Post-Betrayal Syndrome

Betrayal and Post-Betrayal Syndrome

If you have been betrayed by someone close to you, it behooves you to understand betrayal trauma and post-betrayal syndrome.

Betrayal results in anger, resentment, a loss of trust, and so much more. Afterward, there are pervasive mental, emotional, and physical issues. Perseveration is common, along with typical or atypical grief reactions.

If you have been betrayed by a loved one, let’s attempt to understand how betrayal trauma differs from garden-variety grief.


What is Betrayal Trauma and the Post-Betrayal Syndrome

Betrayal trauma is not just a result of infidelity in marriage. While sexual betrayal is common, promiscuity is infrequently an isolated event. When you see one cockroach, you can be sure there are others.

There are banal and less obvious reasons your loved ones betray you. Cluster B personality disorders abound in Western society. While data are scattered, perhaps up to 1 in 10-20 people may have significant cluster B traits (that may or may not warrant a personality disorder diagnosis). Do the easy math, and 1/10 marriages may be complicated by narcissistic, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and non-specific Cluster B-type personality disorders.

Betrayal Trauma and Post-Betrayal Syndrome



As a result, betrayal trauma comes from prolonged emotional abuse, gaslighting, and manipulation, not to mention routine lying and infidelity. This may lead to post-betrayal syndrome, a combination of devastation, loss of reality (because of constant invalidation and gaslighting), and typical or atypical grief reactions. Cognitive dissonance rules. The trauma bond is hard to break.

Perseveration and out-of-control self- and partner questioning are additionally traumatizing. When pervasive questioning leads to further trauma, it is dramatically called “pain shopping” or “emotional cutting.” After betrayal, asking questions becomes pathological when you can only identify with the story in your mind.

Pain often becomes the story, and the story can become the source of the pain. At some point, as with grief, we must move beyond betrayal and learn to trust again.

As the betrayed, you have been lied to and gaslighted. Your truth and instincts are dismissed and invalidated for so long that seeing the actual truth is difficult. It takes months for the cortisol to wash out of your system.

So, what is betrayal trauma? Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’s trust or well-being.

Recovery from Betrayal Trauma

If you have symptoms of post-betrayal syndrome, here are some ideas for recovery.

Recovery is a thousand steps. Every act of self-care is a step.

Manifesting Betrayal Trauma


“When you are betrayed by the person who is supposed to love, respect and support you the most, your world shatters. It may feel as though the whole life of your relationship has been a lie. Many people naturally retrace their relationship’s history adding in all the missing details of betrayal that they just learned. This process is jarring, especially when the details from the spouse come in pieces. It can make you feel as though the rug is constantly being pulled from under you.”-DR. Skinner


Betrayal trauma is difficult to recognize.

You can miss the chaos within yourself by focusing on fixing your relationship with your abuser. Then you learn you can’t change anyone. Cluster B personality disorders cause complete and total devastation. The only solution is to end the relationship. Learn what you can about how you treat yourself and move on with your new life.

Symptoms of betrayal trauma are mundane and too numerous to mention. Mental health issues start with a feeling of violation and reliving the experience. One might become avoidant or even dissociate, and negative self-evaluation and mood are pervasive. Shame is common and devastating as, more frequently than not, shame is a typical underlying feature that allows the abuse in the first place. Anger, resentment, and irritability are to be expected.


Tips to Heal From Betrayal Trauma

Here are some Tips to Heal from betrayal trauma:


Your grief after betrayal differs from other traumas. Variously called betrayal trauma or post-betrayal transformation, it is a result of a personal attack on your very foundational beliefs about who you are and who is important in your life.

When you lose someone you love, you grieve but don’t take it as a personal attack. You haven’t been violated. After someone you love abuses you, you need to be rebuilt. You need transformation.

It may take eighteen to 36 months to recover from betrayal trauma. I wrote that sentence in passive voice because this is not generated by AI.

Betrayal Trauma and Post-Betrayal Syndrome

We allow people to treat us as poorly as we treat ourselves.

Stop attracting abusive people. The energy you put out draws them to you, and you will go with what you know and what is comfortable. Band-Aids, distraction, and numbing happen until you have done the self-work.

The goal is post-traumatic growth. Be flexible again. Have a growth mindset. You must move on, and to do that, you must rebuild the foundation. Your foundation.

You will only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

Let go of the story and the benefits you get from telling yourself the story, and move on. Get support. But most importantly, decide to treat yourself the way you treat others.

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