* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don’t think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not a woman in that same role.
Trauma bonding occurs because the trauma of the abuse changes your brain physiologically as you start to release neuropeptides which bond you to your partner which you behold addicted to.
When oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, cortisol, and adrenaline are involved, the abusive nature of the relationship can actually strengthen, rather than dampen, the bond of the relationship in the brain.
- Can you relate to any of these 25 signs of trauma bonding?
- 1. You constantly worry about doing something that would upset them.
- 2. You go out of your way to protect them.
- 3. You ignore their bad behaviors when they are pointed out by others.
- 4. You know they’re deceptive and abusive, but you still can’t let go.
- 5. You do everything to please them and are always loyal, even when they give you nothing but pain.
- 6. You hide your emotions from them.
- 7. You feel addicted to them.
- 8. You always have an excuse for them.
- 9. You compromise yourself to please them.
- 10. You forget your worth and value.
- 11. You crave the crumbs of love and attention.
- Can you relate to these subtle signs of trauma bonding?
Can you relate to any of these 25 signs of trauma bonding?
1. You constantly worry about doing something that would upset them.
You may find yourself walking on eggshells around your abuser.
One major sign of a trauma bond is worrying that you may do or say something to set them off.
Even if you know this person is doing hurtful things to you, leaving is difficult because you’re afraid they may not only hurt you but themselves.
2. You go out of your way to protect them.
Most of us would run away from someone who is abusing us. We don’t want to experience pain and we don’t want to feel the shame of being abused.
But sometimes we believe that the abuser is mentally or emotionally disturbed and is the product of a dysfunctional environment
We can develop such a bond that they feel the need to protect the abuser. Sometimes we stand up for the abuser and go against people who truly care.
3. You ignore their bad behaviors when they are pointed out by others.
Your friends and family may be disturbed by some things that your partner has said or done to you, but you don’t think it’s that big of a deal
If people around you have mentioned that you need to get out of the relationship, but you ignore them or pretend to not know what they’re talking about, you’re likely in an intense trauma bond.
4. You know they’re deceptive and abusive, but you still can’t let go.
You are a rational, smart person and you can clearly see though all of this persons bullshit. You know that they are treating you badly and you secretly resent them for it.
Yet, whenever to get the courage to leave they throw you a few complements and crumbs of attention.
You end up mistaking these crumbs for the entire bakery, and you doubt yourself.
5. You do everything to please them and are always loyal, even when they give you nothing but pain.
They hurt you, time and time again, yet you’re always ready and willing to take them back at the first sign of their remorse or a hint of their attention.
Have you ever heard about the boiling frog?
If you put a frog in cold water on the stove, and slowly bring the water to a boil, the frog will never try to jump out of the pot.
In these trauma bonds we are the frog. We have grown accustomed to the heat to a point where it ends up killing us.
6. You hide your emotions from them.
If you are sad and the abuser is happy, you cover your sadness. If you are happy and the abuser is depressed, you cover your elation.
If you are feeling hopeless and suicidal but the abuser is walking around the house singing and playing music, you will most likely cover your emotions and go along to get along.
7. You feel addicted to them.
You develop an addiction to this person that is not only psychological but biochemical and physiological.
“More recent research shows that the bonding actually occurs because we can become addicted to the hormonal and emotional roller coaster our abuser has put us on,” said Kati Morton, LMFT, licensed therapist and author of Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health.
So even if the abuse is bad, the love and attention you get afterward feels good to the point that it makes you forget.
According to Morton, your brain can get so used to this “up and down emotional ride” that it starts craving it.
“The rush of the stress hormone cortisol, and a flood of the feel-good chemical dopamine can trigger the reward center in our brain, which can cause you to think you’re in love with your abuser,” she says.
8. You always have an excuse for them.
This is a very typical behavior of some abused individuals.
The abuser doesn’t hurt them because they are bad but because maybe:
- I deserved it.
- He didn’t mean to get angry, it was my fault.
- He puts up with me and still loves me.
- He was jealous, I would be too.
- He had a terrible childhood, I feel sorry for him.
- I can help him to change with love and support.
- He deserves a fair go, he doesn’t mean to hurt me.
This is often a telltale sign that the abused individual is bonding or bonded to the abuser.
9. You compromise yourself to please them.
When you’re in a toxic trauma bond, your self-worth plummets and your sense of agency dries up.
Self-sabotage becomes your automatic reflex; they have subconsciously programmed you to harm yourself because you’ve been conditioned to believe that you’re not worthy of safety or peace.
You feel stuck and develop a sense of learned helplessness.
Toxic people drive you to destroy yourself – it is like psychological murder with clean hands.
10. You forget your worth and value.
Where there was once a feeling of power, confidence, self assurance, and self worth, there is now an empty space.
They have slowly convinced you that you’re unworthy of respect, affection, and time. It is a minute by minute fight for their approval and you always feel that you are not enough for them.
Constantly fighting for approval drives you to lower your standards for this toxic individual, time and time again.
11. You crave the crumbs of love and attention.
Most individuals who are the victims of abuse desire love and affection, sometimes only the love and affection of the abuser.
It’s almost as if the person desires the love and affection of the abuser so much that they will do anything to achieve it.
When we find ourselves in relationships where we feel starved for love and support, small and rare instances of affection, what some call ‘crumbs of love,’ can feel deceptively satisfying.
These little crumbs of affection basically keep them hooked.
Can you relate to these subtle signs of trauma bonding?
12. You feel you can’t leave your partner, even though the relationship or marriage is extremely toxic for you
13. Feel a relentless need to give your abusive partner the benefit of the doubt – always to your detriment
14. You’ve developed OCD tendencies since you’ve been with your partner, or you might exhibit behaviors that mimic bipolar disorder (which are really symptoms that developed due to emotional trauma)
15. You have sleeping difficulties (too much or too little) and eating problems (not having an appetite, which leads to weight loss, or emotional eating, leading to weight gain.
16. You doubt yourself and/or your sanity. Believe you might be “the crazy one”.
17. Thoughts of dying and suicide.
18. Easily startled or over-reactive to everyday situations
19. You check your cell phone every two or three minutes (for messages from your partner)
20. No matter the contributions and sacrifices you’ve made for the relationship, you feel you haven’t done enough
21. You experience panic attacks, fear leaving your home, have nightmares, experience extremely high emotions, frequently relive past abuse (all symptoms of PTSD and/or C-PTSD , which are psychological injuries).
21. You hide your partner’s cruelty and abuse and/or lie to friends and family about your reality
22. You tend to accept accountability for the bad things that happen in your partner’s life and feel the need to fix their problems…always
23. You don’t want to say “No” or stand up for yourself because you don’t want anyone to think you’re mean or unwilling to make compromises (although they are repeatedly mean to you and unwilling to be flexible).
24. You rarely go outside the home because there’s usually a price to pay, or if you do go out, there’s always a deep sense of urgency to get back home as quickly as possible.
25. You feel invisible.
If you think you are trauma bonded to someone and need help breaking that bond, please get in touch to see how I can help you