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Understanding Trauma Bonding

Trauma bonding is a psychological response to abuse, where the person being mistreated feels a strong emotional attachment to their abuser. It’s most common in situations involving continuous cycles of abuse, where there are intermittent periods of reward (kindness, affection, promises of change) amidst the abuse and manipulation.

This term was first introduced by Patrick Carnes, who describes it as “the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.” It’s often observed in abusive romantic relationships, but can also occur in platonic relationships, family relationships, or situations with repeated harassment or bullying.

Understanding trauma bonding is crucial because it can help individuals recognize unhealthy patterns in their relationships. It can explain why someone may find it hard to leave an abusive relationship, often feeling trapped and powerless. This awareness can be the first step towards seeking help and breaking free from the cycle of abuse.

If you begin to notice signs of trauma bonding in your relationships, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Reach out to a professional: Therapists, counselors, and psychologists are trained to deal with situations like these. They can provide you with the necessary tools and coping mechanisms to deal with trauma bonding.

  2. Talk to someone you trust: It’s important to not isolate yourself. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support and help you take practical steps to protect yourself.

  3. Educate yourself: Learn more about trauma bonding, abusive relationships, and emotional manipulation. Understanding the dynamics of these relationships can help you understand what’s happening and why it’s not your fault.

  4. Create a safety plan: If you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s important to have a plan to protect yourself. This could involve finding a safe place to stay, securing financial resources, and knowing who to call in an emergency.

  5. Practice self-care: Dealing with trauma bonding can be emotionally draining. Prioritize your own well-being. This can involve regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient rest, and engaging in activities that you enjoy and that can help relieve stress.

Remember, it’s important to seek professional help if you believe you’re in a trauma bond. It’s not easy to break free from these kinds of relationships, but with the right help and support, it’s absolutely possible.

Trauma Bonding Test

Trauma Bonding Test

Answer 'Yes' if you agree with the statement, 'No' if you disagree:

1. You find it difficult to leave relationships, even when they're harmful.

Yes
No


2. You often feel a strong sense of loyalty towards people who hurt you.

Yes
No


3. You often find yourself justifying your partner's harmful behaviors.

Yes
No


4. You have difficulty recognizing abuse or mistreatment in your relationships.

Yes
No


5. You often feel a strong emotional attachment to people who cause you pain.

Yes
No


6. You feel a sense of relief or calm when a harmful person re-enters your life.

Yes
No


7. You feel anxious or fearful when you think about leaving a harmful relationship.

Yes
No


8. You believe that if you can just endure the harm, things will get better.

Yes
No


9. You often find yourself in relationships with people who need to be 'rescued' or 'fixed'.

Yes
No


10. You often feel trapped in your relationships, as if there's no way out.

Yes
No



Remember, if you or someone else believe you may be in a trauma bond or abusive relationship, it's important to seek professional help. This questionnaire is a very basic tool and does not substitute for professional advice.

Here are several UK-based resources for those who may be experiencing trauma bonding, domestic abuse, or other forms of harmful relationships:

  1. National Domestic Abuse Helpline: Run by Refuge, this is a free, 24-hour helpline. The number is 0808 2000 247. Visit their website at Refuge.

  2. Women’s Aid: This organization provides a wealth of resources for women experiencing domestic abuse, including an online chat service. Visit their website at Women’s Aid.

  3. Mankind UK: This is a confidential helpline for all men across the UK affected by domestic violence or domestic abuse. The number is 01823 334244. Visit their website at Mankind UK.

  4. Galop: This is a national LGBT+ domestic abuse helpline. The number is 0800 999 5428. Visit their website at Galop.

  5. Samaritans: If you’re feeling distressed and need someone to talk to, you can call Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123. Visit their website at Samaritans.

  6. Respect: They operate a helpline for anyone worried about their own behaviour towards their partner. The number is 0808 802 4040. Visit their website at Respect.

  7. NHS: The NHS website has a page dedicated to advice and support for those experiencing domestic abuse. Visit their website at NHS – Domestic abuse.

Remember, if you’re in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you’re unable to talk, you can use the Silent Solution system: call 999 and then press 55 when prompted.

These organizations can provide you with the help and support you need to navigate your situation. It’s important to reach out and speak to someone who can help if you believe you’re in a trauma bond or abusive relationship.

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