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  • Brent Woods, MA, LPC

The Reality Behind Trauma Bonding: What You Need to Know

Trauma bonding is a form of psychological attachment that occurs between two people who are exposed to trauma together. It is often seen between people who have been victims of violence or abuse, or who have a history of mental health issues.


Trauma bonding can be described as mutually dependent relationships between two people who share a history of suffering. In trauma bonding, both parties feel obligated to stay together, even in the face of great pain and suffering. This type of bonding often occurs in survivor groups, families with a history of abuse, and other situations where people have experienced traumatic events. When a person experiences trauma, their body releases hormones such as oxytocin and cortisol that create an intense bond between them and their abuser. This bond can be particularly intense in victims of severe trauma, such as sexual assault. It is often referred to as "trauma-induced bonding" and can last long after the trauma has ended.


The effects of trauma bonding can last well into the future. Victims of trauma often struggle with feeling a close connection to the person that caused them harm, even though the relationship may have been harmful. This is why professionals say it is essential for survivors of trauma to seek trauma-informed care, such as therapy, which can help them heal from the past trauma and understand the process of trauma bonding.


Therapy can address the effects of trauma bonding in several ways. First, therapists can help to break the cycle of trauma bonding by challenging thoughts and beliefs that stem from it. They can also help to increase self-awareness so the survivor can make better decisions about the current situation and relationships. Additionally, therapy can be used to gain insight into why the trauma bonding occurred, so the survivor can better understand how to break free of it.


Ultimately, understanding trauma bonding is important in order to understand how to deal with traumatic experiences. Trauma bonding must be taken seriously in order to facilitate healing and ensure that future relationships are healthy and safe. Therapists that are trauma-informed and use evidence-based treatments are an important resource in helping survivors learn to cope and heal.

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