Monika Hendrix

Top 10 Tips for Healing from a Trauma Bonded Relationship 


posted by

Monika Hendrix

follow @monikanhendrix

Welcome to my world of trauma recovery! In my bog, you'll find valuable articles about trauma recovery, relationships, and leadership development. I'm so grateful that you've felt called to drop in and connect with me here. 

more categories

Hi, I'm monika

Healing from a toxic (and possibly abusive) relationship takes TIME. 

Especially if you were trauma-bonded in that relationship. 

That’s why it’s SO important to be gentle with yourself and practice self-compassion in the days/weeks/months that follow your break-up. Allow time to heal you. Reach out for support. Know that you’re not alone, and this too shall pass!

Thankfully, there are many alternative therapies available today that can assist with this type of healing process. 

Before you begin the recovery process, it’s important that you gain an understanding of what trauma bonds actually are. Trauma bonds are emotional attachments that develop due to the repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation and positive reinforcement. This type of cyclic activity actually creates a neuro-chemical response in the brain. The brain can become addicted to the cycle and so, breaking free from toxic relationships is not just a cognitive (thinking) decision, it’s also a decision that is tied to neurochemical and physiological anchors.  

This is exactly why you might have a hard time letting go of the connection. (Think: you break-up to make-up, rinse and repeat.) 

One of many ways individuals can help their brain break a trauma bond is by facilitating the release of calming oxytocin (from the amygdala). Igniting oxytocin receptors of this type can reduce cravings, ease withdrawal, and lessen pain. Oxytocin receptors can become activated by engaging in calming healing therapies, such as Reiki, yoga, and meditation. 

…But healing doesn’t have to stop there. 

I’ve created a list of my top ten tips for healing from a trauma-bonded relationship so that you can recover with grace and ease. 

Use the tips below as you see fit to heal your heart and make peace with your past. 

Let’s begin…

The first step in healing a trauma bond is going no contact. Your willingness to change must outweigh your propensity for staying in touch because of a story you’ve created that reads “this time will be different.” 

When you’re trauma bonded to an individual, you will have a hard time breaking free from all contact with them because of the neuro-chemical addiction to the emotional highs and lows that went hand-in-hand with your emotionally abusive relationship. (Your brain was literally programmed to stay connected to them so that you could get that “love-drug” fix.)

That addictive cycle can only be broken when no-contact is respected and prioritized. Only then will your cognitive dissonance begin to dissipate. Only then can you begin to repair your skewed sense of Self. 

However, you cannot heal from something if you aren’t even AWARE of it’s existence…which brings me to #2….

When you’re completely unaware of your trauma-bonded attachment style, you’ll say things to make excuses for your unhealthy relationship dynamic. Things that sound like: 

“But I can’t live without them....”

“This time is different...”

“It was probably my fault for making them upset...”

“But we’re destined to be together no matter what...”

Sound familiar?

If this is you, and you’re beginning to wonder if you were trauma-bonded, keep reading....

When your partner idealized you, it felt amazing, right? They told you they loved you, that you were special to them, etc. etc. etc. (Aka love bombing.) In turn, your brain released dopamine, one of it’s “feel good” chemicals. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates a feeling of intense pleasure which can motivate you to repeat a specific behavior in order to receive a reward. Recognize and become aware of this pattern and begin to decipher the moments when you feel that rush of dopamine hit. Become aware of what makes you feel good and then explore why it makes you feel that way. 

Recovery from a trauma-bonded relationship looks different for everyone, and there is no set time limit for healing. It may take several weeks of no-contact for you to start to feel relief. The level of communication with your ex and your ability to uphold your boundaries will impact your ability to heal and move on with your life. During this time, it's important to stay single so that you don't get into another unhealthy relationship. Take time to heal so that you can attract better. Again, there's no set healing time, just don't rush the process. 

Tracking and identifying your emotions day-to-day will help you develop a sense of empowerment and agency. It's important to create separation between what your ex projected onto you when you were with them vs. who you really are and how you really feel now. Plus, the emotions you’re feeling now will be much different than the emotions you’re feeling a few months from now, or a year from now. Heck, it may even seem like your emotions change by the hour sometimes! By keeping this diary, you can track your emotional progress as time passes. I guarantee that one day you’ll look back and read what you wrote in disbelief and exclaim: “I can’t believe I felt that way!” 

It’s sometimes easier to point the finger at another instead of looking within when we’ve been hurt. However, in the case of healing from a trauma-bonded relationship, it’s super important to get honest with Self and own up to your part in the relationship. What did you contribute? Were there times when you caused harm, either intentionally or unintentially? Once you get gut-level honest, and own your part in the relationship, you can begin the process of self-forgiveness. Which brings me to #6….

Forgive yourself for your part in the relationship. You can do this by placing your hands over your heart and simply stating out loud “I now forgive myself for my wrongs in this relationship and I release myself from feeling the pain they have caused.” 

Or, if you prefer you can write yourself a letter of forgiveness and read it aloud to yourself before burning it. You must forgive yourself so that you can create space for deeper self-acceptance. Whatever you do, do it with the intention of freeing yourself from guilt and shame. 

You heard me right! It’s time to tap into inner siren. Often times, after a breakup, people go through a mourning process that involves abstaining from physical intimacy. (I highly recommend that you remain abstinent post break-up so that you can reserve and heal your energy.) During this time, you get to enjoy honoring YOU. Buy yourself some sexy clothes and wear it when you’re alone at home. (For no reason other than to feel like a sexy god/goddess.) Adorn your body with silky fabrics and fine fabrics. Indulge in a rose petal milk bath and light your favorite scented candles. Create a sensual experience for yourself and tap into your essence. Let’s face it-you’ve been through a rough break-up. It’s probably been awhile since you felt sexy, and maybe even admired. Give yourself that feeling now that you’re single. 

You know those paranoid feelings you get when someone new takes a liking to you? Or the way you feel when you’re around a crowd of new people for the first time since your break-up? You may feel skeptical of the motives of others, and unsure of what their intentions are. These are all NORMAL feelings and thoughts to experience after you leave an unhealthy relationship. Especially if your ex was narcissistic. You are most likely experiencing some degree of cognitive dissonance-which is quite literally a fancy way of saying that you’re ‘mind f*cked’. It’s going to take time for you to discern the voice of your fears and paranoia from the voice of your intuition and inner truth. Remember, you were in a trauma-bonded relationship with someone who frequently made you question your sanity. It’s normal to feel paranoid. So go ahead and block people on social media, remain incognito, and change your phone number if you must. Do what you need to do to feel safe again. Just don’t allow these behaviors to become extreme. The paranoid feelings should wane as time goes by. And if they don’t, it’s a signal that you may want to seek out professional help. 

TIP #9: GO ON A SOLO ADVENTURE              
Spontaneity is the spice of life! And you so deserve a fun-filled adventure after what you’ve been though. Take a trip to somewhere you’ve really wanted to go, and go solo. Traveling alone is a wonderful way to create space for self-reflection (and self indulgence!) In my experience it can be truly healing to the human spirit. Just imagine the possibilities ….where would you like to go now that you’re single and free? 

This last tip is crucial! If you’ve been thinking of investing in self-development, 1:1 coaching support or considering exploring your spirituality, now would be the time to do it! When you’re fresh out of a break-up, you are the most vulnerable to outside influences. So it’s imperative that you find a professional that you trust fully to be your guide during this special time in your life. Whether that be a coach, a therapist, or a healer…choose someone who resonates with your soul, and most importantly someone who has been through what you’re going through now. Receive support from someone who has made it to the other side, victorious. Find a support group, one that allows you to share your story with other members in a safe container. As humans, we need connection in order to thrive. We need community. Find a support system that speaks to you and show up to share. Your pain may be great but you don’t have to carry it alone. One of my favorite quotes is “our biggest breakthroughs are preceded by our biggest breakdowns”. This is YOUR TIME TO SHINE, so rise up like a Phoenix from the ashes. Invest in yourself and allow your inner transformation to take place so that you can attract better next time. 


An introduction to the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach to trauma recovery. Discover the basis for this evidence-based, therapeutic approach to
trauma recovery. 

let's get personal

Compassion Fatigue: my story

“I just can’t do this anymore.” 
I was burned out, and the work was taking a serious toll on my own physical and mental health. 



stay awhile + read


subscribe on


Join me on YouTube and listen to my Trauma Recovery 101 Video Series where my colleagues and I chat about talk all things trauma and healing.

Check out my