Risk Factors for Traumatic Bonding and Associations with PTSD Symptoms

Document Type


Publication Date



traumatic bonding, PTSD


What could possibly lead individuals to become attached to people who cause them harm? Traumatic bonding, a construct similar to yet distinct from Stockholm syndrome, offers one possible psychological explanation as to why many people with abusive romantic partners do not break off these relationships. But the question remains: when comparing individuals with abusive romantic partners, what individual-level factors make some of these people more likely than others to develop traumatic bonding toward their current partners? For the present study, a path model based on a sample of 540 participants in abusive relationships is proposed. Childhood maltreatment and adulthood attachment insecurity are hypothesized to predict the extent to which an individual with an abusive romantic partner will develop traumatic bonding toward that partner. We also predict that traumatic bonding, in turn, may serve as a protective factor against the experience of PTSD symptoms. Finally, we hypothesize that the interaction between childhood maltreatment and attachment insecurity will significantly predict traumatic bonding. Exploratory analyses on romantic love will also be conducted. This is the first study to examine a complex model of risk factors for traumatic bonding.

First Advisor

Raluca Simons

Research Area

Clinical Psychology

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