In The Betrayal Bond. Breaking Free Of Exploitive relationships, Dr. Carnes has written an excellent book about betrayal in all areas of life: domestic relationships, the work place, the church, friendships, litigation, schools, kidnapping and hostage situations, and other dysfunctional relationships. Betrayal has many faces: children being abused or neglected in the home, domestic violence, discrimination of employees and the breaking of agreements and promises made by upper management, sexual exploitation of employees, bullying and abuse of students, sexual abuse by church leaders, friends betraying best friends, cheating spouses, police brutality, abuses in the legal system, hostage takers playing mind games with their victims and making promises they don’t keep, and others too numerous to list.
This book is easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s every day life. Dr. Carnes defines betrayal as a breach of trust. A victim finds out he has been lied to, manipulated, or exploited by someone else. What he believed to be true is really false. The betrayer hurts someone who is loyal to him. A bond forms between the two entities. Fear keeps the victim in the relationship because of perceived losses, if he leaves. This can be the loss of a job, money, status, affection, protection, security, long-term relationships, the admiration of others, and the loss of self-respect.
Fear of abandonment as a child makes a person more likely to fall into a betrayal bond later in life. Past trauma can make one more vulnerable to being betrayed. After a while, the needs and well-being of the betrayed is sacrificed for the happiness of the other. Addiction to the betrayal bond can develop. Dr. Carnes writes: “Betrayal becomes trauma when fear and terror are present and the body shifts into an ‘alarm state.’ ” The person betrayed feels unsafe and anxiety is produced as he remains in the relationship. To stay creates pain, to go creates more pain.
Signs that one may be in a betrayal bond are: Constantly trying to explain to the betrayer that the victim is good, not bad; that it is all the victim’s fault, and shame is felt for failing to live up to the other’s expectations; loss of self-trust and self-esteem; continuing to believe the betrayer will change as promises are still being broken; denial about how bad things are going; lying and justifying the behavior of the betrayer; inability to detach from the relationship that others see as toxic; the betrayal bond is intense and there is an imbalance of power in the relationship; and the victim longs for and misses the relationship after the other has left.
Dr. Carnes believes that if a victim wants to recover from a betrayal bond, he has to: confront his denial; stop lying to himself and others about what is really going on; stop justifying harmful behaviors done by the betrayer; redevelop trust in himself and build trust with others; and learn to let go of the relationship. This is difficult to do if much time, energy and money has been given to the relationship.1 ( Continued in Part Two.)
1 Carnes,Ph.D, Patrick J. 1977. The Betrayal Bond. Breaking Free Of Exploitive Relationships. Deerfield Beach, Florida. Health Communications, Inc.