We have all heard stories about individuals who are stuck in unhealthy relationships and are staying or have stayed for extended lengths of time, despite the level of toxicity experienced. It is easy to judge this situation when you are on the outside looking in, but when you are in it or have gone through it, you know there are a myriad of reasons which make it hard to break free. Unfortunately, I have experienced this type of toxic relationship, and I can attest to how difficult it is to get out of it.
Are you caught up in a Trauma Bond relationship?
“Trauma Bond” is a trending term, one you have most likely heard, that defines a type of relationship where one is attached to a person who causes traumatic experiences. I have done my own research and realized there are scientific explanations that delve into how we get stuck in these types of relationships or situationships and why it’s so hard to get out of them.
How do we get locked into these types of relationships?
There are many informational pieces written on the subject. There are even some online quizzes you can take to see what might be going on in your relationship. But I believe it is the strong emotional attachment that keeps us locked in. From my experience, I can say it is easy to move on with our partners after a horrible fight or string of bad actions when there is hope that things might change. The aftermath always includes what seems like a sincere apology followed by actions that seem like changes in behavior. This is where hope comes in. It’s the small moments of peace in between the bad that keep us around. We love the people who are hurting us, and time after time we trade our own peace for the hope that there might be an actual shift in behavior.
Unfortunately for the ones who have been through this, we know that eventually, there is the realization that we are stuck in a horrible cycle that is never going to truly end. It’s the good days in between the bad that are so appealing. This is why we stay. Hopefully, for all of our sakes, we’ll finally wisen up to see that we are out of chances and patience and actually end these relationships which cause us so much pain.
How does one get out of this situation?
The first step is realizing what kind of situation you are in and the second step is accepting it. Denying all the red flags and pretending the situation away is the action that keeps us all in it in the first place. The next step is reaching out for support. I found that there was a lot of shame involved when I was stuck in a trauma bond situation. I did not want to share my story because I felt stupid. I was ashamed of what I had put up with. But the more I reached out for help, the more I realized how common these situations are. Knowing there is support and seeking help can be the one thing that gives one the strength they need to break free.
Lastly, I realized, after being on the other side of things, that these people who lure us in are skilled at what they do. There is a pattern of behavior they use to get us locked in. They know exactly what they’re doing and exactly how to keep us around. So that shame I mentioned before, has to be released. You must move forward and replace the feeling of shame with the feeling that you have gained wisdom. I believe it is likely we will not repeat the same relationship patterns if we choose to take a good look at them, accept them for what they were, and decide we will never end up there again.