If you haven’t yet, please read Do I Have Betrayal Trauma? 26 Symptoms before reading this post.
A BTR Coach and Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, continue their discussion of betrayal trauma. In Part 2, they talk about some of the symptoms and responses to the sex addict’s behaviors.
Betrayal Trauma Symptoms Can Make You Look Crazy
The BTR Coach shares a list of the most common trauma responses that she has seen in her clients and other women who are married to sexually addicted men.
11 Most Common Betrayal Trauma Responses
- Overwhelming emotions
- Unusual/uncharacteristic behaviors
- Sleep difficulties– too much/too little
- ‘Brain fog’– inability to think clearly, memory loss, getting lost easily
- Eating problems– inability to eat/overeating
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Rumination/obsessive thoughts and intrusive images/flashbacks
- Difficulty caring for self or others
- Obsessive need to check the internet history, GPS, email accounts, text message history, etc. for signs that the danger is still present
This is not a comprehensive list. There are many more trauma responses than those listed here. This is an attempt to outline the more common responses post discovery/disclosure.
Many women who experience betrayal trauma symptoms and responses are often labeled “crazy” or “out of control” or even “abusive.” While the behavior may seem abnormal, they are normal for someone in trauma.
“Partners often present with a set of symptoms that match symptoms similar to rape trauma syndrome (RTS) and complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (C-PTSD), including psycho-biological alterations, re-experiencing of the trauma, social and emotional constriction, constant triggering and reactivity, significant anxiety, emotional arousal and hyper-vigilance.
“Sex addiction-induced trauma is a highly specific type of trauma that involves nuanced symptoms that can include fear and panic of potential disease and contamination, fear of child safety and potential of child molestation, social isolation, embarrassment and shame and intense relational rupture and attachment injuries.”
Betrayal Trauma Symptoms Are A Result Of Abuse
The BTR Coach talks about the abuse that accompanies the addiction.
“The work of Minwalla, Steffens et al, reveals some added dimensions to the trauma suffered by partners of sex addicts in the vulnerability they experience to behavioral abuse, treatment-induced trauma and spiritual crisis.
“Many sex addicts accompany their secretive sexual behavior with a number of mind-bending tactics to conceal their secret lives.
“Many are experts at gaslighting and demonstrate an impressive array of narcissistic traits. This is all designed to confuse the partner and render her incapable of trusting her reality and thus incapable of challenging the addict’s behavior.
“Many women report aggressive and violent behaviors from the addicted person after their secret world is discovered.”
Not all women who have a sex-addicted husband experience the violent and aggressive abuse. However, the lying, gaslighting, and manipulation that accompany the addiction are abusive. For more information on how they are abusive, read here.
For more information on signs of abuse read here.
Betrayal Trauma Can Create A Spiritual Crisis
The BTR Coach says that many women experience more than just the psychological and emotional abuse. Some women also experience spiritual abuse, which can lead to secondary trauma. To learn more about secondary trauma, read here.
“Many wives of sex addicts experience spiritual abuse with their religious beliefs exploited as a means of control or minimization. Sadly, some women experience this outside of their relationship, by other members of their religious communities.
“Many are thrown into a spiritual and existential crisis, as they grapple to understand what has just happened to their life, who they committed to and the knock-on effects of who that makes them in this relationship, nay, ALL relationships.
“They are prone to question God’s presence in all this and can feel as betrayed by God as by their partner. Add to that some of the well-meaning, but misguided, advice of some professionals and ‘lay-helpers’ and you have a recipe for compounded trauma, confusion and terror for the partner.”
Betrayed Women In Trauma Should Not Be Treated As Crazy
“There is also the issue of the circumstances surrounding the discovery/disclosure of the issue. Most often this happens by discovery, the addicted partner is ‘found out’ by some means or another.”
“In the most dramatic of cases this can be after an arrest for illegal behavior which, of course, creates a significant crisis. Looks messy, doesn’t it! Tell me again how I’m supposed to tell this broken woman that she created this?
“Clearly, this is a very complex issue with a load of possible nuances, symptoms and responses. When written out like this, it is not hard to see why this condition is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
“A single, ‘cookie cutter’ approach to healing will never work for this diverse group of women, each bringing their unique selves to this experience. That is why you should expect an approach uniquely tailored to you.
Thank you for reading part two of this series on betrayal trauma. In the final segment of this series, Anne and the BTR Coach discuss the stages of healing from betrayal trauma. To read part three in this series, click here.