At SHALVA, we often emphasize that if a relationship was abusive all the time, if someone was horrible to their partner from the beginning, it would be much easier for someone to identify that they are in a bad situation and want to get out. This is not how most abusive relationships work.
As one SHALVA client shared,
“I had been to so many therapists. We even tried couples counseling, but it seemed that no one could help our relationship. It was so hard to put into words what was happening in our home. My partner’s unpredictable behavior, sometimes loving, sometimes furiously angry, made it so difficult to explain. I believed I was going crazy.”
What is trauma bonding?
Trauma bonding, the bond someone feels towards their partner who is perpetrating abuse, is often the result of these roller-coaster emotions in a relationship. People can’t control this attachment. Our brains are wired through our fight or flight response to get through traumatic experiences (like an incident of abuse) by seeking comfort and sometimes, yes, that is from the very person who has harmed us.
Signs of trauma bonding
Things to look for:
- You are keeping secrets from your friends or loved ones about what is going on in your relationship, to protect your partner.
- You find yourself defending your partner’s actions to others
- You keep trying to make sense of the situation
- Your friends say they are worried about you
- You work hard to remind yourself that your partner loves you
- You get fearful when you think about breaking up or leaving the relationship.
- You blame yourself for their behavior.
In the words of a client
“My therapist at SHALVA explained how this on again/off again behavior actually caused me to feel more dependent on my partner, and she helped me recognize the effects of verbal and emotional abuse. Having a safe space where I was heard and validated was life changing. She was patient, kind, and most of all helped me move forward.”
Find hope here
Call us today at (773) 583-HOPE (4673) if this sounds like your relationship and you are looking for support.