Boulder Recovery Blog

What is Betrayal Trauma?

When the people you trust most, like loved ones or friends, betray you, it leaves emotional wounds. That hurt may be challenging to understand or process. What is betrayal trauma? It’s that persistent feeling that you can’t trust again after a person or institution you depended on violates your trust. This post explains more about betrayal trauma and how to heal from it. 

What is Betrayal Trauma?

Betrayal trauma refers to the emotional pain a person experiences after someone they trust betrays them. The result is that the person may question their judgment and feel like they can’t trust anyone again.

Betrayal trauma can come from:

  • Parent or Caregiver. Your parent or primary caregiver, someone your life and welfare depends on, fails to protect you from harm or harms you themselves.
  • Romantic Partner. People rely on their partners for companionship, love, and emotional support. Having this support violated can result in an inability to trust in the future.
  • Interpersonal. A close friend, co-worker, peer, or individual betrays your trust.
  • Organizational/Institutional. When you’re dependent on an organization for community and guidance, but it acts against what you think it stands for.  

People often respond to betrayal by distancing themselves from the people or institutions who betrayed them. But this kind of response isn’t always feasible, especially if the betrayed person depends on that person for things like food or shelter. Other times, betrayal trauma results in the betrayed person distancing themselves from everyone to try to keep themselves safe.

Signs and Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Reactions to betrayal can manifest into more serious problems as time goes on. But they’re not just limited to psychological or emotional signs and symptoms. Sometimes they make themselves known in physical forms.

Side view of a frustrated confused female looking away at window sitting on couch at home

Betrayal trauma symptoms and signs include:

  • Depression. A common symptom of betrayal trauma, depression can affect nearly every facet of life unless you get help.
  • Shame or Self-Blame. It can be easy for the betrayed person to think of themselves as the guilty party. They think they allowed themselves to be misled or should have known. 
  • Lowered Self-Esteem. The betrayed person can experience low self-worth or feelings of not being “good enough” for others to love or care about.
  • Difficulty Trusting Others. When a person’s trust in someone else breaks, they may find it difficult to place their trust in anyone else.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Betrayal can cause extreme emotional distress resulting in this severe mental health disorder.
  • Anxiety or Panic Attacks. These can happen due to intrusive thoughts or memories of betrayal or feeling a loss of control or lack of safety.
  • Change in Diet. A betrayed person can turn to food as a form of comfort for their trauma. Or they might even cut back on food or stop eating altogether.
  • Alcohol or Substance Use. A person may turn to substances to find a way to ease their psychological pain.
  • Changes in Sleep Habits. It’s common for a person to increase their sleep or not sleep at all due to trauma.
  • Emotional Difficulties. A person may find it difficult or even impossible to identify or describe their emotions about the betrayal or its subsequent trauma.
  • Physical Symptoms. A betrayed person may experience physical symptoms like headaches, gastrointestinal issues, or chronic fatigue.

Healing From Betrayal Trauma is Possible

It is possible to heal from betrayal trauma and its aftermath. But you may need help in doing so. 

Boulder Recovery understands betrayal trauma and how it can damage people and their future relationships. Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive helps men address the issues resulting from intimacy disorders and sex addiction – like betrayal trauma – to restore their relationships with their wives and God. 

Boulder Recovery also offers a unique Partner Support Program that runs concurrently with the men’s intensive. The program’s participants meet virtually to learn how to further understand their trauma and its resulting issues. They also make a plan for moving forward and healing their marriages.

If you or someone you love is experiencing betrayal trauma, asking for help is a sign of strength. Get in touch today with Boulder Recovery to begin the road to healing and restoring your relationship.

  • Category: Relationships
  • By Lawrence Buddoo
  • February 2, 2022

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