When trust is broken by a close partner or institution, a person can experience betrayal trauma with intense emotional distress. The more intimate and connected the relationship, the more traumatizing the betrayal. Infidelity is one of the most common forms of betrayal, but many other actions can cause betrayal responses.
The negative feelings and thought patterns within the betrayal experience are often described as a piercing, aching pain that does not go away. Often the body holds onto the pain of being betrayed and will not let it process through the body. As the betrayal experience becomes about survival and safety, the body can replay and replay the betrayal, magnifying emotions, compounding its impacts and preventing recovery.
Types of betrayal trauma
- Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
- Sexual or emotional infidelity
- Disclosure of confidential information
- Secretive behaviors
- Disloyalty, disrespect and dismissiveness
- Reoccurring social inequities
- Organized hate crimes
- Being bullied or silenced
Symptoms of betrayal trauma
Betrayal trauma can have long-term physical and mental health impacts.
- Relationship Issues
- Substance Abuse
- Emotional Dysregulation
- Anxiety & Depression
- Difficulty concentrating
Therapy for betrayal and infidelity
Betrayal can be a devastating and difficult experience. Betrayal therapists create safe, low-risk environments for people to be able to process their betrayal experience while building skills to support thoughts and behaviors that promote healing and recovery. Fostering connections and social support is an important part of recovery as those who are betrayed often isolate themselves thinking they can ‘handle the issue’ on their own. Here are some steps that may help.
- Acknowledge the betrayal
- Process emotions
- Set Boundaries
- Recognize patterns
- Normalize your experience