Patrick Carnes developed the term to describe "the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person." A simpler and more encompassing definition is that traumatic bonding is: "a strong emotional attachment between an abused person and his or her abuser, formed as a result of the cycle of violence."
Bonding is a normal and natural occurrence between people in an interpersonal relationship that grows over time, strengthened by doing things together, participating in major life events together and experiencing good and bad times together.
Bonding in abusive relationships
Unhealthy, or traumatic bonding, occurs between people in an abusive relationship. The bond is stronger for people who have grown up in abusive households because it seems to be a normal part of relationships.
Initially the person that had become an abuser was inconsistent in approach, which developed into an intensity perhaps not matched in other relationships of the victim. The longer a relationship continues, the more difficult it is for people to leave the abusers with whom they have bonded.
- Attachment therapy, a controversial autism treatment that uses traumatic bonding as a means of operant conditioning to establish long-term behavioral compliance in children on the autism spectrum
- Child grooming
- Power and control in abusive relationships
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- Dutton, D. G. (1988). The Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.
- Dutton, D. G., and Painter, S. L. (1993). Emotional attachments in abusive relationships: A test of traumatic bonding theory. Violence and Victims, Vol 8(2) 105-120.
- Dutton, D. G., and Painter, S. L. (1981). Traumatic Bonding: The development of emotional attachments in battered women and other relationships of intermittent abuse. Victimology: An International Journal, 7(4), 139-155.