Trauma is often a terrible set of circumstances that lead to isolating or distancing yourself from people. However, there are rare cases of people coming together in what’s called a ‘trauma bond’. This term typically refers to an unhealthy relationship between an abuser and their victims.
Many people wrongfully believe that trauma bonding is a shared connection between two trauma victims. Registered clinical counselor Cecile Tucker describes it as a bond or connection with the perpetrator of abuse in your life.
If you are stuck in a trauma bond or dealing with narcissistic abuse, there are steps you can take to break free and find healing. You can always unlearn the many coping mechanisms you developed to survive, learn new techniques and break the bonds holding you back.
Understanding a trauma bond
As stated previously, a trauma bond is an unhealthy relationship formed between an abuser and a victim. These bonds happen anywhere like a family system, workplace, or religious groups. Typically though, we associate trauma bonds with a toxic relationship. The connection developed in the trauma bond is the result of a response to physical or verbal abuse. Here, the victim slowly develops affection or even sympathy for their abuser.
Many trauma bonds form as the result of unhealthy attachments. As humans, it is our nature to form attachments to people we see as protectors. Children are attached to their parents and as adults, we get attached to people who support and comfort us. That emotional need to stay is intense when the caregiver or supporter is also the abuser. In such cases, it is difficult for the victim to separate love from the trauma bond.
Trauma bonding vs love
It is often difficult to tell the difference between trauma bonding and love. Such trouble is much harder if the victim suffers from previous unhealthy attachments. The long and short of it is that a loving relationship does not include things like verbal abuse, narcissistic abuse, a gaslighter narcissist, or intimidation.
A normal relationship involves
- Emotional and physical safety
- Mutual respect
- Accountability and responsibility
- Healthy limits
- Regular communication between both sides
An unhealthy relationship has
- Verbal abuse
- Isolation from friends and family
- Denial and blaming
- Poorly-defined boundaries
- Coercion and threats
Healing from a trauma bond
A person stuck in an abusive relationship ultimately develops a traumatic bond with their abuser. People in such relationships develop coping strategies to overcome the issues. It will take a significant amount of time to unlearn those techniques and adopt new methods and tools.
Many victims of narcissistic abuse struggle to objectively look at their trauma and the coping mechanisms they developed. On the contrary, you feel it and know it deep within you. The thing you cannot do alone is differentiate the behavior from the emotion. That’s where friends, family, or loved ones come to help you.
Healing from a trauma bond is not as simple as writing and following a to-do list. It is a process that takes time, effort, care, and great patience. Here is some advice on how to break free and heal from this relationship.
Commit to living in reality:
Do not fantasize about what could be or what you hope will be. Remind yourself that you are committed to living in the real world. Stay grounded in reality and you will stop thinking about what isn’t happening.
Stay in the moment:
Take note of everything happening at the moment. See your situation for what it is and not what you want it to be. Consider the compromises and the lack of reciprocated emotions. Pay attention to how unloved you are and your self-worth in this relationship.
Take things one at a time:
Sometimes you scare yourself with an all-or-nothing mindset. This way of thinking will keep you rooted in one place or too scared to take a step forward. Remember, you don’t have to treat every meeting as a do-or-die situation. Try not to scare yourself about relationships.
Take decisions that support your self-care:
Take care not to make decisions that hurt you. If you find yourself growing weak, have a compassionate mental discussion to gain strength. Remind yourself this is a long process and you making progress step by step. Never mentally berate yourself and make choices in your best self-interest.
Begin to feel emotions again:
When away from any narcissistic abuse, you feel tempted to reach out to them. Don’t do it. Instead, consider writing your feelings down. This method helps you build inner strength and face upcoming challenges. You don’t need to run or hide from them. It is when you truly feel them that you allow yourself to move forward. Remember, the only way out of this mess is through it.
Build healthy connections around you:
The best way to fully free yourself from a relationship with a gaslighter narcissist is to start investing in healthy connections. Develop other relationships that are not centered on negative concepts and drama. Make these the people you rely on for support, comfort, and affirmation. Take note of the people in your life who show you concern. These people care about you and try to contact you as often as possible. Reaching out to them can always help you through a rough time.
If you find yourself in a trauma bond or a negative relationship, always remember: there is a way out. Follow these steps and having a strong support system plays a big difference in your life. These techniques help you figure out what to do next.