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Symptoms Of Betrayal Trauma

According to Dr. Sandra Lee Dennis, betrayal causes a serious form of trauma, here are some of the symptoms she suggests. I have reworded them in my own words from my experience:

Symptoms Of Betrayal TraumaMy Identity Was Under Siege. I Felt Shattered.

• I thought, “This cannot be happening to ME.”
• Powerlessness, helplessness, loss of control.
• Confusion, bewilderment, fear, anxiety, and disbelief set in.
• Obsessive preoccupation to make sense of situation.
• Feelings of emptiness, deficiency and lack.
• Self-blame, worthlessness, shame, humiliation.

I Lost My Ability To Trust.

• Unsure of my own reality, perceptions and ability to cope.
• Question basic goodness of life.
• Tendency to isolate to reduce overstimulation and anxiety.

I Was Shocked By What I Had Become.

• Shock resurfaced other traumas.
• Highly charged feeling of being chewed up and spit out.
• Infantile fear, longings and despair.
• Felt collective feelings of the women throughout time being abandoned, raped, mutilated, tortured.

I Can't Stop Grieving.

• Stages of grief emerged, not necessarily in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
• Overwhelming sorrow, sadness—uncontrollable, unpredictable crying spells.

I Feel Traumatized, Stunned & Helpless.

• The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop months or years after the event.
• Denial and numbing may lead to isolation from others.
• Rapid weight loss or gain.
• Sleep disturbances. 
• Heartache and pain throughout body.
• Chronic anxiety; fight/flight/freeze reactions. 
• Intrusive, traumatic memories break through randomly.

I Felt Withdrawal Symptoms.

• Obsessiveness, missing, longing, sadness, emptiness.
• Intense craving to be with husband. 
• At first, I loved, wanted, needed him more than ever.
• Continual sense of waiting.
• Compulsions for contact to alleviate pain and loss.

Intrusive, Painful Memories Re-traumatize Me.

• Ongoing disorientation as nervous system adapts to new information.
• As memories are recast in light of deception, I assimilate subtle lies, half truths, and hypocrisy.
• Sense of shattered reality gets worse with time as more memories require altering.
• I was compelled to share my story, to reconstruct a coherent personal narrative that makes sense of what happened.

My Body Feels Beat Up.

• Headaches, allergies, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, or other unexplained illnesses developed.
• Every cell down to my bones throbs with pain.
• Sense of unpredictable, ongoing attack.
• Broken hearted pain: ongoing dull ache to intense shooting pains.
• Tightening in belly.

I'm Haunted By The Ghost Of The Man Who Abandoned Me.

• Haunting of his energetic presence in my body.
• I sense his presence when I see objects or places.
• Gut level disgust when confronted with places or topics that my husband used to abuse me.
• Sense of toxic poisoning as a result of sexual infidelity.
• Dreams populated with images of lost mate.
• Sense of caring and responsibility - How is he? Where is he?

Emptiness Threatened Me.

• My former self, desires, attachments are being destroyed.
• Sense of being abandoned and betrayed by all. 
• Despair about future.
• Desperation forced me to my knees to surrender to Higher Power for help.
• By enduring emptiness with kind attention, I discovered a safe haven within.

My Intuitive Faculties Are Heightened.

• Synchronicity, coincidence, signs began to emerge.
• Relation to ordinary time and space altered.
• Sense of presence of both benevolent (angels) and persecutory (demons) forces within and without.
• I sense other people’s suffering.
• I recognize when harm is being done.

I Find Refuge Only In The Present Moment.

• Urgent instinct to go inward to find center, truth and love.
• Strong motivation to pray, to meditate, to attend the temple.
• Growing realization of powerlessness in the face of suffering, compulsions and afflictive emotions.
• Suffering is interlaced with infusions of spirit: visions, benevolent spirit beings, “angel hands,” may be tangible; sense of guidance, going with flow increases.
• Conscience sharpens remorse and desire to “do no harm.”
• Yearning to know heart’s deep desires and values grows.

My Broken Heart Is Opening To Deeper Compassion & Communion

• Mind gives way to heart as the greater reality.
• Compassion, forgiveness, tenderness for others and one’s own mistakes, weakness and brokenness grow.
• I am reconciling myself to the hurtful event, and making my peace with God.
• Faithfulness to God and my own safety forms as new center of gravity, as the ground for deepened love and trust in existence.

For more information about Sandra Lee Dennis, Ph.D., click here.


 2016-05-30  14m