The Mating Grounds

Overcoming Betrayal Trauma: Practical Steps to Heal and Move Forward

Understanding and Healing from Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma is one of the most devastating things that can happen to someone. When the trust we have in another person is broken, it can cause overwhelming pain and turmoil.

The consequences of betrayal often extend beyond the initial event, affecting our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours for years to come. In this article, we will explore the definition of betrayal trauma, its theoretical basis, examples, and signs and symptoms.

We will also provide practical tips on how to recover and heal from the trauma.

Definition of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma is a term coined by Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon. It refers to any situation in which someone we depend on violates our trust or is unfaithful, causing us psychological harm.

It is not just the deception itself that causes the trauma, but also the fact that someone we relied on let us down in a deeply personal and profound way.

Examples of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma can take many different forms. Sudden discovery of infidelity, gaslighting, lying, or deceit can all be incredibly damaging.

It can happen in any type of relationship, such as a marriage, friendship, or professional relationship.

Signs and Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma can have a variety of symptoms and affects both the mind and body. Physical symptoms may include headaches, stomach trouble, or tightness in the chest.

Mentally, some people might experience dissociation or a feeling of being disconnected from themselves. Emotions may be all over the place, ranging from extreme anger to deep sadness or despair.

Some might even feel like they are in a “withdrawal mode,” where they have stopped engaging with others and find themselves trapped in their thoughts.

Recovering and Healing from Betrayal Trauma

The aftermath of betrayal trauma can be distressing and confusing. You might feel like your whole world has been turned upside down.

Recovery can take time, and it is crucial to be patient and kind to yourself during the process. Here are some tips on how to heal and recover from betrayal trauma:

Acknowledge the Trauma Instead of Avoiding It

It can be tempting to try and push the trauma away, to ignore it or repress it. But avoiding the pain will only make it worse in the long run.

Instead, take the time to address the trauma. Write down how you feel, talk with a trusted friend, or consult with a professional.

By acknowledging what has happened, you validate your experience and help prevent overthinking.

Accept Those Difficult Emotions

Betrayal often comes with a wide range of emotions, many of which can be uncomfortable. Accept those difficult emotions, like shame, guilt, humiliation, anger, vengeance, grief, and sickness.

Try to understand why you’re feeling that way and let yourself feel those emotions. Sit with them, don’t attempt to push them away.

Though this is easier said than done, embracing vulnerability through emotional awareness is vital for self-discovery.

Seek Support from Others

Many people hesitate to ask for help, but seeking the advice of others can be an essential part of the healing process. Consult with friends or family members that you trust, or speak with a therapist.

It is alright to seek emotional support from others, don’t shy away from it.

Focus on Your Needs

One of the most challenging aspects of betrayal trauma is making sound decisions about your future. Take the time to assess your options and consider what the future of the relationship looks like.

Give yourself permission to take time and space for yourself. Focus on what you need, whether it’s processing through grief, joining a support group, or starting a new hobby to get your mind off things.

Learn to cope by asserting healthy meaningful boundaries is vital to your mental and emotional liberation.


Betrayal trauma is incredibly painful, but with time and the right approach, it can be healed. Be kind and patient with yourself through the process by acknowledging your pain and seeking support from loved ones.

By giving yourself the space and attention you need, you will be on the path to healing, recovery, and self-discovery. In conclusion, betrayal trauma can be one of the most devastating experiences life can throw at us.

It can take many forms and cause significant harm both physically and mentally. The road to healing can be long and challenging, but it is essential to address the trauma, accept difficult emotions, seek out support, and focus on yourself.

The most crucial part of recovering from betrayal trauma is acknowledging that it is a process that takes time and patience. By taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to heal, you can move forward towards a brighter future.

Letting go of the past and embracing the future with positivity is crucial for eventual mental, emotional, and physical liberation.

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