Making the decision to learn more about abuse and trauma is a big leap for many women. The ramifications feel overwhelming: by doing say, they may confirm the reality that they are being abused. Clergy, therapists, and others may have convinced victims that by becoming educated they are “making a mountain out of a molehill”; still, others have been conditioned to believe that learning about abuse creates abuse out of thin air.
Coach Christina joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to explain why learning about abuse is an empowering step for every woman to take. Read the full transcript below and listen to the BTR podcast for more.
Learn About Abuse to Help You Set Boundaries
Becoming educated about abuse can help women set boundaries for themselves and their families. Coach Christina explains a simple formula for boundary-setting:
“Step back and say, ‘Wait a minute. Is that okay or is it not okay? If it’s not okay, I need to make sure I’m safe.’ And I’m making it just that simple. Is this okay for me?“Coach Christina, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Team
As women learn more about abuse, they are better able to define what behaviors are acceptable for them in their personal and professional lives – and set boundaries around what they are okay with and not okay with.
Learn About Abuse So That You Can Help Other Women
Learning about abuse helps women become equipped to advocate for abuse victims both publicly and privately. Anne shares:
I was at Sequoia National Park, and there was a man and a woman. They had been waiting but then a line formed, and they were not in the line. So, they were there first but they didn’t get into line on time for the shuttle. And he said to her, ‘What’s wrong with you? We woke up at four o’clock in the morning to do this, now we have to be at the back of the line, and I don’t know what’s wrong with you.’ I stopped them and I pointed right at him, at his chest, and I said, ‘What’s wrong with you? There’s nothing wrong with her. I don’t know what your problem is, but whatever it is, something is wrong with you.’ And then I tried to give her a very compassionate look, but in that moment, I knew that is abuse.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Abuse is a global issue: the more informed and educated every woman becomes about abuse, the more equipped we are to stand up for each other.
Learn About Abuse So That You Can Find Safety
Abuse does not get better over time. It doesn’t get better with couple’s therapy. It is the abuser’s issue: not yours.
Understanding this can help you seek safety, it can help you begin living the life you were always meant to live: a life free of oppression and cruelty. You deserve safety, and you deserve it now.
The following resources are available to you as you begin to become educated about abuse:
- The BTR books page: a curated list of books that will help you understand abuse and trauma
- The free BTR podcast: weekly podcast episodes with abuse victims, experts, and others
- BTR’s free content on social media
BTR Is Here For You
Learning about abuse can feel overwhelming, scary, and sad. Accepting the reality that you are a victim of abuse can be a very lonely experience.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is here for you. Join today.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, called BTRG for short, is a daily online support group.
Our daily online support group has more sessions than any other support group out there. We have over 21 sessions per week for you to choose from. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, you don’t have to leave your home, you can join from your closet or your parked car in your garage. We are here for you. Check out the session schedule; we’d love to see you today.
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Coach Christina on the BTR Podcast
We have Coach Christina back on today’s episode. She was with us last week, so if you did not hear last week’s episode, listen to that first and then join us here. We’re going to jump right into the conversation.
Anne: Speaking of boundaries, you know, the more we can boundary ourselves from the abusive behavior, the more peaceful and calm that we can become. Can you talk about how you make boundaries simple for yourself and your clients?
Boundaries: What Is Okay And What Is Not?
Christina: So, I make boundaries very simple. I was watching a vlog one day with Brene Brown, and she said, “What is okay and not okay?” And I encourage our clients that the first boundary you’ll ever make is for yourself. And to step back and say, wait a minute. Is that okay or is it not okay? If it’s not okay, I need to make sure I’m safe. And I’m making it just that simple. Is this okay for me? No, it’s not okay. It’s absolutely not okay. Or, okay that is okay. Then I can walk alongside you with that. But if it’s not okay, it is my responsibility. Abuse is never okay. Scripture does not support abuse in any way shape or form. It is not our role to submit to abuse. It is not okay. It is okay for us to maintain safe boundaries for ourselves and for our family. That is okay. And no one has that right to choose that for us, but us.
You Get To Determine Your Own Boundaries
Anne: Do you see this a lot in group? I find that I experienced this as I’m talking with victims all over the world, that a lot of times they’ll say, is this okay? So, they’ll say he does this and it bothers me, but is this abuse? As if someone else needs to tell them if what they’re experiencing is acceptable or not. They feel uncomfortable about it, but then let’s say Anne Blythe at Betrayal Trauma Recovery says to them oh, no, that’s fine. That’s not abuse. And then that’s kind of gaslighting them, and then they’d be like, well, okay, I guess Anne said that him grabbing a cookie out of my hand, shoving it in his face isn’t abuse so I guess I accept that. Like, I want to give women the confidence that nobody needs to tell you if it’s okay or not.
Like, is it okay with you? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel safe? And what someone else might feel is fine acceptable behavior you’re very uncomfortable with, and it makes you feel bad, and you don’t like it. Like, that’s the only thing you need to pay attention to, and that’s enough. So, if your clergy says, oh, that’s not a big deal, all men do that. If a therapist is like, oh, well, you just need to understand him more, and then you would understand why he does that. You don’t need to worry about that. You just need to think is this acceptable to me? Is this something that I feel comfortable within my own home?
“Your Intuition Is Your Greatest Gift”
Christina: Absolutely. I 100% agree with that, and one of the things that I encourage our clients in is the woman’s intuition. It’s God-given to you for you to use. It is beautiful, it is unique. It identifies you, and you know inside of yourself, oh, wait a minute, that is really not okay. Hold up, I did not feel safe. You know, introducing the proper words. Wait, are you safe? You know, can you be vulnerable? You know, is there truth in this relationship? Is the relationship honest? Are you safe? And your intuition is your greatest gift, your very own for you. In time, be able to even validate yourself and say, wait a minute, I’m listening to my intuition. I am not safe. Oh, that was not communicated well. I was just gaslit, and I know that for myself. That is one of our goals at BTR, and I’m so thankful for that because a lot of times when a woman has been abused for so long, that part of her has been dismissed. She has been taught to stuff it down. She has been taught to listen to everybody else, except herself, and that’s a woman’s greatest strength, is her intuition.
“Learning About abuse Doesn’t Create Abuse Out Of Thin Air”
Anne: I think clergy concerns and therapist concerns are like, well, we don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. So, we don’t want to call this abuse because the consequences of that are just too extreme. And so, they try to avoid that. And I think one of the reasons women are concerned about learning about abuse is because they’re concerned that it will be abuse. As if reading Lundy Bancroft’s book will create abuse out of thin air, when it didn’t exist before, and I want to tell women if you read that book, and then you say, oh, this is not what I’m experiencing, then you can know it’s not abuse. Learning about abuse doesn’t create abuse out of thin air. It helps you recognize what’s going on.
The other thing that I have found is that as I have learned more and more about what abuse is, how it works, what the underlying issues are like control, manipulation, misogyny, things like that. I’ve also learned more about what healthy behaviors are and I’ve actually felt more and more safe in the world because I can more clearly see abuse while it’s happening in real-time, right? I can witness something and be like oh, that’s abuse.
Learning About Abuse Can Help You Become a Champion For Other Women
In fact, I was at Sequoia National Park, and there was a man and a woman. They had been waiting but then a line formed, and they were not in the line. So, they were there first but they didn’t get into line on time for the shuttle. And he said to her, what’s wrong with you? We woke up at four o’clock in the morning to do this, now we have to be at the back of the line, and I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I stopped them and I pointed right at him, at his chest, and I said, “What’s wrong with you? There’s nothing wrong with her. I don’t know what your problem is, but whatever it is, something is wrong with you.” And then I tried to give her a very compassionate look, but in that moment, I knew that is abuse. Like I’m going to say something at this moment. And similarly with healthy men that I now observe, I’m like oh, that’s healthy, that’s not abuse. So, I want to let women off the hook and say that learning about abuse is not going to create abuse out of thin air. They were abusing you whether you know it or not.
“The Mountain Is Already There”
Christina: Yes. Yes, and I was exactly going to say the same thing. You know, the idea of creating a mountain out of a molehill. The mountain is already there. It’s just a matter of if you’re going to define it properly, diagnose it properly, identify it properly as abuse and get to safety. If anybody else will recognize this as the truth. The clergy, all of those who will say that, and ignoring the actual abuse is not going to make it any better. So actually, opening up and reading the book, getting the information that will help you to address oh, this is who he really is. This is who has been in my house, in my bed, this is my husband. And it does strengthen you when you see abusive situations, to actually stand up. You identify it so much quicker because now your intuition is informed. You’re like oh, my intuition was telling me right this entire time, and your strengthened, and you know you can know the difference and clearly identify it. Especially if you’re not ignoring the mountain that’s already there, because the mountain is already there, it is not a molehill.
Anne: Yeah, what they’re doing is making a molehill out of a mountain. Right?
Christina: Exactly right.
Anne: And that mountain is going to crush her.
Abuse Doesn’t Get Better Over Time
Christina: It is going to crush her, and then what? I mean, you know, and it’s so unfortunate because they’ll say that, and by the time she’s actually at a place of saying something, the mountain is already crushing her. Then there’s more to come by the time she’s even able to express herself. It doesn’t just get better over time when it’s not addressed properly.
Anne: Yes, exactly. So, Betrayal Trauma Recovery is interfaith and interparadigm. We welcome everyone here. We have agnostics who listen to the podcast, atheists, Christians, Jewish women, everyone is welcome here. When we speak from a perspective of a woman of faith, we’re just speaking from our own experience, but not necessarily telling other women that they need to process it this way. So, because Christina is a woman of faith, one of the things that I’ve heard you say lots is that you really like to build value for yourself and create value in God’s word. Can you talk about how God’s word has helped you feel that you have value?
Using Your Spiritual Beliefs to Define Your Value
Christina: Absolutely. You know, the idea that God’s Word says that I’m worth more than the whole world to God. And that, you know, when He defines love, love is patient, it is kind. It is not rude, is not boastful. It doesn’t demand its own way. It’s not irritable. I mean, he’s talking about me and how much God loves me, and in His love, because I’m a woman, I’m supposed to believe that I’m supposed to be an object? And an object of abuse? I’m neither.
God made me, and He shaped me, and He loves me. And just like, you know, there are way more scriptures about evil in the Bible, and that’s what he calls; He calls sin and what our husbands have done, He calls it evil. And He said that husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and He died; He gave himself for the church. And that’s what I love about God. That is my value.
“My Value Is Not Defined By This Experience I’ve Had With My Husband”
My value is not defined by this experience I’ve had with my husband. It’s already defined in God’s word, and that’s a place where I don’t have to give any man. It’s that place where God has said I am loved, and I am His. And that’s what I think that I did in the beginning of my marriage and coming into the church. I do believe the scripture was misappropriated, Ephesians chapter five, and it was almost taught to us in the way that the husband can act any kind of way, and they were dealing with more of the core of him. So, he can be not nice, he can be unkind, he can stonewall, he can even DARVO.
None of those things were addressed back then, and your job is you’re just supposed to submit, and that is not true. I look at submission completely differently. It means under the mission, and the mission is Christ. The mission is not to be abused, or to be punished, or to be an object. That is not Christ’s mission. The mission is Christ and His will, and my husband was supposed to submit to Christ. I submit to that, and in the male, he did not, and I have no responsibility to submit to him.
Abusiveness Is His Character And It’s His Choice
Anne: Yeah. Absolutely agreed. For us Christians submitting to God, right, and submitting to truth, submitting to righteousness is really important to us. And so many women feel like, I need to submit to my husband because that’s what the scriptures say, but they don’t realize what they’re submitting to is evil. They’re submitting to evil, and God does not want us to do that.
Christina: Not at all. I believe Jesus said that when Satan lies is in his character, he lies from his character. And I thought that was so good when I joined BTR because I was so surprised, you know, I kept hearing addiction and things like that, or my husband had a sexual addiction. And then to find out oh no, this is his character. This was his choice. It was an integrity problem; he had an integrity abuse problem. I was just blown away that no, this is a thinking problem. He’s a misogynist. He has misogynistic thinking, and he lacked empathy. He had empathy for himself, but he definitely didn’t have empathy for his low wife, and the misogynistic views he had for his wife. He didn’t have that, and so I just absolutely love the truth here at BTR because it calls it out for what it is. And no man, no husband is above God’s word, and because he’s a husband he’s not subjugated to all the parts of scripture. Where he lies is evil. He watches porn, it’s evil. He commits adultery, it’s evil. If he has wickedness in his heart, it is evil. And that’s what God’s Word says, and I’m sticking to that.
Spiritual & Religious Trauma
Anne: Yeah, me too. So there have been several clergy people that tell me things like well, porn isn’t adultery and I’m like, ummm, I think that Jesus would have the final say on that and he says that it’s adultery, right. Or these men aren’t bad guys, and I’m like, well, you know, the scriptures call them wicked, so I think I’ll stick with what the scriptures say thank you very much. I find peace in the scriptures, and I find so much healing there. That God really hates this. He loves us.
For the women who find the scriptures to be really triggering, or they’re very difficult for them to read, or church to be triggering or things like that, our heart goes out to you. So many women have decided to move away from their faith as a result of their abuse, and I want to just say from a BTR perspective, we understand that too. What makes me really sad in that situation, depending on what the woman is like and what she wants, and we always just support her and what’s best for her.
“Determine Which Things Do Serve You, That You Still Love”
What does make me sad about it is it sometimes things women really care about, like their faith, or maybe other things. Let’s pretend like she really super cares about a certain football team, and that has been her identity and she goes to all the football games and she does a football party and she wears the jersey and everything, and then after she finds out that her husband is an abuser and has been using those football things as a weapon against her, and then suddenly she loses that football team too. She loses the ability to find joy in her team and she can’t throw parties anymore. Like every time she sees the jersey she just wants to throw up, right. And that’s the same thing with women in their faith sometimes, in that some women are having a visceral reaction to a man in a suit and tie for example, or someone reading scriptures or something. And so, I just want to send out love and hugs to you if you have lost something no matter what it is. Your faith, a football team, you know, it could be I don’t know, cheesecake. Whatever it is, if you have lost something as a result of your husband’s abuse, and also encourage you that as you heal to determine what things do serve you that you still love and as you heal, to reconnect with those things depending on what those are and where you’re at in your healing.
Christina, you are an amazing coach and I’m so grateful that you found BTR and that you’ve become part of our team. From your perspective now, what advice would you give to women who are just finding out about their husband’s porn use?
If You Just Found Out About Your Husband’s Porn Use
Christina: He hid that for years. I knew about that many years ago, and then it was something that you know, he dealt with. The minister said don’t tell Christina, and once he started back after four years, he hid it. And so, I had a dream that he was hiding something, and I found out about it there, which led me to learn that he was still in porn and things like that and was growing it the whole time. So, I do have some advice.
If you’ve just found out about your husband’s porn use. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It had nothing to do with the marriage. It had nothing to do with you. You know, I hear it a lot with our clients to think about all the things they brought into the marriage, whether their own childhood trauma, the areas where they feel like they fell short, where there’s communication, or what they’re able to give. Even in the worst marriage, it is still not your fault at all, and my hope is that you as a woman can rest and know that this is 100% his issue, not yours.
Porn Use Is Abuse. It’s That Simple.
Anne: That’s really a good place to start. The reason why I wanted to bring up porn use is we talked so much about abuse here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, and abuse is really hard to figure out, right. You’ve got all this stuff going on, is it abuse or not abuse, but one of the easiest markers is porn use. I just want to put everyone’s mind at ease or at not at ease, I guess. If you know that your husband has used porn and he’s lied to you about it, it’s abuse. It’s just, that is the easiest marker. It’s sort of like someone punching you. Some women say ah, I just wish that he would punch me in the face. Not that they actually want to be punched in the face, but then I would know what was really going on, right. A lot of women say that.
I would say that is exactly the same thing you can say about porn. If you know that your husband has used porn, if you’ve seen it on his phone or you’ve had some inkling that is going on. That is another marker and it’s just as clear as someone punching you in the face. And the unfortunate thing about porn is that if you do get punched in the face with it, if you do see it, then you know. Then you know, but they can hide it forever and also you could never know about it. So, in that case, you have to look at all the other abuse markers.
“Porn is Part Of The Soup of Abuse That We Experience”
And a lot of women will tell me, oh no, he never used porn but he gaslit, he lied, he had an affair, you know he did all these other things. And to those women, I always say well, and you can never know whether or not he used porn or not, but my guess is he did because porn is part of the soup of abuse that we experience. And I think it’s important to talk about because it’s rarely brought up in just mainstream abuse circles.
And similarly, in the pornography addiction recovery world abuse has never talked about. And so, at BTR we want to bring all these things together so women can have a very clear round picture of the truth and what is happening.
Well, Christina, thank you so much for coming on today’s episode.
Christina: Thank you, Anne, so much for having me. It has been a pleasure.
Anne: Again, you can meet with Christina by joining Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our daily online group. There are multiple sessions a day in every single time zone. She is one of the coaches, she facilitates several different sessions of that group, as do all of our coaches. So, when you join you can meet all of our coaches, including Christina. You can also schedule an individual session with any of our coaches and we’re so excited to have Christina here and excited to have a very strong knowledgeable team that can help you. So check out the session schedule; we’d love to see you in a session today.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.