Betrayal trauma goes beyond normal trauma. Most people will experience some trauma in their lifetime like a car accident, abuse or neglect, death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. Most people recover from these trauma over time with the love and support of family and friends. However, betrayal trauma creates a lasting trauma that causes the victim to live with deep emotional pain, fear, confusion, and posttraumatic stress far after the betrayal event occured.
Betrayal Trauma happens when the loving bond you share with someone is damaged by a betrayal of the relationship. Betrayal trauma can quickly overwhelm your relationship and caused tremendous damage. When overwhelmed by betrayal, you are thrust into multiple no-win conflicts of the heart and mind. Your love for the betrayer is threatened by feelings of contempt for their behavior. Your feelings of safety and trust are torn by your fear of being wounded again. You have most likely become emotionally dysregulated and cognitively paralyzed. Everything between you is now stained with the betrayal, and nothing seems real or trustworthy now. Your heart and mind argue about whether you should stay and fight for your relationship or leave and avoid more pain.
When the most trusted people in life are the very ones that inflict the greatest harm-all of your beliefs about life are challenged. Betrayal Trauma is most common in marriages where affairs, pornography, emotional affairs, and other behaviors occur. Other betrayals can come through parents, siblings, relatives, children, close friends, and other specially connected people.
The initial discovery of betrayal is enough to cause the body to immediately ramp up its threat response system. Unfortunately, partners are often dealing with not just that first discovery but an ongoing series of discoveries that activate the threat system repeatedly, causing it to fire up and prepare to fight, flee, or shut down over and over. Many betrayed partners report feeling that just as they start to calm down and gain some equilibrium another discovery occurs and once again their system rockets into chaos.
Most people who are wounded by betrayal trauma fail to recover because they try to ignore it, bury it, or heal themselves. This does not work. The actual effects of betrayal trauma are complex and interlaced throughout your heart and mind. Joining with others in group who have also suffered along with expert guidance is the most effective way to cope with betrayal trauma, especially in the beginning. Sometimes, when the trauma runs deep or it has repeated you need individual help to overcome the complex traumatic affects. The worst thing you can do is try to go it alone! Let us help you help yourself now, when it counts the most.
In these circumstances, the support, guidance, and assistance of a therapist is fundamental to healing from trauma.
According to the four types of symptoms listed in the DSM-5
- Avoiding specific locations, sights, situations, and sounds that serve as reminders of the event
- Anxiety, depression, numbness, or guilt
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks
- Anger, irritability, and hypervigilance
- Aggressive, reckless behavior, including self-harm
- Sleep disturbances
Negative Mood and Cognition Symptoms
- Loss of interest in activities that were once considered enjoyable
- Difficulty remembering details of the distressing event
- Change in habits or behavior since the trauma
Research has proven psychotherapy to be the most effective form of treatment for trauma. Most commonly, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are used in treating trauma.
If you or someone you know matches the trauma symptoms listed above, I am confident that I can help and invite you to contact me today for a free consultation.