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40 Years Of Emotional Abuse & Betrayal Trauma

Florence, a member of the BTR.ORG community, is a victim who has experienced over forty years of betrayal trauma and emotional abuse.

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Many women in our community have experienced abuse and betrayal for years, even decades. 

Florence, a member of the BTR.ORG community, is a victim who has experienced over forty years of betrayal trauma and emotional abuse. She shares her insights, wisdom, and heartbreak in a beautifully vulnerable interview with Anne. 

Tune in and read the full transcript below for more. 

The Raw Truth: Betrayal Trauma & Emotional Abuse Hurt. A Lot. 

“You can’t give me back the past 20 years. I didn’t know you were doing this. I knew you were being a jerk. But if I had known he had gone back to illicit deviant sexual practices, I wouldn’t have stayed. And I might’ve had the chance to build a life of someone who might’ve genuinely been able to care and show real regard, and I miss that, and nobody can give that back to me.”

Florence, Member of the BTR.ORG Community

Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse experience a torrent of emotions, including:

  • Grief
  • Devastation
  • Anger
  • Fury
  • Fear
  • Terror
  • Apathy
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Loneliness
  • Panic

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

If you’re navigating through the pain of betrayal and emotional abuse, please know that you are not alone. 

Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today. 

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:01):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne.

I am honored to have a member of our community on the podcast today. Her name is Florence. Florence is 75 years old. She has experienced over forty years of betrayal trauma. Florence discovered her husband’s infidelity just three days after their wedding; she is strong, insightful, and courageous. 
 
 Welcome, Florence. 

Devastation and Fear 

Florence (01:26):
My first reaction was devastation and fear. Back in those days, women didn’t have the same options that they do today, and I had just moved my two daughters and myself to a new location where I had no friends and no associates, and very little opportunity to find gainful employment to support myself. In doing so, I had cut off any support systems that I might’ve had, and I was really on my own.

Anne (01:59):
So were you married before this? 

“It didn’t take me long to figure out that that was not for me.” 

Florence (02:05):
I was. This was my second marriage. And I had two daughters; they were five and eight. I went very deep into a place of trying to comprehend. At that time in my life, I didn’t call myself a spiritual person. I did not have a religious persuasion, and I found myself searching. In order to do that, I did. What I think a lot of people do from what I’ve read, is that they explore with their spouse trying to figure out what it is that their spouse is looking for and needing.

And of course, that leads one into probably the darkest places on earth because it’s a world of debauchery. It didn’t take me long to figure out that that was not for me. I had to make a heartfelt decision and tell my husband that I could not live that kind of life with freedom of sex with other people and going to nudist camps and pornographic exhibitions.

“He apologized and swore that he would never make those choices again.”

(03:08):
I mean, it was just not the right thing for me at all. It hurt my heart. It didn’t help my heart, and he apologized and swore that he would never make those bad choices again. And we started over until the next time, and by the next time I became aware of his activities, I knew enough to go for help. We both went through a lot of counseling.

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

Anne (04:15):
Did you know you were being abused? 

“I became aware of the fact that nobody would believe me.” 

Florence (04:19):
I knew I was being abused and I knew he was sick. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting because the last year has been a year of repeated difficulties in such a challenge. And I remember back when my youngest daughter was 15 years old, and she and I took a trip out west when we visited a childhood friend of mine, and he asked me, face-to-face, what’s wrong? You’re not right. I said, well, my husband isn’t right. He’s sick. I didn’t elaborate on it. How could I? I didn’t have the words for it.

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

“That’s what I did for years until it all broke open.” 

(05:20):
He’s a beguiling, needful child. What do you do? Go out on the street and bang a drum and say, I’m being emotionally abused by a man who can’t show me love or who can’t relate to me. No, you can’t do that. Nobody will believe you. So you try to create wellness within a challenging situation. And that’s what I did for years until it all broke open. For the last 10 years, I thought he had frontal temporal lobe disorder. It makes the second time I’ve misdiagnosed him in my life.

So obviously I’m not much of a psychotherapist, but because of his anger, I felt that his actions were typical of frontal temporal lobe dementia. In fact, I actually got him to go to a neurologist. It was really embarrassing and a waste of time. It’s not Alzheimer’s, right? It’s frontal temporal lobe. Well, I wasn’t right. Yeah, it’s very hard when you get older.

Things don’t work the way they used to when sex isn’t what it was when you were kids. But every now and then you get an opportunity to enjoy one another to some extent. And he gave me an STD, and that was the rude awakening. He had been back to his old tricks.

“I’ve been able to grapple with this because now I can be honest.” 

Anne (06:45):
So now that we’ve had this overview, it sounds like in the beginning the way that you dealt with it was you tried to meet his needs, and then as you got older and it just kept happening and happening, you sort of started detaching. How would you say your reactions to him are now? Right now it’s 75 and him 80.

Florence (07:08):
It’s been like a fast forward of an earlier movie of everything that ever occurred. I go in a circle and some days I am distraught and I’m in pain and I feel sorry for myself. And then I go through days where I am so angry. It’s like a circular thing that goes around. I’ve been able to grapple with this because now I can be honest with our friends and our family, and everybody knows the freedom to be honest and forthright makes it possible to handle and work with.

If Florence Could Go Back and Talk With Her Younger Self

Anne (07:52):
Absolutely. Without it, it’s impossible. Right now that we’re in this different age, I’m 40. The first place we go when we have something happen is we start searching for things on, right? What thoughts do you have about women who are starting to search for this and think about this five years after marriage or 10 years after marriage, if you could go back and talk to yourself?

Florence (08:19):
You can’t help them. You can’t fix them. Today, there are avenues for healing. This has been my counter argument to my husband in all of his attempts to heal himself as it was really convenient. Now that you’re 80 and impotent, you made these choices. They have a responsibility, and that responsibility is to their partner and their families.

As somebody who suffered from it my whole life, I’m saying, you can’t give me back the past 20 years. I didn’t know you were doing this. I knew you were being a jerk. But if I had known, if had known he had gone back to illicit deviant sexual practices, I wouldn’t have stayed. And I might’ve had the chance to build a life of someone who might’ve genuinely been able to care and show real regard, and I miss that, and nobody can give that back to me.

“Most therapists are not equipped to deal.” 

(09:16):
That’s where the anger comes from. I was told by a lot of professionals, oh, you need counseling. So I tried that. I’m sure this isn’t true across all mental health professionals, but what I found was that most therapists are not equipped to deal, and they tend to try to use their behavior modification, which they’ve learned in graduate school somewhere. If you do this, then he’ll do that. And if you do that, it doesn’t work. And I went to four sessions with one therapist and I just walked out. I said, this isn’t good for me. I’m getting angry about this.

Anne (10:25):
So Florence, when you found us, how did you feel?

“It was good to know that I wasn’t alone.” 

Florence (10:29):
It was good to know that I wasn’t alone. Most people just don’t get it. They think your husband’s a philanderer. Well, of course they are. But there’s so much more to it than that. The best thing that’s happened to me and the last year is the ability, to be honest, to speak my truth, though I am still sad about the loss that I’ve had in my life.

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

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