How to Break a Trauma Bond with a Narcissist (7 Steps)

how to break a trauma bond

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The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about bonding with someone is the warm, cozy feeling you get from feeling safe in a close relationship. But trauma bonding is not the same thing at all. In trauma bonds, a person ends up feeling attached to someone who is actually harming them. In these trauma bonds, the victim often feels a strong sense of loyalty to their abuser, mistaking the abuser’s behavior for love.

However, the trick with relationships founded on traumatic bonding is that they are not exclusively abusive. They frequently include a combination of times of care, adoration, and security after cycles of abuse and harm. So, in order to learn how to break a trauma bond with a narcissist, you first need to recognize and acknowledge it.

Understanding Trauma Bonds in Narcissistic Relationships

Imagine being in a relationship with someone who is incredibly charming and caring at times. But then, all of a sudden, they become emotionally manipulative, hurtful, or even abusive. However, after being cruel, a narcissist frequently returns to acting friendly or affectionate.

This creates a perplexing loop of abuse and love, making it extremely difficult for the person on the receiving end to escape. In trauma bonds in narcissistic relationships, the victims become emotionally dependent on their abuser, usually defending or rationalizing the narcissist’s behavior.

At the same time, the intermittent good times create hope for the possibility of a happier relationship, making it difficult for a victim to break free.

How Do Trauma Bonds Form?

Trauma bonds form in relationships characterized by a toxic cycle of intermittent affection and abuse. In this trauma bond cycle, a narcissist alternates between mistreating and then showing kindness to their victim. The victim, craving affection and positive connection, becomes emotionally dependent on the abuser.

This cycle of abuse and occasional kindness tricks the victim into a confusing cycle of love and trauma, making the bond challenging to escape as the victim’s self-esteem and sense of reality become blurry due to the abuser’s manipulative tactics.

We all want to be loved and cared for, and this need is extreme when we are kids. Trauma bonds formed during childhood can lead to toxic relationships in adulthood. Children innately seek attention and affection from their caregivers, even if they are neglectful or harmful.

Toxic relationships can happen to anyone. Read on to discover what a self-love coach can do to help you through this healing journey.

This can lead to a twisted understanding of love. So, this cycle of love and abuse in adult relationships is often a direct result of childhood trauma bonding, where denial of abuse becomes a way to feel accepted and loved.

How to Break a Trauma Bond with a Narcissist: 7 Essential Steps

breaking a trauma bond with a narcissist

Breaking a trauma bond with a narcissist requires strong self-care habits and skilled guidance and assistance. With the right tools and support, breakout and recovery are possible.

1) Recognizing and Acknowledging the Trauma Bond 

The first step toward breaking free from trauma bonds is recognizing that your relationship is built on abuse and not on love and respect. It requires you to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the manipulative dynamics of your relationship and their harmful impact on your self-esteem and emotional well-being.

2) Seeking Support from Coaches, Therapists, or Support Groups 

Breaking the trauma bond with a narcissist frequently requires getting help from coaches, therapists or support groups. Coaching can provide a safe environment for you to explore and process the feelings and experiences associated with the trauma bond.

Also, a coach can provide professional assistance to help you heal and move ahead. Support groups, conversely, validate the understanding that you are not alone by offering companionship and learning from those who have gone through similar experiences.

3) Establishing and Enforcing Personal Boundaries

Healthy personal boundaries are necessary in every relationship. However, creating and enforcing firm boundaries with a narcissist is critical. This involves clearly establishing what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable to you. More significantly, it takes explicitly stating these limits to the narcissist and determination to maintain these boundaries when the narcissist tries to violate them (which will likely happen often).

Firm personal boundaries are essential to defending your mental well-being, breaking free from abuse, and reclaiming control over your life.

4) Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Care Practices 

Taking care of yourself is vital in the process of breaking free from and healing trauma bonds. Self-awareness allows you to understand the influence of the narcissist’s manipulation and abuse on your well-being by understanding your feelings, triggers, and patterns in the relationship.

Additionally, establishing routines focusing on self-care, such as mindfulness, hobbies, exercise, and healthy social interactions, is vital for fostering well-being and building resilience. Taking care of yourself fosters a sense of self-worth and freedom that is essential for breaking free from abuse.

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5) Gradually Reducing Contact with the Narcissist

Gradually decreasing contact with a narcissist is necessary in the process of ending a trauma bond. Your coach can guide you through this process of intentionally reducing your interactions with and emotional reliance on the narcissist. By gradually creating emotional and physical distance, you will weaken the bond and reclaim your sense of self and independence, finally breaking free from the cycle of abuse.

6) Challenging and Changing Unhealthy Thought Patterns 

Trauma bonds formed in childhood can implant a deep-seated belief that you are unworthy or not good enough. This mindset that you are not good enough may make you a perfect prey for a narcissist. So, to break a trauma bond with a narcissist and restore confidence, you must address and modify such negative thought patterns and distorted beliefs that have kept you trapped in their cycle of abuse.

7) Rebuilding Self-Esteem and Independence

A toxic relationship with a narcissist can diminish your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Therefore, rebuilding self-esteem and independence is crucial when breaking a traumatic bond with a narcissist. A coach can help you actively focus on self-acceptance, acknowledge your authenticity and value, and stop seeking validation from the narcissist.

Break free from narcissistic relationships once and for all. Find out how.

Navigating the Emotional Challenges of Detachment

After detaching from a narcissist after trauma, allow yourself to feel sadness, resentment, and relief. Coaching can be a safe place to navigate through these confusing emotions and regain control over your feelings.

Creating a Supportive Network for Emotional Recovery

Coaching, supportive friends and family, and self-help tools can help you understand and move through a rollercoaster of emotions you may experience upon detaching yourself from a narcissist. Maintain contact with friends and family who genuinely care for you, and seek the company of people who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. 

Empowering Yourself & Learning to Heal

You cannot be entirely free from trauma bonds until you can trust yourself and others again. With the assistance of a skilled coach, you will gradually learn to trust your judgment, open up, and start healing. If you want to learn how to break a trauma bond with a narcissist and heal, contact me to set up a free empowering conversation.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™