Skip to main content

When we go through serious emotional manipulation or ab*se of any kind sometimes we end up being more attached to our manipulator than we would like to admit. This is because of something known as trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding is a problem that lots of people stuck in toxic relationships face. They are seeing the things they’re going through as love rather than a real problem and blaming themselves for the dangerous/damaging outbursts that come from the manipulator. Because these people are trapped in a cycle they overlook the abuse and rather than taking it as being manipulated or hurt they see it as their partner showing his or her caring side. While that might sound a bit sick, it is quite true.

In regards to trauma bonding Psych Central wrote as follows on their website:

Trauma bonding refers to the attachment bond that is created through repeated abusive or traumatic childhood experiences with the caregiver, whereby this relationship pattern becomes internalized as a learned pattern of behavior for attachment.

If you experienced manipulation from a caregiver who also loved you, then you learned to associate love with ab*se. This became the template for how you learned to relate to others and form relationships. So, you expect that in order to feel loved you get abused. Abuse feels like love, and often many become attached to their abusers to feel loved in this way. This is how it works.

Imagine you were abused for being noncompliant as a child, so you are left feeling abandoned and unworthy. In order to attach to the abuser, you learned to meet their needs and make them happy and you received love and approval. This became your equation for love. So, you learned to please your abuser in order to receive the love you wanted.

If you were abused as a child, you protected your relationship with the parent by preserving the notion of the ‘good parent’, pushing down feelings of anger or hurt towards your parent in order to feel loved or attached. You protected yourself by burying these feelings and internalizing that there was something wrong with you for upsetting your parents. So, you came to believe that it was all your fault, you are bad, naughty and must make it up to them in order to feel loved and good enough. Well, this template is now how you see yourself in relationships with others.

You see yourself as ‘bad’ and deserving of punishment, so you must be ‘good’ to get the love you want. You end up attracting ab*sive partners, with the wish to be good enough for them, so you get the love and approval you’re looking for.

Just because you do not feel like you’re good enough or like you’re doing the best you could does not mean you deserve to be treated badly. Just because the good moments are great doesn’t mean that the bad moments are not damaging at all. Minimizing the abuse you’re facing is only going to cause more problems than it is worse in the long-run. 

This cycle of abuse is one that you can break if you truly take the initiative. Love shouldn’t be so damaging and on a core level, you already know that whether you’re willing to accept it now or not. Just because you’re attached to the person who is hurting you does not mean you have to stay with them. 

For tips on how to leave someone even though you have this type of trauma bond and toxic dynamic before you please check out the video below. If you work to understand things better and work to heal yourself you will be able to get out of the situation. You deserve someone who isn’t going to abuse you and that is not something you should ever compromise on.