INFIDELITY / BETRAYAL TRAUMA
The impact of infidelity and betrayal trauma is all encompassing. The person you have placed the most faith in, has shattered your trust, not only in them, but even worse, in yourself
Whether you are experiencing infidelity from a single affair, or chronic infidelity due to addictive behaviors, the resultant betrayal trauma has many similarities. These discoveries frequently lead to fear, anxiety, and other PTSD-like symptoms. Please know that these betrayals were not your fault.
If your partner is struggling with sexual addiction, please understand the seeds of the addiction are typically planted in childhood, long before you ever met your partner, as a dysfunctional coping strategy to deal with life’s stressors, losses, pain and/or trauma. When loved ones turn to addictive substances and/or behaviors instead of their significant others, a toxic dance of distance, distrust and destruction ensues.
We understand the world-shattering impact of realizing that your life was not what it seemed. The person you trusted most became the source of your greatest pain.
How did I not see it?
Unlike other addictions, which have more discoverable signs (ex: smells, drug paraphernalia, physical impacts: slurred speech, dilated pupils etc.), sexual addiction is much harder to detect. With smart phones in our pockets, unending
Advances in technology, combined with a highly sexualized society,, carefully hidden, sets partners up to be blindsided when the addiction becomes unmanageable and inevitable discovery occurs. Whether you had suspicions or were caught completely unaware, let me be clear; this was NOT your fault! The behavioral patterns that led to the addiction likely started WAY before you ever got together.
How can I ever trust myself, let alone someone else again?
The discovery that your life is not what you thought it was, makes you question your thoughts, feelings, instincts, safety, and even your sanity. Often times partners are manipulated, deceived, and gaslit into believing they are nagging, stupid, crazy, emotional or ungrateful in order to deflect from or protect their own addiction or deceptive behavior. Gaslighting, a term derived from a 1938 play by the same name, is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser intentionally manipulates the reality of another in order to cause them to question their own sanity, discount their “gut” or intuition, feel crazy, and accept blame for the relational problems. Gaslighting is a gradual process and it is hard to recognize when you are on the receiving end; especially when it comes from the person you love and trust the most.
The good news is that healing IS possible. Once discovery of the deception occurs and you take off the distorted lens thrust upon you through which you perceived yourself, your partner, and your reality, you can see clearly once again. Empowered with clarity of the truth you can begin to mend the strained relationship with self and reflect back on when your intuition was correct, and begin to trust in it again.
Can a relationship survive betrayal?
Restoring trust in your partner is possible, but the likelihood of this restoration depends on the interaction of many variables which include: the level of commitment by both partners to recovery and healing, whether or not trust has been broken previously, the presence of children, finances, religious or spiritual values, the quality of the bond pre-betrayal, mental health issues, and the presence of previous betrayals or trauma by previous relationships or family of origin to name a few. No one partner is able to heal the relationship by themselves. While you can find hope and support by others in the recovery community, please do not compare your relationship to others. Each couple’s healing journey is unique. Whether you find yourself single or partnered when you arrive at your journey’s end is not a reflection of your value or worth. Your worth is not defined by your relationship or your partner’s level of commitment to healing. However, finding good therapeutic support from knowledgeable professionals can help you sort through the impact of the betrayal and enable you to move forward with new confidence towards a brighter future whether that be as a couple or individually.
Why do the smallest things overwhelm me?
Betrayal trauma results in a post traumatic stress response that causes biochemical changes in your body that alter your ability to function normally. As evidence or reminders of the deception mount, your body may remain in a highly triggered, hypervigilant state, ready to fight, flight, or freeze to keep yourself safe. Triggers are unexpected and can come out of nowhere. Your body experiences small reminders of the infidelity and betrayal as if they are happening in the present.
The devastating effects of betrayal trauma are real. We understand and are ready to help. Our clinicians are trained and specialize in working with partners in both individual and group settings. We offer an environment where you can be heard and supported, and begin to heal.
The beginning stages of healing are rough on both partners. It is important that both parties get specialized support from well-trained clinicians. In our work with betrayed partners, we focus on helping them cope with their new reality, find a supportive community of healing, learn new coping strategies to manage and reduce triggers and flashbacks, connect with their inner-resilience, restore their trust in their instincts and ability to trust others, and find themselves again.
Trauma, Not Codependency
Our clinicians adopt a Prodependence stance (https://prodependence.com/) that rejects the idea that partners of addicts inherently suffer from codependency. Prodependence favors an attachment-informed way of working with families impacted by addiction. In addition, our clinicians are trained from the Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model through AAPSATS (American Association of Partners of Sex Adicts Trauma Specialists https://www.aapsats.org) and IITAP (International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals https://www.iitap.com) that respects the traumatic impact of betrayal trauma and informs partner-sensitive treatment interventions to help the couple heal.