Learning how to break a trauma bond can be a tough undertaking. You may feel as though you cannot live without them, no matter how abusive and toxic the situation is. Ending any sort of a relationship can be difficult and painful, and this is especially true for trauma bonds. Losing self-worth and any sense of happiness can be extremely detrimental to one’s mental health. Understanding what trauma bonds are, how they tend to develop, and how to break them can be crucial to surviving a trauma bond.
What is a Trauma Bond?
Essentially, a trauma bond is a sense of loyalty to a toxic and destructive person. They tend to form after a repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation, and then positive reinforcement. The abuse tends to alternate with acts of kindness or intimacy, making it hard to really make sense of the connection felt to the abusive relationship. Trauma bonds are not solely linked to romantic relationships, they can be seen in many different relationships. Anyone can find themself in a trauma bond, and this can be attributed to the unique way that these types of bonds tend to form.
The Stages of Trauma Bonding
Feeling connected to people who show you love and affection is natural, and most of these trauma bonds begin that way. The abusive acts will often be followed by manipulation in the form of apologetic behavior and promises of change, and never having it happen again. Falling into this can lead you into a difficult to break cycle.
The beginning of any relationship tends to begin with loving and affectionate bonds. Making it seem like this relationship will be healthy and happy as it runs its course.
Trust and Dependence
During this stage of trauma bonding, the partner does everything in their power to gain your trust and make you feel like you can rely on them. You may even begin relying on them more than you realize. This stage can be where it becomes hard to figure out how to break the trauma bond later on down the road.
Usually beginning slowly and almost “normal,” the next stage is criticism. It may begin with minor things and progress to more aggressive criticism where you are constantly being blamed for things, or your partner becomes more demanding.
At this point, your partner begins to invalidate your feelings and you begin to question whether you should feel the way you feel. Your partner may make it feel like all of the relationship issues are your fault, and they play no part in it. This is known as gaslighting.
Giving up refers to not fighting them anymore, and trying to bend to their will and way of doing things. You may feel like this can help to prevent issues from arising.
At this stage, your once bubbly and happy sense of self may have been deteriorated into a state of deflation and depression. Family and friends may be concerned with your current state, and your willingness to just avoid the fights all together.
You’re probably emotionally drained and hurting at this point. You know that the relationship is toxic and bad for you, however cannot bring yourself to walk away from it for some reason. It may be extremely confusing to you.
Ways to Break a Trauma Bond
The severe intensity of this bond can make it extremely hard to break them. Learning different tools on how to manage trauma can help you to take necessary steps to begin the process. Healing from these bonds is necessary to moving past them and getting your life back.
Setting boundaries can help you learn how to break trauma bonds. Being able to express your wants and needs clearly, and sticking to your guns can help you to gain confidence in decision making.
Remove Yourself From the Situation
Knowing the resources available to help you leave the toxic and abusive situation can be extremely helpful when you come to a point where you can leave. Domestic violence shelters can be readily available to you when the time comes.
Feel Your Feelings
It is going to hurt for a little while. You may feel helpless and even embarrassed. Let the feelings come and go. Running back to the abuse to avoid the feelings is not the answer to the problem. The feelings will pass, the abuse will not.
Express yourself and your thoughts in a journal. It is a healthy way to get the feelings out and help you to process.
Talk to a Professional
Seeking professional help is the best form of self love you can have. Having someone to talk to and express all of the pain and insanity that the relationship caused, and process through everything with someone trained to help in these situations, can help you to heal from the trauma.
Get Help to Break Trauma Bonds in South Florida
Trauma bonds can be broken, and there is help to heal from them. The Neuroscience Institute can help you as you begin your path to healing from trauma bonds. Contact us today and let us help you on your journey.