How To Rebuild Confidence In Your Marketable Skills

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I have Brittany Larson with me today. She’s an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She leads the public relations department at the Summit Group. Brittany recently launched Livlyhood, a community for women who work. She’s going to cover some topics today for women who are thinking about getting back into the workplace.

Anne: Brittany, let’s start off with your advice for women who are getting back into the workforce, either after a hiatus because they’ve been raising their children, or they’ve been too traumatized to work, or women who have, perhaps, never been in the workplace in the first place.

Brittany: Just in general, I think it’s a really exciting time to be a woman. Flexibility has never been more on the table, or more expected. It’s a really exciting time to get back into work if you’ve been raising your kids, or maybe you want to try something new and different. There are so many barriers that we don’t face that even our mother’s generation faced.

How Joining The Workforce Can Help Self-Confidence

My number one piece of advice for women who, say they’ve been raising their kids, and they’ve decided to go back to work, or maybe they need to supplement their income, or they want to completely change their direction is to balance patience with determination.

We often talk about the stereotype of women being told no, or they are too afraid, or shy or concerned about figuring out what they’re worth. You have to find that balance between being patient, but also being determined. If you’re coming back into the workforce after years of not building up your résumé in that way, you’re going to have to be patient. If you are determined, you’re going to be rewarded.

The way I think of it is like a scale. One side of it is your employer, and the other is you. When you first start out, either at a new career, or you’re getting back into things, or you’ve just graduated from college, the scale is tipped drastically in your employer’s favor. You maybe have a coin or two, because you have a degree or a trade skill, or something like that.

How To Handle Negative Emotions About Self-Esteem

As you gain experience, those scales can slowly start to shift. It will take time. You really can make your own way now, and that’s something that I find really encouraging, as a woman.

Anne: Many women that listen to this podcast are not wanting to work. They are forced to work because of their situation. There are some really negative emotions around that, because they have been, for example, abandoned or they’ve had to file divorce because of their husband’s abusive behaviors. There’s a lot of extra baggage that comes along with being forced to look for a job when you don’t want to. Really, you want to take care of your kids, or because you’ve been enjoying a job that has a really low pay, and you’re like, “Oh, this job’s not going to work anymore, because now I have to support my family.”

There’s another scenario here, which is many addicts are not very good with jobs. They get fired sometimes, because they’ve been looking at pornography at work or because their social skills are very poor. There may be women listening to this who have always been the primary breadwinner and their husband has had difficulty with jobs, or women who have always been in poverty because their husband’s jobs have always been terrible, or they’ve been switching jobs a lot. I just wanted to put that out there about the serious negative emotions that can surround work when a woman is in trauma.

How Your Passion Can Build Your Confidence

Brittany: I got married later than maybe I had originally anticipated and really had to figure out how to provide for myself and support myself through college. I think that a lot of it is about lowering your expectations, which sounds so negative, but when you’re going into it and you’re not doing it because you’re passionate about it or you love it. Which I will tell you, I don’t really think that’s a thing.

I’ve always resented that part of my millennial upbringing that work is to be enjoyed and it’s supposed to fulfill you. I really, truly think that work should be a piece of your life. Whatever trauma that you’re recovering from or, like you said, if you’re being forced to work, and you’re having to do something that you don’t want to do, I would try as much as possible to focus on what it’s enabling you to do.

Your eight hours on your shift may not be the best thing that’s fulfilling you, but if it’s enabling you to provide for your family, if it’s helping you to heal, if it’s giving you an identity outside of your home, or maybe your specific situation that you’re going through, if you can focus on those things, that’s what I’d suggest.

Increase Self-Esteem Through Skill Development

Anne: As women are looking to come back into the workforce, or thinking about it or considering it, let’s talk about how they can develop skills in nontraditional ways.

Brittany: There’s so many ways to gain knowledge that you couldn’t get access to even just a few years ago. I would suggest if there’s something that you’ve been interested in, start educating yourself about it, whether it’s learning a new language or developing a craft skill or going on YouTube and learning about design.

There really is no limit to what you can figure out and train yourself to do. There are so many options for women to develop skills that don’t cost a lot of money whether it be classes at your library or finding a woman who’s willing to mentor you. You don’t have to be limited to having a four-year degree. Actually, trade skills are increasingly going to become more important. Maybe you’re going to school for six months instead of getting into debt and going to school for four years.

I think that there’s a lot of different ways to attain that knowledge that used to be very limited. Figure out what it is that you want to learn then find someone who’s doing what you want to do. Find someone that can help you do that.

Being Marketable Is A Self-Esteem Builder

Anne: I frequently have women who message me who would like to volunteer for us. The cool thing is they’ve been developing amazing marketable skills. For example, one of the women who volunteered for us is now able to be the social media director of another non-profit because of the skills she learned through volunteering for us. Right now, I’m actually looking for a volunteer to find grants. Grant writing is a wonderful skill to learn and it’s actually marketable. Through the mentoring that we do here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’ve been able to train many women to have marketable jobs, which has been really exciting for me to see them grow and learn.

Also, good for them, because when women are in trauma, at least at the beginning, a lot of times they want to work on something like this, because their whole world is revolving around their healing at the time. Then, when they’re healed it’s more and they feel like, “Oh, you know what, I could take two grant writing classes at the university, or I could take this certification and be a professional grant writer.” Then they can apply for jobs elsewhere.

If you’re interested in social media or grants, or anything involving non-profits, reach out to a non-profit that you appreciate. Volunteer for them. Gain some skills through that. Be mentored that way. That’s another way to gain skills in a nontraditional way, but also to gain, I would say, nontraditional skills.

Being A Valuable Part Of The Workforce Can Bring Self-Worth

So many people are looking for people to run their social media nowadays, or their blog, or website editing, or other things that many companies need. A lot of women, once they get those skills and they’re really good at it, they can put an ad up on KSL, “I can run your social media.” If you’re not in Utah, KSL’s the most popular classifieds. What suggestions do you have to gain confidence in the workplace? I think confidence is so important as women are looking to join the workforce again.

Brittany: This is something that I struggle with. I can usually fake it ‘til I make it. I would say that’s the same with this. If you become the cheerleader of the people around you, it only does good things for you. It will open up doors and, if anyone has something to say about me, I build confidence up in other people on my team of 12.

I really try hard to be an example of building them up publicly. I have a little bell in my office, so when they do something awesome—and they all think it’s really cheesy and annoying, but I ring my bell, because I just want them all to hear about this awesome thing that their team member’s doing. I compliment them in really specific ways. I try not to be superficial about it, “You really did a good job of presenting to this client,” or, “I can tell you’ve really improved in this specific way.”

Your Self-Confidence Is Contagious

Another thing that I’ll say is to assume that you’re going to fail, especially if you’re coming into a new position, or you’re working, and you don’t want to be. You always have something to learn. Having that attitude will actually give you more confidence. It may seem counterintuitive but owning that you always have something to learn will only help other people around you feel more confident in what you’re doing, because nothing makes me more nervous than someone who’s overly confident who shouldn’t be.

I think, when you’re humble about it and own that you’re not perfect, you help other people lift you up, and then you can do that in return. Then, the last thing I’ll say is to always ask. I love what Sheryl Sandberg says in “Lean In,” and that is that women just need to raise our hands more.

I could say, again, if you’re coming back into the workforce and that’s not an environment that you’re used to, ask questions. There really are no stupid questions. Be prepared for rejection, be prepared that people might think that it’s a weird or a different question, but you can bounce back from that and gain confidence along the way.

Volunteer Work Can Build Self-Confidence

My favorite saying from a blogger, I’ll give her a shout out, her name’s Emily Ley, and her trademark saying is, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” That runs through my mind all day long.

Anne:  With Betrayal Trauma Recovery, everyone who works for or volunteers for Betrayal Trauma Recovery—so all of our coaches have experienced it themselves, they’re well into their healing process. Me, I’m still recovering from an abusive relationship that was really, really intense and super traumatizing, all of our volunteers are.

I was talking to our board chair, and I told him it’s kind of rough, sometimes, one of the volunteers has a really bad day. She had to file for divorce that day, for example, or she got a legal notice. We all have to be very flexible to work around the trauma episodes that might happen or the very difficult things knowing that many of us are single moms. I said, so that’s probably our main weakness. He said, “No, that is your biggest strength.”

How Your Skills Can Help Others With Self-Esteem

You understand what it’s like to be an abuse survivor. Everyone in your organization does. Even if you say the wrong thing, or even if you make a mistake—one of our coaches is amazing, she is so on the ball, and so responsible. One morning, she accidentally set her alarm for 4 p.m., rather than 4 a.m., to get on one of our groups. She missed the group, and she felt terrible. The night before, she’d been through some awful things. We are all working together to provide both the people that work for us and volunteer for us, and also our clients so much grace. Our non-profit culture is amazing that way.

Brittany: I don’t think I have a single friend that has a traditional career. I have some friends who are teachers, but then, in the summer, they do crazy cool stuff, or they’re doing research on the side. I have a bunch of friends who work in public relations, because that’s what I do. A bunch of them do freelance on the side. There’s just a lot of different ways that you can either supplement your traditional 9 to 5 job.

Being Flexible and Resourceful Is Essential To Self-Sufficency

Cool examples that I like to share, I have a friend who makes really good money selling designs on Amazon. She is a stay-at-home mother. She’s got three kids under four, and, basically, put her husband through grad school by selling on Amazon. She completely figured out how to use Adobe Illustrator through YouTube videos. I think that’s one of the coolest examples that I’ve heard. She was so determined to do it during naptime, and whenever her kids went to sleep.

I have another friend whose husband was diagnosed with cancer about three months after they got married. They’ve been married for years now, and he’s still going through treatments. It’s really hard for her to have a traditional job. I just think this is really neat. She’s got a coloring book Instagram. Coloring book companies pay her to film adult coloring books. She’ll do the mindfulness ones, she just did some for Star Wars a few days ago. She’s actually supplementing their income by making these really fun and creative videos.

How Life Experience Can Increase Self-Confidence

Another really, really cool example, there’s a ton of women who teach English to children in China online in the morning before their kids are even awake. I have a few friends from church who are doing that, who are in the single mom, trying to figure out what’s next group. It’s been a really good bridge to their next thing.

There aren’t limits. I don’t think this is probably the best thing to do if you’re trying to put food on the table, because it’s really, really tough to find consistency in the beginning, but I will say that I can name off the top of my head five friends who quit their 9 to 5 jobs because that side hustle ended up giving them more flexibility and more money in the long run.

Anne:  Yeah, and there’s so many different ways to do it. So many women who are in trauma, they’re recovering, and so their reading books about abuse, or reading books about porn addiction, or sex addiction, and they’re just so immersed in it. I get a lot of women saying, “Oh, I want to be an APSATS coach.” I tell them get a lot of recovery down, two to three years first, and then see if you’re still interested in it.

Working Can Help With Healing And Self-Worth

I have been in this field, in this industry, for seven years, working for other organizations and then starting my own organization, so I know this is my calling. I’ve found a lot of women, once their out of the crisis stage, and they’re two or three years into recovery, they start thinking, “Wait a minute, you know what, my true love is interior design. I’m sick of talking about recovery.”

You might’ve volunteered for Betrayal Trauma Recovery, for example, or another non-profit that you’re interested in during the interim, and built up some skills, maybe design skills, maybe social media skills, whatever they are, but then, once you’re feeling peaceful, you’re stabilized, you’re safe, then start to think, “You know, if I had to talk about this every single day for the rest of my life—”

I know a lot of women, once they’re stabilized and in recovery, they might want to schedule a support call once every six months if something happens, but, other than that, they’re on their way. They’re looking to the future. If you’re still in trauma, or still trying to heal from trauma, you don’t want to make major life decisions about the whole career track that you’re going to go on, or whatever. You want to be stable before you make giant, life-changing decisions like that.

The Workforce Can Be Empowering For Self-Esteem

Right, yeah, that makes total sense.  I think what’s nice about something like this is you can experiment. You can see what you’re drawn to. You can always adjust and figure out what you enjoy, like you said, after you’ve healed.

Anne: It’s always a process, and that’s okay. We need to enjoy the journey.  In terms of women in the workplace, what can women do to set themselves apart?

Brittany: Again, one of the reasons I started Livlyhood was because I feel like women are either known as being passive and not asking for what their worth, or their the other extreme and they’re intense and they’re crazy and other words I won’t say. To set yourself apart, removing emotion from your work, I actually think is really important.

I don’t mean don’t be a woman, and I don’t mean don’t have passion in what you do, but I’ve always found that really focusing on the task at hand sets you apart. I’ve had a lot of female bosses who, unfortunately, I think let emotion rue the day, and you didn’t even get to see through that to get to the great work that they were doing.

Skill Building Is An Essential Part Of Self-Confidence

If I was coming into the workplace after going through something really emotional, I would try really hard to separate those things as much—like I said earlier, focus on what you’re getting out of your job. Is it to put food on the table and help support your family? Is it to develop a skill that you hope will be a long-term career?

Then just to be a beacon of positivity. I know we talked about building up other people around you, but I think one thing that can be tied to that negative emotion, or maybe being too intense, or on the flip-side, where you’re passive, you’re not pushing for what you deserve, is to be positive. Be positive about how you react to getting a last-minute assignment. If you have to cover for a friend’s shift, be positive about it.

It’s crazy how that is so rare, and how often I am told, when I really have to work on that. That’s not my natural disposition at all. I’m quick to try and solve problems, so I like to point out problems. I’ve been surprised, especially this is something I’ve worked on over the last couple of years, when I react positively how well that’s received.

Forming Healthy Connections At Work Can Help Self-Esteem

I actually got a note from my boss a couple months ago, after I did a public shout out to a team member. He said, “This is why people love working with you.” I really needed that that day. I think that that’s one way that we could really be different is to be positive.

That doesn’t mean you have to be Pollyanna. That doesn’t mean you have to fake it. I really hate the like, “Just smile and everything will be okay.” That’s not at all what I’m saying. I think if you can find the good in other people, they’ll find it in you.

Anne: I’ve had serious trauma triggers. Just a simple work thing, could turn into a really big trauma trigger. You could have a really intense work thing happen, like a boss betray you, or abuse you, and your trauma could be really intense from that. If you have to work now, which many women do, or they don’t have to but they choose to, still making sure that they’re working on their recovery.

Learning Marketable Skills Can Increase Self-Worth 

Brittany: That just made me think that I am very, very sensitive and I care a lot about my work. I think, in most cases, I lean too heavily on it being so much of who I am. One thing that I keep learning as I get older is that it’s not personal. I think that could be really helpful for someone who’s healing from trauma that it’s going to feel personal.

The way my mom describes it, which I think is kind of funny, is if you slowly build up your armor, protecting yourself in the sense that you’re not vulnerable, but you just know, “This isn’t about me, this is about the bottom line. This isn’t about me, it’s about my co-worker.” Being able to get to that place, it’s hard for anyone, but the sooner that you can get there, the more productive you’ll be.

Anne: I agree, and it takes a while to heal from that. When you’ve been traumatized, everything is personal. When you’re suffering from PTSD, it is so painful and difficult just surviving.

Thriving In The Workplace Starts With A Healthy Self-Outlook

Brittany, I appreciate you taking the time. Brittany’s website is It’s with a Y, so it’s L-I-V-L-Y, hood, We encourage you, if you’re interested in workplace issues, to check out her website and message her, you can ask her questions. If you have comments, you can also comment on our website. Go to, and you can find us there.

I would like to publicly thank the woman who runs our social media. I can’t say her name on the air, but she is amazing and wonderful, and she works really hard. Also, the dedicated volunteers that help with Betrayal Trauma Recovery and our coaches who work tirelessly to help women all over the world through one-on-one coaching and support groups.

Gain Confidence Through Developing Skills In The Workforce

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club is going strong. You get access to an APSATS-facilitated session every single weekday, and two on Tuesdays. We did that so that women can get as much support that they need for a very low cost, because we know that many women going through trauma are also having financial difficulties.

Coach Rae is partnering with Dr. Jill Manning to do How Do I Protect and Heal My Children? Dr. Jill Manning will help her facilitate that group. We’re also going to be starting the groups Workbook Study Facing Heartbreak and Healing My Self-worth and Self-image and, also, Understanding and Managing Triggers. If you’re interested in any of those, we already have women registered, and those will run as soon as they’re filled.

If you register, please make sure that you link to that description page in your secret Facebook groups and let other women know, “Hey, I’m taking this. Join,” and we will start that group as soon as it fills. I appreciate everyone who tries to help get the word out about BTR.

I just have a quick story. One of my friends recently went to a church training on this topic. The gist of the training was that both the husband and the wife are hurting. This leaves out the fact that the woman is a victim and that the husband is a perpetrator.

Working Can Be Empowering For Self-Healing

We know that men are hurting from their addiction and from their sad choices, but just because they are making sad choices doesn’t mean they need to be held accountable. Part of that, “Oh, I need help,” kind of a thing is also manipulation that they do to keep the women and to keep other people from holding them accountable.

This training was by a really good therapist, apparently, who doesn’t have training in abuse. Please help get the word out about BTR. Abuse is so misunderstood and so frequent with men who use pornography, that women really need to understand the abuse piece, in order to heal and make sure that the emotional abuse has stopped, and the trauma has stopped.

Thank you to all of you who are donating, who are posting about BTR on Facebook or other places to let people know.

One other bit of exciting news, we’re in the process of building an awesome new website, so if you see some weird stuff going on on our website, please excuse it for now. Or if you see typos, please let us know so that we can change it and get ready. I just wanted to let everyone know that you might see some kind of weird stuff. If you can donate to help us upgrade the website, we would really appreciate it. Until next week, stay safe out there.

How Does 40 Years Of Painful Abuse & Betrayal Affect A Woman?

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I am honored to have a client on the podcast today. Her name is Florence. Florence is 75-years-old, and she has experienced a lot of trauma throughout her life, multiple, multiple times.

Florence: Thank you, Anne, it’s nice to be here. Thank you for having this organization, it’s something I wish I’d had 45 years ago.

Anne: Florence, I wanted to ask you, over the years, how has it change? How did you relate to it, say in your 30s or 40s or 50s? Did you try different things?

Florence: I have engaged several processes in trying to figure what was going on. I think this is, probably, one of the most challenging issues that a spouse can be called upon to deal with. I tell my husband, and everybody I know, that I’m everything I am today because of him, because I had to survive.

How Trauma Effects Functioning

Anne: How old were you, when you and your husband married?

Florence: I’ve been married forty-four years. I was introduced to his illness, but I didn’t know it was an illness, three days after we were married.

Anne: You were about 30 at the time?

Florence: Yes, in my early 30s. My first reaction was devastation and fear. Back in those days, women didn’t have the same options that they do today. I had just moved my two daughters and myself to a new location, where I had no friends and no associates and very little opportunity to find gainful employment to support myself. In doing so, I had cut off any support systems that I might’ve had, and I was really on my own.

Anne: Were you married before this?

Florence: I was.

Anne: You had children?

Florence: I was, I had two—

Anne: Okay, so you had two daughters coming into this marriage.

Betrayal Is A Form Of Abuse

Florence: They were five and eight. I went very deep into a place of trying to comprehend. I didn’t call myself a spiritual person at that time in my life. I did not have a religious persuasion, and I found myself searching. In order to do that, I did what I think a lot of people do, from what I’ve read, is that they explore with their spouse, trying to figure out what it is that their spouse is looking for and needing. Of course, that leads one into, probably, the darkest places on earth, because it’s a world of debauchery.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that that was not for me. I had to make a heartfelt decision and tell my husband that I could not live that kind of life with freedom of sex with other people and going to nudist camps and pornographic exhibitions. It was just not the right thing for me at all. It hurt my heart, it didn’t help my heart. He apologized and swore that he would never make those bad choices again, and we started over. Until the next time.

By the next time, I became aware of his activities, I knew enough to go for help. We both went through a lot of counseling. He was identified as a sex addict. That being said, there were not the organizations that there are today, like the SLAA, 12-Step programs. He went through a lot of one-on-one counseling, but it came trailing back in.

What Is The Abusive Cycle?

The problem was, I didn’t realize that he had regressed back to those activities. I only was experiencing the negative behavior and the abuse, which, after 20, 25, 30 years of marriage, you get to the point where you do your own thing, you make the best of it, and if somebody wants to be a damn fool and act like a child, let them be a damn fool and act like a damn child. You just can’t let your life be run by that, you know.

Anne: Did you know you were being abused, or did you just think of it as, “Oh, my husband’s—”

Florence: I knew I was being abused and I knew he was sick. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, because the last year has been a year of repeated difficulties and such a challenge. I remember back when my youngest daughter was 15-years-old, and she and I took a trip out west, when we visited a childhood friend of mine. He asked me face-to-face, “What’s wrong? You’re not right.” I said, “Well, my husband isn’t right, he’s sick.” I didn’t elaborate on it. How could I? I didn’t have the words for it.

How Does Abuse Stay Hidden?

I remember thinking many years later, the only people that I could tell that to were people that I’d known for a long time, who actually had some confidence in me, because I became aware of the fact that nobody would believe me. People will say, “Oh, he’s so charming,” “Oh, he’s such a sweet man.” He is, and he’s a beguiling, needful child.

What do you do, go out on the street and bang a drum, and say, “I’m being emotionally abused by a man who can’t show me love, or who can’t relate to me?” You can’t do that. Nobody will believe you, so you try to create wellness within a challenging situation. That’s what I did for years, until it all broke open. For the last ten years, I thought he had frontal temporal lobe disorder.

It makes the second time I’ve misdiagnosed him in my life. Obviously, I’m not much of a psychotherapist. Because of his anger, I felt that his actions were typical of frontotemporal lobe dementia. In fact, I actually got him to go to a neurologist. It was really embarrassing and a waste of time, “It’s not Alzheimer’s, I’m right, it’s frontal temporal lobe.” Well, I wasn’t right. Yeah, it’s very hard when you get older.

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

Things don’t work the way they used to, when sex isn’t what it was when you were kids. Every now and then, you get an opportunity to enjoy one another to some extent, and he gave me an STD. That was a rude awakening. He had been back to his old tricks. It took me four months to get him to come clean. He’s been in one-on-one therapy, and three SLAA meetings a week since then, of his own volition. He’s reading everything, voraciously, that he can on the subject. It’s better late than never, I guess.

Anne: Wow. For our listeners, I just want to talk about SLAA for a minute. What she’s referring to is called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. There are multiple different types of 12-step for sexaholism. There’s SLAA, there’s SA, there’s SAA, there’s SALifeline. I personally do SALifeline. Now that we’ve had this overview, it sounds like, in the beginning, the way that you dealt with it was you tried to meet his needs, and then, as you got older and it just kept happening and happening, you started detaching. How would you say your reactions to him are now? Right now, at 75 and him 80?

Florence: It’s been like a fast forward of an earlier movie of everything that ever occurred. I go in a circle. Some days I’m distraught and I’m in pain, and I feel sorry for myself. Then I go through days where I am so angry. Those are not bad days, because I let him have it. I tell him that he cannot sit there and put on the TV and not answer my questions that, after all, I’ve had all these years of going without. The least he can do is respond to me and pay attention.

How To Deal With Trauma And Abuse

I’m more demanding, and I don’t accept his disassociation. Some days, I feel like nothing’s ever happened, we’re the best friends that we’ve always been. It’s like a circular thing that goes around. I’ve been able to grapple with this, because now I can be honest with our friends and our family and everybody knows. The freedom to be honest and forthright makes it possible to handle and work with.

Anne: Absolutely. Without it, it’s impossible. Now that we’re in this different age, I’m 40, the first place we go, when we have something happen is we start searching for things online. We go to social media, “Let’s see, is there a group like this on Facebook?” What thoughts do you have about women who are starting to search for this and think about this five years after marriage, or ten years after marriage? If you could go back and talk to yourself?

Florence: You can’t help them. You can’t fix them. I made a very concerted decision many, many years ago. Considering the pain and the grief and the disappointment and the challenges, probably 10 years into the marriage, that marriage wasn’t just for me to feel comfortable and happy, it was a family. I was going to build a family out of the dregs of this mess, if it killed me. I think I did it.

Trauma Is Not Easy To Live With

Our children are very bonded, they laugh a lot. They say, “We don’t care what happens to the two of you, we’re bonded, and that’s it.” They spend holidays together and we had all the children and grandchildren with us for his 80th birthday last year. I feel very successful for that. It was in a different age. Today, there are avenues for healing, and that I think anybody who’s identified with this kind of illness needs to get to the best possible resources.

Anne: I agree with you. At the beginning of recovery, especially now that there’s so many resources, women are very excited, and their husbands are very excited like, “Oh, recovery is going to be awesome, it’s going to be amazing.” Then 5, 10 years down the road, it’s a lot harder than they thought, and not the easy way.

Florence: It never goes away, and you end up being the caregiver. This has been my counterargument to my husband and all of his attempts to heal himself, as it was really convenient now that you’re 80 and impotent, you made these choices to have a responsibility. That responsibility is to their partner and their families. As somebody who’s suffered from it my whole life, you can’t give me back the past 20 years.

How Connection Can Help With Trauma

I didn’t know you were doing this. I knew you were being a jerk, but if I had known he had gone back to illicit deviant sexual practices, I wouldn’t have stayed. I might’ve had the chance to build a life with someone who might’ve genuinely been able to care and show real regard. I miss that, and nobody can give that back to me. That’s where the anger comes from.

I was told by a lot of professionals, “Oh, you need counseling.” I tried that. I’m sure this isn’t true across all mental health professionals, but what I found was that most therapists are not equipped to deal with this kind of addiction. They tend to try to use their behavior modification, which they’ve learned in graduate school somewhere, “If you do this, then he’ll do that. If you do that.” It doesn’t work.

I went to four sessions with one therapist, and I just walked out. I said, “This isn’t good for me. I’m getting angry about this.” I quit going. I’ve also challenged my husband on the fact that the SLAA thing is very self-absorbing. They’re all involved with taking care of themselves and getting better and praise God. You know, it’s like, “Wait a minute, you’re still just thinking about yourself. First, it was sex, and now it’s your healing process. Where does that leave me?” It still leaves me on my own. It still leaves me wanting and wanting.

Why Abuse Is So Misunderstood

Anne: Florence joined the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club. When you found us, how did you feel?

Florence: It was good to know that I wasn’t alone. Most people just don’t get it. They think your husband’s a philanderer, of course they are, but there’s so much more to it than that. The best thing that’s happened to me in the last year is the ability to be honest, to speak my truth. I am still sad about the loss that I’ve had in my life.

There are people that have worse lives, and I’m not going to bemoan all the good things, but I think that people need to re-evaluate who they are and what they want. I do think that a lot of women, myself included, were raised with low expectations and low sense of self. We didn’t really know when we weren’t being treated well. We may have known it, but we didn’t think we had any right to do anything about it.

Anne: I appreciate you sharing your story. I’m so grateful that you found Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

What To Do For Betrayal Trauma

We have a checklist that I’ve been developing for a year, for women to know exactly what they need to do when they find out about porn. If they find porn on the computer, if they have an inkling of, “Maybe my husband is looking at porn, or maybe he’s having an affair,” or have an inkling of abuse, this checklist is intended to save women years and years of their life, to save women of going through that cycle of trying to figure out what’s going on, and put safety as their first priority, so they can get to safety immediately.

My life goal is to save women from years and years of pain and confusion. I want to get this checklist in the hands of every single woman all over the world, so that right when she suspects it, she knows exactly what to do.

Please plaster this all over the internet, put it on all your secret Facebook groups, let women know. At the end of January, we had almost 20,000 RSS subscribers. You are making BTR happen, thank you. It is changing lives. I’m so grateful for all of you who are part of this movement to create more peace and more happiness in this world. Until next week, stay safe out there.

Determined To Rise Above The Lies, Infidelity & Abuse

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. Today, I have Sara Nye and Kelly Smith, two of the three co-founders of Determined to Rise, which is a non-profit that provides in-person retreats and events for women in trauma. We decided to officially partner with them, because our missions are very similar, but we do two different things. I’m really excited to have Sara and Kelly on the call with me today.

Anne: Sara, your first event was in Bear Lake, Utah. It was the fall of 2017. Can you tell me why you decided to start Determined to Rise?

Why Trauma-Informed Resources Are So Important
Sara: We decided to start Determined to Rise because we’d realized there weren’t really events out there for us that were as big as we wanted, as inclusive as we wanted, for the price point that we wanted, and with as many professional aspects as we wanted. We just felt like we might be able to do it better, and we thought we’d go ahead and give it a try.

Anne: I had three women from my local group here, that I meet with in person, go to your event, and they absolutely love it. That was my first inkling of, “Hey, I want to partner with these guys, because they do such a great job. Cali, what surprised you about the first event?

Cali: It surprised me that we were able to pull it off at such a large scale. We had so many women there. I think we had 82 women, and we were just three women trying to pull off this huge event. It surprised me that we were able to get the speakers that we did.

Why Are Connections With Other Trauma Survivors So Vital To Healing?
We got high caliber therapists and professionals. We were able to do crafts and meals. The connection that these women had with each other, was something that we wanted to create—not that it was surprising, but it was very rewarding to see those connections form.

Anne: I just want to add here that Sara and Cali are trauma survivors themselves. This is a retreat by trauma survivors for betrayal trauma survivors, who have experienced so many of the things that we all have experienced. Sara, what surprised you about the first retreat?

Sara: The thing that surprised me is I went into this retreat knowing that we were going to provide a lot of connection, a lot of fun, a lot of emotional processing, but what I didn’t expect was the lives that we were able to change. Some of these women I’m still in contact with, and they continue to update me on how their lives have changed since the retreat, how their confidence has grown, how they’ve been able to learn to implement boundaries in their lives, and how they feel better than ever. That’s not something I anticipated, that really surprised me.

How Seeing Others In Their Journeys of Healing Can Help Trauma Survivors
There was one woman, in particular, who almost didn’t come to the retreat. I actually had to talk to her three times on the phone, before the retreat, to calm some of her fears. Because it could be scary to put yourself out there and connect with strangers, but it’s so good. It was so good for everybody there. That’s what she said. She said, “You know, I came out of my shell, I showed up, and it changed my life.” I still talk to her all the time, and she’s just doing better and better and better.

She was actually chronically ill before the retreat, not able to walk. She had to have help to get around. Now she’s living on her own, she’s happy, she’s active again, she’s healthy. It tears me up a little every time I talk to her, because that’s something that, literally, changed somebody’s life for the better, and I didn’t expect that.

Anne: I love when women who have been through betrayal trauma and have been abused get together and feel the strength and the beauty that all of us have. For some reason, it just helps to see other women who are smart and beautiful and capable who have been through similar things and think, “Okay, this isn’t me. This is not my fault, and this is something that I can recover from.”

When Is The Upcoming Retreat For Determined To Rise?
Anne: Cali, tell me about the retreat you have planned for March.

Cali: In March, we have a big retreat planned down in Southern Utah, over by Zion’s National Park. We are currently having people enroll. It’s going to be on March 2nd through 4th. It’s called, “The Warrior Within You Retreat,” and we’re going to do things like self-defense classes and archery classes, different kinds of events to empower the warrior within each of us. We, again, have a high caliber of therapists and professionals coming—and we’re very excited.

Anne: If you don’t live in Utah, and you don’t know anything about Utah, you could fly into Salt Lake City, or you could fly into Las Vegas and rent a car. It’s about a three, four-hour drive from either place. Is that about right?

Sara: It’s about 3 hours and 15 minutes either direction, and we also have carpools available from both Salt Lake City, Idaho, Arizona, Las Vegas. We have a whole carpool page set up just for people to connect, who would like to ride together and share the gas.

Why Hearing From Trauma-Informed Specialists Can Be Helpful In Healing
Anne: That’s great. It’s also fun to get to know new people and play carpool karaoke.

Sara: There’s actually a 15-passenger van headed up from Arizona, so it’s going to be—that one’s going to be a fun one. Everything that is included includes lodging, food, all of the workshops, all of the classes, a T-shirt, a gift, a swag bag. We want to make sure that everybody feels just as included as everybody else at the events.

For what you’re getting for the price is amazing. These speakers are really great speakers. Geoff Steurer is our keynote speaker for this one coming up in March. He is one of the founders of the Southern Utah chapter of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. He was just so excited to come do that for us. He’s actually going to be staying the whole weekend, just to hang out with the women, and talk to them and give them guidance one-on-one, with no extra charge. That’s pretty big in and of itself.

Anne: I’ll be down there. We’re going to do a giveaway for an APSATS coaching session, so if you come make sure you enter!!

Why Empathy Is So Powerful In Healing From Trauma
Anne: Cali, for locals in Utah and, hopefully, for locals all over the country, eventually, Determined to Rise provides Self-Care nights.

Cali: We try to do one every other month or so. It’s just on a smaller scale. Rather than an overnight retreat, we do a self-care night at a smaller location or at someone’s home. We can just sit with each other, get to know each other, and connect. It’s a really good opportunity for people who don’t really have those connections to be able to come and make a friend, or talk to somebody, just put themselves out there.

It’s not necessarily all about recovery, or anything like that, it’s just about connecting with women who are more, or less, in your situation or can empathize with your situation. We’ve done things like Paint Night, where we’ve brought in someone to teach us how to paint a painting. We’ve done a Valentine’s Night. We’ve all come to someone’s house and just did a big game and treat night. We try to do these every other month, and they’re a really good experience for everybody. We’ve had a lot of really good feedback.

Why Having Women Who Understand You Is So Vital After Trauma
Anne: Even before you start thinking, “Okay, how am I going to recover from this?” just being around other women who you can be honest with, and they react appropriately. They give you a hug, they tell you they’re sorry, they’re not like, “Oh, really? What did you do?” “Oh, well, maybe if you lost a few pounds,” you know, some crazy thing that we’ve all heard from someone who wasn’t safe. We don’t say stuff like that, because we know what it’s like.

Cali: Yeah. I think, at the first retreat, that was the thing that was so powerful for me, was being around 80-something other women who just got it. I didn’t have to put on a mask, I didn’t have to pretend, I didn’t have to hold back, or try to be anybody that I wasn’t. I could just be myself. I could talk about the hard things, or I could not and it was okay, because they just understood either not wanting to talk, or wanting to share.

That synergy that you feel, when you’re surrounded by that many women who get it, it’s like a buzz of air. It was tangible. You could just feel this energy of belonging and connection and comfort. I’ve never felt it as any other way. It’s such an amazing feeling.

How Is Gaining Connections Helpful When Healing From Trauma And Betrayal?
Sara: I had a lot of women tell me that same thing, that just the feeling in the room, just being in that environment with so many women, was just so powerful to them.

I did want to add, too, our first two events have been in Utah, but we do want to branch out. The plan is to, eventually, be able to take this to everybody who needs it, to have it close enough that anybody who needs it can have it. If people have ideas about locations where there might be enough interest to do an event on this scale, they’re more than welcome to email us and start that conversation about where this is needed and how. Because that is the ultimate goal, is to be able to include everybody.

Anne: The website is Sara’s email is available there, if you click on their Contact button. Those of you familiar with the podcast, when you go to their site, you’ll see that out podcast is on their site, because we provide two different resources for the same mission. We provide the coaching services, and support calls and support groups online, as well as a podcast and the transcription of the podcast on our website.

When Betrayal Trauma Feels So Hurtful, Having Empathy and Connections Can Help
We don’t do anything in person and Determined to Rise is providing that in-person real life, face-to-face, actual—you know, you can give someone a hug contact, which is also so important. If you’re interested in getting involved with that, please email Sara from their Contact page. Sara and Cali, thank you so much for being here today.

Anne: You’re welcome. I will see you guys soon, in March, I’ll be down there and I’m so grateful for all of the good work that you do with your non-profit. Women all over the world are doing such exciting things to help each other and, as we all get stronger, there is an army of healthy women. We’re going to change the world together, it’s really exciting.

Consider Making A Donation

Why Reaching Out Helps So Much In Recovery From Betrayal Trauma
When I started Betrayal Trauma Recovery, I knew that all our service would be online, because women are so isolated. It’s so difficult to get out of the house because of childcare, or because of your location, or because of all kinds of different factors that make it very difficult for women in this situation to get out of their homes. I know you need in-person contact, but in the meantime, please join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club where we have a session every single weekday and two on Tuesdays, where you can interact with women online.

These are face-to-face meetings, you’ll see their face, you can talk to them, they just happen to be on a computer, rather than in person. Also, schedule a support call with one of our coaches. Our support groups run differently than any other groups you’ll see. We do have days and times when they run, so you can see, “Oh, okay, this is going to run on Monday, it’s going to be at 8:00 p.m. Eastern,” but it doesn’t start until it fills. Right now we have women enrolled in the workbook study, Facing Heartbreak. That one is very inexpensive. It’s 16 weeks, it’s $320.00. Coach Ray runs that group.

We Recommend Covenant Eyes Accountability and Internet Filtering on Each Device

What Types Of Resources Are The Most Helpful For Trauma?
We also have Setting and Holding Boundaries that is going to be on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We have women signed up for Healing my Self-worth and Self-image, which is just a one session group with Coach Sarah, which is very powerful, and then Coach Cat’s group, So I Have Betrayal Trauma, Now What? Where Coach Cat takes you through the betrayal trauma healing stages and helps women understand, perhaps, where they are, and where they need to go.

We have an awesome opportunity where Coach Rae is going to be co-facilitating a group called, How Do I Protect and Heal My Children with Dr. Jill Manning. They will be facilitating that group together, so that will be on Saturday, March 17th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. That does have a particular start date because of Dr. Manning’s schedule. I created the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Checklist to save women from 7 to 30 years of pain and heartache.

How Can I Continue My Healing From Betrayal?
I’ve had so many women say, “I wish I would’ve found you 10 years ago.” “I wish I would’ve found you 20 years ago, my life would’ve been different.” Please let people know about that checklist and let them know about us. The healing process does take a long time. We recommend that women start with Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, it’s the most inexpensive way to get out of isolation and get the support that you’re looking for. Purchase a support call package and then look at our different groups and see where you are and which topics would work for you.

Thank you, always, to those of you who have rated us on iTunes or any of the other podcasting apps that you use. Every single rating that you give us, or every comment that you put on the BTR site, increases our search engine rankings, and helps women who are isolated find us. Women are searching online for this, and I don’t want them to find, “Seven Ways to Better Communicate with Your Spouse,” I want them to find the truth that they are not at fault, that they are beautiful and loved, and they can set boundaries to find the peaceful life that they need and deserve. Until next week, stay safe out there.

Spiritual Crisis In The Face Of Betrayal

Spiritual Fracture Caused by Betrayal

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I have some very exciting news. So many of you are in dire financial situations because of your husband’s addiction, or his actions, or him abandoning you, or your ex-husband’s decisions. We have created some amazing PDFs that you can print out and take to local businesses, or your church leaders, or people that you know, to ask for donations to be donated to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, which is a non-profit so their donations are tax deductible, on your behalf, so that they can pay for your services.

Click here to access those PDF’s – they’re at the bottom of the page.  We have several different downloads that explain our services, what their donation goes to, so please check that out so that you can get the help that you need.

Secondly, we’re running our groups a little differently than we have before. The groups are listed in order of like right when you first suspect you’re being abused, or right when you first suspect that your husband might be viewing porn or lying to you. There is So My Husband Has Issues – Now What? That group is to help you understand what it takes to establish safety and heal from betrayal trauma. We have groups that are for women who—they’ve realized, “Man, I think I’m being lied to. I need a therapeutic disclosure and a therapeutic polygraph.” Coach Sarah does that group.

Why Reaching Out For Support In A Spiritual Crisis Is So Important

Whatever stage you’re in, go ahead and register for that group. Once you’re registered, please share that link in your secret Facebook groups, or send it to your friends, and say, “Hey, I registered for this group. Join me if this is the stage you’re in.” Once that group fills, we will run it. This way, we can meet your needs right when you have them. You don’t have to wait until August for a divorce group, or until September for a separation group, if you’re thinking about separation right now.

Whatever stage you’re in, we can help you where you’re at. Right now, women have registered for “So My Husband Has Issues – Now What?”“How Do I Heal and Protect my Children”“Detecting and Confronting Gaslighting”, and “Setting and Holding Boundaries.”

If you’re interested in any of those topics, we have women already registered for those, and they’re going to run as soon as they fill, which will be really soon. You register for those by going to the Services page, then click on the group, or groups you’re interested in, it will take you to the page that has the word Register. Click on that, follow the instructions, and that’s how you join the group.

How Does A Spiritual Crisis Impact Families?

Today, I have the co-authors of the book, “Love and Betrayal: Stories of Hope to Help you Heal from your Husband’s Pornography Addiction.” Carmel Parker White grew up in a ranching community in western Montana, and she’s lived many places throughout the United States. She has a doctorate in Life Span Human Development, and she has taught at universities in Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, and Utah.

Her educational experiences have cultivated a lifelong interest in the factors that influence the trajectories of people’s lives. Carmel is familiar with the impact of pornography in a marriage, as well as the spiritual and emotional issues that women face when married to a pornography addict. She has two grown daughters and one granddaughter, and she currently lives in Sandy, Utah.

Her co-author, Natalie Black Milne, was born and raised in a small southern Utah community. She’s recently taken on the challenge of integrating her background in communication studies with graduate work in Family and Child Studies at the University of New Mexico. She is familiar with the devastating impact addictions have on the family and is also passionate about becoming a voice, promoting the sanctity of the family. She, along with her husband and three sons, live in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Why Do Many Women Experience A Faith Crisis with Betrayal Trauma?

Anne: Welcome, Natalie and Carmel.

Natalie: Thank you.

Carmel: Thank you.

Anne: As we’re talking today about betrayal trauma, and how it impacts women and how it impacts families, we also know—and we’ve had several guests on the podcast talk about the impact to a woman’s spirituality, and the spiritual crisis that women go through, when faced with this trial. Natalie, let’s have you go first. What is your feeling about how betrayal trauma impacts spirituality?

Natalie: That is one of the trickiest aspects of how a husband’s pornography addiction affects the woman, because there are so many different layers and levels to it. Just in a brief explanation, it’s something as simple as it causes them to question everything, to question their beliefs, to question their relationship with God, to question if they are even able to receive communication with God.

How Normal Emotions After Betrayal Can Lead To Spiritual Crisis

Then, it causes them to also question, and even wonder, if they’re ecclesiastical leaders are even giving them sound advice. A lot of that is based on the trust that they’ve lost, namely, in men and in God himself. It just becomes a really hard thing for women to navigate, because it shakes that very foundation, that spiritual foundation and their connection with God.

Carmel: Anne, when we interviewed the women, I just wanted to mention that, for them, it was oftentimes their intense emotional reactions. Their anger, or their pain, that would get this started. The betrayal would occur and then all of those intense emotions could also be projected onto their spiritual experiences and their feelings about God.

Anne: That’s interesting. Also, the fact that the intense emotion is—I assume—this is what happened with me. It was more than just the betrayal of my husband, but it was also, like Natalie just mentioned, the bad advice I received from my church leaders, or the harmful advice, that harmed me even more. Right, so I’m questioning that, and then I’m having really intense emotions, which, frankly, is normal, right? Men might think, “Why is she acting like this?” But, for us, if we acted any differently, that would be weird.

Is A Spiritual Crisis Common After Experiencing Betrayal?

Natalie: Yes, right. I agree with that. What was interesting, though, is for a lot of women, that level of intensity was the first time they had really experienced that, and some of them even wondered if that was okay, or if, say for instance, God would be looking down upon them for that. It caused them to question that. We had to assure them, just as their therapist did, that that’s a very normal response, and you should be responding that way.

Anne: I write in a gratitude journal every day, and one of the things I wrote for a few days is I kept saying, “I’m so grateful for my anger.” I was like, “Yeah, I am grateful for my anger, because how else would I feel? This is the only sane reaction to this insane situation.”

Carmel: Yes, exactly. It’s often our emotions that warn us that we feel something deeply, and that we need to deal with it. In this case, the intense emotions that come from the betrayal cause us to reexamine everything, because of those emotions.

What Is A Spiritual Fracture?

Anne: In your book, you talk about a spiritual fracture. Can you tell me more about that?

Carmel: Yes, that’s a term that actually came from Dr. Kevin Skinner. From his perspective, women were trusting their husbands that they would be reliable, and they wouldn’t let down their commitments, and they wouldn’t let them down. When that commitment, or trust has been broken, women begin to see people and relationships that they thought were safe as not safe anymore.

They start to ask themselves about all relationships, “Is this a good relationship? Can I have my needs met?” Then this just, over time, becomes a spiritual problem, because they start to wonder if God will do the same for them. They wonder why God didn’t warn them, and they wonder why God didn’t prevent this kind of pain.

How Spousal Betrayal Often Leads To Spiritual Trauma

Anne: We’ve been told in church, if you do this and you do this and you do this, you will have a happy and peaceful life. Your marriage will be beautiful, and you’ll have this wonderful family. Then we’re like, “I did all of those things, and I am not getting the things you promised me.”

Carmel: It’s as if the contract women—women start to feel like, “This contract has been changed. I did all what I thought I was supposed to do, and now I don’t have the outcome. How does this work?”

Natalie: Exactly. When they join into that union as husband and wife, most people who are married do that also in a contract with God. When that most personal and spiritual and special relationship has been so badly damaged, and for a lot of women just out of the blue, you can see the fracturing that would take place across the board. “If I can’t trust my husband, then who can I trust? Can I trust my best friend? Can I trust my sister? Can I trust God himself?” It’s just because that relationship is the most intimate relationship they have, next to God himself.

How To Trust God Again After A Faith Crisis

Anne: Can a person who has experienced betrayal trauma trust in God again? My own personal feeling is that I am still working on this. I’m not sure if I trust. I want to trust God again. I’m working through that. In some ways I absolutely trust him. In other ways, I’m kind of like, “Eh, I don’t know.” Tell me about what you found.

Carmel: Over a period of usually years, they did begin to trust God. They did begin to realize he’s the only one they can count on, that they can’t count on anyone else but God. God will be there. It took, for many women, years to get to that point where they felt like they could trust God again.

Natalie: Right, and something that I noticed, not just with these women, but with my own life and life in general, I think a lot of that trusting comes down to women can logically think God is all loving, all powerful, and he is my father. I can trust him. But they don’t trust him in their heart, and I think a lot of it is because they don’t trust themselves in trusting him.

Covenant Eyes

How To Build Faith After A Spiritual Fracture

They want to trust him, but they think, “Well, I’ve trusted before and look what happened,” or, “Maybe I don’t trust how I receive communication from him. I’m not confident in my communication and those feelings with him.” To me, I see that it’s that dance between trusting him, but then also trusting myself that I can trust him, or that I know or I have the proper skills to be able to.

Carmel: I might add one more thing on top of that. It’s that women, when they are going through this, they question themselves just as much as they question their husbands and other people. They lose confidence in their ability to make judgements or to make a good plan, or a good direction for them to go. They’re questioning everything, including themselves.

Anne: For me, it’s, “I did those things. Will I receive the blessings that you promised me?” I have not yet, I guess, experienced that, in some ways. Part of me, now, is like, “Well, I will trust when I see it.” I’m trying now to be like, “Okay, I can trust before I see it,” but after what I’ve been through, it’s very difficult to wrap my head around that.

Why A Spiritual Fracture is Comprehensive

Natalie: That’s where I think that term spiritual fracturing is so comprehensive, and a lot of it is based on that very thing. You don’t just question your husband, your relationship with God, you question yourself. There’s just a spiritual fracturing on so many levels.

Anne: I want to clarify that the women themselves aren’t making these spiritual fractures. These spiritual fractures are happening to them, as a result of someone else’s choices.

Carmel: Right.

Natalie: Correct.

Anne: One of the ways that their spirituality is fractured is by going to a clergy member, or a church leader and asking for advice, or asking for help and not receiving the correct advice, or not receiving help. For me, that’s the most common reason why women don’t trust, or have a difficult time trusting clergy after betrayal trauma. Is that your experience from the women that you interviewed.

How Does Addict Accountability Help In A Spiritual Crisis?

Carmel: I want to say, first of all, that most clergy don’t have extensive exposure to addiction and addictive behavior. They don’t realize what they need to do to help either the husband or the wife. For the wife, they need to communicate that, “I care about you. God cares about you. We need to heal this. You’re as important as your spouse.” But then the clergy also needs to understand that, sometimes, the spouse will lie to them. Sometimes the spouse will minimize what’s going on. Sometimes mercy looks an awful lot like enabling behavior.

Anne: I did a survey. The women that I surveyed said the way they would feel most supported by their clergy was if their clergy held their spouse accountable in some way.

Natalie: Yeah.

Anne: Rather than just saying, “Oh, don’t look at pornography again, and you, wife, you need to communicate better.”

Natalie: Right.

How Untrained Clergy Leads Women Into Spiritual Fracture After Betrayal

Anne: Right? There was none of that, that he would hold him accountable for his abuse and pornography use and lying, and then support her. Because, in that dynamic, oftentimes, she ends up being abused by the spouse and sometimes then clergy saying, “Well, you need to change something about you, in order for this to stop.”

Carmel: I was just going to say women get that exact response from clergy that, “Well, it’s really not that bad. It’s not like he’s addicted.” The clergy needs to understand how women view it, in addition to, you probably shouldn’t be making the call if he’s addicted or not. Usually, clergy don’t have that kind of mental health training. They can get more information to say, “I really don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m going to get some more information.”

Anne: My church leader said to me, “Well, what difference does it make to you, if he’s looking at pornography?”

Carmel: Oh, wow.

How Unclear Messaging From Untrained Clergy Can Lead To A Faith Crisis

Anne: Yeah, he said that, and I was like, “It’s adultery.” He was like, “Well, it does not say that in the church handbook.” I was like, “I don’t really care what the church handbook says, Jesus said it in the Bible.” Getting in a fight with my church leader was not fun. It was totally miserable. Then there’s always this discussion—not always, but frequently a discussion about forgiveness, and that is when wives, we say, “Wait a minute. Forgiveness is one thing, but trust is another thing.” What are some mistaken assumptions about forgiveness that you discovered when writing your book?

Natalie: We, specifically, centered on three or four different ones, and I’ll just tell you those right now. A lot of women believed that, “I can’t enter in the process of forgiving until I feel perfectly safe, comfortable and ready.” If you choose that route to forgive, you will probably never find yourself forgiving, because you’re never again going to feel perfectly safe, or perfectly comfortable or ready to forgive. That becomes a personal journey of trying to figure out in your mind exactly what forgiveness is and what it looks like.

How The Forgiveness Paradigm Impacts A Spiritual Crisis

That’s something else that leads right into a mistaken assumption is that forgiveness happens immediately. Absolutely not, forgiveness is something that is personal, and individualized, and it’s going to take time. To just say, “Oh, I forgive you,” some women automatically said that as soon as their husband confessed, but then realized over time that, “Wait a minute, I don’t really forgive him. I said that because I thought that that’s what I was supposed to say.” But to realize that true forgiveness takes time, and it’s actually a miracle that happens within the heart.

Another mistaken assumption would be that forgiving my husband would be the same as admitting that my anger toward him was exaggerated or unjustified. Some women believe that, “Oh, if I forgive him, then that means that my anger wasn’t real, or that it was, like I said, over-exaggerated.” That anger is real, and because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that that anger isn’t going to resurface. Anger and forgiveness are two separate things.

The last one that we talk about is, “When I forgive my husband, I in turn make myself weak and vulnerable. I’m better off denying my pain in order to make peace.” That is absolutely untrue, and the exact opposite is true in that it takes a lot of strength and a lot of resolve to be able to forgive in the proper way. Women, over time, start to learn that forgiveness is for their own peace and their own progress and that forgiveness and trust are two completely different things.

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How Peace Can Be Felt In A Faith Crisis

Trust is definitely on the man. If that trust is going to be rebuilt, he has to prove that he’s trustworthy. Forgiveness is between a woman and God, between those two that miracle of forgiveness can take place in it’s own time and in it’s own way. Trust, the husband definitely has to be the one to restore that.

Anne: Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves that brings us peace—

Carmel: Yes.

Anne: —and that brings us perspective, whereas trust is a gift we give others when they have shown that they are trustworthy. For me, for example, I really feel like I have forgiven my ex. I feel like he did the best he could with the resources that he has, and it’s really bad.

Natalie: Right.

Anne: The best he could is terrible, but I feel like it is the best he could do, under the circumstances. With the addiction that he has, with the upbringing that he had, whatever, right.

Why It’s Important To Preserve Sense Of Self During A Faith Crisis

Natalie: Absolutely.

Anne: I feel very at peace with that, but I do not trust him. Every time I have even attempted to engage with him, I am attacked, or blamed for the situation, so I hold a no-contact boundary because of the trust issue.

Carmel: Sometimes you may forgive them for one part of hurt that they caused in your life, but, later, something else comes up that you think, “Well, I thought I’d forgiven him for everything.” You may have to forgive them for how he’s hurt you and then how he’s hurt the kids. Sometimes you have to go through those different processes.

Anne: Financially, for example.

How Healing Can Happen After Betrayal And Spiritual Fracture

Carmel: It does just take time.

Anne: Yes. I think time has to be a factor, I agree. I was going to say, with some of the addicts I’ve seen, time only makes it worse because they’re not improving at all.

Natalie: No.

Carmel: No.

Anne: It’s not a pretty picture. Thank you, Carmel and Natalie, for being here today. Thank you for your work. I think it’s so important that all of us are considering these issues. If you want to learn more about their work, their website is You can find their book on our Books page at We’d love to hear your comments about this episode and spiritual situations that you have found yourself in. Please comment on our site.

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