What is Betrayal Trauma?
Betrayal trauma is a term that’s been used since the 1990s for a concept as old as humanity itself. According to Jennifer Freyd, betrayal trauma “occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’s trust or well-being.”
Whether your betrayal was a one-off incident or a life-shattering experience, you’re likely to have felt betrayed by someone at some stage of your life. If your betrayal was by someone you trusted to “have your back”, someone you depended on significantly, you know something of the devastation it can cause.
Feeling like the rug has been ripped out from underneath you, it can be difficult to stay standing. It can be challenging to feel certain, safe, or secure. Reality, as you knew it, has changed. It’s hard to know who you can trust, given that the one you trusted the most has shown themselves to be non-trustworthy.
Whether your betrayal was by an intimate partner, a parent, or a close friend, it’s normal to feel distressed and anxious. The trauma you’re experiencing can be quite intense and facing the normal challenges of life can feel like “too much”. If you’re struggling to cope with what’s happened to you, counselling can help.
How can counselling help with betrayal trauma?
When you’ve been betrayed by someone you thought you could trust, it’s difficult to know who to turn to for help. The people in your world often know the person who betrayed you, so they may feel torn and conflicted in terms of offering support to one, or both, of you. Others may try to help but are typically not experienced in being able to understand and work with the complexities of betrayal. In their effort to help, they may have strong opinions about what you should do, they may exacerbate your feelings of rage and even revenge, or they may perhaps diminish or dismiss your experience, telling you that you should just “get over them”.
As a professional counsellor with lived experience of betrayal trauma, and a Certified Clinical Partner Specialist (Candidate), I’m well-equipped to help you work through this problem. One of the essential elements of successful counselling is the strength of the therapeutic relationship; this is never more important than when you’re recovering from betrayal trauma. The relational hurt that you’ve experienced is best healed within the context of a safe relationship. It takes time to develop a sense of safety after you’ve been hurt so badly, and this is an important part of the work that we will do together.
My priority is providing a “safe container” in which you can heal and restore a sense of trust in yourself and others. It may feel impossible right now, but with time and professional help, my experience and training tell me that you can once again experience a sense of safety within yourself and with trusted others. You are not defined by what’s happened to you. It’s a chapter in your life, and the next one can be better!
I encourage you to reach out for support if you’re struggling after your betrayal trauma, whether it be infidelity in your marriage, discovering that your partner has been withholding secrets from you, or other forms of lies and deception that leave you feeling betrayed and devasted. You don’t have to go through this alone. I offer a complimentary 20-minute enquiry call to help you see if we are a good fit and if you’d like to take the next step in your healing journey with me. Alternatively, you’re welcome to contact me by email. I look forward to hearing from you,
Note: If you’re a straight spouse and your betrayal trauma is due to the discovery that your partner has been withholding the truth about their sexual orientation or gender identity, you may find my Not My Closet page helpful.