Betrayal Trauma, What is it?


Example One:

Sharon was having a beautiful day. She had just finished peeling a banana and was having a snack. She looked up to see her son scrolling through his phone. She was immediately triggered.

She snaps, “What are you looking at?!?!”

“Nothing, I’m on Facebook. Jeez mom, you  never trust me.”

Her mind is racing and she’s in state of panic.

Example Two:

Mary had gone to bed, her spouse hadn’t gotten home yet. “What if he was having a problem again.” Her mind won’t stop thinking about it. She gets up, dresses and drives to his place of employment to check on him. She feels she must be reassured everything is okay.

He thinks she’s gone crazy and is mean. She is constantly checking on his every move. She has frequent bouts of tears and can’t seem to control her emotions. He is feeling smothered by her constant need to know where he is and what he is doing.

Example Three:

Alissa shoved her emotions down. Her stomach was bothering her and every time she discovered her husband had looked at porn she felt like screaming at him. Instead she shoved the feelings deeper. She was struggling with depression. She wouldn’t speak to him and distanced herself further and further from him.  She bottled her emotions until she couldn’t take it any longer and a spew of hateful comments came out directed at him.

Where ever there is an addict, there are two or more who need help. Betrayal trauma isn’t always the same for every person. It manifests itself in many ways. The following is a list of different ways it can manifest itself.

  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Stuffed Emotions
  • Depression
  • Bursts of Anger
  • Constantly checking internet history
  • Purposely do things to hurt the other
  • Withhold love and affection
  • Withhold sexual intimacy
  • Feelings of low self-worth
  • Body image problems
  • Nightmares
  • Racing thoughts
  • Shaking uncontrollably
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Ignoring
  • Throws themselves into caring for children*
  • Pretending there isn’t a problem
  • Makes unrealistic demands/controlling
  • Name calling or hateful remarks
  • Throws themselves into a hobby*
  • Throwing objects
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse/manipulation
  • Feeling like they’ve gone crazy. This often happens when an addicted spouse won’t admit they have a problem and the other spouse is seeing the signs.

*Remember that caring for ones children or having a hobby isn’t a bad thing. Obviously, caring for children is necessary. It’s important to have great coping mechanisms and necessary for reducing stress, finding joy and moving forward. However, it can be a problem if one is using these things as a means to runaway from the problem and not face it at all.

I’m certain there are other items that could be added. Betrayal Trauma is real and affects everyone differently. It’s so important to get help from someone who is trained in this area to help. Ecclesiastical leaders give inspired counsel and direction, but often lack the knowledge or skills needed to help in the healing process. This is why they are often counseled to refer individuals to the ARP | Spouse and Family Support Program or professionals who can help those affected in the healing process.  Knowledge is power.

Getting help is crucial for healing for all parties involved. If one spouse refuses to get help, the other can still heal and learn how to focus on becoming the individual the Lord would have them become through the personal healing journey. Healing is about personal change and growth. It’s about becoming partnered with the Savior and learning to depend on our Heavenly Father for strength to endure.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has so many inspired tools for helping those struggling with betrayal trauma. Again a study of the gospel can change behavior quicker than a study of behavior. The ARP Program is just that, a gospel designed recovery program written by professionals. The Lord knows that the families of the addicted also need healing and that is why they have designed a program just for this. The link is in bold print above. This program is perfect for spouses of those currently or previously struggling with any kind of addiction, if one can’t seem to forgive and move on, or for parents of struggling youth. I invite you to prayerfully utilize the tools that have been inspired for the purpose of healing in the Lord’s way. Satan’s design is to destroy the family. By getting the help needed, the chances of full recovery are much greater. The Savior’s healing power is found in these inspired programs.

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