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  • Writer's pictureDana Arcuri

10 Signs You have a Trauma Bond: AKA Stockholm Syndrome with a Narcissist

What is a trauma bond? According to, “Trauma bonds are the toxic relationship between the abuser and the victim of the abusive relationship. It can be found in romantic relationships, between a child and abusive family members, or with a hostage and kidnapper situation.”

A trauma bond is the type of emotional attachment that forms between abusers and victims, such as narcissistic parents and children or with a narcissistic partner.

Trauma bonding can occur through the cycle of abusive behavior and positive behavior from the abuser. Through this way abusive behavior is normalized and whenever positive reinforcement is shown it can release an almost addictive-like dopamine rush, allowing for the abused person to disregard the negative behavior to only focus on the infrequent good behavior.

Let’s take a look at Stockholm Syndrome, which is another name for traumatic bonding.

According to, “Stockholm Syndrome is the term that was first used by the media in 1973 when four hostages were taken during a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden." The hostage situation lasted six days inside the bank’s vault.

Despite the horrifying event, the hostages defended their captors after being released and would not agree to testify in court against them. The police were perceived to have acted with poor care for the hostages' safety, which the abuse survivors had an unwillingness to testify.

Stockholm syndrome is paradoxical because the sympathetic sentiments that captives feel towards their captors are the opposite of the fear and disdain which an onlooker might feel towards the captors. Stockholm syndrome describes the reactions of some abuse victims beyond the scope of kidnappings or hostage-taking.

The most important fact to learn is that not all cases of trauma bonding entail a captor and captive dynamic.

Actions and attitudes similar to those suffering from Stockholm syndrome have also been found in victims of physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, narcissistic abuse, human trafficking, and terrifying experiences.

10 Signs of Traumatic Bonding/Stockholm Syndrome:

1. You walk on eggshells around the narcissist or abusive person.

2. You constantly worry that you will say or do something in which the narc will fly into an uncontrollable rage.

3. Despite how much the narcissist is hurting you, you feel the need to protect them. Typically, this goes hand in hand with the narcissist brainwashing you to think they care about you.

4. When your friends, spouse, or relatives are disturbed by what the abuser is saying and doing to you, you defend the abuser. You may even take the blame or justify the despicable mistreatment.

5. Your relationship with the abusive person is not balanced, nor mutual. It is very codependent, unhealthy, and quite toxic. The narcissist controls you and tries to overpower you.

6. You are loyal to the abuser even though they haven’t been loyal to you.

7. You are addicted to the narcissist. While you may not be aware of it, you are psychologically, physiologically, and biochemically addicted to your abuser. According to Katie Morten who’s a licensed therapist, The rush of the stress hormone cortisol, and a flood of the feel-good chemical dopamine can trigger the reward center in our brain, which can cause you to think you’re in love with your abuser.” (It’s not love. It’s a trauma bond.)

8. You justify or make excuses for the narcissist. “He didn’t mean to hit me. He was just upset.” Or “She had a terrible childhood. I feel so sorry for her.”

9. You crave the crumbs of love and attention from the narcissist. Typically, the abuse alternates between moments of tenderness and turmoil. Perhaps, they gave you a gift, a complement, or claimed they loved you? Yet, any positive attention from the abuser is rare and infrequent compared to their nonstop manipulation, gaslighting, and cruel behaviors.

10. You feel trapped and helpless. Even after years of suffering abuse and trauma, you have stayed in this unhealthy, toxic relationship. You are scared to go no contact with the narcissist because you may fear for your safety.

After hearing about Stockholm syndrome and the 10 signs of traumatic bonding, do you relate to it? If so, stay tuned for my future post, which will share how to start the healing process of breaking the trauma bond with a narcissist/abusive person. If you have suffered narcissistic abuse and/or a trauma bond, you may want to consider Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching with me. One of my top specialties as a Trauma Recovery Coach (soon to be certified) is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, toxic relationships, and narcissistic abuse. To learn more, visit my coaching page or message me with the chat button. Trauma Recovery Coaching:

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