Fort Wellness Counseling

What is Trauma Bonding? 4 Warning Signs

A female with her hands over her head

If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship and felt bonded with (or sympathetic towards) your abuser, you likely experienced something known as trauma bonding. As mental health professionals, our team will help you understand what is trauma bonding — as well as some of the warning signs — in today’s blog post.

What is Trauma Bonding?

So, what is trauma bonding? Well, it’s the formation of an unhealthy bond between a person living with abuse and their abuser. And they’re not just found in romantic relationships – these bonds can form between friends, family members, and even coworkers. Trauma bonds are forged through affection alternating with abuse, and they can lead to incredibly low self-esteem, as well as mental health disorders like depression.

Signs of Trauma Bonding

Recognizing the signs of trauma bonding helps individuals avoid or break them:

Justifying the Abuser’s Behavior

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that survivors of domestic violence or abuse claim their partners display “perfect” or “wonderful” behavior 90% of the time. And because that behavior makes up the majority of the time spent together, it’s used to justify the 10% of abuse.

Constantly Thinking About People Who Hurt You

Whether they’re a former romantic partner or a family member, incessantly thinking about someone who hurt you — especially after they’ve gone — is an indicator that you might have a traumatic bond with them.

Still Wanting to Help Them

If you’re constantly trying to help someone despite their history of abuse towards you, you might have a trauma bond. While everyone’s situation is unique, helping can mean:

  • Paying their bills
  • Assisting them with work
  • Offering to buy them groceries

Not Sharing Your True Feelings or Opinions

If you have a trauma bond with someone, you might not feel like you can be your authentic self around them. And while this includes not sharing your true feeling or opinions, it also refers to a subconscious attempt to mimic their thinking. Either behavior stems from a desire to please or prevent your abuser from getting angry.

How to Break a Trauma Bond

Though it can be difficult, it is possible to break a trauma bond. Here’s how:

  • Focus on the truth. Actions speak louder than words. If your partner isn’t actively trying to change their behavior, don’t convince yourself that they are.
  • Focus on the current situation. Nostalgia for the past (aka the ‘good days’) can reinforce the bond. Therefore, focus on what your relationship is currently like instead.
  • Prioritize self-care. Some people remain in abusive relationships because it provides a sense of comfort (in addition to the abuse). If this sounds familiar, focus on developing healthy self-care routines that reduce your dependency on your abuser.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Being in an abusive relationship can lower your self-esteem. However, practicing positive self-talk is a fantastic way to improve your self-image.

Trauma Therapist in Fort Worth, TX

So, what is trauma bonding? Well, we hope today’s blog post gave you an answer. And if you or a loved one suspects you might be experiencing a trauma bond, Fort Wellness Counseling is here for you.

Our qualified therapists utilize a trauma-informed approach to help clients cope with their emotional and physical responses to traumatic events. In addition, we are extensively trained in a variety of trauma therapies including EMDR therapy in Fort Worth, brainspotting therapy, and accelerated resolution therapy.  If you are looking for trauma therapy in Texas, look no further.  

Ready to achieve a higher quality of life? Contact our team to schedule an appointment.

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