the cycle of violence (tension, violence, honeymoon/reconciliation, and calm). The cycle of violence continues in a relationship because of the honeymoon stage where the abuser appears apologetic, buys gifts for the victim, makes promises, and continues to lie to and gaslight the victim. It is this stage that might confuse the abused person; they might believe that the abuser has a distinctive way of demonstrating their love, or they might start to disbelieve their own narratives of the abuse which is often the goal of the abuser. The abuser will often draw upon a cocktail of terror, thrill, and romantic feelings to ensnare a victim.
I think my best friend has formed a trauma bond with her abusive boyfriend, what can I do?
I remember back in the day when rapper Eve released the song Love is Blind from her debut album that featured singer Faith Evans. Love In her song, she rapped about the dangers of trauma bonds, abusive relationships, and Stockholm syndrome and her frustration as a witness to the abuse her best friend was experiencing (we need to bring back this type of rap). Looking at a trauma bond from the outside can be difficult and frustrating. The victim in the relationship can essentially become addicted to the cycle of abuse for hormonal reasons and as mentioned, can forget about the severity of the abuse. The human brain can become accustomed to the highs and lows of an abusive relationship. The honeymoon stage of the cycle of violence can be addictive because the abuser showers the victim with praise, attention, and what seems like love. Loved ones and friends can demonstrate empathy and remain understanding to show their support. They can also educate themselves about trauma and unhealthy relationships and continue to offer support but in healthy ways.
Here are five signs that might suggest that a trauma bond has been formed in an abusive relationship:
1) You feel as though you cannot remove yourself from the relationship
2) You have a strong desire to see your abuser when you try to leave, and you find yourself missing them
3) You feel like everything is your fault and that the relationship is yours alone to repair
4) Your loved ones and friends are telling you to leave the relationship
5) Those same loved ones and friends are offended by your narratives of what you have experienced in the relationship, but you ignore their worries
As a therapist and registered social worker, I work with individuals who have experienced trauma bonds and abusive relationships that are seeking healing and envision a healthier and peaceful future for themselves. I also work with those who have abused others and feel remorse for what they have done. It is never too late to get help and receive the change that you deserve.
If you are seeking a new beginning and you need therapy, guidance, and life coaching, speak to me today about starting a New Chapter in your life.