Perpetrator Betrayal and Victim Forgiveness

We define betrayal as the perceived violation of an implicit or explicit relationship-relevant norm. Individuals experience betrayal when they believe that a partner has knowingly departed from the norms of decency and fairness that are assumed to govern a relationship, thereby causing harm. Given that betrayals are harmful to victims and violate morality-based expectations, victims typically experience righteous indignation, believe that the perpetrator has incurred an interpersonal debt, and perceive that such incidents bode poorly for their relationships. Whether a couple can survive and recover from such an incident rests on how betrayals are resolved.

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