Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who seemed to be desperately in love with you one minute and cold as ice the next? If so, there's a chance you may have been involved with a narcissist. Narcissists are masters of manipulation, making you feel both irreplaceable and worthless, depending on their goal in that moment. This seesawing of emotions can be incredibly confusing, not to mention draining.
Narcissists create a trauma bond with their victims, which is defined as a psychological connection based on trauma and fear rather than love and respect. If you're wondering if you have (or have had) a trauma bond with a narcissistic partner, here are some things to look out for.
What Is A Trauma Bond?
A trauma bond is an emotional connection between two people where one person repeatedly hurts the other person, but the victim is unable, or unwilling, to break free. This can happen in abusive relationships, where the victim is often drawn back to their abuser despite the pain they cause.
A trauma bond with a narcissist can look like a never-ending cycle of torment where the victim is endlessly manipulated and controlled. The narcissist will often play on the victim's greatest fears and insecurity, causing them feel both powerless and and helplessly dependent on their abuser.
How Do You Know If Your Partner Is A Narcissist?
People with trauma bonds with narcissists often feel like they are walking on eggshells. They constantly fear what might set the narcissist off and go to great lengths to avoid conflict. They may also find themselves making excuses for the narcissist's bad behavior or downplaying the severity of the abuse.
If you find yourself in a narcissistic relationship, it is essential to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand the bond's nature and develop healthy coping mechanisms. With time and effort, it is possible to break free from the grip of a narcissistic abuser.
What Are The Signs Of A Trauma Bond?
One type of trauma bond is a close, emotional bond that forms between two people due to enduring trauma. The bond is characterized by trust, dependence, and neediness, often developing without the individuals realizing it. However, in the case of a trauma bond with a narcissist, the feelings of attachment are entirely one-sided and unreciprocated.
Some signs of a developing Trauma Bond with a narcissist include:
- A feeling of being 'trapped' in the relationship.
- An inability to end the relationship, even though it's harmful.
- A preoccupation with the other person and what might trigger them..
How Does A Trauma Bond With A Narcissist Develop?
A trauma bond is a form of bonding that develops between an abuser and their victim. The victim becomes psychologically and emotionally attached to the abuser despite the abuse they suffer.
The bond is strengthened by the abuser's intermittent reinforcement of positive behaviors (such as acts of kindness or affection) mixed with negative behaviors (such as outbursts of anger or violence).
Over time, the victim comes to believe that the abuser is the only one who can provide them with what they need, and they become reliant on the abuser for their survival. This can make it very difficult for victims to leave abusive relationships, even when they are in danger.
What Are The Effects Of A Trauma Bond?
A trauma bond is an emotional and psychological connection between a victim of trauma and their abuser. This bond is the result of the manipulation and control that the abuser exerts over their victim. The effects of a trauma bond can include:
- Victims feel they cannot leave the relationship because they depend on the abuser.
- The victim feels like they are not good enough or worthy of love outside the abusive relationship.
- The victim may develop PTSD as a result of the abuse.
- The victim may start believing the abuser's lies about them and the world.
- The victim may lose their sense of self and ability to decide for themselves.
How Can You Break Free From A Trauma Bond?
Although it can be incredibly difficult to break free from a trauma bond with an abusive narcissist, it is important to know that it is possible and that it's okay to ask for help; in fact, it's crucial!
To break free from a trauma a bond, you must first recognize the situation for what it is: a relationship based on mental, emotional, and often physical abuse. Next, speak to a loved one or a professional such as a therapist, social worker, or police officer who can offer support. Together with your support network, devise an exit plan that will keep you safe.
Once you have safely removed yourself from the abusive environment, it's imperative to cut off all contact with the abuser so as to ensure they can't use their manipulation skills to lure you back into a toxic situation.
Finally, it's important to continue building your support network while working with a professional therapist or counselor to aid you on your healing journey.
Trauma bonds can sometimes be hard to identify because they often seem like a normal relationship until they're not. The critical difference is that while healthy bonds make you feel good, safe, and supported, the trauma bond will leave you feeling drained, anxious, and uncertain.
If you think you may be in a trauma bond with a narcissist, getting help is essential.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers free phone hotlines 24/7 for anybody who finds themselves in an abusive situation. Contact the live chat line for an online conversation with an advocate, or dial 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 to reach the hotline by phone. You can also text “START” to 88788 to get help.