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May 30 2022

How Long Does Betrayal Trauma Last?

Kristin Beaufort,

It’s human nature to have an endpoint in mind. Generally, we thrive off deadlines, benchmarks, and cues that we’re on the right track. Research shows that we’re much more likely to achieve goals when we can measure our progress. So, it’s no surprise that “how long does betrayal trauma last?” is one of the most frequently asked questions from those reeling from betrayal.

This article will look at how long it takes to heal from betrayal trauma and how to know you’re recovering. 

What is betrayal trauma?

Before we dive into how long betrayal trauma lasts, let’s quickly define what betrayal trauma is. In its simplest form, betrayal trauma is the pain and emotional distress experienced after severe deception by a loved one. It often leaves a wake of catastrophic devastation, inducing physical and emotional stress symptoms.

This kind of relational betrayal can cause a legitimate form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD occurs when you believe you and your world are safe, and that belief is shattered. It feels like there’s no foundation to feel safe and secure. Betrayal trauma is considered a major class A trauma on par with experiencing war, large environmental disasters, and other forms of abuse. 

How long does betrayal trauma last?

Overcoming the pain and heartache from your partner’s betrayal can be complicated. Recovering from betrayal trauma is not something you can rush through in a day or two. It takes between eighteen months to three years for most people to fully recover. Healing, of course, lies not just in the efforts of the individuals involved but also in taking the correct steps to ensure that recovery takes place in a healthy way.

How long betrayal trauma lasts depends on how closely you follow those steps as a couple or individual. Dr. Kevin Skinner said, “to heal from betrayal trauma, betrayed spouses need education, professional help, compassion and support from loved ones. Knowing it’s not their fault and they are not alone provides tremendous relief and healing.”

The truth is that recovery isn’t a finish line you cross. It’s a process of healing that finds you experiencing triggers less often and with less intensity across time. While healing will look different from person to person, for many, the bulk of the work can be done within a few months once the proper support is in place. 

Why does betrayal trauma last so long?

Recognizing how deep betrayal has caused real trauma can help us understand why the healing process takes so long. You wouldn’t expect a patient to heal from a major car accident as quickly as a patient with a scraped knee. The same principle applies to how long betrayal trauma lasts.

The trauma you’ve experienced is real and severe. Reminders of the trauma trigger intense emotions of fear, anger, and sadness, prolonging symptoms. In an attempt to keep yourself safe, you may become hypervigilant, avoiding people, places, and things that bring those powerful emotions to the surface. This is a common response that intensifies and extends symptoms rather than avoiding them as intended. 

In the case of betrayal trauma, it’s particularly challenging because your partner is likely one of your triggers. If you’re trying to reconcile, you probably wrestle with emotions all over the place because your brain associates your partner with both love and devastation, belonging and intense pain. If you’re not trying to reconcile, you still have to deal with people, places, and things that remind you of the betrayal. Some of you may even be feeling triggered right now, just reading about it. That’s normal.

How do I know I’m making progress in healing?

While there isn’t a definitive timeline for healing from betrayal trauma, there are common signs that healing is happening.

During the early days of discovery, we need to focus on gaining knowledge about the trauma we experienced. We learn to set boundaries to establish safety. There comes a day when we can begin to turn our focus forward – to channel our efforts toward healing. Here are a few indicators you are making progress in this direction.

  • You take ownership of your own healing.
  • You can step into your emotions without them overtaking your entire mood.
  • You form healthy relationships to fall back on and offer you support.
  • You can shed the shame of your partner’s behavior. You understand that you didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it.
  • You have created safety through healthy boundaries. 
  • You can look ahead to the future with hope and confidence. 
  • You can manage triggers and symptoms without their appearance halting your forward progress.

It is essential to understand that it is common for triggers and symptoms to manifest even years later. However, when the proper groundwork has taken place, they become less frequent and painful when you know what to do when they come. They no longer dominate your life. You are in control!

Can I quicken the healing process?

Like any journey, without proper guidance, it can be frustrating and challenging to determine where to go or what steps to take. Healing takes time, but the process will be easier to navigate with the right tools and support. Bloom provides the additional support and guidance you need to jump-start your healing process. Our content is designed to help you gain an understanding of how betrayal trauma is impacting you and how you can bring peace back into your life.

You don’t have to travel the road of recovery alone.

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