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May 10 2022

What Does Betrayal Trauma Feel Like?

Kristin Beaufort,

Betrayal trauma is very different from other types of trauma. It involves a form of abuse, like many other forms of trauma, and the experience of being betrayed by a key relationship. Key relationships can be parents, friends, partners, or another person who is relied on for support and safety.

Betrayal trauma will have several case-specific responses based on the nature of the trauma. Symptoms can slide along a scale of slight to extreme depending on the person, severity of the betrayal, and the response from that key relationship. Many start their exploration of betrayal trauma by asking some of the following questions:

  • What is betrayal trauma? 
  • What does betrayal trauma feel like?
  • How do I recover from betrayal trauma? 

What does betrayal trauma feel like? 

Betrayal trauma can feel different for each person. It is a unique diagnosis that often involves feelings of shame associated with abuse or violation. If you have experienced betrayal trauma, you may recognize some of the following feelings:  

  • Shame, guilt, and self-blame 
  • Depression 
  • Low self-esteem or self-worth 
  • Negative opinions about self and others
  • Unexpected mood swings
  • Challenges in regulating emotions 

Feeling distrustful and skeptical about who you can depend on is a very common shield or barrier built while in vulnerable states. This often contributes to: 

  • Concerns around trust
  • Trouble maintaining and developing close relationships 
  • Challenges with intimacy
  • Lack of faith in your own and others’ decision-making abilities

It’s easy for people who have experienced betrayal trauma to experience social withdrawal and anxiety. Alongside the more obvious challenges with depression, anxieties, and trust-building, many people encountering betrayal trauma have developed strategies to cope with the betrayal trauma. Some coping strategies that can mitigate the feelings of betrayal trauma are:

  • Dissociation during times of stress
  • A disconnect from emotions 
  • Memory issues (e.g., distorted memories, false memories) 
  • Overeating, substance abuse, and other dependencies

What is betrayal trauma?

Many have heard of or experienced emotional trauma in response to events like natural disasters, accidents, or abuse. But another form of trauma is hardly discussed but widely experienced, betrayal trauma.

What is betrayal trauma?


Betrayal trauma is the pain, and emotional distress experienced after severe deception by a loved one.

Learn more about what defines betrayal trauma here → What is Betrayal Trauma?

What does betrayal trauma look like to others?

When experiencing trauma, it is easy to see yourself in a fog. Emotions run high, and it’s easy to lose yourself in depression, anxiety, and other swirling emotions. From the outside looking in, betrayal trauma and any form of trauma can resemble various mental health disorders. Some of the main symptoms that your partners and friends may recognize are:

  • Repeated trust issues
  • Revictimization 
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 

If you or your partner is suffering from betrayal trauma, there is an opportunity for healing and growth. Ensuring your relationship has the right tools in the toolbox can be the first step in repairing your partnership.

How can you start to recover from betrayal trauma?

Now that we’ve answered the questions:

  • What does betrayal trauma feel like?
  • What is betrayal trauma? 
  • What does betrayal trauma look like to others?

Let’s talk about the pathways and options for recovery. 

Recovery from trauma is never easy, and not everyone’s path will reflect the same steps. Healing is a unique road paved by the individual and potentially the couple that is choosing mutually to take that road. Here are some of the more common steps in the healing journey:

  • Seeking support from a trauma-informed therapist
  • Joining a support group for betrayal trauma
  • Learning about the impacts of trauma
  • Observing and responding to your triggers in healthy ways
  • Prioritizing mental health
  • Starting healthy routines that help with emotional regulation (yoga, meditation, mindfulness, etc.)
  • Where possible, leaving abusive relationships and ending cycles of abuse
  • Filling your toolbox to set your recovery up for success

So what goes into a recovery toolbox? Setting yourself up for success in any mental health journey is essential and fundamental to expediting healing and growth. 

  • Access to proper mental health care
  • Healthy avenues for coping with triggers and challenges
  • A supportive network of friends and family
  • Educational resources that support healing

Bloom offers a safe space for you to connect with other women, approach your trauma, and begin healing. While betrayal can affect everyone differently, having a supportive and empathetic network can be incredibly empowering. You deserve a stacked toolbox. Anything that can make this recovery easier on you will be a blessing. 

Join Bloom in our FREE community to start your healing journey. 

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