To an onlooker, it might be easy to identify certain types of behaviors as abusive or narcissistic. However, for someone who is struggling through trauma bonding, these behaviors might not be so easy to identify.
Trauma bonding is a term that’s used to describe the confusing experience that someone goes through when they confuse traumatic and abusive behaviors with loving behaviors. Trauma bonding is one of the reasons that many people get stuck in toxic and abusive relationships.
In this article, we’re going to discuss trauma bonding and its signs and symptoms. Then we’ll provide some steps that you can take to overcome trauma bonding using holistic therapeutic treatments.
Is It Love? Or a Traumatic Emotional Bond?
Many people have had their friends tell them that their partners are abusive or toxic, only to refute their claims. They believe that their partner is kind and loving, or maybe that they just ‘have a few issues that they’re working on.’
This is just one example of a relationship based on trauma bonding. Trauma bonding describes a certain form of attachment that is developed when someone is repeatedly abused. This relationship can be with a romantic partner, a caregiver, or anyone else. Stockholm’s syndrome – a condition in which a hostage or kidnapping victim develops feelings of affections towards their kidnapper – is also a form of trauma bonding.
One of the most difficult things about trauma bonding is that the people with a trauma bond tend to associate feelings of love with feelings of abuse. This can lead to them seeking out abusive and toxic relationships in the future because that’s the only thing that they associate with love.
People who were abused by caregivers early in life or during young teenage relationships often associate traumatic abuse with love. Since this is the first way that they are shown love, this is how they seek it out in the future. This creates a continual cycle which can lead to the development of increasingly intense traumas.
Signs of Trauma Bonding
There are a number of different signs of trauma bonding. The majority of these signs and symptoms relate, in some way, to the abused victim defending or justifying the behavior of their abusive partner.
For example, a traumatized victim may tell themselves or their friends that their partner’s behavior is excusable because they had a rough childhood. They may take on an unreasonable amount of blame for arguments or relationship problems, or may believe that they deserve their partner’s abusive behavior because “they put up with me.”
Working Through Trauma Bonding
There are a few basic steps that you can take to help get over trauma bonding. Holistic, psychological treatments are often the best way to go about things – but before seeking out treatment, you can try a couple of things on your own.
- Separate. If you realize that you’re in a relationship based on trauma bonding, the first and most important thing for you to do is separate from the partner. This will be hard, but will also open up the door for you to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and with someone else.
- Understand your choices. Therapy and holistic treatments can help with this. Understanding your decisions and why you chose to enter into a toxic relationship can be vital steps for ensuring that you never make unhealthy decisions again.
- Find a support network. Remember those friends who told you that your partner was toxic, even though you never listened to them? They could form the basis of a good support network. It’s also a good idea to reach out to other groups, such as relationship counseling group meetings, to discuss the issue with other people who have overcome similar problems.
Trauma Bonding and Holistic Treatment
Holistic treatments are a great way to help people work through all forms of traumatic experiences, including traumatic bonding. Holistic treatments integrate the mind and the body and allow for complete recovery.
What some people don’t know is that traumatic memories are often stored in the body. When someone is traumatized, they have difficulty coping with the emotions, sensory input, or memories associated with the traumatic experience. But these feelings don’t just disappear – they are often stored in the body.
When these feelings are not resolved, they can manifest as trauma and lead to the repeated behaviors that many people engage with when they are in a traumatic bond.
There are lots of different holistic treatments that one can engage in when they’re hoping to work through a traumatic bond. Some of the most popular and effective include:
- Somato-emotional repatterning. Somato-emotional repatterning is a holistic tool that is able to help repattern the body-based (somatic) behavioral patterns that a person experiences when they are traumatized. In other words, this can help someone overcome and eliminate the memories and feelings that lead them to seek out toxic individuals.
- Neuro-linguistic programming is another therapeutic tool that allows coaches to help clients activate certain mental healing processes. By tapping into the healing resources that the mind inherently possesses, NLP coaches can help clients work through long-standing traumatic experiences.
- EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, works by utilizing certain eye movements, verbal cues, and memory reactivations to help people understand the basis of their traumas. By understanding the basis of their traumas they can then reprocess them and ultimately replace the traumatic behavioral response with something more positive.
Traumatic bonding is a complex problem that many people can have difficulty recognizing. Many people find themselves attached to toxic relationships because they share a traumatic bond with the individuals involved.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways that you can overcome traumatic bonding. Holistic treatments like somato-emotional repatterning, EMDR, and NLP can be useful for helping you get over your traumatic bonds.