BTR Glossary – 50 Things You Need To Know About Betrayal Trauma


Recognizing and accepting full responsibility for thoughts, feelings, perceptions, choices, etc., and the outcomes of those actions and choices.


Taking responsibility for actions by acknowledging what happened, working diligently to change behavior, and making restitution for past behavior.

Acting Out

In sex addiction, acting out refers to the addict turning to his or her chosen method of dopamine release, including, but not limited to, lying, anger, abuse, porn, masturbation, infidelity, etc.


An individual who suffers from addiction. See Addiction below.

Addict Brain or Addict Fog

Refers to when the addict seems emotionally withdrawn, preoccupied, detached from reality in regard to any or all of the following: relationships, finances, work, household duties, the here- and-now situation, etc.


The dependence on engaging in abuse, pornography and acting out (sex with self or others) in order to get a “fix” (dopamine release to the brain). It’s a reliance on lying and emotional abuse to avoid accountability for his actions. Sex addiction has many causes. The woman is not at fault for the addiction, nor can she control or fix it. If the addiction goes without professional help/intervention, it often escalates over time.

Addiction Cycle

Phases that an individual goes through during addiction including: preoccupation, ritualization, acting out, and shame and despair. These phases include forms of emotional withdrawal and emotional abuse.

Addictive Behaviors

Unhealthy ways to cope, usually masking underlying issues. Addictive behaviors include but are not limited to: lies, manipulation, gaslighting, emotional and/or physical abuse, erratic, withdrawn, etc. The sex addict uses these behaviors to protect his or her addiction.

Addictive Thinking

The inability to reason with oneself. Makes an addict unable to make wise, constructive choices.


The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists. APSATS coaches have specific training in providing support to partners, families, addicts and communities regarding the impact of sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. An APSATS coach may or may not also be a therapist, depending on training and certification.

Attachment Therapy

Even though pornography / sex addiction is an attachment disorder, attachment therapy WILL NOT solve the problem. An addict must be in long-term recovery – at least two years with no slips, relapses, or ANY abuse episodes before even considering attachment therapy or couples therapy. A wife seeing her husband’s therapist to let the therapist know the problem behaviors is not the same thing as couples therapy, where both parties are given responsibility to resolve marital issues. If there is any abuse, gaslighting or manipulation, it will exacerbate the abuse.

Betrayal Trauma

Occurs when someone a person is significantly attached to violates trust in a critical way. An example is when a sex addict uses gaslighting, lies, manipulation, etc., to protect the addiction.


Transferring fault to another person in order to avoid accountability. Blaming another person for the abuse or compulsive sexual behaviors.


Essential to trauma recovery, boundaries help women to know what to do in an unsafe situation. They bring clarity. Boundaries can be carefully predetermined, or they can come up naturally as a predictable consequence; for example, a woman being yelled at by her husband will likely not want to have sex with him. Boundaries are not things to be said. They are actions to keep the woman safe. They do not need to be stated in order to take action. See Coach Sarah’s group called Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries.

A good way to think about boundaries is to complete these sentences:

  • I do not feel safe when ____________.
  • In order to feel safe, I will ____________.

Boundaries are not ways to attempt to control the addict; rather, boundaries help the woman to find safety. For example, a boundary could be: “If my husband chooses not to attend therapy, I feel unsafe. Because I feel unsafe, I will not sleep in the same bed with him until he chooses to get help for his issues.”

There are also non-negotiable boundaries. An example of a non-negotiable boundary might be that you notify the police if you find the addict has been abusing children.


A Certified Sex Addiction Therapist.


A way to provide transparency and emotional connection when both partners are seeking recovery. It’s an organized, scheduled conversation that follows a pattern where spouses share emotions, sobriety, and behaviors for that day. Setting up “ground rules” such as no interrupting, showing respect, etc., can be helpful.


In the context of BTR, our coaches are trained with APSATS, a rigorous certification process that takes up to two years of supervision after the initial training. BTR APSATS coaches provide professional support and offer insight, validation, and direction for wives of porn users and sex addicts. All BTR coaches are also trained by an ICF-accredited organization.


A label sometimes put on victims of lies, infidelity, and abuse to encourage taking some level of responsibility for the situation.

Connection / Intimacy

A feeling of physical and/or emotional closeness, togetherness, understanding and trust between two individuals.


See Gaslighting.


See D-Day or Discovery.


Discovery day. Also known as DD. See Discovery for details.


When the woman detaches with love, she allows the sex addict to be fully responsible for their behavior. They no longer try to rescue, fix, or control the addict. This can be extremely difficult as the consequences of an addicts’ actions are very real. Having boundaries can help the woman to detach with love, knowing that the addiction is something they did not cause and cannot fix. Detaching allows healing from the betrayal trauma.


Occurs when a sex addict discloses the truth of an addiction. While traumatic, it is necessary. Sometimes disclosure is initiated by the addict but it most often occurs when compulsive sexual behaviors have been discovered and the addict is confronted. Because of shame (and/or wanting to “protect” the woman from the truth), a sex addict will likely not share the extent of his behavior during informal disclosure. Often the sex addict will say what a relief it is to have finally shared the truth — not aware that this truth is now a nightmare/reality to the woman — all the while simultaneously lying, minimizing, and gaslighting during the process. See Sarah’s group called Therapeutic Disclosures & Therapeutic Polygraphs.


When a partner or spouse’s sex addiction is discovered. This is most often a traumatic, shocking, and/or sometimes dangerous event for the woman. It can be discovered without any warning, or it may be suspected and d-day (discovery day) confirmed it. D-day is traumatic. The woman’s sense of reality is shattered and she often finds herself experiencing distorted feelings of guilt or blame, confusion, intense fear, nightmares, despair, insomnia and so on. See Trauma for more details.

Drama Triangle

A model representing a troubled relationship. Designed by psychologist Stephen Karpman MD, there are three roles: victim, rescuer, and persecutor. Understanding this model helps. Finding ways out of this triangle can lead to healthier relationships and inner peace.

Emotional Abuse

Behavior from the sex addict, including but not limited to: lying, blame-shifting, manipulation, gaslighting, name calling, avoiding, stonewalling, etc.

Emotional Safety

A state in which a person can be open and vulnerable with another person. Several factors play into feeling emotionally safe. An example is: If I feel loveable and adequate about myself, and I feel that my spouse/partner is in recovery because I can clearly see healthy behaviors, I can share my thoughts or feelings with him. He will not be angry, throw a fit, judge, criticize, mock or ridicule me.

Emotional Affair

When our spouse or partner spends his or her emotional energy, time and attention on someone other than us, gaslighting us to protect the compulsive sexual addiction.


A powerful tool to connect with others, respecting an individual’s situation and sitting with them in their pain, rather than trying to fix or lecture. When we feel empathy for another, we acknowledge and/or validate their pain as we place ourselves in their situation. Coach Cat defines empathy as the ability to recognize and respond to another’s pain, taking responsibility for your part in causing that pain (if appropriate).


Giving the addict “permission” to continue by not setting boundaries or holding the addict accountable. This label is sometimes used to get the woman to take some responsibility for the actions of the addict.


An imagined space where a sex addict can escape to avoid reality. It can take the form of using sexual images – remembered or imagined to create ‘porn” in their mind. Addicts can be so caught up in fantasy that they become unable to distinguish reality from fantasy in their everyday activities.

Faulty Core Beliefs

Deeply held beliefs that are not true. For example, we may have come to believe early in our life that we need to earn love, or that we are unloveable, or that we somehow caused this trauma and pain ourselves. Alternatively, a sex addict may believe that they are worthless and beyond the capacity to change.

Fight , Flight or Freeze

An acute stress response that happens when our physical, mental, or emotional safety is threatened – or as Coach Cat likes to say, “When we perceive that our safety is threatened, even if it’s not actually.” We may experience this upon discovery and afterwards. Physically, we might experience rapid heart beating, rapid breathing, trembling, becoming paralyzed with fear, etc. Our body is literally reacting to a threat and goes into a type of survival mode. Triggers often activate this response. An addict may experience fight, flight, or freeze during a normal conversation when they perceive they are somehow threatened (but aren’t really).


Essential for our trauma healing, but not to be confused with trust. Forgiveness comes with healing, and is not necessary to think about while seeking safety and stabilization. Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves–where trust is a gift to someone else.


A tool used by sex addicts to protect their addiction. They psychologically manipulate in order to distort reality, causing a feeling of craziness, also referred to as crazy-making. For more information, listen to our podcast, How to Discover Your Husband’s Gaslighting and What to Do.


A feeling of profound sadness and loss. After discovery, the woman experiences stages of grief such as grief over the fact that the reality she thought she had is false, and that her life has been shattered to the core. To heal, the woman must fully allow herself to grieve. There is no timeline and sometimes grief revisits when least expected. See Coach Rae’s group called Healing Through Grief.


When discovery happens, it can be hard to trust or believe anything. Even the woman’s faith can be challenged during this period. Many people instinctively know when something is wrong, and many go through a period of pushing intuition aside. Part of recovery is learning to trust this intuition again. At the same time, because the woman may have engaged in unhealthy behaviors as a result of being lied to and abused, it’s best to consult with a coach to know if what she feels she should do is the best course of action. For example, many women do not feel comfortable setting boundaries; it feels wrong at first. Over time as boundaries are set, the benefits are realized.

Honoring Emotions

Occurs by recognizing that what we feel in the moment is real and to be willing to learn from the emotion, rather than pushing it down to avoid the pain. We can honor other’s emotions by respecting the fact that at the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to own our emotions and how we choose to handle them. If the sex addict blames us for their anger, we can honor his emotions by saying, “I understand that you’re angry and I hope you find the support you need to work through it.” It is not the woman’s responsibility to make the sex addict feel better.


Behavior or circumstance where the addict is unfaithful to us–includes porn use.


The emotion that describes when someone is gaslighting us–crazy! Often used in 12 Steps as a way to gauge sobriety. See Gaslighting.


A deeply felt emotion connecting two people. A personal, warm attachment with someone such as a parent, child or friend. With a spouse or partner, love also includes deep trust and physical intimacy. Love is often felt when we can be vulnerable in personal and physical ways. When not in recovery, the sex addict is incapable of expressing love for another person.


An intense desire to satisfy physical appetite. A form of infidelity if directed towards a person outside of an exclusive relationship such as marriage; it can also happen in a marriage when the sex addict treats the woman like an object to satisfy his addiction.


Sex addicts minimize their addiction behaviors by:

  • Justifying their porn use because “guys do this all the time” or “it was just porn, not an actual affair.”
  • Rationalizing: “It just popped up on my screen.”
  • Blame-shifting, saying they “turned to porn/affair because [wife/partner] won’t have sex with them.”

Multi-Dimensional Partner Trauma Model

The framework used by APSATS therapists and coaches to help them through the betrayal trauma healing process. This model has three distinct stages that are not necessarily linear: 1) Safety & Stabilization, 2) Grieving & Processing, 3) Reconnecting.

Narcissistic Behaviors

Includes extreme self-centeredness, need for attention, lack of empathy, and grandiose ideas/self-perception. Read the article, “What to Do When Your Husband Exhibits Behaviors Consistent with Narcissism.”

No Contact

A boundary wherein there is no contact. It can include blocking phone numbers, blocking emails, and only allowing communication through a third party. This is a good boundary to consider when there is repeated and consistent emotional abuse.


Any activity that degrades women to the status of an object, including pornography, strip clubs, prostitution, sex with self, affairs, etc. Also identifying people by body parts and appearance, rather than personality traits and strengths.

Primary Attachment

A parent, caregiver or spouse. Such a close connection to another person constitutes a primary attachment.


Any material used for sexual gratification. Tool used to degrade humans into sexual objects.


Attempting to justify or explain a behavior to make it appear logical. For example, “I didn’t do anything wrong; this porn just popped up on my screen…” when the truth is, the addict clicked on an image he suspected would bring up porn and viewed it for longer than a second, and then masturbated to it.


For spouses experiencing betrayal trauma, recovery means regaining identity, purpose, and self-worth. It is the journey of courageously healing, undertaken to become whole again after betrayal.

For sex addicts, recovery means turning away from compulsive, secretive sexual behaviors, living in reality, and taking full responsibility for the damage caused. The addict seeks to live an honest life and make amends. Full recovery for a sex addict is not likely without professional support from a therapist (especially helpful if it is a CSAT) and participation in support groups (i.e, 12 Step groups specifically for sex addiction). A spouse in recovery will not lie, gaslight, blame-shift, or pressure the woman to do things. A spouse in recovery respects the woman’s choices, needs, and journey (even if they fully don’t understand it). The process is long–at least 3-5 years for the initial phase.


Occurs when an addict stepping away from recovery and healing returns to secretive addictive behaviors. Emotionally abusive behaviors return as well as sexually acting out.
For more information, listen to the podcast, “Relapse Preparedness: How to Prepare for Infidelity & Emotional Abuse While Also Hoping It Never Happens Again.”

Rock Bottom

A term referred to when the addict has hit a devastating low, realizing that his addiction is beyond his control and has caused tremendous damage, to the point that he reaches out for help.

It also refers to when a woman cannot handle the behaviors of her husband anymore. She steps away and seeks help for herself rather than for her husband or marriage.


Tools to help in the healing process. In betrayal trauma, self-care refers to more than just getting a pedicure and crying on the shoulder of a trusted friend. Self-care is a choice a woman makes to learn to love themselves.  A woman using self-care understands that no one can take better care of herself than she can. It is one of the most loving things she can do for herself. Examples include giving herself permission to sleep when tired, using paper plates, finding a Betrayal Trauma Recovery APSATS coach to guide through the healing, journaling, joining a support group, physically taking care of herself, doing something to remind herself that she is beautiful (getting a haircut, a massage, etc.), spending time in nature, practicing living in the moment, expressing gratitude, and on and on.


Refers to the disease of being addicted to sex-related behaviors.

Sexual Addiction

Indicators of sexual addiction include repeated unsuccessful efforts to stop, escalation over time, spending increasing amounts of time engaged in sexual behaviors and thinking about them and the next opportunity, reducing time spent engaged in hobbies, household chores, family time, etc. For more information, read or listen to our podcast, Why Do Sex Addicts Do What They Do?


Feeling of not belonging, unworthiness. Intensely painful emotion that causes us to want to withdraw from contact with others. Coach Cat reminds us that there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt = we did something bad. Shame = we ARE bad. Contrary to popular belief, shame does not cause addiction or abuse. All people feel shame, but not everyone chooses to be unfaithful or to abuse someone as a result.


The preferred term at Betrayal Trauma Recovery for a woman who has suffered due to her husband’s sexual addiction, pornography addiction, lies, emotional abuse, etc. A woman who becomes her own hero by setting boundaries and creating a safe home.


“When addiction specialists use the term “slip,” they are often describing a one-time or short-term lapse back toward compulsive sexual behavior; this type of lapse ends with some kind of swift and serious self-intervention. When an addict ‘slips,’ he generally gets himself ‘back on the wagon’ relatively quickly, and while that slip is considered a setback, it doesn’t necessarily undo all of the positive recovery work that he has been doing to that point. While a slip may be considered ‘no big deal’ or a ‘learning opportunity’ for the addict, it can still be deeply traumatic to the wife.

For sex addicts, for example, a slip might involve clicking on an inappropriate website, viewing something sexually explicit, then stopping himself before allowing that behavior to draw him back into the vortex of chronic and compulsive sexual acting out.” —excerpt from our podcast, “Relapse Preparedness: How to Prepare for Infidelity & Emotional Abuse While Also Hoping It Never Happens Again.”


Occurs when a sex addict chooses to stop looking at porn, engaging in sex with self or others, going to strip clubs, communicating with affair partners, etc. Often, he will share the number of days he has been sober.


Reference to someone in a 12 Step program who acts as a mentor to another person who is newer to the program. While sponsors often have valuable experience and insight that can provide tremendous support, sponsors are not qualified therapists and do not have the expertise to take the place of a therapist. Sex addicts in recovery have a sponsor and a qualified therapist.


Soon-to-be ex-husband.

Therapeutic Disclosure

“While painful either way, a therapeutic disclosure can be the difference between a savage tear and a surgical cut. Both hurt, but one is easier to heal and leaves less of a scar,” says Coach Cat. Therapeutic disclosures help women understand the reality of the situation. Little bits of information of betrayal here and there can take a woman back to ground zero, reliving the trauma. Women need the truth and transparency in order to understand the facts and make choices about whether or not to stay and work on the marriage. In a therapeutic disclosure, the couple meets with a therapist in a safe environment while being guided through the disclosure process. A therapeutic polygraph is also recommended to help make sure all the information is disclosed. For more information, read or listen to our podcast, “Establishing Sexual Safety in the Wake of Betrayal.”

Therapeutic Polygraph

A therapeutic polygraph is recommended to help make sure all the information is disclosed. Results largely depend on the experience and training of the examiner conducting the test, so it is important to find someone who is highly trained and qualified. When done well, this can provide a helpful foundation on which to build trust.


The discovery of a partners’ sex addiction creates deep wounds in the wife/partner. Trauma is the resulting emotional state created by the wound. Betrayal trauma has a multidimensional impact with emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial effects.

When a woman discovers the reality of her situation–that her partner/spouse is a sex addict– her reality is shattered. She often realizes she has been lied to and manipulated by a person who went to great length to protect his compulsive sexual behavior. When a woman is in trauma, she often experiences a wide range of thoughts and emotions. It is crucial to find help and support as soon as possible. APSATS coaches here at BTR are professionally trained individuals who have been through the trauma themselves and are able to help navigate the new reality.


Coach Cat says, “[A trigger is ] An experience (real or perceived) which causes a person to recall a traumatic memory. It will throw the person experiencing it back into the emotions of the traumatic event itself.”

When a woman feels betrayal, symptoms such as confusion, sadness, grief, anger, despair, resentment manifest in relation to the sex addict. Sometimes the trigger can be noticed (noticing the sex addict sleeping late), and sometimes it sneaks up and sabotages (walking down an aisle at the grocery store). Triggers can send a person down a dark path of loneliness and misery, but there are ways to combat them. See Coach Cat’s group called Understanding & Managing Triggers.


Not to be confused with forgiveness. Learning about trust and whether someone is trustworthy is a process. It takes experience. Someone is trustworthy if they are able to be confronted, accountable, honest, humble, and compassionate. “Trust is the ability to reliably predict the behavior of another based on experience,” says Coach Cat.


Being willing to take risks and share emotions even when things feel uncertain. The more vulnerable a woman is willing to be, the more courage she will have to act in her healing/recovery. It is not wise to be vulnerable with unsafe people who will likely use the information to abuse.

White Knuckling

A sex addict who is sober but not in recovery. He isn’t watching porn or having an affair, but he is battling the urge to relapse and it can consume all his energy to not act out.


Wife of a pornography addict. Betrayal Trauma Recovery prefers not to use this term to describe women who have suffered from their husband’s lies and abuse.

Working the Steps

Reference to practicing the principles found in 12-step recovery programs. See 12 Steps.

12 Steps

Programs centered on 12 Steps of recovery that help an addict or spouse or family member of an addict to heal. While there are 12 Step programs specifically for drug and alcohol addiction, a spouse or loved one of a pornography/sex addict will find more effective healing through finding a group specifically for spouses and family members. Similarly, a pornography/sex addict will find more effective healing through a specific 12 Step program focused on pornography and sex addiction. We recommend SALifeline 12 Step Betrayal Trauma Groups for Betrayal Trauma.

How To Rebuild Our Intuition After Infidelity & Abuse

Today I have Dr. Piper Grant. She’s a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. She’s also the founder of Numi Psychology. She specializes in working with individuals and couples on issues related to sex, intimacy, and trauma.

As a CSAT and Sex Therapist, Dr. Grant has extensive experience working with individuals throughout their healing process from sexual betrayal. Although based in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Grant seeks to reach individuals and couples internationally in recovery from sex addiction and healing from sexual betrayal by hosting retreats in Bali for women who have experienced sexual betrayal trauma and couples in recovery from sex addiction. These are the only retreats hosted in Bali that are tailored to help couples and partners on issues related to sexual betrayal and facilitated by a Psychologist and CSAT.

Welcome Piper! We are so happy to have you!

Piper: Thank you! I’m so excited to be here today!

Intuition and Gut Instinct Are Warning Signs, Both Negative And Positive

Anne: We are going to talk today about women’s intuition, getting in touch with ourselves and reconnecting to ourselves after betrayal or even in the midst of it in order to figure out what we need to do. I’m not going to call you Dr. Grant today, I’m going  to call you Piper because I love the name Piper. What is gut instinct and why is it so important for women?

Piper: It’s such a gift as women that we have this gut instinct and innate ability to have these signals throughout our life. It is the first warning signals about something, both negative and positive. I say both negative and positive because you can have somebody say something along the lines of, ‘I just knew that’s what I needed to do!’ Especially when we’re talking about partner recovery. We often will say something along the lines of, ‘I just felt like something was off.’, or that something was wrong or not right. So it helps us judge. It’s a warning signal.

Intuition Is Felt in Body and Mind

The thing that is interesting about our gut instinct and the way it works is that it works as an unconscious process. It’s something that we aren’t even always aware is going on. What happens is our conscious brain is looking at things and we’re making sense of them but our unconscious brain is working almost like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s putting pieces together. When pieces don’t fit together it’s like, ‘Something is wrong.  Something is different here.’  It sends a warning signal.

Studies have shown that when this happens and something doesn’t fit, there’s actually a surge of dopamine in the brain. You know when we say, ‘In my body it just didn’t feel right?’ That’s actually true. There’s not only a psychological process happening but there’s actually a physiological process as well.  Your brain and your body are saying, ‘Something is different here’.  Let’s be aware of this. Whether it’s good or bad, let’s be aware of this. A few years back in my work I would be like, ‘There’s this unique gift that women have.’ and then I would kind of say, ‘Well men have it too.’  But women have it so much stronger.

Intuition Is A Gift In Betrayal Trauma

I intrinsically feel that women have this gift given to us.  I started looking into it because I thought, ‘Is it true or do I just feel that women have it stronger than men do?’  

There’s this belief that through evolution women actually have a stronger ability to make intuitive decisions or have intuitive guides within them. What is believed is that over time our female ancestors had to quickly evaluate a situation because they had to protect themselves and their children. They had to tune into their environment, make sense of their environment, see if things were off or on. Therefore, our brains as women evolved to have a larger ability to organize chunks of information much quicker. Giving us this edge of ability to read people and situations, quickly making decisions if something is good or bad for us.

Anne: That ‘quickly make decisions’ part is where I got tripped up in my betrayal trauma journey. I remember the sense of intense dread, like someone’s going to die. Something really, really bad is going to happen. I just thought, ‘I must be crazy!” I even remember telling my husband at the time, and he didn’t say anything but if I could go back in time and read his mind he might be like, ‘just lay very still and she won’t know what I’m doing right now’, right?

Betrayal Trauma Can Hinder Your Intuition

Piper: I think that is how betrayal trauma can rob us women of our gut instinct. Not rob us but negatively impact and sometimes hinder it for a while. I have partners I work with that are like, ‘I had no idea. There was nothing that was off to me’. I just want to put that out there because I want all women to know that it’s not to say there’s always a red flag.

Yes, in our work together when we start going back and unpacking things they might say, ‘Ohhh  that was a red flag and I chose to ignore it.’ Or, ‘There was that time that my body was like umm something is off and I chose to ignore it.’

So betrayal trauma can really impact our relationship with our gut instinct. It breaks our relationship with the gut instinct.

When I am looking at betrayal trauma and the impact of sex addiction, there’s not only a betrayal of trust by the addict but actually a betrayal of trust with self. This is where it can become really complex  sometimes for partner recovery.

The betrayal of trust with self is betrayal  with their gut instincts. If we ignore it, ignore it and ignore it,  we’re betraying trust with ourself! We’re saying this isn’t true, this isn’t happening.

That’s the impact of gas-lighting. When we’re a victim of gaslighting that’s what happens.

Anne: Right. Had he told me the truth in that moment. If I had I said, ‘something really bad is going to happen’, and he said, ‘yea because I’m having an affair’. Or whatever it was. I still don’t know to this day what it was about but had he told me the truth in that moment I would have thought, “oh, I’m not crazy!”

Piper:  So you and your body are kind of in war, you and your gut instinct. That’s the crazy thing. Because there is this betrayal of self or gut instinct then there’s a distrust in your reality.

Sit Back And Watch, Wait For The Red Flags To Fly

This can be difficult in partner recovery,  trying to re-establish your relationship with gut instinct and experiencing a trigger, and your gut instinct is sending off these red flares that something is going on, the question then is, ‘Is there ongoing trauma that you’re having this gut instinct reaction to, or is it a trigger from the past?’

That’s where it can be hard sometimes in recovery and re-establishing your relationship with gut instinct.

Anne: Absolutely! Especially when you’ve been lied to, right? A million times!

So now the red flags are going off and your husband is saying again, ‘Oh everything is fine!’ and you’re thinking, ‘Well, do I believe him now or not?’ Like, ‘Where am I in this process?’ Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery we try to help women understand the related behaviors so that you can watch what he’s doing and not necessarily have to trust his words.

Piper: You guys do practice what you preach. Just from listening to your podcasts, as well as from knowing from clients who have worked with you. It’s not just about the words. It’s the actions as well.

An Addict’s Actions Speak Much Louder Than His Words

Also, just how does it feel in your body as a partner as well. Does it feel right or wrong? I give this example sometimes. I live in L.A. We have bad traffic So the spouse can come home and he’s 5-10 minutes late and the partner can be like, ‘okay, he’s late, it feels off.’ The schedule is off pattern and it can be hard. Am I being triggered by something that is happening in this present moment or is this a reminder of something that has happened in the past?  And it’s really difficult.

Anne: Yes, it is very complex. This recovery thing is no fun. And then it’s also fun. There’s these two parts of it. It’s hard!

Piper: And it’s on going and it’s one of these things that I think changes with the environment and people around you. Forever modifying and changing.

Anne: In thinking about my recovery and talking with a colleague yesterday I said, ‘I haven’t been angry at all! Just so sad.’ I’m finally becoming angry and it’s weird! Because it’s way late. This anger has been welling up inside of me and I’m not really a yeller. Well lately I have been a yeller but it’s not something that’s natural to me.

Finally I thought, ‘okay, wow like this has got to be the trauma coming out.’ So I told my kids, There’s this thing inside of me and I’m trying to work through it and I’m really sorry.’ I said, ‘When I’m feeling it I think I’m going to raise my hands high above my head and I’m going to clinch my fists and I’m going to say, ‘Agnes, Amos, Jehoshaphat!’ They were like, ‘okay, that’s funny!’.

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And so I’ve been doing that when I feel it well up they just look at me and then they start laughing! I think wow, here’s a new phase for me! I don’t really know where I am and how to explore it. I think it’s the same with our gut instinct. It’s like, here I am I’m working through it and I don’t really know how to do this! I hope I can learn! Making an effort to explore it I think is the key.

Piper: Yes, I love what you say! They’re owning it and just being in the moment and not necessarily understanding what’s going on or what it is. You’re just like, ‘I’m going to feel it and embrace it in a safe and effective way.’ That’s what this is about, like you said. Just working through it and just being with it moment to moment. And maybe not always making sense of it.

Anne: Yea, because I think about the women who feel in their gut that everything is fine, for example. By the way, I don’t want this podcast to freak everybody out. This has happened where women have said to me after I give a speech and they say, ‘That was so impactful and I’m so grateful that I don’t deal with this issue! I just trust my husband and I just love my family!’, or whatever they say.

And then I get a letter like 6 months later saying, ‘I didn’t know!’ And their gut was telling them at the time that things were good! That’s what makes us go crazy. At least with me. I thought well, ‘I can’t trust my gut because I thought things were fine and then they weren’t.’

So how can a partner re-establish trust within herself?

Gaslighting Makes It Difficult To See The Red Flags 

Piper: What you’re saying is actually a really classic thing. That’s why I was saying in the beginning that some women will say, ‘I had no idea! I didn’t have those red flags and flares go off!’

So after there’s discovery it really starts with love and kindness with self. Because I do think about this break down with gut instinct as a betrayal. Or as a breakdown with trust itself. It just starts first with loving kindness towards self. Sometimes as women we want to be hard on ourselves. We are like, ‘Why didn’t I see that? ” Or, ‘Why didn’t I know?”‘, Or ‘ Why did I ignore that red flag?” Or whatever the list is that can be read to ourselves.

When you think about actually being in a relationship with somebody else, if there’s been a break in trust, you have to rebuild that trust. There’s a process of rebuilding that trust. I think about that same thing in a relationship with ourself . We need to rebuild that relationship of trust with ourself. Especially if a women is one that says, ‘I had no idea! I didn’t have any red flags and this just came completely out of left field!’

There’s probably been some gaslighting going on. And especially then you’re just like, ‘Woah where is my radar? What just happened?’

So starting with love and kindness towards self and rebuilding a relationship with the voice within you. I start with little exercises.

While your showering, bathing or standing in the grocery line for instance, just integrate it into your schedule. Just check in with yourself.

Check in with the voice of your body. So what is your heart saying to you in that moment? What is your body saying to you in that moment? What is your mind saying?

What’s your experience of where you are in your environment? While you’re bathing are you noticing the soap on your body?

Hello Anxiety, I See You!

Or while you’re standing in line do you notice yourself wanting to get out and get on with your errands? Or are you dreading something that’s coming up at the end of the day? So what ever it is, start in conversation with your body.

Why I say conversation is because specifically I’m looking at bringing that voice of your gut instinct of what your body is telling you and bringing that to the surface.

There’s a woman, Anne Cornell, who teaches in her practice with mindfulness to welcome the feeling, whatever it is. Like, saying hello to that feeling. So if you’re feeling anxious you say ‘oh, I’m feeling anxious!’ and I say hello to that.

Anne: Hello anxiety!

Piper: Yea! Hello anxiety! I think this is so important because, especially when we’re talking about gaslighting or breakdown in gut instinct.

What’s happened is that your reality has been denied. So if you’re feeling anxious and you’re like, ‘I’m not anxious, I’m not anxious!’ Or ‘Nope, get past that!

I was thinking, ‘Piper, you’re not anxious! Get over it!’ I’m actually denying that I’m feeling anxiety at that time.

So instead if I’m like, ‘Okay I’m feeling anxious. Hello anxiety!’  Even if you don’t know the feeling, ‘I’m feeling some feelings. Hello feelings!’

Accepting Our Own Reality Provides Validation For Ourselves

I’m actually validating my body and my mind, spirit, whole being and what you’re experiencing in that  moment. And that actually is little moments of re-establishing trust with your mind and your body and gut instinct.

Then start to test yourself with just little things like taking a walk to the right rather than going left today. And if you walk right instead of left, notice. Does it work out okay for you? Does everything work out fine?

And if it does say, ‘Okay I’m listening to my inner voice and guide.’ And those are little things.

Then when we get to the big things where you’re like, ‘Nope, something is off here’ you’re able to to say okay, ‘I’ve already established trust with my inner voice and I know that my inner voice has guided me with little things. I can trust it now. I can follow it.

It’s starting with loving kindness towards self, rebuilding a relationship with that voice, welcoming what ever feelings that you’re having so You’re not denying your own reality within yourself. And then moving forward with little tests of that gut instinct.

Rebuild Confidence By Trusting YOU Again

Anne: I like that. Why is it so important to acknowledge this and work towards it? Why do women need to re-establish trust with themselves rather than just, ‘okay, now I’m going to just pick the most logical thing or I’m just going to ask my best friend!’ Or I’ve got to make a therapy appointment every ten minutes!

Piper: Sometimes doesn’t that seem easier though?

Anne: To just say, ‘Someone else tell me, what’s the right thing to do?”, right?

Piper: The truth is that it’s a guide! It’s this innate gift that we have. If we’re talking about whole recovery, that is a piece of us.

As a partner, whether or not you are staying in a relationship with the addict, you’re going to have other intimate relationships in your life. That should be part of recovery. I mean intimate in that it doesn’t  have to be sexual. I’m talking about friends, family, whatever that might be.

In order to trust in others we need to have a trust in ourself. That we’re actually choosing good relationships for ourself and making good decisions. So that’s what this gut instinct is about.

It’s re-establishing trust with self so that we know that we’re moving forward with decisions that are in alignment with ourself. So even if things go awry again we can say, ‘But you know what, I know that I made the best decision for myself in that moment.’

It also helps with rebuilding feelings of self worth. So often after discovery what we can see is that feeling of the ramifications of gaslighting.

With a victim of gaslighting there can be low feelings of self worth, confidence or trust of self. And what it does is rebuild feelings of self worth and confidence in self. This allows you to be free maybe of needing to call your therapist every ten minutes or always relying on your friend!

I Thought He Was Great And That We Would Be Happy…

Anne: So true. Thinking of the question, ‘Is it really possible to trust yourself again after sexual betrayal and trauma?”

For me, personally the jury is still out on this one. I’m still working through this. It’s almost like I have to see if the things that I choose end up being good for me and that takes time.

My life before when I met my husband I thought he was amazing and fantastic. I told everyone how great he was and how happy I was. And then we got married and things weren’t like that.

Now I think if I met someone I would be like, ‘I’m getting married. I’m not sure how it’s going to go.’ I think I would like hedge all my bets! I think I’d be like, ‘He seems really great and all of these things seem to be working but I don’t know if I can trust myself.’

The jury is still out on me. I don’t know how I would know, ‘Okay I really can trust myself again!’ Literally until maybe I got married and like sixty years later! I’d be like, ‘Yes, that was the right thing to do.’  It feels like I can only trust myself in hindsight now instead of trusting myself in the future.

Piper:  I love what you’re saying! I’m literally jumping out of my chair because this is what always makes it difficult!

Recognize The Little Things, The Good Decisions You Make Every Day

And I say look at the small decisions every single day! You’re probably making decisions whether it be with your children, with yourself,  your work or whatever. It starts with the little things. Because then as you said, what is the limit? If you were to get remarried, is it after ten years that you say, ‘It’s okay! Thirty years! That was a good decision!’

You could hit thirty years and be like, ‘Umm nope still, I don’t know!’ I think this is where it becomes so complex! What is the end goal? I always say let’s come down and look at the present. That’s why I mentioned the example of walking. I know it sounds so little but it starts with those little things.

Just every single day you make a decision, give yourself a pat on the back and be like, ‘You know what? That was a good decision! I followed myself on that decision. I should have gotten those Oreos for myself.’ That’s a funny example!

Anne: Yes, you should have! I agree!

Maybe You Made The Right Decision But It Was Hijacked By Another’s Choices

Piper: I hear what you’re saying and that’s the difficult thing. How do I define when I have re-established trust with myself? I think we need to be kinder to ourselves and look at the little successes. And know that yea, we’re not ever going to know the future but we also need to give ourself the little successes.

Anne: I think there’s one other issue. It could be that you are making the right decision. You are doing the right thing for you and maybe something else happened. Someone else makes a different choice. Someone else does something here or there and then it doesn’t go the way that you wanted or the way that you planned.  

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t do the right thing for you just because someone else chose something else. Those things are part of why I think I struggle a little bit. Because I thought this was supposed to turn out well for me and it didn’t. But the reason why it didn’t turn out well wasn’t necessarily because of my decision. It was maybe because of someone else’s choice.

Give The Gift Of Trusting Yourself And Reconnect With Your Intuition

Piper: Right! And so you made the best decision for yourself. And that is a gift you can give to yourself and help remind yourself of. That is where it starts! Trusting and knowing that you made the best decision. Not just you, but any of us that we made the best decision for ourself in that moment with what we had.

Anne: Piper, you are delightful! Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today!

Piper: Thank you! It was a pleasure! I’m so happy to!

Anne: We’ll have to have you on again talking about some other fun topic, like masturbation or something!    

Piper: Or you can visit me in Bali and we can do a podcast in Bali!

Anne: Oh, that would be awesome! Piper’s site is

As always if this podcast was helpful to you please rate it on iTunes. Each rating improves our visibility on search engines and helps women who are isolated find us. As always, we love to hear from you, so please comment below about how you feel about intuition.

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How To Recover From Your Husband’s Lies, Infidelity & Abuse

Women In Abusive Relationships Can Find Online Support 

The consequences of your man’s sexual addiction may cause you to experience fear, anxiety, insomnia, depression, despair, hopelessness, or other mental distress, financial difficulties, and abandonment. You are likely suffering from betrayal trauma and need help. 

We have Jen from Utah with us today to talk about her journey to heal from betrayal trauma. She worked with Coach Cat in one of our workbook study groups, so Coach Cat is joining our podcast today as well. 

Welcome Jen and Cat! 

Before we start today I just want to mention that women all 50 states and over 20 different countries have scheduled support calls and joined our BTR Support groups! So wherever you live, our live online services are here for you! I think that it’s really exciting that Jen got to work with Cat even though Cat lives in the UK and Jen lives in Utah! We’re happy to have you both on the call today!

Jen’s Experience With Betrayal Trauma 

So Jen, let’s start with how you discovered your husband’s addiction. Can you tell us your story?

Jen: Looking back, I went through ten years of consistent disclosures of physical affairs. With each disclosure, he would give me there was a lot of like gaslighting and emotional abuse. It was my fault, I was to blame, not good enough physically, emotionally or sexually. 

He would eventually come out and tell the full truth, swearing he would never do it again, that this was the last time.  I didn’t know at the time that this could be an addiction. I truly thought he’s just a jerk. I’m not good enough. He’s just looking for something better because I don’t amount to what what he’s looking for. I went through about ten years of that. 

Hitting Rock Bottom Led to the Recovery From Betrayal Trauma

My latest big disclosure which was the big tipping point and led us to find recovery was two years ago. A religious leader pointed us to a counselor who ended up being specialized in this specific addiction. When she said the words like, ‘ You have an addiction. You need to go to group.’, It was still hard for me to grasp because I had told myself the story for ten years that it’s me, I’m the problem. I would never tell anybody,  not even therapists that we would go to. 

I was so ashamed and mortified and was sure that the therapist would say ‘Yea, you’re not doing this and you’re not that’, and give me a list of all the reasons why this is happening to me. So he had disclosed about a physical affair with a women at work. He continued therapy and I continued therapy. He went back and forth from, ‘Yes I want recovery, this is an addiction’ to ‘This is not an addiction and I don’t want this’. 

He hit his rock bottom and made a decision, and his choice fortunately for us was that he truly did want recovery. We were able to start our recovery journey. That is what has led me to where I am today. 

Support Groups Help Recovery From The Trauma Of Abusive Relationships

Anne: So you mentioned that there were the related behaviors of emotional abuse and gaslighting and lying. Have you found that as part of your recovery that you’ve also needed support and help to recovery from the experience from that abuse? 
Jen: Oh, 100%. It took me about four months of going to groups before I actually could admit I belonged there. I would sit there and think, ‘This is not where I belong! Do you guys not see me? I’m the problem, not him!’ 

Then we had an amazing counselor who worked with him and us to do a full disclosure.  When he read me his full disclosure it felt like a thousand pounds lifted off my shoulders and I realized that he is an addict, 100%. I had never heard everything laid out in a time line before, and it started making sense. 

In one of my groups, one of my friends had mentioned BTR. I started listening and it became my routine. I would turn on a podcast and I would exercise and it was like extra therapy when I wasn’t in counseling that helped me to learn the things I needed to learn. 

My friend then said, ‘Hey, they’re going to start an workbook group.’  I told her that I felt like I need that! That was the first time I was able to talk about my pain because I had buried it and truly convinced myself that I was the problem. 

There was no way I was going to be publically humiliated. I had made up the story and everyone would agree with me, ‘You’re right you really are the problem and these are all the things you need to change.’  It was too humiliating to even think about writing it out, let alone sharing it out loud.

Women Often Take The Blame For The Abuse They Experience 

Anne: Cat, Do you find that that’s common when women join support groups with BTR, that a lot of the time the women take responsibility for their spouses lying and abuse? 

Cat: That can definitely be the case. Whilst we don’t always see that extreme personalization of it with all the women I work with, I just kind of see this confusion. 

Where they’ve been told this lie for such a long time, that this on them that somehow this is their fault, that if they did this or if they did that… It is inevitable that they start to believe that stuff. So whilst not everybody is vehement in saying this is my problem, we definitely see a huge amount of confusion in terms of which are my bits and which are his bits.   

The truth is most of it is his bits and the bits that are yours were in response to the bits that were his- so yea it is sadly very common. That’s why it’s so important for women to have a safe place to talk it through with other women. 

The other thing that’s really important about a group that helps is people who have been through that process already. People who can just see straight through the middle of that and say, ‘no, that is not what’s happening here and here’s what I’ve learned about that.’

They can save us a lot of time in going through that agonizing process of trying to work out who’s to blame by just cutting straight through and saying, ‘It’s not you, it’s him. This is how I can help you to see that.’

Wives In Abusive Relationships Find Strength and Healing In Support Groups

Anne: I think one reason women hold onto that so much is because they have some control then. If it has something to do with me, then I can change and then I can change the situation. But when we realize that there is nothing we can do and that it has nothing to do with us, it is terrifying because there is literally nothing we can do to fix it. 

Jen: Oh I completely agree. I didn’t even realize I was such a control freak until I took this workbook group. I didn’t realize I was trying so badly to control. 

Anne: I don’t mean to call you out on this podcast right here in front of 8,000 women. But I’m not sure if it’s control so much as it is our desire for safety. We are desperate for safety. At Betrayal Trauma Recovery we call this ‘safety seeking and truth seeking behaviors’ which we’re entitled to and we deserve. It’s just that sometimes the way we go about trying to seek safety or trying to seek the truth sometimes backfires in our face. It sometimes doesn’t really help us become safer. 

Women Recovering From The Lies & Emotional Abuse Related To Porn Addiction Often Feel Overwhelmed

Cat: When you think about it, it’s like drowning. We’re drowning in this sea of confusion and emotional turmoil. And we will reach out and grab hold of whatever life line is in front of us. We don’t stop and say oh, is that the best course of action? We just want to get out of the water because it’s scary in there, right?  So it’s just kind of grabbing up and taking hold of whatever you can get your hands on to try and stay afloat. 

Jen: I definitely have used that analogy before. I’ve said I really feel like I’m out in the ocean, treading water and I can’t reach the bottom. Anytime I feel I’m safe to get a gasp of air, a huge wave hits me. I feel like that’s really what I lived like for ten years. 

Anne: Yes there’s so much pain. I used that example in the analogy of the drowning swimmer on the podcast. Where I thought that God was throwing me a life preserver, one of those round ones. Then the minute I reached out to grab it He would pull it away. And He just kept pulling it away. I felt like that too. 

Related: Covenant Eyes filtering software protects my family.

For our readers, scroll down and comment below How did you feel? Did you feel like it was your fault? We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

So Jen, how did being part of the BTR group help you work through the workbook. 

Jen: I first made the decision, I want to heal. I deserve to heal. I’m going to do this no matter how scary it is with everything I have. 

So I made that choice before I even started doing the exercises. What we do is answer the questions, take pictures of our writing and post them to the group. Putting myself out there like that and being completely vulnerable was so scary. 

Then, little by little we have like a comment from somebody in the group or Cat that would be so kind and gentle in pushing us to go further to dig deeper and be able to realize, wow it isn’t my fault. Or I do have worth and I am allowed to say no. And it just helped me to connect the dots.

The Power Of Vulnerability, With Brene Brown


Anne: So do you feel like the workbook really helped you process what had happened to you and what was currently happening to you?

Jen: Oh yes. It helped me to understand addiction, what was actually going on. It helped me to be able to grieve. We truly went through a grieving process of what I had lost and what I had gained. 

I was definitely able to get outside of myself. I feel like true growth really comes when you’re able to be vulnerable in healing. It was enabling us to be vulnerable and also to live in the present moment. What is real? What’s happening right now?

Growth In Betrayal Trauma Support Groups 

Anne: Cat, from your perspective, can you see growth in these women through that period of time?

Cat: It’s a 12-week workbook and there are six chapters. We spend two weeks in each chapter and you can absolutely see the growth. Certainly for the women who really dig in, who really commit themselves to the exercises. 

I have to say that when I looked back what really stood out to me about Jen as a particular client is that she really committed herself to just getting into the exercises and getting the most out of the brief experience that she could. 

One of the things that I love to do with a  Facebook Group particularly is have the ladies post their goals because there’s less of the live interaction. What are they hoping to achieve by being in this group? 

Looking Back, Women Can See Their Growth Past Betrayal Trauma 

And then right at the end of the group I’ll check back in with that and say, ‘Hey this is what you wanted to achieve, how did we do with that?’ Sometimes you don’t see in the moment the movement that you’re making so it’s a great way to look back and say, ‘Actually yea, I’ve made some really good movement on that goal and I feel closer to achieving it!’, ‘I’ve achieved it all together!’, or ‘Hey I’ve got a little more work to do.’ 

I always like to say that a Facebook Workbook Group doesn’t provide the full solution but it definitely gives you a really solid foundation. It can be a really helpful thing to help you think what else you might need to do after the workbook group is finished, where your strengths are and see what you’ve done really well. 

As Jen has said, one of the key parts of this book that really hit me when I worked through it and what women seem to take from this particular workbook is the grief section. It’s got a great section that allows you to really work through some of that, letting go of what you thought you had and processing the loss. You can actually be seeing movement of those women in that 12 weeks. 

Progress And Recovery From Betrayal Trauma Is Empowering

Anne: How would you see yourself now, Jen?

Jen: Oh this is hard for me because I feel like I am able to stand on my own. I’m able to notice myself, ‘oh I’m slipping back into those old behavior patterns’ and apply the things that I’ve learned. 

I feel like it gave me the confidence that I actually had within to be able to seek for more help or be willing to share and empathize with others. I actually have shared this book with a few people that have asked me after I had done the group who asked, “What are you doing?” I just said that I just got done with this amazing workbook! 

They would just kind of look at me funny. I would just say, ‘Anybody who has been betrayed by a spouse who is unfaithful should give this workbook a chance.’ 

My friend said, ‘ I got the workbook and started it. It is brutal but amazing! That is really perfect for this workbook. It was so brutal! I felt naked and raw. I hadn’t been seen for so many years. I now feel like I’m ready to show up in the arena unarmed because I now have a foundation of understanding. 

The opposite of ignorance is knowledge and I feel like I was able to become knowledgeable about addiction, about betrayal. Even about how I grew up. It doesn’t just hit only spouses. It goes all the way to how you were raised. Where these are coming from and own what is mine.

I just feel empowered. I just feel ready.  

YOU Are Of Great Worth, You WILL Get Through This!

Anne: That’s awesome! Jen, if you could go back and give yourself advice, I don’t know if there’s like one day that sticks out to you where there was a disclosure about one of your husband’s physical affairs or a particular moment where you were emotionally abused or where he was gaslighting you-  if you could go  back and give yourself advice because many of our listeners are in that situation right now, what would you tell yourself?

Jen: You know, I have thought about this and I would  definitely go back and tell myself I am more than worth it! That I will get through this, that this is his stuff and not mine, and that I don’t need to know all the answers right now. 

My needs are important. My feelings are valid. I would definitely talk positively to myself as opposed to beating myself up and talking negatively. 

Cat: I just want to say that it makes me burst with pride and emotion when I hear women talk about their journey through this thing that we call betrayal trauma. For me the greatest joy of the work that I do with women,  to see them talk positively to themselves, to see them show up for themselves. 

You CAN Be Your Own Hero

We talk about sheroes here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery and Jen you’re a shero. I love this idea that in the midst of all of the pain and the betrayal we can be our own heroes. We don’t need him to come in on a horse and pick us up and ride off into the sunset. We get to do that for ourselves. 

When we talk about the third stage of  trauma recovery we start to talk about post traumatic growth. We take this thing that was so disruptive and turn it into something that fits into the bigger picture of our life,  hopefully into something that will be an asset for us moving forward. 

When I’m listening to Jen talking I’m getting a real sense of that. We wouldn’t choose to walk this path but actually that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something useful along the way that can stand us in good stead moving forward. 

Some women never learn how to do that. Even when they don’t get betrayed, some women grow up feeling like things are their fault when they’re not. They grow up believing lies about themselves. 

If we can take anything out of this experience that’s positive, it’s that we don’t have to do that anymore. We get to learn how to love ourselves, how to offensively show up in our lives. That is just such a beautiful gift. 

When Women Recover From Betrayal Trauma, Miracles Happen

Anne: That is my goal for all the women in the world. I think if all the women in the world were in recovery they could stand up and say, ’Nope, this is what’s appropriate and this is what’s not appropriate, and set very strong boundaries

This betrayal stuff would either stop or, what would happen? I don’t know, all the men just go live with themselves on an island or I don’t know! They would either stop doing it or they would have to go somewhere else! Women are so powerful! You guys are amazing!

Jen: If you would  have asked me that question before this group, I would have said, ‘run- get out of their as quick as you can.’ But after the group and being in recovery I wouldn’t trade it because it has made me who I am and it’s led me to this journey of being able to love myself despite the pain that I’ve gone through. 

It’s given me a gift like Cat said and an opportunity to be able to connect and be able to empathize with other women that have felt similar pain. I wouldn’t have been given that opportunity had I not gone through that pain. 

I wouldn’t want to change the relationships I have been able to build and I wouldn’t even want to change the relationship with my spouse now. I never even knew marriage could be like this. It doesn’t seem fair that it took such painful painful things to get here but it definitely feels like a gift. 

Post Traumatic Growth Helps Women Feel Grateful For Their Experiences

I have so much gratitude for it. Definitely we have bad days and good days but it’s a journey and one day at a time, that’s why I’m even able to talk to myself positively like that and if I did go back I would definitely try and not internalize. I would tell myself how beautiful and strong I am. 

Anne: You are. You are beautiful and you are strong. And just like Cat I’m really, really proud of you and all of the women who take steps to pick themselves up and move forward with their own recovery regardless of what their spouse chooses. 

Jen: Exactly. Because we don’t have a choice you know. I could wake up tomorrow and my spouse could choose addiction. But I have proper boundaries in place and I won’t not show up for myself again. I have committed to myself that I will show up. I’m the only one that can consistently show up for me. 

Anne: Yea. Well thank you so much Jen for sharing your story today and thank you Cat for being here as well.  

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Finding Hope & Freedom After Betrayal

Am I In Denial About My Husband’s Pornography Addiction?

Today I have Lynn Marie Cherry who is an engaging speaker and the author of Keep Walking: 40 Days To Hope And Freedom After Betrayal. It’s a daily devotional book that helps women find a way through the pain and trauma of betrayal. She is dedicated to inspiring hope and shining light on the path to freedom.

In whatever shoes you prefer–rubber, rain boots, tennis shoes, or sassy heals, she’ll show you how to take a step forward today. Lynn and her husband David have been married 26 years and they have two boys. You can find more information about her and her book at

Lynn: Thank you so much for having me.

Anne: So Lynn, you decided to share your betrayal story by writing a book. Why did you decide to write about your story?

Lynn: It’s the book you don’t dream of writing when you’re a little girl in sixth grade, thinking you’d like to write someday! The book was birthed out of my journey and the pain that I experienced. It was so difficult and so altering but at the same time I felt like I found a way through.

I knew it was something I had to share. I knew early on in the journey that I would share my story, that my husband and I would both talk about it. This is how the book came to be. Going back to our story, it’s the most drawn out discovery story you have ever heard.

I Knew Something Wasn’t Quite Right—Even On Our Honeymoon

We were married in 1991 and even on our honeymoon I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. But at the same time, I was thinking it wasn’t a big deal. I really didn’t know what husbands were like. This was my first experience…and I did the best I could to dismiss those feelings.

In 1997 I was pregnant with our first son and it happened to be the same year our home was wired for the brand new amazing thing called the internet and the world-wide web. This was a set up. I was big and tired and commuting two hours and struggling with my body image and then my husband was in the office at home and I remember thinking that something was not right…what was happening in there…and then at the same time I was thinking that I didn’t care.

I was building a human, I was tired, I was working, I was commuting…whatever he wanted to do in the office, I didn’t care. I told myself this for another three years. It’s kind of embarrassing to recount the slow discovery.

Anne: Don’t feel bad. Everyone goes through this denial and pushing away of doubts. It’s totally normal! Welcome to the club!

Denial—My Coping Mechanism

Lynn: This was certainly my MO–denial! It was my coping mechanism of choice for so long. So then in 2000 our second son was born and I remember being awake in the night to feed him and I noticed the light was on in the home office and I thought, “Oh wow. My husband’s awake too.” I walked over and opened the door and instantly felt this horrible flood of emotions–shame and lost, and it felt so tangible. I saw pornography on the computer screen. So now this thing that I think isn’t quite right is right in front of my eyes but I shut the door and walked away and continued pretending and coping for another four years.

Anne: You didn’t say anything about it?

Lynn: We did not talk about it. I think there was an awareness on his part that I had seen what was happening but my mom was in town due to our new baby’s birth; she was sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room and she was with us for another week. I couldn’t go there. And then,  really, I didn’t go there for another four years. I was going through the emotions, and coping, and existing, and a busy life with two little boys…it dragged on.

Anne: Did you have a religious or ethical background that you felt pornography was wrong in and of itself or was it just from the feeling you got from observing him watch pornography that made you feel horrible?

Lynn: Definitely the ethical spiritual upbringing was the first thing that made me feel uncomfortable about pornography. That feeling was a confirmation of what I believed. I didn’t think pornography was okay. I remember the first time I saw it in the sixth-grade reading corner when someone flashed a magazine inside my book I was reading–I knew it wasn’t right. I knew it was degrading to women and that it wasn’t at all the way women should be perceived.

Coming Out Of Denial Of My Husband’s Pornography Addiction, With The Gift Of Anger

Anne: So what brought you out of this denial after four years of not talking about it?

Lynn: I like to say I got a gift. It wasn’t in a pretty package with a matching bow. It was a gift to me. It was the gift of anger. I ended up being a very angry woman. I lived with this constant low level irritation and blow up over little stupid things, really on the fringe with my boys, thinking I didn’t like who I was becoming.

This anger was scaring me. I was okay being sad and I was okay being lonely and depressed but the anger terrified me. It really was the catalyst that forced my hand and made me realize I needed help, that something had to change inside of me, that I couldn’t live like this.

Anne: For our listeners, I want to know what brought you out of denial. At what point did you realize you needed help? Please comment below, we want to hear your story and your experiences just like we are listening to Lynn today.

Recognizing The Trauma

So when did you realize that what you were experiencing was trauma?

Lynn: We would never use the words “pornography addiction” until we started therapy. I never used the word “trauma” until therapy, either. It really was the working through owning the reality of my life through counseling where, suddenly coming out of denial, I began to feel the effects of the trauma. I had chest pain, insomnia, anxiety–especially at night where I would lay there and feel like my heart was going to fly out of my chest. I was feeling so anxious about the reality of my life that I had denied and stuffed and coped with for so many years. It was traumatic to pull my “ostrich head” out of the sand and it was a shock to my system.

I remember learning about pretend normal in therapy and thinking I like pretend normal. Could we go back and live there because dealing with what was actually happening in my life felt worse than pretending. It really did for a while.

Anne: Yes, I felt the same way. My most traumatic experience was after my husband’s arrest. I lived with him being abusive for seven years, not feeling that much trauma because I was in denial or I was not understanding what I was living, living the “pretend normal;” after his arrest it really hit me. That’s when waves of it came and it was very intense for a long time.

Tools To Help Deal With The Trauma Of Betrayal From A Spouse’s Pornography Addiction

What tools helped you deal with the trauma of betrayal?

Lynn: I did 24 weeks with a betrayed spouses group. This was a lifeline for me because there were some women in the group who had not been in denial for 8 years so they were much more familiar with what they were going through. I remember listening to them and thinking that this is how I felt.

Being able to share the journey with other women was so helpful to me and really helped me deal with it. I discovered breathing; you don’t think about breathing but when you do think about it, it’s amazing the calming effect it can have on your body. The other thing that helped me deal with the trauma was my faith. To be honest, I was a little bit offended with God that this was my story–I didn’t deserve it, I never asked for this to be in my story but here I was and how was this ok with him?

So God and I were on the outs for a little while–I was on the outs with Him. The bottom line for me was that I didn’t know where else to go. When I began to seek God for comfort and help, He was faithful to bring it. And so my faith really helped me to deal with the trauma as well.

Right And Wrong Reasons For Staying In A Marriage

Anne: So knowing women are married to active pornography users also experience the related behaviors like lying, gas lighting, emotional abuse, and sometimes narcissistic traits…what made you decide to stay in your marriage?

Lynn: I think there are a few different reasons. Some are good and some are bad. An example of a bad reason was my thinking that if I stay, then at least I can keep an eye on my husband and I can be there to protect my boys. This became, “If I stay, I can make sure he’s moving forward and my kids don’t end up growing up with a pornography addict for a father”…because whether our marriage made it or not, this was a big question.

Neither one of us knew the answer to that. Where there was an addict and a trauma victim trying to live together in the same house and both were walking their own recovery journeys…and then somehow considering the fact that there is recovery for the relationship…things were iffy for a long time. I was staying to keep an eye on him–not the best reason of course to stay in a marriage.

Ultimately a better reason was that I began to see the fruit of change in his life. I watched him do the work of recovery. When I made that first call for us to go to therapy, he was not happy about going but 3-4 weeks in, something shifted and I think he finally found hope and that there was a life for him without this thing that he had kept hidden.

A Recovering Addict Is Kind, Gentle, And Empathetic

He was seven when he first encountered pornography–second grade. So he began to do the work and I saw the fruit. His behavior began to change and this is what ultimately weighed in on the decision to stay. Once he discovered the tools to break this pattern of behavior and he picked them up and used them, he realized there was hope and that he could live a life without this dependence.

Anne: In my experience as I have witnessed men in recovery who really are in recovery and their behavior proves it–they are kind, gentle, empathetic, understanding–a man really, truly in recovery is awesome! There is such a difference between a porn user who is not in recovery and one who is. It’s night and day.

Lynn: I can see that. I think about the porn my husband grew up with was mainly magazines and then VHS. I look at what men and women are having to deal with now with it in the pocket–live streaming, interactive video–and I think it is a completely different based thing and harder to recover from what is happening in the brain with this kind of pornography.

Anne: Yes, with really easy access and the types of pornography that they are viewing..the content itself.

Moving Forward When Your Spouse Is A Porn Addict

So knowing all of the women who are married to porn addicts and struggling with all of the related behaviors, how can women find help in your book?

Lynn: One of the things I love is that it is a small bite-sized serving of home. It’s a one-to-two page daily reading with one thought to carry you, and a couple of things to take action on or to reflect on. I love that it’s manageable for women in trauma. I remember getting some books to figure out what going on in my life, wondering how I was supposed to read them while dealing with the mess in my life.

My book is not about my marriage. It’s really about moving forward. There is a way for every woman to move forward. It’s not about whether or not your relationship is restored but knowing that there is restoration for your soul. There is peace available and regardless of what ends up happening in your marriage, there is a way for you to move forward…there is a life for you beyond the pain and trauma being experienced right now.

Anne: Absolutely. And I love that you said it’s in bite-sized pieces. I have the hardest time processing written information. Many of the women who come to BTR have this same problem too which is why I decided to do this podcast because a woman can listen to something while they are folding laundry or doing the dishes or while they are waiting for a son at soccer practice. Same thing for your book: you are making hope accessible for women who have a hard time processing lots of information.

However Your Story Ends, There Is Hope For You

Lynn: Exactly. In the middle of the trauma of owning the reality of my life, I couldn’t even read two pages. I wanted to be able to give women something they could chew and swallow that could carry them through maybe one day and maybe help them to take one step; something to hold on to for one day.

Anne: We are going to be having a giveaway for Lynn’s book Keep Walking: 40 Days To Hope And Freedom After Betrayal. We have three copies she has donated to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Go to our Instagram account @betrayaltraumarecovery and enter the giveaway today!

Lynn, we are very grateful you have donated these books. Do you have any other thoughts before we conclude today?

Lynn: Sure. I just read an article this morning on Facebook by Gary Thomas that was so good. He just wrote a book entitled Cherished. I love what he said, “If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people more than he loves institutions.” I think this is such a relief for a woman walking through this and not knowing the end of her story. However your story ends, there is hope for you.

Anne: Thank you so much for being here today, Lynn, and thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope through writing this book. It’s very meaningful to a lot of women.

To schedule a support call or join one of our betrayal trauma recovery support groups, click on schedule and join. You can find a list of all our services on our services page. You can also find a link to Lynn’s book on our book page at

If this podcast is helpful to you, will you rate it on iTunes? Each rating improves our search engine rankings and helps women who are isolated and need help to find us. Until next week, stay safe out there.


Understanding & Managing Triggers When Faced With Betrayal

2 1/2 Hour Class
Led by Coach Cat
Saturday 1PM Eastern (USA)
The group will start as soon as it fills.
Limited to 12 participants (minimum 6)

Without doubt, triggers are a pretty universal experience for women who have suffered sexual betrayal trauma and the related behaviors of lying, gaslighting, and narcissistic behaviors.

Triggers can pop up when you least expect it and in ways you would never have dreamed of. When they do, they can be genuinely paralyzing, distressing and panic inducing. They are also, sadly, unavoidable (for the most part) and so having a strategy or two for dealing with them is a wise move for your healing.

In this group, Coach Cat will unpack some of the science behind triggers, how and why they happen, and how to recognize them. She will invite you to increase your awareness of your own personal triggers and the impact they have on you, – the first step to learning how to confidently recognize and face a trigger.

You’ll learn how tracking triggers can help you prepare for unavoidable triggers and anticipate triggering situations (and even prepare for them pro-actively). Coach Cat will end the class by teaching you some of the simplest and most useable techniques for regaining your personal power over triggers and inviting the group to learn from one another by sharing some of their most effective tools and strategies.

There is no doubt that you will leave this group with a clearer understanding of why and how you are triggered, what you can do about it and with new tools in your toolbox to aid and enhance your healing.

Managing Triggers When Experiencing Trauma From Your Husband’s Lies, Porn Use, and Emotional Abuse

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I’m Anne. I have Coach Cat here today. We are going to talk about understanding and managing triggers. All of us who have experienced betrayal trauma have experienced triggers on some level so I am so glad you are here to talk about this today, Cat.

Coach Cat: Hi, Anne. It’s great to be with you.

Anne: If you have any questions or want to learn more, Coach Cat will be running an Understanding and Managing Triggers group on Saturday at 1PM Eastern (USA).

Coach Cat: Yes, to make this session available to women all over the world, we’ve scheduled two time options so this will not be limited to just women in a particular time zone but to women in all different times zones, all over the world.

Common Triggers For Women After Discovering Husband’s Secret Sexual Behavior

Anne: Cat, what are some of the most common triggers that women experience after they discover their husband’s secret sexual behaviors?

Coach Cat: Triggers are unpredictable but there are some universal ones that women experience. Depending on what their husband’s sexual behavior and addiction has been, often it is clearly pornographic images or even just the media images we are exposed to now. We can be standing in the que at the supermarket and we can be exposed to very sexualized images. This can be a really big trigger for many in the early stages after we discover our husbands have an issue with sex and lust.

Another trigger women experience is just being around their husband or partner who has been causing the pain that they are in. Even being in the same place as this person can be a big trigger for women. In the warmer weather a conversation that comes up year after year in the groups I run and with the women I work with is how the clothes come off. In the early stages, these triggers are the most common.

Anne: Are there also triggers associated with the emotional abuse, the gaslighting, the manipulation, and the lies that are taking place?

Coach Cat: Absolutely. We can experience those triggers at the hands of other people, beyond just our own husbands and the people who have been committing the most obvious abuse in our life.

We can become very sensitive to dishonesty, to really any kind of shifty behavior that makes us feel uncomfortable. We can experience it with our husband but also the work environment or in our friendships.

These kinds of behaviors become quite sensitive points for us. Lying is one of the biggest triggers that women universally experience.

What Triggers You The Most After Discovering Your Husband’s Addiction?

Anne: There are so many different aspects to triggers and the way we are triggered related to the lying and the emotional abuse we have experienced.

For our readers, will you please scroll down and comment about your experience. We want to hear about your experience. What triggers you the most?

Cat, what are some of the weirdest triggers you have heard of or experienced yourself?

Coach Cat: I was thinking about this and some of the stories I have heard…I have heard a lot of stories related to food. One of the most intense and most bizarre triggers that I personally experienced was over a loaf of bread. As I explain this, what you will notice is that the trigger is actually the starting point for the thought process that comes with this.

I was triggered by a loaf of bread because my husband had gone to the shop to buy bread and when I opened the cupboard, I could see that we already had a loaf. The bread was the catalyst. What followed it was a series of thoughts about why he went to buy bread since we already had some—“We don’t need bread so he must be going to do something else…What is he going to do? Maybe he is going to do such and such…” and I began to tell this story around what he was going to do, who he was going to see…

Although the loaf of bread was a meaningless thing, this loaf of bread signified a much bigger issue when it triggered all of those kinds of fears and concerns. As it turned out, he’d gone to buy a loaf of French bread when we had a loaf of sliced bread in the cupboard. It was a different thing and very innocent but in that moment, the feeling of being in danger was so intense that I actually had to call my husband and ask him what he was doing in the store when we didn’t need bread.

One of my regular clients told me recently that she was triggered by a viennetta. It’s an ice cream dessert in my country. So again, a food item. When she told me the story that was associated, what we discovered was that the triggering item was not the actual sum total of the trigger…it was more about what it meant and what was going on with the thought processes behind it.

So yes, there are weird triggers that just seem to pop out of nowhere. Women have loads of stories to tell of the strange thing, the strange scenarios that have triggered them. They change as you go through the healing process.

Triggers Can Be A Signal That Abuse Is Still Happening

Anne: I think one interesting point to bring out when talking about triggers is that if we are not safe, we may continue to be triggered because we are still experiencing abuse and lies. Our trauma can be a gift to us. We can use it to make sure we are safe. Learning to understand and manage triggers is also part of unpacking, “Is this a safe situation?” or am I being constantly triggered because I’m still in the abuse.

Coach Cat: Absolutely. I think there is an important distinction between the two. Sometimes a trigger is an indication that we are not safe and there are some tangible actions we need to do to become safe. If the trigger is alerting us to a physical or emotional danger, then the action we would take on the back of that trigger would be very different than if it was a trigger that was a reminder of a dangerous situation that is no longer happening. So you are absolutely right to make this distinction.

Triggers Can Be Reminders Of Where We Can Still Heal

I think we can look at triggers in a couple of ways. There is some solid advice around staying out of triggering situations and not exposing ourselves to that emotional stress. We know as we continue to heal there comes a point where we need to face some of those situations so that we can re-engage with life.

I do like to think about triggers when they are the reminder-variety rather than the not-safe variety as a bit of an indication. We can look at triggers and ask what it is teaching and what do we need to learn to manage the trigger more effectively; what is it telling us about where we still need to heal?

These two ways to look at triggers are helpful. There are cases where we need to avoid exposing ourselves to them; and there are cases where we can stop and ask what we can learn from the triggering situation to heal.

Triggers Are Powerful

Anne: Absolutely. Why are triggers such a problem with women with betrayal trauma?

Coach Cat: There is a such a problem for women with betrayal trauma because triggers cause such an intense emotional response. A trigger can put a person right back in the moment of danger and despair. When a trigger is first experienced, particularly if it has never happened before, it can be super scary. When women talk about having panic attacks and becoming overwhelmed in public places and those kinds of things…if you didn’t know this was going to be a part of it, this can be really scary and overwhelming. The fact that it evokes all of these emotions in us again can be really problematic.

I don’t know about you, Anne, but in the early days when I experienced triggers I would often have an emotional hangover and I would feel the effects of a triggering situation for sometimes days after the event. It can take a little while just to get back on your feet after experiencing a powerful trigger.

Anne: Yes, even with my no-contact boundary that I hold where I don’t discuss things with my ex (all communication goes through a third party), there are still times when something will happen to trigger an argument in my head that I have with him. He’s not even around but I still sometimes have an argument with him just in my own head, which causes me stress! I think ok, now I am safe from the trauma, safe from the abuse, I’m safe from having this argument in real life and here I am, being triggered into an argument with an imaginary person! It’s fascinating! I’m still working on these things.

Internal Triggers Also Create Havoc

Coach Cat: What is really interesting about this is that we tend to think that triggers are something that happens outside of us. We see something and we get triggered; or we hear something or see a behavior. Actually, as we are going to discuss in the group, we do experience what I call internal triggers as well.

An internal trigger occurs when I look in the mirror when I get out of the shower and I feel a bit dissatisfied with one part of my body. This doesn’t just stop here. I’ll feel something and I’ll say something like, “I’m looking pudgy today” and then the spiral of toxic thoughts come with the original thought that tells me this is probably why he did what he did–because I’m fat or I’m this or that…I can create this all by myself because the wound I experience when he betrayed me is still there and I am still healing. It doesn’t even have to be something that someone does to us. It can be something that we inadvertently do all by ourselves. This is really a shame because we think we’ve done it to ourselves. Actually, it’s the traumatic impact that is working its way through us.

Understanding and Managing Triggers

Anne: Yep! So Cat, in order to help our listeners, what do you think they need to know about understanding and managing triggers?

Coach Cat: One of the most important things that any woman can do when it comes to understanding and managing triggers is to increase her awareness of how they happen and where they happen and what it looks like for her. Once we have been able to achieve that, she can think about what she needs to do about them. We are going to spend time in the group unpacking what we do to find out more so we can learn what we need to learn from the triggers and learn how to manage them.

Anne: Yes, I think it is important for every woman who has experienced the lies and emotional abuse, the betrayal, the infidelity to understand this because it can wreak havoc on our peace and feelings of safety and confidence.

Click here to join Cat’s group Understanding and Managing Triggers.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Each rating improves our search engine rankings and helps women who are isolated to get help by finding us. I want to do a shout out to all of our listeners. As of August 31, 2017, we have over 8,500 rss subscribers. Thank you for listening. You are not alone. We care and we love you.

Until next week, stay safe out there!