7 Stages of Trauma Bonding
When it comes to relationships, it’s important to be aware of how quickly we can go from feeling infatuated with someone to feeling dependent on them. This phenomenon is known as trauma bonding and it occurs in seven distinct stages. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the 7 stages of trauma bonding, from infatuation to dependence, and what it can look like in a relationship.
1. Separation Anxiety
The first stage of trauma bonding is Separation Anxiety. At this stage, you have already established a deep emotional connection with your partner, but you are still able to separate from them without feeling an overwhelming sense of panic. However, you may start to feel uneasy and anxious when they are not around, leading to a strong desire to stay in touch with them.
This anxiety could be triggered by something as simple as a missed phone call or delayed response to a message. You may find yourself constantly checking your phone, anticipating their next move, or becoming worried about their safety. You start to crave their presence, wanting to be around them all the time.
It is essential to recognize these feelings of separation anxiety early on, as it could indicate the beginning of a pattern of unhealthy emotional dependence and the 7 stages of trauma bonding. Remember that a healthy relationship should allow for personal space and independence. If you feel like you cannot function without your partner, it’s time to reassess the relationship and seek professional help if necessary.
2. Blaming and Criticism
During this stage, the abuser begins to criticize and blame their partner for every mistake and shortcoming. They might even twist things around and make the victim feel like they are the cause of the abuse. This manipulation is a tactic that makes the victim feel powerless and isolated.
It is common for the victim to feel like they need to please their abuser to avoid the blame and criticism. They may become hyper-vigilant and try to anticipate their partner’s needs, but nothing seems to be good enough. The victim might even start to believe the abuser’s negative comments and develop low self-esteem.
The abuser’s goal during this stage is to take away their victim’s sense of worth and independence. They want their partner to feel dependent on them and that they can’t live without them. This creates the perfect environment for the next stage of trauma bonding – obsession.
3. Love Bombing
Love bombing is one of the key stages of trauma bonding, where the abuser shows intense affection, attention, and showering of love on the victim. The victim is swept off their feet, with lavish gifts, extravagant dates, constant compliments, and praises.
The abuser’s actions can be overwhelming and sometimes suffocating, as they use the love bombing phase to gain complete control over their victim’s life. Love bombing is designed to create a false sense of security and dependency in the victim.
As a result of this intense attention, victims often feel as if they have found their soulmate and become completely smitten with the abuser. They overlook any red flags, including the abuser’s controlling and possessive behaviors, which may have been disguised as affection.
During this stage, the abuser may also manipulate their victim into cutting off contact with friends and family members, ensuring that they become their only source of love and affection.
Love bombing can be addictive and give victims an incredible high. However, this is often short-lived, as the abuser’s behavior will soon change and transition into the next stage of trauma bonding.
The abuser may use this obsession to manipulate the victim further, making them believe that they cannot survive without them. This can lead to an increased sense of co-dependency, as the victim becomes more reliant on the abuser for their emotional well-being.
Breaking free from the obsession stage of trauma bonding can be difficult, but it is possible with support and professional help. Recognizing the patterns of abuse and manipulation is the first step towards healing and moving towards a healthier relationship dynamic.
4. Sexual Intimacy
The fourth stage of trauma bonding is Sexual Intimacy. At this stage, the abuser might shower the victim with physical affection and attention, leading them to believe that they are truly loved and valued.
In many cases, the victim may begin to equate sex with love and may feel that engaging in sexual acts is a way to secure the abuser’s affection. Unfortunately, this is just another tactic used by abusers to control their victims. The abuser may use sex as a means of manipulating the victim into compliance or to keep them dependent on the relationship.
Sexual intimacy can also create a sense of vulnerability in the victim. They may begin to reveal their deepest thoughts and fears to the abuser during intimate moments. This can lead the victim to believe that they are sharing a deep connection with the abuser when in reality, the abuser is just using their vulnerability as another way to control them.
It is important for victims to recognize the dangers of sexual intimacy within a traumatic relationship. It is essential to seek help from a therapist or support group if you find yourself in this stage of trauma bonding. Remember, sexual intimacy should be based on mutual love and respect, not manipulation and control.
The fifth stage of the 7 stages of trauma bonding is co-dependency. At this point, the victim has become so attached to their abuser that they begin to rely on them for everything. They feel like they can’t live without their partner, and may even believe that their abuser is the only person who truly understands them. This creates a sense of emotional dependency that can be difficult to break.
Victims in this stage often feel like they are living in a fantasy world, where their abuser is their protector and everything they need. They may start to neglect their own needs and desires, instead focusing solely on the needs of their abuser. This can be a dangerous cycle, as the abuser will often take advantage of their victim’s emotional dependence and use it to control them.
In co-dependency, victims will often do anything to keep their abuser happy, including ignoring their own emotional, physical, and financial needs. They may become so enmeshed in the relationship that they can’t imagine leaving or even setting boundaries. The fear of abandonment is often heightened in this stage, as the victim may feel like they will lose everything if they try to break free from their abuser.
Breaking free from co-dependency can be a long and difficult process, but it is possible. It requires the victim to acknowledge that their attachment to their abuser is unhealthy and that they need to prioritize their own needs and desires. Seeking help from a therapist or support group can be helpful in working through the emotional trauma and breaking free from the cycle of abuse.
Remember, it’s important to prioritize your own well-being and safety. If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma bonding, know that help is available. You don’t have to suffer in silence or alone.
6. Fear of Abandonment
The fear of abandonment is a significant aspect of trauma bonding. People who are trauma bonded tend to fear being abandoned or rejected by their abuser or the person they have bonded with. This fear can cause them to ignore their own needs, wants, and boundaries, and they may do anything to prevent abandonment.
This fear is so strong that it may make people stay in toxic or abusive relationships even when they know that they need to leave. They may cling to the abuser or person they have bonded with, and they may put up with abusive behavior to avoid being abandoned.
The fear of abandonment may lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. People who are trauma-bonded may feel like they cannot live without the person they have bonded with, even if that person is causing them harm.
Breaking free from the fear of abandonment is a critical step in healing from trauma bonding. People need to learn to recognize that their fear is not irrational but is based on their experience of trauma. They need to learn that they can survive without the person they have bonded with and that they are worthy of love and respect.
Healing from the fear of abandonment takes time, effort, and support. It is important to seek help from a mental health professional or support group to work through these issues. With the right help and resources, it is possible to break free from the fear of abandonment and move forward with a healthier, happier life.
7. Stockholm Syndrome
The final stage the 7 stages of trauma bonding is often referred to as Stockholm Syndrome. This term was coined after a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, where the hostages began to develop a psychological bond with their captors. In cases of trauma bonding, this syndrome refers to the victim’s identification and attachment to the abuser.
Victims of trauma bonding at this stage often experience mixed emotions and confusion. They may feel both love and hatred towards their abuser. They may blame themselves for the abuse or even rationalize their abuser’s behavior. This is because the victim’s sense of reality has become warped due to the traumatic experiences they’ve endured.
Individuals who experience Stockholm Syndrome may even go to extreme lengths to protect their abuser, including lying to law enforcement and loved ones about the abuse. This can be dangerous and ultimately keep the victim trapped in an abusive relationship.
Breaking free from trauma bonding, especially in the Stockholm Syndrome stage, is not easy. It takes time and professional support to help victims realize that they are not to blame and to regain a sense of self-worth and control.
If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma bonding, please seek help from a trusted therapist or support group. No one deserves to suffer from abuse, and there is hope for a life free from it.