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Trauma-bonding is a term used to describe a toxic relationship which involves abuse. The term “abuser loyalty” is used to describe the tendency of someone who is abused to remain loyal to their abuser. Trauma-bonding refers to the attachment someone has to the relationship which includes abuse. Most often, trauma-bonding refers to psychological abuse, like emotional abuse, as opposed to physical abuse.

Denial is a strong component of a relationship built on the bondage of trauma caused within the relationship. The dynamics of abuse are two-fold. One partner is the abuser and gives justification as to why they abuse their partner, though they do not see it as abuses. The other partner justifies the abusive partner, either in denial that there is abusive behavior or acting deserving of the abusive behavior.

Signs of trauma-bonding attachment:

Arguments rarely vary. Because the relationship becomes formed on patterns, the pattern of traumatic abuse tends to repeat itself. Trauma-bonded relationships cannot move past the same topic of argument.  Outsiders to the relationship will wonder why those who are in the relationship stay in the relationship. Most often, the partners in the relationship feel that they have to be in that relationship. They may feel the partner needs them, they won’t be able to survive without them, or have other false delusions.The abusive partner may make promises to change their behavior and no longer regress to forms of abuse. These changes or any actions toward changes, never happen. However, the partner being abused will maintain hope, and express the hope to others, that the abusive partner will change.The partner being abused is in deep denial, unaware that they are in an abusive dynamic where they are the person being abused. Any kind of side effects of their trauma will have different causes- never coming back to their partner who is abusive.Elements of delusion can stem beyond fears of what life would be like without the relationship. One or both of the partners may experience a level of depersonalization or derealization, becoming completely detached from reality. Consumed by the abusive toxicity of the relationship, they cannot see the true dynamics of the situation or that there are other options in life.

If you are in an abusive relationship and need help getting out, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1−800−799−7233

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