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In my previous post I told you that I have betrayal trauma induced post traumatic stress (PTSD), adrenal fatigue, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
Some of you may have read that and said “huh? What in the world is betrayal trauma!?” I know that’s what I thought the first time I heard the term.
Understanding is the first step to healing, so this post is all about understanding betrayal trauma and its affects on the individual and the relationship.
Betrayal Trauma Definition
The term betrayal trauma was first introduced by Jennifer Freyd in 1991 at a presentation at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. According to 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: Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver are examples of betrayal trauma.” (link)
Betrayal trauma doesn’t only happen in childhood though. It can ao be perpetuated in adulthood by anyone who we hold close, trust, an who is a crucial part of our life. The most common example is addiction or abuse in an intimate relationship. When the one person in the world who is supposed to be your biggest strength becomes your source of pain and betrayal it can cause intense trauma symptoms. when that abuse and betrayal continually happens over an extended period it can even least to C-PTSD.
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The Effects of Betrayal Trauma
Freyd further tells us that when trauma involves a betrayal we are less likely to be aware of what is occurring or recall the details. Why? Because when we confront the perpetrator it threatens an attachment that we feel is necessary to our survival. Those awesome survival instincts can kick in and literally erase our memory or change it to make the betrayal seem like less of a threat.
I felt like I was all these monkeys combined into one! I refused to hear or see the abuse in my marriage and definitely terrified to say anything about the things I did notice.
When our conscious mind is protecting us, and our subconscious mind is screaming that everything is not ok it can lead to some pretty severe problems.
In a recent study it was shown that ~70% of wives of sex addicts could be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yep, the same thing that military folk come home with is what traumatized wives deal with.
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PTSD comes with a lot of really fun symptoms including:
- Spontaneous or cued recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic events
- Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content or affect (i.e. feeling) of the dream is related to the events
- Flashbacks or other dissociative reactions in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic events are recurring
- Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic events
- Physiological reactions to reminders of the traumatic events
- Persistent avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic events or of external reminders
- Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic events (not due to head injury, alcohol, or drugs)
- Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous”).
- Persistent, distorted blame of self or others about the cause or consequences of the traumatic events
- Persistent fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
- Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
- Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
- Persistent inability to experience positive emotions
- Irritable or aggressive behavior
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
- Exaggerated startle response
- Problems with concentration
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep
Yeah, that’s a lot. All of these symptoms can also take their toll physically. Adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, joint and/or muscle pain, headaches, weight gain, and even more often manifest themselves when a person is suffering from trauma.
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So now that you understand Betrayal Trauma what can you do about it? It’s time to focus on your own healing. Check out my blog post 4 Simple Steps for Betrayal Trauma Recovery to get started. You can also check out the Ultimate Betrayal Trauma Resource Guide for more resources.
What a horrible experience to ever endure no wonder you suffer from trauma I don’t judge people who believe in God please don’t mistake my words but in my opinion was not God who saved you 🙏 you saved yourself & you done all yoi could to survive but you not not make the lawas all countries are different. Please take some peace from the facts you alone are a survivor you saved yourself fought for justice & you alone protected yourself yes maybe your faith & beliefs encouraged you to not give up & your trauma is justified but not once u sound like a victim in your own story. I wish you all the best & hope you will someday slowly recover in mean time remember you are your own hero 🥰
Your story could be mine. When the stuff hit the fan, it traumatized me so badly that it threw me into premature menopause. Seven years later, and I’m still plagued with intrusive thoughts, unpredictable tears, and horrible, horrible dreams. I’m sorry we all had to go through this, and I’m praying for justice in the end.
My husband of 12 years Joshua fair. Did this to me
.. and has posted it on his PINTEREST. Thanks babe, I need all the help I can get
Oh man that stinks!! I hope you can find some hope and healing here.
My story is too long. I was wooed to Nigeria by s scammer and in five days later married him. I was abused, locked up. I was beaten raped robbed of $600,000. I escaped the house . I had eight policeman around the clock protect me while I took these two men to court m. While waiting for court dates in court hearings the police and I found them drives of everything these mastermind had done to women for 12 years. Pictures and names everything and I brought them home and I have them locked up in the safe.in Nigeria and put two men in prison but nine months later They are out. I am back home now two years. Suffering from horrible trauma. They paired my contacts and everything I had in my computer to their’s. Everything was deleted and sent to Nigeria with a an alias ghost cloud account. Called harassed on the phone daily. I suffer a horrible nightmares. The economic financial crime committee said that this man was a mastermind. If they do this to 65 to 90 women a month but many of them don’t come home alive. God allowed me to escape. And I don’t know where to start. My holistic doctor is giving me post dramatic stress disorder pills. If I take it to the news they will find my children and assassinate them that’s how big this organization is in Nigeria. I am a Christian. The Lord protected me from being used in a Satanic ritual murder. I took myself off of Facebook because these Nigerians were hacking into my account. So I don’t know how to see your wonderful words on trauma. What would you suggest I do? Thank you very much Grace Costa
Grace your story just breaks my heart. I have never had to endure anything so brutally traumatic. I will pray for you and your recovery. Have you found a good counselor/therapist that you can talk to? IF you have a domestic violence shelter near you they should be able to lead you to someone who understands and can help with processing your grief.