Maybe I’m Not Codependent?

Our APSATS coaches will help you deal with the abusive behaviors that are correlated with pornography use and sexual addiction. Coach Rae is APSATS trained and goes over some important concepts to think about when considering if the label codependent will help you.

Codependent? According to Whom? 

Ten years ago, my husband’s Twelve Step sponsor took it upon himself to label me “codependent.” This man proceeded to explain, in no uncertain terms, that any problems I had with my porn addict husband were exactly that—my problem. If I simply learned to focus on my own issues, he explained, I would soon realize that “[I was] the source of much of the pain for which [I] had blamed others” (S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 39).

In that moment, I felt attacked to my core, silenced into submission by a weapon of emotional mass destruction.

Sadly, it took me seven more years before I could “talk back” to that voice from my past, before I learned terms like “gaslighting” and “blame shifting” and “psychological abuse.” (As a member of BTR’s APSATS coaching team, I’m grateful to help other women reject such abuse tactics in far less time!) But even though it took me awhile to separate some facts from fallacies, it only took me a millisecond to identify a few deeply irrefutable truths:

  • Codependence is a four-syllable word. However, when used as an instrument of ignorance and abuse, it feels more like a four-letter word. 
  • When professed by someone in a position of significant relational influence or power, the term codependent feels like a violation of interpersonal boundaries.
  • For a woman drowning in the throes of confusion, grief and early betrayal trauma, the concept of codependence tends to hinder her quest toward safety and serenity. It feels like a deeply discouraging (at best) and severely disempowering (at worst) detour, one that fails to address a number of other critical and time-sensitive factors. 
  • Being told I’m codependent doesn’t automatically mean it’s true — even if the person who makes that statement is educated, successful or experienced within the world of addiction recovery. I MAY indeed be codependent, or I MAY NOT be. Either way, that’s MY decision to make, in my own time and in my own way. 

Even now, ten years later, as I remember that infamous early conversation, my blood pressure skyrockets. A microscopic piece of me is grateful (gulp), because in certain ways, that man wasn’t entirely wrong. But an enormous piece of me — the part of me that now speaks up when something feels really, really wrong — knows that conversation should NEVER have gone down the way it did. That man had no right to label me anything. He had no invitation, and didn’t have my permission. He knew little more than my first name, and he’d never walked a block in my shoes. He didn’t understand PTSD or complex trauma, and he ultimately did more harm than good in my marriage. From that first word forward, that man projected onto me a clear message of presumptive dysfunction and primary deflection, indicting me for responding (very appropriately, I might add) to the pain of my husband’s active porn addiction. 

And I’ll be honest: some days, I still really hate him for that.

I hate him most on days like this one, when I’m writing or speaking or coaching on this topic, as I watch other strong and beautiful and brilliant women struggle with this question, “Am I codependent?”

At the beginning of my journey, I tackled this question by myself and for myself. I grappled my way through it in silence and in isolation. So on days like today, when I get all stirred up? I leverage that anger toward our communal advantage. Instead of leaning into my resentment, I lean into conviction and advocacy and activism, working to strengthen and support our heroic sisterhood. I triumph over my anger by celebrating our willingness to ask even the toughest questions — and by honoring our right to address for ourselves the assumptions that others attempt to dictate for us. 

Am I Codependent? Four Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing it’s because you want to explore more about codependence. You’ve likely heard the topic debated in various forums, and you may wonder why it’s such a passionate subject for survivors of porn addiction, narcissism, and other forms of relational abuse. Perhaps you believe are codependent. Or maybe, you’ve comfortably concluded that you’re not. Whatever your position, my purpose here is not to convince you in either direction! (As a coach, I don’t attach much value to prepackaged, one-size-fits-all answers. To read more about APSATS training, click here.) Instead, my primary goal is to articulate some questions my clients commonly ask about codependence—along with reality checks, reflection questions and a few further thoughts in response to each one. 

1. QUESTION: “I can’t stop obsessing about my husband’s porn addiction. He tells me he’s stopped looking, and I think I believe him. But I’m still worried about it. In fact, I worry about it constantly. Does that mean I’m codependent?”

For women in betrayal trauma, our heads (thoughts) are intimately connected to our hearts (emotions) and our guts (intuition). We tend to experience obsessive thinking—also referred to as “hypervigilance”—when we’re (a) grieving the past, (b) feeling unsafe in the present, or (c) seeking to protect ourselves from further abuse in the future. As we heal and recover, our heads, hearts and guts are less frequently triggered by our high functioning “early-detection” system. In most cases, our obsessions become less consuming over time, as our heightened awareness becomes more focused and discerning. It eventually picks up only the most important information we need to remain safe, rather than sounding an alarm over things that aren’t significant threats.

Even though I’ve been healing for years from trauma induced by my husband’s porn addiction, I still get hypervigilant at various points in time, to varying degrees, and for unpredictable durations. When that happens, I rely upon others to help me identify why: whether I’m grieving, feeling unsafe or seeking protection for myself and my future. My Twelve Step sponsor and recovery friends help me to surrender what I know I can’t know, and they remind about ways I can ground myself spiritually. My coach helps me to process the triggers I’m experiencing, empowering me to respond authentically and appropriately. We discuss my feelings, fears and known facts, and we explore what, whom or why I may be grieving. We assess which of my boundaries might need reinforcement, and we prioritize my commitment to self-care, self-compassion and self-protection.

Codependence Reality Check: Extreme degrees of hypervigilance are very normal for survivors of addiction and/or abuse, especially during the first one-to-three years after discovery. They’re also increasingly common in the aftermath of a slip or relapse. If you’re feeling hypervigilant, please be compassionate with yourself! Take a moment to remember that, in most cases, we women don’t choose to think about this stuff obsessively. Hypervigilance is something that happens to us, as the result of our betrayal trauma. It does NOT automatically indicate that we’re codependent.

Trauma Reflection Questions: If you’re concerned about the frequency or duration of your obsessive thoughts, consider asking yourself questions like these:

  • On a scale from 1-5, how well does my hypervigilance match the severity of what has happened, is happening, and/or what I believe could happen again?
  • On a scale from 1-5, how deeply are my responses harming me, interfering with my life, or causing me to speak and act in ways that aren’t aligned with my values?
  • On a scale from 1-5, how well am I tolerating these obsessive episodes? Is there something I can do to increase my tolerance or decrease my vulnerability? Are there alternative responses with which I might experiment? 

Betrayal trauma can cause unwanted obsessive thoughts – focusing on someone or something else, specifically to the intentional exclusion of focusing on myself and my own self-improvement. If you’re working with an APSATS coach, she will help you safely determine if your obsessive thoughts are a trauma response and give you the tools to heal.

2. QUESTION: “I can’t leave him home alone with internet access, because I’m afraid of what he’ll look at when I’m gone. I’ve also installed internet filters on all of our devices, and I expect him to have an internet accountability partner. Does that mean that I’m codependent?”

For women in betrayal trauma, our FIRST order of business is securing for ourselves some degree of safety and stabilization. And for most of us, sexual betrayal within our own homes (and by our own loved ones) is an extremely destabilizing experience. There are many ways to restore safety to our post-betrayal lives, and these (decreased opportunity, internet protection and accountability) are some of the most common and accessible tools we have to make that happen. Determining how much, how far, and how frequently we utilize these tools is a highly individualized process. (In my own recovery, this is an area where I still lean heavily upon my therapist, coach and sponsor.) These women assist me in weighing the pros and cons for each tool at my disposal, and they protect me from putting too much trust or reliance into resources that aren’t failsafe.  

As women healing from betrayal trauma, we deserve to feel safe within our own bodies, our own homes and our own families. This need for safety is NOT codependence. It’s survival. It’s self-care. It’s self-compassion, and it’s self-protection. Not only are these things our rights, they’re also our responsibilities. 

Trauma Reflection Questions: If you’re concerned about your need for internet protection and accountability, consider asking yourself questions like these:

  • On a scale from 1-5, how much safety do I receive from using these tools within my home and relationship?
  • On a scale from 1-5, how costly are these tools? What sacrifices am I making, in exchange for the security I’m receiving—and am I comfortable making these sacrifices?
  • On a scale from 1-5, how fully to I trust these external protections? Do I have a backup plan, in case something goes wrong?

Trauma can cause women in these situations to second guess their intuition, and feel panicked about controlling their situation. Working with an APSATS coach can help you determine your emotional and physical safety, help you set healthy boundaries to keep you safe, and give you tools to work toward healthy, post-traumatic growth.

3. QUESTION: “What if I’m not strong enough to set boundaries? I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’ve given in, and then he’s walked all over me. Does that mean I’m codependent?”

For women in betrayal trauma, setting boundaries is perhaps the most important, most pivotal, most game-changing step we take in recovery. For most of us, it’s also the most intimidating, overwhelming and terrifying task we undertake. Sexual betrayal wreaks havoc with our perceptions of reality, priority and self-perception, which means it takes a heavy toll on our convictions, our confidence and our identities as Women Who Can Conquer Anything. Very few of us set boundaries with ease, clarity and unshakeable success. In my personal and professional experience, it’s nearly impossible to navigate healthy boundaries without the support of a therapist or APSATS coach.

There are dozens of reasons why setting boundaries can so difficult—including the very high incidence of “pushback” from the addicted and/or abusive men in our lives. Our attempts to set boundaries are often thwarted by guys like my husband’s sponsor, the one who told me to “stay on my side of the street.” By attempting to convince us that (a) we don’t need boundaries, (b) our boundaries are too controlling (that’s a whole other article, by the way) or (c) our consequences for boundary violations are too punitive, men often intimidate us into changing our minds about our boundaries, no matter how necessary and legitimate they are. They tell us we’re the bad guys, the mommies, the police officers. They label us with words like “codependent.” And then, when we struggle to hold onto ourselves (independence), lean upon others for support (interdependence) or act upon spiritual guidance (God-dependence), we wonder if they might actually be right. After all, wouldn’t a more independent, interdependent and God-dependent woman have a stronger backbone? 

When I’m struggling with boundaries, I stick like glue to my circles of support. My Twelve Step sponsor and recovery friends remind to consider what I can and cannot change, and they help me refocus upon the spiritual principles of my recovery program. My coach highlights specific areas where my boundaries are doing their job (or not), and we explore a variety of solutions until I find the one that fits best. These women reflect back to me everything I know but tend to forget, and they’re my greatest source of accountability and comfort, especially at times when I’m tempted to buckle (or actually do) under my the strain of my husband’s complaints.

Boundary setting is hard, and there WILL be pushback. But boundary setting isn’t impossible, and all women can succeed at setting healthy boundaries. Few of us ever set boundaries perfectly. But we don’t let that stop us from learning and growing and improving over time. Not sure you believe me? Let me put it this way: NONE of this whole journey has been easy, has it? And yet, nothing “hard” has discouraged us to the point of giving up on ourselves. The truth is, WE CAN set boundaries. Let’s repeat it until we believe it: “We can set boundaries—because we are worth it.” 

And boundaries, dear women? Boundaries are our superpower.

Trauma Reflection Questions: If you’re concerned about your ability to envision, establish and enforce personal boundaries, consider asking yourself questions like these:

  • On a scale from 1-5, how often can I successfully do other “extremely hard” things? What support resources help me do what I couldn’t do otherwise?
  • On a scale from 1-5, what is the quality of my life with boundaries? What is the quality of my life without boundaries? 
  • On a scale from 1-5, how hard have I fought to protect the wellbeing of my closest loved ones? Have I fought equally hard to protect my own wellbeing?

In some situations, the trauma is so intense, you can’t figure out how to make it stop – and boundaries may seem confusing. If you’re working with a trained APSATS coach, they can help you understand how to remove yourself from the trauma cycle, and get to safety.

4. QUESTION: “We spend all of our money on support groups, classes, therapy and addiction treatment for him. In the process, I’ve sacrificed time, energy and money for myself and the kids. Does that mean I’m codependent?”

For women in betrayal trauma, it’s normal and natural for us to pour ALL available resources into the source of our present crisis: “His issues got us here, so let’s do whatever it takes to fix his issues.” As an adrenaline-fueled, intervention-oriented, post-traumatic stress response, that approach makes perfect sense: it’s a short-term, emergency-focused, survival-driven strategy, designed to rescue ourselves by putting an end to his addiction and/or abuse.

At the same time, recovery from betrayal trauma isn’t a fast-and-furious sprint, it’s more of a slow-and-steady marathon. Very few families heal to the point of wholeness when treatment for the addict and/or abuser’s consumes the entirety of our time, money and energy. 

Within their practice of addiction and abuse, our guys are used to being the center of their own secret world. I’ve never met a man who reverses that trend overnight in recovery, so it typically falls upon US to prioritize resources for own healing. Like other meaningful areas of betrayal trauma, making this choice isn’t easy or obvious. And like other areas of recovery, our best chance at success comes through having support. 

If you’re conflicted about dedicating resources to your own healing, consider asking yourself questions like these:

  • On a scale from 1-5, how guilty do I feel about diverting time, money and energy away from my husband for my own healing? How does this number differ from how I want to feel, or how I believe I should feel?
  • On a scale from 1-5, Are there other women in my life who spend a portion of their resources to healing themselves? Do I know women who do the opposite? What do I think and feel about these women? And what does that suggest about me?
  • On a scale from 1-5, how significantly might my life improve if I started paying for APSATS coaching? If I hired a babysitter? Enrolled in an art class? Registered for a women’s retreat? Redecorated my bedroom? Purchased new pajamas?

In most situations, women can mistakenly assume that dedicating all available resources to our partners will stop the traumatizing behaviors. Schedule a free consultation with a Betrayal Trauma APSATS coach to see if boundaries and other ways of healing your trauma would create safety in your life.  

Am I Codependent? Yes? No? Maybe? How Important Is It? 

In reality, labeling yourself codependent may not help you heal the trauma you’re experiencing. After reading this:

  • Are you processing your experience differently? 
  • Are you asking a new question, perhaps one that hasn’t occurred to you previously—and maybe that new question feels like a fresh start? 
  • Are you answering an old question with a different response—and maybe that response feels like a victory?
  • Are you feeling more peace about who you are and how you feel? 
  • Are you feeling more questions about what is going on inside you?

CONCLUSION: When all is said and done, it isn’t important to me whether you are (or are not) codependent. Ultimately, it’s for you to decide if the question even warrants another moment of your time. On behalf of the entire team here at BTR, let me close by stating how deeply WE BELIEVE IN YOU! We believe in your ability to discern what’s important for you, as passionately as we believe in your ability to heal and recover from ALL of this — from the abusive behaviors related to your loved ones pornography / sex addiction, and from the trauma you’ve experienced as the result.

In Service and Support,

Coach Rae

PS: I have a VERY long list of FAQs about codependence! If I didn’t address your burning question above, please don’t let that stop you from seeking your answers. I encourage you to be brave. Consider writing about the question, to explore what you think and feel in response. Ask your therapist, APSATS coach, sponsor and support group for input. Check out some of these other frequently asked questions, and email me at to let me know which ones most interest YOU. Stay tuned. I’ll address them in a followup post or podcast:

  • When I tell my husband he’s abusive, he tells me I’m playing the victim. Something about that doesn’t feel right. I do feel like a victim, but that makes me sound like I’m being a martyr. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • My husband believes that I’ll never leave him, even if he goes back to using porn regularly. Deep in my heart, I’m afraid that he’s right. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • I have sex with my husband so he won’t look at porn. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • After my husband’s betrayals, I’m far too traumatized to let him touch me. I’d rather have him look at porn than pressure me for sex. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • I do what my husband wants, to keep the peace in our family. Most of the time, what I want isn’t a big deal to me, or it’s not worth the fight it would trigger between us. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • I’m very passive in my relationships. I often let others make all the big decisions, primarily because I don’t trust my own ideas or opinions. I know this makes me vulnerable to abuse within my marriage, but I continue to do it. Does that mean I’m codependent?
  • I am a stay-at-home mom. I make zero money. I can’t survive without financial support from my husband, and he makes all of our financial decisions. Does that mean I’m codependent?

The Causes Of Betrayal Trauma: Lies, Porn Use, Abuse

Wanting to hold the relationship together, women attempt to put a puzzle together that’s missing more than half the pieces. The confusion surrounding what it happening is overwhelming.

Betrayal Trauma Is Caused By Emotional & Physical Infidelity, As Well As Abuse

Betrayal takes many different forms. The most common form of betrayal is lying. Other forms are emotional abuse, pornography use, infidelity, and being emotionally unavailable. Betrayal definition is breaking or violating of a promise or trust that creates emotional and mental conflict.

Even without understanding the extent of the lies, I knew something was wrong. 

I felt my husband’s hatred for me oozing out of him. He tried to hide it, but he couldn’t. As I tried to figure out what was happening, his distain for me grew. I have found that when my husband lied to me and cheated on me, he had to hate me more and more to justify his actions. Choosing to view someone in that light, as a way to avoid accountability is a betrayal in and of itself.

Lying Is The Common Denominator In Betrayal

Lying is the most common form of betrayal and abuse. Lying enables someone to control a situation, essentially exploiting the person or people they’re lying to. It enables someone to control your perception of the situation and remain active in his compulsive sexual behaviors while maintaining his relationship with you. 

He has “reasons” to betray which are actually lies. Sex addicts love to portray themselves as unable to control their hormonal urges, which is untrue. Without lying, an active abuser and an addict’s whole world falls apart. 

When someone lies to you, they take away your dignity. The philosopher Kant said that a person’s intrinsic worth (human dignity) allows them to act as rational as possible and make their own decisions. But when you’re being lied to, it harms your dignity by purposefully withholding key information you need to make key decisions.

Lies are traumatizing. When I realized I wasn’t living the life I thought I was, I began suffering intense trauma episodes of uncontrollable crying and panic. 

I learned from sad experience that there is no way to force someone to tell the truth.

However, with God’s help, you can discover what you need to know to keep yourself emotionally safe.

Confusion As A Result Of The Lies – Betrayal Trauma Can Be A Result Of Being Consistently Lied To

After my husband’s arrest for domestic violence, I was so confused. I didn’t know the truth. My husband lied and blamed me. His explanation for what was happening was so drastically different than mine. It seemed like I was losing my grasp on reality.

I began to pray for eyes to see and ears to hear the truth. Every morning, I would kneel and genuinely ask God to help me see the truth of the situation.

Through this time, as I worked the steps, God taught me what behaviors to look for to know if I was truly safe. God also showed me how to improve my relationship with Him by truly relying on Him to help me grow through the experience.

As I attend SA Lifeline 12 Step group, my relationship with God has improved to the point that I confidently know the reality of my situation, and I’ve held appropriate boundaries and been blessed with an abiding sense of peace.

Emotional Abuse Is A Form Of Betrayal

When a man uses pornography, or otherwise is unfaithful to his wife, it is common for him to be emotionally abusive in an effort to hide or to deflect suspicion. Here are some common examples:

When you bring up that he’s been distant, he becomes irritable and rants about how much he does for the family, how he’s never appreciated, how you don’t respect him, etc.

When you bring up concerns, he dismisses the concerns and focus on issues he has with you – why the house isn’t clean, why the dishes aren’t done, why you don’t have sex more often, etc.

When you tell him you’re afraid of his anger, he can’t figure out why you are afraid – while becoming more angry or distant, rather than being able to take accountability and connect in a real way. He asks you how you could accuse him of such things – even though he’s done them in the past while accusing you of things you’ve never done.

Emotionally abusive men may also create the impression that their anger or infidelity is a product of how passionate they are – but in reality, passion, kindness, and faithfulness are entirely compatible. Being dishonest, abusive, and unfaithful has nothing to do with passion.  

I experienced my husband’s hate, rage and physical intimidation. During the time we were together, I didn’t realize I was in a verbally abusive relationship, but I did know that I couldn’t handle the physical intimidation.

I have learned since that the fear I felt when he punched walls, kicked things, broke things, etc, was very real because physical intimidation in and of itself is domestic violence. The physical and emotional abuse I suffered while trying to help my husband overcome his pornography addiction led me to the point of despair.  

For years, I tried to manage it by demanding he go to therapy, lecturing him, diffusing essential oils throughout our home, organizing, cleaning, and speaking out about pornography addiction. I tried to control the situation by going public – thinking that if everyone knew about our situation, it wouldn’t happen anymore. With every abuse episode, I bounced back, doubled down, tried a new scheme to hold my family together, and fix my husband’s anger problems.

When he was arrested for domestic violence, it broke me. I knew then that my life and my husband’s abuse, pornography use, and masturbation were totally and completely unmanageable.

Pornography Use & Masturbation Are A Form Of Betrayal

Many women are confused because they feel uneasy about their husband’s pornography use and masturbation, but are unsure if their feelings are valid.

A man who uses pornography and masturbates cannot be emotionally or sexually faithful to his wife. I am so grateful for the S Anon blue book that has helped me understand the toll that sexual addiction has taken on me. Living with a sex addict was too much for me, and I am only now coming out of the fog.

Emotional Distance Is A Form Of Betrayal

A lot of the women I talk to tell me that their husband isn’t emotionally abusive, but then they describe emotionally abusive behaviors such as . . . 

1. Their husband watches football all weekend instead of participating in family activities. They attempt to explain to him that they don’t mind him watching sports, but would appreciate it if he spent some weekend time with the family. He responds by grunting a half-hearted okay, but the next thing they know he’s back to watching the game – completely disconnected from the family and the family’s needs.

2. Their husband does something that hurts their feelings, and their attempts to communicate their feelings about the situation are met with silence or changing the subject. 

3. They want to discuss something and the conversation gets tense. Their husband stomps out of the house, refusing to participate in the conversation, rather than saying in a calm fashion that he needs some time to think and that he’ll reconvene the conversation after a 30 minute break.

Similarly,  many women don’t understand that stonewalling is a form of manipulation – and a form of emotional abuse.
Stonewalling enables a person to avoid what is good for the marriage / both spouses, and manipulate a situation to their advantage. There is no way to control stonewalling, except to connect with God in a way that helps me know what I need to do to keep myself emotionally safe.

If you’re being emotionally abused, you may think thoughts like, “Why does my husband hate me?” Or “Why is my husband always angry and irritable.” Or “My husband isn’t attracted to me.” Unfaithful husband’s would like us to think that because it keeps us guessing – trying to figure out what’s going on. Their stonewalling and other emotionally abusive behavior keeps us wondering what did we do, and deflects the attention from their completely inappropriate actions.

Emotional Abuse and Pornography Addiction Generally Go Together

Lies, emotional abuse, and pornography addiction go together. All are forms of betrayal, and all lead to a husband feeling hate toward his wife.

I started attending free betrayal trauma recovery meetings because I knew my situation was out of control, and that my own emotional health was steadily declining as a result of the lies and anger. Dealing with lies, abuse and pornography in my marriage with a positive attitude and sheer grit didn’t get me anywhere. For me, I needed to focus on myself and work the Steps to build a relationship with God and have God lead and guide me on a daily basis about what to do.

Being in recovery for betrayal trauma has helped me change my behaviors so I could see the truth about myself and my situation. After years of trying to manage an unmanageable situation, I gave up and sought help. I received help from my SAL group, my sponsor, and women who had gone before me. I started Betrayal Trauma Recovery to help other women who feel isolated, confused and worried.

Many women aren’t aware of the lies, pornography use, and emotional abuse present in their marriages.

I hope the stories women share about their experiences being lied to by their husbands, being cheated on, and abused – I hope the stories you find on Betrayal Trauma Recovery will help you start your own journey to healing. 

Listen to how painful the experience was for me.

You Can Get Help To Deal With Betrayal Trauma

We have APSATS Coaching available on our site and a directory of APSATS therapists. APSATS is The Association of Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma Specialists – a special training and certification for coaches and therapists to help women navigate their husband’s lies and help them heal from betrayal trauma.

Healing takes place in three phases:

1.  Establishing safety and stabilizing your situation.
2. Remembering and grieving.
3. Connecting

Our APSATS coaches can help you navigate through your healing process to make sure you are safe, help you through the grieving process, and heal through connecting again with your life and loved ones.

Click Here for more information.

What Tortuous Betrayal Trauma Sounds Like

I’m having a really bad day. Just when I think I’m feeling better and that everything is going to be ok the trauma hits, and the only thing that goes through my mind is that I want my husband back. I want him to come home. It’s been over a year since we separated, and still I ruminate on thoughts like, my husband hates me. Why does he hate me? My husband betrayed me. Why? 

He has the kids this week and it’s a beautiful, beautiful Fall day. I would give anything to be with my husband and children again as a family. I have these days sometimes (I’m still healing), where I wonder when I will be able to truly heal because right now I feel like the only way I could heal in this moment of trauma is if he repents, truly changes, and comes home to us.  And then the ruminating thoughts come back: My husband lies. My husband doesn’t love me. 

What Betrayal Trauma Recovery Sounds Like When Triggered

This whole year I’ve kept been faithful to my husband and to the commandments. I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted. I’ve gone to therapy, and I trust that God will heal me eventually. But right now, in this moment of trauma, the pain is so intense. I keep praying, “God, please, save my family. Please. I don’t want to get divorced. I don’t want my family to be separated like this.”

On a day like this a few months ago, I called one of my friends from group and I told her that I just want to tell him, that I just want to talk to him and be able to explain this to him. And she said, “Because of the mindset that he is in he’ll think it’s about how great he is, not how forgiving and loving and caring and what a wonderful person you are. And it will just set you up to be abused again and to be hurt again.” 

Holding Boundaries During Betrayal Trauma Recovery

It has been really hard to hold no contact this long. There have been nights where I just cling to the sheets on my bed – it’s so painful and so difficult. So right now I have faith. I’m having faith still hold my boundary – even though I don’t want to, even though I want to talk to him and explain to him these things. I have held my boundary for over a year. I’ve only had one conversation with him at a soccer game. It was so strange. He didn’t show any emotion, and as I cried he sort of patted me on the shoulder from a distance and brought up strange things that didn’t make sense.

And this didn’t in anyway indicate that he was safe or that he was changed or anything. It was just strange. He sent me a text once that said he couldn’t be what I wanted. I guess part of my problem is that I don’t believe that. I believe that who I want him to be is who God wants him to be. My God provides a way for people to obey the commandments. He provides a way for people to change. I believe that with all my heart. Because I believe that, it puts me in a very difficult position. To betray someone also means that you harm them and then you refuse to acknowledge the harm or try to repair it.

Hope During Betrayal Trauma Recovery

There are many people who say that people with a personality disorder or an addiction can never change. But I believe that through Christ anything is possible. So because I believe that so strongly and so completely, that just leaves this little thread of hope. Hope for him, hope for my family.

It’s become so painful for me to look out the window when he picks up our children. There’s no semblance of remorse. He just puts this mask on that he’s happy and he’s glad to pick up the kids. Even with people he interacts with there’s no semblance of remorse or sadness or understanding. It’s been so painful that I’ve had to stop looking out the window.

Most of the time I have God at my center and I feel peaceful, and I’m grateful for the experiences God has given me. But I decided to record today so you know what trauma sounds like. This is what it feels like. This is what it feels like to be abused, betrayed, and then abandoned. Abandoned by someone who made covenants with God and with me to stay. I know this is probably painful to listen to. I’m sorry.

I just know that there are so many of you out there who know what this feels like. And I’m sorry. But I know that God can heal us. As we work with an APSATS coach and join a support group, as we surrender to Him, as we attempt always and over and over again to get God in our center – and our addicted spouse who is creating chaos and who is abusing us out of our center – we will find peace. Days like this will come and they are very painful and someday, someday, we will be in a place where we don’t get triggered. Where we are at peace. 

Sometimes I think maybe it won’t be until the next life, but I think it will be in this life. And I just pray, Heavenly Father, please help us. There are those of us who have been hurt and are seeking healing. Please! Please come to us and heal us. I’m so worried about my husband’s salvation really. I truly love him and want the best for him.

I’m worried that what I see looks righteous and happy, but I know it’s just a mask. Because if he were truly righteous and happy he would not have broken his covenants, and I wouldn’t be in this situation. 

Part Of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Means Recognizing Victim Mode

This is what it sounds like to be in trauma. And now I’m going to go, I’m going to go do some self-care. I’m going to surrender. I’m going to ask God to come back in my center and have faith that if I do what he asks me to do, as I have been doing faithfully for over a year, that all things will be made right. And that my children and I will continue to have peace, happiness, and joy here in our home. 

Redesigned Betrayal Trauma Recovery Site

Thank you so much for being here with me during these difficult times. 

I’m so grateful for all the women who work with me. They are in trauma too and they share and they care. I’m so grateful to know them. 

We do need your donations. We have a lot of costs right now for the website, equipment, fliers, etc. We want to be able to keep this content coming to you and keep hope coming through the radio. 

Why I Started Betrayal Trauma Recovery

I don’t know what it was like in World War II, but I imagine that maybe a radio show like Little Orphan Annie kept people’s hopes up. I kind of envision myself like that sometimes…like this lone voice on the radio during this intense spiritual battle, coming to you through the internet, letting you know you’re not alone.

God loves you, and even though it’s hard to set boundaries and that you might be blamed for the destruction of your family, it’s better to set a boundary and be safe. God wants us to be safe. And He will hold our abusers and our betrayers accountable. But He wants us to forgive so that we can move on and be happy and have joy. That’s what he wants for us. I hope, I just hope, that the information that we give to you through will help you… that it will help me and that it will help all of us together. 

We’re all on this journey and this path together and we can rise triumphant. Thank you for those who have donated and those who have gone to iTunes and left a review. This helps more women find us and the information that they need. Keep coming back, it works when I work it and I am worth it. 

The Best Way To Protect Your Family From Pornography Addiction

One of the first gut-reactions to finding out about your husband’s pornography and/or sexual addiction is to focus on internet filters. However, too much reliance on filters can lead you feeling frustrated and disappointed when pornography slips through the cracks. Installing internet filters are an important step towards safety in the home, but no number of filters will stop an addict who chooses to seek it out. Filters, though a helpful tool, are not the final answer to solve this “problem.”

Boundaries To Ensure Internet Safety

Though you cannot control another’s resolve to seek out pornography, you can control how you will respond to this breach in your home’s and family’s safety. Healthy families make and hold boundaries. Rather than controlling access to porn with an internet filter, you’ll have more peace and better success as you teach your family how to respond when they see pornography and what the family boundaries are regarding pornography in the home and on their phones.

Online filters only go so far because pornography is available everywhere. The second your child or husband has access to a smartphone, you have no control over what they view. Blocking pornography at the DNS or router level may work well at home, but tech-savvy sex addicts will find their way around it. Children are also able to get around blocked websites on their phones through apps and a multitude of other ways.

Protecting Your Family Online – Internet Safety

As a parent, you do have the right to limit your child’s internet access. Limiting access to apps is one step you can take for the safety of your children. Here are some ways to protect your children through online filters. 

1.  Limit access by turning on Google Safe Search.
2. Limit access by filtering from the router level.
3. Disable your child’s ability to download new apps.
4. Watch out for Instagram, Snapchat and other dangerous apps.
5. Follow Protect Young Minds and Educate and Empower Kids.
6. Set parental locks on TVs, gaming devices and other internet portals.

There are many, many other ways to protect your children online. Internet safety could literally become a full time job. But above all, talking consistently and openly with your children about the dangers of pornography is the best defense. The safe conversations you have with your children are the best filters.

Learning How To Check Cookies Will Not Solve Your Problems

In my experience, being in recovery myself is THE BEST WAY to protect my family from pornography. SAL 12 Step has taught me to have conscience contact with God everyday, to put God in my center, and to surrender my concerns to Him. God can then direct me to know exactly how to protect my children according to their unique needs and circumstances.

Boundaries In The Context Of Blocked Porn

Since there is no way to block all porn from your husband or children, perhaps it’s time for a shift in how we think about protecting our children online.

Most people immediately turn to finding a way to block porn. But installing an internet filter will not keep your child from being a sex addict. Similarly, it won’t keep your husband from practicing his addiction.

Shame – the pain of feeling flawed – is at the heart of compulsive behaviors. So the best way to protect your children is to raise them in an emotionally healthy home. Going to a 12 Step yourself and getting qualified therapy are the best ways to create a healthy, home environment for your child.

You may think that you are emotionally healthy, but what criteria are you using to measure yourself and your home against?

If your husband has a problem with pornography and you are not in recovery, your children are not safe. Your husband will exhibit emotionally dangerous behaviors that will put your kids at risk for pornography use:

1.  Shame – your husband’s anger, irritability, emotional distance will leave your children feeling unloved, unwanted and confused – ripe for compulsive behaviors and addiction.
2. Secrets – your children will grow up in a home where some topics aren’t discussed or if they are brought up, someone gets mad or someone leaves – these unhealthy behaviors put them at risk for addiction.
3. Co-dependency – if anyone in your family suggests to your child that he/she is in anyway responsible for their father’s anger (don’t make Dad mad! or other unhealthy behaviors), it can teach them that they are responsible for the emotions or behavior of others. This is not true. Teaching kids that they can somehow control other people’s emotions is damaging.

But What About My Husband? How Do I Check Cookies on His Phone?

The simple answer is: you can’t.

And you don’t want to.

Many women set a boundary and say to their husband: “No porn allowed in the home. If you use pornography, you must leave the house.” I set this boundary myself. But when it came to enforcing it, I didn’t have the strength to actually follow through. I’m so grateful that the police did that for me when they arrested my husband for domestic violence.

The problem with that boundary is that checking up to make sure your husband isn’t looking at porn or flirting with other women is the exact opposite of healthy. If you want to be healthy, consider setting boundaries around his behavior rather than his porn use.

Here are some boundaries to consider:

1.  If my husband is angry, irritable or isolates, I will separate myself and my children from him until he regains my trust.
2. If we are in the car when this happens, I will sit in the back seat.
3. I will not have sex with my husband unless I feel completely emotionally safe and emotionally connected with him. I will not initiate or agree to sex as a way to get him in a better mood, keep him from being angry or to get him to notice me.

The reason you want to learn how to check cookies in order to find out who he’s been talking to or what he’s been watching is because you want to feel safe. But catching him cheating or viewing porn won’t actually keep you safe. Only boundaries will. I learned that the hard way. 

If your husband has cheated on you, or if you’ve experienced your husband’s emotional infidelity in it’s many forms, the best way, the only way to keep yourself safe is to be in recovery yourself. For me, when I wasn’t in recovery, I wasn’t strong enough to set boundaries, my connection with God wasn’t coherent enough to understand or do His will. In short, I wasn’t in a place where I could actually protect myself and my children.

Now I am.