Betrayal Trauma Counseling in Colorado Springs

Betrayal Trauma

What is Betrayal Trauma?

“Everything feels chaotic. I can’t think. I can’t focus. What he’s been doing is constantly on my mind.”

“I have a hard time not imagining his behaviors.”

“I start thinking about my appearance and then my thoughts snowball until I feel so worthless I can’t function. I just crawl in bed and live in a black abyss all day.”

These are the consuming thoughts experienced by so many women who have discovered their partner’s sexual secrets. While feeling out of control is normal, learning steps to regulate overwhelming thoughts and emotions can relieve a lot of stress and pain. Betrayal Trauma creates feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety and impacts our ability to express ourselves, making it difficult to regulate our emotions. As a result, our problem-solving is impaired, and we begin to shut down, lose our ability to connect to others, creating further feelings of loneliness and fear. 

We expect relationships to be built on trust, love, and mutual respect. This is why the shocking discovery of betrayal in a marriage or committed relationship causes feelings of chaos and confusion. Few experiences create more pain and hurt than sexual infidelity (whether virtual or physical). For the victimized spouse, sexual infidelity can create such intense emotions that the memories and trauma may remain for months or even years later. Many studies have shown that 43% of spouses continue to feel the side of effects of Betrayal Trauma for more than two years.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for healing Betrayal Trauma. However, healing is possible! Pneuma offers betrayal trauma therapy in Chicago to those whose partners have betrayed them. As you take the courageous step to begin your recovery, we want you to understand Betrayal Trauma, how it’s affecting you, and how you can respond. This beginning is crucial to set the framework for your healthy recovery.


Am I in a Betrayal Bond?

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Am I going crazy?

Understanding Gaslighting

One of the most challenging aspects of betrayal trauma is the revelation that someone who was once trusted, perhaps more than anyone else, is actually untrustworthy. In most cases, this revelation has a deep impact and causes severe inner turmoil. Racing thoughts abound, such as “What else has this person lied about? Why did I ever trust them? How could I have been so naïve?” Emotions such as anger, resentment, self-doubt, sadness, and worry can overwhelm the system when betrayal is revealed. Confusion often leads the way. Betrayed individuals describe feeling hurt and confused nearly immediately and simultaneously after a betrayal is discovered. This confusion stems from the oftentimes masterful and intricate portrayals of trustworthiness their partners have presented to them. For example, many women who discover sexual betrayal in their marriages report husbands who repeatedly, through verbal communication and direct eye contact, denied any such betrayal and comforted their wives with declarations of commitment and devotion. These women get the message from their husbands that all is well in their marriage and do their best to convince themselves that there is nothing to worry about.

The secret-keeping required by lying is draining on the deceiver and distancing within the marriage. Gaslighting is worse; it is lying with the addition of crazy-making. First coined in the 1940s after the thriller Gaslight was released, gaslighting refers to one person’s attempt to create self-doubt and insanity in another, usually a close family member or partner. One who engages in gaslighting goes beyond lying and turns the tables on the questioning party.


Signs of Gaslighting

  • Their actions don’t match their words
  • Distracts from their behavior by projecting on you
  • Degrading comments followed by positive reinforcement
  • They attempt to block or are unsupportive of your growth
  • They lie and deny even when there is evidence
  • They will say things like, “You’re imagining things,” or “You’re being crazy,” and “You’re being so jealous.”

The Impact of Gaslighting

  • Feeling confused and second guessing your memory
  • Trying to earn back the loving side of the person
  • Making decisions becomes increasingly more difficult
  • Constantly apologizing for your behavior
  • Staying silent or lying to avoid a reaction
  • We start to believe we are gaslighting them

Responding to Gaslighting

  • We remember things differently”
  • “If you continue to speak to me like this, I will not engage”
  • “I hear you, but this is my experience”
  • “I know what the truth is and I won’t debate you on it”
  • “I am stepping away from this conversation”