The effects of emotional abuse often leave women feeling as though they’re stumbling around in the darkness.
The heaviness of the confusion, self-doubt, and self-blame weighs them down as they blindly grasp for the nearest glimmer of light.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, is a practicing Christian and relies heavily on scripture to guide her to light through her process of healing. Empowering victims to seek light in the darkness, Anne shares her personal feelings on healing with faith. Tune in to the BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
“Truth”: An Empowering Word For Victims of Emotional Abuse
Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse often relay that the lying and manipulation was just as painful as the betrayal.
Seeking the truth may be painful and difficult. Most abusers will never tell the entire truth.
However, as victims choose to embrace their own intuition and the feelings that guide them toward light, they can find solace in truth.
Your intuition is powerful. Some people might call it the Spirit, some people might call it the Holy Ghost, or those who aren’t religious might just call it their gut or their intuition. If we can learn over time to really trust our intuition, or the Spirit, it will be the most accurate way to discern the truth.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
“Light” Can Empower Victims of Emotional Abuse
Pornography use, or lusting, is a serious issue. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s an abuse of trust and of the relationship, and when we talk about the four pillars of abuse, we can see that the porn user’s eye is not single and full of light. Those four pillars of abuse, the way that they perceive the world makes it so their whole body is full of darkness.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
It is very difficult for victims to discern reality when their abuser stops certain behaviors. Is he in “recovery”? Is there still hope for a happy marriage? Will I finally feel safe?
But then something happens, a betrayal, an abusive episode, or just a gut instinct that something is off, and the cycle of abuse starts over.
Understanding that abuse cannot be compartmentalized, minimized, or justified, if what Anne means when she explains that an abuser’s “whole body is filled with darkness”.
Even during his good times, if he goes back to abuse and betrayal, however minimal, victims must understand that the abuse is still present and take action to protect themselves.
Using “Today” To Empower Victims of Emotional Abuse
Anne cites a scripture in Matthew referring to God’s grace taking care of the lilies of the field – that we, victims of betrayal and abuse, can allow ourselves to focus on our healing one day at a time.
It’s always now. It’s never going to be tomorrow. Taking one moment at a time, when the trauma is really extreme, really helped me because there is no other way to do it. There is no other way but through. If we focus on now, especially when the trauma is really intense, we will come out of the fog, eventually. All we have to ever worry about is right now.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal & Emotional Abuse
The devastation of betrayal and abuse is real. The darkness and turmoil of manipulation and gaslighting can have severe effects on a woman’s spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
Every victim deserves a safe space to share their stories, process trauma, ask questions, and make connections with other victims who get it.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in multiple time zones. Join today and receive the validation, compassion, and support you deserve.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
In 2019, I was studying the New Testament from the Bible. Those of you who are not Christian, hopefully, you can still glean some wisdom and some insight from my studies.
I wanted to dedicate this episode to some of the verses that I read that I thought were very applicable to our situation. Similarly, there are some very sexist, misogynistic verses in the Bible, particularly by Paul. I am not going to cover those or focus on those today.
Books Can Be Empowering For You On Your Healing Journey
If you’re wondering about these scriptures that say things like women should be silent or they shouldn’t speak in church or they should obey their husbands or whatever, please read the book Jesus Feminist, by Sara Bessy. She really puts all of those types of scriptures in context, and I don’t want to focus on those today. I’m not going to be covering those.
Abuse Is Never your Fault
What I really wanted to talk about was the comforting scriptures that can really bring us comfort and also help us know that setting boundaries is God’s way of helping us stay safe.
I believe God is a God of boundaries. He sets commandments and the commandments are to protect ourselves, and also to protect other people. For example, if we do not lie, we are protecting other people and it is a way of showing love for ourselves and showing love for our fellow men.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group: Empowering Victims of Emotional Abuse
But before I start sharing my thoughts from the New Testament, I want to remind everyone that Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our online support group, is live. Our coaches are awesome. It is running multiple times a day in multiple time zones. This is the best way for you to get immediate and appropriate and ethical help.
As I go through some of these scriptures, you’re going to see some patterns emerge. Basically, I’m just going through the main highlighted sections of what I read. If you want to follow along that’s great, if not that’s great too. I read from the King James version, so if you use a different translation or a different version, I’ll just say the scripture and the verses.
Emotional Abuse Is Devastating
I’m going to start in Matthew Chapter 5. This one really struck me. This is the Sermon on the Mount, and this is Christ talking about the Beatitudes. Verses 10 and 11 in this really applies to us. It says “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”
Now, when it says “for my sake,” I believe that is the sake of truth. I also believe in an afterlife and I believe that this life we have now is hell. It is the worst it’s ever going to get right now. That helps bring me peace because we all know that true justice or true truth cannot exist in this life.
“Your Intuition Is Powerful”
I want you to know that your intuition is powerful.
Some people might call it the Spirit, some people might call it the Holy Ghost, some women who are not religious might just call it their gut or their intuition. If we can learn over time to really trust our intuition, or the Spirit, it is going to be the most accurate way of discerning truth.
I know of a woman who had absolutely no proof of her husband’s affairs and his pornography use, and he was a very high up member in her church and community and also a seminary teacher. He was teaching the Gospel and had a ministry. She decided to file for divorce just on her gut alone. Having absolutely no proof, people called her crazy. Her kids called her crazy. Her church leaders called her crazy.
Acting On Your Own Intuition Is Empowering
She is one of the bravest women that I know, and I am so proud to be among her. She has been reviled. She has been persecuted. All manner of evil has been set against her, falsely, for Christ’s sake or for the truth’s sake. Her courage is inspiring to me.
We have obviously talked about Matthew 5:28 on the podcast, saying that pornography use and watching anything to get turned on is adultery. Christ says, himself, in that verse “…whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” We know that pornography use, or lusting is a serious issue. It is not something to be taken lightly, and it is an abuse of trust and it is an abuse of the relationship.
“Light” Is Empowering To Victims
In Matthew 6:22, it says, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Then in 23, “But if thine eye be evil; thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
The first pillar of abuse is entitlement and objectification. “I’m entitled to sex.” “This is a sex object.” “I’m entitled to a woman cleaning the bathrooms.” “I’m entitled to her cooking.” “I’m entitled to view her as an object.” “I deserve it.” That type of mindset.
Abuse Is The Fault Of The Abuser
The second pillar is control, manipulation, lies, and secrecy, so calculated behaviors to try to control an outcome. It’s goal-oriented, and that part has that good-guy façade. “I’m going to manipulate other people’s perception of me by showing up at church, by doing good talks, by doing service,” but it’s calculated because it includes lies and secrecy.
The third pillar of abuse is compulsive behaviors. They have a lack of integrity, both relational and personal. If they say they don’t use porn or if they say they believe in being true to their wife, but they’re compulsively using prostitutes or compulsively masturbating than that is another way that they abuse that relationship or abuse that trust.
The Four Pillars Of Abuse
The fourth pillar of abuse is lack of accountability. They have no empathy, no remorse, and they do not make restitution when they hurt somebody.
When we talk about those four pillars of abuse, you can see that that eye is not single and full of light. Those four pillars of abuse, the way that they perceive the world makes it so their whole body is full of darkness. They’re not able to perceive things accurately.
This isn’t something that, if they just stop using porn then they’ll improve—although they will. If someone stops using porn, that will improve some things, but this is a way of looking at the world. It’s systemic and it is societal.
Center For Peace Empowers Women To Seek Safety While Professionals Help Men Own Their Own Choices
“Trying to help” a man stop viewing the world this way is impossible. They have to start taking steps to do it themselves. Center for Peace holds men accountable for this type of perception, and the goal is to help change the perceptions. Now, does it always work? No. The man has to be committed and admit that the way he views the world is skewed.
In that same chapter, Matthew 6, we’ve got verses 31-34, which I think really, if you believe it, may help you. I love this. It really helps me when I get really stressed out about finances or get really stressed out about the future or retirement, which I don’t have at all.
Empower Yourself By Taking Life One Step At a Time
My house desperately needs attention. It’s my dream house. I’ve talked about my dream house before, the structure is my dream house, but the actual inside is old and really gross. The carpet is really disgusting, and I have carpet under my dining room table and it really bothers me. I dream day in and day out of being able to replace that with luxury vinyl planks. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
It really stresses me out, but right now I can’t do anything about it. I can’t do anything about my long-term financial future right now. All I can do is take a step at a time.
“Truth” Is Empowering For Victims
I was at the point, four years ago, where I didn’t know how I would pay for groceries. I didn’t know how I would make my house payment, so I’ve been there. Now, I can pay for groceries, which is great. I can make my house payment, but there are other things that I’m stressed out about.
No matter what stage you’re at, this scripture may or may not help. Verse 31-34: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, (and I’ll insert here seek ye first the truth) and his righteousness.”
For those of you who are atheist or not religious, perhaps the way to say this would be but seek ye first truth. “…and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
“Let’s Look At Right Now”
One way to put this is, we’re in this eternal moment of now. It’s always now. It’s never going to be tomorrow. When I was going through this, I had a friend who would say—when I was so traumatized and just hysterical and having a difficult time just functioning, she would say, “Let’s look at right now. Do you have a roof over your head right now?” I would say, “Yes.” She would say, “Do you have food right now? Are you hungry?” I’d be like, “No, I ate.” “Do you have water right now?” I’d be like, “Yes, I have water right now.”
Taking one moment at a time, when the trauma is really extreme, really helped me because there is no other way to do it. There is no other way but through. There is no tomorrow. Ever. I love this because, if we focus on now, especially when the trauma is really intense, we will come out of the fog, eventually. All we have to ever worry about is right now.
“There Is No Other Way But Through”
There is another guy, that I’ve been reading a lot lately, his name is Glenn Livingston, and he wrote a book called Never Binge Again. He says, “Choose healthy eating right now. It’s always now.” This “always now” idea, I think. is what the scripture is talking about, and it really can help us get through the trauma.
When the trauma is really intense, after a while—it’s been four years for me—now I can start thinking about things like, “Oh, I don’t have a retirement.” I can start thinking a little bit further out. The interesting thing is the Now Principle still applies to me. I’m very concerned about the things that I talked about, like updating my home and carpets, but I can still say, “Right now, I can go for a walk. Right now, I can take care of myself.”
When People Ask If You’ve Prayed (Oh, Puh-Leez)
Matthew 7 is rough. I’m going to preface this part with I hate scriptures like this, because I believe them and then I do what it says, and I don’t get what I want. It irks me and it frustrates me, and it makes me very mad.
In Matthew 7:7-10, it says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Okay, I’m sure that a lot of you have gone to church or had some friends say, “Have you prayed about it?” You look at them and roll your eyes and you’re like, “No. Oh, good idea, I never thought about it.” Of course, you’ve prayed about it! If you believe in God, of course, you’ve knelt down, bawled your eyes out, screamed and yelled at God.
Of course, you have prayed about it. Of course, you have asked. Of course, you have begged God for help. You’ve begged him for miracles.
“I Pray And Pray And It Doesn’t Happen”
This scripture says, “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Now, if you’re like me, and you’re like, “This is a bunch of bull crap. I pray and pray and pray and it doesn’t happen.” I really don’t know what to say, except for that, in spite of how frustrated I get, in spite of how it seems like some people pray and they have answers, some people pray and their husbands are like, “Oh, I’ve been terrible,” and they start taking accountability and they start being honest, or whatever.
There are a couple of big giant prayers that I have prayed. One is for a righteous, noble, non-abusive man to come into my life. To have a really beautiful friendship and relationship that is kind and loving and just amazing. I’ve prayed that prayer so many times, and it has not been given to me.
Boundaries Can Help With Empowerment
Do I just take this scripture and throw it out the window? Say, “Okay, I’m going to stop praying?” Or do I say, “Maybe I’m not ready or maybe God is preparing this for me or maybe it won’t be in this life?” There are a number of things I could say, but I will say that this morning I felt the most amazing sense of gratitude for what I have been through. An amazing sense of gratitude for my experience because I feel like where I am now, I am so much healthier.
“Faith” Is Empowering To Victims
I’m not the wisest or the most knowing. I have such a long way to go, but I am so much better prepared now. I don’t know if I could have had that type of relationship. That deep and abiding and kind relationship before, and maybe I could have it now. I don’t know. Maybe He’s preparing me for it. Maybe He’s not. I don’t know.
When it comes to these types of scriptures, I have to make a choice. I have to say, “Do I believe in God and do I believe this scripture?” I can choose yes or no, and the choice that I make is yes. I choose to believe.
I choose to trust that the prayers that I am saying, even though it doesn’t feel like [they’re being answered] and I’m mad and frustrated, that really, when it comes down to it, God does listen to my prayers and that He has my best interest at heart. That the things that are happening in my life are happening for my good.
“I Have To Just Make A Choice”
Now, that sounds a whole lot like trying to placate a victim to get her to shut up, but it also might be a loving God who is leading me and guiding me and taking me to a better place. I’m going to choose to believe that.
The reason I’m going to choose to believe that is because I think it’s true and the alternative is so dark, depressing, and sad. It makes me sad, and where is that going to get me? Maybe suicide? I don’t know, but no, I don’t want to go that route. Sometimes, at least for me, I have to just make a choice and that choice, I believe, leads me in a better direction.
Matthew 7:9-10 says, “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” or in 10, “Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?” Everyone here feels like they’ve asked God for bread and God has given them rocks. Everyone here feels like they asked for a fish and God gave them a serpent. We’ve all felt like that. We feel like we’re praying and praying and we’re getting rocks or we’re getting snakes.
“Help” Is Empowering To Victims
When I feel like that, it really humbles me. Humbles me to the point where I can kneel down and I can say, “Okay, I feel like I’m getting rocks and I feel like I’m getting snakes. What I really want is bread and I really want fish, so what do I need to learn? Please teach me. Please guide me.”
Currently, with these scriptures what I’m considering is, help me with my perception of men. Help me understand the way that I interact. Help me understand what you want me to think. What you want me, God, to see. How can I remove these ways that I perceive things that may be incorrect and start viewing things truthfully?
Truth be told, so many of my prayers have been answered. The prayers that always get answered in my house are prayers for lost objects. I know that sounds really ridiculous but every time we lose something, I tell my son, “Hey, let’s pray we find it.” It could be anything like a library book or an earring.
“I Love The Little Prayers That Get Answered”
In fact, over Thanksgiving I lost one of my favorite earrings, we said a prayer and my son found it on the floor. It was a tiny little cubic zirconium stud, which should have been impossible to find, found it.
I love the little prayers that get answered because I think, “Okay, God always answers my prayers when I ask Him to help me find something.” He really does, which is amazing. I think that’s kind of funny. If you’re thinking, “He never answers my prayers.” Are there types of prayers that get answered? For me, it’s finding objects.
“When Will Truth Win? When Will We Be Protected?”
There are other types of prayers that are frequently and very quickly answered. In fact, I remember one really clearly. I was skiing in a big bowl and there was lots of powder and I lost my ski. We looked and looked and looked and I couldn’t find it. I was giving up hope. We looked for a really long time and I thought, “I need to pray.”
I prayed, stood up, walked over, stuck my hand in the snow, and pulled out my ski. Does God answer my prayers? Does He hear me? The answer to that is yes. I don’t know why some of my prayers have not been answered, but I do know that many of them have been.
Collective Faith Empowers Victims of Emotional Abuse
If all of us are praying this collective prayer of truth and we’re all praying this collective prayer of peace, and it’s not being answered, my guess is that God has something big in store for all of us. Maybe it will happen for all of us all at once. Maybe it will be the second coming. Maybe he will come down and strike all of the abusive men from the Earth all at once. I don’t know, but this is a collective prayer that we are all praying together.
I want to encourage you that we continue to do that because I’m choosing to believe that God is hearing us because He’s really our only hope. We know that the law doesn’t help us. We know that therapists don’t. We know that society, in general, doesn’t see it. We know that God is our only option here, so let’s not give up on Him.
Understanding Post-Traumatic Growth
In Matthew 9, we have a couple of scriptures that pertain to us, but also abusive men. Matthew 9:4 says, “Wherefore Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” Only God can see on the heart. We know that, and then he talks about in verse 16, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.”
Verse 17 “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” He’s talking about this overall change.
If you have someone who is perceiving things incorrectly, you can’t just change one thing about that perception. You have to change the heart. You have to change the mind. You have to change those perceptions or things aren’t going to work out.
Boundaries And Education Are Empowering To Victims
I think that is true for us as well. My perceptions have changed a lot. I perceived myself as safe. I perceived other abusive men as they need love or whatever. I didn’t understand boundaries. My whole perception has shifted, and that has really helped keep me safe.
In Matthew 10:26, we have Christ telling the righteous directly to fear not the unrighteous. He says, “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Then in verse 28, “And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” And then He tells us (verses 29-31) “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
“The Important Thing Is That We Walk In Truth”
The truth will come out. It will come out. I don’t know how, and I don’t know when. All of us are praying for that. The important thing is that we walk in truth. That we are shedding our own misperceptions. That we are becoming healthier as time goes on.
And this one, of course, everyone loves Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When I study the scriptures, I put red as bad things. I underline red the things that hurt people. They hurt me or someone else, and then dark purple is boundaries, and faith or belief is in orange. If I’m like, “Oh, this is what I want to do, I don’t know if I believe it, but this is what I’m going to choose to believe this thing,” that’s in orange.
“They Say That, But Their Actions Are Different”
In Matthew 15, I have a lot of red, and, in verse 8, it’s talking about people who do not live in truth. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Verse 9) “But in vain they do worship me, teaching the doctrines of the commandments of men.”
A lot of us have seen this. We have a husband who confesses to love us. They say that, but their actions are different. Or they show up at church and they say that they love God, but then they are unwilling to be honest. They’re unwilling to obey the commandment of honesty or to be true or to be faithful to their marriage vows.
Verse 11 is interesting. It says, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; (for example, what someone hears may or may not hurt. We know pornography is going to hurt them. We know that certain things we hear are going to hurt us.) but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”
Healthy Living And Boundaries Are Empowering To Victims
I think this is saying that we all are going to be exposed to harmful things. We’re all going to be exposed to some type of exploitation of some type. Like pornography or crude language or someone yelling at us. We’re all going to be exposed to that, but what’s really going to hurt us is our own actions.
If we choose to then abuse someone else or if we choose to then lie or manipulate, that will hurt us worse because we can always seek safety through healthy living and boundaries. That will always take us to safety, but if we start to engage in unhealthy behaviors and don’t set boundaries then we are going to get hurt.
Here is a boundary one. Matthew 15:13-14: “But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone…” basically saying don’t interact with them, “…they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
When Abusers “Bear False Witness”
Then in 15:18-20 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man:…”
We have experienced this ourselves. Men bearing false witness against us. They are saying, “I was a witness to her being a jerk” or “her abusing me” or “her not loving or respecting me” or whatever it is they say.
Boundaries Can Be Life-Saving
Alright, I’m going to continue talking about my New Testament studies for the next couple of weeks. I really appreciate those of you who are not religious being patient and listening to these insights that I have gained. Those of you who are religious or do study the scriptures, I’d love to hear your thoughts about how scriptures have helped your recovery. For those of you who aren’t, any quotes that you have or insights or maybe books that you study that have really helped you heal and find truth for you would be awesome.
Please leave a comment below. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear your thoughts. In Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our Daily Online Support group, many of the women are religious so they talk about their own experience, but many of them are not. So, everyone is welcome. It is interfaith but also inter-paradigm.
BTR Is Interfaith And Interparadigm
When I say interfaith, I mean you don’t even have to have a faith to come. The cool thing is that everyone has a shared experience, and that is the important thing. We are all trying to get through this together, and the stronger we can be together, if we can be unified in our desire for truth and justice, than we can change the world together.
I will continue this discussion next week. Again, I really want to hear your comments so please comment below.
Also, if this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Every single one of your ratings helps isolated women find us.
Until next week, stay safe out there.