7 Stages of Trauma Bond: Understanding the Journey

7 Stages of Trauma Bond
7 Stages of Trauma Bond

Have you ever wondered why some people stay in toxic relationships, even when they are being subjected to traumatic experiences by their abusive partner? The answer lies in the powerful emotional connection known as trauma bonding. This phenomenon occurs when an abused person and their abusive person form a deep psychological bond that can be incredibly difficult to break.

Trauma bonding, also known as a trauma bond, occurs in toxic relationships where an abused person becomes emotionally attached to their abusive partner. This complex connection intertwines fear, love, and dependency, creating a cycle that makes it difficult for victims to escape their tormentor.

Understanding trauma bonding in the context of narcissistic abuse and physical abuse is crucial for breaking free from these destructive relationships. By recognizing the signs and dynamics of this bond, abused persons can regain control over their lives and seek healthier connections, overcoming love addiction.

So let’s dive right in and uncover the hidden complexities behind trauma bonding, unhealthy relationships, love addiction, and narcissistic abuse.

Understanding the 7 Stages

The 7 stages of trauma bond in a narcissistic abuse period describe the progression of emotional attachment with a partner. These stages provide insight into the complex dynamics that develop over time, leading to increased control and dependency for people.

  1. Early Stages: The trauma bond begins in the early stages when a toxic relationship is established between two partners. This period often involves excitement, infatuation, and a desire for closeness with the other person.

  2. First Step: As the bond deepens, the first step towards a trauma bond occurs when one person starts to exhibit controlling behaviors or manipulation tactics. This may include isolation from friends and family or subtle forms of emotional abuse.

  3. Steps Towards Trauma Bonding: In this stage, the abuser gradually escalates their control over the person’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. They may use tactics such as gaslighting or threats to maintain power and dominance.

  4. Increasing Dependency: The person victim becomes increasingly dependent on their abuser for validation, approval, and even basic needs like shelter or financial support. This dependency further strengthens the trauma bond.

  5. Trauma bonding can create a sense of obligation or guilt towards the abusive person. The victim may feel trapped and believe they are responsible for their partner’s behavior, which prevents them from leaving due to fear of retaliation.

  6. During the period of confusion, the person in an abusive relationship may question their reality and doubt their ability to leave. The abuser’s alternating love-bombing and devaluation tactics intensify the trauma bond.

  7. Breaking Free: The final stage involves recognizing the unhealthy nature of the trauma bond and taking steps towards breaking free from it. This can involve seeking professional help, building a support network, setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and ensuring the person’s well-being.

By understanding these stages, a person who has experienced trauma can gain valuable insight into their experiences and find ways to heal. It is important for the person to remember that healing takes time and support, but breaking free from a trauma bond is possible.

Love Bombing: Initial Manipulation

Love bombing is a manipulative technique used by abusers to establish an intense connection with their victims through trauma bonding. During this stage, the abuser employs emotional manipulation to quickly gain control over their target. They shower the victim with excessive attention, compliments, and gifts, creating an illusion of love and care.

7 Stages of Trauma Bond

The purpose of love bombing, a tactic used in trauma bonding, is to create a false sense of security in the victim’s mind. By overwhelming them with affection and admiration, the abuser aims to disarm any potential doubts or suspicions. This initial manipulation sets the foundation for future exploitation and control.

In the love bombing stage, abusers use various tactics, such as trauma bonding and manipulation, to manipulate their victims. Some common strategies include gaslighting and isolating the victim from their friends and family.

  • Excessive attention: The abuser bombards their target with constant messages, calls, or visits, creating a strong trauma bonding.

  • Compliments: They shower the victim with praise and flattery, creating a trauma bonding that makes them feel special and desired.

  • Abusers may use gifts or surprise gestures as a way to further captivate their target, fostering trauma bonding. These expensive presents and gestures are designed to create an emotional attachment and dependency on the abuser.

By employing these tactics of trauma bonding during love bombing, abusers create an environment where the victim feels valued and cherished. However, it is crucial to recognize that this behavior is part of a manipulative pattern rather than genuine affection.

Understanding the concept of love bombing helps individuals identify potential signs of manipulation early on in relationships. By staying vigilant and aware of these tactics, one can protect themselves from falling into a trauma bond trap.

Remember that trauma bonding does not involve overwhelming displays of affection right from the start; it grows naturally over time through mutual respect and understanding.

Trust and Dependency: Building Emotional Connection

  • Trust is established as the victim starts relying on the abuser emotionally, forming a trauma bonding.

  • Trauma bonding occurs when the abuser takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerabilities during this phase.

  • The trauma bonding and growing dependency make it increasingly difficult for victims to break away from the toxic relationship.

Emotional Bond:

  • Victims in trauma bonds develop a deep emotional connection with their abusers.

  • This bond, known as trauma bonding, often forms in romantic relationships or other close connections.


  • As victims rely on their abusers for emotional support, trust is built between them.

  • This trust can be used by the abuser to manipulate and control the victim.


  • Over time, victims become dependent on their abusers for validation, support, and meeting their emotional needs.

  • Breaking free from this dependency becomes challenging due to the strong emotional bond.

Professional Support:

  • Seeking professional help can provide victims with guidance and assistance in breaking free from a trauma bond.

  • Therapists and counselors can offer strategies to rebuild self-esteem and establish healthier relationships.

Breaking Free:

  • Recognizing the unhealthy dynamics of a trauma bond is crucial for victims to begin their journey towards healing.

  • Building a support network of trusted friends and family members can provide strength during this process.

Ending Toxic Relationships:

  • It takes courage for victims to leave toxic relationships, but it is essential for their well-being.

  • Creating boundaries, practicing self-care, and focusing on personal growth are vital steps towards breaking free from a trauma bond.

Emotional Addiction: The Allure of the Abuser

Victims of emotional abuse often develop an emotional addiction towards their abusers. This addiction stems from the intermittent reinforcement of positive experiences amidst the ongoing mistreatment they endure. Despite being subjected to psychological abuse, victims find themselves seeking validation and approval from their abusive partners.

The allure of the abuser lies in the complex emotions that arise within the victim. The abuser may occasionally display affection or kindness, creating a glimmer of hope for a loving relationship. This intermittent reinforcement fuels the victim’s addiction to seek love from someone who consistently hurts them.

As time goes on, victims become trapped in a cycle where they crave affection and validation from their abusive partners. They believe that if they can just please their abusers enough, they will finally experience the love they desire. Unfortunately, this belief is often unfounded as abusive behavior continues to persist.

This emotional addiction parallels patterns seen in drug addiction. Just like substance abuse, victims experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when separated from their abusers. They may feel anxious, depressed, or even physically ill when not receiving attention or affection from their abuser.

Being stuck in an emotionally addictive relationship can be incredibly damaging to one’s well-being. It perpetuates a toxic dynamic where mistreatment becomes normalized and healthy boundaries are eroded. Victims may struggle to recognize that they deserve better due to the strong emotional bond formed with their abuser.

It is important for individuals caught in such unhealthy relationships to seek support and escape these trauma bonds. Recognizing the allure of the abuser is crucial in breaking free from this cycle of emotional addiction and finding healthier connections with others.

Gaslighting and Manipulation: Distorting Reality

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation technique commonly employed by abusers to distort victims’ perception of reality. By distorting facts, denying events or emotions experienced by the victims, and making them doubt themselves, gaslighters gain control over their thoughts and actions.

Through gaslighting, abusers employ various tactics to manipulate their victims. They may use false promises, criticism, blame-shifting, and poor treatment to undermine the victim’s mental health and sense of self. By denying objective perspectives and avoiding logical discussions, gaslighters aim to maintain power over their victims.

The effects of gaslighting can be profound. Victims often find themselves questioning their own sanity due to the constant manipulation they endure. This can lead to changes in behavior as they strive to please the abuser or avoid further violence.

Gaslighting is a technique deeply rooted in psychology. Abusers utilize it as a means to control and dominate their victims emotionally. By distorting reality and undermining the victim’s confidence, they create an environment where the victim becomes dependent on them for validation and care.

Resignation and Submission: Losing Control

Victims of trauma bonds often find themselves in a state of resignation and submission, where they feel completely powerless and succumb to the abuser’s control. At this stage, leaving the relationship may seem impossible or come with the fear of severe consequences.

The victim’s autonomy takes a significant blow during this phase as they surrender their power to the abuser. They may believe that any attempt to regain control will only result in more conflict or worsen the situation. It is common for victims to internalize feelings of fault, believing that they are somehow responsible for the abusive behavior directed towards them.

In this state of resignation and submission, victims may experience a lot of conflicting thoughts. They might feel trapped, unable to escape from the toxic dynamic they find themselves in. The abuser’s manipulation and gaslighting tactics can make it difficult for victims to trust their own judgment or recognize the severity of the problem.

Leaving an abusive relationship requires immense strength and support. However, during this stage, victims often struggle with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. The trauma bond keeps them tethered to their abuser, making it challenging to envision life beyond the abusive situation.

It is important to understand that reaching this stage does not mean all hope is lost. With proper guidance and support systems in place, victims can gradually regain their autonomy and break free from the trauma bond. Recognizing these stages is crucial in offering appropriate assistance to those who need it most.

Loss of Self: Identity Erosion

The trauma bond inflicts a profound loss of self on its victims. In their desperate attempts to meet the needs and desires of their abuser, they inadvertently sacrifice their own identity. Their sense of self becomes entangled with the abusive relationship, making it incredibly challenging for them to envision a life without it.

As victims prioritize the well-being of their abuser over their own, they often experience a significant erosion of their personal identity. This loss manifests in various ways, including:

  • Low self-esteem: Victims may find themselves plagued by feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. The constant emotional manipulation and abuse chip away at their self-confidence, leaving them feeling diminished and powerless.

  • Confusion: The trauma bond creates a state of confusion within victims as they struggle to reconcile the love and affection they receive intermittently from their abuser with the harm inflicted upon them. This internal conflict further blurs their sense of self.

  • Difficulty making independent decisions: With their autonomy undermined by the trauma bond, victims often find it challenging to make decisions on their own. They become accustomed to relying on the approval and guidance of their abuser, losing touch with their own desires and preferences.

The loss of self experienced by those trapped in a trauma bond is deeply distressing and can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and overall well-being. Breaking free from this destructive cycle requires support, understanding, and professional help.

It is important for individuals who have experienced such trauma bonds to seek assistance from therapists or support groups that specialize in recovery from abusive relationships. Through therapy and healing processes tailored to rebuilding one’s sense of self, survivors can gradually regain control over their lives and rediscover who they truly are beyond the confines of an abusive relationship.

Signs of Emotional Addiction

  • Obsessively thinking about the abuser

  • Feeling withdrawal when apart from them

  • Constantly seeking their approval

  • Intense cravings for love and attention from the abuser

These signs indicate a deep-rooted trauma bond that requires attention and healing. Victims of emotional addiction may find themselves consumed by thoughts of their abusers, unable to focus on anything else. When they are separated from the abuser, they experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by individuals addicted to substances. The need for constant validation and approval becomes a driving force in their lives, leading them to seek out the abuser’s attention at all costs.

The intense cravings for love and attention stem from a distorted perception of what constitutes a healthy relationship. The victim may have become conditioned to equate abuse with love, believing that the pain inflicted upon them is an expression of care. This skewed understanding can make it difficult for them to break free from the cycle of emotional addiction.

Recognizing these signs is crucial in identifying and addressing a trauma bond. It is essential to understand that emotional addiction is not love; it is an unhealthy attachment rooted in manipulation and control. Healing from this bond requires professional help, support systems, and self-reflection.

By acknowledging the signs of emotional addiction, individuals can take steps towards breaking free from the cycle and finding healthier relationships based on mutual respect and genuine affection. Recovery involves unraveling the trauma bond’s grip through therapy, education, and rebuilding one’s self-esteem.

Remember that you are not alone in this journey—reach out for assistance as you navigate your way towards healing and liberation from emotional addiction.

Breaking Free from Trauma Bonds

Recognizing the abuse, seeking support, and creating a safety plan are crucial steps in breaking free from trauma bonds. Setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and gradually detaching emotionally from the abuser are essential to reclaiming one’s life.

Recognizing the Abuse

  • Acknowledge the pain and experience of being trapped in a trauma bond.

  • Understand that you deserve help and support to break free.

  • Seek professional help or join support groups where you can share your experiences.

Seeking Support

  • Reach out to trusted friends or family members who can provide emotional support.

  • Consider seeking guidance from professionals who specialize in trauma recovery.

  • Share your feelings and thoughts with others who have gone through similar experiences.

Creating a Safety Plan

  1. Assess your situation: Evaluate the risks involved in leaving the abusive relationship.

  2. Develop an escape plan: Identify safe places to go and people to contact for help.

  3. Secure important documents: Gather essential papers like identification, financial records, and legal documents.

  4. Establish a support network: Inform friends or family about your plans so they can assist you when needed.

Setting Boundaries

  • Clearly communicate your limits to the abuser regarding their behavior.

  • Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty or obligated.

  • Remove yourself from situations where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Practicing Self-Care

  • Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

  • Engage in regular exercise, meditation, or mindfulness practices to reduce stress levels.

  • Maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep to promote overall well-being.

Gradually Detaching Emotionally

  1. Reflect on past behaviors: Journal about how the trauma bond has affected your emotions and actions.

  2. Focus on personal growth: Explore hobbies, interests, and goals outside of the abusive relationship.

  3. Surround yourself with supportive friends who uplift you and encourage positive behavior.

Breaking free from trauma bonds is a challenging journey, but with support, determination, and self-care, it is possible to reclaim your life. Remember that you are not alone in this process – help is available and recovery is within reach.

Can a Trauma Bond Turn Healthy?

While trauma bonds are inherently unhealthy due to their foundation in abuse, it is possible for individuals to heal from them. With therapy, self-reflection, and time away from the abusive relationship, victims can rebuild their lives in healthier ways. However, transforming a trauma bond into a healthy connection often necessitates ending contact with the original abuser.

  • Healing from trauma bonds:

    • Therapy: Seeking professional help allows individuals to process their experiences and develop coping mechanisms.

    • Self-reflection: Engaging in introspection helps victims understand their patterns of behavior and break free from the cycle of abuse.

    • Time away: Taking a break from the abusive relationship provides space for healing and personal growth.

  • Rebuilding life in healthier ways:

    • Establishing boundaries: Setting clear limits protects against future harm and fosters self-respect.

    • Building support networks: Surrounding oneself with positive influences creates a strong support system during the healing process.

    • Engaging in self-care: Prioritizing physical and emotional well-being promotes overall healing and resilience.

  • Ending contact with the abuser:

    • Cutting ties: Breaking free from the abuser’s influence is crucial for creating distance and preventing further harm.

    • No contact rule: Implementing strict boundaries by avoiding any form of communication or interaction can aid in breaking the trauma bond.

The Cycle of Trauma Bonds

The cycle of trauma bonds involves a series of stages that contribute to the formation and reinforcement of these toxic connections. Understanding this cycle is essential for breaking free from the harmful dynamics they create.

  • Idealization (Love Bombing): Trauma bonds often begin with idealization, where the abuser showers their target with affection, attention, and seemingly perfect qualities. This stage can be likened to a “love bombing” phase, where the victim feels deeply desired and valued.

  • Devaluation (Abuse and Manipulation): After the initial idealization, the cycle moves into devaluation. During this phase, the abuser gradually reveals their true colors by engaging in abusive behaviors and manipulation tactics. They may undermine their victim’s self-esteem, isolate them from support networks, or exert control over various aspects of their life.

  • Discard (Temporary Withdrawal or Abandonment): The final stage in the cycle is discard. At this point, the abuser temporarily withdraws or abandons their victim emotionally or physically. This withdrawal triggers feelings of confusion, loss, and longing within the victim.

This cycle repeats itself over time, creating a pattern characterized by alternating highs during idealization and lows during devaluation and discard. These experiences become imprinted as memories within the trauma bond, further strengthening its hold on the victim.

Recognizing this repetitive pattern is crucial for individuals seeking to break free from trauma bonds. By understanding how these cycles operate and recognizing their own role within them, survivors can empower themselves to seek healing and escape from toxic relationships.

Duration of Trauma Bonds

Trauma bonds can have varying durations depending on different factors. The intensity and length of the abusive relationship play a significant role in determining how long these bonds last. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Varied Formation Time: Trauma bonds can form at different speeds. Some may develop quickly, while others may take months or even years to fully manifest. It depends on the unique circumstances of each individual and the dynamics of the relationship.

  • Factors Influencing Duration: The duration of trauma bonds is influenced by several factors. The level of emotional manipulation, control, and abuse experienced within the relationship can impact how deeply ingrained the bond becomes.

  • Breaking Free Takes Time: Escaping a trauma bond is not an easy task and often requires considerable time and effort. Each person’s journey towards breaking free from such a bond is unique, as it depends on their personal circumstances and support system.

It’s important to remember that trauma bonds are complex emotional connections formed within abusive relationships. They can be incredibly challenging to break due to the psychological effects they have on individuals involved.

By understanding that trauma bonds vary in duration, we gain insight into the complexities victims face when attempting to sever these ties. Providing support and resources for those trying to break free from traumatic relationships is crucial in helping them regain their autonomy and well-being.

Dealing with Narcissistic Trauma Bonds

Victims of narcissistic abuse often find themselves caught in a web of emotional attachment known as narcissistic trauma bonds. These bonds are formed when individuals become entangled with a narcissistic abuser who seeks power, control, and admiration. Dealing with such bonds can be incredibly challenging due to the manipulative nature of narcissists.

Seeking professional help is crucial. Therapists specializing in trauma and abuse can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the healing process. They offer a safe space for victims to express their emotions, gain insight into the dynamics of the relationship, and develop coping strategies.

Setting firm boundaries is another essential aspect of dealing with narcissistic trauma bonds. Establishing clear limits helps protect victims from further manipulation and abuse. This may involve limiting contact or completely cutting off ties with the narcissist. It empowers individuals to prioritize their own well-being and regain control over their lives.

In addition to seeking professional help and setting boundaries, focusing on self-care is vital for healing from narcissistic trauma bonds. Engaging in activities that promote mental and emotional well-being can aid in rebuilding self-esteem and resilience. This may include practicing mindfulness, engaging in hobbies, spending time with supportive friends or family members, or seeking out support groups where experiences can be shared.

By acknowledging the challenges posed by narcissistic trauma bonds and taking proactive steps towards healing, individuals can gradually break free from the grip of these toxic relationships. Remember that recovery takes time, but with patience, support, and self-compassion, it is possible to overcome the effects of narcissistic abuse and reclaim one’s life.


In conclusion, healing from trauma bonding involves recognizing and understanding the seven stages that contribute to this complex emotional attachment. By comprehending the manipulative tactics used in each stage, individuals can gain clarity and take steps towards breaking free from the cycle of trauma bonds.

Love bombing serves as the initial manipulation tactic, where abusers shower their victims with excessive affection and attention. This paves the way for building trust and dependency, creating a strong emotional connection that makes it difficult to break away. Emotional addiction further intensifies the allure of the abuser, making it challenging to resist their control.

Gaslighting and manipulation then come into play, distorting reality and causing victims to doubt their own perceptions. This leads to resignation and submission, where individuals feel powerless and lose control over their lives. Ultimately, trauma bonds result in a loss of self-identity, eroding one’s sense of who they are.

Recognizing signs of emotional addiction is crucial in overcoming trauma bonds. It is essential to understand that breaking free from these toxic relationships requires courage and support. Seeking professional help from therapists or joining support groups can provide valuable guidance throughout this journey.

While trauma bonds are inherently unhealthy, it is important to note that they can never turn into healthy relationships. The cycle of trauma bonds perpetuates a pattern of abuse and manipulation that cannot be transformed into something positive or loving.

Healing from trauma bonding takes time and effort but is absolutely possible with determination and support. Remember that you deserve happiness, safety, and freedom from abusive relationships. Take action today by reaching out for help and surrounding yourself with people who genuinely care about your well-being.


How long does it take to heal from trauma bonding?

The duration of healing varies for each individual depending on various factors such as the severity of the bond and personal resilience. It may take months or even years before one fully recovers from trauma bonding.

Can trauma bonds turn into healthy relationships?

No, trauma bonds are inherently unhealthy and based on manipulation and abuse. They cannot transform into healthy relationships as they perpetuate a cycle of harm.

What are some signs of emotional addiction in trauma bonding?

Signs of emotional addiction include constantly thinking about the abuser, feeling unable to function without them, making excuses for their abusive behavior, and experiencing intense cravings for their attention or affection.

How can I break free from trauma bonds?

Breaking free from trauma bonds requires seeking professional help from therapists who specialize in trauma recovery. Joining support groups with others who have experienced similar situations can also provide valuable guidance and encouragement.

Is it possible to heal from trauma bonding without professional help?

While professional help is highly recommended, healing from trauma bonding is possible even without it. However, it may be more challenging to navigate the process alone without the guidance and support of trained professionals.


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