To understand this harm, The general idea of cultural betrayal trauma theory is that some minorities develop what I call “(intra)cultural trust” love, loyalty, attachment, connection, responsibility and solidarity with each other to protect themselves from a hostile society. Within-group violence, such as a black perpetrator harming a black victim; is a violation of this (intra)cultural trust. This violation is a cultural betrayal.
Cultural betrayal trauma, which is simply within-group violence in minority populations; is with many outcomes that go beyond things that are typically studied with trauma; such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It includes some things not often thought about with trauma; such as internalized prejudice like a black person believing the stereotype that all black people are violent.
Cultural betrayal trauma
(Intra)cultural pressure is another outcome of cultural betrayal trauma. With (intra)cultural pressure; people who experience cultural betrayal trauma are often demanded to protect the perpetrators and the minority group as a whole at all costs, even above their own well-being. With the mandate of “do not betray your race,” (intra)cultural pressure punishes people who speak out about the cultural betrayal trauma they have endured.
In a recent study, I tested cultural betrayal trauma theory in youth due to the increased risk for trauma and mental health problems in the transition into adulthood. I surveyed 179 college women online in 2015. Over 50% of these young women were victims of trauma. Just under half experienced psychological violence; 14% endured physical violence, and almost one in three women victims of sexual violence.
The young women who victimized, over 80% reported at least one form of (intra) cultural pressure. This included their ethnic group suggesting that what happened to them may affect their minority group’s reputation. An example of this could be a black woman who was raped by a black man told that she should not go to the police because it will make all black people look bad.
Analyzed the findings
1. The within-group nature of trauma includes a cultural betrayal in minorities that affects mental health.
2. Trauma gives us only part of the picture.
3. Group-level responses and cultural norms via intra-cultural pressure impact mental health.
4. The policy change that combats inequality, such as changes in education, health care, law enforcement, and the judicial system, can benefit minorities who experience trauma.
These findings have implications for interventions. Such therapy can address the very real threats of discrimination and the necessity for (intra)cultural pressure. At the same time, these interventions can use (intra)cultural trust to promote positive mental health. Additionally, evidence-informed feminist approaches; such as relational-cultural therapy, may benefit people who are exposed to both trauma and societal inequality.
The body of research to date suggests that cultural betrayal may unique harm within violence in minority populations, including the black community. As such, the alleged sexual traumas perpetrated by R. Kelly and Clarence Thomas have a cultural betrayal that is not found in Woody Allen’s alleged abuse.
Moreover, black men’s death threats against Tarana Burke are (intra) cultural pressure that is laced with misogynoir; or sexism in the black community. Research that incorporates societal inequality can help us understand what makes trauma traumatic. In doing so, our social reactions and therapeutic interventions can ultimately effective for blacks and other minorities who are exposing to trauma.