Trauma doesn’t need a degree of physical harm to carry an intense weight. Betrayal trauma is a kind of emotional trauma that still greatly impacts one’s life, affecting everything from how an individual sees relationships to how they see themselves. While it may be a commonly overlooked type of trauma, it is still a very pervasive trauma that continues to affect individuals whether they are overtly aware of it or not. Understanding betrayal trauma is essential in identifying the need for change in one’s life, all while helping an individual contextualize their feelings, experiences, and more, to embrace a recovery strategy to navigate their tumultuous emotional state and move towards a healthy future.

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

Betrayal trauma is a traumatic experience that is pervasive across relationships of all kinds, from romantic partners to one’s childhood relationship with their parents or guardians. Caregivers or role models gone awry can also produce this kind of trauma.

Lies, gaslighting, or prioritizing one’s self-interest to the detriment of another can all prompt feelings of betrayal. This can range anywhere from having one’s emotional, social, or physical needs neglected or denied, to even the death of a loved one carrying with it a feeling of betrayal or abandonment.

However, romantic relationships and partners are where betrayal trauma is felt most commonly and overtly, with lying partners and infidelity being common and harrowing sources of trauma. Cheating partners can cause an individual to not only feel betrayed in their relationship and trust but can also carry dire feelings of self-doubt and unfair blame, leading to a complicated and extraordinarily difficult traumatic situation.

The Prolonged Experience of Betrayal

It is also common that those who suffer from betrayal trauma may suffer from it repeatedly for several reasons. This can be most detrimental when one’s livelihood is directly connected to another, such as a parent or a financially dominant partner. One’s basic needs can make separation from this source of betrayal feel impossible, which opens up an individual to repeated future betrayals. An individual may also push down their traumatic experiences, feelings, or begin to blame themselves in order to maintain other aspects of the relationship when escape may not seem feasible. However, addressing this trauma is still paramount as these feelings of self-doubt and the deterioration of trust or self-worth can have drastic adverse effects on an individual throughout their lives.

Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

Each individual may have their own unique symptoms, but identifying these symptoms can help each individual recognize the presence of betrayal trauma in their lives. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Pervasive anxiety
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Self-isolation
  • Nightmares
  • Difficult managing emotions or emotional responses
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Self-belittlement
  • Attachment issues
  • Substance use

Each of these may manifest in its own unique way, but their recognition helps each individual begin to navigate the complicated path of recovery through betrayal trauma.

Beginning the Healing Process

Each individual will begin the healing process in their own way. However, there are a few key strategies to consider when beginning one’s journey to a healthier future.


Identifying symptoms and allowing oneself to accept the fact that they have suffered from traumatic experiences as a result of betrayal is a crucial component. Accepting that trauma is a part of one’s life can be difficult to do, especially when it is tied to someone very close to oneself. However, identifying symptoms and acknowledging the possibility of betrayal is needed to take any further pertinent steps towards healing.

Defining Needs

Defining one’s needs can help an individual realize how much they may or may not need the other person in their lives. While one’s finances may be tied to a particular negative relationship, by budgeting one’s costs for food, rent, or other aspects of their life, one can determine exactly how much one truly needs to rely on the other person and how much support they can find from other avenues, like friends or other family members.

Accept Emotions

Pushing down one’s feelings is a common response to trauma, with anger, anxiety, and sadness all being forced down and out of view. Accepting these feelings can allow an individual to also accept the need for help, as well as the need for change in one’s current situation. Working with professionals can help each individual begin to express these emotions in a safe space.

Begin to Spend Time With Others

Spending time with others outside of a relationship can help an individual create a better picture of the impact their negative relationship has had on them. This allows an individual to see the support they can garner from other venues while gauging one’s needs and emotional responses on a fair metric. For some, these feelings of betrayal can be validated by having other relationships that have no such negative impact, and even provide support as a result.

Betrayal trauma is a complicated and overlooked form of trauma that demands attention to address and overcome. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about how betrayal trauma may have affected your life, call Sabino Recovery today at (844) 227-7014.