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Healing from Betrayal Trauma at New York Pathways

In Partners Recovery Group we explore what to expect from the healing process after relationship betrayal, whether the betrayal triggers the end of your relationship or a commitment to repairing intimacy and moving forward together.  Most importantly, we recognize that you are not emotionally unstable, crazy, or unlovable, and you are not alone in the process of recovery.

Understanding betrayal trauma is the first step in healing from your relationship crisis.  Betrayal trauma happens when you experience a betrayal in your relationship that damages the safety, trust, and security of the bond you have with your partner. 

Betrayal trauma doesn’t happen unless there was once a deep sense of safety and trust.  When you uncover an unknown addiction or infidelity in the relationship, you can experience devastating emotional, mental, and physical consequences.  Turning to someone or something outside your primary relationship be it chronic porn, sex, drugs, or gambling can destroy trust and a sense of safety, as they often include secrecy, omissions, gas-lighting, denial, minimization, risk-taking, and manipulation.  Partners in crisis and distress from discovering such realities are struggling with betrayal trauma.

Here are things to bear in mind about betrayal trauma:

  • No one is prepared for betrayal trauma.
  • People in healthy relationships expect safety and security.  Betrayal is a breach of security and can destroy your expectation or belief that your partner is supposed to be safe, is true to the things he or she says, including commitment to you, love for you, and prioritizing you and the family.
  • Betrayal violates your trust in the person who betrayed you. The doubt and distrust can extend into other relationships, including trust in yourself and future romantic partnerships.
  • Societal norms can often make you feel ashamed and embarrassed about the betrayal, causing you to isolate or internalize your struggles instead of reaching out to others for help.
  • Many partners blame themselves such as,“Maybe if I was more emotionally available, attractive, sexual, loving, or more lovable then he/she would not have had an affair or continued the addiction.”
  • Your partner’s infidelity or addiction may or may not have anything to do with you.  
  • You may experience the betrayal of “gaslighting,” which is a term used to describe the act of someone convincing you that your reality is not real.
  • Symptoms of betrayal trauma includes low self-esteem, confusion, loss of identity, and—most importantly—an inability to trust your instincts.
  • You may be re-traumatized by your social support such as friends, loved ones, or even unprepared mental health professionals who despite best intentions come with their own biases.   

In this Recovery Group we help you navigate the experience betrayal.  To begin the healing and recovery process for partners and spouses, join New York Pathways 12-week Partners Recovery Group.

Partners Recovery Group
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Starting June 10th
Cost: $100/session (sliding scale available)
Where: Online Zoom Group

To reserve a spot in the Recovery Group contact Jessica@newyorkpathways.com

Jessica Elizabeth Cole Primary Therapist – LMSW, MA

Jessica holds a Master’s in Social Work from New York University, where she focused on intimacy disorders and sex addiction, and a Master’s in Anthropology from The New School where she studied the intersection of mental health and anthropology. She’s licensed in the State of New York and a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Specializing in the treatment of intimacy disorders arising from sex addiction and out-of-control sexual behavior (OCSB), Jessica uses a variety of approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, and 12-step recovery to help people regain agency in their lives. As a member of the New York Pathways multidisciplinary team, she works with addicted individuals, their partners, and couples working to repair their relationships. Jessica also facilitates psycho-educational and process-oriented group therapy.

Jessica loves to read (she once owned a science-fiction bookstore) and travel.  She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn.