Institutional Betrayal and Betrayal Blindness

Jennifer J. Freyd, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon

Institutional Betrayal

The term "Institutional Betrayal" refers to wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that institution, including failure to prevent or respond supportively to wrongdoings by individuals (e.g. sexual assault) committed within the context of the institution. The term "Institutional Betrayal" as connected with betrayal trauma theory was introduced in presentations by Freyd in early 2008 and is discussed in more detail in various publications, including in a section starting on page 201 of Platt, Barton, & Freyd (2009) and in a 2013 research report (Smith & Freyd, 2013). Institutional betrayal is a core focus of the book Blind to Betrayal, by Freyd and Birrell, 2013. Currently the most definitive exploration of institutional betrayal is presented in the American Psychologist (Smith & Freyd, 2014).
(Also #institutionalbetrayal)

Betrayal Blindness

Betrayal blindness is the unawareness, not-knowing, and forgetting exhibited by people towards betrayal. The term "betrayal blindness" was introduced by Freyd (1996), and expanded in Freyd (1999) and Freyd and Birrell (2013) in the context of Betrayal Trauma Theory. This blindness may extend to betrayals that are not traditionally considered "traumas," such as adultery, and also to institutional betrayal. Victims, perpetrators, and witnesses may display betrayal blindness in order to preserve relationships, institutions, and social systems upon which they depend. (Also, see Eileen Zurbriggen's essay on Betrayal Trauma in the 2004 Election.)

DARVO

Institutional denial plays a crucial role in institutional betrayal. One particularly pernicious form of denial is DARVO -- Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender (see p 119 of Blind to Betrayal; also see this web page about DARVO). Institutional retaliation toward whistle blowers often follows a DARVO pattern. (Although retaliation is a significant problem, victims should know that there are many laws that are designed to protect employees from retaliation. )

Institutional Courage

Institutional betrayal can be replaced by institutional courage (Freyd, 2014). Courageous institutions refrain from punishing the whistleblower. Rather, cherishing the whistleblower is what a courageous -- and wise -- institution does (see p 173 of Blind to Betrayal, Freyd & Birrell, 2013) A remarkable example of institutional courage occurred when Oregon State University hired Brenda Tracy, a survivor of rape who had initially been betrayed by the institution:

After Tracy came forward, Oregon State issued a public apology for how it had responded to her report more than a decade earlier. And then the school hired her to be a consultant on how it should handle sexual assault. Rather than freezing out the whistleblower, OSU regularly brings Tracy in to speak to classes, sports teams and members of Greek life about sexual violence. (Kingkade, 2016)

(Also #institutionalcourage)

Some Key Writings

simplechineseblindtobetrayalcover

One of the translations of Blind to Betrayal

Media Coverage

Lectures and Presentations

Research and Publications

Links to some of our IB projects. A more complete list of publications from our lab is here.

american psychologist

 

Smith, C.P. & Freyd, J.J. (2014).  Institutional betrayal. American Psychologist, 69, 575-587.

Press Release

 

cover

Freyd, J.J.& Birrell, P.J. (2013).  Blind to Betrayal.  John Wiley & Sons. 

Press release for Freyd & Birrell (2013)

smithfreydrosenthal

 

The UO Sexual Violence and Institutional Betrayal Campus Surveys: 2014 and 2015

The Science of Campus Victimization and Climate Surveys

 

atyourownriskInstitutional Betrayal in Medicine

First do not harm: Institutional betrayal in health care. Smith doctoral dissertation, 2015.

 

 

mst

Institutional Betrayal in the Military

Reinhardt, K. M., Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2016). Came to serve, left betrayed; MST and the trauma of betrayal. In L. S. Katz (Ed.), Understanding and treating military sexual trauma (pp. 61-78). New York: Springer.

 

 

law review

 

Smith, C.P, Gómez, J. M., & Freyd, J. J. (2014). The Psychology of Judicial BetrayalRoger Williams University Law Review, 19, 451-475.

 

Psychologists, Torture, & Institutional Betrayal

 

 

Tang, S.S. (2015). Blindness to institutional betrayal by the APA.  [Letter]. BMJ, 351, h4172.

Gómez, J. M. (2015, August 6). Psychological Pressure: Did the APA commit institutional betrayal? [OpEd]. Eugene Weekly.

Freyd JJ. (2009). Rules of conscience: betray ethics, betray trust [letter]. BMJ 338, b2191.

gomez

 

Gómez, J. M. (2015). Microaggressions and the enduring mental health disparity: Black Americans at risk for institutional betrayal. Journal of Black Psychology, 41(2), 121–143.

 

opinion

Freyd, J.J. (2014). Official campus statistics for sexual violence mislead. [Op-Ed] Al Jazeera America, July 14, 2014.

Gomez, J.M. & Freyd, J.J. (2014). Institutional betrayal makes violence more toxic. [Op-Ed] The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), August 22, 2014, p A9.

Freyd, J.J. (2014) Use science as tool on campus sexual assault.  [Op-Ed] The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), November 9, 2014, p H4.

Freyd, J.J. (2015) UO can move beyond institutional betrayal. [Op-Ed] The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), May 7, 2015, p A9.

smithfreyd

 

Smith, C.P. & Freyd, J.J. (2013). Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 119-124.

Press release for Smith & Freyd (2013)

Daubert & Frye analysis (Murphy, Martin, & Smith, 2014)

 

giveonline

 

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Varieties of Institutional Betrayal

Institutional betrayal can take many forms. Some situations may appear to be easily identified as involving institutional betrayal whereas others may be less obvious at first glance, but still constituting institutional betrayal. This graph is intended to convey the role of two dimensions of institutional betrayal that may impact how easy it is to identify the role of the institution. Note that although less obvious perhaps, institutional betrayal can be at the center of events that seem to be isolated when those events happen in an institutional context and similarly it can be responsible for harmful acts of omission.

ib

Introducing the term Institutional Betrayal

Measurement Instruments: Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire (IBQ), IBSQ, & IBQ-H

Carly Smith and Jennifer Freyd have been developing the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire (IBQ) to measure institutional betrayal regarding sexual assault. The IBQ is designed to measure institutional betrayal that occurs leading up to or following a sexual assault (e.g., [The institution] "... created an environment where sexual assault seemed like no big deal"; "... responded inadequately to reports of sexual assault"). The IBQ also measures identification with the institution and prompts for a description of the institution involved. There is now an IBQ-2, one that includes support items, and one that focusses on health care. The full IBQ (IBQ-2, IBSQ, and IBQ-H) can be found here.

Also see: