What is complex partner trauma (CPT)
and why do we need this term?

CPT is a way to articulate the severe trauma and serious impact of being partnered to a person who is living duplicitously (often times for years) with fidelity violating behavior.
People of all genders and relationship preferences can experience CPT. It is an experience unlike any other; traumatic to the core. 

Let’s examine the four phases through the perspective of a woman who has been betrayed by her husband or boyfriend:

Endangerment

You were deliberately deceived; kept from knowing about your partner’s secret sex life. The subterfuge he used to avoid consequences disabled you from accurately assessing your own wellbeing and safety in relationship with him. And all the while you did not know - could not know- how very compromised your best interests were.

Endangerment
Awareness

As you uncover evidence of his betrayals your reality begins to calibrate to what is really going on. Each new confession or discovery generates fear of the next secret; you have uneasy feelings that there’s more… Trauma sets in.

Reality
Collapse

Everything shifts once you encounter the depths of his deception - just how far he was willing to go to keep you in the dark - your world is upside down. You’re driven from the depths of your nervous system to find safety for yourself… he can’t be trusted. And you may be having trouble trusting even yourself… this is the painful breakdown where healing can begin.

Reality
Acclimation

Now, every memory of the past is calibrating to match the real picture of your endangerment. And though it may not feel like it, this is where whole hearted healing becomes possible…

What kind of cheating causes
complex partner trauma?

The detriment created by betrayal violence is not hinged on the “type” or “severity” of the secret sex life a person hides from their partner. Whether the infidelity includes full-out physical and emotional affairs, commercial sex acts, ongoing hidden porn use, or anything in between (including any financial or legal secrets that are being concealed), the devastating effects on the partner and family system are life-altering. Betrayal violence (BV) is the term that helps us correctly understand the specific conduct of the secretly and repeatedly unfaithful partner which leads to the development of CPT for their spouse/significant other.

Betrayal violence creates the context for endangerment and as BV continues, the rest of the CPT phases unfold.

Have you read the CPT magazine?

What is complex partner trauma (CPT) and why do we need this term?

CPT is a way to articulate the severe trauma and serious impact of being partnered to a person who is living duplicitously (often times for years) with fidelity violating behavior.
People of all genders and relationship preferences can experience CPT. It is an experience unlike any other; traumatic to the core. 

Let’s examine the four phases through the perspective of a woman who has been betrayed by her husband or boyfriend:

What kind of cheating causes complex partner trauma?

The detriment created by betrayal violence is not hinged on the “type” or “severity” of the secret sex life a person hides from their partner. Whether the infidelity includes full-out physical and emotional affairs, commercial sex acts, ongoing hidden porn use, or anything in between (including any financial or legal secrets that are being concealed), the devastating effects on the partner and family system are life-altering. Betrayal violence (BV) is the term that helps us correctly understand the specific conduct of the secretly and repeatedly unfaithful partner which leads to the development of CPT for their spouse/significant other.

Betrayal violence creates the context for endangerment and as BV continues, the rest of the CPT phases unfold.

Have you read the CPT magazine?

What is betrayal violence?

Betrayal violence (BV) occurs in committed relationships where violations of fidelity by one partner take place outside the awareness of the other partner, who is deliberately deceived about the betrayals in an ongoing manner by the use of power and control.

BV is characterized by three concurrent modes of conduct exhibited by a person who

1) maintains a committed relationship with one significant other,

2) secretly and repeatedly violates the fidelity of the committed relationship, and

3) uses abusive behavior and communication (ABC) to restrain the significant other from awareness of the violations.

The abusive behavior and communication used in BV is classified as deception, persuasion (gaslighting and reality control) and exploitation (taking advantage of the partner’s domestic labor or trust/support.)

Is it really violence?

Violence is a strong word, especially when the betraying partner was trying to avoid painful harm and trauma rather than cause it. Here’s some podcast interviews where I clarify how violence can still occur even if it is not physical or intended.

Sex Help with Carol the Coach

Choose to Be with Alana Gordon and Amie Woolsey

The Empowered Divorce with Amie Woolsey

What is
betrayal violence?

Betrayal violence (BV) occurs in committed relationships where violations of fidelity by one partner take place outside the awareness of the other partner, who is deliberately deceived about the betrayals in an ongoing manner by the use of power and control.

BV is characterized by three concurrent modes of conduct exhibited by a person who

1) maintains a committed relationship with one significant other,

2) secretly and repeatedly violates the fidelity of the committed relationship, and

3) uses abusive behavior and communication (ABC) to restrain the significant other from awareness of the violations.

The abusive behavior and communication used in BV is classified as deception, persuasion (gaslighting and reality control) and exploitation (taking advantage of the partner’s domestic labor or trust/support.)

Is it really violence?

Violence is a strong word, especially when the betraying partner was trying to avoid painful harm and trauma rather than cause it. Here’s some podcast interviews where I clarify how violence can still occur even if it is not physical or intended.

Sex Help with Carol the Coach

Choose to Be with Alana Gordon and Amie Woolsey

The Empowered Divorce with Amie Woolsey

Hope Ray

About Hope

Hope Ray, LPC CSAT CHFP CCPS
Hope is a therapist, theoretician and the pioneer of complex partner trauma (CPT), a complete framework that pinpoints the endangerment betrayed partners face when their significant others use abusive deception to hide fidelity violating behavior.

In 2023, Hope established the Betrayal Violence Institute (BVI) which provides definitions and education for mental health clinicians + coaches, medical + legal professionals, faith-based + community organizations, and general society to better understand the conduct and impact of secret infidelity in intimate relationships.

Hope is the creator of Complex Partner Trauma Magazine, a publication for betrayed women and the host of Women Who Discover, a private podcast about infidelity betrayal available on her website along with other programs and resources.

For over a decade, Hope has walked alongside betrayed partners and couples in her intensive-based practice in Michigan. She is a wife and mother of two, a “foodie”, a piano songwriter and a bird lover with aspirations to someday become a falconer.

Hope serves on the advisory board for Lit Path, a nonprofit organization that provides partial therapy scholarships for those in need.
If you would like to apply for a scholarship to reduce therapy costs with your therapist -OR- if you’d like to help fund scholarships for those struggling to afford the help they need, scan the QR code to the right. It’s quick, easy, and truly impactful - the only program of its kind!

More about Couple Intensives

More about Individual Intensives

Media Inquiries: [email protected]

Hope serves on the advisory board for Lit Path, a nonprofit organization that provides partial therapy scholarships for those in need.
If you would like to apply for a scholarship to reduce therapy costs with your therapist -OR- if you’d like to help fund scholarships for those struggling to afford the help they need, scan the QR code below. It’s quick, easy, and truly impactful - the only program of its kind!

More about Couple Intensives

More about Individual Intensives

Media Inquiries: [email protected]

The Story We Share

I hurled my wedding ring at the wall once - it was in the middle of another half-truth disclosure; one of those back-at-square-one type of fights where I was being worked over to disbelieve the evidence I had right in front of me. I remember the way my body used to shake during those moments of crisis… the rage, trauma and distrust felt too big for my body.

Trauma everywhere

I used to wake up each morning and the first thing I could feel was my shattered heart. A hundred unanswered questions… a thousand fears… unsafe to connect and yet starving to be feel chosen.

I was sinking under the weight of constantly triggered trauma; the panic of another business trip or a beautiful woman at the grocery store just buying food for her family. One April day my reality collapsed in one fell swoop and I experienced clarity that was sharp enough to cut through all the crazy making. I encountered more evidence of the truth that I was restrained from knowing and I lost what felt like my last bit of sanity, strength and hope.

Desecrated Trust, Broken Vows

As my brain and heart calibrated I felt more pain than I had ever experienced in my life - I never signed up for any of it. And even with divorce, the devastation didn’t disappear along with the relationship. The trauma I had sustained (and old wounds that were reopened) still throbbed inside me from the blunt impact of betrayal.

My healing was a clunky journey riddled with setbacks and financial limitations that made it difficult. I often felt stuck and hopeless. The pictures of me from that time will forever portray my misery; sad eyes, worn out heart, and crumpled shoulders.

What came of it all?

My own experience gave me the eyes and ears to understand this pain but it was the many couples and partners I have worked with over the past decade that have given me the full picture.

Throughout my healing process and into today, I have continued to steadily observe and catalog the gaps in the current field of psychology that leave people feeling stuck, misunderstood and under-resourced in the turmoil of betrayal.

Since 2012, my work has been sharply focused on helping psychology and society get this right. We’re long overdue to move away from the archaic approaches that regard secret infidelity betrayal too lightly, too loosely… inaccurately.

Why these definitions matter

The ins and outs of infidelity betrayal haven’t been clearly defined – until now. Clients and clinicians alike are sifting through myriad resources to piece together the right approach to recovery, relationship healing, and trauma resiliency. Those who have been impacted by BV deserve to be accurately understood by the people they pay to help them. There are many excellent clinicians running effective programs out there and yet each method is unique.

I believe that as the mental health realm embraces the language of betrayal violence we will see more consistent therapeutic assessment and application. I'm inspired to think of the possibilities for standardized terminology that can be understood by people in any discipline who may interact with the problem of betrayal violence. The #timetodefine is now.

It’s #timetodefine betrayal violence

The conduct of betrayal violence hasn’t been clearly defined – until now. This language is meant to provide relief and cohesion for clients and clinicians alike. I’ve pioneered this framework to serve as a springboard of unity and clarity in the mental health realm and beyond. It supports clinicians & coaches, medical & legal professionals, clergy & advocates - along with general society. And most of all it’s here to support you.

No matter which side of betrayal you are on, no matter how far into your journey - understanding BV and CPT is invaluable to healing from the past and reclaiming the future with preventative success. My hope is that every person navigating through this traumatic terrain can feel comprehensively seen, understood, and guided to the right next thing.

We’re leading a movement - initiating promising change… The world will catch on as we keep going.

Imagine the possibilities...
Here are the goals of my work:

  • Every gynecologist will be able to identify and provide resources for betrayal violence.
  • Every pastor, priest, rabbi, bishop, Biblical counselor, etc. will be able to recognize the presence of abuse dynamics in working with couples where betrayal violence is occurring.
  • Every court system will understand the prevalence and influence of betrayal violence dynamics for relevant divorce and child custody cases.
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists will be able to assess for and accurately approach complex partner trauma using trauma-informed and response-based methods.
  • Every domestic violence resource center will have programming and resources available for betrayal violence.
  • Professors and graduate counseling programs will include betrayal violence and complex partner trauma education in their curriculum.
  • Certified coaches will be able to detect elements of betrayal violence and complex partner trauma and offer support and education to their clients.
  • Advocates will utilize betrayal violence and complex partner trauma language to promote awareness and non-victim-blaming support.

I’m Hope Ray.

I'm a Licensed Professional Counselor leading a movement to clarify and unify the world's understanding of betrayal violence and complex partner trauma.