05 Feb Betrayal Trauma: What Does it Feel Like and How to Move On

Posted at 12:01 pm in Uncategorized by jlbworks

When someone you deeply trust, be it a friend, romantic partner, or family member, acts in a way that fundamentally breaks the trust upon which your relationship is built, the resulting emotional turmoil is profound. 

This experience, known as betrayal trauma, can leave lasting scars, affecting one’s mental health and well-being. Here’s an in-depth look at betrayal trauma, its effects, and strategies for recovery, emphasizing the support available from professionals like Dr. Phil Chanin, a psychologist in Nashville, specializing in treating individuals affected by relationship trauma.

What is Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma occurs when someone we are emotionally connected to and trust deeply violates our trust in a significant way. This breach can stem from infidelity, lying, manipulation, or any form of disloyalty that undermines the foundation of the relationship.

The causes of betrayal trauma are as varied as the relationships we form. These actions shake the core of what we believed was secure, leading to a profound sense of loss and confusion.

What Can Betrayal Trauma Feel Like

The emotional impact of betrayal can manifest in numerous ways. Individuals may feel isolated, anxious, and depressed. The sense of shock, loss, and grief can be overwhelming, leading to a morbid preoccupation with betrayal, damaged self-esteem, self-doubt, and intense anger.

The psychological effects of betrayal trauma are mirrored by physiological responses; the betrayed may suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, disruptive sleep patterns, insomnia, depression, brain fog, distraction, hypervigilance, angry outbursts, social withdrawal, and an overarching sense of fearfulness. These symptoms highlight the profound impact betrayal can have on both mind and body.

What Triggers Betrayal Trauma

Triggers can vary widely, often tied to reminders of the betrayal or situations that feel similar to the circumstances of the betrayal. Understanding these triggers is a crucial step in the healing process.

Triggers can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Sensory Reminders: Certain smells, sounds, or sights that were associated with the time of betrayal or the person who committed the betrayal.
  • Dates or Anniversaries: Specific dates, such as the anniversary of the betrayal or other significant moments shared with the betrayer, can reignite feelings of pain and loss.
  • Locations: Places that hold memories of the betrayal or were significant in the relationship with the betrayer can become difficult to visit or even think about.
  • Similar Situations: Encountering situations that mirror the context of the betrayal, even if they involve different people or settings, can trigger intense emotional reactions. 
  • Conversations and Topics: Discussions about trust, infidelity, or related topics can serve as triggers, especially if they touch on issues directly related to the individual’s experience of betrayal.
  • Media: Movies, TV shows, songs, or books that deal with themes of betrayal or loss can resonate on a deeply personal level, triggering memories and emotions related to one’s own experience.

How to Move On From Betrayal Trauma

Moving on requires acknowledging the pain, accepting difficult emotions, and focusing on personal needs and healing. These steps are essential for anyone looking to recover from the deep wounds inflicted by betrayal: 

Acknowledge the Pain 

Give yourself permission to feel and express the range of emotions that come with such a profound experience of loss and deception. It’s important to recognize that your feelings are valid and that grieving the loss of trust is a natural response to betrayal. Acceptance involves recognizing that difficult emotions such as anger, sadness, confusion, and disappointment are part of the healing process.

Focus on Personal Needs and Healing

Moving on from betrayal trauma requires a conscious effort to focus on your own needs and well-being. This can include setting boundaries to protect yourself from further harm, engaging in self-care practices that promote physical and emotional health, and pursuing activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Rebuild Trust Slowly

Rebuilding trust involves learning to trust your judgment again and, if applicable, cautiously rebuilding relationships with clear boundaries and open communication. This step often comes later in the healing process, once a solid foundation of self-care and support has been established.

Seek Individual Counseling for Betrayal Trauma 

For those struggling with betrayal trauma, professional support can be invaluable. Dr. Phil Chanin, a psychologist based in Nashville, TN, offers specialized counseling for individuals dealing with the anxiety and depression that often accompany relationship trauma. Engaging with a psychologist can provide a safe space to explore your feelings, understand the impact of the betrayal, and develop effective coping strategies to move forward.

Betrayal trauma is a profound and unsettling experience, but with the right support and resources, healing is possible. If you’re struggling in the aftermath of betrayal, consider reaching out to a professional like Dr. Phil Chanin, who can guide you through the process of recovery. 

Remember, it’s possible to rebuild trust in yourself and others, and to find a path forward toward a healthier, happier life.