Updated: Aug 29
In today’s blog post, we are going to discuss some of the most important red flags of trauma bonding. It is important to recognize these warning signs because they can catch us off guard and lead to potentially harmful situations grade. So let’s dive in and look for these red flags and make sure we’re vigilant in our relationships.
Red Flag #1: High speed
One of the most important red flags to watch for is when a relationship is moving extraordinarily fast. Everything is intense, fast-paced, right from the start. Like going on multiple dates in a short amount of time, and declaring your love to someone in a matter of days. This can lead to love mines, and can be especially alluring for those who are liberated, anxiously attached, or have previously experienced trauma. However, it is important to recognize that, despite the initial attraction, moving so quickly can signal a potentially dangerous relationship. Of course, it takes time to really get to know, love and trust someone, and a few days is not enough for that.
Red Flag #2: Communication breakdown
In a traumatic relationship, communication often breaks down. Going on eggshells is common, where you feel reluctant to express your thoughts and feelings for fear of your partner becoming explosive. They may resort to aggressive communication, use yelling, and make assumptions about what you’re thinking. Lack of open communication about each other’s feelings and concerns, creating a hostile environment that can be detrimental to your well-being.
Red Flag #3: Doubting your reality
Gaslighting is a form of exploitation commonly found in traumatic relationships - this is something that your partner may be doing, however you may also risk self-gaslighting wherein you question your own perception of reality to match what an abusive partner is telling you. This constant doubt can cause you to question your sanity and further strengthen the trauma bond. You may start to second guess, whether you overreacted or what events actually happened when you remember them.
Red Flag: #4: Personal attack
In normal relationships, constructive feedback may be common but this relates to the person's actions - not their core being. For example, it would be "I do not like the way you raise your voice" (commenting on behaviour) compared with "I think you are stupid" (attacking your value and your being). However, in relationships associated with trauma, criticism cuts deeper, attacking your core, personality, and values. The goal is to convince you that you are inadequate, shameful, or not good enough. This amount of criticism targets your true essence rather than constructive feedback on your behaviour, which can damage your self-worth.
Red Flag #5: You justify their actions
One of the most dangerous aspects of trauma bonding is the tendency to rationalize and justify your partner’s abuse. You may feel gaslighted, manipulative, distrustful, or sarcastic and apologetic. Their desire to maintain a relationship, avoid conflict, or be seen as a supportive partner can lead to self-blame and mitigate their behaviour - all of which are self-sabotaging behaviour. It is important to recognize that the reasons they give for their harmful behaviour never makes their behaviours OK.
Red flag #6: You idealize the good times
It is normal to hone in on the positives of a traumatic relationship and reflect on the good times you shared. This rose-tinted perspective often describes the challenges, pain, and toxicity of a relationship. By ignoring violence, hostility, and criticism, the cycle of relationship trauma can be maintained by simply remembering the moments of love.
Red flag #7: You want to help them (even when they have hurt you)
As the empath in the relationship, you naturally have a caring tendency, but this could also extend to wanting to support and help your partner even when they have attacked you and hurt you. It may even evolve in an argument, for example, your partner has been aggressive and if you stand up for yourself (saying you do not appreciate the aggression), they shout at you that you haven't helped them enough. You experience a sense of obligation and duty to help them, involving guilt and acceptance of blame; further maintaining the trauma bond.
Red Flag #8: Unwillingness to leave
Even though you know the toxicity and loss of the relationship, you don’t want to leave. Fear of abandonment, threats from your partner, and an ingrained desire to heal a wounded part of yourself drive you into bondage It is important to address the underlying issues that create this attachment and you put your welfare first.
Red Flag #9: Covering up their actions
A common response in traumatic relationships is to hide abusive behaviour from others. You may fear judgment or worry about what your loved ones will say if they find out the truth about how your partner treated you. This tendency to cover up their activities reinforces the isolation and prevents you from getting the support you need.
Red flag #10: Suppressing emotions
It’s hard to openly communicate your thoughts, feelings, and desires in an ambiguous relationship. Fear of consequences and general vulnerability causes you to suppress your true feelings, further intensifying your emotional isolation. This inhibition acts as a safety net, as you anticipate the attack or abandonment that can occur when you reveal your true self.#
If you found this useful, please do me 2 favours. Please have a look at my free e-book here which can help you improve your relationship and heal trauma bonding. Second, please share with other people who you feel would benefit from this - because the more people supported, the better our community can survive and heal.
As always, if you ever want to connect and gain support - I'm here.
All my love, Dr Sarah
improving your relationships