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trauma bond relationship

How to Heal from a Trauma Bond Relationship

Dr. David B. Hawkins, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Director of The Marriage Recovery Center, talks about ‘trauma bonding,’ which is the debilitating attachment one can develop to an abusive partner. He discusses practical steps to recover from a trauma bond relationship.

How to Heal from a Trauma Bond Relationship

Trauma bonding is a powerful phenomenon that can keep individuals tied to emotionally abusive relationships. Despite experiencing incredible highs and lows in these relationships, people often find it difficult to break free. This article aims to explore the complexities of trauma bonding and provide guidance on how to heal from such relationships.

Understanding the Complexity of Emotionally Abusive Relationships:

  1. The Cycle of Highs and Lows: In emotionally abusive relationships, there is a constant fluctuation between extreme affection and hurtful behavior. This cycle creates a unique bond that can be difficult to comprehend for both the victim and outsiders.
  2. Mixed Feelings and Confusion: Victims often question how they can stay with someone who inflicts so much pain. However, the answer lies in the complex nature of trauma bonding. Despite the hurtful actions, there are instances of caring and love that make it challenging to walk away.
  3. Marriage and Family Dynamics: The complexity deepens when the abusive relationship involves marriage or children. Leaving becomes even more complicated due to the commitments and responsibilities involved. It is essential to recognize the added challenges faced by those in these situations.

Steps Towards Healing From Trauma Bonding:

  1. Seek Knowledge and Understanding: Educate yourself about emotionally abusive relationships and trauma bonding. By gaining insights and learning from resources such as videos and books, you can develop a clearer perspective of your situation.
  2. Find Support: Reach out to supportive individuals or seek professional help. Establishing a network of people who can provide guidance, empathy, and validation is crucial. This support system will help you navigate the complexities and find emotional clarity.
  3. Focus on Clarity: Gaining clarity about the situation is essential to make informed decisions. Understand what is right and wrong, good and bad for you. Seek clarity about your values, boundaries, and what you deserve in a healthy relationship.
  4. Set Boundaries Gradually: Begin setting boundaries one step at a time. Identify and communicate your limits to your partner. Remember that boundaries are meant to protect your well-being and should be established in a way that feels safe for you.
  5. Manage What You Can: Recognize that there are aspects of the relationship that you cannot control. Focus on managing the things within your control, such as your reactions, self-care, and personal growth. Let go of trying to change the abusive partner, as that responsibility lies with them.
  6. Consider Intervention: In extreme cases, intervention might be necessary. Consult with a professional or trusted advisor who can guide you through the intervention process when you are ready and prepared to take such action.


Healing from a trauma bond relationship is a complex journey that requires knowledge, support, and personal growth. It is crucial to understand the complexities of emotionally abusive relationships and gain clarity about what you deserve. By gradually setting boundaries, managing what you can, and seeking intervention when necessary, you can work towards a healthier future. Remember, your well-being is important, and with the right support and guidance, you can break free from the trauma bond and build a life of healing and wholeness.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: How to Help a Narcissist Heal

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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