Institutional betrayal refers to wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individuals dependent on that institution. In an extension of betrayal trauma theory, we have begun to articulate dimensions of both institutional betrayal and its reparation -- institutional courage.  We have also conducted empirical research on the impact institutional betrayal has on individuals within institutions, with a focus on institutional response to military and campus sexual assault. Our research indicates that institutional betrayal can be associated with betrayal blindness and that it can exacerbate the harm of sexual trauma.  For instance, sexually-assaulted students who were treated poorly by their institutions show significantly greater levels of dissociation, anxiety, and other trauma-specific symptoms.  We have found heightened effects for LGBT-identified students compared to heterosexual students and we have also uncovered some of the specific mechanisms by which universities currently fail to prevent sexual assault and cause additional harm to victims. Our research reveals areas of institutional policy and practice that could and should be targeted for improvement so that we can move from institutional betrayal to institutional courage.

Jennifer J. Freyd is a professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD in Psychology from Stanford University. Freyd directs a laboratory investigating the impact of interpersonal and institutional trauma on mental and physical health, behavior, and society. She has published over 170 articles and she is author of the Harvard Press award-winning book Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse.  Her book Blind to Betrayal, co-authored with Pamela J. Birrell, was published in English by Wiley in March 2013 with translations into Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and both Simple and Traditional Chinese.  In the spring of 2014 Freyd was invited two times to the U.S. White House due to her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal.  Freyd is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She serves as the Editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.

Freyd