You never know when your betrayal trauma triggers could turn a happy afternoon into an emotional rollercoaster. Partners of people with sexual addictions often experience betrayal or infidelity trauma.
Trauma is an emotional response to an event or series of events. Near-death experiences, natural disasters, abuse, or violent crimes are common sources of trauma. But discovering that your spouse betrayed you can cause the same type of emotional response.
The stages of betrayal trauma mirror the reactions of people who experience other forms of trauma. At first, people often experience shock and denial. But if you’re experiencing long-term effects like flashbacks or difficulty regulating your emotional or physical side effects, you may have triggers for betrayal trauma.
By understanding trauma and the associated triggers, you can begin your healing journey. You will start by identifying your triggers and developing coping techniques, so you can minimize the impact your infidelity trauma has on your life and other relationships.
What are Betrayal Trauma Triggers?
Triggers are things that cause you to relive or re-experience the emotions from a traumatic experience. A common example of a trigger is fireworks and war veterans. The sound of fireworks can trigger a war veteran to make them feel like they’re under attack on the battlefield.
Trauma triggers are often complex. For people with unfaithful partners, the trauma is about your partner’s deception. Any number of stimuli such as a scent or sound could cause your emotional trauma to resurface.
Sensory memory can be overwhelming. You might even be unaware of what’s triggering your emotions. Small details from a traumatic event can stick in your mind. For example, if your partner was wearing a green shirt when you discovered they betrayed you, you might get upset when you see someone wearing a similar shirt. You could experience overwhelming emotions because of the color of someone’s shirt.
Causes of Betrayal Trauma
Betrayal trauma occurs when a partner violates trust. Marriages are supposed to be the most intimate relationships with high levels of trust. Learning your partner violated that trust can turn your world upside down.
Discovering that your partner was unfaithful can cause you to question other aspects of your life. If your partner lied to you, what other relationships can you no longer trust? If they lied to you about this, what else did they lie to you about? If your marriage isn’t what you thought it was, what else are you wrong about?
The wounds of betrayal trauma can cause a lot of doubt and disrupt your sense of self.
Symptoms of Betrayal Trauma
People often feel shame or embarrassment about their triggers. They think they shouldn’t feel that way because there isn’t a logical connection between the trigger and their trauma. But your brain made a connection, and the feelings it causes in you are real.
After a trigger, you could experience any of the following symptoms:
- Emotional numbness
- Anger or Rage
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Disoretionation or lightheadedness
- Hot or cold flashes
- Pelvic pain
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
After a trigger, you can feel the same way you did when you experienced the trauma.
Tips to Manage Triggers
Triggers are a natural part of the mind and body’s response to trauma. But they can disrupt your life. If you’re experiencing betrayal trauma triggers, use the following tips to help manage them and practice self-care.
- Don’t Minimize Triggers or Traumatic Experiences – Your emotions and triggers are real. Do not get embarrassed by them or think they shouldn’t bother you. The triggers and your emotions are your mind’s way of telling you about unresolved trauma. You’re still processing your partner’s betrayal. If you continue to experience triggering events, it could be a sign that you could benefit from therapy to help in your healing journey.
- Monitor Your Environment and Experiences – Keep a journal and make a note of when you start to feel overwhelmed or triggered. If you can identify what experiences or items might trigger you, you can develop better coping methods. The triggering events won’t seem so out of the blue if you know what caused them.
- Develop Calming Methods – Once you know what triggers your emotions, you can prepare for how to deal with them. Breathing exercises, positive affirmations, or just permitting yourself to leave the room or walk away from the experience can help you recenter.
- Don’t Blame Yourself – Shame is not a helpful part of your healing journey. Feeling embarrassed or shame about your emotions and triggers is a difficult cycle to break and only makes healing more difficult. Don’t expect to bounce back to your typical self the day after experiencing partner betrayal. Everyone’s healing journey takes time.
Get Help Managing Betrayal Trauma Triggers
If betrayal trauma triggers disrupt your daily life, it’s time to seek professional help. Therapy can help with processing your emotional trauma, identifying subconscious triggers, and developing effective coping mechanisms.
Search the All Counseling directory to find a mental health specialist near you that specializes in treating trauma victims or contact us today if you need more help connecting to a therapist in your area.
Blythe, A. (2021). When Your Trauma is Triggered. Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.btr.org/when-your-trauma-is-triggered/.
Slater, F., & Slater, F. (2021). Strategies to Manage Your Betrayal Trauma Triggers. Faye Slater Counseling. Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.fayeslater.com/blo/2021/1/15/strategies-to-manage-your-betrayal-trauma-triggers.
Trauma and Shock. https://www.apa.org. (2021). Retrieved 23 July 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma.