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What does Betrayal Trauma Really Mean?

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What does Betrayal Trauma Really Mean?

Similarities with PTSD

So most of us have heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise know as PTSD, which is caused by a situation that is life threatening or has prolonged traumatic events that are beyond a normal range. These can be things like car accidents, kidnapping, physical assault, or other assault that takes away a person’s personal power. There are literally millions of people affected by PTSD in the world and many react different in some ways but usually all have some of the same symptoms like avoiding triggers, nightmares, and flashbacks.

Betrayal Trauma

But very few of the general public have any idea what Betrayal Trauma is. Betrayal Trauma is a very real condition in which a person experiences many of the same symptoms as PTSD caused by a much different trauma. This trauma is related to someone we depend on in a intimate or significant way violating our trust in a critical way. These violations are something that we don’t see coming or that we have been in denial about. This be by any form of abuse, or a spouse cheating when you truly believe they are faithful, or even parental neglect as a child. Due to the personal nature of this type of trauma it can be much more physically, mentally and emotionally destructive. Being hurt by a loved one can leave scars in ways that a stranger would probably never be able to. Feeling betrayed or rejected by our closest connections is a different experience.


Betrayal Trauma causes many symptoms similar to PTSD, such as avoidance of triggers, flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, uncontrollable emotional fluctuations, and even symptoms that can take years to manafest. These longer term symptoms can be very hard to understand because it can be so long between the betrayal and the issues it causes. Some of the immediate responses that most of us go through can actually cause more damage to ourselves, such as, becoming a detective to find out more about what the other person has done. This is not wrong or bad but it does usually lead to more discoveries than we first thought possible.

Significant Other

Most often in a relationship where Betrayal Trauma occurred, the abuser is unable to be honest about what they are doing. Many times this is possibly because they themselves can not understand why or they kow its not ok. There is a time for disclosure, and you should expect a full one, but I recommend you both being in recovery first.

Otherwise there will most likely be multiple cycles of finding something out, confrontation, lies that there is nothing else, and back. This just causes more pain and anger.


Because of the close relationship with the person who has caused the trauma we find it hard to really feel safe after discovery. We question our very reality and basic worth because if this person whom we love and depend on could hurt us so much then we must not be worth very much in the grand scheme of things. This can cause us to act out in strange ways, blaming ourselves and becoming increasingly agitated. We may go so far as to feel maybe the world would be better off without us. This is not ever true. Our views are skewed by our pain and the Trauma we are living. If you EVER feel like doing something to yourself please go to the nearest hospital and get help or call an emergency line. This is not medical advice or anything just one human saying to another, there is a better way. I am not trying to diagnose anything bit do want people to know there is help, if needed.

Where to Start?

Research is still in the beginning stages in understanding Betrayal Trauma. There are huge areas to learn about but there are things we can do in the mean time to help ourselves recover, like, have support even if it’s a coach or counselor, be kind to yourself, learn what self care is and follow it DAILY, and find a program that helps you to realize your worth to move forward to bigger and better things. There is more information coming to my blog, so please check back or subscribe if you’d like to get updates.


If you are interested in my Recovery Coaching services please visit my Booking page and make a free consultation appointment.


If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in my next podcast or blog post please leave a comment.

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