SKILL/ CONCEPT TO UNDERSTAND
Hurt Partner (HP) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Of all of the threats to a committed relationship, the most difficult to heal is infidelity. When a trusted partner in a committed relationship betrays the sacred trust of the other, the relationship will undergo severe instability.
The partner who has been betrayed is emotionally tormented and embarrassed when knowledge of the infidelity emerges. They are in trauma and experience the same array of symptoms that professionals now describe as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD).
Examples of PTSD that the Hurt Partner (HP) may experience:
- Repeated intrusive thoughts.
- Unstable emotions.
- Out of body experiences.
- Alternating between feeling numb and striking out in retaliation.
- Inability to stop scanning for any new data that might cause more distress.
- Feeling overwhelmingly powerlessness and broken.
- Needing to regain self-worth by assigning blame.
- Confusion and disorientation.
“Ever since I found out about the affair, I can’t stop thinking about what happened. I have repeated nightmares. My faith in trust and love is demolished. The person I believed in most in the world betrayed me without seeming to care. If I’d known something was wrong, maybe I could have stopped it before it got going. I spin between being devastated and being enraged. I can’t seem to find any peace, knowing that there is probably more than I will ever be told. I feel like a goddamn fool, humiliated and broken. How could my partner do this to me?”
The trauma of betrayal can also trigger memories of buried or unresolved emotional and spiritual damage from the past. When those prior traumatic experiences are triggered and re-emerge, they significantly complicate the healing process.