What Is Trauma Bonding? 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding

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25 February 2024

6 Mins

Trauma bonding is a term to describe unhealthy relationships that cause emotional, physical, and mental distress. You might have come across people labelling certain relationships as toxic and raising red flags. Well, that is what trauma bonds are.

To understand how to get away from them and make way for healthy relationships, let’s have a look at the signs of trauma bonds and how to break free from them.

What Is Trauma Bonding?

Trauma bonding is simply described as an unhealthy relationship wherein the two partners are in a constant cycle of hurting each other and not being able to break apart from each other. They cause each other a deep level of emotional and mental distress and find it hard to stay with each other.

People who haven’t had a good childhood or were abused in the past have a tendency to form trauma bonds. Moreover, having a familiar pattern of experiencing abuse, such people find it hard to let go of this traumatic bonding, as they feel that is how relationships work and that is what they deserve.

Signs of Trauma Bonding

If you wish to understand and see the specific trauma bond signs, here are some:

  1. Defending abusive behaviour
  2. Trying to cover up toxic traits of your partner
  3. Refusing to leave the person despite being treated badly
  4. Believing it is love when the other person misbehaves
  5. Blaming yourself when things go wrong
  6. Suppressing the pain to avoid conflict with partner

There are many other signs of trauma bonds but these are some of the ones one should be aware of and must look out for when they see the relationship becoming toxic.

Traits of an Abusive Partner in a Trauma Bond

The traits of an abusive partner in a trauma bonded relationship vary from personality to personality. But here are some of the traits one should be highly aware of:

  1. Such people have narcissistic personality disorder, which makes them want excessive love and attention, along with thinking too highly of themselves and not caring about other people’s feelings. They tend to give silent treatments and do not understand other people’s feelings or emotions.
  2. Such people also have a history of using violence against their partners, keeping them scared so they do not run off and using control to keep their relationship steady.
  3. Abusive people tend to have a traumatic childhood, because of which they tend to grow up with similar traits.

It is important to leave such people and look after yourself first because, in the long run, it will only harm you and your mental health, leading to a life of complete despair and sadness. If you feel completely helpless, know that the required help is available and connect with professional experts from trusted platforms with whom you can talk and share your heart freely.

7 Stages of Trauma Bonding

There are seven stages in trauma bonds that tend to occur unconsciously. They are as follows:

1. Love bombing

This is the honeymoon stage of a relationship, where partners bombard each other with loads of love and affection.

2. Trust and dependency

The abuser makes the other person fall into their trap and uses their trust to make them doubt themselves and question them when they try to raise any kind of question.

3. Criticism

The abuser will start nitpicking on their partner and will make them feel bad about their certain qualities or perhaps looks.

4. Gaslighting

The abuser makes their partner question their thought process and reality, and often makes them feel that they themselves are at fault.

5. Resignation

The victim gives in to the relationship and starts to act like the abuser wants them to act to stabilise the relationship.

6. Loss of self

The victim loses their sense of self and attaches themselves to their partner, leading to a blurring of personal boundaries and a loss of confidence and self-respect within themselves.

7. Emotional addiction

The pattern becomes so familiar for the victim that they feel this is how love looks and tend to bind themselves in this relationship, not wanting to leave it ever.

How to Break Free From Trauma Bonding

Trauma bonds can highly impact your life and throw you into a pool of deep sadness and despair. In order to break from trauma bonding, here are some things you should inculcate in your life.

1. Educate yourself

It is very important that you educate yourself about such things and be aware of the things that can happen in a relationship that are often mistaken for love or care. So, read books and talk to people to understand what real relationships look like if you haven’t experienced a genuine relationship in your life.

2. Talk to your friends or family

It is important to seek help from your loved ones. Most people are scared to open up or share their stuff because of judgement or pity but when it comes to your friends or family members, they will make sure to shower you with the right guidance and support.

3. Think objectively

When you are in the middle of such a nerve-wracking experience, it can be quite difficult to think objectively about it. But take your time and think if your friend were in the same situation as you are, would it be okay to be treated like this? You will get your answer.

4. Join a support group

If you are not able to understand how to handle it all alone or do not wish to share it with your loved ones, it is best to join a support group where you can get objective insights for your situation, listen to other people’s stories, and work on your situation accordingly.

5. Journal

If you are not much of a sharer, you can start to understand or rectify your situation by journaling your feelings and thoughts in a notebook and reading it after you are done. A lot of times while journaling, we tend to write stuff that might not be in our conscious mind, so this way, you will be able to understand what your body and mind have been trying to tell you and work on yourself accordingly.

6. Seek professional help

If nothing seems to work out, it is best to go to a professional expert and talk to them about your situation. They will be able to help you with the right tools and techniques and you will be able to get out of your situation in an effective way.

When to Seek Therapy

There is no right time to seek therapy. When you know your situation is hindering your overall health and lifestyle, it is best to go for therapy. It might seem scary at first but it is important to realise how a trauma bond is severely affecting you and can worsen your situation if you do nothing about it.

So while you can look after the situation on your own, talking to a professional expert will help you feel less lonely and they will be able to provide you with a good picture of how to navigate your situation in an effective way.

How Can Now&Me Help?

If you are a victim of abuse and are in a trauma bond, Now&Me will be your helping hand. Get connected to professional experts and take your first chat for free. You can share and ask whatever is bothering you and you will get answers to your questions instantly.

If you are not ready for therapy, you can become a part of the Now&Me community, talk to like-minded people, and share your story anonymously. Not only this, but we also have a variety of content resources for you to start your healing journey and get a better understanding of how to look after your mental-wellbeing.

Download the app and get rid of your traumatic bonding now!


Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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