How To Have A Conversation About Healthy Sexuality With Your Kids

Ending 2017 With Betrayal Trauma Recovery

We have almost made it through 2017. It is a miracle! I want to thank all of you who have donated to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. We have a goal of $5,000 by the end of the year, as part of #givingtuesday. If you have not donated yet, please donate today!

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I previously said up to 30 sessions per month, but I realized I did the math wrong. I was thinking five weeks in a month. Don’t ask me, trauma brain. Anyway, we will add more sessions as more women join, but right now, it’s six sessions per week. That will enable you to have an APSATS coaching session nearly every single day of the week.

Join BTR Club For Betrayal Support Through The Holidays

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Teaching Our Children About Healthy Sexuality, Before They Learn From Unhealthy Sources

Sherie Adams Christensen is with us today. We’re going to talk about how to protect our children. She has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and has worked with sex addicts and their families for more than 12 years, both clinically and as a volunteer. Her two passions are betrayal trauma recovery work and teaching parents how to have conversations about healthy sexuality with their children. She has presented her work across the United States and internationally. You can find her at Welcome, Sherie.

Sherie: Thanks, Anne. It’s good to be here.

Anne: You told me a little bit about your book and then you sent it to me. I have actually used it with my children. Can you tell our audience what the book is called, what it’s about, and what prompted you to write your book?

Sherie: The book is called, My Body is a Gift from God: Introducing Conversations to Safeguard Children. The book is about teaching your children about healthy sexuality from very young ages, to help protect them and preempt the barrage of unhealthy sexual messages they’re going to get throughout their lives.

Help For Parents To Start Conversations That Would Otherwise Be Difficult And Scary

As you’ve mentioned in the introduction, I have worked with sex addicts and, especially their spouses and loved ones for over a decade. I love that work so much, but it’s also really heartbreaking to see all the damage that’s caused by sexual addiction. Then you couple that with the alarming rise of sexual addiction in general, and the lowering age of exposure to sexual materials, and we have what is now being referred to as a public health crisis.

It’s my belief that schools and governments and other institutions can do really wonderful things to prevent this crisis, and to help children, but I see parents and families as the place where the rubber hits the road. Parents just have this really unique responsibility and opportunity to educate their children on what healthy sexuality is, and what it looks like.

When I started presenting 10 years ago, there was almost nothing available to really help parents. Everywhere I was presenting, parents were literally asking if they could record what I was saying because it sounded possible. Sometimes we get in these mindsets that healthy sexuality is a difficult topic, a scary topic to talk about.

We don’t know how to do it in age-appropriate ways. It just feels scary. They said, “I just want to record your voice, because I could do that.” I just thought, “Well, I think we need a book. We need to get information out there to people so that they can do it themselves.”

Anne: Yeah, it is a very big concern for our audience, because they know the effects of sexual addiction, and they really want to help their children avoid it. What makes your book different than the other books available?

Invite Continued Conversations About Pornography, Sexual Abuse, Body Image And More

Sherie: This book’s about teaching healthy sexuality in general. It is not about teaching your child about pornography or sexual abuse or body image. It covers all of that. Like the title says, it’s about introducing conversations to safeguard your children.

Each page is, literally, an invitation to further conversations, either initiated by the parent or the child, so you can have thousands of conversations, based off the contents of this book. That’s very intentional.

It’s written to be general, and to open the door for all these kinds of conversations, to get that process started, because that’s what we need to do. We just need to be talking all the time. This book is written to open that door to have conversations about what’s going on in a child’s life, what the parent is noticing.

Anne: The old-school way was like, “Okay, plan this special date. Take your child to a special place, and then tell them how beautiful sex is, and don’t really talk about pornography, because if they understand how beautiful sex is then they’ll just avoid it naturally.” I don’t know, it was just this weird way of doing it, rather than being like, “We talk about sex anytime.” Right?

Sherie: Yes.

Anne: We talk about our bodies, or how we’re feeling at any time, while we’re going to school, while we are at dinner. There’s not this overriding feeling at our home that we can only talk about certain subjects at certain times.

Sherie: Absolutely, or not talk about them at all, right?

Anne: Right.

Overwhelming Access To Porn Requires Us To Talk, And Talk Often

Sherie: I think very few parents even got the “let’s go to a special place and only talk about it one time ever.” Yeah, it’s definitely a complete shift. The reason why is because we have a complete shift in the way that our society has access to, and views these kinds of things.

Anne: That being said, I think, if people would’ve talked about sex more often, and in layered, and ongoing ways, we wouldn’t have a generation of porn addicts now. Even though people say, “We have to talk about it all the time now, because teenagers have porn in their pocket, on their cell phones,” I still think it would’ve been beneficial for people to be talking about sexuality in the ‘50s, healthy sexuality, or even in the 1800’s.

It would’ve been healthy from the beginning of time, for people to be able to talk about healthy sexuality. I bet in 4000 B.C. they didn’t even really know what healthy sexuality was. It was like, “You Jane, me horny.” Right, that was maybe about the healthy sexuality they got.

Sherie: Yeah.

Anne: It would’ve been good in any time period, is what I’m trying to say.

Sherie: Absolutely. It’s just one of those topics that has just sort of been ignored. You just push it under the rug. I think people were able to get away with it a little bit more, you just can’t do that now. You really, really, can’t or you’re just asking for issues with your children. They’re, most likely, going to have issues anyway.

Including God In The Conversation Adds Another Layer Of Truth To Create Healthy Sexual Views

Anne: Why did you choose to talk about God in your book, when talking about healthy sexuality?

Sherie: This book is mono-theistically non-denominational, which means, if you believe in God, in a God that loves you and wants you to be healthy and care for yourself, then this book is for you. I just want to point that out first. I feel like it’s really important for parents to talk about God, when they are talking about healthy sexuality, because every layer of truth that we put into a topic gives it more breadth and more depth.

Our children need as much truth around this as possible. You can make it very sterile and talk about body parts and how they fit together, and how they work, and that’s fine. That is one layer of truth, it’s your sex ed. There are so many other layers of truth that give really essential meaning and breadth and depth to an understanding of healthy sexuality.

That is going to be different for each parent and each family, but it’s needed. In the book, it’ll talk about how amazing our bodies are, and that each of us is made differently, and that is incredible. It makes us each unique.

When you say those things, you can feel that that’s another layer of truth that helps them in their view of healthy sexuality. When they come across pornography, or other unhealthy sexual messages, they’ve got that extra layer of truth, and there’s so many other layers of truth that you can talk about with God, based on your own specific belief systems.

Do Your Children Know Your Values And Beliefs?

That’s, actually, one of the other unique things about this book. It’s written for parents to put their own values in. The studies show that is what children want, they want to know what their parent’s values are.

A lot of books about healthy sexuality that are out there, are written from the author’s point of view, their own beliefs. I happen to think my beliefs are pretty awesome, but they’re not your beliefs, as a parent. Some of them might be, but they’re not yours.

Every page of the book is written so that you, as a parent, put your own belief systems into it. This is our family beliefs about these things. These are our values around this. You work together, which also gives that child ownership of those beliefs, of those value systems.

It’s a really unique thing about the book that you really don’t see a lot of other places, but it’s so important for parents to be giving their own values to their children.

Anne: I also think it’s important to talk about in the context of religion, because in the religious experience, you get the chastity talk, you get all of the stuff that everyone’s gotten for years, but they haven’t received the healthy sexuality portion of that.

Strengthen Chastity Discussions By Answering The ‘Why’ Questions And Connecting The Dots

Like why? Really, why do you not want to have sex before you’re married? Why do you not want to masturbate before your married—not masturbate before you’re married, masturbate ever. Why do you not want to masturbate?

The discussion of “chastity” can be so much deeper and more involved, and actually answer these why questions that the traditional chastity talk doesn’t answer. It’s just that it’s bad. Then you’re like, “Well, if it’s bad, then why do we do it when we’re married?”

You know, “blah, blah,” there’s just all that confusion going on. It really helps kids connect those two dots between healthy sexuality, and the things that they are learning in church.

Sherie: Absolutely.

Anne: Yeah. I’m really appreciative that you wrote this. I’ve been using it with my kids, and they love it. They think it’s great. My kids talk a lot about sex and porn. It’s just so fun for our neighbors, I’m sure.

Create A Safe Place For Children To Talk About Exposure

My son, who’s eight, came home and said, “Mom, one of my friends told me that he was able to search for naked women on YouTube, and then he told me not to tell anyone.” He said, “I know that that is a signal that I need to tell someone, so here I am telling you, and I feel really uncomfortable around him now.”

It was just awesome for him to be able to have that conversation, he knew what words to use, because we’d talked about pornography. He knew that looking up naked pictures meant pornography.

The depth of his understanding, and the way that he could talk about it, was only due to the fact that we talk about it all the time. He wouldn’t have had all those words or that ability to express his feelings about what had happened, if it were not a layered, and ongoing conversation in our home.

Sherie: Yes, I love that. That is one of the other things that we talk about in this book, is it actually sets up, preemptively, this safe space for children to talk about exposure, which is so important.

It, literally, goes through, and says, “This is what you’re going to do when you get exposed to stuff, or you hear things. You’re going to talk to your parents. This is how your parents are going to respond to you.” It’s teaching parents and children together, how to create that safe environment, and sets it up, so that children know exactly what to expect, and parents know exactly how to respond.

Everybody Feels Shame But Don’t Let It Stop You From Doing The Right Thing

Anne: We haven’t talked about this, but I’m kind of off the shame wagon and now I’m more like, “I don’t really care about the shame, you work through it.” Instead of trying to eliminate shame, now, with my kids, everybody feels shame. This is what it feels like, don’t let that stop you from doing the right thing.

Sherie: Right, I like that.

Anne: Because I think the shame-elimination thing that’s been happening lately, in the anti-pornography movement is kind of ridiculous. We can never eliminate all shame, so it’s more like, “Let’s normalize it, rather than eliminate it.”

Sherie: I totally agree, and this is one of the things that—there’s questions in the back of the book that help you to know where to go from here, and on the website, as well. That’s one of the things that they talk about. A feeling is an indicator, and if I’m feeling shame, then what does that mean, and what do I do with that that’s healthy, rather than being unhealthy?

Anne: Yeah, you might feel like you want to lie, and you can acknowledge that, but then do the right thing anyway.

Sherie: Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot.

Teach Children That Telling The Truth Will Make Them Feel Better And Hiding Will Make Them Feel Worse

Anne: One of my favorite lines from Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a long time ago, people would call in, and they’d be like, “But I don’t feel like doing it,” and she’d say, “Feelings? Feelings don’t matter.”

I know that they do matter, but, at the same time, we need to teach our kids that their feelings don’t have to dictate their actions, and they can make conscious choices about how they feel, that are healthy, and good choices, to help them resolve negative feelings, rather than make those feelings worse.

Sherie: Right, yeah, absolutely. I, absolutely, agree. Feelings do matter, but we, oftentimes, just have a feeling, and then react, instead of figuring out, “What does that mean for me,” and then how does that fit into this whole situation, and what is the right thing to do in this situation, and how does that feeling fit into that space?

Anne: Yeah, and then helping them with that. You might feel ashamed, and that’s okay, and that’s normal, and everybody feels that. Just because you feel that feeling, and the feeling might say, “Avoid telling someone. Avoid saying something,” doesn’t mean that that is what you do, right?

Anne: Exactly.

Sherie: You might feel that way because you’re embarrassed, and the way to get out of it is to tell the truth. That’s the only way out, there’s no other way out, because if you hide, you’re just going to feel it worse.

Stop Unhealthy Patterns By Processing Feelings, Which Come From Your Thoughts

The thing I worry about  with that one, and this—I’ll just leave you with this, and you can think about it, is because addicts have, I’ll call them mutant feelings, like they feel like they hate their wife, for example, or they feel like they’re being insulted, when they’re not actually being insulted.

Having an addict focus on their feelings usually only makes their narcissism worse, whereas, having them think about their thought processes helps them to realize how abusive their thought processes are.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, is that, if you have an addict focus on his erroneous feelings, he’ll never be able to get out of his erroneous thought processes that cause his erroneous feelings. Do you know what I’m saying?

Sherie: Yeah, and that’s why, I think, we teach our children about feelings. Again, it’s the same issue as teaching them healthy sexuality. If you teach them, then they’re going to be able to process those feelings, and use them—

We recommend Covenant Eyes Internet Filtering & Accountability On Every Device

Anne: In healthy ways.

Sherie: —instead of getting stuck in these patterns.

Anne: I think this whole feeling thing’s really interesting. I’m still navigating it, but you accidentally triggered my soapbox. I need you to know that.

Sherie: That’s fine.

Anne: Very sorry. That’s funny. Well, especially as I talk with more and more professionals in this field, I’m forming all these opinions all the time. Then, my poor podcast listeners, they get to sort through it all as I just think out loud half the time. Anyway, you are awesome. Tell me about the other project’s you’re working on right now.

Discuss Masturbation With Your Child So It Will No Longer Be An Uncomfortable Subject To Avoid

Sherie: I’m working on a sequel to the book, My Body is a Gift from God. It’s, I guess, a sequel of sorts, because the second book is just for parents. It goes into a lot more detail of all the different aspects of healthy sexuality for older children, because this book covers all the aspects of healthy sexuality for children that are very young, like two to six or seven.

This other book will cover a lot of the other details, like when you start talking about how sex works, and masturbation, and all these different issues that come up, and things that you will want to talk to your children about.

It’s written just to parents, and has a lot of role-play like, “This is how I would say this,” so that parents can have that going in. They can read it ahead of time, and know how they want to approach situations with their children.

Anne: When you said masturbation, and other things parents will want to talk to their children about, parents don’t want to talk to their children about masturbation, right? They’re like, “Umm, do I have to do that? How would I even do that?”

That’s awesome, because we need to. Here’s another one of those feelings, like, “Uh, I don’t want to do that, but it’s the right thing to do,” unless we feel comfortable talking about something, it’s going to be really hard to help our kids feel comfortable about it. If we’re super awkward when we’re talking about it, right?

Sherie: Mm-hmm.

Bodies Were Meant To Be Sexual, To Make Babies And To Have Amazing Relationships With Spouses

Anne: The masturbation word was really hard for me to say for a long time. Now, it’s very easy, and sometimes I just yell it out in crowds, just to—

Sherie: Just to mix it up a little.

Anne: Yeah, just to be like, “You know, nobody says this word, so ‘Masturbation’.”

Sherie: Well, here’s the thing, when you do it in a healthy sexuality way, it’s not scary, because what are our bodies meant to do? This is a process, and again, you put it within that value system, so this is what this is for. Our bodies are meant to have children, and to have really amazing relationships with our spouse. This is something that your body is doing, and, like when you have wet dreams, it’s just your body preparing to be a good father. That’s all it is.

When you put it in that context—of periods, and wet dreams, and everything, but when you put it in that context, “This is why we don’t do that outside of that context. This is what it’s for, and this is what the world is going to tell you it’s for. It’s for feeling good, and it’s for doing whatever you want, and that your body’s your own, and you don’t have to—“ like all of those things. When you understand it in the context of the whole picture, then it becomes a whole lot easier to talk about it.

Boys Have A Penis, Girls Have A…

Anne: I agree. I do that with my kids. It has worked well, so far. They’re eight, five, and three, and my daughter says clitoris. She had a little stuffed seal—stuffed animal that had this little part on it, it was just like a little piece of—

Sherie: A seam hole?

Anne: Yeah, and she’s like, “Mom, this is the seal’s clitoris.” I was like, “The seal has a clitoris.” I just think it’s so cool to have kids who I feel comfortable talking about these things with.

Sherie: Yeah, and comfortable talking with you about it.

Anne: Yeah, we all feel comfortable. They know the word “masturbation”. They know the word “clitoris”. They know these words. I don’t always use them in the perfect sense. Like my daughter doesn’t know what a clitoris is for, for example, she just knows that’s where she pees out of, because I couldn’t figure out what the girl name for where you pee out of was, so I told her that it was that. Is there a different word for it?

Sherie: The whole outside of the sexual organ, for a female, is a vulvas, because most people are like, “Oh, the vagina.” I’m like, “Nope, you can’t see that.”

Anne: Because she was saying, “Boys pee out of their penis, and girls pee out of their penis, but girl’s penis is very tiny.” This is what she was telling me, and I said, “No, no, no. Girls don’t have a penis. Girls pee out of their—“ and then the word that came out was clitoris, because I didn’t know where girls peed out of, so that’s what I said. You think vulva would be better?

Sherie: You could say urethra, because that’s the actual tube. Your clitoris is actually underneath, and up inside a little bit more, so it’s not actually visible. You could say the urethra, or the labia, or the outside, or the vulva. My kids use vulva, because that just covers everything. Whereas—

Anne: You pee out of your vulva?

Sherie: I would say, probably, urethra. Your urethra is part of your vulva. Like we say you pee out of your penis, but it’s more than a penis. There’s testicles, and there’s the whole sexual organ, so yeah.

Making Mistakes Is Part Of Parenting

Anne: To my three year old, I’ll be like, “You know what, I made a mistake. I said the wrong word, you really pee out of your urethra.”

Sherie: Boys pee out of their urethra too. Their urethra’s in their penis, and your urethra’s in your vulva.

Anne: Okay. I’m glad we had this discussion to clear this up, because here’s my little three year old going around talking about her clitoris, which I thought was quite cute, but—

Sherie: Yeah, and tell her that, “I made a mistake,” I love that so much. Because how many times, as parents, are we like, “I have to do it all perfect the first time, and I can’t ever make any mistakes,” and then—

Anne: What a cool mistake to make, because, frankly, girl’s parts are really tough for me. I didn’t know what a cervix was until I was eight months pregnant. They’re all up in there, and we can’t see them. I’ve never really known that much about my own parts.

“I Made A Mistake” Are Beneficial Words To Say To Your Children

Sherie: Nobody does, because a lot of women don’t even ever touch it. Like they’re taught, “You got to wash yourself with a rag,” and whatever, so you never actually touch yourself, but then guys are constantly coming in contact with their sexual organs. They know exactly how it works, because it’s right there, and they’re getting feedback.

Yeah, that’s always such a huge issue for women. I know for me, when I became sexually active, it was a big deal, because I didn’t know how all of that worked, because I never saw it. I don’t know what happens inside me when I get sexually aroused. I had to go and learn that, and figure it out. For guys, they know exactly what happens when they get aroused. Everybody knows what happens when they get sexually—

Anne: Yeah. That’ll be a cool conversation I have with my three year old daughter, to be like, “You know what, I made a mistake. I didn’t know, dut-du-dut-du-du.” I think that’s cool.

Sherie: It’s so cool.

Anne: Because I never talk to anyone about my parts, maybe my friends, and they gave me the wrong information, and, here I am, a 40 year old woman, giving my 3 year old daughter the wrong information. That’s awesome, but at least it’s me, right?

Sherie: Yeah. You’re going to fix it. You know, it’s like it’s no big deal.

Gift Yourself With Betrayal Trauma Recovery Books From BTR, Or Join The Club

Anne: Sherie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Again, you can find Sherie at If you go to our page, you can find her book, My Body is a Gift from God. If you’re thinking about last-minute gifts for yourself, or for your she-ro friends, it’s, or you can scroll down to the very bottom to the footer menu, and find the books there.

Quite a few books there that are really good gifts, like My Body is a Gift from God, and Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, and several books for parents that are really good for their children. Also, great gifts for you and your she-ro friends. I tried to make sure that all of the books that I picked were Prime, so that you could get ‘em in two days, so it’s not too late to get some gifts for women in need.

Just one more reminder to join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, to get support that you need through Christmas and New Years, and we will be back on the air January 9th. If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Every single one of your ratings increases our visibility on search engines, and helps women all over the world find us. Scroll down and let us know whay you thought of this episode as well to help others find the information they’re looking for.  If we don’t see you in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, until January 9th, stay safe out there.

Self Care Challenge: My Bra Fitting With Courtney

*Click here for more information about how to donate your bra to I Support The Girls.

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I had the most amazing experience last week. I went to a bra fitting with Courtney, and she changed my life. I’ve actually been excited to wear a bra, which I haven’t felt in years!

Facing Self Care When It Can Be Triggery

We’re going to talk about self-care today.

Before we talk about it, I want to acknowledge that, during my trauma years, wearing a bra was very difficult for a lot of reasons. Because I was so overwhelmed with everything, for some reason, it expressed itself like I didn’t want to wear a bra, I refused to wear a bra. It stressed me out going shopping for bras.

I am now at the stage where I am working on self-care. I know that some of you are not at that stage yet, and I have been at that—I don’t know what stage to call it, where you’re in your sweat pants, watching Netflix, eating popcorn.

If you’re in that stage, stay there for as long as you need to, and don’t feel guilty about this episode, because I have been there myself. Since I am in this new stage of self-care, and moving forward, I wanted to connect with Courtney, and get a bra-fitting, and really start progressing my healing, and starting to take care of myself.

Anne: Welcome, Courtney.

Courtney: Thanks. Thank you for having me on.

Anne: Courtney runs Bra Fittings by Court, an amazing service that she does to help women who are stressed out, or need help with choosing bras. Courtney, tell me how you discovered that you have such an amazing talent for fitting women.

Courtney: When I was in college, I got a job at Nordstrom in the lingerie department. Little did I know that that job would, literally, change my life. I quickly found that fitting bras is more than selling bras, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Self Care Can Be Very Emotional

There’s a lot of emotion involved in it. It’s an intimate process, you’re seeing women in their most vulnerable state, with their shirt off. I found that I was really good at helping women feel comfortable.

I found that most women were never taught how bras should fit, and that 99% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. I found that I was educating these women on how to dress their bodies, and how to take care of their bosoms. I felt like I was giving back to the world. I felt like I was making a small difference in the world by helping women feel more confident, and beautiful. This is my way to make a small difference in the world.

Anne: I think you’re making a large difference. Like, for me, it made a huge difference. I had such a good time.

Courtney: We did have a good time.

Anne: Getting undressed in front of you, and having you put a bra on me was so healing in so many ways. You know have a bra shop in your home called Bosom Friends.

Courtney: Yes.

Making Sure You Have The Necessities – Like A Bra – Is Self Care

Anne: It’s a beautiful shop, just being in there made me happy. The colors! There’s this big sign on the wall that says, “You’re like, really pretty.” I thought, “Thank you, I really love this.” How does helping women with their bra problems relate to self-care?

Courtney: Most women are busy, they don’t have a lot of time, and so a lot of women hate going bra shopping. Which I completely understand because a lot of places, places like Walmart, Target, Kohls, those places don’t have a large range of sizes. That’s why it’s harder for women.

It’s really stressful, and if you’re already burdened emotionally, going through trauma, that’s the last thing you want to work out is having to do research, because you’re not guaranteed to get somebody to help you that knows what they’re doing.

I’ve recommended some other places to go get fitted, and they went, and they were like, “That was an awful experience.” The reason why is because I feel like a lot of these places, those high turnover, there’s just not the experience that you’d need in a fitter, that can really help people and understand how the different styles of bras are going to fit different women. Bra shopping is overwhelming because there’s so many different components to it.

Anne: I felt like I was being pampered by you.

Courtney: Well, thank you.

Anne: I’ve never felt like that when I went bra shopping. The size that you fitted me in is completely different than any other size I’ve ever thought about. I never would’ve imagined that was my size.

Courtney: Can we talk about your size?

Anne: There’s no way—

Courtney: Do you want to tell them what size you were in, and then what size you are now?

Anne: Yeah. I don’t know what size I was in. What size was I in?

Courtney: You were wearing a 36C.

Anne: Okay, let’s just talk about my bra issues my whole life. I’ve always considered myself very small-chested, which I liked. I’ve never felt like I wanted to be any bigger, or anything, but I don’t fill the cup right, and my straps always fall of, and just the thought of a bra stressed me out.

I have cursed the man who invented corsets way back in the day like, “Why? Why have you done this to us?” Anyway, the bra that Courtney fitted me with—and I don’t even want to say it, because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, but I feel like it’s the perfect size.

Like if you asked, “What is the most beautiful, perfect size?” You would be this. That’s the one I’m wearing. It was a 32DD. That is amazing. Who has that perfect size? Now I’m like, “Aah!” I wrote in my gratitude journal today, “I am grateful that I have the perfect boobs.”

Courtney: You do. I was telling Anne that, “I wish I was your size, like the perfect size really,” but that’s just me.

Don’t Worry, You Don’t Need The Perfect Bra Size To Deserve To Be Treated Well

Anne: I’m here to tell you that here’s a woman who was abused, and whose husband refused to tell her that she was beautiful, literally. I was like, “I want you to tell me I’m beautiful,” and he said, “No.”

Just awful things that were done to me, and I have the perfect boobs. Don’t think that if you had the perfect size whatever, or if you looked a certain way, that the abuse would stop, or that your husband would stop looking at porn. That is not true.

Courtney: It’s true.

Anne: Everyone should love where they’re at.

Courtney: Of course.

Anne: Also, to accept ourselves where we are, and to know that we’re enough. Having this experience, and going from being emotionally abused, and having trauma for seven years, to the point where I wasn’t wearing bras, where I wasn’t putting makeup on hardly ever, where I just slumped around with my shoulders really slumped forward, because I wasn’t wearing a bra.

Even when I went to the store, or even when I went out of the house, so I didn’t really want to be indecent, so I slumped forward, so I wasn’t scaring everyone with my braless boobs, to being like, “Oh, my word, I am wearing a bra and it is this perfect size for me,” and I am feeling so—I don’t know, empowered almost.

It’s so different for me after seven years—well, almost nine years. I don’t know, I always say my years wrong, depending on when I was in the relationship, and then after the relationship, slumping around feeling like I wanted to take up less space.

“You’re Too Much” Or “You’re Not Enough” Are Common Messages From Abusers

A lot of women, who are abused, they get messages like, “You’re not enough.” The messages I always got were, “You’re too much.” I always just wanted to try and make myself smaller, like I didn’t want to have as many—

Courtney: Or hide yourself. I feel like that’s why you were slumping over, to hide what you—to be invisible. You didn’t want to cause attention, or anything.

Anne: Yeah, totally. This place where I can hold my shoulders back, and hold my head up high, and know that I’m not indecent, because I actually have a bra on, so I’m not scaring anybody. It fit, was just so cool. I’m really excited to be at this point in my healing process.

Now, for our listeners, wherever you are in your healing process, please don’t let this podcast turn you off to the podcast, because I, myself, was in this place of, “I don’t really want to talk about the way I look. I don’t want to talk about the way I eat. I don’t want to talk about exercise. I don’t want to talk about anything right now. The only thing I can do right now is survive,” and so many women are in that stage.

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When you want to, and when you feel like coming out of that—and it may take years, it took me years—then a bra-fitting might be a really cool celebration activity for you to throw off the old, and bring in the new. Courtney, why is the bra the most important thing women wear?

Courtney: It does a really hard job. It holds up your bosoms all day long. That’s why they’re so important, because you’re more put-together, your clothes will look better, you can feel more confident, and comfortable doing the things you want to do.

I have a lot of women, who come into my shop, that want to be active. They want to exercise, they want to work on their fitness and their health, but they don’t feel comfortable doing so, because their breast size makes it so that they feel really uncomfortable exercising. They feel like their boobs are flapping in the air, or they’re in the way.

Getting a sports bra that fits them, that can make it so that they can feel comfortable exercising, is life-changing. It really can change women’s lives. That’s why my slogan, on my website, is “I am changing lives on bra-fitting at a time,” because it gives you both the courage, the freedom, and the confidence to do what they want to do in their life.

If You Try To Compete With Porn, You’ll Always Lose

Anne: I think our audience probably has, depending on the woman, depending on the situation, has a lot of issues with bras too, because their husbands are sex addicts, and pornography users, right. When you compare yourself to porn, you’re always going to lose. There’s no way to win.

Porn is women who are staged, who are likely on drugs, who are being exploited. Having these parts of our body be something that our husband wants to use is such a difficult thing. This bra-fitting for me was a way to take my body back, to give it back to myself, and to take care of myself, rather than this is part of my body that is for someone else, or for some other use.

I feel like this is part of me, and I can integrate it back into myself, and use it as part of my healing, rather than disown it, almost, as a thing that’s for someone else’s use. Which, I think it feels like a lot of times when you’re married to someone who’s an addict, who’s not in recovery, who’s using you as a drug, rather than seeing you as a person to be cherished and loved and cared for.

Donate Your Used Bras To Help Others

Another awesome thing that Courtney does is she’s the Northern Director of I Support the Girls, which is a non-profit, where she coordinates a statewide bra and feminine hygiene drive throughout the state of Utah, so all the donations are donated to local women’s shelters to help homeless women, and refugee women, and victims of domestic violence.

When I went to a domestic violence shelter, to get my victim advocate, I, thank goodness, didn’t need to stay at the domestic violence shelter, but, if I had, and if I had had to go there suddenly, without any clothes, then I would, perhaps, be a recipient of one of these donated bras. In 2016, her drive collected over 1,300 bras and 30,000 hygiene products. Those are things like sanitary napkins, tampons. The only requirement, Courtney, is?

Courtney: The only requirement is that they have to be individually sealed. Then, you can drop these off, and then at the end of this month, of December, all those items will be collected, and then we’ll donate them to nine different women’s shelters throughout the state of Utah.

If you don’t live in Utah, and you want to participate, there’s really good news. Because there’s over 50 chapters throughout the world, the majority of them are in the United States, if you don’t see a location by you, they’re looking for women who want to help volunteer, and start up a chapter.

It’s really easy, all you have to do is just contact your local women’s shelter, and start collecting bras and donate them, and you can start a chapter in your area. It’s really awesome. It’s blessed my life to be able to help these women, and help facilitate this. I feel really lucky to be a part of it.

Women Supporting Other Women On Their Journey To Healing

Anne: I’m really grateful that women are working together to improve women’s health, and women’s wellbeing across the world. Again, if you are not in Utah, and you want to donate, click here.

Courtney: One of the reasons I got into I Support the Girls non-profit is because, obviously, I love bras. I love helping women feel more confident and beautiful. The sad thing is that, being a part of this organization, I learned—and working with the different women’s shelters in Utah, is that bras and hygiene products are one of the least donated items when it comes to women’s shelters.

People need food, and they need blankets, and everything, but a lot of bras and hygiene products are not donated. The problem with these things, for normal women, they’re necessities, everybody needs hygiene products, and everybody needs bras.

A lot of these homeless women, or refugees, or victims of domestic violence, if they don’t have these items then their chances of recovery—it sounds crazy, but their chances for recovery and making a better life for themselves is harder, because they can’t hold down jobs, they don’t feel like they have their dignity. These items takes a huge weight off these women’s shoulders.

I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have to make a decision of whether I should spend my money feeding my family, or buying a hygiene product. By providing these items to women, it’s going to help them make their life better. If they can help make their life better than that can help their children, that can help generations to come get out of the depths of poverty or break the cycle of violence.

I strongly believe that no matter what a woman’s circumstance is, you know, if she’s homeless, a refugee, she’s fleeing abusive relationship, I feel like every single woman in this world has the right to have these items.

Anne: Totally agreed. I think another reason why bra shopping is so triggering for women, in at least my audience here listening, is the advertising, or seeing other women in their bras, or whatever. It’s been interesting to go to your Instagram, and see women in their bras.

Owning Your Self Care Can Be Scary – But It Can Also Be Empowering

That is part of what is super-triggery for many women in this situation. I just want to, first of all do a trigger warning with, also, a notice that I think the more healed we get, the more we can realize that this is for me, rather than worry about what our husband’s thinking, or doing, or how it’s affecting someone else.

Courtney: On my website, the message that I try to convey for my business, and on my Instagram (@brafittingsbycourt) is that our society thinks of bras as sexual. On my Instagram, I really try to show that they’re not just sexual. I really try to embrace that bras are more of a necessity, and that they’re not just, primarily, for other people’s gratification. I really try to convey that, showing how bras can really help us to feel more confident.

Anne: That’s what I really appreciated. Rather than having it be for someone else’s gratification.

Courtney: Thank you.

Self Care Is For YOU

Anne: If anyone is doing it right, Courtney is. I immediately came home and told my mom, “You have got to go do this.” Cool thing about it is knowing that I am enough, and that whatever size I am is enough, and that I don’t have to be anything else to be lovable, to be cherished, and that I can find a bra that fits me where I’m at.

I don’t have to be different in order to fit in the perfect bra, rather than the other way around. Like going bra shopping, and thinking, “Ugh, because I am damaged, and I am not perfect, I’m never going to be able to find the bra that fits, because bras only fit perfect women.”

Courtney: Many of my clients live outside of Utah, so if you need help, or if you want my help, I offer online bra consultations. You can do it from the comfort of your home, especially if you’re going through a traumatic experiences in your life, and you’re like, “I don’t have the time and energy to go and drive, and go somewhere.” This is a good way to get help.

I also have a bra-fitting guide. I’ve printed these beautiful pdf sheets that walk you through the steps on how to find your size, how to identify your breast shape, the bras I recommend for each breast shape, and then I have a trouble-shooting guide.

Then I actually have visuals of how bras should and shouldn’t fit. If you need help, and you want to do a more DIY approach, I would do the bra-fitting guide. There are some other options if you want help, but don’t live in Utah.

Anne: We’re taking our bodies back, women. As I progress my recovery, I’m just excited. I’m excited that I can do these things that are fun, and not be so triggered by them, where I was before. If you are still in that triggered stage, we love you, and just don’t do this right now.

Courtney: Yep, and I’ll be there.

When Your Trauma Gets In The Way Of Self Care

Anne: I’m no longer going to let my stance against pornography get in the way of my own self-care.

Courtney: I feel like a lot of women just get to the point and they’re like, “Enough. I’ve had enough of wearing bras that don’t fit. I’ve had enough of feeling this way. I want a change.” That’s when you know you’re ready, is when you’ve had enough.

Anne: Yeah, it is. Courtney, you’re awesome. Again, you can find information about where to donate your used bras, whether you live in Utah, or elsewhere, on Find this post, and you’ll find all of the links that you need.

Courtney: I’m also on Facebook too. I have a private Facebook page that’s just for women, so if you feel safer joining me there, my Facebook group is Bosom Friends by Bra Fittings by Court. You can go there, and you can post questions about bras, and, like I said, it’s a safe environment where all women can come together, and share their love for bras, or hate of bras that don’t fit.

Anne: I love that. A Merry Christmas Season to all of you. Thanks, Court, for being on the podcast today. If you want to join our support groups, please go to Right now, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club has six sessions per week, one every weekday with two on Tuesdays. It’s the best support for these crazy holiday times where you don’t know when an abuse episode’s going to happen, or you don’t know when, maybe another disclosure will happen.

The holidays are very difficult for a lot of women in trauma. Make sure that you have the support that you need during this holiday season by going to, and click on Schedule and Join to join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club. As always, if this podcast is helpful to you, please comment below. Each of your comments helps women who are isolated find us, and helps women understand that they’re not alone.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

How To Know The Truth – An Interview With Laurie Hall

Laurie Hall is the author of An Affair of the Mind , which was the first book on sex addiction written from a partner’s perspective. It broke ground in a world that saw the partner as a codependent, just as sick in her own way as the addict, which we know is not true. Laurie knew at the time, it wasn’t true and she refused to accept that view.  She advocated strongly for partners, saying that they had been betrayed and traumatized and that they were victims, which, of course, we know that we are.

Laurie has used her book and experience to become a voice for partners. She’s been a guest on over 200 radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family, Moody, and The 700 Club. She’s also done television and radio, including being interviewed by Laura Ingraham, Extra, Leeza Gibbons, Diane Rehm, and many others.

In addition, she’s spoken to many colleagues and a wide variety of churches across the country and Canada. She was the first woman to speak at a Promise Keepers event, because porn was the number one reason that men went forward for prayer at Promise Keepers events.

Laurie is APSATS trained, a member of the International Coaches Federation, and a licensed spiritual coach. She facilitates partner groups and does individual coaching as well. She’s currently revising and updating An Affair of the Mind for re-release early next year.

Discovering a Husband’s Addiction Through Spiritual Crisis

Anne: I am honored to have you on the show today. Welcome, Laurie.

Laurie: Oh, I’m honored to be with you. This is a really exciting thing that you’re doing here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. It’s awesome!

Anne: We met in person a few weeks ago, and that was an honor. We’ve been having this discussion around a crisis of faith that many partners experience, when they find out about their husband’s sexual addiction, and the abusive behaviors surrounding that. We are going to explore this further. Laurie, in your book, you write about how prayer helped you discover your husband’s addiction. Can you tell us about that?

Laurie: Yes. This is a great place to start the discussion of how this whole issue can lead to a spiritual crisis because I knew there were problems in my marriage but I didn’t know what it was that I was dealing with. My ex-husband grew up on the mission field. He had a White House security clearance when I met him. Everyone who knew him said, “Oh, he’s a super nice, squeaky clean guy.”

Something Wasn’t Right In My Marriage

I really thought that I was marrying a Boy Scout, but there was just this sense that something wasn’t right. I kept trying to figure out what it was. I went to my church for help, because, as a young Christian woman, I wanted to know how to do marriage God’s way. I was told that I just needed to submit more, that I needed to support him more, that I needed to pray for him more.

Every remedy that they gave me put me further, and further under. At one point, I thought, “Well, they said you’re too strong. If you were not as strong, he would be stronger.” I just kept thinking, “Well, wait a minute, I’ve read all the books. I’ve become a fascinating woman. I’ve become a total woman. I’ve become the ‘He’s from Home Depot, she’s from Walmart’ woman.”

Nothing was working. It was still just the sense that something was wrong. I decided that I was going to put all the outside advice outside, and spend time back in scripture, which I already was a student of the Bible, but I was reading the Bible based on what other people told me it meant.

I began to really go into the Word. I really started to pray, “You know, Lord, if in anything I’m otherwise minded in Christ Jesus, show me what it is, and show me what’s going on in my marriage, because I know there’s something, and I don’t know what it is. I know you know what it is, because you are the God of all truth, so show me what the truth is.”

God Can Lead You To The Truth

I prayed this for years, actually, and part of what had to happen for me was I had to come to a different understanding of who God is, before I could even grasp the truth of what was going on in my relationship. I began to see God in a bigger, more empowering, more loving way as I studied the Word. Then I decided I would start fasting.

The first time I fasted, I got this impression in my head that was almost like a voice saying to me, “There’s three problems in your marriage. The first one is your husband’s taken $350.00 that doesn’t belong to him. The second one is he’s committing adultery, and the third is he has a lot of pride.” At that point, I was like, “Okay, this is what comes of trying to fast and pray. You’ve now gone completely nuts because you’re hearing a voice.”

I was like, “Why did you do this to yourself, because, obviously, none of that can be true. I married a Boy Scout.” Sure enough, shortly after that, I found out about the $350.00, he confessed that he had a lot of pride, and that left this little nasty thing in the middle, which was the adultery.

I said, “I think you’re committing adultery.” He said, “Oh no, I would never do that. You’re a horrible person for believing that. Why would you even accuse me of that? You’re probably the one doing it.” I continued to pray, and seek the Lord.

Dreams Can Inform And Warn You Of Infidelity

Eventually, I started having dreams. I started having dreams where I would see exactly what was going on. Then, I decided that what I was going to do was accept that this was the truth, whether I had any evidence of it, or not, because my husband hid everything. Even his best friend, who worked with him, didn’t know what he was doing.

I began to journal, using the 12 steps. I said, “I admit that my life is out of control, because my husband is cheating on me, and I don’t know what to do about it, but I’m turning it all over to God.” One day as I was praying and just sobbing, the phone rang. It was a woman I barely knew. She said, “God has heard your prayers, and seen your tears, and he’s going to heal you.”

Within an hour, there was a phone call from a credit card company that I did not know my husband had a credit card with, and there was a past due payment. That’s how the truth came out.

Anne: Wow! I am so impressed, because I was having dreams, nightmares, and I just thought I was crazy, and I had this super intense sense of dread that I told my husband about. I was like, “I have the worst sense of dread. I really think something bad is going to happen.”

Then, in the same breath, without listening to him, or without waiting for his response, I said, “Ugh, I just must be crazy, right.” I just dismissed it, so I am so impressed that you were able to accept your dreams and feelings as the truth. That is gutsy!

Trust Your Intuition Before You Trust That You’re Crazy

Laurie: Well, let me back up, and tell you how not gutsy I was, and what actually forced me to that position. Because, just like you, I thought I was going nuts. One day, I actually climbed into bed, put the covers over my head, and started running my finger up and down my mouth like, “Bluh-bluh-bluh.”

I said, “I am going crazy, because part of me is saying there’s something wrong and this is what it is. The other part of me doesn’t know how that could possibly be true. Therefore, I’m choosing to ignore what I’ve asked God to show me. I’m going to have to take a giant leap of faith, and say, ‘This is the truth.  And if I’m wrong, hey, I’ll own it, but from here on out, I’m not second-guessing myself anymore.’” I get it, girlfriend. I was there. It was that fear that I was going to go crazy that made me say, “Yes, I’m accepting the truth.”

Anne: That is amazing. If every woman did that, this world would be so different. Not that we can blame ourselves, because obviously, we’re doing the best we can in the situation. I just think, if every woman would say, “You know what, I’m going to trust myself, and I’m going to trust God,” that would be a huge breakthrough for humanity. If every woman listening can be like, “You know what, I’m going to be willing to learn what the truth is from God, straight from God, and then trust it,” holy cow. That’s big.

Accepting Your Worst Nightmare As Truth

Laurie: Anne, I completely agree with you on that. Part of the reason why women have a difficult time accepting truth—aside from the fact that, can we say it? How awful is it that your worst nightmare is actually true? Okay, this is not the thing that you can wake up to, and accept. It’s an awful, awful thing. The ground drops underneath your feet. On the one hand, you’re really happy to know you weren’t nuts. On the other hand, you’re like, “I really wish I would’ve been nuts, because this new reality is something I don’t want to deal with.”

We are not trained how to live in the Spirit. This was a really big Ah-ha for me, because, when I came to realize I have a body that has senses in it. It has the sense of touch, sight, taste, hearing, smell. Through those senses, I experience the physical world. I have a soul, which allows me to know my internal world. Those senses are my mind, my will, and my emotions.

I also have a spirit. It is through my spirit that I know God, and that I experience others in a transcendent way, where deep connects to deep. This has nothing to do with what I can see with my eyes. It is an inner-knowing that we have, and our spirit’s senses are conscience, intuition, and communion. We’re designed to operate from the spirit into the soul, and out into the body. When we intuit something, it is really God speaking to us, the absolute truth.

The idea, if we’re operating in a healthy way, is then we take that information into our mind and provide instructions for our mind based on what our conscience tells us; this is a good situation or this is not a good situation. Then, the will tells the body what to do in response, and as the body follows these instructions, our emotions are at peace because we’re in integrity.

Integrity Is Key To Discovering The Truth And Finding Peace Amidst The Storm

We can know that we’re not in integrity, and I don’t mean this in the sense of we’re intentionally doing something we know is wrong, but where we are second-guessing our spirit.  Because when our mind doesn’t have the facts, we argue, the spirit and the mind argue with each other. You know what I mean? It’s like, “No, that can’t be true, I have no evidence.”

Yes, it is true, because God sees it as it really is, but our mind doesn’t see it. I only saw porn in our home one time, and we were married for 33 years. It was one time. I had no physical evidence. As you know, with this particular addiction, there’s no needle marks, there’s no tell-tale breath. It’s very easy to hide.

What I tell women is, when your emotions are a mess, it is a sign that you’re spirit is arguing with your soul because your soul doesn’t have any facts to back up what your spirit is sensing, so you’re second-guessing yourself. If you will say, “I’m going to accept what I’m sensing as true until proven otherwise,” and then start lining your actions up with that, you will find peace amidst the storm.

Anne: Wow. This is cool. I love you. I’m so glad you’re here!

Laurie: I love you. It only took me 20 years to figure that out.

Anne: When did you write your book? What year was it?

Laurie: It came out in 1996.

Anne: 1996, man, and how old are you?

Laurie: 66. I’m not a teenager anymore, girlfriend.

You’re My Shero!

Anne: I know so many women who are your age, or older, who went through this. They, of no fault of their own, didn’t know what was going on, didn’t understand it, were abused for years. I am just in awe that you’re part of this generation of women who were caught in all the cultural issues, all of the misogynistic-type things that, at the time were very common, that you couldn’t even see, and you have this head on your shoulders to see this thing straight.

You’re like a hero. You’re my shero, good job. Way to go! I think a lot of other women saw it, but they didn’t write a book. A lot of women figured out what was going on, but then it was super scary to speak out about it back then. It still is now. Sometimes even now, people think I’m crazy. Once you knew about your husband’s addiction, did you go to your church for help? If you did, what happened?

Coping With Pornography Addiction As A Woman Of Faith

Laurie: Yes, I did. I was a woman of faith. I wanted to handle this God’s way. I can remember saying, “What are the rules? What are the rules? What are the rules?” I went to my church, I entered a buzz saw when I did that. I was told things like, I needed to pray for him.

I was the more spiritually mature, and therefore it was my responsibility to pray for my husband, and that if I would just pray for him and trust God, that he would become a man who would stand at the gates. They quoted Proverbs for me, that it was my job to create that in him.

I was told that I needed to be more sexually available. I was told that I had to be more submissive, that no matter what he said or did, I needed to trust God in the middle of all of that. I can remember sitting there in my church leader’s office, and I just wanted him to say, “Adultery is wrong.”

Addicts Often Get Away With Lies, Theft, and Damaging Family Relationships

That’s all I wanted him to say. He didn’t have to give any magic solutions. I just wanted him to say to me, “What has happened to you is wrong.” Instead, he was telling me that it was obvious why my husband was doing this, because I was such a strong woman, and was totally lined up with my husband.

I can remember going to a Christian counselor, and my husband had taken some money from one of our children. As part of his making amends, he was supposed to apologize and return the money. Just before we went to see the therapist the next time, this child came to me and said, “You know, Dad still hasn’t dealt with this issue.”

This child was sobbing. It’s breaking my mother’s heart to see my child suffer like that. We went to see the therapist and my ex-husband went in first. When I got in, the therapist was thrilled because my husband had cooked up this story about how he had gone to the child and apologized, given the money back, and everything was great. I sat there with my mouth open, and I said, “Um, no, that’s not what happened.” He’s like, “What?” I said, “No, none of that happened.” This is where the church is so naïve, and, believe me, I’m not trying to slam Christianity—and this therapist said, “Well, he wouldn’t lie to me.”

Pornography Users Spin The Truth To Avoid Being Accountable – In The Process You Get Blamed

What he was really saying is, “The reason why he lies to you is because you’re too hard on him, you’re not on his team, and if you would just be on his team, he wouldn’t need to lie to you. I’m on his team, and he knows I’m on his team, so he wouldn’t lie to me.”

Anne: Right, like you’re the problem, you caused his lying, right?

Laurie: Exactly, that’s it. I have worked with hundreds of women, and I’ve received so many letters, and so many of them tell similar stories. I’ve had women who were suicidal, because their church disciplined them, because they dared to go and try to get help.

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I’ve heard from women who were excommunicated and shamed. They’re made to be accountable to another woman in the church for whether they’re properly submitting, praying for their husband, and giving their husband sex. Because of course, that’s the woman’s responsibility; don’t withhold yourself.

I want to believe these people are well-intentioned, although, at some point, I began to doubt, especially when I saw the size of the problem in the leadership at the church, because many, many, many church leaders have this issue. They’re so naïve about how real life operates that they have this fantasy that if we just do A, B, and C, then everything is going to be okay, and that marriage is all about roles, instead of relationships. They teach marriage as roles, and therefore the husband is the head of the home, the wife is to submit to him, the children are to obey the parents. What it does is it creates dysfunction, because you don’t learn how to be in a real relationship.

Healthy Marriages Use Healthy Emotional Skills – Not Just A List Of Roles About What Men & Women Are “Supposed” To Do

When marriage is all about power and who has the most power, there’s no training in communication skills, listening skills, negotiation skills, conflict resolution skills, how to be truly intimate with each other, how to really recognize and celebrate each other’s strengths, and how to support each other in weakness. Because if somebody’s weak, especially if they’re at the top, everybody’s going to be scared, because they’re going to be vulnerable, instead of, “This is a team effort…let’s pool our resources here.”

Anne: I always felt like I was on the same team with my husband, my ex now, but that he was always in competition with me. I couldn’t understand that. I thought, “Well, we’re on the same team. I’m trying to solve a problem, let’s solve it together.” He didn’t like the resolution of the problem, if it wasn’t his idea, or he didn’t do it, or if he didn’t get credit for it.

Laurie: Yeah.

Sex Addicts Can Exhibit Narcissistic Traits

Anne: Then, I found him taking credit for the things I had done, instead of saying, “Oh, my wife did this. She’s amazing.” He took credit for it himself. I started to be really bothered, “We’re not on a team. He sees me as some kind of minion,” like to set him up higher and higher, or the better I look the better he looks, not the better we look. Does that make sense?

Laurie: It totally does. You can see how that worldview feeds into the narcissism of the addict. His whole goal is to be admired, right?

Anne: Right, and the more you love them, and forgive them, and submit, and serve, and all of those things, the more their abusive behaviors are getting them what they want. Lundy Bancroft talks over and over again about how the reason why men use these abusive behaviors, manipulation, lying, etcetera, is because they get stuff out of it. If they didn’t get anything out of it, then they wouldn’t do it, number one. Number two, unless they stop getting something out of it, they’re not going to stop.

Laurie: That’s right.

Anne: Yeah, it’s working for them. The whole love, forgiveness, service-type stuff—which are all wonderful values, but when misused as a way to get someone to love you, or to stop abuse, or to stop adultery, it does not work. The abuser just continues to get all of the things that they want and need, and they have none of the accountability. In fact, the women are held accountable, like what you said.

Laurie: Yes, and that’s the sad thing. These women are going into a church with all male leadership. This is really hard to talk about, Anne, because my relationship with God is very important to me, and I don’t want to needlessly put the church in a bad light. I’m just saying, talking to hundreds of women—and there are some church leaders who do a fabulous job, fabulous job of supporting wives, but there are some institutional things that happen in the church that make it harder for the wife to get the support she needs and for the addict to get the help he deserves, and the freedom.

Lying, Porn Use, Infidelity And Manipulation Are Forms Of Abuse

Then, you couple that with the fact that a recent Barna Group survey showed that 57% of church leaders, and 64% of youth church leaders struggle with porn, or have struggled with porn, she could actually be talking to somebody who has the very same problem her husband has, and not know it. It becomes like clubbing baby seals. These women are so vulnerable. It just breaks my heart, what happens to them.

Anne: They get further abused by their church leadership. Yeah, it is painful, and it’s wrong.

Laurie: Yes.

Anne: It is wrong. I am so excited about the time we’re in right now, though, with the rash of sexual harassment allegations and men being held accountable for their actions.

Women Are Starting To Be Believed – You Can Believe Yourself

Laurie: Oh, yeah, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

Anne: All these women who are all of a sudden feeling like, “I can speak up,” and women who are being taken seriously and women who, before, people maybe said they were crazy, now it’s coming out. No, all the things this “crazy woman” said were true. It’s an exciting time!

Laurie: That’s right.

Anne: It’s really exciting because women are becoming more, and more healthy, and that will enable and help the men to become more healthy too. Because I envision a time where men are accountable for their behaviors, where they are responsible and fantastic husbands and fathers. That is what everyone wants, right? It’s not like we want the demise of the male sex, we just want them to step up to the plate, and become men.

Laurie: And we want to be women. I love the idea of being loved. I love the idea of being in a close relationship with a strong man. That just makes me feel all kinds of feminine. When I’m with a man who has really good character, who knows how to treat me, who I can sense is genuine. Now genuine, not perfect, because if he’s trying to look like he’s perfect there’s probably a problem.

Anne: I know. It’s like, “Oh, scary, scary.”

Laurie: Yeah, so this is how we grow together. This is the beauty that God wants for us. You’re right, we are living in a very exciting time, because the cover is being pulled off of this stuff. More and more’s going to come out. I really believe that. This is the time where God is going to pull the cover back, and give us opportunities to become who He truly created us to be, which is loving beings.

That is what the whole purpose of being here is, it’s about loving one another. Those who love are living in God. That’s one of the teachings of scripture. If we’re not really loving each other, we’re really not even experiencing God in any real way.

Anne: If we don’t have integrity, we’re not experiencing God in any real way either, the true living our truth, living in the truth, right?

Integrity Means That We Live A Life Consistent With Our Values

Laurie: Absolutely. You bring up such a fabulous point, because, recently, I’ve been going to a lot of church conferences, and I’m listening to church leaders say that the way we deal with this issue is we just draw closer to Jesus. We substitute the pleasure of porn for the pleasure of being with Jesus.

I want to say, “Okay. Hello, hello, we’re talking about the way. We’re talking about the truth. We’re talking about the light.” First of all, drawing closer to the Lord is about actually living in truth, as you just so brilliantly said, Anne. It’s about living in what is true. It’s about as we know, and rely on the love God has for us, and know that we live in love, then we’re made complete, so that we can love others.

Being Close To God Means That We Know How To Have Healthy Relationships With Other People

That it’s really about the “one another”, about being close to others. That’s how we truly express our spirituality. Jesus even said that. He said, when you feed the hungry, or the thirsty, or clothe the naked, or visit someone in prison, you’re doing that as if you were doing it to me.

This thing about a relationship with God that is some kind of—I want to have this come out right—and I’m just starting to see this in a bigger way. It’s almost like they’re teaching to replace the fantasy of porn with the fantasy of an imaginary relationship that happens in your mind.

Instead of how we treat each other, how we see God all around us, right here, right now, and rejoice in that, and love one another, and respect one another, instead of this checking out, where I’m having a magical relationship in my head with someone, as a substitute for actually having a real relationship with a real human being. I hope that doesn’t come across as being heretical, but I really think it’s part of the key girlfriend, because we’re still teaching men to dissociate.

Anne: Yeah.

Learning How To Be In Real Intimate Relationships I Learning To Be Whole

Laurie: To dissociate, because it all happens in their mind. Instead of this place of vulnerability, where we’re naked before each other, and loving each other, and feeling what it is to be truly loved.

Anne: That’s awesome, you’re very emphatic.

Laurie: I am. I feel it so strongly, because—I’m sitting here pounding.

Anne: I love it.

Laurie: Because, you know, here’s why, because I see the hunger and the thirst in these men, to want to be whole. They want to be whole. They’re looking for a way to make it happen. It’s really about learning how to be in real intimate relationships, that’s where the wholeness is.

Anne: Well, if you just respected him more, and if you just loved him more, and if you just did more laundry, right?

Laurie: If I had more sex, don’t forget that part.

Anne: Yeah. Oh, the sex. There’s a leader in our church that said—I’m going to mess this up, but he said, “True religion, undefiled before God, is helping the poor and the widows and the orphans.”

Porn Use Causes Men To Emotionally Abandon Their Families – Which Leaves Grieving Widows & Orphans

Anne: These men, through their actions, which are un-Godlike, are creating widows and orphans. They are leaving their wives, or their wives have to say, “You can’t be around us anymore,” because they’re so unhealthy. The opposite of that would be really taking care of a woman so she does not become a porn widow, making sure that you are a good husband and father so that you do not leave your children fatherless.

It’s based on action, not your ideal version of what you are like, based on all the scriptures you can quote, or all the prayers that you can say in church to make you look beautiful. It’s actually what your real relationship is like with your wife, and with your children. Women, who are truly loved and cherished, love and cherish their husbands.

Laurie: Yes, they do.

Anne: They love and cherish their husbands, even when they’re being abused by their husbands.

Laurie: Yes, they do.

Anne: They just want their family to work.

Laurie: In fairness, I’ve met some women who are real horror shows. It’s really about this whole thing of, faith without works is dead. We can talk a good talk, but how do we walk the walk. The church needs a theology of trauma that understands that the pursuit of justice is a godly pursuit, and one that allows us to reestablish trust where it’s been broken.

Because a theology of trauma understands that there’s a difference between forgiveness and restoration and between grace and calling a thing a thing, so that grace can much more abound. No, it says in Isaiah 1:17, to learn to do right, to seek justice, to defend the oppressed, to take up the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow.

Abuser Accountability Is The Key To A Widow’s Healing

Anne, you’re so right, we are porn widows, and the church is called to be salt and light in matters of justice. If the church would just do this, if they would just stand for living in truth, and support what is true, then I really, truly believe that we would be able to restore families because there would be a path forward.

Anne: Yeah, there is no path forward without accountability.

Laurie: No.

Anne: None. Well, I so appreciate you coming on today. Thank you so much for being here, Laurie.

Laurie: Oh, thank you, Anne, it’s been a real pleasure to talk with you.

Anne: You can find Laurie at . We’ll announce when her new book comes out. Like I said before, Laurie is APSATS-trained, and we appreciate that perspective that only APSATS coaches, and therapists can bring. Currently, the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club is running through the holidays.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club gives you access to six APSATS-facilitated group sessions per week, one every weekday, and two on Tuesdays, one Tuesday during the day, and one Tuesday evening. By all means, you don’t need to go to every single session.  It’s available when you need it. Many times, you’re one of a few women that are in that session.

We’ve had a few sessions where only one woman went, and she got personal attention for an hour. It makes it so that you can get in any time that you’re in trauma. That gives you up to 30 APSATS-facilitated group sessions per month, which means that you get an APSATS-facilitated session for less than $3.00 an hour, which we do because we love you, we care, and we’ve been there, and we understand what you’re going through. Register for Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club today.

If you are interested in scheduling a one-on-one support call with  an APSATS Coach, click here.

I’d like to thank all of you who helped get us closer to our $5,000.00 Giving Tuesday goal for the year, to cover our expenses. If you have not donated yet, please do! Consider making a monthly, recurring donation to BTR.

$5.00 or $10.00 a month will help us to reach more women, to make sure that all our technology is up-to-date, to make sure that we continue to bring these amazing podcasts to you, that help bring you peace, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.

Until next time, stay safe out there.