Although it may be virtually impossible for anyone who hasn’t been in an abusive relationship to genuinely comprehend why any human being would want to stay in one (or get back into one), individuals who have experienced trauma bonding can easily understand this unique phenomenon. Trauma bonding occurs when someone in an abusive relationship actually bonds with their partner when they abuse them; more specifically, it explains that bonding occurs when people spend time together whether the experiences themselves are positive or negative.
This type of bonding is a physiological reaction which closely resembles addiction; in fact, it can be so strong that the person being abused may not even realize that they are being abused—especially if the abuse is emotional (or emotional in addition to physical). Abuse can begin as a slight insult and quickly or eventually evolve into significant mental, emotional, or even physical abuse, so it’s vital to be able to observe the signs of it in your own relationships and in the relationships of others. Please read the following list so you’ll be able to spot these signs more efficiently and effectively, for the good of everyone you ever interact with—including yourself.
#1: One partner often makes excuses for why they abuse the other, and one partner frequently makes excuses for why they deserve to be abused.
#2: One partner truly feels as though their life would be over if they weren’t in a relationship with the other partner.
#3: It literally pains one partner to be away from the other for too long.
#4: One partner feels as though they have to remain in a relationship with the other partner.
#5: A partner frequently promises to change their ways and improve themselves, but they never do—yet their partner continues to genuinely believe that they will change, and that things really will get better.
#6: It seems like one person is actually living in an alternative reality where common sense and perception is different from those of actual reality.
“Trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality and challenging belief.”—Jane Leavy
#7: One partner might be basing the relationship on something other than love.
“They say that love is blind, but I say it’s trauma that’s blind. Love sees what is.”—Neil Strauss
#8: One partner is clearly in denial of the fact that they are suffering from being traumatized.
“Until the legacy of remembered and re-enacted trauma is taken seriously, black America cannot heal.”—Bell Hooks
#9: Aside from refusing to acknowledge that they are being traumatized, one partner will also refuse to acknowledge or process the reality internally, mentally, and emotionally.
“I think the thumb print on the throat of many people is childhood trauma that goes unprocessed and unrecognized.”—Tom Hooper
#10: One partner is acting in the most productive way possible, but it’s still ineffective because the other partner is so negative and unproductive.
#11: Many people around a particular person feel as though their partner treats them atrociously, but that person themselves perceives the treatment to be entirely normal.
#12: A couple has almost the exact same disagreement or fight over almost the exact same thing on a regular basis.
#13: A partner actually brainstorms ways that might cause their partner to abuse them less than they already do.
#14: A relationship is “on-again off-again” on a yearly, monthly, weekly, or sometimes even on a daily basis.
“The American foreign policy trauma of the sixties and seventies was caused by applying valid principles to unsuitable conditions.”—Henry Kissinger
If you or someone you know seems to be stuck in this kind of relationship, get help.