Carnes maps out "five main ways promises are used to betray:"
- Betrayal by seduction: "High warmth with low intention. . . . Relationships are manipulative and exploitive. Agreements are ill-defined, unclear, or tentative. Feelings are anxious and intense. Trust depends on exaggerated or unreal promises. Rewards are in the future and are often conditional. Risk is often one-sided." Most importantly, the seducer is deceptive about all these things in order to lure the other person into the relationship. People with family histories of abuse or trauma are particularly susceptible because they have never learned to protect or take care of themselves in important ways. A traumatized person's "picker" is often broken. Trauma shame creates doubt of one's intuitions. And there is a neediness that allows the person to ignore warning signs
- Betrayal by terror: If seduction fails, terror might work. Fear "deepens attachment" in ways that can be addictively intense, especially when coupled with seduction. Cults work this dual betrayal very well. They promise vulnerable people what they want, whether that be wealth, friends, spiritual growth, or whatever, but then withdraw support or even rip a person's life apart if they question things. This is the "love bomb" followed by the terror of abandonment. Often the result of betrayal by terror is guilt and shame on the part of the victim. According to Carnes, only seven percent of women who have been sexually assaulted, often by someone they know, report the offense. That is why Holly's work is so important.
- Betrayal by exploitation of power: Sexual harrassment often falls under this category, where women (or occasionally men) are in a position at work where to challenge the abuse would threaten their job because the abuser has more power. Incest relations are another example. They are "exploitation by people in power of those most vulnerable to them. If you're not equal in power, then by definition you're vulnerable. And that vulnerability is critical to trauma bonding."
- Betrayal by intimacy: In its strongest form this is emotional blackmail by someone you trust. Somebody does something wrong and the other person won't turn him in because she would be affected too. The cult abuse/'support community' that ripped up my life did this by trying to stop me from pursuing legal actions because of the ramifications it would have throughout the community.
- Betrayal by spirit: The most publicized version of this form of betrayal has been the sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic church over the past few years. Not limited by denomination, numerous televangelists have been undone by their sexual betrayals in the past few years too. Carnes thinks the reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg. He doesn't talk about it, but somewhat amorphous New Agey cultish groups also commit these spiritual betrayals. That is part of the story of how my life got ripped apart. And outside institutional religion, "spiritual" abusers often frame what they are doing as "God's will" or some such happy horseshit ("I like to think it happened for a reason"). Whatever the source, spiritual betrayal is doubly damaging, because beyond the abuse, the betrayal cuts off a primary resource for recovery, at least in the twelve step model. Such spiritual betrayals are part of why I don't do step programs any more. Maybe my belief in spirituality was just an illusion anyway. I might be better off, less deluded and vulnerable, without it.
Again, any combination, or even all of the above may be present.
Let me know if you read this by leaving a comment, ok?All the quotations and information not otherwise attributed above comes from Patrick J. Carnes, The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships (Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications Inc., 1997), 47-72.