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Understanding Betrayal Trauma (Do I Have It?)

Have you been betrayed by your partner? You may be suffering from Betrayal Trauma. Learn more about trauma symptoms and responses.

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When the person you love breaches your trust, it can lead to Betrayal Trauma, impacting your self-esteem, emotional well-being, and relationships. But with support, you can find healing.

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

All betrayal is painful. But when the person who betrays you is your intimate partner, the impact can be profound and long-lasting.

You’ve depended on this person for safety and security. You’ve been vulnerable with this person – you trusted them.

Betrayal Trauma is a specific trauma that requires specific healing healing methods and support.

What Do Betrayal Trauma Victims Experience?

Many victims experience intense emotional distress and fatigue as they brace themselves for future betrayals. Often, victims will ruminate over the betrayal(s), trying to understand why and how they happened. Self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical health often decline if victims don’t receive support.

Gaslighting, Lies, Manipulation & More

Tragically, many victims also experience the devastating affects of emotional and psychological abuse in addition to the pain of betrayal.

To cover up the intimate betrayal, partners may:
  • Gaslight (try to alter the victim’s reality)
  • Blame & Shame the victim
  • Turn tables
  • Repeatedly lie to the victim

Betrayal trauma victims are already emotionally drained. Yet, they often feel like they have to pull the truth out of their partner – only to discover lies, emotional withholding, blame, and gaslighting.

Betrayal Trauma Manifests Itself in Our Bodies and Brains

The affects of Betrayal Trauma are physical, mental, and emotional. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

11 Most Common Betrayal Trauma Responses

  1. Overwhelming emotions
  2. Unusual/uncharacteristic behaviors
  3. Sleep difficulties– too much/too little
  4. ‘Brain fog’– inability to think clearly, memory loss, getting lost easily
  5. Eating problems– inability to eat/overeating
  6. Anxiety/panic attacks
  7. Depression
  8. Rumination/obsessive thoughts and intrusive images/flashbacks
  9. Difficulty caring for self or others
  10. Isolation
  11. 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. 

Betrayal Trauma Symptoms

Common Physical Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite/Constant hunger
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Nerve pain
  • Autoimmune disease-like symptoms
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
  • Tremors, Shaking, Shivering
  • Unexplained Fever
  • Unexplained joint pain
  • Pelvic/sexual pain
  • Constant infections
  • Migraine and/or tension headaches
  • Muscle pain/weakness

Common Emotional and Mental Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic/Anxiety attacks
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Inability to focus
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Reliving traumatic experiences (flashbacks)
  • Terror
  • Mood swings
  • Rage
  • Apathy
  • Intense emotional outbursts

“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.”

– Dr. Omar Minwalla

BTR.ORG Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse

At BTR, we believe that every woman deserves safety, validation, and support as she navigates the difficult journey of healing from betrayal trauma. Tune in to The BTR.ORG Podcast to learn more about the realities of Betrayal Trauma.

Our BTR.ORG Group Sessions are available to you – attend a session today.

And remember, you are not alone.

recovering from betrayal trauma
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