May 5, 2021

Victim Blaming Post #6 Trauma Bonded

 The term "Trauma Bond" is just as victim blaming as codependency, reactive abuse, stockholm syndrome, learned helplessness, Drama Triangle, etc, and just as dangerous for abuse victims. To be clear, I'm not referring to the bond that happens between two victims sharing their trauma together, ex. bonding after natural disasters, victims in support groups, etc. That definitely happens and is a good thing. I've met the best of friends through the journey of healing trauma from abuse. I'm officially referring to the term "Trauma Bond"

"Trauma bonding" was coined by Dr Patrick Carnes, (The same guy who states parents are naturally sexually attracted to their own children ๐Ÿคฏ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿคฎ To learn more, go HERE ), and promoted by his daughter Stefanie Carnes who has taken over his empire. According to Carnes, "Trauma Bonding" essentially means that :

1. Victims don't leave abusive relationships because victims are compulsively SEEKING to be abused. 

2. Victims are addicted to trauma. 

3. Victims are addicted to being abused and are also abusers themselves. 

4. Victims are just as messed up as the abuser. 

5. Victims are "Codependent" 

6. Victims end up being abused because they are just acting out past childhood traumas. 

7. Victims are in the Drama Triangle (The Drama Triangle means someone isn't really a victim and is only pretending to be a victim.) 


Basically the label "trauma bonding" believes there is something inherently wrong with the victim, and THAT'S why they were abused. Not because of the perpetrators/abusers choice to abuse and injure the victim, but because the victim has underlying issues that "led" them to be abused and become "trauma bonded". These are not only false uneducated narratives, but there's zero evidence that victims get addicted to trauma OR abusers. The fact is, perpetrators abuse because they CHOOSE to abuse, and the responsibility solely relies on them. 

Carnes was influenced by the writings of people who were influenced by Bruno Bettelheim. But get this, Bettelheim turned out to be a complete fraud๐Ÿคฏ (To read more about Bettelheim go HERE). He was never a psychologist. He was just a Freud wanna-be who lied about his credentials and education, and ended up molesting hundreds of women and children put into his care at both the college he was a director at, and the hospital he ran for autistic children. And tons of professionals to this day (like Bessel Van Der Kolk, who's victim blaming and has been accused of abuse) STILL cite Bettelheim's "scholarly" whackadoodle papers. ๐Ÿคฆ‍♀️

Sadly the label "Trauma bond" has become extremely popular, yet most people and professionals either don't have a clue about the patriarchal/misogynistic victim blaming foundation it was created in, or, they fully agree with it. 

Here are a few quotes that further show why it's victim blaming :

Victim Blaming

* ".. partners will be tempted to stay in exploitive relationships that are unhealthy because they are addicted to the trauma. We use terms like love addict or relationship addiction or traumatic bonding to describe situations in which a person cannot let go of a partner who is destructive to oneself or others." - Mending Shattered Heart, Stefanie Carnes 

* "Noted neuroscientist Louis Cozolino suggests that codependence is rooted in “stress addiction” because of trauma. When noted researchers speak of addiction to the trauma, the world is full of examples. Just think of ones you know: 

… spouses who stay in battering situations…. 

… sexual abuse victims who work as prostitutes" - Mending Shattered Hearts, Stefanie Carnes 

*.."Common Dynamics in Addicted Relationships:

Trauma Bonding

..Partner believes or tolerates addict’s lies and manipulations…Partner stays in a relationship that s/he knows is abusive…Partner tolerates exploitation…Partner may be repeating patterns from past relationships." - Facing Heartbreak by Stefanie Carnes  

 * "It is very important for codependents to understand the elements of trauma bonding. It is also critical for persons struggling with a traumatic bond to understand the nature of codependency. There is a rich set of resources and an extensive set of support groups that can help sort through denial and help manage reactive responses. Many survivors who have trouble with trauma bonding are addicts themselves. They can also participate in groups appropriate to the addictions they have." - The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes 

* "Each of these conditions adds to the emotional bond and deepens addictive attachment", "repetitive cycles of abuse… confusion about love…. there is a history of abuse… there is a familiar role and script to be fulfilled….victims and victimizers switch roles of rescuer and abuser." etc. - The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes

* "Compulsive Abuse Seeking — The victim sets up relationships to repeat the same patterns of abuse. This creates familiar binds, neuro-chemistry, and coping strategies. For a relationship to work, it must comply with the original abuse scenario. What can vary is the amount of risk and intensity. Adults may combine a number of abuse scenarios to get the desired effect. At the core of every addiction is compulsive behavior. Compulsion means that you exhibit the behavior even though you know it is self-destructive. You cannot stop it on your own. Traumatic bonding is essentially a compulsive relationship with very definite patterns of compulsive behavior." - The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes

* "Trauma Bonds

What we see is highly addictive attachment to the persons who have hurt the clients.... 

These attachments cause the clients to distrust their own judgment, to distort their own realities so much, the clients can place themselves at more risk. The clients are bracing themselves against further hurt. Taking precautions which almost guarantee more pain. These attachments have a name. They are called trauma bonds. 

...These occur when a victim bonds with someone who is destructive to them. Similarly, adult survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families struggle with bonds that are rooted in their own trauma experiences. To be loyal to that which does not work - or worse, to a person who is toxic, exploitive, or destructive to the client, is a form of insanity" - CSAT course by Patrick Carnes 

Say what? These attachments cause the CLIENT (us) to "distrust their own judgment, to distort their own realities so much, the clients can place THEMSELVES at more risk."???? OH ok, so it's not the abusive men that do it, it's our addictive bond that allows US to do it to OURSELVES. Got it...๐Ÿคฆ

Let's break down this nonsense :


No. The chemicals involved with addiction are different than the chemicals involved in bonding. As a recovering addict as well, I personally find it offensive to imply that a woman's desire for love and connection is put in the same category as the perpetrator who is choosing to harm her. There's this notion out there that seems to believe that if feeling romantic love for a partner activates only a few similar neurons in the brain as being addicted to a substance, than **POOF** it must mean you're addicted to the activity as well! ๐Ÿฅด If this were true then everyone, and every thing, in the world would be addicted simply for needing human connection. Or for running, or swimming, or even giving birth (--->"Aw, you feel so happy and love your baby so much!? Congratulations, you're addicted๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŽ‰… ๐Ÿ™„). While studies show love and addiction ARE similar in the beginning stages (just like most rewarding things in life..), they actually don't activate all the exact same neurons in the brain, especially in the oxytocin system. There's a difference! 


This is a myth. Statistically most abused women do eventually leave. But even if a victim stays, it's not because something is wrong with her. She stays for various of reasons. Heck, sometimes staying is the safest option. Sometimes they stay because they can't leave, etc. For example, imagine seeing a man walk up to his wife and cut off her legs, and she's utterly confused, screaming and pleading with her husband and everyone around to help her. Would you ever say to that woman "Why don't you run away? Why do you keep taking his crap? What insecurities or childhood trauma led you to getting your legs cut off? Why were you seeking to get your legs cut off? Geez lady, you must be addicted for sticking around!" ??? No! Because that would be a horrible thing to say. 

This is what abusers do. Their choices to cause harm are debilitating for victims. It literally injures women and can metaphorically chop their legs off. And despite all that victims STILL find ways to actively resist abuse and better their situations. That's AMAZING ๐Ÿ’— So why is everyone more focused on what's "wrong with the victim", instead of why the perpetrator keeps CHOOSING to abuse? 


Wrong. Think of it this way, if she married a healthy man, no one would think twice about her loving nature, her personality, or her "bond". No one would call it unhealthy. No one would say she's addicted, seeking abuse, or responding irrational. Yet, if a man chooses to abuse her, people suddenly do. Why is that? - - > Because men have blamed victims for thousands of years and have been convinced that if you're a victim then there "must" be something wrong with you, in order to make themselves feel safe in their little homes and keep up with their "Just World" theory. (Google Just World theory. Very interesting) 

We can't automatically pathologize a woman's human nature or personality and call it unhealthy simply because she's with an abusive man. He wasn't always an abusive man. She's solely in a relationship with someone who turned out to be an abuser because the abuser lied, and because misogyny still dominates the world, making the odds of finding a healthy man against all women. That's it. It's that simple. We aren't human lie detectors, we can't know when someone is lying 24/7. Abusers even fool therapists, friends, family, police, etc. Should we pathologize them as well and tell them there's something wrong with them for believing the abuser? There's nothing inherently wrong with a woman who is abused. She's simply injured and exhausted. She didn't "bond" to him because she's addicted, unhealthy and has childhood trauma, etc. She bonded to him because she was bonding to someone she loved and was led to believe was a good guy. I guarantee she wasn't like "Ope, he's a jerk and is going to ruin my life, I better partner with him, that sounds fun!๐Ÿ‘" ๐Ÿ˜ถ. She was doing what humans are meant to do... and he chose to lie. 

I'm not saying an victim isn't experiencing anything chemical caused by the abuser. But I see it more like starvation. If an abuser tortures and starves a victim, especially with random intermittence, is it at all shocking that the victim becomes utterly obsessed with food, thinking about it all the time, depressed, tired, irritable, etc? No, that would be a completely normal response that the human body would naturally go through. It has nothing to do with how healthy a person is, being addicted, or their childhood experiences. It's a built in bodily response to not getting something our bodies need for survival. We wouldn't blame the starving victim for being hungry, we would blame the abuser for starving her. 

So why is it any different for a victim who is being starved of other physical needs, like love, connection, and safety? 


If this were true then we wouldn't see victims resisting abuse, yet ALL victims resist abuse (since no one wants to be abused). And that resistance is proof that victims do have enough self esteem, boundaries, etc. 

This is a story about a woman who resisted abuse throughout her life in many ways . Dr Allen Wade then explains why her forms of resistance are proof that she didn't lack self esteem, boundaries, or any other incorrect cliches about victims. 

Quote : "So the conversation became about honouring her [the clients] many forms of resistance, and that was the therapy..There's no psycho education. I'm not trying to teach her to have boundaries. I don't believe she lacked self-esteem. I don't think she was socialized into submission, I don't think she's complying with femininity scripts, etc., none of that. Because if those things were true you WOULDN'T find her resisting in all these multiple ways would you? If she was socialised into submission, how could she have been resisting all these ways? If she lacked self-esteem, how could she esteem herself enough to tell those bastards to fuck off in the bar? Do you see what I mean? So all of those kinds of cliches about victims begin to melt away when you begin to look at how they actually respond and resist."

-Identifying & Honouring Resistance/ Example of Resistance (5min)

As long as there's victim blaming, studies show perpetrators aren't be held accountable. If we as a society want perpetrators to be held accountable and for victims to stop being harmed, then we MUST stop blaming victims, especially with our language and beliefs. 

Other Articles :

Victim Blaming Post #1 Codependency

Victim Blaming Post #2: Reactive Abuse or Mutual Abuse

Victim Blaming Post #3 The Drama Triangle (Karpman Triangle)

Victim Blaming Post #4 Stockholm Syndrome

Victim Blaming Post #5 "Learned Helplessness"

Victim Blaming Post #6 Trauma Bonded

Victim Blaming Post #7 : Prodependency

Victim Blaming Post #8: Ignoring Red Flags