What Is Abandonment Trauma?

abandonment trauma

There are many different types of psychological trauma, all of which can go on to influence a person’s feelings and behavior. One such type of trauma is abandonment trauma, a form of trauma characterized by feelings of fear, loneliness, and danger. 

Wondering what causes abandonment trauma and abandonment issues in general? Read on as we discuss the reasons in detail below. 

Abandonment Issues

Abandonment issues and trauma stem from a fear of losing a loved one.  Whether it’s a significant other, friend, or family member it can happen to anyone at any point in their life.  It often occurs in childhood but there are many reasons individuals might develop abandonment trauma. 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is commonly tied to feelings of abandonment. When a person is abused emotionally by someone that’s supposed to provide love, that person can begin to have issues trusting feelings of love. As such, when feelings of love present themselves, the affected individual ends up believing that abandonment is around the corner. 

In many cases, this can cause the affected individual to push love away. This is done in an effort to avoid abandonment. The affected effectively abandons first, thereby eliminating all risk of being abandoned. 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can lead to abandonment trauma as well. Again, this is most prevalent when the abuse comes at the hand of someone who is supposed to love the victim. It works much in the same way that emotional abuse does. 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can cause abandonment issues as well. This is true whether it occurred in childhood or in adulthood. Note, however, that childhood sexual abuse tends to have the most potent effect. 


Neglect is its own form of abuse and can have just as big an impact as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. A child who is chronically neglected by their parents can have trouble trusting others. This can lead to perpetual feelings of abandonment in adulthood. 


Another factor that can lead to abandonment issues is death. If a person loses a loved one at an influential time, that person can begin to suffer chronic feelings of fear and loneliness. 

For instance, if a teenager loses a friend unexpectedly at a young age, he or she might carry negative feelings about it for years to come. These feelings can infiltrate all aspects of the person’s being, resulting in severe emotional and psychological turmoil. 


Were you betrayed by a long-term romantic partner? If so, it’s only natural that you might experience feelings of abandonment currently. After all, you were let down by someone that you put tons of trust in. 

While infidelity doesn’t tend to have as great an effect as childhood trauma, it can still do a number on a person’s psyche. As such, treatment might be needed


Divorce might not technically be a betrayal but it can certainly feel like one. If you don’t see it coming, it can throw your entire world for a loop. And even if you do see it coming, it can still affect your ability to trust others. 

So, if you went through a divorce lately, it might be a good idea to see a therapist. There is almost undoubtedly unresolved pain that you need help managing. 


Many feelings of abandonment stem from childhood abandonment trauma, specifically. One way that this presents itself is through poverty. Children who grow up without basic physical necessities can also start to feel as though they’re lacking emotional and psychological necessities, even if they’re being provided adequate psychological and emotional support. 

So, if you grew up with low socio-economic status, you might very well suffer from abandonment issues currently. 

Signs of Abandonment Trauma

Now, you might be curious as to some signs of abandonment trauma. We’re going to discuss some of the most prominent signs below. 

Giving More Than You Receive

One sign of abandonment trauma is that you give more than you receive. Whether it’s in friendships, romantic relationships, or otherwise, you’re eager to please and never seem to get back as much as you give to others. 

Generally speaking, this is because you’re trying to prevent abandonment. The rationale (whether conscious or subconscious) is that you’ll get the person to stick around through favors and kind acts. Unfortunately, this leaves you vulnerable to being taken advantage of. 

Trust Issues

Those with abandonment trauma also tend to have trust issues. Because they were abandoned at some point in the past, they can never quite trust someone to stick around in the present. 

Control Issues

Abandonment trauma also often presents itself as control issues. The affected individual tries to control every scenario as a means of preventing abandonment in the future.

Unfortunately, this often has the opposite effect. Because the other party doesn’t like being controlled, they leave, thereby completing the abandonment. 

Intimacy Issues

In some cases, abandonment can lead to intimacy issues. The affected individual can have trouble getting emotionally close to friends and romantic partners.

This is generally a subconscious effect of the desire to avoid abandonment. By distancing oneself self emotionally, one can avoid what they consider to be true abandonment. No true relationship is ever established and so there’s no legitimate chance of abandonment actually occurring. 


The feeling that shrouds most forms of abandonment trauma is the feeling of insecurity. Affected individuals tie previous abandonments to the idea that they weren’t good enough. They believe that they were abandoned because they weren’t able to measure up to the abandoner’s expectations. 

As such, when around others, they feel insecure in their capabilities. They feel they’re not good enough to keep others around. 

Looking for Abandonment Trauma Treatment?

Do you suffer from abandonment issues? Looking for abandonment trauma therapy? If so, and if you’re in Southern California, Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center can help. 

We offer treatment for a variety of traumas, abandonment being just one. Whether you need treatment just for abandonment issues or also suffer from drug and alcohol dependency, our team can assist you. Contact us now to discuss your needs!

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