how to know if you’re stuck in a trauma bond... and how to get out: a thread 🧵
trigger warnings for discussions of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, gaslighting, toxic parents, childhood trauma, and codependency.

there will also be help resources at the end, including a guide on how to escape domestic abuse.

alright, let’s get started.
so... what actually *is* trauma bonding? you’ve probably seen this term thrown around online a bunch. unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about it, so i’m gonna clear up the definition first so we’re all on the same page here. see the tweet below for a clarification.
a trauma bond is a deep, psychological attachment you have to someone who has trapped you in a cycle of abuse. you can have a trauma bond with a parent, a partner, a sibling, or any other possible kind of relationship.

unfortunately, it can be difficult to know you’re in one.
to make things easier, let’s unpack the cycle of abuse and what each stage looks like.

stage 1: lovebombing

probably how the relationship started. they give you huge gifts and shower you in constant compliments. they’re kind of obsessed with you. it feels too good to be true.
stage 2: the honeymoon phase

this is a relatively calm time. everything seems to be going well! you’re becoming more comfortable with them. you feel at peace, you feel safe, and you’re starting to rely on them for emotional support and companionship. you’re officially attached.
stage 3: tensions building

things have been going really well, but suddenly you feel a sort of... distance. you two are talking less, which is making you anxious. you do what you can to make them happy again, but you can’t seem to fix it. you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
stage 4: incident of abuse

suddenly, they harm you. it’s shocking. maybe they verbally assaulted you by screaming insults, maybe they hit you during a fight, or maybe they did something sexually abusive. it shakes you to your core. you trusted them. you thought they loved you.
and this is where they apologize. they give you a big gift, or get super clingy and affectionate, shower you in compliments, and bend over backwards to make you happy...

you’re back to lovebombing.

and you’re stuck in a cycle of abuse, which will repeat itself over and over.
this kind of cycle of human interaction creates a very dark kind of bond, one based in trauma, seeking validation, self-blame, and fear. you became attached to them during the lovebombing and honeymoon stages, so by the time things get bad, you already rely on them emotionally.
when things are good, you’re so relieved. you’re making them happy. when things are bad, you blame yourself (probably because they blamed you first.) you think you didn’t do enough while tensions were rising, you didn’t make them happy, so they lashed out. you internalize this.
your abuser says you deserved it, or even scarier, they tell you that it never happened at all. that lie is called Gaslighting. it’s meant to corrode your perception of reality. if you can’t trust yourself, how can you defend yourself? how can you feel confident enough to leave?
if you’re trauma bonded to someone, you’ll feel responsible for all of their emotions and behavior. you walk on eggshells around them, desperate to make them happy or prevent them from hurting you. you hang onto their affection, their validating words, their good moods.
you rationalize their abusive behavior. you think, ‘they were just in a bad mood,’ or ‘they were right, i was the only who upset them anyway.’

this is self-gaslighting and it’s a very common trauma response. you don’t deserve abuse. nobody deserves abuse, no matter what.
if you’re in a trauma bond, you’ll be experiencing other symptoms of being abused. you might withdraw from your other relationships or have physical anxiety symptoms worsen, like frequent panic attacks. you might have trouble focusing, or feel completely numb and detached.
once you realize you’re in a trauma bond, there is hope. if this is a partner you live with, there are tons of resources to get you away safely. if this is a friendship or a partner you don’t live with, you can means to set strict boundaries and cut them off for good.
if this person is your parent, i understand how scary that is. try your best to find healthy coping skills. if the situation becomes life threatening and you’re a minor, tell an adult you trust. if you’re an adult, see if you can move in with a friend until you save some money.
the hardest part of breaking out of. trauma bond is relearning how to trust yourself and to stop relying on this person for emotional validation. you never had any control their behavior, they just made you feel that way so you’d put all your energy into trying to please them.
anyone who is causing this much pain in your life, who has you buckled into an emotional rollercoaster every day, has no authority over whether you’re a good person or not. you deserve better, and you WILL find better. validate your own emotions. you are good and always were.
traumatic bonds can take a real toll on us. we blame ourselves for how they treat us. we wait around for their mood to lift because it feels so good when they’re happy (aka when they’re treating us well.) we become reliant on the good days in order to feel stable and okay inside.
every time you go through the cycle of abuse, it reinforces a trauma bond and makes it harder to leave. that’s why you have to get out asap, whether that means learning how to set boundaries, or preparing to escape. not only for your present self, but for your future self too.
the reason why these trauma bonds are so dangerous, aside from you being in an abusive situation, is how this affects your ability to trust others in the future. gaslighting can even cause memory loss and brain fog. you struggle to remember conversations, even very hurtful ones.
if you grew up with an abusive parent, that trauma bond can stick with you. you probably walk on eggshells around everybody now, even people who have never hurt you. you feel responsible for everyone’s feelings and even the smallest change in tone can send you into a panic.
regardless of the situation you’re in or have survived, know that help is out there and you aren’t alone.

trauma bonds can be terrifying, but you still have agency. you can leave, or plan to leave as soon as you can, and then you can heal.

and i promise, you deserve to heal.
if you’d like more info on PTSD, I have a thread here on trauma responses with resources at the end for coping, treatment, and diagnosis. You might be surprised at all the things that can be trauma responses, and you might even be experiencing them while stuck in a trauma bond.
If you need immediate support, here is a website with free text and chat lines, since I know calling a hotline can be daunting. If you feel scared, unsafe, or just need support, don’t hesitate to contact one of these services. They’re there to help.…
Here is a complete guide if you’re trapped in a domestic violence situation. This one is addressed to women in an abusive relationship with a man, but it can apply to anyone. Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or type of relationship.…
Here’s another great resource for identifying if you’re being psychologically abused, since it’s typically the hardest kind to spot. You may not have bruises, but you’re still in pain. You deserve help just as much as any other victim of abuse.…
If you’re trying to cut off a person you’re trauma bonded to, setting boundaries can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Here’s a guide on what healthy boundaries are and how to learn to set them. This is important stuff for trauma recovery too.…
Here’s one more link that provides validation if you’re still feeling guilty. Guilt is the biggest obstacle to getting away from an abusive person, but remember that this kind of guilt was instilled in you to benefit THEM. It’s a manipulative lie.…
And finally, if you’d like to support the educational work I do, I’m currently fundraising for a service dog to help me with severe PTSD, chronic pain, and other conditions. Any bit of help is so appreciated, even if it’s just $1 or a simple retweet.
P.S. I should clarify that with parents, lovebombing can simply be the smallest bit of love and affection. You have to earn their love through good behavior and when they treat you bad, they blame it on your “bad behavior.” The cycle looks a little different, but is just as hard.
If you have any other questions or thread topic requests, feel free to DM me! I’m not a professional yet but I have tons of knowledge on this topic through education, both self-teaching and my college major, plus personal experience.

You’re never alone.
Stay safe, friends. 🤍

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