Betrayal Trauma Recovery believes that pornography is abusive. While some experts still struggle to label it as abuse, there are many that agree.

Anne, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, discusses the topic of pornography as an abuse issue with Sarah McDugal. Sarah, an author, speaker and abuse recovery coach helps women in the faith community find healing from abusive relationships.

3 Reasons Pornography Is Abuse

In Sarah’s experience working with abuse victims, she has found three reasons why pornography is a form of sexual abuse. The affects are further reaching than some think. She starts by looking from the outside and works in.

3 Reasons Pornography Is Abuse

  1. Pornography leads to sex trafficking.
  2. Pornography leads to spousal abuse.
  3. Pornography leads to self-abuse.

From her perspective and experience, Sarah believes pornography is abusive for these reasons.

Porn Viewer’s Pleasure Comes From Another’s Abuse

The first level Sarah talks about is far out, the people in the porn scene. While porn stars may be paid and they may be actors, it doesn’t mean they aren’t being abused.

Sarah believes that those who defend the porn industry are not looking at it from the right angle.

“People say that it’s a legitimate choice of career. However, those who insist on this are not operating out of a trauma-informed perspective on the type of psychological grooming, emotional and verbal manipulation, or even abuse and insulting that is part of getting someone into the porn industry and then keeping someone in the porn industry.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Sarah has worked extensively with the human trafficking and anti-porn industry liaison in her county, who also does training in Washington D.C. He also agrees that abuse is rampant in the porn industry.

“[My county liaison] has said that the statistics are that if you’ve watched 30 minutes of pornography, you’re guaranteed to have seen someone who was outright there against their will. Even if you think you’re watching ‘free-trade’ or ‘ethical porn.’ That is a whopping proportion of slavery to just general output of a product.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Those who view pornography are benefiting from someone else being abused. Sarah says there’s no healthy way to approach that, period.

Viewing Pornography Leads To Spouse Abuse

The next level Sarah talks about is a lot closer to the viewer.

Research has shown that watching pornography literally changes the brain and has a negative effect. The most significant effects are on the emotions and the capacity for empathy. Sarah points out how it impacts the marriage relationship.

“It does not make you more compassionate, more filled with empathy, more capable of connecting to your spouse’s or partner’s physical, emotional, mental, psychological needs.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Another way it is sexual abuse, according to Sarah, is that it takes something that was meant to be shared between two people who are committed to each other, and turns it into a “self-focused, self-gratifying act where… there’s no give. It is all take. You are taking from yourself to yourself.”

The porn user doesn’t focus on their spouse, they focus on their own wants and desires.

“If you are married, pornography usage is directly tied to loss of intimacy, reduced empathy, and overall addictive behaviors.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Sexual abuse in marriage can take on many forms including coercion and wife rape.

Pornography Is Sexual Abuse Of Self

The last level Sarah talks about is the self.

Pornography takes what is meant to be a sacred act between two people and turns sex into a solo act. The viewer learns to connect with a screen or a picture. They create connections with objects.

Sarah points out that the viewer is depriving themselves of an experience that is meant to be shared.

“It is not only sexually abusing your partner by depriving them of your intimacy and empathy, it is also sexually abusing yourself. You’re taking what was meant to be a shared experienced where you learn to give in love and turning it inwards and on yourself, isolating yourself from receiving from another person.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Sarah says there is a lot of data that says porn really does teach abuse.

“I call it the #consumergroomer for real-life sexual abuse, because the more you watch, the harder you have to see and the harder it has to get in order to get the same high.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

She says it’s the nature of addiction escalates and there’s nothing good about it.

Pornography A Mindset For Cheating And Abuse

Anne, who previously had a discussion with her mother on the topic, asks Sarah if she believes viewing pornography is committing adultery. Sarah says it is.

“For whatever reason you’re using the information, the sexual voyeurism of those performing sexual acts on a screen under any context, you’re using that for your own sexual pleasure and arousal. Which means you are stealing the sexual faithfulness that is designed by God to be given only to your spouse.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Sarah says that many will try to excuse their pornography use by saying they aren’t married. To them, she says, “Well, then fine, that’s fornication, but it’s no different. If you’re not married right now, you’re cheating on your future spouse. You’re developing a mindset.”

Even if a user isn’t married, they are setting themselves up to cheat on their future spouse.

If they don’t care about that, Sarah says, they should, at least, care about the effects it has on themselves.

“Even if you really don’t care about your future unnamed spouse, even if you really don’t care about your present spouse, if you care about your own body, your own mentality, your own ability to think clearly, to have empathy, to connect with other people, to not be isolated in addiction, flee sexual sin.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Sarah also believes that abusers and addicts can change.

Pornography Addiction: Is It A Choice?

While Sarah agrees that pornography is highly addictive and, in fact, one of the most highly addictive forms of online entertainment, she also believes it is a choice.

Many experts believe addiction is a disease, Sarah says it’s still a choice.

“Sure. It creates diseased responses in the body and the brain. I agree. Is it a disease you have no control over? NO.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

She says that porn “is more powerful than external substances because it’s all in your head. You don’t actually need to go get and external substance to get that hit, you just have to go there in your mind.”

Sarah says that there are some addicts who would compare it to cancer and criticize a wife who leaves her porn or sex addicted husband who refuses to change. She says they are unrepentant and choosing sin over redemption.

No excuse is a good reason for someone to be abusive.

Sarah believes that it is a choice. The addict can choose to remain addicted, or they can choose sobriety and recovery. Statistically, she says, only about 10% of abusers choose to try to change.

She says it can take up to three to five years of therapy three times a week without relapse to make sure an abuser has changed. Sarah says it’s best to wait and watch from a safe distance.

“If you have a spouse who’s willing to actually do that, that’s an extraordinary experience.” -Sarah McDugal, author, speaker and abuse recovery coach

Like Sarah, Betrayal Trauma Recovery believes abusers can change, if they choose to.

To help with that change, Betrayal Trauma Recovery has partnered with Center for Peace.

Center for Peace is not an addiction recovery program, but an abuse cessation program. Center for Peace helps men who are exhibiting abusive behaviors such as lying, manipulating, porn use, infidelity, soliciting prostitutes, and other abusive behaviors that are often seen at BTR.

Coach Joi, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coaching Coordinator, runs the program at Center for Peace. BTR works together with Center for Peace as support for the wives of men who are working the program. For more information on Center for Peace, please click here.

Anne is currently looking for women who would be willing to share their experiences with self-care. If you are interested, please email her assistant at kari@btr.org.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I have Sarah McDugal on today’s episode. She is incredible, and I am so grateful that she took the time to come on the podcast today.

She is an author, an international speaker, and abuse recovery coach for women in the faith community who are healing from abusive relationships. Her passion is to lead women out of the wilderness and into a wild abundant life with Jesus.

Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah: Thank you, Anne. It is delightful. I’ve loved just chatting with you and getting to know you a little bit. I’m really excited about today. We’re going to have fun. As much fun as you can have on this kind of topic.

Anne: Yeah, no kidding.

Sarah: I tell this to my new girls all the time. They say that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and gives you a really dark and twisted sense of humor.” So when I say that we’re going to have fun talking about this stuff, that’s probably my dark and twisted sense of humor coming out.

Anne: I say to people, “What doesn’t kill you puts you in a coma and then after you come out of the coma then you’ll be stronger,” but you’ve got the coma phase for a while.

I’m going to give you Sarah’s link so that you can find her online at sarahmcdugal.com, on Facebook at Sarah McDugal Author, on YouTube at Sarah McDugal, and on Instagram @SarahMcdugal. Follow her on social media, she is amazing. I’m so grateful to have her here.

Let’s start out. You and I agree that pornography is a form of sexual abuse. Can you tell me about how you came to that conclusion and why you think it is sexual abuse?

Sarah: Let’s just start with the easy questions, why don’t we. I think that there are multiple reasons why pornography is considered a form of sexual abuse, at least in my perspective. Certainly, when I work with taking abuse victims through the power and control wheels there is both viewing pornography and forcing or requiring someone else to view pornography included under sexual abuse.

In the discussion about pornography being a form abuse, I see three specific reasons why, and I’m going to start from the outside and work in.

Pornography And Sex Trafficking

First of all, pornography and the porn industry are directly tied to sex trafficking. I know there is a lot of debate, especially among those who are really protective of the porn industry or of their attachment to the porn industry. There’s a lot of debate about the fact that porn stars are paid and that porn stars are actors.

People say that it’s a legitimate choice of career. However, those who insist on this, generally, are not operating out of a trauma-informed perspective on the type of psychological grooming, the emotional manipulation, the verbal manipulation, or even abuse and insulting that is part of getting someone into the porn industry and then keeping someone in the porn industry.

Also, there’s a lot of just general naivety among mass consumers of how things really are in the porn star world. There are so many porn stars who are dead, who have contracted diseases, who are mentally and emotionally broken down because of the general atmosphere of pornography work.

In addition, I’ve worked for a number of years with my local county who leads my state in pushing back against the human slave trade—human trafficking industries—with law enforcement. The liaison in my local county for human trafficking and anti-porn industry, who also goes and does training for others in D.C., and what he has said is that the statistics are that if you’ve watched 30 minutes of pornography you’re guaranteed to have seen someone who was outright there against their will.

The prevalence, even if you think you’re watching “free-trade”, “cruelty-free porn”, or “ethical porn”—those are oxymorons that do not belong in the same mouthful—but, if you’ve watched 30 minutes of porn, any consecutive 30 minutes, you’re guaranteed to have seen someone who is there against their will. That is a whopping proportion of slavery to just general output of a product.

That is the number one reason that I believe porn is inextricably tied to sexual abuse. Because, if you are viewing porn, you are benefitting in your own sexual pleasure from someone else who is being abused and there is no healthy approach to that. PERIOD.

Pornography Leads To Spousal Abuse

Outside working in. Two, that is the effect that porn has on how you treat the person you are with. First, far out, is the people in the porn scene. Second, how it has you change in the way you treat people you’re with.

If you are married, pornography usage is directly tied to loss of intimacy, reduced empathy, and overall addictive behaviors. I have some stats that we can go through a little bit later on in the show, and they are resources so I’m not just spouting things off the top of my head. It’s all about the science and the stats that back things up.

Anne: Yes. The cool thing about Betrayal Trauma Recovery is that all of my listeners are like, “Preach it sister!” They’re like, “Wait, you can tell us the stats. That’s fine, but we know because we’ve lived it.” So, you’re in a safe space.

Sarah: I love that. I wish I knew every single one of you guys out there who are listening, but still, if you want to repeat any of this stuff, you’re going to have some hater in your life who’s going to be like, “Well, where did you get that?” And you’ll say, “Well, there was this one woman on this podcast I listened to.” Then they’ll be like, “Well, where did she get that?” I want to give you the background for things.

The effect on the brain and the emotions and the capacity for empathy of the pornography consumer is a net negative. It does not make you more compassionate, more filled with empathy, more capable of connecting to your spouse’s or your partner’s physical, emotional, mental, psychological needs.

The use of pornography takes the sexual act that was designed and created by God to be shared between two people, who are committed in love to each other—and I personally believe that that is designed to be shared by two people who are committed in marriage and love to each other—but it takes that sexual act and it turns it into a self-focused, self-gratifying act where there is no need of paying attention to the other person’s feelings, pleasure—there’s no give. It is all take, and you are taking from yourself to yourself.

Pornography Leads To Self-Abuse

That leads me to the third reason that I believe that porn is a form of sexual abuse, and that is because it destroys what is meant to be shared and turns it into something that you experience alone.

In all honesty, I believe that porn is not only participating in and benefiting from the sexual abuse of the person on the screen, it is not only sexually abusing your partner by depriving them of your intimacy and your empathy, but it is also sexually abusing yourself because you are taking what was meant to be a shared experienced where you learned to give in love and you’re turning it inwards and on yourself and isolating yourself also from receiving from another person.

On top of that, there is just really great data out there that porn is, I call it the #consumergroomer for in real-life sexual abuse, because the more you watch the harder you have to see and the harder it has to get in order to get the same high. That’s the nature of addiction, we can talk more about that, and you get through harder and harder core stuff because that’s the nature of an escalating addiction. There’s just no good thing about it.

Anne: No, it’s abusive in and of itself and then it’s grooming people to be abusive.

We had an episode a while back, if you hadn’t heard it, where my Mom and I pontificated about the fact that pornography is committing adultery. A lot of people wrote in and were like, “Oh, your mom,” so I’m going to have her back on to get on her soapbox again about some more fun things.

Viewing Pornography Is Committing Adultery

For you, Sarah, why is viewing pornography the same as committing adultery?

Sarah: That’s a great question because a lot of people are like, “Well, hey, we just watch it together. I mean, I’m not cheating on my spouse or my partner because it’s something we do together.”

Whether or not you do it together or you do it alone, as far as watching porn or participating in consuming pornography—this is where I’m definitely going to betray my faith roots because I look at it from a faith perspective and from a perspective of appreciating the institution of marriage.

I get that there will be those out there who disagree with me on this, but if you believe that marriage is meant to include sexual faithfulness. If you also believe that Jesus Christ actually meant what He said when he said that if you look at a woman to lust after her then you have committed adultery in your heart, then viewing pornography is an activity that is solely intended for the purpose of lust with your eyes after another person.

That counts whether your lusting after another woman, whether your lusting after another man, whether your lusting after heterosexual or homosexual pornography. For whatever reason you are using the information, the sexual voyeurism of those performing sexual acts on a screen under any context, you’re using that for your own sexual pleasure and arousal. Which means you are stealing the sexual faithfulness that is designed by God to be given only to your spouse.

You’re taking that away and you are using it, benefiting from it, pleasuring from it, in a way that can be nothing but adultery because if we are intended to share sexuality only with the person we are married to, then pornography is a breaking of that covenant because you are gaining sexual pleasure from the viewing of someone else, even if you’re not part of the action.

Anne: I think that Christ saying it is enough for me. The logic is good, and, at the same time, I’m thinking why would any Christian think that it’s not? For those of you who aren’t Christian we can follow that up with these are the reasons why it is, it clearly is, but at the same time it’s Christ just says it just like that. If you look at anyone to lust after them, you are committing adultery. I keep saying this, but it’s not rocket science people.

Sarah: Here’s the thing, there are caveats that people get themselves out with.

“I’m not married right now so I’m not committing adultery.” Well, then fine, that’s fornication, but it’s no different. If you’re not married right now, you’re cheating on your future spouse. You’re developing a mindset.

Anne: It harms you. The commandments are there to protect us and to help us and to benefit us. So, it’s going to harm you.

Sarah: Now, my favorite translation of the bible is the New Living Translation. Different people have their different favorite ones, but 1 Corinthians 6:18 is a really good one with this. It says “Run from sexual sin. No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.” Why? It’s not talking about STD’s. It says: “For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.”

Even if you really don’t care about your future unnamed spouse, even if you really don’t care about your present spouse, if you care about your own body, your own mentality, your own ability to think clearly, to have empathy, to connect with other people, to not be isolated in addiction, flee sexual sin.

We see science now following up with so many statistics and studies that support that, but God said it centuries and centuries ago.

Pornography Is Addictive, But It’s A Choice

Anne: Let’s talk about this addiction thing because I’m kind of getting to the point where I don’t want to call it addiction anymore. Is it addictive? Yes, I think it is, but I’m kind of getting to the point where I just want to call it abuse.

They habitually abuse porn. They’re habitually lying and manipulating and those are abusive. They’re engaging in abusive behaviors, chronically, and that’s kind of where I’m going.

Now, I do think that it’s addictive, but it just feels truer to me to call it abuse. Where are you on this progression? How are you feeling about the word addiction these days?

Sarah: I think that addiction is a sin of choice, a disease of choice. There are those who—I keep introducing my ideas with that caveat, there are those who won’t agree with me, that’s probably getting old if your listening now—so here’s my blanket caveat… There are those who will disagree with everything I say for the rest of the show.

I’m so used to speaking to groups of people who shouldn’t actually disagree, like crowds of pastors and church leaders and spiritual executives or administrators, and with them, I have to use that caveat all the time.

Anne: I know. Well, this is why you’re probably doing better in that realm then I am because I show up at these groups and I don’t give that caveat. I stare them down and I say, “This is wrong and if you disagree with me you’re full of crap.” I think that’s why people are like, “Oh, she’s…” because I don’t give any caveats.

Sarah: Is it an addiction? I agree with you that pornography is highly addictive. If you go to secular therapy, you’re going to hear, “Well, addiction is a disease.” Well, that’s fine. Sure. It creates diseased responses in the body and the brain. I agree. Is it a disease you have no control over? NO.

There is actually a book out, I believe it’s called Addiction is a Disease of Choice—feel free to look it up—it’s got a lot of interesting stuff in it, but the whole idea that “I’m just like a cancer patient. I have no control over this because I have this addiction,” is absolutely false. Patently false.

Particularly from the perspective of the Gospel because we’re talking about, on one hand, especially among Christians who struggle with what we’d call a pornography addiction or sexual addiction, we’re talking about how we go to Church and Jesus can deliver you from anything.

Well, unless you watch porn, and in that case, you’re like hopelessly in bondage to it for the rest of your life and you’re going to struggle with this for the rest of your life. I don’t believe that. I believe that we choose and that we are in charge of our thoughts and our choices.

Can negative choices become like chains of bondage around us? Absolutely! Can the strength of Christ for positive choices, repeated over and over again, change and break those bonds? Yes! No one, in my perception, is narcissistic beyond repair and no one is addicted to porn beyond redemption.

Here’s the sad reality. Those who are highly narcissistic and those who are given over to pornography and sexual addiction are very unlikely to make the choices to change, but they are still capable of choosing.

So we say, “Oh, they’re just very strong-willed.” No, they’re not. They are weak-willed because they cannot conquer themselves.

Anne: I say it’s possible. It’s not probable. In Christian circles when the man claims to have been saved by Jesus, so he’s over it. He said a prayer and Christ changed him and he’s done with it, which is what my ex said and then he lied for 7 years after that.

I think that in order to have faith and utilize Christ’s Atonement to be able to change, you have to actually take steps toward that. You can’t just say that you were changed and actually be changed. That’s not how it works because, in order to actually benefit from the Spirit, you have to be obedient to the Commandments.

Sarah: I actually do a whole program on how to take charge of your thoughts and learn to change the way you think in order to change how you feel. The New Testament talks about taking every thought captive and let the mind of Christ be in you, and I don’t think that those are just random phrases being strung together in scripture.

I think they are actually things that we are supposed to be able to do. Those are practical tools. Being able to take charge of our thoughts and to change how we think is effective in addictive habits and addictive choices and that kind of thing as well.

Cancer And Addiction Are Not The Same Thing

We are not helpless in the face of addiction. If you have a spouse who’s telling you that if you leave them because they’re addicted to porn and they refuse to change, that you’re as bad as a spouse who is abandoning their husband because he got cancer, you are dealing with an unrepentant person who is choosing sin over redemption.

That is actually something I was told at one point in my life when I was trying to hang on to some sense of accountability. I was told that if I insisted on accountability I was as bad as someone who abandoned a cancer patient—a spouse because they got cancer—because the other person in this scenario had completely swallowed hook, line, and sinker, pop psychology’s idea that you are captive to this disease.

Well, you know what, if Jesus comes to save then we are not captive to any form of thinking beyond redemption. Jesus is here and with us because He wants to bring us freedom from that, and I really truly believe that.

Now, is porn more addictive than cocaine? Yes. Out of all the forms of online entertainment like gambling and gaming, surfing and everything, porn has the strongest tendency to be addictive. Seeking adult entertainment is the most common reason for compulsive internet use, and if you want stats for that, that’s from fightthenewdrug.com.

Does porn create a physiological response in the brain? That dopamine hit that’s just like a foreign chemical or an external substance? Yes, and here’s where porn is more powerful than external substances because it’s all in your head. You don’t actually need to go get an external substance to get that hit. You just have to go there in your mind.

Does that mean that it can be harder to break porn than it can be to quit cigarettes or alcohol? Yes, but it also means that all the power is in your mind. If you’re allowing God to transform the way you think and to fill you up with good Holy thoughts and perspectives, then redemption from porn is not impossible.

You know, I say that because I do believe there is hope for those who are addicted to porn. On the other hand, is it likely? No.

Going back to all of our women who are listening and whose spouses are porn addicts, is it really probable that your husband is going to realize this and decide that he’s going to be the 1 in 10 abusive spouses who are going to really start trying to do the hard work of change?

That 10% who just try. That doesn’t mean that a full 10% actually succeed in changing, that’s just the 10% who are willing to try. That’s not very likely.

Anne: No. Here at BTR, we want to hold a space for that, for them being able to change. Instead of the classic “serve, forgive, love” that we get at Church while we’re “waiting for change” and seeing if they’re capable of change, safety is the most important thing.

If you are inclined to say I believe that my husband can do this. I believe in the power of Christ or I believe that he can make healthy choices, or wherever you are at on that, that is fine. That is great and go for it.

That’s what I did. I waited in a safe place with no contact and observed, from a distance, his behavior and it just kept getting worse. Now, I hope that that doesn’t happen for you. For some women, they might see, “Oh wow, he’s making positive changes,” and they can see that. The actions are the most important thing.

No Excuse Is A Good Reason To Be Abusive

I was talking with Coach Joi the other day about one of our Church leaders who says that studying the Gospel changes behavior quicker than studying behavior changes behavior. I was thinking about that in the context of therapy or other places where an addict might go and talk about all the “reasons why.”

Like, “I do it because I was abused as a kid” or “because my mom didn’t appreciate me” or “because my church leader shamed me” or whatever, and instead of them talking about the behavior, if we focus on the principles of health: honesty, accountability, fidelity, and just do that, even if your thought process isn’t quite there yet—and I agree that Christ can change our thoughts too—but I’m thinking that will change your behavior quicker then talking about why you do the bad thing that you do.

Focusing on and giving yourself a shovel to dig a trench and sit in that trench and say, “Well, the reason I do all these bad things is I have good reasons.

The other thing I tell people is that I know people who have been abused, they’re not abusive. I know people who have had bad moms, they don’t watch porn. So, all of these reasons why you are telling me that you choose unhealthy things and you choose to be abusive to other people are not reasons at all.

Sarah: Have you read Lundy Bancroft?

Anne: Yeah, he’s like our bible around here. Yes.

Sarah: Lundy is amazing. He has this one section in the book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, where he talks about exactly that.

These abusive guys will start talking about, “Oh, well I treat her like this because my mom was so bad with me,” or whatever, and his (Lundy’s) classic response is:

Lundy: “Well, so you remember how it felt when your parent or grandparent or whoever treated you that way and how breaking down that was?”

Abuser: “Oh yeah, it was awful, that’s why I’m so mean.”

Lundy: “So, wait a second, you remember how it felt. So, out of everyone, you should know exactly how she feels when you abuse her because you remember how that felt. That should mean you should do everything possible to never ever treat someone that way.”

Abuser: “Oh.”

Then all of a sudden, they don’t use that excuse anymore.

Anne: Well that, or they say, “Well, this is different because she’s so bad,” or “She deserves it,” or, “she’s not anything like me, she’s a demon.”

Sarah: Right, but they pivot at that point. It’s never that exact excuse ever again because they just realized that they got busted and that doesn’t work for them anymore.

Two things that come to mind when we’re talking about holding out hope for change. I will say that in the work that I do and have done over the last several years in the observation, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for change most of the time, but I do think that it is important to remember that no person is beyond the redemption of Jesus Christ. No person, unless they choose to be, is beyond the potential of salvation.

When we talk about your mind and your thoughts, I’m reminded of Philippians 4:8 and that is this whole idea that instead of just trying to get rid of all the bad stuff, which is exactly what you were saying I’m just kind of rephrasing it from a different perspective, it’s to fill up your mind with what is good.

Philippians 4:8 is “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

The more that you get down in the weeds dwelling on all the negative stuff, even if you’re focused on trying to get rid of the negative stuff, that focus is still keeping you focused on the negative stuff. The more you fill up and crowd out all the negative stuff with good holy honorable things the more capacity you have for that positive change.

Here are some scary, scary statistics. There’s a guy named Mike Tucker who does a program called Mad About Marriage, and he’s a national or maybe even international speaker on marriage, and he says, “If you want to know that an abusive person has changed, what they need to go through is a minimum of three times per week in therapy for 3-5 years without relapse before you can be sure that change has actually stuck.”

Waiting from a safe distance for years and they need to be confirmed participating humbly and surrendered to the process without arrogance or excuses or blame-shifting multiple times a week for years. If you have a spouse who’s willing to actually do that, that’s an extraordinary experience.

Anne: Yeah, and whether or not they do or don’t, the cool thing is you can observe from that safe distance to know if you’re safe. That’s the thing that everyone needs to know, and everyone needs to understand about the situation so that we can get women to safety as soon as possible so they don’t have to be actively abused anymore or ever again.

Now, does divorce solve that? No. You still are abused through their lies and manipulation and other things, but at least the amount of contact you can reduce it drastically, and that’s the goal.

Sarah will be back again next week to talk about how the term co-addict or co-dependency is being weaponized against victims and more about abuse so please stay tuned. We’ll have her back next week.

Thank you so much for coming on today Sarah.

Sarah: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Anne: Summer is over. I don’t know if you were like this, but I just held on by the seat of my pants. Summer is so hard for me. I’m very organized in terms of stuff around my house but I’m not naturally organized when it comes to time management. So, summer is always a disaster. I always either over-plan or under-plan and nothing ever goes quite right.

I’m so glad that school has started again. It gives me a natural organization to my day, and when fall starts a lot of women are looking forward to working on self-care and progressing towards peace. I am specifically working on self-care.

I created the Daily Wellness Journal which is a self-care log for women who are looking to improve their self-care. I made it for myself so it’s sort of the way I do things, it’s more of a checklist-style.

There’s also a boundary log on our website and other books or logs that might be helpful to you. You can find those at BTR.org/books

Call For Self-Care Interviews

If anyone out there is interested in coming on the podcast to talk about self-care that works for them, tips that they might have, or things that are not working for them just so that we can have a discussion about it, I would love to have you on. Email my assistant kari@btr.org and you can schedule an interview with me. I’d love to talk to you about self-care and what is working, what isn’t working, and what your goals are.

We have added a lot of sessions to Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, so if you are working towards safety and peace go to BTR.org, look at the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Schedule (it’s under daily group sessions), and check out if that will work for you.

I think we have upwards of 18 sessions per week. It increases frequently so I’m not sure if that’s exactly accurate, so check out the website and see what the session schedule looks like right now.

Also, if you are looking for a men’s program that takes the BTR approach that pornography use is abusive and approaches it from an abuse perspective, check out our partner Center For Peace at cenfp.org.

You might not know, but this podcast is actually brought to you by your donations. So, those of you who donate monthly to the podcast, a huge shout out and a huge thank you to you. In order to continue to provide this high-quality resource for free for women throughout the world, we need your monthly recurring donation, so please go to BTR.org, scroll down to the bottom, click on Make A Donation, and set your monthly recurring donation today.

Similarly, if this podcast is helpful to you please tell friends about it or post about it on Facebook. I know it’s iffy because you might not want people to know this is happening to you, but the “I know a friend who benefited from this greatly and more women need to know about it” method works really well.

We have found that when women find us it’s such a big help to them. We just need your help getting the word out. Thank you to those of you who share our podcasts on social media or tell other women who have experienced this about this podcast.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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