• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us independent and available freely to the world. MyPTSD closes if we can't reach our annual goal.

What are trauma bonds?

KayW

Confident
This may seem a stupid question, but I was diagnosed years ago and I'm only just starting to come across this term... It seems to being used more frequently lately.

My main difficulty in the world is forming healthy relationships, so I figured I may learn something by understanding what trauma bonding means.

So what is it? What does it look like in reality?
 
Typically, it means becoming attached (emotionally) to a person who is abusing you, or has abused you.
&/Or someone that you went through trauma with. Siblings or a parent in abuse, friends/fireteams combat, survivors or SAR in natural disasters, etc. With pre-existing bonds, or no bond until “this”. SNAPPED into place, instantaneously, or layered/woven slowly over long periods of time, or both.

I was diagnosed years ago and I'm only just starting to come across this term... It seems to being used more frequently lately.
The academic world has only been studying them recently, even though people who’ve been through hell have been writing about them for thousands of years.

In previous decades you’d mostly have heard them described by academics as either “syndromes”; Battered wife syndrome, Stockholm syndrome, etc. (if “bad”) and “bonds” (if “good”)… like the bond between soldiers. But? As academics are finally beginning to realize that these bonds are freaking complicated, and neither all good nor all bad, but instead? The unifying / common denominator is trauma?

Et Voila! “Trauma Bonds” become the umbrella term for all of them.
 
Last edited:
the question doesn't sound stupid to me, kay. i'm questioning with you. seems like forever ago when i started studying the phenom and i still don't quite get it, though now that you mention it, i may have begun the study under a different name. "family dynamics?"
So what is it? What does it look like in reality?
if my ifs are in alignment, my own case looks something like this:

i shared my childhood trauma with 10 siblings. it's tough to look anybody in the face the day after trauma. when forced, the contact is likely to bring forth the emotional floods attached. trauma was a daily fact of life for the 11 of us. we spent most of our childhoods between the extremes of avoidance and violence. the trauma bonds. i was a natural born runner and my personal avoidance was to run. allot. there has been psycho debate on whether i can say i was a feral child because i spent more time in farm fields. etc., than at home. we moved so often that "home" remains a vague concept to me.

fast forward half a century and that childhood conditioning follows me everywhere i go. i don't crave what is good for me. i crave what feels like home. what feels like home is that space between avoidance and violence. i'm still not great with long-term relationships, but with awareness and mindfulness i can work on dealing more often than assuming and/or running.
 
Thank you for all the replies, it makes more sense now.

It's good that academics are catching up. I think the problematic syndrome has always lay in people that haven't experienced abuse not understanding the complexity of relationships.

One of the difficult things for me, is that there are happy memories in those relationships and it can feel like as soon as I admit that there was any violence or other abuse, the happy memories all seem false or delusional.
 
and it can feel like as soon as I admit that there was any violence or other abuse, the happy memories all seem false or delusional
And immediately distrust normal &/or happy moments in good relationships. Because… of course… the other shoe is about to drop.

Except? In “normal” / good relationships? It never does. And the pressure of waiting? Is more intolerable than the actual blowup. So? The attempts to provoke the bad. To find out, how bad? And? In what ways? Sabotaging/killing good relationships. That would NEVER result in what we’re waiting for. Catch 22.
 
And immediately distrust normal &/or happy moments in good relationships. Because… of course… the other shoe is about to drop.
Oh yes, 100%
Except? In “normal” / good relationships? It never does. And the pressure of waiting? Is more intolerable than the actual blowup.
I tend to back off and don't let anyone get close enough to form a relationship. I get scared because in the past when people have shown affection, the needy child responds by excusing or being blind to smaller abuses because she's so needy for the affection. I think this is the complicating factor of trauma bonding as an adult. When it becomes life threatening, a different part kicks in and I'm shocked at how I've let it all happen.

In therapy, when I pulled away or pushed my therapist away, they were still there, or when I felt that I wasn't doing well enough for them or that they had had enough of me, they were still there and when I was ready to trust them again, they were still there. I'm hopeful that that has shown me what a good healthy relationship should feel like.
 
It's also where two unhealthy people find resonance together based on their shared trauma and try to have a relationship based off that not realizing there creating more problems because they havent healed from their trauma
 
Back
Top