Stages of Betrayal Trauma
healing,  toxic relationships

How to Heal During 5 Stages of Betrayal Trauma

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Every stage of grieving a betrayal is important. Don’t push your body to be in a stage you are not currently in. Forcing yourself to heal quickly will cause more trauma, shame, and pain.

Trust that your body is equipped to move you through the grieving process. And allow your body to highlight when it’s time to move to the next stage. Also, get a licensed counselor or seek empowerment coaching with me, so I can walk with you through healing!

It’s time to turn your pain into power!

1. Shock

When you first discover the betrayal it’s horrifying and shocking. Often times, our brains enter a spiral of confusion and gets stuck sorting out the answers to the following questions: How could they do that? How could I have been around such a terrible person and not notice? How long had they been doing this? Why would they do that? Is this a dream? Am I being being too judgmental? How did I miss the signs? Did I matter to them? Was it an accident or did they do it on purpose? Why didn’t God protect you?

It’s normal to feel shocked and caught off guard. The truth is, God didn’t design us to be suspicious of people. Suspicion and hyperawareness are self-protection tactics learnt from enduring abuse and trauma. We were made to love, not sort through people’s actions and motives for evil. But here we are and it’s hard. And it’s shocking.

We aren’t designed to be suspicious of people that is a survival tactic.

2. Denial

Often times, the shock of what you see can be overwhelming to deal with. Many people find every logical pathway to make the situation less real and painful. We often do this by examining the situation from multiple perspectives and having compassion on the violators. This is done to avoid seeing and experiencing the painful truth associated with the trauma.

The length of the denial stage is different for victims, but eventually a victim will no longer stay in denial and they’ll begin to see the betrayer’s deceit clearly. The moment that the victim sees the violations clearly is the moment that real healing can begin. However, this is a hard process because healing involves exploring the pain that comes from seeing the ugly truth.

Healing involves exploring the pain that comes from seeing the ugly truth.

3. Anger

In this stage, the truth of the situation may leave you very angry because you now see the ugly truth clearly. At this point, you may need to fight away feelings of bitterness, vengeance, un-forgiveness, and a victim’s mentality. It’s in this stage that you have to fight becoming like the person that hurt you.

Do you feel angry when you think of the answers to these questions?

  • Did I matter?
  • Was this experience all a game?
  • I wish I would of done ________ differently!
  • If I had only trusted my gut this wouldn’t have happened!
  • All the signs were there why did I do or say something?
  • It’s all my fault and I allowed this to happen!
  • How can I make them pay for this?
  • I want them to feel the pain that I did!
  • How could they be pretending and lying so long?

Related Article: 78 Affirmations For Healing Trauma

The truth is:

  • I’m sorry that you endured that trauma and you didn’t deserve it.
  • You did the best you could with the information you had at the time. Forgive yourself.
  • You should not judge past self because you didn’t have the same level of awareness.
  • The person that hurt you was broken and incapable of thinking of others.
  • We weren’t designed to be suspicious of people that is a survival tactic.
  • Don’t let them steal your joy. Forgive them because forgiveness is a gift to yourself.

4. Grief

Beneath anger lies grief. Sometimes, we hold onto anger because feeling powerless can be painful. However, to grieve fully, we must explore the situation, forgive those involved, and stop blaming ourselves for what happened.

I’m sorry that the facts of this traumatic event are frightening and painful. To alleviate some of the pain, it’s important to ensure that the story you tell yourself isn’t entirely influenced by the pain. Correcting the story and restoring a positive view of yourself and God can aid in the healing process.

For example, I used to believe that I was unimportant and only a tool for others to use. When I examined my story, I realized that while the people who hurt me did value me, their brokenness caused them to focus more on selfishly taking from me. They were unable to love or value me properly because they didn’t love themselves. Overall, I learned that I couldn’t base my worth and value on someone who didn’t know their own.

Journal Prompts for Healing:

5. Healing

On the other side of betrayal, there is a strength that you can tap into. The betrayal ripped you apart, but you can now build yourself back into a more powerful version of yourself.

  • You can be a person that is wise enough to avoid pain in the future.
  • Joy, vulnerability, and trust mean more when you fight for it.
  • You are the person that nothing can stop from keep going.
  • God will lead you in helping others to avoid the same trauma.

But keep in mind, you didn’t deserve the pain and you don’t deserve the work required to rediscover yourself. During betrayal recovery, it’s important to take it slow and beware of your trauma triggers and remain positive that it is possible to heal after a betrayal.

How to Heal After Betrayal Trauma

Recovering after betrayal is HARD work. Here are steps to heal during the 5 Stages of Betrayal Trauma!

  1. Release false responsibility and forgive yourself. You did the best you could and there is no need to continue torturing yourself with alternative situations and repetitive thoughts/questions.
  2. Forgive the person that hurt you. You’re not forgiving them because they deserve it. You’re forgiving because it’ll help you release the emotional baggage of hating them.
  3. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. The process is like a wave that goes up and down, and like a wave, it will drag you in and out of pain. You may forgive them one day and then want revenge the next day. That’s okay. Your body can only heal one layer at a time because it’s too painful. Try to allow your body to unravel the pain, one layer at a time. Triggering and healing new layers does not mean you’re going backwards. It means that you’re ready to heal that layer.
  4. Don’t develop walls. Healing in the healthy way will help you avoid closing off your heart and becoming suspicious of everyone around you. Remain open and hopeful that trusting after a betrayal trauma is possible.
  5. Get support. It’s not kind to do this by yourself. Don’t be afraid to get a licensed counselor or seek empowerment coaching with me, so I can walk with you through healing!
Free empowerment coaching to help you go deeper spiritually and achieve your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Betrayal Trauma?

A betrayal is deeply painful and traumatizing because you didn’t expect it. The emotions that you experience after a betrayal is the “trauma”. The trauma usually causes us to become distrustful, paranoid, fearful, and overly cautious of preventing the pain.

What are betrayal trauma triggers?

Betrayal trauma triggers happen when you’re reminded of the betrayal due to a similar situation, memory, feeling, a person’s behavior, a television show, and/or a dream. At the sight of the trigger, your body enters into a flight, fight, or freeze zone.

And without proper healing, the trauma will push you to deal with those emotions in an unhealthy, fearful, and harmful manner. To continue on your healing journey, it’s important to heal the underlying pain, so you can overcome the triggers.

Trauma and the resulting triggers can cause you to feel like you’re powerless and your voice doesn’t matter. Do you feel that bad things will happen to me despite you trying to prevent it? This usually caused by victim mentality.

After healing your fear of being powerless, it will cause your triggers to subside or stop. You’ll be stronger and able to use your voice to remove unhealthy people from your life life and avoid similar betrayal traumas.

How to get over betrayal in a relationship?

Dealing with feelings of betrayal is a hard process and you shouldn’t do it alone. To truly overcome the pain of the betrayal it is vital that you explore different people that can help you move through the stages of betrayal easily.

After experiencing betrayal trauma many people become defeated, depressed, lack a true passionate for life, and grow to be distrustful of ever having a beautiful relationships. Don’t let the painful situation convince you that there isn’t an amazing person waiting to meet you!

How do I cope with betrayal of a friend?

When a friend betrays you, it is painful because you thought highly of them. You allowed them access into the personal areas of your life. To cope with the betrayal of a friend it’s important to lean on a support system, seek therapy, and empowerment coaching to ensure that the pain doesn’t destroy you. Coaching and therapy is important to learn healthy strategies to ensure you avoid friends that are manipulative, deceitful, and inconsiderate of your feelings.

How to deal with betrayal in your family?

Dealing with the aftermath of betrayal by a family member can be one of the most painful experiences. It leaves so many of us wandering the depth and cause of the deceit. Either way, you are allowed to distance yourself from family members that are unhealthy.

Whatever the source of your pain, to heal it’s important to lean on a support system, seek therapy, and empowerment coaching to ensure that the pain doesn’t destroy you. Coaching and therapy is important to learn healthy strategies to ensure you avoid family members that are manipulative, deceitful, and inconsiderate of your feelings.

Christina Daniels is the founder of Adorned Heart. She is devoted to learning about human behavior and its affects on society. She received a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Public Policy. She hopes to use her life and academic experience to empower & heal the hearts of women!


  • Star Hughes

    My husband recently started talking with a co worker. He took her out of breakfast and lied to me about it. It was just the two of them but he told me it was a group. I had suspiciouns it was just the two because of the long delay in the text when I asked who all was going. I let him know immediately I suspect it’s just the two of them and he continued to lie. I then noticed behavior changes so I did look through his phone. Something I’ve never done before in 21 years of marriage. I didn’t know what to look for so I just double clicked his home button to see what apps were open. Messages was first and he was chatting with a co worker. I found weird texts like. All of them were ambiguous with lots of memes.
    I’m sick, I wish you could take care of me
    Want to move into my crawl space
    She was overly concerned she got him sick and texted about “how can you not be sick, we were together”
    He said “nope I’m good”
    She said “you are good”
    He said “yes very good”
    Then a meme of trump suck the soul out of Harry Potter in a dementor kiss and trump drinking a glass of water.
    At this point I reached out to her husband and as soon as I did my husband confirmed the lie. That it was just the two of them at breakfast. She also gave him lots of gifts, hats pins, key chains. He said he would out an end to it and never did. Then I found a staying if an I love you note in his work back pack from her.
    We are in therapy weekly 5 weeks. He is sorry and is affirming his love for me. But continues to say nothing happened or was going on. I got rid of all of her gifts and he is aware of it. He knows I don’t trust him. My big question is, is it wrong for me to ask him to quit his job? He works with her. She blocked me on fb. I now read into everything and have triggers and so many emotions. Therapy has helped a lot. And journaling. But I’m still so upset every time he leaves for work. 21 years of marriage and I have never distrusted him. Now I believe everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. Our interior lights in our car were off (he works graveyard) I never drive the car at night. I let him know what I was thinking about. Were they in our car together? He swears she was never in our car. So why were the interior lights off when the door opens? Little things like this and I lose my mind over it. Our therapist is a male and I’m not sure if I am clicking with him. He had me fill out an anger worksheet and what triggers my anger. I’ve never been angry before this. I had expressed in one session I was angry with my husband. I’m sad, worried, betrayed, so yeah I got angry.

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