Do Any of These Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma Surprise You?

May 12, 2021

It might be hard to understand betrayal trauma if you've never experienced it. In fact, it's usually very complex and can be difficult to treat on your own. However, understanding it better may bring about insight and clarity.

Betrayal trauma occurs after there is a significant violation of trust within a close relationship. For example, discovering infidelity or your partner's porn addiction could lead to betrayal trauma. Likewise, children living with abusive or neglectful parents may also develop symptoms.

In this article, we will talk about what betrayal trauma is and what it may feel like if you're living with it.

Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal trauma happens because of abuse or a significant violation of one's trust. As a result, there can be many physical or emotional issues that accompany betrayal trauma.


Physical symptoms can include:

  • Low energy
  • Problems sleeping
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Medical issues, new or worsening
  • Problems eating, too much or too little
  • Headaches

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • New or worsening depression
  • Low motivation
  • New or worsening anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hard time focusing
  • Intense mood swings
  • Anger
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoid or hyper-awareness
  • Uncontrollable emotions

Many who experience betrayal trauma report feeling alone in their feelings. For example, you may not want to tell anyone about your partner's affair or addiction. Likewise, you may feel as if you are somehow to blame for your spouse's behavior. Although it's not your fault, believing it is can leave you looking inward instead of seeking outside support.

What Does Betrayal Trauma Do To The Brain?

When you experience trauma from someone you rely on for safety and security, it can lead to a variety of complications. helps us understand what happens when betrayal trauma occurs.

After betrayal trauma, you may enter into a survival mindset. For example, thoughts may lead you to an intense state of hypervigilance. Although exhausting, it's your brain's way to try and protect you from another blindside. As a result, you may become more anxious and irritable. Likewise, you may have a hard time shifting your focus to other things. The science behind this is the fear center of your brain takes over in an effort to prevent another painful blindside.

In situations where you're completely reliant on the relationship, you may try to ignore the abuse or betrayal in an effort to survive. For example, this is prevalent in abusive child-to-parent relationships. Likewise, if your spouse is the main provider, you too may feel it's necessary to endure. As a result, this evokes complex emotions and behaviors as you wrestle with the betrayal trauma and try to survive or maintain a sense of normalcy.

What Helps With Betrayal Trauma?

If you or someone you know is living with betrayal trauma, there is help. Like other mental health issues, talking to a doctor or a therapist would be a good place to start. For example, counseling may be a great way for you to begin to process the trauma you've endured.

It can also be beneficial to have coping skills to turn to when heavy emotions leave you feeling weighed down.

Examples of valuable skills include:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • going for a walk
  • yoga
  • stretching
  • listening to uplifting music
  • take some time alone
  • count to ten
  • say something kind to yourself
  • talk to a friend
  • write down your emotions in a journal
  • visualize your favorite place
  • think of a happy memory
  • think of a pet you love

If you know someone who is living with betrayal trauma, it's important they have support. After all, this is a complex and difficult issue, and healing can take time. Furthermore, without help, you could suffer from symptoms indefinitely. Having a close friend or family member, in addition to professional support, can be crucial to your mental and physical health.

At Paradise Creek Recovery Center, we offer help and recovery to those with sex and other addiction issues. Furthermore, we address the reality that you may be living with betrayal trauma due to your partner's addiction. You deserve healing and peace.

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