Healing After Relational Trauma

Although you’re usually not aware of it, the relationships you develop with your caretakers all through your infant stage and your early adolescent stage will make up your future relationships. If you grow up in a supportive and loving environment with caring parents or guardians, you’ll be more able to develop healthy relationships with your partner later on in life. If you’re raised in a dangerous and neglectful home environments, and you are not given the early compassion and nurture you deserve, you may suffer from relational difficulties and developmental issues.

What is a relational/betrayal trauma?

Relational trauma (also known as betrayal trauma or attachment trauma) occurs when somebody that we largely depend on and is highly attached to – a lover, a spouse, a parent, a friend or a business partner – let us down and betray our trust in a critical way.  It is a violation of trust and confidence. Mental health experts describe the relational trauma as an attachment injury, that occurs when a person violates the expectation of his partner to get comfort and care in times of distress or danger.

It will be sensible to say that infidelity and sex addiction is experienced as a “betrayal injury” and this creates a huge rupture to the couple.   Responding to infidelity emotionally will mirror other traumatic events which include shock, denial, depression, repression, anxiety, intense mood fluctuation, and lowered self-esteem.  Individuals who have suffered betrayal states that there is a strong need to question the betrayer repeatedly and experience intrusive thoughts about the sex misconduct and, usually, obsessive thoughts of acts of punishment or revenge.

Trust is the strong base for a healthy relationship, that’s why broken trust is an injury that is most critical for couples therapy Orange County recovering from attachment trauma.  Therefore, the main goal of therapy is to heal betrayal trauma by restoring intimacy and trust. The negligence of attachment trauma, even in its early stages of treatment creates a further crisis and dysregulation for the couple in its later stages of recovery.

Individuals have an unpleasant experience of excruciating pain when their relationships are in a state of turmoil.  Most times, relational ruptures lead to the feelings of despair and hopelessness.  However, with necessary guidance, resources, and tools from professionals, the majority of relationships will have a higher possibility of healing.

Let’s now look at the two major types of relational or betrayal trauma, they are as follows;

  1.    Childhood betrayal trauma

This is the type of trauma that occur during childhood, which is as a result of a caregiver significantly violating the well-being, dependence or vulnerability of the concerned child.

  1.    Adult betrayal trauma

This is the type that occurs during adulthood as a result of significant incidents of broken trust of a trusted partner within a relationship. Examples of an adult betrayal trauma include sex addiction, infidelity, sex, love addiction, love avoidance, sexual anorexia, and codependency.

What are the symptoms of this trauma?

Some of the symptoms of a relational or betrayal trauma include the following;

  •    Fear and anxiety that are indescribable
  •    The ugly experience will keep on replaying over and over again
  •    The person will be avoiding the public (he will not be able to go out in public or be around things that will be reminding him of the unpleasant experience)
  •    The person will develop a negative self-talk and low self-esteem
  •    There will always be an Increase in emotional arousal (hot temper, yelling, intense anger, sleep problems related to racing mind, suicidal thoughts)
  •    Intrusive thoughts about the discovery of the betrayal and a questioning your own reality.

How can a traumatized victim get better?

I have discovered that the 12-step program and the therapy of client-centered talk, hypnotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), are all highly valuable for the healing of clients from infidelity. A Certified Sex Addiction Therapist can also help with the expert and specific training in this area.

Anybody that is suffering from loss and the feeling of isolation because of the nature of this loss, needs to be provided much care and compassion. This will help to relieve the heavy burden he or she carrying from feeling alone. If one is being accepted within this emotion and context that he or she is truly feeling, without being judged or criticized, his or her peace of mind can start to return. Acknowledging your understanding of the diverse set of feelings of a traumatized victim can be a great help to them. This is especially important if you are the one who has caused the betrayal.

Due to the shock of betrayal which can be extremely painful, disrupting its victim’s normal life in many ways, Trauma therapies like EMDR or somatic experiencing offers assistance to the hurting person to digest the deep emotions that have just aroused. Healing after relational trauma is a big challenge to victims of intimate betrayal. A good therapist or counselor will help ensure that the healing time of this upheaval comes much faster in most cases.

A good therapist allows a traumatized person to re-discover stability, and find a new basis for equanimity that is deeper and stronger than the ugly circumstances of relational trauma. A good therapist can help a betrayal victim find and bring the peaceful parts of him or herself in session to aid the hurting parts. This enables the person to rebuild strength and self-esteem.

S-Anon, COSA or other 12- Steps support groups allows people to discover the value in surrender, the gift in the challenge they face, and the support of others that are enduring similar condition. Getting the support of others who understand can be a valuable part of his healing process.

The most import aspect for anyone who is healing after relational trauma or betrayal trauma is an understanding, patient and listening ear. A good therapist is someone who can just be with them in the pain of the moment. A person that can let go of doing anything, but just seeing and hearing the pain that comes with such trauma. It is the first step in healing.

If you are struggling, please reach out to us. Call 562-431-5100. We can help!


Let Us Help You With Personalized Therapy