Logan Cohen


Healing The Trauma Bond

from Surviving to Thriving

by Logan Cohen

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Healing The Trauma Bond

from Surviving to Thriving

by Logan Cohen


"Trauma bonding" is a phrase used to describe the attachment an abused person feels for their abuser, specifically in a relationship with a cyclical pattern of abuse. The bond is created due to a "cycle of abuse" containing alternating phases of poor treatment and positive reinforcement that makes the relationship incredibly confusing for the victim.

Trauma bonding is one reason that leaving a a toxic or abusive relationship can feel confusing and overwhelming. It often involves positive and/or even loving feelings for an abuser, making the abused person feel attached to and dependent on them for their perceived safety -- even their own sanity.

The term trauma bonding was coined by Patrick Carnes, PhD, CAS in 1997 who was at the time working as an addiction specialist. Carnes later became the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). He shared the theory of trauma bonding in a presentation called "Trauma Bonds, Why People Bond To Those That Hurt Them."

Carnes showed that trauma bonding occurs due to the way our brains respond to trauma and most notably -- how the brain helps a victim survive the traumatic event.

Before the term "trauma bonding," the only term for emotional attachments in abusive situations was Stockholm syndrome. However, that term did not broadly encompass the many different situations in which trauma bonding can occur or the many different ways it can manifest.

Trauma bonding can occur in many different social situations involving unfair misuse of power in relationships, no matter how long or short an amount of time it lasts. That said, it is most likely to happen in a situation where the abuser makes a point of expressing love to the person they are abusing, and where they act as if the abuse will not happen again after each time it does. It's that combination of abuse and positive reinforcement that is essential for creating the trauma bond -- the feeling of the abuser isn't all bad.

Here are a few of the many different contexts where trauma bonds can be found:

Domestic abuse in romantic relationships Domestic abuse towards children Incest Kidnapping Sexual abuse Religious abuse & Cults Elder abuse Human trafficking

If you have not had one of these experiences yourself, it may be difficult to understand how someone in such a terrible situation like one of the above could have feelings of love, dependence, or concern for the person or people abusing them. On the other hand if you have survived one of these experiences, then you know how real the trauma bond can get.

Since the trauma bond forms out of the basic human need for attachment as a means of survival, it can become very strong and resistant to change -- after all, it facilitated survival up to this point. From there, an abuse victim may become dependent on their abuser in a complex emotional situation that affects even people who seem otherwise very emotionally strong and intelligent.

About Logan Cohen


My name is Logan Cohen. I am a proud Family Man (to both Human and “fur babies”), an author, a practicing Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), and an Approved Supervisor with American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Over the last 20 years in the field, I have dedicated my Life’s Work to supporting community members who are navigating chaotic relationships, healing from unresolved trauma and growing through painful transitions.

Like most people, I was taught to keep my problems to myself—even if it came at the cost of my own health & happiness. Between struggling with ADHD & Anxiety as a Kid, then developing Addiction issues as an adolescent in an attempt to cope with life as a young adult, I was headed for the same pitfalls where many people get stuck today.

I discovered my own natural balance as a Wilderness Therapist in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, where I lived & worked alongside youth who were offered a "new lease on life" as an alternative to Youth Detention Centers.

Those were some of the most difficult experiences of my Life—ranging from violent riots and month-long canoe trips to the inevitable painful weather exposure living through the Appalachian Winters by the heat of wood stoves in cabins we built with hand tools. Those experiences—all of the good, bad, and the ugly—taught me a more deliberate way of living a daily Life that is rich with personal meaning.

Later as a practicing therapist, father, and business leader, I have continued to refine these skill-sets and knowledge bases over the years in my own professional therapy practice.

I am pleased to offer some of my most sought after specialization areas here on AVID's platform.

Interested in the course?

We’ll send you updates.


Healing The Trauma Bond

by Logan Cohen

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© Logan Cohen 2023

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