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Recognising Trauma After Betrayal

Jonathan Riley

Recognising Betrayal Trauma

Understanding that you’ve been through betrayal trauma can be difficult, as it deeply affects your personal connections and relationships. Betrayal trauma looks different for everyone. It depends on what happened, the nature of the relationship, and how resilient you are. But there are common signs and feelings that could indicate you’re dealing with betrayal trauma. Spotting these signs is the first step to understanding how the betrayal has affected you and finding the right help or treatment.

Emotional and Psychological Indicators:

Intense Emotional Reactions: Experiencing strong emotions such as anger, sadness, shock, or disbelief in response to an action by someone close to you that violates your trust can be an initial sign of betrayal trauma.

Preoccupation with the Betrayal: If you find yourself obsessively thinking about the betrayal, analysing the details, and unable to focus on other aspects of your life, it may indicate the deep impact of the event.

Mood Swings: Feeling sudden and strong changes in your mood, like going quickly from feeling sad to being angry, or feeling emotionally unstable, can be signs that you’re struggling with the emotional pain of being betrayed.

Anxiety and Fear: Feeling heightened anxiety, particularly about your relationships, or fearing further betrayal may be signs of betrayal trauma.

Trust Issues: If you notice a significant change in your ability to trust others, even those not involved in the betrayal, it may signal the deeper impact of the trauma.

Physical and Behavioural Indicators:

Sleep Disturbances: Changes in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares related to the betrayal, can be signs of trauma.

Changes in Appetite or Eating Patterns: Significant changes in appetite, whether a decrease or an increase, can be a physical manifestation of emotional distress.

Withdrawal from Social Activities: Pulling away from friends, family, and activities you once enjoyed, or isolating yourself, can be a behavioral response to betrayal trauma.

Relationship Difficulties: Experiencing difficulties in your relationships, such as fear of intimacy, challenges in communicating effectively, or an inability to form new relationships, can be rooted in the trauma of betrayal.

Relational and Cognitive Indicators:

Questioning Self-Worth and Judgment: If you find yourself doubting your worthiness, your judgement, particularly in relation to the betrayal, or experiencing an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, it could be the result of betrayal trauma.

Cognitive Dissonance: Struggling to reconcile your beliefs about the betrayer or the relationship with the reality of their actions can be a sign of betrayal trauma, leading to confusion and distress.

Altered Perception of the Betrayer: Experiencing a drastic change in how you view the person who betrayed you, from seeing them as trustworthy to viewing them with suspicion or contempt, can indicate trauma.

For couples, recognising these signs in oneself or a partner can be a crucial step in addressing the impact of betrayal. It’s important to approach this process with compassion and understanding, recognising that the feelings and responses are valid reactions to a deeply hurtful experience. Acknowledging the presence of betrayal trauma is not about assigning blame but to better understand the feelings involved to pave the way for healing and, if desired, rebuilding the relationship.

If you know someone struggling with betrayal trauma, share this article with them and let them know they’re not alone. If you’re ready to take the next step, schedule a free consultation with Jonathan Riley at My Practice Counselling Melbourne.