Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

Trauma Bonds…..These Can Occur Within Any Dysfunctional/Abusive Relationship

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Loyalty belief

This is excellent advice and looks at trauma bonding that occurs within dysfunctional and abusive relationships.

I see this occurring, and trauma bonding and co-dependency are big issues many don’t realise they have.

The “Addictive” Trauma Bond – Learning What It Is And How To Help Yourself Heal

The following gives an accurate description of the highly ‘addictive’ quality of traumatic relationships with the disordered. The following is by Dr. Patrick Carnes and from his book, “The Betrayal Bond.”

This is an excellent resource for your recovery:

Trauma Bonds

by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., CAS

Abandonment and trauma are at the core of addictions.

Abandonment causes deep shame. Abandonment by betrayal is worse than mindless neglect.

Betrayal is purposeful and self-serving. If severe enough, it is traumatic. What moves betrayal into the realm of trauma is fear and terror.

If the wound is deep enough and the terror big enough, the body alters. The system elevates into an alarm state, never safe. Waiting for the hurt again. In that state of readiness the client doesn’t notice that part of them has died. The client is grieving.

Like everyone who has loss, the clients have shock and disbelief, fear, loneliness, and sadness. Yet the clients don’t notice because their guard is up.

In their readiness, the clients abandon themselves. Yes, another abandonment. What we see is highly addictive attachment to the persons who have hurt the clients. The clients may even blame themselves, their defects, their failed efforts. The clients strive to do better as their lives slip away amongst all the intensity.

These attachments cause the clients to distrust their own judgment, to distort their own realities so much, the clients can place themselves at more risk. The clients are bracing themselves against further hurt. Taking precautions which almost guarantee more pain.

These attachments have a name. They are called trauma bonds.

Exploitive relationships create trauma bonds.

These occur when a victim bonds with someone who is destructive to them.

Similarly, adult survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families struggle with bonds that are rooted in their own trauma experiences.

To be loyal to that which does not work – or worse, to a person who is toxic, exploitive, or destructive to the client, is a form of insanity.

A number of signs exist for the presence of a betrayal bond:

1. When everyone around the client is having negative reactions so strong the client is covering up, defending, or explaining a relationship.
2. When there is a constant pattern of non-performance and the client continues to expect them to follow through anyway.
3. When there are repetitive, destructive fights that are no win for anybody.
4. When others are horrified by something that has happened to the client and the client isn’t.
5. When the client obsesses about showing someone that they are wrong about the abuse, their relationship, or their treatment of the client.
6. When the client feels loyal to someone even though the client harbors secrets that are damaging to others.
7. When the client moves closer to someone who is destructive with the desire of converting them to a non-abuser.
8. When someone’s talents, charisma, or contributions causes the client to overlook destructive, exploitive, or degrading acts.
9. When the client cannot detach from someone even though the client does not trust, like or care for the person.
10. When the client misses a relationship even to the point of nostalgia and longing that was so awful it almost destroyed the client.
11. When extraordinary demands are placed on the client to measure up as a way to cover up exploitation of the client.
12. When the client keeps secret someone’s destructive behavior because of all of the good they have done or the importance of their position or career.
13. When the history of their relationship is about contracts or promises that
have been broken, which the client are asked to overlook.

They all involve exploitation of trust or power or both. They all can result in a bond with a person who is dangerous and exploitive.

Signs of betrayal bonding include misplaced loyalty, inability to detach, and self-destructive denial.

Professional therapists can be so focused on their client’s woundedness; they will overlook the trauma bonds that may remain.

Finally, consider the context in which trauma bonds are most likely to occur:
· Domestic violence
· Dysfunctional marriages
· Exploitation in the workplace
· Religious abuse
· Litigation
· Kidnapping
· Hostage situations
· Cults
· Addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating, sex, and high risk)
· Incest and child abuse
· Violence in other lands is closer than before. Terrorism and hatred leak across our borders. No longer can we say that is not our problem. The experience of 9/11 underscores the need for awareness about trauma.
· Between 1985 and 1993 exposure to violence increased 176% for the average junior high school student. Fifty per cent of women in our culture will experience some form of sexual assault during their lifetimes.

Effects of Trauma on the Brain

When people are profoundly frightened, trauma creates a biological alteration of the brain. At birth, only primitive structures like the brain stem (which regulates fight/flight) are fully functional.

In regions like the temporal lobes (which regulate emotions and receive input from the senses), early experiences wire the brain circuitry.

When early trauma/deprivation are present, the circuitry to and within the temporal lobes are profoundly affected, resulting in emotional and cognitive problems.

Our primary brain goes into stimulation and is flooded with
neurochemicals. When the source of the fear goes away, the chemicals go away. The person experiences cravings.

They can become attached to trauma.

People become reactive human beings-going from stimulation to action without thinking. PTSD is reacting years later to early trauma events.

Two factors are essential in understanding traumatic experiences.

How far our systems are stretched and for how long.

Some events happen only once or just a few times, but the impact is so great that trauma occurs.

Trauma by accumulation sneaks up on its victims.

They become acclimatized.

Traumas that are horrendous and long lasting are the worst. Such was the holocaust. Or Vietnam or 9/11.

Emotional scars can be so severe that generations descended from those surviving will react in ways that still reflect the original trauma.

No amount of normalcy makes it safe.

Patterns and attitudes evolve far beyond the individual and are incorporated into family and society.

There is a universal stumbling block that I have noticed with survivors, as well as from time to time within myself, that I’ve given much thought too.

A survivor was in distress about this the other day because her mind kept gravitating toward her ex. She has been out of the relationship about two years, just as I have been.

She explained her circumstances and I shared that I would ponder…then I had an “aha!” moment!

The more I think about these relationships, along with similar but not always exact patterns I see with survivors, it is becoming crystal clear to me how the ‘addictive’ component plays out and how compelling it truly is.


The psychopath was our drug. We had chemical changes in the brain when due to the intense cognitive dissonance in the relationship. This means moving goal posts in our realities with him.

He’s nice one minute, but utterly cruel the next. He can go a week and it is peaceful, but then we find out he’s cheating. Many scenarios can play out…so is he good, or is he bad?

This cycle sets up the trauma bond, or rather the addictive element due to the severity of the insidiousness of the abuse.

So, let me ask you this: Have you had another addiction you’ve struggled with? There are many, addictions to substances is only one area of addiction.

We have addictions to food, to sex, to spending, to hoarding…anything can be addictive.

When we give it up we are in pain from withdrawal. Our brains were wired through trauma and so we are literally re-wiring it to do something else.

When you are recovering from addiction, when do you think it is most likely that you will have cravings?

During times of stress maybe? When you’re lonely? Another trigger?

This is why you think of him. This is why.

It’s not ‘missing’ of him in the sense that you miss an abusive and dangerous predator, it’s that you miss the addiction to the cycles he created.

When we remove any addiction, we must stay away from any sources or individuals that are likely to trigger a craving that leads to cognitive dissonance, that could lead us to contact.

The craving is what causes a relapse. WE WANT A HIT OF OUR DRUG. The idea is to get enough TIME away from it to heal our brains, and to fill the huge void he left behind.

So what do we do when we are addicted to something and are in recovery or trying to do something different?

If we are committed to our recoveries, we must change whatever it is in our lives that triggers the craving.

We must utilize support systems from therapy to support groups, to changing even daily habits developed with the psychopath.

We need to change our thinking patterns, be very good to ourselves, kind and compassionate and in learning skills that will keep you mindful and in the present moment.

This means meditation, prayer, recovery focused reading, exercise, whatever will change your life completely away from the psychopath.

This is also why no contact is critical to your recovery.

The narcissist can trigger these cravings!

If you had an addiction to alcohol, it’s not wise to go to a bar on a Saturday night if you’re serious about your recovery. You may have to remove many people from your life that you partied and drank with all the time. You will have to make a conscious effort to avoid them and any place that can set off your trigger and cravings.

I realize there will be times where this will not be possible, however when put into the perspective of a very serious and dangerous addiction, using the psychopath as symbolic of your drug, if you have to deal with him in custody situations, or run into him somewhere, this will help you to greatly minimize his impact upon you.

These are extreme exceptions however and I advocate for total no contact when it comes to a survivor’s recovery.

In the case of the survivor above who was in distress, all that was needed was someone to talk to when she felt stressed because her ex psychopath filled that ROLE (fake) for her.

Give this some thought.

Onward and upward.

Note: This article also applies to men who are survivors of psychopathic women.

Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

One thought on “Trauma Bonds…..These Can Occur Within Any Dysfunctional/Abusive Relationship

  1. Reblogged this on rootless introspection and commented:
    Interesting concept. Makes sense I guess. Need to ponder further 🙂