“Betrayal delivers a unique, emotionally violent blow to the body, heart and mind. An unthinkable blow that can only come from someone with whom we share deep bonds. Trauma happens when we can no longer bear reality. It signals to the brain that our life is under threat. The life being threatened when we are betrayed is the life of the soul.” – Sandra Lee Dennis, PhD
In today’s article will bring up to the table the word that we all fear, but in some way we have had experienced in our lives: Betrayal.
As heavy as it can be if you search all over the web, you can find all the information about Betrayal but are very rare the scientific articles that provide substantial information about the impact, and consequences of this dysfunctional behavior. It’s urgent to talk about openly to our community about this issue, and even provide the right tools to help our loved ones to overcome the situation.
We are taught that to be truly happy we need to learn how to trust. And, sometimes, reluctantly, we let down our guard in hopes that we finally can trust. To an intimate relationship develops organically, we need to delegate our trust in another, in our partners. We have to make ourselves vulnerable. We have to believe this person accepts us unconditionally and is devoted to us in good and bad times. To be more specific, and help you understand the power of bond attachment, the presence of our intimate partner affects blood pressure and stress hormones, positively. With this said, and besides the fact that betrayal is the disrespect for core human needs and desire when you experience it, you experience death. Literally!
One of the consequences of betrayal is the development of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), symptoms:
- Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event or feeling like is happening in the present moment
- Increased heart rate
- release of adrenaline
- shaking, sweating
- Trouble sleeping
- Angry outbursts
- Feeling panic, fear or worry
- Being on alert for signs of the trauma occurring again
- Being triggered by things that remind you of the traumatic event
Eighty percent of suicides, in Australia, are committed by men, and we should be aware this happens because men are less inclined to communicate feelings about adverse life events.
The principal causes for suicide among Aussie men population are:
- relationship breakdown after infidelity episodes (“Kolves, Ide and De Leo (2011) studied the suicidal behavior of men who had experienced the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship and showed that both trait shame (pervasive, long-term feelings) and state shame (feelings related to an event) predicted suicidal behavior.”
- Unhelpful conceptions of masculinity
- Abuse of alcohol and other substances
The numbers are scary but seem most of us still don’t care and even continue doing the same or even worse. As we must recognize when faced with a threatening situation, our thalamus, which receives incoming stimuli, send signals to both the amygdala and the cortex. If your amygdala senses danger begins the fight-or-flight response before the cortex has time to overrule it. With the amygdala triggered occur an intense unconscious emotional response that shuts off the cortex, making it hard you to think and concentrate. This process is called the amygdala hijack.
Betrayal can happen in many forms, like:
- Disrespecting or criticizing your partner in front of other people
- Having one emotional affair
- Micro-cheating (Micro-cheating is a series of seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship, be aware that you might be engaging in micro-cheating if you share private jokes or specific emojis, if you downplay the seriousness of your relationship to another guy or girl. Having private conversations or online chats and quickly shuts down when your partner enters the room. Consistently texting someone without your partner knowing. The problem with micro-cheating is that most people don’t even realize they’re doing it. – Melanie Schilling, PhD)
- Divulging private information about your partner without their consent
- Prioritizing work, a hobby or another passion above your relationship
- Complaining about your partner and the relationship to someone you’re attracted to
- Dealing with deceitful people in business matters
- Being around with friends who have had affairs can lead you to have one affair
- Have a parent who betrayed and acted like nothing happen, living the happy life after is another serious form of betrayal
Remember, because someone betrayed in the past doesn’t mean it will happen again. Most importantly, if you are in a new relationship, please share with your partner how you feel and what contributes to your amygdala hijack don’t feel shame, be upfront. He or she might not understand in the beginning and might even be quite defensive, but these steps can help both of you to set up new rules and what is appropriate:
- Name your emotions as you experience them
- Write what triggered your emotions? A particular person or situation?
- What emotions did you feel?
- What were you thinking at the time?
- How realistic were those thoughts? Were they realistic given the situation?
- Was there another way to view the situation?
- What would you like your partner to do to make you feel safe?
- Take a timeout
- Deep breath from your abdomen
- Remember, you aren’t a victim, and you deserve happiness.
After write all the things you want and feel, give it to your partner and let him or her read and think about.
For partners of people betrayed in the past, this is my advice:
Don’t take personally the angry outbursts that your loved one might feel and express towards you. Listen with attention to the information and feelings they might share with you, part of the healing process is the capacity to be vulnerable and trust again.
If there is a situation or someone, in particular, that is triggering the fight-or-flight responses in your partner have compassion.
See how you contribute to the situation and take the right actions to preserve the integrity of your relationship and the well being of your lover. Avoid saying your partner is crazy or seeing things. Don’t withdraw from your partner because they are in real pain, be together as a team.
Unfortunately, the way he or she might feel isn’t about jealousy, envy manipulation or control. It is the survival mode in action and giving directions to build protection against the threatening situation.
After all, I think it’s time for us to wake up and start to face the mistakes we do almost every day. How we neglect our relationships and the ones we love. It doesn’t matter, if you are close or apart geographically, what matters is how you preserve your integrity and the integrity of your relationship.
Love means protection, and your relationship should be a heaven bubble where both feel safe and at home.
I end my article, with an attention call, especially for the professional health community to be aware of the devastating impact of the loss of the loved ones. Don’t let typical ideas, and stereotypes, blind you from reality, use your health skills to help and save lives.
Teach people to love and how to maintain healthy relationships. We are human beings, not isolated Islands.
The Impact of Betrayal Trauma on the Tendency to trust: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274867322_The_Impact_of_Betrayal_Trauma_on_the_Tendency_to_Trust
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