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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

What is Trauma Bonding?

It Is NOT Love, It Is Trauma Bonding

Trauma Bonding is a cycle of physical or emotional abuse that creates a strong attachment between an abused person and the abuser. It is reinforced by periods of affection and then periods of devaluation and emotional abuse. Trauma Bonding is a psychological response to abuse. It occurs when the abused person forms an unhealthy bond with the person who abuses them.

The person experiencing abuse may develop sympathy for the abusive person, which becomes reinforced by cycles of abuse followed by remorse. A trauma bond is a connection between an abusive person and the individual they abuse. It typically occurs when the abused person begins to develop sympathy or affection for the abuser. This bond can develop over days, weeks or months and if it's extreme for years. Take note that not everyone who experiences abuse develops trauma bond.

Why It Happens?

Feelings of attachment and dependence can contribute to a trauma bond, as can a pattern of abuse and remorse.


A person may develop a trauma bond because they rely on the abusive person to fulfill emotional or even physical needs. For instance, a child relies on their parent or caregiver for love and support. If that caregiver is abusive, the child may come to associate love with abuse.

By believing that this association is normal, the child may not notice or maybe unable to see the abusive caregiver or parent as "bad".The child may instead blame themselves for the abuse as a way of making sense of what is happening to them. This allows the caregiver to continue being "good" in the child's eyes, which reinforces their bond.

Cycle of abuse

Some abusive relationships follow a pattern of abuse then remorse. After causing harm, an abusive person may promise to change. Some may even be kind or overly romantic to make up for their behavior. This gives the abused person hope that their suffering will end and that they will one day receive the love or connection that the perpetrator has promised.

The person experiencing the abuse may see suffering as a price to pay for kindness. Remorseful behavior may also cause the victim of abuse to feel "grateful" particularly if they have become accustomed to poor treatment. This reinforces the bond.


According to research that was carried out, trauma bonds are the result of an unhealthy attachment. Human beings form attachments as a means of survival. Babies beome attached to the parents or caregivers whom they depend on and adults form attachments to others who provide comfort or support.

When someone's main source of support or comfort is also their abuser, a trauma bond can develop. An abused person may turn to the abusive person for comfort when they're hurt, even if the other person was the one who caused it.

When can trauma Bonding happen?

In theoretical aspect, trauma bonding can occur in any situation that involves one person abusing or exploiting another. This may include situations that involve: 

domestic abuse

•child abuse


•human trafficking

•kidnapping or hostage

•love relationships

Signs of Trauma Bonding

The main sign that a person has bonded with an abuser is that they try to justify or defend the abuse. They may also do the following:

•Try to cover for the abusive person.

•Agree with the abusive person's reasons for treating them badly.

•Argue with or distance themselves from people trying to help such as friends, family members or neighbors.

•Become defensive or hostile if someone intervenes and attempts to stop the abuse such as a bystander or police officer.

•Be reluctant or unwilling to take steps to leave the abusive situation or break the bond.

•A person bonded with their abuser might say something like: 

"I am not going to leave him, he is the love of my life. You're just jealous, back off."

"It is my fault, I always make them angry.

"He is only like that because he loves me so much - you would not understand."

•They feel like the fights, breakups and extreme events bring them closer with their abuser than the happy times.

•They crave making the abuser happy at the expense of their own wants, needs and mental health.

•They don't have a reaction towards cheating, abuse or the pushing of their boundaries because they're used to it or it could be worse.

•They worry that if they leave, something bad will happen to the abusive person.

•Constant breaking up and getting back together.

•Feeling like they have been through so much bad together with the abuser that they can't just "throw the relationship away" after so much.

•The abusive person is always promising that things will change and they never do.

•Feeling like they will die if they are not together with the abuser.

•Feeling completely in love and then hating the abuser.

•Thinking that no one else will ever love or understand them like the abuser does especially because they have seen the worst in each other.

Breaking a trauma bond

 Breaking a trauma bond can be challenging and may take time, but it is still possible. Research suggest that people:

Practice self-care

Taking care of oneself may help relieve some stress and reduce the desire to turn to an abusive person for comfort. Journaling, meditation, exercise, hobbies, reading books, prayer or talking to professionals and trusted friends can help.

Practice positive self-talk

Abuse can lower a person's self-esteem and make them feel that they cannot be without the abusive person. Noticing negative self-talk and challenging it with positive alternatives can start to change this behavior.

Focus on the now

Hoping that an abusive person will change or nostalgia for good times in the past can keep people in their trauma bonds. Try by all means to acknowledge what is currently happening and the impact that it has by pausing to reflect on it.

•Focus on the happenings

If a person continues to abuse or takes no steps to get help, stay focused on this rather than on their promises about the future.

In addition, a person can also:

•Learn about abusive and toxic relationships in order to spot the signs early and reinforce that they're not healthy.

•Learn what healthy relationships look like and seek them out. 

•Leave the relationship and cut off all contacts if possible.

•Therapy, therapy, therapy. Our friends gets so tired of the constant drama that you might find it hard to talk to them because they are so frustrated about you not leaving the toxic relationship. Therapy will allow you to talk about your experiences without being and feeling judged.

•Focus on your own mental health and meeting your personal needs.

•When you want to go back to that toxic relationship, remind yourself why you left in the first place. This will help you to stay on your feet and focus on self-healing and growth.

•Know that you are not alone and that there are always caring and supportive people who are ready to hear you out and comfort you.

•Know that you are strong to break that abusive cycle, know that you deserve to be happy and that you are worthy of being loved in a healthy way. That awareness will take you far in determining that you deserve better in life than settling for less.

•Create a plan to improve safety and make it possible to exit or leave whenever you are in danger or when the situation gets worse than you can handle.

Safety Plan

Safety plans include personalized steps that an individual can take to protect themselves physically and emotionally. The plan may include:

Safety places where someone can go to protect themselves, kids or pets from violence.

•Names, contact information for people who provide support and counselling. 

•Information about local organizations and services.

•A way to gather evidence of the abuse, such as a diary with events and dates that a person keeps in a safe place.

•An escape plan such as a place to live, money and work. 

•A plan for staying safe after leaving, such as changing your door locks and phone numbers, altering your usual working hours and pursuing legal action.

Recovering from abuse

The trauma of abuse can have lasting effects on mental and physical health. Nobody deserves to deal or cope with this demon alone. Below are the following suggestions that may help victims understand their experiences and address related issues such as anxiety, stress and depression: 


If the victim develops an anxiety disorder or depression or stress as a result of the abuse, medication may help relieve some of the symptoms. Anyone who is willing to be helped can discuss this option with their doctor or medical practitioner.


l have mentioned about therapy and l am going to bring it up again. The victim of abuse may experience pain, a sense of loss and grief after exiting an abusive situation. Seeking and talking to an understanding therapist, counselor or professional health worker can help the victim of abuse work through their disturbing issues.

It is more beneficial to find a therapist who has experience with trauma and abuse survivors. A therapist can provide a safe space to talk about all thoughts, feelings and experiences without the fear of being judged or condemned. They can also identify and treat conditions that may develop as a result of abuse such as post-traumatic stress disorder known as PTSD. 

Support groups

Support groups are a sort of social gatherings and setup that offer abuse survivors places and opportunities to testify and share their stories with others who understand are also in need of support. This can help the victims of abuse feel less alone and remind them that there are others who still care. People who are part of supporting groups may also share tips on coping and staying safe and provide other practical advice about moving on from an abusive situation.

When to seek assistance

For anyone who may have developed a trauma bond, help is available. Many organizations provide emotional support and advice about staying safe both during the abuse and afterward. Example here in Zimbabwe my own country we have got such organizations like Musasa Project, Gender Links, Girl Child Network, Childline, Save the Children, Zimbabwe Republic Police etc. 

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of domestic violence, please call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help. You never know, you might save a life. I don't know about your countries, but you definitely know which organizations are responsible for offering such help and services in times of emergencies.

Please do reach out if you are in any abusive situation. Abuse can escalate over time. If someone exhibit or shows a few signs of abusive behavior at the beginning of the relationship, it is still important to be aware of the available resources that may help you in case of emergencies or in the future.


Trauma bonding occurs when a person experiencing abuse develops an unhealthy attachment to their abuser. They may rationalize or defend the abusive actions, feel a sense of loyalty, isolate from others and hope that the abuser's behavior will change. 

Breaking a trauma bond and recovering from it can be a long and challenging journey and recognizing the true nature of the bond is the first step. Trusted family members, friends, therapists, professional counselors, other survivors and support services can help the victims of abuse and trauma bonding heal and become whole again. 

Thank you for taking your time to read.

Signing out!!!




Submitted: April 19, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Tariro Tsaurayi. All rights reserved.

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