Our services are based on research conducted over many decades in Jennifer Freyd's laboratory as well as the laboratories of her former students and colleagues. This research includes investigations of interpersonal and institutional betrayal trauma, perpetrator strategies, and how to help address each of these challenges. For more on Jennifer Freyd's research at her laboratory at the University of Oregon, see the Freyd Dynamics Lab website.
A betrayal trauma occurs when someone you trust and/or someone who has power over you mistreats you. For instance, it’s a betrayal trauma when your boss sexually harasses you. Our research shows that betrayal traumas are toxic. They are associated with measurable harm, both physical and mental.
Institutional betrayal, developed from betrayal trauma theory, occurs when the institution you trust or depend upon mistreats you. It can be overt but it can also be less obvious, for instance, a failure to protect you when protection is a reasonable expectation. Our research shows that institutional betrayal is also related to measurable harm —again both mental and physical.
Betrayal blindness, a key concept of betrayal trauma theory, is the unawareness, not-knowing, and forgetting exhibited by people towards betrayal. Victims, perpetrators, and witnesses may display betrayal blindness in order to preserve relationships, institutions, and social systems upon which they depend.
Institutional courage is the antidote to institutional betrayal. It includes institutional accountability and transparency, as when institutions respond well to disclosures and when institutions conduct anonymous surveys of victimization within the institution and then use the data to become healthier.
DARVO stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender—a perpetrator strategy. The perpetrator may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender, so that the perpetrator adopts the victim role and accuses the true victim of being an offender. This can occur when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.
Institutional DARVO occurs when DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim & Offender) is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity) as when police charge rape victims with lying. Institutional DARVO is a particularly aggressive form of institutional betrayal and, if common, is an indicator that an organization is not operating at its healthy potential.
Disclosure and response
We have researched how people disclose difficult events and how those disclosures are handled. Response to disclsoure can have a profound impact on the well-being of the person telling about a dfficult event and it can impact the whole orgnaization. We have developed research-based listening skills for improving the experience of disclosure.