For over 20 years Professor Freyd and her students have investigated the impact of betrayal trauma (such as abuse perpetrated by a trusted other) on victims, discovering in the process that interpersonal betrayal is particularly toxic to both the physical and mental health of individuals. More recently Freyd and her students have 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. The research indicates that institutional betrayal can exacerbate the harm of sexual trauma. For instance, sexually-assaulted students who were treated poorly by their institutions show significantly greater levels of distress and physical health problems. Freyd’s research reveals areas of institutional policy and practice that should be targeted for improvement so that both individuals and institutions will be healthier.
Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She received her Bachelor’s degree 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 180 articles and 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 2013, with seven additional translations. In 2014, Freyd was invited two times to the U.S. White House due to her research on sexual assault and institutional betrayal. Freyd has received numerous awards including being named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and an Erskine Fellow at The University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In April 2016 Freyd was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation. Freyd currently serves as the Editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.