What are the Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma?

Betrayal trauma makes you feel like you are losing your mind. It puts you on an emotional rack and pulls you in opposite directions until you are begging for mercy. It yanks your sense of security out from under you and puts you in a state of emotional free fall. It is severely emotionally distressing, and until you have experienced it, you really can’t imagine how truly life-altering the experience can be.”

–Michelle Mays

When you have experienced betrayal trauma you are living in a state of emotional devastation, something that is very hard to navigate. Its symptoms include the following:  

1. Adrenalin and cortisol are surging through your body as your autonomic nervous system (ANS) prepares for “fight or flight”.

2. Your body and mind are screaming danger and threat. You feel as if you’re living on high alert.

3. For many people, when they start to calm down, the whole unpleasant cycle starts over again, and is repeated and repeated in a series of waves.

4. The fear of future betrayals, and what that could mean, keeps the internal threat response system activated, and ready to go into over-drive again. This becomes chronic, and a way of life.

5.  This means you are on an emotional roller coaster where emotions rise suddenly, are extreme, overwhelming and intense, are unpredictable, and hard to control. As a consequence of this, life feels frightening, chaotic and difficult to navigate.

6. When the ANS response system is triggered, it interferes with mental functioning. This affects your ability to focus, pay attention, concentrate, apply problem-solving skills, think logically, or analyze and process almost any information. Also, your memory is affected, and you can’t remember things.

7.  You feels as if you’re constantly being “rubber-banded” back into the past. Because of the intensity of this experience, it is hard to separate the past from the present; to feel grounded; and to be fully aware of, and responsive to, what is happening here-and-now.

8. When you’re living with emotional dysregulation, it is rare to experience prolonged periods peace and calm.

However, once you can identify what’s happening to you, and can start to articulate the trauma and pain, you can begin the long process of recovery. Hold on to that hope. You are starting to heal.

17 thoughts on “What are the Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma?

  1. I just had a deep buried trauma well hidden pop up.

    I had a girlfriend in college for a year. Small college less than 1200 kids. Ate in same cafeteria.

    One night she gets drunk and goes to a rival frat house with a guy drunk.

    Ten guys had sex with her and that frat house bragging about it, is how I found out.

    She lied for weeks and then admitted a couple guys somehow had sex with her

    Now I realize this was gangrape

    Everyone in that school knew what had happened.. two lives were changed

    Hers and mine

    She had to leave school

    50 years later it pops up with all this male ego crap

    She betrayed me by going with another guy but they took advantage

    I feel the evil and witnessed

    A nice 19 year old girl be destroyed over night

    It still haunts me now that it is in my consciousness

    Liked by 1 person

      • It is a nightmare for her

        From the male side

        I am helpless

        I had no input on her sneaking off

        This impacted my intimacy

        I never held hands or kissed or shared those things mates confide in each other.

        That was all fake..I loved and was loyal to a girl

        Then she was gone

        Right or wrong her reputation was she pulled a train at the worst frat house on that little campus

        It was the scandal of the year

        A delta zée pinned to a TKE

        Pulled a train for the Alpha Sigs

        I tried to leave school

        She had to walk by those guys every meal

        They starred at me

        Fights did happen

        A fraternity war came close to happening

        College was a different experience for me

        I am in the hall of fame for that college

        But I never went back


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