Betrayal Trauma


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“Betrayal.  A breach of trust.  Fear.  What you thought was true–counted on to be true–was not.  It was just smoke and mirrors, outright deceit and lies.  Sometimes it was hard to tell because there was just enough truth to make everything seem right.  Even a little truth with just the right spin can cover the outrageous. Worse, there are sincerity and care that obscure what you have lost.  You can see the outlines of it now.  It was exploitation.  You were used.  Everything in you wants to believe you weren’t.  Please make it not so, you pray. Yet enough has emerged.  Facts.  Undeniable.  You sizzle with anger.

Betrayal.  You can’t explain it away anymore.  A pattern exists.  You know that now.  You can no longer return to the way it was (which was never really as it seemed.)  That would be unbearable.  But to move forward means certain pain.  No escape.  No in-between.   Choices have to be made today, not tomorrow. The usual ways you numb yourself will not work.  The reality is too great, too relentless.

Betrayal.  A form of abandonment.  Often the abandonment is difficult to see because the betrayer can still be close, even intimate, or may be intruding in your life.  Yet your interests, your well-being is continually sacrificed.

Abandonment by betrayal is worse than mindless neglect.  Betrayal is purposeful and self-serving.  If severe enough, it is traumatic.  What moves betrayal into the realm of trauma is fear and terror.  If the wound is deep enough, and the terror big enough, your bodily systems shift to an alarm state.  You never feel safe.  You’re always on full alert, just waiting for the hurt to begin again.

In that state of readiness, you’re unaware a part of you has died.  You are grieving.  Like everyone who has experienced loss, you have shock, and disbelief, fear, loneliness and sadness.”

Patrick J. CarnesThe Betrayal Bond, Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships

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