Are you Bonded By Love or Trauma

Many relationships start with joy, happiness, love and laughter and many relationships experience change and evolution.

When do you know if the change and evolution is healthy?

When do you know when the nature of your relationship is based on abuse, past trauma or just simple pure love?

There are relationships that are based on trauma bondage – a psychological response to abuse. It occurs when the abused individual forms an unhealthy bond with the abuser. The person experiencing abuse may develop sympathy

for the abuser, which becomes reinforced by cycles of abuse, followed by remorse.

There is no widely accepted theory to explain how perpetrators of trauma emotionally bind their victims. However, the general phenomenon of victims developing emotional attachments to their abusers has been observed in situations of intimate partner violence, child abuse, hostage situations, human trafficking, and cults.

  • Is your relationship unpredictable?
    • Are you anxious when interacting with him/her because you’re scared of how you will be treated?
    • Does she/he constantly betray you?
    • Do you continuously forgive and give him/her another chance?
    • Do you feel responsible for his/her happiness?
    • Are you willing to sacrifice everything to make your relationship survives?
    • Is your relationship complicated and full of many false promises?
    • Do you find yourself defending your relationship even though it’s abusive?
    • Does the sense of familiarity make it difficult for you to leave the relationship even though you feel unhappy

Could the answer to the questions above be because of:

  • Fear? You are afraid of what will happen if you leave the abuser.
  • Dependency? You have become dependent on the abuser for food, shelter or money.
  • Loyalty? You are loyal despite the abuse. You think he/she will not make it without you.
  • Guilt? You feel guilty for what has happened and believe that you deserve the abuse.
  • Shame? You are ashamed of the abuse and don’t want anyone to know about it.

Trauma Bond

– relationship mirrors the unhealthy pattern of your childhood experiences and/or relationships

– there is chaos and unpredictable roller coaster of emotions

– ignoring red flags and unacceptable behaviour

– you betray and compromise yourself and all your needs in exchange for love

– you think you cannot survive without the other person

Love Bond

– your relationship is based on freedom, accountability and mental peace.

– there is safety and consistency

– boundaries are acknowledged and respected

– there is trust

– you recognize that you are your own independent person

– you do the work to meet your needs first

Leaving a toxic relationship is not easy but with time recovery and healing is possible. It requires some patience and internal work.

Some Tips to Healing:

– It is wise to consider therapy and intervention from professionals to help you through the journey of healing.

– Intentionally engage in activities that bring you peace and joy.

– Seek and invest in nurturing relationships and connections with those who show you genuine love and care.

Overall, breaking a trauma bond relationship is part of the journey to mental and emotional wellbeing (mental health) and must be followed by time to heal, building healthy relationships and self-esteem and spending more time with people who are not toxic.

Some individuals may also seek more intensive treatment, such as staying in a facility that specialises in relationship disorders or co-dependency intervention.

Contributed by: Matjatji Mothapo: certified and accredited Coach, Mentor and Leadership Professional,

Director at Transformed Lives Coaching Institute.


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