According to the betrayal trauma theory first proposed by Jennifer Freyd of the University of Oregon, the extent of trauma associated with abuse is often linked to the level of perceived betrayal involved. Due to a fear of confrontation with the abuser and the potential loss of the abuser’s support, abuse victims are far more likely to shut out conscious recall of the abuse, even years later. Various other symptoms associated with betrayal trauma include alexithymia (inability to recognize emotions), depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal behavior, anger, and physical health complaints.
Another common problem linked to the suppression of memories surrounding betrayal trauma is dissociation. Defined by Freyd and her colleagues as, ““the lack of integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into the stream of consciousness,” dissociation can range from mild detachment from immediate reality (such as daydreaming) to more severe symptoms including loss of memory, fragmenting of identity, and complex posttraumatic disorder (C-PTSD).