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Getting Over Betrayal & Abandonment

by Jill Avery-Stoss

Betrayal and abandonment present themselves to us in many different contexts throughout life. Whether a parent walked out on you during childhood or you've discovered that your spouse is having an affair, being deserted or similarly mistreated can be traumatic. Taking steps to process the painful feelings and taking care of yourself will help you heal.

Get Counseling

Consult with a professional who can educate you about the effects of trauma and teach you to cope with it in healthy, constructive ways. Those who have suffered tragic breaches of trust are at risk of developing depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, sleep problems and even physical illnesses, according to Esther Giller, president of Sidran Institute. A qualified counselor or therapist can help create a self-care regimen including tools such as exercise, journaling, interpersonal skills and meditation.

Consider Forgiveness

The concept of forgiveness plays a significant role in the process of healing, although it is often misunderstood. It is not excusing or forgetting the wrongs done to you. Forgiveness is a choice that can allow you to work through your hurt, anger and resentment. Once you let go of this emotional weight, you can then focus more fully on nurturing yourself.

Get Support

Building a network of support while struggling with matters of abandonment and betrayal can be overwhelming and exhausting. Identifying a group of trustworthy individuals is ideal during the healing process, however. You can choose friends, family members, your counselor or therapist, peers from a support group, members of a religious community, your doctor or even an attorney if necessary.

Set Firm, Healthy Boundaries

Establish limits that demand respect physically and emotionally. You can do this by identifying actions and behaviors you will not tolerate from others. These parameters may vary from person to person, and they can change over time. While setting boundaries will not change a history of betrayal or abandonment, they can presently provide you with greater autonomy and can bolster your self-esteem in general -- helping you leave behind past hurt and enjoy a more fulfilling life in the future.

About the Author

Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.

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