Tumultuous and stressful relationships can cause increased anxiety and depression. With an increase of anxiety and depression, people’s quality of life can plummet. When examining personal relationships, we might become aware of being in a relationship with an unhealthy person. We likely ask ourselves why do we continue to put up with this dysfunctional relationship? This may lead to shame implying weakness and failure. It is important to understand this relationship dynamic and trauma bonds. This may give us further insight into what it may feel like being “stuck” in a bad relationship.
A betrayal bond is when we are strongly attached to someone that continues to hurt us and be destructive for us. These are some signs of being involved in a toxic bond.
1. A constant cycle of overpromising and under-delivering.
2. Friends, family, and acquaintances having an intense reaction to it to what we are experiencing while we hardly are impacted by the situation.
3. Feeling victimized by your partner’s behavior and you don’t believe that you have a choice about it.
4. Becoming overly consumed in trying to help or fix the betrayer so they become less abusive or hurtful.
5. Having cyclical, draining arguments that are very destructive and painful where both people feel defeated.
6. Lacking the ability to stop interacting with the betrayer despite the loss of trust, respect, and attraction.
7. Experiencing intense pain that feels overpowering and life threatening when attempting to leave the relationship.
There are a variety of different types of relationships where a betrayal bond can occur- unhealthy work, domestic violence situations, cult like religious groups, kidnapping, hostage situations, child abuse, or incest. Being in a relationship with an addict can lead to a betrayal bond.
Situations that create a betrayal bond also vary yet there are a few necessary components that need to be present- intensity, unpredictability, complexity, a promise. Victims stay because they are holding onto the elusive “promise” or hope. Manipulation is always present in the interactions as well. Victims are vulnerable to the manipulation because they are willing to tolerate the unacceptable behavior for the payoff: the intangible promise and ever-present hope for fulfillment.
For those of us in trauma relationships, we can be looking right at the situation, but not see the destruction. The betrayed person becomes highly attached to the destructive partner. It is hard to see reality from delusion. Only when the unhealthy attachment has been severed can the betrayed person truly see the chaos and destruction it caused. In short, breaking away from the trauma bond and seeking safe support will begin to change your life, reality, and unhealthy relationships.
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Carnes, P. (1997). Betrayal Bonds. Deerfield Beach, FL.: Health Communications, Inc.