It is very painful to experience betrayal in our relationships. I am primarily referring to betrayal by loved ones. This is the most painful betrayal. Betrayal may happen in many different forms and can be experienced by anyone at anytime during their life time

Betrayal might take place in the form of sexual, physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse by a perpetrator onto a weaker subject. It can take the form of abandonment and neglect by a loved one. It can take the form of infidelity. It has to do with transgression of personal boundaries. It has to do with breaking the trust of the given relationship. It has to do with the breach of confidence.

It includes dishonesty ranging from little lies to huge cover ups. It includes exiting and undermining behaviors. It includes broken agreements whether they were formal written contracts, vows, or a spoken and unspoken consensus.

Betrayal can be experienced in degrees and there is a range of related emotions, symptoms and side effects associated with it.

People who have been betrayed by loved ones (parents, siblings, relatives, spouse, children, friends, etc.), have experienced a rupture in the cloth of relatedness. This is a colossal grievance.

Because of the inherent self-focus of the perpetrator, the victim’s perspective is dismissed and unsupported. They are left alone to make sense of the trauma and the wholes in reality as they know it. The usual lies, secrets and cover-ups associated with betraying acts, further perpetuate the confusion. The victim’s sense of themselves and their world is shattered.

They now go through life trying to make sense of their experiences and interactions which are being processed through the ruptured cloth of relating frame¦ They have a hard time letting people in, trusting, opening up, becoming interdependent, asking for help, to say the least!

This is very difficult to live with. People who have been betrayed to some extend or another, need to process and address this so they are free to build healthy and satisfying relationships from here on! They should not subject themselves to a life of disconnection, loneliness and desperation. It is not fair. They are entitled to a full life with loving and caring relationships, regardless of what happened in their past.

This holds true even for those who have ended up also perpetrating betrayals, They should not punish themselves for eternity because of it. They just need to do the work as well.

People who have experienced betrayals are usually expected to forgive and move on. They are told that this is what they need to be in a better place. This is a difficult and daunting task to accomplish. There is the misconception that forgiving is the only way to be able to move on and get one’s life back.

I’ve learned that forgiveness is not the only way to be able to accomplish this, and that there is a step that can happen before forgiveness is potentially pursued, if desired. That is ACCEPTANCE.

Acceptance can be achieved by the victim doing work to mend the rupture regardless of whether the perpetrator is willing to cooperate and make amends (or even allowed by the victim). The perpetrator is not needed in the acceptance process, and the victim can get their life back and move on. They can mend the rupture without the perpetrator’s assistance.

Forgiveness is just icing on the cake. Forgiveness is achieved by those victims who are able and willing to allow the perpetrator to make restitutions and whose perpetrators work with them. The key factor here is that restitution by the perpetrator is required for forgiveness to be genuine and able to flourish. For Forgiveness to actually take place, the perpetrator needs to work with the victim to mend the rupture. This is hard work but extremely rewarding and satisfying in the end.

Some victims have been hurt so deeply that they are happy with reaching Acceptance and moving on. They don’t want to forgive their perpetrator. They don’t want to work with the perp, and some perps are not very cooperative or available anyway. This is fine.

Most people confuse Acceptance with Forgiveness. Don’t get pushed into forgiving if you are not ready or willing. You DO need to do the work to come to grips with your reality and reach Acceptance, so your life is finally yours to live and free from the effect of the betrayal.

Get free from betrayal’s grip and get back on track with your life!!

Happy Accepting!!!

Author's Bio: 

About Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT (Metropolitan MFT)
I'm the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC (Metropolitan MFT), a private psychotherapy practice specializing in working with couples. I help couples succeed at their relationship by assisting them get on the same page and deeply understand each other, repair hurts, create intimacy, stay connected, share passion, and tap into their synergy. I specialize in pre-marital, codependence, reactivity / anger, and infidelity work.