Understanding Trauma Bonds
A trauma bond, also known as Stockholm syndrome, refers to the powerful connection that can form between a victim and their abuser. This often occurs in abusive relationships with narcissists, who use manipulation tactics to keep their partners bonded to them. The repeated cycles of abuse, mixed with caring behaviours when the narcissist fears losing control, can create a strong attachment on the victim’s part.
Breaking this trauma bond is difficult but necessary for the victim’s well-being. The key is recognising the manipulation that formed the glue in the first place. Once the victim understands the true nature of the relationship, they can start taking steps to detach and regain their sense of self.
Signs You Have a Trauma Bond
There are several indicators that you may have developed an unhealthy attachment with your narcissistic partner:
You Make Excuses for Their Behavior
You find yourself constantly rationalising your partner’s abusive actions. You may think they had a difficult upbringing or were justified in their anger. This keeps you bonded to them.
You Feel Indebted to Them
Narcissists often make their victims feel obligated like they owe the narcissist for all they’ve done. This guilt keeps the victim from leaving.
Leaving Feels Impossible
The idea of leaving your partner feels daunting and even wrong. The trauma bonding makes you think you couldn’t survive without them.
You Quickly Forgive Their Abuse
After incidents of rage, verbal attacks, or triangulation, you quickly forgive your partner and move on. You push aside your own needs.
You Feel Sorry for Them
You often feel bad for your narcissistic partner and want to relieve their insecurities. This pity helps justify their behaviours.
Steps to Break the Bond
Breaking a trauma bond requires reducing contact, avoiding triggers, and learning new coping strategies. Here are some steps to take:
Cut Off Contact
Leaving your narcissistic partner is the most robust way to begin dissolving your trauma bond. Zero contact is best, so consider blocking them on all platforms.
Contact friends, family, and domestic abuse organisations for support during this challenging transition. Join support groups with others who understand.
Eliminate gifts, photos, social media connections and anything else that reminds you of your ex-partner. This helps weaken your attachment.
Learn About Narcissistic Abuse
Read books and online resources to deepen your understanding of narcissistic relationship patterns. This knowledge can counteract the indoctrination.
Be Patient with Yourself
Recovery takes time. Have compassion for yourself and understand occasional setbacks are normal when breaking trauma bonds.
Try EMDR or EFT
Therapeutic techniques like EMDR and EFT tapping can be very beneficial in breaking trauma bonds. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a form of therapy that can help reprocess traumatic memories. During EMDR sessions, the therapist will guide you through lateral eye movements or taps while recalling parts of your relationship. This can help reframe distorted thoughts and sever neural connections that bond you to the narcissist.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is another technique done with a therapist, using fingertip tapping on acupuncture points while focusing on emotional triggers. Studies show EFT tapping can reduce anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms in abuse survivors by lowering the body’s stress response. Finding a licensed mental health professional trained in EMDR and EFT tapping is vital so they can guide you through these therapies safely and effectively. Even a few sessions can help reprogram your brain to weaken those neural bonds created through narcissistic abuse.
Stay away from places, songs, movies, and other triggers that bring back memories of your relationship. They can hinder progress.
Establish Healthy Boundaries
Practice setting boundaries in all aspects of your life. This protects against future narcissistic relationships.
Find New Activities
Pick up new hobbies, interests and routines to fill the void left by the relationship. This helps establish your independent identity.
Moving Forward in Freedom
Severing a trauma bond takes determination, courage and support. But breaking free is possible. You can move forward to a life of healthy relationships free from manipulation. Be patient and focus on your goals, knowing life on the other side is worth it. The narcissist’s hold on you will gradually lessen, allowing your inner light to shine again. Remembering techniques on how to break a trauma bond with a narcissist can help you stay strong through this challenging process.