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Articles on trauma

Trauma Bonding

Isabelle Frazier

Trauma Bonding

“A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself — to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

My name is Isabelle Frazier, CRNP.  I am a healthcare professional. I have recently released my book “Trauma-Bonding: Escape the Control”.  I have experienced trauma-bonding and witnessed it in many of my patients. My familiarity with trauma-bonding has given me an eagerness for helping those in trauma-bonded situations to move past these damaging relationships and begin the healing process from the turmoil created while in a trauma bond.

Trauma-bonding is a term that was first coined in 1997 by Patrick Carnes PhD, CAS to describe the reasons behind an individual's continued involvement in abusive, harmful relationships with those who are mistreating and causing them trauma  (Can You Develop a Trauma Bond Attachment as a Result of Abuse? | Psychology Today, n.d.).  Trauma-bonded relationships have been in existence since the start of time, but the labeling & classification of these relationships has helped to shed awareness that these bonds are all too common and are extremely harmful.  

Trauma-bonding typically starts as, what seems to be, an ordinary relationship.  Those influencing the trauma start by what is called “love-bombing” which is how the relationship develops. After the partner develops feelings for the other partner in the relationship, red flags start to present.  The partner influencing trauma may start acting in a jealous manner or placing limitations (physical, emotional, familial or monetary) on the other person.  Typically these instances start as mild but progress as the relationship progresses.  An outsider's perspective would rationalize that if these behaviors are escalating, why doesn’t the partner at the receiving end, leave the relationship?  In a relationship where these misgrievances occur and the other partner voices an opinion that these behaviors should stop; apologies and promises of change follow.  This is how the bond develops.  

For example, Samantha and Brad met at a party of a mutual friend and were instantly attracted to each other.  They started dating and Brad was “amazing”.  Samantha and Brad spent long hours talking, Brad sent flowers to Samantha’s work, and they had many romantic dates.  Five months into the relationship, Brad started demonstrating jealous behaviors towards Samantha’s other friends, particularly other male friends.  Samantha would argue that her friendships are valuable to her and that she wants to maintain those relationships.  When Samantha had voiced her opinions about her feelings, Brad would apologize and promise to change.  He would show up at their next date with renewed attention and suave; and Samantha forgave all.  A month later, Brad insisted that Samantha cancel her dinner with a male coworker that she had been friends with for years.  When Samantha refused, Brad became angry and their first argument ensued.  After several days of tension and little communication, Brad showed up at Samantha’s apartment with flowers and a handwritten letter again promising to change.  Brad seemed so sincere and apologetic and Samantha felt that she could help Brad to see the error of his ways and encourage better behavior.  Samantha continued with the relationship despite feelings of reluctance on her part and because she felt she loved Brad. At this point in the relationship,the trauma bond has started to develop and with each cycle of verbal abuse and apologies, the bond grows stronger.  

Many trauma-bonded relationships often progress to physical abuse as well as verbal & mental abuse.

The example of Samantha and Brad demonstrates how easy it is to fall into a trauma-bonded situation.  Why people in these situations stay, often for decades, in relationships like these is harder to understand.  The influence and power Brad has over Samantha triggers chemical changes in the brain that influence our feelings and behaviors.  These changes in brain chemistry as well as other factors work towards justification in why an abused individual in a trauma-bonded relationship finds it so difficult to leave. Outside influences such as societal pressures, children, financial influence, lack of judicial support, and religious obligation all create what seems to be an impossible situation to get out of.

In most trauma-bonded relationships the partner implementing the abuse has narcissistic qualities. An excessively elevated sense of self-importance is a mental health symptom of narcissistic personality disorder. They desire to be admired and require excessive attention. Individuals suffering from this illness might not be able to comprehend or care about other people's sentiments. Beneath this outward display of great confidence, though, lies a lack of self-worth that makes them quickly agitated by the smallest criticism. Problems with relationships, job, education, and finances are just a few of the areas in life where a narcissistic personality disorder can bring issues. When they don't receive the particular treatment or recognition they feel they are due, people with narcissistic personality disorder may feel generally sad and disappointed. People might not want to be around them, and they could find their relationships difficult and unfulfilling. (Mayo Clinic, 2017)

“Trauma-Bonding: Escape the Control” is an easy to follow guide that helps those in trauma-bonded relationships, family and friends of trauma-bonded individuals, and healthcare providers in many ways.  This helpful resource identifies exactly what trauma-bonding is & how to recognize it.  In “Trauma-Bonding: Escape the Control”, you will learn the science behind trauma-bonding and why it is easy to fall into this type of relationship and why it is so hard to leave. Identifying a narcissist and why they demonstrate the behaviors they do, is also explained in this book.  Seven easy steps are presented to help those in a trauma-bonded relationship work to get out of these precarious situations and learn how to break the cycle of hidden abuse.  Guidance on how to once again love yourself & find lasting peace & acceptance is also laid out in this book.

 If you are interested in reading the book "Trauma-Bonding: Escape the Control”, you can find it on Amazon in ebook, paperback and hardback.  

Denzel Washington once said “At the end, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” 

This quote is my ultimate goal is to help those in a Trauma-bonded relationship experience freedom.  There are many books out there about trauma-bonding but YOUR review can help victims make a choice.


Can You Develop a Trauma Bond Attachment as a Result of Abuse?. Psychology Today. (n.d.). Www.psychologytoday.com. Retrieved October 27, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-who-stray/202210/can-you-develop-trauma-bond-attachment-result-abuse#:~:text=In%201997%2C%20Patrick%20Carnes%2C%20the%20psychologist%20who%20largely

Mayo Clinic. (2017, November 18). Narcissistic personality disorder - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662