In a world where betrayal, abuse, and sexual exploitation wreck havoc on too many families, women may wonder, what can I really expect from men?
Sarah McDugal joins Anne on the free BTR Podcast to debunk the destructive lies from the book Every Man’s Battle that would indicate that women can, and should, expect nothing but abuse, deflection, and devaluation from men.
Sarah empowers women to understand that we can expect strong values from men – and if they choose to abuse, betray, and lie, we can choose a life free of abuse by setting boundaries and seeking safety.
Read the full transcript and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
You Can Expect Men To Live Truthful Lives
As Anne Blythe, founder of BTR, often says, “Not lying is not rocket science.”
Women can expect men to live truthful lives. A truthful life includes:
- Speaking the truth
- Living authentically (behind closed doors and in public)
- Never withholding important information from his partner
- Disclosing his past and current sexual history
- Owning his own choices without blaming others
- Living a life void of secrecy
- Never engaging in manipulation, gaslighting, deflection, or blame-shifting
Tragically, many victims of betrayal express that the dishonesty that accompanies betrayal is often just as painful, or even more painful, than the betrayal itself.
Expect men to be honest and truthful. If they choose to lie and deceive, seek a peaceful and safe life by setting boundaries that protect you from their choices
You Can Expect Men To Reject Misogyny
Women can expect men to reject misogynistic scripting and embrace the truth: objectifying women is abuse.
When men choose to minimize and justify pornography use and the dehumanization of women, they are devaluing human life.
This is intolerably cruel and a dangerous prerequisite to further forms of abuse.
Men who reject misogyny:
- Do not refer to women or their body parts in sexualized terms
- Are faithful to their partners
- Do not use pornography or participate in any other form of sexual exploitation
- Do not sexually fantasize about others
- Do not share/sell explicit photographs/videos of their partner or other individuals
- Do not talk about human intimacy in casual settings
- Do not view, read, or listen to media that glorifies misogyny
- Treat women as equals
- Seek ways to empower their partners and children
- Validate and empathize with their traumatized partner
- Protect women and children from misogynistic individuals including family members, clergy, therapists, and others
- Provide security for partners and children
- Are intentional about their voice, body language, and facial expression to avoid accidentally intimidating women or children
You Can Expect Men To Take Responsibility For Their Own Thoughts, Feelings, & Behavior
Abusive men blame, shame, guilt, and gaslight their partners into playing God in their lives. Abusers do not want to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. To them, it’s always someone else’s fault.
You can expect men to fully own their own choices.
If a man blames you, even in part, for his thoughts, feelings, or behavior, you can immediately move toward safety by setting boundaries to protect yourself from further harm.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is Here For You
At BTR, we understand how difficult it can be to understand what a healthy relationship can look like – what a healthy man can, and should look like – when many of us have only known abuse and betrayal.
Understanding what you can and should expect from men is helpful as you begin to understand your own worth as the beautiful, important, and precious woman that you are.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is available to you every single day as you navigate your journey to safety. Join today and find the community you deserve.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
I’m continuing the conversation with Sarah McDugal today. Part of this is going to be an expose on Every Man’s Battle and how it’s harmful to women. You’re going to love it. Later on, I’m actually going to talk to Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum, so stay tuned for that in like a month or so. She has a lot to say about this and Sarah took some of her stuff from that book, The Great Sex Rescue, which I’ll talk to Sheila Gregoire about later.
Before we get to my conversation with Sarah, if you’re listening to this podcast, my guess is that I know what you’re going through because I’ve been through it myself and it was extremely excruciating and isolating, and difficult to figure out. In fact, even though I’m doing better personally, and my life is safer now this problem is ongoing if you share children with a sex addict. Even if you’re divorced, the abuse is ongoing and so many women know about this. So, you need support for a long time.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Can Help You
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is the least expensive, most expansive support there is. We have multiple sessions a day in every single time zone. You can go to as many sessions as you want to or need to.
When you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group you get unlimited sessions, and you can join anywhere. Under your bed and in your closet. It’s great.
Rate the BTR Podcast
To those of you who have given us a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts or other podcasting apps. Thank you. Here is one five-star rating we recently received. It’s called “Traumatic Betrayal”. I was with a man for three years who groomed me, lied to me about almost everything concerning his life. After he died, I found out he had multiple relationships behind my back and watched a lot of porn according to his cell phone. In the beginning, I was devastated when I found out about all the betrayal and deceit and this podcast helped me deal with my shame and guilt. I am back in therapy with a therapist I saw during my relationship with my abuser. I did ask my therapist why he didn’t recognize the manipulations and lies from this man and my therapist told me that some people are so good at it, that when they do, even therapists don’t recognize it. This is one of the best podcasts on traumatic betrayal.
Thank you so much for your review.
Every single time you read something, or you share it, it helps isolated women find us, and we know that with your help we are making a big difference in helping women get to peace and safety.
All right, now back to our conversation with Sarah.
Every Man’s Battle Encourages Men To Devalue Women
Anne: You’ve brought up Every Man’s Battle. Can you give a few examples from that book of devaluing that are pretty common in the like Christian vernacular of just devaluing women in general, especially in this context?
Sarah: I don’t even know where to start. I just did a 48-minute scathing review of it.
Anne: By the way, I shared that from our Facebook page. Are there, like one or two that you can think of right now that are just the typical classic examples of what you might get in terms of a clergy devaluing you or your spouse devaluing you in the context of sex addiction?
Sarah: Yes. Okay, so first of all, I think I’m going to try to bring out three things.
Expect Men To Own Up To The Truth & Value Women
First of all, the book Every Man’s Battle takes the approach of very much, and I can even give you page numbers, page 24 to 28 right near the beginning of the book, takes the clinical definitions of sexual addiction and then basically says, “Oh, but you know, all Christian men do this, so that doesn’t apply to us. We’re not actually addicts.” That is a massive devaluing right there. It’s this whole sin leveling – well, hey, if everybody’s doing it then we can’t all be addicts, so we’re not actually addicted. We have a smaller problem than it actually is. So, diminishing that problem is devaluing the work and the value of their wives.
Anne: Also saying, we do this but we’re really good guys basically, and isn’t the goal be like, “we’re not bad guys. We’re not abusers.”
Expect Men To Classify Pornography Use & Objectification Of Women As Infidelity And Abuse
Sarah: Yes, absolutely. And throughout the entire book, not once is there even a hint that infidelity, sexual addiction, sexually compulsive behavior, is actually abuse. They don’t reference it, that I could find, even once in the entire book. So there’s a huge aspect of the approach of, hey, at our core, we’re really good guys. There’s this sense that, it’s actually not a sense, it’s overtly stated over and over through the book that God wired you to be this way. So, you’re supposed to choose purity, but actually, you’re combating the way God wired you to be. So that’s very confusing and I think that’s a devaluing message to men, personally, as well as women.
Expect Men To View Women As “Whole People”
Another aspect of it. Throughout the book is that they say over and over and over again that the way to handle sexual attraction is to, they use the term bounce your eyes. So, what that boils down to is don’t look at anything that you find attractive, and they go so far as to say, but if there’s an attractive woman at work avert your eyes, avoid her, do not talk to her, don’t look at her. Instead of teaching men the message that men need to cultivate a mindset of viewing women as whole people rather than collections of sexuality and objects of sexual pleasure. They say basically, route and channel all your sexual objectification. They don’t say it in so many words, but this is the core, the essence of it. Channel all your sexual objectification on your wife, lucky her, and never look at anyone that you find potentially attractive in the rest of the world.
That devalues the human person.
Anne: All women. Yeah, don’t look at these women, they’re not people, they’re just sex objects, and in order to avoid any sexual feelings don’t look at them. That’s crazy.
Sarah: Exactly. You need quotes for this, and I’m going to give you quotes for one other thing as well. So, page 164 in the 20th anniversary revised and updated edition. Where they apparently improved the book.
Expect Men To Re-Wire Misogynistic Thinking & Beliefs
I realize I’m not being very gracious. I have strong feelings about this, and in my review, in my defense, I started with a list of about a dozen things that I thought were really good points that they made in the book. So there’s that. If you want to hear all the good things I thought, go watch the review before I eviscerate it. I’m not going to waste time with all the good things here on our podcast. So, on page 164, three ways to avoid lustful attraction. They say one bouncer your eyes, don’t even look at a woman you think is attractive.
Two, actual quote, “Avoid her.” So, the core message is don’t teach yourself to treat women as intelligent humans just focus all your sexual energy on the woman you have at home.
Expect Men To Value All Human Life
Three, and this is another direct quote. “Play the dweeb, be bland and uninteresting.” In other words, they’re telling men to reduce themselves in their identity, and hope that dangerous woman will forage elsewhere instead of treat women as humans with equal intelligence. Just play the dweeb. Can you imagine working in an office context with someone who might think you are a reasonably good-looking woman and so they refuse to look at you, they avoid you and they decide to be, I think that the phrase that they use in the book was to commit social suicide in order to avoid having a conversation with attractive women.
Anne: Well, and also think about what that does to that woman’s job. Is she going to be considered for a promotion, is she going to be included in that really important business lunch where they’re discussing what they’re going to do with the business? Is she going to be considered for this meeting where you need input from people? They’re going to be dismissing her and marginalizing her while they’re trying to “avoid looking at her.”
Sarah: So, this type of solution for male sexual attraction is designed to create a toxic abusive work environment.
Anne: Yeah, it’s absolutely misogynistic at its core.
Expect Men To Live Truthful Lives
Sarah: Absolutely. That kind of mental approach to things just permeates the entire book. Now here’s another one and this is on page 111. So, this is the third thing, and then we can move on to whatever you want to move on to if we have the stomach for it after this. This one is a section called telling your wife. Now this is where I feel that it’s kind of, it’s almost in the middle of the book and I think, it’s the hinge point of one of the worst segments that devalues women in the entire book. Their approach to how you should handle your sexual addiction is, don’t tell your wife. They’re encouraging ongoing deception in addicts where deception is already a core fundamental element of the addictive cycle, right. So, let me read you some quotes. I’m on page 111 in the new book, it says, “Perhaps you’ll want to tell your wife about your battle for purity, so that she, your dear gracious wife may help you win.” First of all, it’s not her job. “But don’t be in a big hurry,” they say. “Remember our habits are rooted in our maleness.” They’ve gone over this over and over and over again in the book, “God created your maleness, your habits are rooted in your maleness”. So basically, it’s God’s fault. What does that sound like from those four tools we talked about? Deflection.
Expect Men To See Betrayal As Betrayal, Perversion As Perversion
“Because of that,” I’m quoting again, “we understand them”, meaning our habits. “women don’t. Wives who learn of their husband’s struggles with impurity will often see them as betrayal and they may see their husbands as perverts”, well, really, Sherlock?
Anne: Maybe because they are. It’s weird.
Sarah: Maybe because it’s actually betrayal! Shocking.
Anne: It is shocking.
Sarah: But they don’t at any point say this is betrayal. They say don’t tell your wife because she might get emotional. Now, here, I’m not done. End of page 111 “Women often swing between judgment and mercy, sometimes by the day, sometimes by the hour, the emotions run high, and it plays with your head on the battlefield.” In other words, don’t face the music. Don’t give your wife an opportunity to feel the feelings of your betrayal or look the painful cost of your betrayal in the face. Keep the secret, hide your sin, continue living in a lie to avoid the negative repercussions on your relationship.
Expect Men To Understand That Safety And Trust Are The Foundations For Intimacy
Now here’s what they do say, page 112. Now, I’m just going to interject my editorial illustration here. So, somehow, they’re implying that you can live like this and still achieve intimacy and connection. I mean you tell me, does it work that way?
Anne: No, no it does not. If it wasn’t so alarming and absolutely harmful, it would be hilarious.
Sarah: Exactly, but it’s infuriating because 4 million men and women have read this and assumed that this is how it works.
Listen to this: top of page 112, that’s probably why Brenda, the wife of one of the authors, says that the best time to bring up your struggle to your wife is after you’ve won the battle.
Expect Men To Take Responsibility For Their Own Thoughts And Behaviors
So, first of all, they deflect the responsibility for that suggestion on to one of their wives, because surely if a woman suggested it, it’s the right thing to do right? Second. So, honesty isn’t required for the intimacy they’re advocating? I mean really. And third, the goal here isn’t a can’t miss proposition. The goal is supposed to be humble, genuine disclosure and total honesty, not keeping secrets in secret. As I was reading that and marking it up. I’m sitting there thinking, okay, so wait, do they actually think that telling your wife this, after you’ve “won the struggle” means you’re not still going to rip the rug out from under her world? I mean there’s no way that my backfire. Hey, babe, the last 20 years of our marriage, while I was working on this in secret and not telling you, was totally a lie. Don’t be unhappy. Now, let’s go cook dinner. Yeah, there’s no way that could backfire.
Anne: No, and also totally negates the fact that for that 20 years that you’re working on it in secret and gaslighting her and being emotionally unavailable and etc, etc, that it wasn’t abusive to her the whole time.
Expect Men To Honor Consent
Sarah: Exactly. So, the devaluing that I see there is this fundamental, basic assumption that the little wife is not a whole person who needs to be able to make an informed decision. It’s this idea that she’s not strong enough to handle the truth. So, page 113 says choosing to make a full disclosure on your own can be a huge mistake.
Anne: They’re not mentioning consent anywhere here? So, they’re basically promoting rape and lack of sexual consent. Okay, that’s fun. Okay, keep going.
Expect Men To Protect Themselves, Women, And Children From Toxic And/Or Ignorant Clergy
Sarah: Okay, “so even if you just want to get it all off your chest as soon as possible I would strongly encourage you to consider telling her with the counselor or a pastor in the room. This third party can help ensure that your wife hears exactly what you are saying and will be there to help her process and work through her initial shock from your revelation.” So now, through this whole thing they’ve kept , “Hey, every man struggles with this, it’s not that big a deal, and it’s not actually sexual addiction,” but then they say, “You couldn’t possibly expect your wife to handle the truth about it without ‘initial shock and meeting to have a third party to help her process the disclosure’.”
Now, I’m the first to recommend that if you are a betrayed spouse who’s just gotten a disclosure counseling is absolutely a good idea, but it needs to be from a trauma-informed, betrayal trauma-informed counselor, not your husband’s favorite pastor who’s going to sit there and diminish things and then tell you that is probably actually partly your fault and you really just need to give him some understanding.
Anne: He’s such a good guy. Aren’t you grateful that he’s now telling the truth? What’s wrong with you that you’re acting so weird? You should be grateful that he’s one of the good guys, that he’s told the truth to you now.
Expect Men To Speak About Women As Human Beings, Not Sexualized Objects
Sarah: That doesn’t even begin to address the downright disturbing descriptions of women. I couldn’t find any descriptions of women, maybe I missed some, that wasn’t sexualized. Like, I wrote down 15 phrases to describe females that I came across throughout the book. These are words like ‘hot looking baby’, a ‘tarantula’, a ‘goddess-like blonde’, her ‘ample bosom’, a ‘banquet of glistening flesh’, her ‘lithe figure’, a ‘striking bombshell’, ‘Kirby gym rats’, ‘essential serpentine’, ‘buxom babes’.
One of the authors talks about going to the gym with his 10th-grade son. He talks about these like young classmates of his son. These three curvy teenaged babes. They’re minors! They’re minors. He’s describing underage girls, miners, as curvy teenage babes.
Expect Men To Practice Empathy And Compassion For Your Feelings, Experiences, And Trauma
And then right at the end of the book, because I kept thinking okay if we get to the end maybe it’ll get better. Like maybe, maybe it’ll improve, maybe there will be this point where they shift, and they start treating women like humans, but no. All the way at the end he describes his own wife during a series of health issues over several years. He talks about how she gained and lost significant amounts of weight. Like her mother got really sick, and she lost 40 pounds in a few weeks, just like really intense stressful times for his wife. So, he describes her, not her mind, not her soul, not her anguish, not her emotions but he says “I had married a full-bodied curvy knockout, and suddenly, she turned into this wispy, anorexic, prepubescent girl.” Then he talks about how she had other health issues later and “she gained the weight back, and she changed into a wonderfully curvy full-bodied woman.” These are direct quotes, and then there was more stress and trauma, and she dropped weight again, and he says, “So suddenly there was this thin baby thrust into my bed without warning.” I mean, does this sound like someone who’s conquered their sexual lusts to you, or does it look like someone who is objectifying and devaluing, even his own wife throughout the entire book? I was just appalled.
And you know what’s crazy? I’ve had Christian counselors when I started speaking out about books like this, including this one, message me and tell me that they think these books have plenty of redeeming value and I should really stop speaking out against them.
When Abuse Men Refuse To Be Safe: “It’s Profoundly Disturbing”
Anne: Wow. I think that the general pornography addiction recovery community, and even the abuse community, discount misogyny as a major factor, and that you can’t, you cannot, I mean clearly from that book you’ve got complete devaluing of women going on, and people are thinking, this is a great book because she was a hot teenager, or whatever. I mean, that’s crazy.
Sarah: It’s profoundly disturbing.
Anne: Why do you think the faith community just does not want to acknowledge the value of women as people?
Sarah: Oh friends, where do we even start with that. I think there’s one fundamental bottom line, other than just sin which is the fundamental bottom line, but I think it centers on power and control. People who are addicted to power and control want to maintain their power and control. And far too often, those who hold people spiritually in the palm of their hands are in those careers because of the unchecked access to power and control.
Expect Men To Work With Women To Create Peaceful, Safe Homes & Communities
Anne: Yeah, I agree, and it’s dangerous for women.
Sarah: Absolutely dangerous. The thing is, I would strongly say that women taking power and control, like trying to steal the steering wheel, is not the answer either. I believe that the answer is in the humility of Christ for both genders. Selfless seeking the best good and using whatever power we have, because everyone has power and influence of some kind, but using whatever power we have to protect, to empower, and to uplift others around us.
Anne: Yeah, I agree. I do think that when we talk about that, If we say that, I worry that women don’t think they deserve to be on an equal playing field. So, when they say we don’t want to be higher, what they’re really afraid of is being equal. Do you know what I’m saying? So, I want women to know you deserve to be equal, it’s okay to take power back enough to be equal. It’s okay to say no, my opinion matters just as much as yours, no my interpretation of the Scripture matters just as much as your interpretation. That is not necessarily taking power over, that’s just empowering yourself to be equal to.
“There’s Enough Sunshine For Everyone”
Sarah: Yeah, that goes back to our earlier conversation. And that is why do women feel so often that they don’t deserve to be free of abuse, to live without abuse. That they don’t deserve to be able to stand up for themselves in safe and healthy ways. That is because we have been conditioned to believe that equality is somehow the same as negatively stealing power instead of seeing ourselves as absolutely equal before God, and on this planet. God can talk to women just as much as he can talk to men. You don’t need a man to interpret or explain scripture to you and that you are fully entitled in the healthiest of ways to your own thriving relationship with God.
Anne: Yeah, I think that’s really important. That when you want to empower yourself, do not let others push you down and say you’re just trying to take power from us, because that is not what’s happening. You’re trying to empower yourself to be on an equal playing field.
Sarah: Yeah, and this whole idea of stealing the sunshine. There’s enough sunshine for everyone. You don’t have to take power over other people and control other people in order to be their equal, and they don’t have to do that to you, for you to be more equal.
Expect Men To Seek Power With, Not Power Over
Anne: I would say that is an abusive mindset where there is no equality. So, you either are in power or you’re submissive. An abusive mindset is that you cannot be on an equal playing field. So, if you are trying to be equal with an abusive man, and he cannot abide equality, then your attempt to be equal, his perspective on that is going to be that you’re trying to take power away from him. It’s not going to be, oh she’s just trying to have an equal say here
Sarah: That either/or type of thinking is abusive, at its core. God holds so many things in tension with each other. It is both/and not just either/or, and I’m not talking about some new age universalism where everything is okay. I’m not talking about the absence of truth and error or good and evil. I’m talking about the fact that the abusive mindset is always a zero-sum game. If you win, I have to lose. If I win, you have to lose. If I’m in control, you cannot be. There’s no partnership in that. There’s just hierarchy.
Anne: Yeah, and that’s why there can’t be intimacy. There’s no partnership.
Expect Men To Be Honest, Not Manipulative
Sarah: Absolutely, because there’s no partnership, there’s no mutual understanding and working together for each other’s best. It’s a unidirectional flow, top-down, and everything God does is service from the bottom up. Christ sought the lowest place. He left the power and the glory and the throne of Heaven to be the kind of human who washes dirty feet. He serves from the bottom of the ladder upward, always lifting others upward, and that is how husbands are called to love their wives and their families. Not from a top-down boss approach, but from a bottom-up servanthood approach. To be there to protect, to provide, to empower without controlling.
God gives us total free choice. Now he also tells us what the results of really stupid choices are going to be, but he doesn’t force us to choose him. So, a husband who goes around micromanaging and controlling his family,
Anne: Or manipulating his wife into managing everything in his world.
Sarah: Absolutely. One is playing God for her. The other is asking her to play God for him. One or the other, either one. So, either way, regardless of whichever direction that is happening it’s not the partnership that God has intended for husbands and wives.
Expect Men To Be Supportive
I don’t know where you stand on this so I’m going to throw it out there. Look back at creation, the order of creation, Genesis chapter 1 and 2. Each thing that was created, served to either provide sustenance or protection for the thing that came next. Like, God created air and oxygen, before He created creatures that needed to breathe air and oxygen, right. He created land before he put animals on it, He created oceans before he put fish in it, He created trees and grass before he created animals that needed to feed on the trees and the grass. All of those things, God created Adam before he created Eve. Not because Adam was better coming first, but because Adam was there to protect and provide for Eve. If you look at the order of creation each thing that came next needed the thing that came prior to it.
Anne: Yeah, I like it.
Sarah: That doesn’t mean that women are better than men, either. I’m not saying it’s a matter of priority or value that’s different. Oxygen is no less valuable than the creatures that breathe it, right. But Adam was not created first to take ownership and power and control over Eve. He was there to protect and provide for her, to support her, and lift her up.
Expect Men To Live Honorably Day-By-Day
Anne: It’s ironic that Christian men, they really like this I’m here to protect and provide for you thing. They really like it. They want to be the protector and the provider and stuff, but I think a lot of times they interpret that as I am in charge, right. I am the protector and the provider meaning I am in charge. Not meaning what would you have me do, how can I help?
Sarah: Yes, it’s an entitlement, instead of servanthood. You are here to meet my desires, to make my life better, instead of me being here to love as Christ loved, and to lay down my life. It’s actually much easier to die than it is to live in sacrifice. If you think about it, being a hero and jumping into the flames to pull the baby out of the burning house, well that’s a very heroic thing, right. Many people might go ahead and do that but to live dying to self in service to others on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis calls for an incredible amount of applying the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control, faithfulness, patience, peace.
Anne: We’re going to pause the conversation here and continue next week with Sarah. She created this really cool way for women to see if they’re being abused or not with the 13 Systems of Abuse. She’s going to talk about that now.
Wilderness To Wild Giveaway
Sarah: So today I want to give you something totally free from my team at Wild. What I want you to have for free today is my Systems of Abuse Chart. There are actually 13 types of abuse, and sometimes it can be very, very hard to discern whether or not you’re actually living with abuse. You may know that you’ve experienced betrayal, but you may not yet be aware of the other types of abuse that often go hand-in-hand with betrayal.
So do you ever wonder if what you’re living with is actually abuse, or do you wonder is this just normal life, like the extra difficult version? Or do you wish that you could figure out the patterns and understand what’s really happening? Do you wonder if these confusing difficult things in your relationship have names, are they really a thing? If this is you, you need my systems of abuse chart. It’s totally free. This is the only place it’s available, and in this resource, I highlight practical examples from all 13 patterns of abusive behavior that can help you pierce the fog, and really find clarity.
Support the BTR Podcast
Anne: I really appreciate Sarah’s content. We create content here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery as well, like we produce this podcast and interview really important guests. As I said in a couple of weeks, we’ll have Tina Swithin on from One Mom’s Battle. Stay tuned next week, I will continue my conversation with Sarah. We’re having a Sarah McDugal Spring Fling, which has been really fun, so stay tuned for my last interview with Sarah next week.
I appreciate your support. So, if this podcast was helpful to you please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.