Is This Normal? Predictable Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma

By Kara Facundo
Jack and Jill (names changed) come into my office after discovering her affair, feeling scared and unsure about their future together. He’s not sleeping, monitoring her every move, he can’t keep anything down and is on a roller coaster of emotions. One minute he can’t stand to be around her, and the next he can’t imagine his life without her. He barely recognizes himself and worries it isn’t normal.
Perhaps you are struggling to heal your relationship after a betrayal of infidelity or an emotional affair. It’s understandable that this discovery can have a significant impact on both partners involved, leading to a range of emotional and psychological symptoms. Maybe you are confused about how you got to this place and are feeling overwhelmed with the aftermath of painful decisions. It’s understandable that your partner would also be confused, wondering who you are, and perhaps even who they are, as a result.
The healing process begins with empathy, understanding, and patience for oneself and one’s partner.. Seeking therapy or counseling can provide the supportive environment needed for both partners to navigate the complexities of betrayal trauma and work towards healing and rebuilding trust. Consider this: upwards of 85% of hurt partners experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms after discovering their partner’s betrayal. This is not a chosen response, but a deeply ingrained response to their safety and connection being violated.
While these symptoms often feel out-of-control for your partner, and for you, they are predictable behaviors based on typical responses to trauma. Recognizing and validating them as real and important to pay attention to can provide reassurance to your partner as you begin the repair process. While you may not know exactly how to do that well, a skilled therapist in betrayal trauma will be able to help you.

Trauma Symptoms may include:

Therapy can help partners gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the betrayal, address underlying issues that contributed to the betrayal, and develop strategies for communication and connection as you rebuild the relationship if desired. Recovery from betrayal trauma takes time and effort from both partners. It’s important to prioritize self-care and establish healthy boundaries. With commitment, understanding, and support, you can navigate these challenges of betrayal toward repair, healing, and growth as individuals and as a couple. If you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms listed above, please reach out for help from a therapist trained in recovery from betrayal trauma.