A Public Display of Betrayal: How to Cope with Betrayal in the Public Eye

A Public Display of Betrayal: How to Cope with Betrayal in the Public Eye

If dealing with betrayal privately wasn’t bad enough, consider coping with betrayal in the spotlight or in a more public situation.  It’s in these particular scenarios that the need to maintain control becomes even greater for those betrayed. 

However, before you can respond to betrayal in the most dignified and controlled way, it’s important to understand what happens physiologically when we are faced with it.  When a betrayal rears its ugly head, our fight-or-flight mechanism goes into full swing. Academicians, family therapists and Psychologists Jill Duba Sauerhe­ber and J. Graham Disque paint the picture of this traumatic moment: “You are in a building and the fire alarm starts going off. You exit the building, the fire department comes, and they turn off the alarms and clear the building for re-entry. Now imagine you left the building, but the fire department never comes. You go back into the building, with the alarm still going off and the strobe lights still flashing. This is how going back into the relationship is for the trau­matized betrayed partner. She will re-enter without getting the ‘all clear,’ and yet her response system is still going off.

While the betrayed is experiencing a traumatic “fire emergency,” the betrayer stands by to watch the “house burn down” by doing all they can to dehumanize the target while consciously and unconsciously undermining the dignity of the individual.  This is especially true in public acts of betrayal, which often lead to the perceived loss of respect, dignity and confidence.

We have heard from several individuals who have experienced betrayal that threatened their careers and public reputation.  Consider these four key takeaways from those who have walked through fire successfully:

  1. Maintain a firm grasp of your endgame and your self-esteem.  Even those who have been attacked, undermined, marginalized and silenced have been able to disable their betrayers simply by standing their ground. 
  2. Never let an individual or insti­tution control your narrative; it is your reputation at stake and that can mean everything for your future.  
  3. Stay calm and composed in the face of those who have betrayed you. Not only protects self-esteem and dignity in the moment, it allows individuals to move forward with minimum visual stress.
  4. Understand and know who the people are that you trust in your personal life so that you can share your true feelings and devastations in private, while maintaining composure publicly. 

No matter how public the betrayal and humiliation, it is possible to prevent the betrayer from being completely successful in their endeavor to win.  To do this requires tapping into your inner strength.  Acknowledge that you have it, build it and continue to nurture it.  It’s important in these moments to leverage that steel-like force in preparation for the onslaught of the betrayer’s attack.

Most importantly, remember this is not about you – no matter how personal it feels. No one causes another person to betray them. Your only job is to stand strong against the attack. Learn more about how to bounce back victorious against betrayal by visiting https://bouncefrombetrayal.com/.

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