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Betrayal By Parents : Long-term Effects.

When parents/primary caretakers, the very people who have a profound responsibility to protect and nurture their child, perpetrate abuse against him/her, the child’s psychological development is likely to be damaged on a fundamental level.

The child will come to view the parent/primary caretaker as a threat and danger to him/her; as a result, the child’s relationship with them will become highly insecure.

The breakdown of this deeply vital relationship is then very likely to severely distort how the child comes to see him/herself, others, and the world in general as s/he grows up and enters adulthood. Indeed, this negatively skewed view can last a lifetime if appropriate therapy is not sought out.

The adverse effects of the abuse upon the child are likely to be complicated and intensified due to the essentially ambiguous relationship which tends to exist between the abused child and his/her abusive parent/primary caregiver; almost invariably, the child will have conflicting and ambivalent feelings towards the abusive parent: on one level, loving and needing them, but, on another level, hating and fearing them.


Any child who has suffered significant childhood trauma, at the hands of his/her parent/primary caregiver, will, in all likelihood, develop a profound sense of having been betrayed; as a result of the abuse, and these feelings of betrayal it has evoked, the long-term effects on personality are likely to include some, or all, of the following:

negative and self-lacerating view of self

– negative and suspicious view of others

– a negative, pessimistic and cynical view of the world in general

– very significant difficulties in trusting others

– extreme sensitivity to the effects of stress and very impaired ability to calm self down once the reaction to stress has been triggered

– severe difficulties developing and maintaining intimate relationships

– a propensity to become easily consumed by rage and anger 

– feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and general lack of personal autonomy

– feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, shame, and guilt 


Two therapies (although there are others) that research shows can be highly effective at addressing such difficulties as those listed above are: