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Trauma bonding is loyalty to a person who is destructive. While the idea of bonding tends to bring up connotations of something good and beneficial, trauma bonds are unhealthy. Usually trauma bonds occur in relationships involving inconsistent reinforcement, such as those with addicts and alcoholics or in domestic violence situations. Dysfunctional marriages also cause trauma bonds because there is always a time when things seem to be “normal.” Other types of relationships involving trauma bonds include cult-like religious organizations, kidnapping and hostage situations, those involving child abuse or incest, and unhealthy work environments.
The environment necessary to create a trauma bond involves intensity, complexity, inconsistency, and a promise. Victims stay because they are holding on to that elusive “promise” or hope. There is always manipulation involved. Victims are prey to the manipulation because they are willing to tolerate anything for the payoff, which is that elusive promise and ever present hope for fulfillment of some deeply personal need within the victim.
So often, those in a traumatic relationship are “looking right at it, but can’t see it.” Only after time away from the unhealthy attachment can a person begin to see the destruction it caused. In essence, people need to “detox” from trauma bonds by breaking them and staying away from the relationship.
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