As the founder of Holistic Transformative Therapy, my life's work revolves around fostering growth, promoting healing and empowering people to reclaim control of their lives. Today, I want to take you on a journey through a less-travelled path, a path that is often obscured by misconceptions and misunderstandings - the path of trauma bonding.
In the intricate tapestry of human relationships, emotions serve as the threads that bind us together. While love, empathy and respect are threads that weave beautiful patterns of healthy relationships, there are also threads that, when intertwined, create patterns that can be harmful and destructive. Trauma bonding is one such pattern, a concept introduced by Dr Patrick Carnes that refers to an intense emotional connection created through shared traumatic experiences, commonly found in abusive relationships.
Trauma bonding is not limited to romantic relationships. It can exist among family members, within friendships, or even in professional settings. What makes these bonds especially insidious is that they are often mistaken for profound love or deep emotional connection. The reason behind this misconception is the intense emotional volatility that characterises these relationships. The unpredictable highs and lows, the push and pull of affection and neglect, keep those involved in a constant state of emotional turmoil.
However, the fundamental difference between a trauma bond and a healthy relationship lies in the presence of abusive or neglectful behaviour. In the case of trauma bonding, the abuser alternates between abusive behaviour and affectionate gestures, establishing an erratic yet powerful dynamic. This cycle of abuse and reconciliation keeps the victim perpetually on their toes, but paradoxically, it makes them more attached to their abuser.
You might wonder, why does it seem so challenging to break free from a trauma bond? The answer to this question lies in the labyrinth of human psychology. Trauma bonds exploit our fundamental need for connection and validation, and they cleverly disguise themselves as a beacon of hope in a sea of turmoil. The victim often gets caught in the cycle, clinging to the 'good times' or the hope that their abuser will change, making it even harder to sever the
Despite how daunting this may sound, it's important to remember that there's a silver lining. The first step towards healing is understanding the concept of trauma bonding. Once you can identify the signs, you're already on your way to recovery.
Here are some steps you can take:
Recognise the patterns: identifying the cycle of abuse and affection is a crucial first step in breaking free from the trauma bond.
Seek support: confiding in trusted individuals, whether friends, family or a professional counsellor, can offer fresh perspectives and help you see the situation more objectively.
Prioritise self-care and self-compassion: The journey to healing from trauma can be challenging and emotionally draining. It's important to prioritise self-care, practise self-compassion and remember that healing doesn't happen overnight.
Set boundaries: This could mean limiting or entirely cutting off contact with the person causing the trauma bond, depending on your individual circumstances.
Consult a professional: Therapists trained in trauma can offer the necessary tools and strategies to guide you through your healing journey.
Deepen your understanding: Trauma bonds often form as a survival strategy in situations where one party feels powerless. This is often the case with children, who cannot choose their caregiver and need to attach to survive.
Reflect on your attachment style: We tend to recreate childhood trauma in our adult relationships. Read this article to understand attachment bonds and discover your own attachment style.
It's also essential to recognise that individuals entangled in trauma bonds often show symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, flashbacks, emotional numbness, feelings of worthlessness, shame and guilt, poor emotional control and regulation and/or feelings of alienation. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it's essential to seek professional help.
A significant part of healing from trauma involves rebuilding self-esteem and self-worth. Those trapped in these toxic bonds often suffer severe damage to their self-esteem, as the abuser may resort to manipulative tactics like gaslighting to make them question their worth and perceptions. Activities that promote self-love and self-appreciation can be invaluable during the healing process. This can involve mindfulness practises, pursuing a hobby, regular physical exercise or journaling to express and understand your feelings better.
Another essential component of healing is building a robust support network. This could include trusted friends, family, support groups or therapists. Having people who understand and validate your experiences can provide immense emotional relief and offer a sense of belonging.
Furthermore, educating yourself about trauma bonding can empower you to take control of your healing journey. Numerous resources, including books, podcasts, articles and research papers, offer insights into the mechanisms of trauma bonding and provide guidance on navigating the healing process.
In conclusion, while trauma bonding is a complex emotional dynamic often disguised as intense love or connection, individuals can break free from these harmful bonds by recognising the signs, seeking help, practising self-care, establishing boundaries and educating themselves. Each step taken towards healing is a testament to your strength and resilience.
Countless human beings worldwide have experienced trauma bonding and have successfully broken free. With understanding, support and time, you can reclaim your power to heal inner wounds and build healthier relationships!
Remember, at Holistic Transformative Therapy, we are committed to supporting you on this journey. Together, we can transform your life!
Love & light,
Hypnotherapist and counsellor
Holistic Transformative Therapy
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mobile: 07849 580021
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