ACoAs: Early Trust Betrayal (Part 1)

angry father WHO CAN I DEPEND ON?
for sure NOT my family!

PREVIOUS: Adult Play #2

QUOTE: “To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer….. Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience.”

This is when the people or institutions you depend on for survival significantly violate your trust or well-being
EXP: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver
Q: Does the victim need to be conscious of the betrayal to call it “betrayal trauma”?
ANS: “No.” Being mistreated is by definition betrayal, whether the child recognizes it explicitly or not.
While conscious awareness of it may be suppressed at the time of trauma & for as long as the victim is dependent on the perpetrator, strong feelings of betrayal will eventually surface.

Traumatic events differ in degree of fear & betrayal, depending on context & characteristics of an event.
EXP : People with a history of childhood sexual abuse – which result in PTSD & dissociative symptoms – much more often reported feeling betrayed than feeling great fear.  Many other studies have found that betrayal is a psychologically toxic dimension of events.

“Betrayal blindness is the un-awareness, not-knowing, & forgetting about painful experiences, & may extend to betrayals not traditionally considered “traumas,” such as gossip, inequities in the workplace & society….
• Victims, perpetrators & witnesses may have betrayal blindness to preserve relationships, institutions or social systems they depend on…..

In Childhood
• Children automatically trust their parents (caregivers) – they don’t have a choice. But that trust can be destroyed early & easily if their family & community is unreliable, non-nurturing & dangerous. The earlier the trust-betrayal, the more long-term damage is done, since small children can’t understand & process such disappointment

• Kids don’t want the instability & cruelty of their home to be true, so they can’t afford to consciously admit their suffering is being caused by the unloving adults they depend on. If they did it, would make life even more unbearable, so they do whatever they can to deny painful experiences (blame themselves, fit into roles, people-please, rescue…..)

• Years of emotional pain & abusive treatment lead children to make definite & lasting negative decisions about themself & the whole world, based on very real events. These twisted conclusions & assumptions form self-hate, cynicism, bitterness & hopelessness.

That pain is then mirrored & added to by rigid unhealthy ‘laws’ of other dysfunctional groups such as school, church, neighborhood, the combination becoming the basis for all future interactions.  Toxic beliefs get ‘written in stone’ , very hard to change as long as they stay out of awareness

♻️ Besides internal reasons for ‘not-knowing’, there may be external reasons for not-knowing & silence. Common demands for silence come from a perpetrator & others (family & society’s flying monkeys), to the point of never having the ‘event’ mentioned – much less acknowledged. More….)

Experiences that have never been shared with anyone else may create a 
different internal structure than shared experiences”
BTW: Al-anon slogan “You’re only as sick as you secrets”


🙇🏻‍♂️ BETRAYAL ways
a. Programing : We were taught to not trust our own observations, opinions, emotions & conclusions.
We were:
• told “you don’t feel that way /  that’s not how it is / I don’t know why you think that / Oh, nothing (is going on)” ….. OR

• not given important information about what was really happening in the family, leaving us with an uncomfortable feeling of insecurity, wondering what’s wrong, making up scenarios & blaming ourselves

• expected to go along with the program, no matter how harmful to our mental & emotional health, did not fit our native personality, nor how little it allowed us to explore options & possibilities in the world, or find out what our true purpose is

EXP: “The Judds” was a reality show on the OWN tv channel (2011).
Mother Naomi slowly spilled all the ugly family secrets she’s been protecting for the past 60 yrs – murder, incest, suicide, neglect…. Daughter Wynona finally has an understanding of the problems between the two, & came to have compassion for & a new trust in her mother.

NEXT : Trust Betrayal, Part 2

2 thoughts on “ACoAs: Early Trust Betrayal (Part 1)

  1. Another one of your posts that really produces an “ah-ha.” I’m struggling in therapy to really come to acknowledge that my parents did make not-so-good decisions when it came to my childhood, and that these decisions weren’t my fault. Still hard to even type that. Thank you.


    • Thanks for commenting. At first it’s hard to see them clearly, but it gets easier as we vent the sadness, anger, longing & pain. It’s very freeing. Let me know how you progress.


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