3 major signs you’re in a trauma bond

Are you struggling to understand why it is so hard to let go of a violent or abusive relationship? Here are three signs that trauma bonding may be holding you back.

1. You’re in a violent or otherwise abusive relationship, and you don’t know you’d survive without him.

Trauma-bonding manifests in an intense attachment to the individual who is causing you pain. At this point, you feel your mental and physical wellbeing depends on your partner – and that’s not surprising. You put his (or her) needs above your own, every time. He dictates when you are scared, and when you feel safe. He sets the rules, you’re punished if he thinks you’ve broken them. Often, you’re caught out because he doesn’t tell you his rules, or he changes them without notice. This is not accidental – he’s doing it deliberately to de-stabilise you and to demonstrate his power as the ultimate Rule Maker.

2. You live for the good times.

He is also a source of relief and comfort, because when he decides to reward you he may not hit or shout at you. He may even apologise for his behaviour and be extra-loving for a while. This too is intentional.

Trauma bonding is formed from intermittent punishment/reward behaviour patterns.

Tweet: Trauma bonding in #DomesticViolence is formed from intermittent punishment/reward behaviour patterns via @Avalanche101 http://bit.ly/1JBTKWO

Unfortunately, your relief is only temporary as the tension quickly begins to build again and you wait for the inevitable outbreak of abuse. There is a grossly uneven balance of power in your relationship, rather like a twisted parent/child relationship in which you are a puppet and he pulls all the strings. Small wonder then, that it is hard to imagine a world in which he isn’t there to govern your behaviour and emotions.

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3. When you do leave him, you fall to bits.

Thoughts of him dominate your every waking moment. You struggle to sleep, and when you do drift off in an exhausted fog, you dream of him. You ache to go back to him. You know you dare not. You remonstrate with yourself, believing yourself a pitiful masochist for missing someone who treats you so abominably (wrongly, by the way: blame and shame belong on his shoulders, not yours). You shed weight. Despite that cannonball of clotted dread in your gut, you scour social media for news of him, hoping he’ll burst back into your life.

You’re literally craving your next ‘fix’. Some describe the trauma bond as akin to addiction, in which you are emotionally and possibly even physiologically attached to your abusive partner. The experience of going ‘cold turkey’ can therefore be mentally and physically traumatic, requiring gruelling and dogged effort to get away from him – and to stay away. However hard that trauma bond tugs on you to return, remember this:

Your resolve to live abuse-free could save your life, and it will  in time enable you to be happier, healthier, and safer.

Tweet: Resolve to live free from #DomesticViolence could save your life and it will in time enable you to be happier, healthier, & safer http://bit.ly/1JBTKWO

Learn more about traumatic bonding and how to overcome it in ‘What abusers hope we never learn about trauma bonding’.

Share your experiences in the COMMENTS. How did you discover you were in a trauma bond? How did you break free?


31 responses to “3 major signs you’re in a trauma bond

  1. I wish I could get out of my marriage..
    I was only punched one til I bled on my face and was told that I deserve the punch..

    And since then, it has always been up and down and my happiness lasts for awhile til suddenly when I ask him questions nicely, he will just blow up.

    I really don’t know what to do..

    Til now, everything is my fault.

    According to him.

    Help me.


    • I can say w/o reservation I know how you are feeling. It’s a vicious cycle.
      It creates self doubt & self loathing. These only assist in keeping you in the relationship and give him additional control.
      In reality it’s not you…and he will NOT change no matter how many promises.
      You are worthy! You are amazing just the way you are!
      I have and am currently going though the same cycle. Struggling to stay strong and eradicate him from my life!
      I’m here if you need to talk.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Nur, you deserve real love. Please let God show you awareness to what is happening and trust your guardian Angels and practice self love. It sounds selfish but if you don’t honor you and love you and set your path you will not contribute to the planet the way you want and that is selfish. You heal first then when you’re whole you decide if a relationship is for you and YOU , the real YOU, picks your lifemate,partner,friend,lover. Quiet courage deary. Quiet courage. You can do it and you better do it while you have youth,energy,beauty. Don’t waste another minute around people who don’t see your divine spark, including any of your own thought patterns that you can change with practice. It’s all about practicing new ways and trusting the Universe, your Angels and God.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s been 6 months now since I stopped drinking I was a horrible alcoholic when I met him it was love at first sight I’ve known him since I was 15 but not know him. The whole 5 years it’s been going on started with physical abuse and then emotional mental psychological and Financial I’ve left him 4X every time I was so lonely and felt worthless and couldn’t support my kids cuz he wouldn’t let me work in where my mom lives there’s no jobs so I go back to him like I said I stop drinking 6 months ago cold turkey and then I started seeing clearly I have two little girls 6 and 3 I also have a teenage son his father was also very physically abusive this is much worse though. I started seeing a therapist she told me to leave him he’s abusive I already knew that I got on the Section 8 housing waiting list last year when I left him he controls all the finances tells me he doesn’t respect me and thinks I’m worthless because I don’t work when I do try to look for work he tells me that I just want to work so that I can sleep with other people hes highly jealous and insecure the first time I tried to leave him he called the police and told them that I hit him with his car I was arrested for first-degree vehicular assault domestic violence I was released the next day with no charges filed the next time I tried to leave him he called the police on me and told them that I hit him after he punched himself in the eye I went to jail for 4 days charges were dropped from 4th degree assault domestic violence to criminal misconduct it’s been really bad the last 6 months I’m pretty strong woman and I’ve been telling him through life therapist I’m getting stronger and what he’s doing is abuse and I’m asking him to change and to treat me like a human being I have been putting in my resume with numerous jobs I’ve been on 6 interviews in the last two weeks that seemed to go great I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a second interview or call back my number came up for the Section 8 housing waiting list I went to turn in my application she told me that I can’t get Section 8 and she’s not even going to read my application or my eligibility form because I have to very serious domestic violence charges on my record now it all makes sense I wish I would have stopped drinking a long time ago I have no money because he controls everything he’s isolated me from all of my family all of the shelters are full I have no way to get out of this now I don’t know what to do I’m feeling very desperate I feel like any minute the cops are going to show up and kick me out cuz I’m not on the lease feel so stupid this was his plan all along I just found out another words for what I’m going through it’s called a trauma Bond pretty twisted but it fits my life identically my mother lives in Montana and from Washington State don’t even have any money to get to her house he made me pawn what little valuables I owned to feed my children. My 16 year old son tells me I should stay that it doesn’t matter how he treats me or how I feel that I have to think about two daughters. Every time i have left we are homeless then my abusive boyfriend pull me back in with empty promises and financial support that game.it’s not my sons fault though it’s all he’s ever seen he thinks it’s normal that’s my fault. Even though I was never convicted of any domestic violence charges when any employer looks it up it’s there when any landlord looked it up it’s there the Housing Authority Section 8 it’s there I’m really scared of what’s next sitting here being very paranoid that the police are going to show up any minute and say that I beat him up so that he can take my children not sure what to do or where to go I need help financially the only way I’m ever going to get out


      • I understand. I’m sorry your going through and empathize with your pain and frustration but you can do it. You have awareness and know what you need to do. Keep going to meetings or go if you haven’t and get a sponsor or therapist that can help walk you away from your misery. Heal what’s broken inside as a single mother. You can do it. You either do it now and enjoy a great life or you keep getting what you have been. Same goes for myself and anyone involved with those types of assholes. Lol. Keep your head up. Love n light.


  2. Close to 20 years in an abusive marriage. Left numerous times throughout those years but would always fall for his facade of sencerity.
    Reading about a trauma bond makes sense. I feel/felt all of those things.
    The last separation I filed for divorce, he moved in w/ his relatives in another state but continues to court me w/ kindness & dreams of a love filled future. I folded and actually paid to fly him back! (Yes I did!)
    Now close to 2 months later he is in jail and I have a protective order.
    The positive is I did not stop the divorce proceedings and in previous court hearings I was given full custody of our 4 kids.
    Honestly I find my mind drifting to him.
    Is he ok, out of jail, eating. Then I will hate myself for even caring and think what the heck is wrong w/ me?
    It is a cycle I’ve been in for 20 yrs.
    Whats worse is family & friends who as living as they try to be can not understand the effects or the cycle. “Just get out”, “why would you stay?”
    While said w/ truly good intentions, these words only sting and reinforce negative thoughts I already maintain about my inability to rid my life of him.
    The trauma bond is strong. It overrules knowledge & common since. I’m hopeful the knowledge of this will help me stay strong. My children & I am are so much happier w/o this relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you wrote resonates strongly with me. When we are conditioned so much to consider an abusive partner’s needs and welfare above our own, it’s not something we can switch off. I’m not sure I can, even years since getting free – but I’m firm on one thing: I’d never ever take him back, and I know leaving was the best thing I could have done for my child and I. If I can do it, so can you. I think you’re underestimating your own strength, you’ve come so far and the doubts you feel about your ability to keep him out of your life are normal and understandable, so don’t ever imagine you are weak because you’re absolutely not!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the article although im not sure if my scenario applies, thoughts?:
    Only 6 month relationship but hiiiighly romantic, but if I ever got upset with something hed get upset at me for being upset “oh so only youre allowed to be upset?”…
    Whenever wed argue and id ask for space, he’d freak out and say “I do anything lets work on it” so when id call to make up and explain why I was hurt he’d lash out at ME for the exact reason.
    He has issues, I have issues but ..I just feel im going insane am I demonising him or somethings not right? I fought for him, he said he fought for his exes but havent heard a single peep since we broke it off. ..connnfuuused if this is trauma bonding that I still think of him?
    Thanks for your time 🙂


    • It’s sounds like you may have some unresolved issues with your last relationship. A qualified therapist would be best placed to help you. Trauma bonding arises from physical / emotional violence (was your ex abusive?), power imbalance (did your ex exert any control over you?) and a pattern of rewards and punishment (did you feel your ex used this?). Trauma bonding or not, I’d urge you to seek professional help.


      • Hi Avalanche,

        thanks for your reply,
        I believe in my heart its not right to be blamed for everything. especially as mentioned that if he’d do something bad,and id be upset, he’d then be upset that i was upset. isnt this gas-lighting? (making you doubt your own judgement)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi again. What you describe does sound manipulative – a way that of not allowing you to have feelings about his behaviour by turning things around like he’s the victim. The fact that you’re researching domestic abuse, trauma bonding and gaslighting sets off alarm bells for me. You’ve clearly suffered as a result of your relationship if you’re considering whether these things happened to you. Feel free to share more and I’ll try to give my opinion in the hope of helping you. You’re not alone.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I am 23 and have 3 kids I was with 2 abusive partner one I left recently a out 6. The maths but can’t stop going bk to other he’s 35 and been with him on and of since 17 he’s so nasty he’s done terrible things to me in front of our kids he drink all time but other times he’s so loving so nice then sudden changes we dnt live together a was in women’s aid and now have my own place but I constantly call the n go see him can’t understand why or how to get out of it I am on antie depression tabs see concealer nothing works


  5. Heartbreaking after reading the comments , i got away i kicked and screamed to do it , dont answer any calls from unknown nums unknown numbers ring out every few weeks usually when im feeling fearfull i block them , it weirdly drove past me today in a back street( couldnt believe it )? as i was out on a walk it waved…, I just put my head down … I didnt need it … I wish rather pray it will move away from my area but why would he ?!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My marriage is slowing destroying me and yet I can’t leave. The thought of leaving him scares me because I know the great deal of emotional burden I would bring into my life. It would be like feeling the way I do on the days his abusive as it’s peak everyday even without being submerged in this presence. I would miss him and my life would probably revolve around obsessing over his every life move. I would not be able to stand seeing my husband with anyone else because I know when he isn’t being abusive he is the man I fell in love with…at least somewhat. As much as I want our marriage I also wanna move forward and better my life. I am on the verge of losing my job because I keep finding myself in low spells that keep me in bed instead to of motivating me to get up and do what I have to do. I’m currently in bed missing a day of work because I am so weighed down by hurt and emotional burden and not to mention physical pain. I took several blows to spine yesterday because I mad my husband mad. I should not have started crying by its hard not to when the emotional abuse is the pre factor before any physical abuse. My husband always gets angry whenever my my mood swings from high to low. But would does he expect? I see a therapist twice a month and am struggling with depression and I’m almost pretty positive the abuse is what has my marbles all out of whack. I want so badly to have my independence back and my happiness. I want my husband to love me and treat the right way but I know that would only mean beating the odds. How can I be so aware of the type of situation I’m in and still not want to make the necessary efforts to leave? Why do I still try knowing its a viscous never ending cycle that will only continue unless I leave? I swear before we married he seemed perfect and almost made up for the horrible failed relationships of the past….but all that changed…Its almost like he help built me back up and now he wants to destroy me…that’s if he hasn’t already.


    • Hi Ashlynn. I totally get you. I felt that way too. Deciding to leave was the hardest decision, and it hurt a great deal. But two years later, I’m very glad I did because my life is now back on track, I’m healing, and I am hugely happier without him in my life. You can check out how it was for me in my post,

      I think you are stronger than you imagine, so please don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself for the abuse, as you seem to be doing. It’s not your fault, it’s your husband’s fault because he chooses to abuse. It is never too late for you to use the deep power that you have to secure a safe and healthy life for yourself, and you don’t have to do it alone. Please reach out for help. This can get better.


  7. I posted back at the end of October! Wow it’s been over 2 months and I have stuck to no contact w/ my now Ex-H.
    “Avalanche of the soul” is the perfect discription of your soul while in an abusive relationship as well as the process of leaving and figuring out who you are and who you want to be.
    Your words and the posts of others who have experienced a similar journey have been so helpful. It is NOT easy but so worth it. Life is getting better. My 4 kids and I are no longer living in fear of explosions. We are no longer begging for attention from a narcissist.
    I thank God everyday that I have not folded and allowed him back! The restraining order for myself and kids has been a blessing. Everyday I remind myself how worthy, strong and resilient I am. It’s hard to not beat myself up for not leaving sooner but I recognize the cycle now and the patterns of the abuser. It’s tough to break the conditioning the takes place in 20 years of manipulation, mental, emotional and physical abuse but it IS possible!
    I am proof of that! -God Bless-


    • I posted back at the end of October! Posted under “Taylor”
      Wow it’s been over 2 months and I have stuck to no contact w/ my now Ex-H.
      “Avalanche of the soul” is the perfect discription of your soul while in an abusive relationship as well as the process of leaving and figuring out who you are and who you want to be.
      Your words and the posts of others who have experienced a similar journey have been so helpful. It is NOT easy but so worth it. Life is getting better. My 4 kids and I are no longer living in fear of explosions. We are no longer begging for attention from a narcissist.
      I thank God everyday that I have not folded and allowed him back! The restraining order for myself and kids has been a blessing. Everyday I remind myself how worthy, strong and resilient I am. It’s hard to not beat myself up for not leaving sooner but I recognize the cycle now and the patterns of the abuser. It’s tough to break the conditioning the takes place in 20 years of manipulation, mental, emotional and physical abuse but it IS possible!
      I am proof of that! -God Bless-


  8. It took two years to leave and u was only with him for a year and a half he put me through hell! I met him shortly after separating from my husband. The extreme intense deal he did to me was so bizarre! Full on psychopath and it was like hell getting away. I moved out a year ago permanently but I do still think of him. Every three months he will find a way to contact me and every time is even more emotionally desperate than the last time. I love you your my twin flame … I went to a psychic she says we are meant to be I want kids with you, I’ve found God, I am a changed person …. Let me send you $1500 , let’s be friends, I want to marry you…. There is no limit he is so goddam creepy and such a mind f$&!


    • So sorry you went through all that, and still going through his hoovering attempts.

      I wasn’t with him for a year and a half. That length of time is how long it took me to leave him finally – after many attempts to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OMG I know it does take many attempts he can’t act like everything I ever wanted…It actually helped me in some other soulful ways it forced me to really make some big life changes I had been to afraid to make. I’m sure mine will come back when I’m doing really well I’m sure it will be some big huge thing. He stalks me online and tries to piss me off and intimidate me …


  9. Why is it always “he ” when talking about that type? There is way more men being victims than women in those relationships. … it should be he/she ….


  10. Pingback: TRAUMA BONDING - Signs it may be holding you back. - The Minds Journal·

  11. I just left my boyfriend- again. This makes 6 times or so. I was a 59 year old recent widow when we found each other online. I picked him so he wasn’t the one who looked for me. He was so loving and supportive and have so much effort to help me with all of the difficult things I had to deal with. We were intimate quickly. A bit of a surprise to me as I didn’t have that kind of values. He treated me like a princess and even mentioned the possibility of marriage eventually. We started living together and even moved to another state. We worked very hard to rehabilitate some properties and so the nastiness began. I was called stupid and yelled at. Occasionally in public. I was called an airhead, though I had been a professional woman with a successful business so I was clearly not lacking in intelligence. The sex was good then it became more demanding and more about him. I left multiple times but always gave in to my pain and loneliness and his apologies. This time I mean to stay away. I realize that the man I thought I loved doesn’t really exist and that I will die emotionally if I go back. I’m reading everything I can to help me understand and stay strong. But I’m
    Still scared I will choose to go back again. What else can I do to stay strong?


  12. Pingback: 3 major signs you’re in a trauma bond – Parental Alienation's Dirty Secrets , Akin to Domestic Violence 40 yrs ago·

  13. I was married to him for 12 years. I loved him completely. He totally captured me heart and soul. He was so practiced at being a Narcissist, he could have been a great actor. I was not brave enough to leave him as I did not know anything about NPD. he had convinced me I was crazy. He would abuse me emotionally then reel me back in with loving words over and over again. I started avoiding him and stayed in the bedroom isolating myself. When I started to lean on God instead of him, he kicked me out and moved in my long time best friend and spun his “magic” on her. In the end, he literally drove me to my knees sobbing by shouting out all my secrets I had confided over the years. He only stopped when my former best friend stepped in to stop him. The damage he did to me took me 5 years and an attempted suicide to break free. But I am feeling more like my (before I met him) old self. I know I will never be the same as I used to be as a confident, sassy, feisty woman with a clear sense of self. But I finally have some peace and a new best girlfriend who I let in. That was so unlike me, to let anyone that close again, that when I did, I knew I was on my way to healing. When he kicked me out, I had nowhere to go, no job (I couldn’t work for 4 years), and estranged from my only daughter who he drove away. But I got down on my knees and surrendered to God for help. And he did. I had a place to live, a job and a church in less than a month. Unfortunately, I still was a mess and continued to be so for about 5 more years. The damage was so complete and I was living with a stranger (myself). I’ve had to remake myself and slowly have done so. I had tremendous disgust in myself for being so fooled for so long. For not seeing or understanding what was right there in front of my eyes. For not realizing that it was he who was making me into an insane person. I really credit the words in the song “This is my FIGHT song. Take back my LIFE song”. In hearing that, something just clicked inside of me. I admitted I was so tired of being a former shadow of my old self and I was OVER IT!!! Took me long enough. And sometimes I do slide back a little. Even knowing what I know now. But it feels good to know absolutely that he could walk on his teeth to crawl back to me and I would slam the door in his face. Give yourself time to grieve but not too long. He/she isn’t worth it and you are still under his/her control if you let them “ruin” your life. Take back your life and make it better. YOLO. (You only live once).


    • > I know I will never be the same as I used to be as a confident, sassy, feisty woman with a clear sense of self.

      Yes, you will. You will be a confident, sassy, feisty woman with a clear sense of self AND A MIGHTY BULLSHIT DETECTOR. You’re going to be even MORE awesome, because you’re a survivor, and you’ve learned a hell of a lot. Give your badass self a high five 🙂


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