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Trauma Bonding + How to Break Free

Everyone has trauma, usually stemming from childhood. As an adult, we are drawn to people who may trigger it. If you experienced abuse or witnessed it as a kid, you’re attracted to relationships that mirror your past. They say you date your father. If your dad was a player, it’s likely you will date cheaters and stay with them if your mom remained in the relationship. Trauma bonding is connecting with an abusive person who mistreats you emotionally, physically, and/or sexually. Unconsciously you form a strong bond with your romantic partner to cope with your trauma or abuse. This is a recipe for a dangerous disaster. The longer you stay in a toxic relationship, the harder it is to break away. In these partnerships, there’s an imbalance of powerful control and continual aggression.

Are you in a toxic relationship? It’s not always physical fights. It sneaks in without you realizing. Watch out for these red flags.

1. Lack of mutual respect

They don’t listen to your opinion. They criticize your choices. They disregard your beliefs and values. Gestures such as rolling eyes or making fun of you displays a lack of reverence.

2. Consistent conflict

You all fight over stupid stuff. You can’t agree on anything and have huge blowups. Yelling is common. The disagreements take away from spending quality time or having fun. Sometimes it gets physical with shoving or worse.

3. Love bombing

They say you’re their soulmate and they have waited their whole life for you. You’re a gift from Heaven and can do no wrong. You’re perfect and the best thing that’s ever happened to them. They flood you with extreme compliments often. They place you on a pedestal and make you feel amazing, slightly lowering your guard down. They gain your unconditional trust. They bring you gifts just because. The extravagant presents activate your dopamine, gluing you to them. Now you associate their generosity with great feelings every time they deflect from the abuse. These notions blind you, causing you to ignore your gut feelings when you get triggered. Your oxytocin, your feel-good hormone, surges and encourages you to make them happy. You yearn for their attention and love.

4. No mutual support

You can’t confide in them. There’s no comfort in venting after a hard day. You’re too afraid to be vulnerable because they may throw it back in your face later. They can care less about milestones personally or professionally.

5. Verbal abuse

Name calling and threats reside in your home. Insensitive jokes and degrading comments are frequent. They convince you that you’re not smart or capable of doing anything right.

6. Gaslighting

They lie about things although you have concrete evidence, also known as your eyes and ears. The blame game is their favorite hobby. You’ll feel like you’re crazy for trying to make sense of it all. They’ll confirm that you’re losing your mind to make themselves look like the honest good guy.

7. Controlling behavior

They constantly contact you when you’re apart. They might accuse you of cheating. They tell you what you can’t wear since it may attract too much attention. They’re jealous of your friends and strangers. They snoop on your phone and question you over the smallest things. They don’t trust you. You justify their actions, chalking it up to loving concern.

8. Sadness

You’re very unhappy and stay because it’s safer. You’re tolerating this negative situation because it’s convenient and you don't want to start over. Your self-esteem is at an all-time low. You’re emotionally drained from the fantasy of leaving. On your worst days, you remind yourself of the good times to overcompensate from the terrible tension.

9. Mixed signals

There’s kindness and intimacy laced with remorse. They shower you with affection and win you over with their charm. All goes well for a while, until one day they lose their temper. Objects get thrown matched with raised voices. Flashbacks from a previous situation, trigger your fear of what may happen next. Your gut tells you there’s a problem, yet you believe their apologies and that it’s an isolated incidence. Then it happens again. And again. And again. You’re stuck in a continual cycle of making up.

Did you notice one or more red flags? Once you’re aware, you can cease the generational curse. Let’s discover ways to break free!

1. Therapy from a licensed professional

Research therapists that specialize in trauma bonding. You may be comfortable speaking with a counselor who looks like you. They’re likely to relate.

2. Delete and block them

Remove your ex-partner from your mobile and your mind. Throw away items that remind you of them. Trash their photos in your place, online, and on your phone. So yes, delete them from your social media pages and change your status to “single and satisfied”! Most of all, block their phone number, email address, and all social profiles. Don’t hesitate, just do it.

3. Seek support from friends and family

Have an escape plan and options B-D. Change your routine by driving alternative routes to work and home. Don’t socialize at the same spots. Live your best life in new areas. Lay low at first until you’ve healed enough to venture out. You don’t have to tell everybody your business. Inform one or two of your loved ones about the basic situation. If you need to stay with them, ask to keep your situation confidential. If you’re able, rent an apartment in a distant area. Don’t share your address except with the same one or two people. Keep them updated as needed. Privacy is key.

4. Silence the insecurities

Grab the remote and take control over your life. Press mute on your self-doubt. You are a baddie! Continue to tell yourself that you can do anything. Set recurring various reminders on your phone to pop up weekly. They’ll show up exactly when you need it.

5. Forget about the good memories, use the bad times to motivate you

Delete the photos. Don’t scroll those pictures and reminisce like Mary J. That’s going down the wrong path. Don’t reread the text message threads. Remove their existence completely.

Boost your self-confidence! You don’t need them. They don’t need you to take care of them. They’ll be fine. They’re allegedly an adult. Focus on yourself and transform your mental health. Find your peace and protect it. You are enough. You are awesome. Silence those negative thoughts that replay in your head. Take back your power and replace them with positive affirmations. Be the gorgeous goddess you are. Break up with your old habits and bond with the new you!

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