5 Truths About Emotional Abuse

by | Abuse Literacy, Emotional Abuse

Abusers condition their victims to believe lies.

Lies that tell them that they are not really being abused. That they’re overreacting to the abusive behavior. That they’re powerless and weak. That they are alone.

At Betrayal Trauma Recovery, our number one goal is to help women identify abuse and find safety.

Connie, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, shares her powerful story of triumph over abuse as she courageously separated herself from abusive behavior and began her own journey to healing with BTR coaches and the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. Listen to her story on the BTR Podcast or read it in the full transcript below.

Just Emotional Abuse” is A Big Fat Lie: Emotional Abuse Is Destructive

Abusers and their enablers condition victims to believe that forms of abuse that do not include physical violence are less serious forms of domestic abuse – or shouldn’t even be considered “abuse” at all.

This is tragic and dangerous for victims. And it enables abusers to keep on abusing.

Emotional and psychological abuse are extremely damaging to women. Just as serious as physical violence.

Connie affirms that gaslighting was the ultimate tipping point in her decision to separate from her abusive husband:

The reason I left my marriage was the emotional abuse. That was what put me over the edge. If you are “only being emotionally abused,” “only being gaslit”—which is actually psychological abuse, which is much more calculated than emotional abuse—if that is what’s happening to you, you have every right to leave your marriage. You have every right to be going crazy right now.

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

You Are Not Powerless Against Emotional Abuse: You Can Set Boundaries

The only thing in my power is boundaries. The only thing I can do is step away from the abuse.

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Women who experience betrayal and other forms of relational abuse often feel a lack of control, a sense of powerlessness, over their own lives.

As victims begin to process the reality of the abuse, they may feel suffocated by the knowledge of the abuse and the simultaneous feeling that they can’t do anything about it.

Victims are not powerless. They can set effective boundaries to separate themselves from abuse.

You Are Not Overreacting: You Are a Victim of Abuse

This is an abuse issue, and if we don’t look at it as an abuse issue and we don’t see victims as victims and perpetrators as perpetrators, we’re not going to get anywhere.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Hidden abuse, including pornography use, infidelity, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual coercion, marital rape, financial abuse, and spiritual abuse, are easy for abusers to hide and cover up through manipulation tactics. Tactics like gaslighting, lying, blame-shifting, and grooming of family and friends so that his true behaviors are never shown outside of the home (or bedroom).

Regardless of what your abuser says about you, or your clergy, family, friends, therapist, or anyone else…

You are not overreacting.

You are a victim of abuse.

Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and receive the support you deserve today.

You Are Not Hopeless: You Can Take Baby Steps, One Day At A Time

Setting boundaries to separate themselves from abusive behavior can seem daunting to women in trauma. At BTR, we understand how difficult decision-making can be for victims of hidden abuse.

You are not hopeless, pathetic, or stupid, if it is taking you time to make a plan, if you are still trying to figure out how to do it, or if you have tried and it hasn’t quite panned out yet.

Connie’s beginning attempts at boundaries were less effective than she would have liked. But as she continued to try and reach out for support, she was able to establish long-term, effective boundaries to protect herself and her children from abuse.

This was a very early-on boundary, more like a statement, but I said, “When you’re abusive, I need you to leave for seven days.” Now my boundary is that I will never be abused again in my life, ever, by anyone. At that time, it was a baby step.

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community

Be patient with yourself. Get support. And remember that above all else, your safety is what matters.

You Are Not Hidden: Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse and Betrayal

At BTR, we understand the agony of abuse and the terror of facing it alone. That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone. Women can find the support that they need as often as they need it.

I guess I should say BTR found me. I know that sounds corny, but that is how it feels. Now I am learning that I have my own brain. I have my own body and it’s mine, and it works. I can think and I can choose. So much of that is because of my one-on-one sessions with Coach Joi, the BTR group sessions, and the BTR podcast.

Just being part of this community has saved my life. It has saved my life and it’s doing things for my family that I could not have done by myself. I don’t know what I would have done without you.

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and listen to the free BTR podcast as you begin your journey to healing.

Remember, you are not alone.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. This is Anne.

As promised, we’re going to continue Connie’s conversation this week. It just abruptly jumps in, so to get caught up, make sure you listen to the first two parts of the interview. We’re going to continue talking about wife rape, so there is a trigger warning here. Just know that that’s going to be happening.

Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Today

Just a shout out to all our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group members. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is an amazing resource. We have multiple sessions every day in every single time zone, where women really understand what you are going through.

BTR Uses the Abuse Model

We really encourage women to read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft and The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patricia Evans, to really get a handle on what the abuse model is.

Also, my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, which is a picture book for adults. I really appreciate those of you who have purchased it and then given it a review because every single review helps isolated women find us.

Now we are going to jump into Connie talking about her situation. It’s an abrupt transition. Here we go.

BTR Does Not Recommend CSATS (Certified Sexual Addiction Therapists) For Victims of Trauma and Emotional Abuse

Connie: So he does. He’s startled and doing his guilty thing. He left and went to Utah, actually, to meet with one of the most revered sex addiction therapists that there is. He’s actually a complete moron. I hate him. He is horrible. He goes to Utah for this intensive one-on-one, with this very revered sex addiction therapist.

Anne: A so-called CSAT who’s amazing and he’s going to change his life, right? Yeah. We’ve seen this before.

Women in Trauma Need Strong Support Systems

Connie: Right. They start doing EMDR, which is supposed to suddenly change my husband into a nice guy. Meanwhile, I’m with my sister and I’m starting to explain stuff to her. I’m telling her about our sexual history and telling her about what life is like. She’s like, “No. This is not okay.”

I’m up to my ears in the deep water. I’m reading my scriptures. I’m seeking. This is when I started to find BTR. This is when God is guiding me.

Anne: Let’s stop with that for a minute. During that time you found BTR. Would you say you felt led to BTR?

Connie: Yes.

Anne: Okay. I want to hear that story in a minute, but keep going about your husband.

Abusive Men Are Often Diagnosed as Having Family-of-Origin Issues Rather Than Called Out As Abusive

Connie: He’s in Utah, meeting with this revered CSAT and, basically, it was similar to what the previous counselor I told you about had told him. Basically, my husband had a lot of issues with his mom.

Anne: This is recent? What year is he doing this?

Connie: This is 2019.

Victims of Emotional Abuse and Betrayal Need Specialized Care in Trauma and Abuse: Not Sexual Addiction

Anne: This is recent. This is not a CSAT who gets it. This is why we don’t recommend CSATs anymore. We do not recommend it. Period. You need to find an abuse specialist because this is 2019. This isn’t 2012 or something.

Connie: This is just this last summer. This is not even one year ago. It’s his mom. He says, “You’re taking everything out on your wife that you feel for your mom. I’m so sad for you. This is so sad. You have so much shame. Oh. That’s sad. Let’s have empathy for you.” Then he sends him home.

Abusive Men “Play the Victim”

My husband comes home and he’s like, “This is not about you and the abuse that you’ve gone through. This is about me, and about how I don’t have a good relationship with my mom. When I’m really mean to you and when I rape you it’s really because I’m angry with my mom.”

I called the therapist’s office and I say I need to talk to him right now. They say, “He’s way too busy.” I’m like, “Okay. My husband is going to kill me. He’s crazy. He’s completely crazy. You’re going to have a homicide on your hands if you don’t get this doctor, this therapist, on the phone with me right now.”

Emotional Abuse Precedes Physical Abuse

Of course, I never ended up on the phone with him, but this is the day that we separated. Things escalated very quickly with my husband. I told him that day that the children and I were leaving because my husband went from 0 to 60. That next morning, after he came home and was like, “The abuse is not about you. It’s about me.” I said, “Are you saying that you don’t own that you have ever been abusive? You’re saying that you don’t want to work on the marriage? You don’t want to work on being safe? You just want to work on your mom issues, and you don’t care? You don’t care about this stuff?”

He’s like, “Well. I do. It’s just you need to worry more about me right now.” That’s when I just knew. This marriage is dead. This marriage is dead, and this guy is not safe. I said, “Okay. The kids and I are going to go. We’re going to go while you work on your stuff.”

He said, “You are not going anywhere.”

I have read enough books to know that those are scary words.

Victims Should Have a Safety Plan in Place When Leaving Abusive Men

Anne: When someone is trying to leave, it’s the highest time for physical violence.

Connie: It was scary. So I said, “Okay. Then you need to leave.” And he said, “I’m not going.” We had a stand-off, and I was scared. I was worried.

I’ve seen him be very violent. He went in the backyard and kicked the fence, kicked the ball. My son was nine at the time and he saw this all happening. Him kicking a ball doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you see a grown man attack a ball and attack a fence, it’s scary. Then he’s fake crying for a while and puttering around. It was just ridiculous.

Then he told me he wouldn’t leave until he got several of our highest church authorities on the phone giving me permission to leave, which is ridiculous. I’m like, “I don’t have their phone numbers. So I can’t do that.”

Anne: Well, and also, “I’m a grown woman. I don’t need another man’s permission to make a decision.”

Boundaries Can Start With Baby Steps

Connie: I was able to get a therapist on the phone. This is the CSAT who, eventually, I started meeting with. He was actually really helpful in this moment. He told my husband that I had the right to leave. He said that the first most helpful thing would be for my husband to just leave because I have these kids. So my husband agreed to leave.

That’s when I set this boundary with him, which is funny. This is a very early on boundary. But I said, “When you’re abusive, I need you to leave for seven days.” It’s cute, because now I’m like, “No. I will never be abused again in my life. Ever. By anyone.” At that time, it was a baby step. He’s like, “Okay. I’ll leave for seven days.”

BTR Reaches Victims in Crisis

He leaves for seven days. During those seven days, I found BTR. I prayed for help. I just kneeled down and said, “God, I’m alone. I’m completely alone right now. There is nobody who understands what I’m going through. I don’t even understand what I’m going through, but there is something crazy going on and I need help.”

I’m turning on my computer and you have to guide me, and I just typed in everything I was feeling and one of your podcasts came up. I saw Coach Joi’s face and I just knew it. I knew she was right for me, and that’s how I found BTR. Coach Joi, I think she saved my life. I love her so much. There are no words for how I feel about Joi.

BTR Advocates For “Safety First”

Anyway, my husband’s journey is his journey, and I don’t know what the heck he’s going to do. At any second, he could turn around and become a psycho. He’s been meeting with Coach Joi for several months now. He’s safe enough that I feel comfortable talking to him.

Anne: Okay. For our listeners, he’s going to Center for Peace.

Connie: Yes. It was at that time that I emailed Joi and I said, “Hi, Joi. I’m about to divorce my husband. Are you taking any clients? Because I know that you’re the only person who’s going to make any kind of difference,” or something like that.

She wrote back right away, and she was like, “Hi, Connie. Yes I am. I would love to hold your hand and walk with you through this as well,” or something like that. I just started crying. I’m not a super emotional person, but she wrote back right away. I just knew right then.

BTR Coaches Can Help You Through Divorce

I’d already left him. We were already separated, I was just trying to figure out the divorce plan because I have one really close friend whose husband, they’re in the process of a divorce, and he’s a narcissist and he’s making her life a living hell. I’m like, “I’ve got to do this strategically and be smart about this.”

I was planning on a BTR coach who would guide me through a divorce. I’m not divorced yet. I don’t know if I will be, because I don’t know at this point. He’s on his own. I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s going to do.

At that point, I knew that there was no hope for him. Not that there was no hope for him, I mean there’s hope for anybody, but I was like, “He’s a narcissist. He’s definitely a rapist. He’s an abuser. And I hate him.”

Anne: At this point, he is not safe. There is nothing about him that is safe.

Victims Can Observe Their Partners From a Safe Distance To See if Real Change is Happening

Connie: Yeah. At that point, when I first started working with Coach Joi there was no chance that there was going to be a marriage, the possibility of a marriage. Nine months later, where we’re at now, I would consider my husband—we’re still married, but we’re separated—I see him pretty much every day. He spends time with my kids every day. I’m extremely boundaried.

I just barely lowered a boundary that I had before where the only communication that we had was over email, except a cordial greeting. Now, he can talk to me about things like the weather, the yard. Now he can help me with the yard, and just talk to me about other stuff, if I initiate it, but that’s where we are.

Set Boundaries That Speak To Your Self-Worth

I don’t know. I think a lot of people want, like my family and friends ask, “So. How are things?” I’m like, “This is not a romance story.” This is not a love story. This is not like, “Oh. When are they getting back together?” It’s not like that.

I have set the boundary in my life that if I am married, it is going to be to somebody who personifies gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned. Those words are important to me, where I have, to this point, not met any men who qualify that, and I have to be deeply in love and at this point, I’m not there. I’m working on my own wholeness.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery and Center For Peace Put the Victim’s Safety FIRST

Anne: He’s at Center for Peace. You’re at BTR. The cool thing about Center for Peace and BTR is our top priority is not the abuser. We would like him to get better so that the top priority can happen, which is the victim’s safety. Your safety and making sure that you’re okay is our top priority. There is none of this, “Oh. You need to help him,” or, “He needs your patience.” Nothing. None of that.

You need to make restitution. You need to change. If your character has not changed, if you have not turned from a wolf in sheep’s clothing to a sheep, you have to be an actual sheep, then this ain’t happening.

I think that’s the difference between Center for Peace and BTR and the CSAT pornography addiction world. We don’t really care about him. The only reason we do is because we care about you. Also, we just care about all humans. When I say that, that’s not the right thing, that’s not what I mean to say. We care about all people, that they’re healthy, but your safety is our top priority.

Therapists Focus on Abusers’ Emotions: Center For Peace Focuses On Changing Abusers’ Thinking and Behavior

Connie: Absolutely. Safety. Safety is the bottom of the triangle, and this is a good example of that. When my husband was meeting with these CSAT’s and when I started meeting with my CSAT, they always wanted to talk about my husband’s family. Everybody wanted to talk about his family.

Recently, I was alone with my husband. He was helping me with a project that I asked him for help for. A very boundaried project. I laid out the rules before and I’m like, “If you want to help me, I would welcome it, but here are the rules.” He was like, “I would love to help you with that,” so he was there.

We just started talking and I was like, “How does it feel to have been raised by two parents that might be narcissists?” He said, “You know what, Connie, I don’t know because I choose not to think about how I was raised. Because, when I meet with Coach Joi, we focus on where I’m going.”

Center For Peace Helps Emotional Abusers

Coach Joi has told him, he said that once he brought up to Coach Joi that he wanted to talk about my family because I feel like there’s some stuff I need to resolve. She said, “We can if you want to, but I already know why you’ve been an abuser, why you are who you are. Scripting, your family life, personality disorder stuff, chemical stuff. You guys are all the same. It’s all the same stuff. If you need to process that go get a therapist. We are all about where you are going with that, rather than where it’s come from.”

With these traditional CSATs and stuff, they want to delve into these emotions and they want to delve into processing all of this stuff that has happened, basically turning these guys into victims, but they’re not.

An Abusive Upbringing Does Not Make Abusive Men Become Abusive: Abuse is a Choice

Anne: The other thing is, we know it doesn’t work. I know a lot of people who have had a very rough upbringing, who have had narcissistic parents, who have had addict parents, and they’re not abusers. It’s not the cause. Abuse is a choice.

Connie: Every time, it’s a choice. Yeah, I think that’s so important. Lundy Bancroft says that once an abuser is in recovery, he stops looking at his feelings and her behavior and he starts looking at his behavior and her feelings.

Anne: Her feelings. Yes.

Men in Recovery Focus on YOUR Feelings and THEIR Behavior

Connie: That’s one of the things that’s enabled me to start viewing my husband as a friend, rather than this psycho in my life. I noticed that there was a point when that happened when that shift began to happen about two months ago. One of the things that I love about BTR is that I can constantly check-in with Joi and just be like, “Hey, how’s he doing?” and she’ll tell me honestly. She’ll be like, “You know what, not so good right now. Not safe, stay away.”

I’ll be like, “Okay.” Around this time, I’m like, “Joi, I’m really feeling comfortable. When I see him, I’m feeling a lot of safety. Can you confirm that? Can you validate that with me or am I just lonely?” She’ll be like, “Yeah.”

Emotional Abusers Fixate On Their Privileges (They Call Them “Feelings”)

I started to feel that. I felt like he was very aware of my feelings and very aware of his own behavior, and it had never been that way before. Our whole marriage, his tag line, like every company or whatever has a tagline, he would be, “You don’t care about my feelings.” I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times that was said in our marriage. “You don’t care about my feelings.”

I love that Lundy Bancroft said that, because I think it really personifies a healthy man, to care about his wife’s feelings and his own behavior.

Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Support as They Make Decisions, Large and Small

Anne: And not justify his behavior through his feelings. He’s in Center for Peace. He starts making positive changes. You’re still extremely boundaried, right. You decide this or you decide together about some major life changes. Can you talk about that?

Connie: Yeah, so I decided myself back in October that I wanted to move far away. Far, far away. To answer your question earlier when you asked, “What happened when he started really owning the abuse? When he really started owning it?”

Victim-Blaming: When Abusive Men Tell The Truth and Everyone Says the Victim “Brain-Washed” Him

Anne: He’s in Center for Peace and he’s really starting to own it and to people around you. So what happened there? The people around you, what do they start doing?

Connie: Doors start closing. People don’t believe it. They don’t believe him. They start saying he’s been brainwashed.

Anne: By you. You’ve brainwashed him?

Connie: Or by BTR. That this crazy woman, no offense, Joi. I don’t think you’re crazy. I love you so much.

Anne: People call me crazy too. Or the crazy podcaster that got these bad ideas into his wife’s head, right?

Abusive Men May Be Reluctant To Begin Center For Peace… At First

Connie: It’s funny, because he said when he first started doing Center for Peace, he was like, “I thought I was only doing it because I was trying so hard to keep our marriage together, but I thought that Coach Joi was trying to ruin our marriage. I thought she hated me.” Which she may have. I don’t know. But now he loves Joi.

Anne: People think BTR is crazy. They think Joi is crazy. They think we are some kind of cult or something that has put these insane ideas into this head that he’s an abuser when he’s not really an abuser. Like he’s this good guy, why is he thinking this?

If Your Friends Are Neutral, They Are Enabling The Abuser

Connie: When we separated, he stopped coming to our congregation and I was going by myself. He started losing weight rapidly, because he’d moved into his office and started showering at the gym. He had to go to the gym every day. Surprise, surprise, when people go to the gym every day, they lose weight. This girl at church happened to see him, and she comes up to me and hugs me and says, “I’m just so worried about you guys because I saw your husband and he’s so thin. I’m just so worried about him.”

I just realized that, no matter what he does, people are going to feel sorry for him. He loses weight, people feel sorry for him. He doesn’t come to church, people feel sorry for him. Everybody is hugging me and saying, “We’re just so worried about your husband. How is he doing?”

Anne: You need to be worried about me. Why are you not worried about me?

If Your Friends Encourage You To Eliminate Boundaries, They Are Putting You In Danger And Enabling The Abuser

Connie: Right. With five kids at church. My son is standing up, speaking over the podium and talking about how he’s having this hard trial, but not one person asks how he’s doing. It’s all about my husband because he’s created that.

He began cultivating that eight years ago, when we first moved into this area, when he became the center of attention. He made that happen. It’s something that he created, that he put into motion long ago.

When I realized just how much my family unit, that we did not exist without him, we could not exist without being overshadowed by him. I just can’t live here. Everything was a trigger.

Find Safe People To Help You Heal From Emotional Abuse

The leader of our congregation had very much sided with my husband. Many of our friends had either remained neutral or had taken this stance that was very unhealthy, where it was like, “Don’t you see how much he’s changing? Why won’t you let him live back in the house? Why don’t you just try? Why don’t you just try talking to him a little bit differently? Don’t say things that will make him so mad.”

Feeling that betrayal, over and over again, it was just too painful.

Anne: From your whole community because your whole community is not like, “He is an abuser. You are a victim. What can we do to help you? What do you need? How do we make sure you are safe?”

Victims of Emotional Abuse and Betrayal Need Strong Support Systems

Connie: I don’t want to say that I had no one. I had a few key friends who were amazing, and I love them, and I will always cherish them and the support that they gave me. But overwhelmingly it was just triggering and traumatic.

There was also this sense of protection that I felt there for my husband, for his job security, and just for his sense of self. I felt like I needed to protect him. I felt like I needed to not be too open about the abuse. I’ve tried to shed that over time. I tried to be open, as open as I could. But there were just certain areas where I couldn’t, and the shame was too great.

I just realized that I needed new. I needed to be somewhere else. I needed to be somewhere new. With new people, new faces. I still am very much a believer in my faith, and I would like to be able to attend regularly, but it was getting to be just too difficult there.

Clergy Abuse is Real: BTR Can Help You Heal

I don’t know, my husband was just like many of the husband’s that I hear about in the BTR support groups. Very charming, very social, very involved, and then just have him suddenly gone, and then to have these questions about it, as if I had done something wrong.

My clergy sent me an email asking why I had made my husband stop coming. That, alone, was just so triggering. I wanted to respond and be like, “Dude, have you ever been raped? When was the last time your wife raped you? Would you want to see her at church every Sunday?”

He wouldn’t believe that my husband had voluntarily chosen to stop coming to our congregation to give me time and space away from him. He didn’t believe it. He thought that I was lying, when I’ve only ever been honest with him. Whereas, my husband has been lying the entire time he’s known him.

Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Understanding and Compassion as They Process Trauma and Make Decisions

I decided to move away, to move out of state, and I let my husband know and because of the terms of our separation agreement, legally, I was allowed to do that. Back in July, when the Jekyll/Hyde was in my favor, when he was in a very repentant state, I went to a lawyer, a friend who is an attorney. I asked her to draft a separation agreement that allowed me to have custody of the children and the financial security that I needed.

We worked over it together and I made sure he was comfortable with it, so I was able to have the security that I needed to make these kinds of decisions. That’s been really comforting to have that and to have those ducks in a row, so that I can make these kinds of decisions without worrying about the legal ramifications of it.

Anne: Wow, so you live in a different state now. You’re still separated, and you’re just figuring things out one day at a time, right, but not forever. When I say one day at a time, I don’t believe that life was meant to be lived one day at a time, but for right this very second that’s the stage that you’re in.

Gaslighting and Emotional Abuse Can Cause Physical Symptoms

Connie: Yeah, and it’s going really well. I mean, I’ve never been happier or healthier as an adult than I am now. I think that I didn’t have boundaries before. I was in constant pain before, physical pain, emotional pain. Gaslighting, for anybody who’s listening, the recovery part in the BTR support groups that I heard women say things like, “My story’s not as bad as her story, so I don’t know if I should be here.”

I just want to emphasize, the reason I left my marriage was the emotional abuse. That was what put me over the edge. If you are “only being emotionally abused”, “only being gaslit”—which is actually psychological abuse, which is much more calculated than emotional abuse—if that is what’s happening to you, you have every right to leave your marriage. You have every right to be going crazy right now.

Psychological abuse is meant to make you crazy. It’s horrible, and getting away from that, stopping the abuse, is the only way to survive. You can’t survive while being abused. It’s not possible.

“The Only Thing in My Power is Boundaries”

I remember early on, when we’d been married four years, I was praying so hard to God to heal me because I felt like there was something wrong with me. In my mind, I saw a picture of an arm and I saw this knife come down and slice open this arm and then I saw the words “heal me.”

Then I saw a knife come down and slice the arm open again and then the words “heal me” and then the knife comes down and slices the arm open again and the words “heal me.” I just realized that I am praying for God to heal me, but I keep being sliced open over and over again.

He’s trying to heal me, but I keep being sliced, and I didn’t understand it then. I finally understand what that means. The only thing in my power is boundaries. The only thing I can do is step away from the abuse.

BTR Helps Women Identify Abuse and Find Safety

Anne: Yeah, that’s amazing. I’ve had several women tell me that they kneeled down, and they prayed, and the next thing that happened was they found BTR, and they had never realized they were being abused. They had never realized this was just an abuse issue, right. There was really no reason to go down that pornography addiction route.

Is pornography addictive? Yes, it absolutely is, but this is an abuse issue, and if we don’t look at it as an abuse issue and we don’t see victims as victims and perpetrators as perpetrators, you’re not going to get anywhere. I’m so grateful that you found us.

Complex PTSD and Emotional Abuse

Connie: I just want to say one more thing about complex PTSD because I just feel like I am learning so much about it, and so many of us have it. I mean, if you have been abused repeatedly you have it. You just do. If you’ve been cut, you have a cut. I mean, you have it.

Dr. Stosny, he’s the guy who writes about emotional abuse, he has this analogy where he says, “If you’re walking down the street and somebody randomly says, ‘Hey, you have green hair,’ you’re going to rush to the mirror to check.”

Complex PTSD & Emotional Abuse

I remember reading that and it didn’t quite jive with me and I couldn’t figure out why until recently and I realized if some random stranger on the street says, “Hey, you have green hair,” I know I would run home and check and then I’d be like why can’t I see the green in my hair? I would believe the stranger before I would believe myself.

That is what complex PTSD does to us. It makes us not trust ourselves. For me, BTR has changed that. Just to keep going with the analogy, for the rest of my life, I would have written green for hair color on my driver’s license and on my profile, believing that one stranger instead of my own eyes.

If somebody else said, “Hey, you have beautiful blonde hair,” I would’ve been like, “That’s so kind of you to say, but I know it’s actually green, but thanks.” That is who I was becoming because of the abuse, but then I found BTR.

“BTR Found Me”

I guess I should even say BTR found me. I know that sounds corny, but that is how it feels. Now, I am learning that I have my own brain. I have my own body and its mine, and it works. I can think and I can choose.

Much of that is because of my one-on-one sessions with Coach Joi and the BTR group sessions with the other coaches and your podcast, Anne. Just being part of this community has saved my life.

BTR Helps Emotional Abuse Victims

It has saved my life and it’s doing things for my family that I could not have done by myself. I don’t know what I would have done without you guys. I feel like I know you and I love you and I pray for all of you regularly because I’m just so grateful beyond anything I can say for all of you. I know I’m gushing and just going on and on, but there just aren’t words for it. I’m so grateful.

There is this Lauren Daigle song that I love called “Rescue.” Sorry, it makes me cry. You know what I’m talking about, “I will send out an army to find you in the middle of the hardest fight. It’s true. I will rescue you.” Every time I hear that song, I’m not kidding, I see the BTR coaches in my mind. I see you and I see the women that I know from the meetings. You have all rescued me. My children and I and their children owe so much to you. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Will Never Stop Reaching For Victims of Emotional Abuse

Anne: Oh, I’m crying too, and that is what BTR is trying to create. This army of women who can find people like us, right. People like you and like me and all of the women who have been through it. That when they pray or when they’re looking for something, they find us, and we are here for them because that is what all of us needed.

That’s why I created BTR, because that’s what I needed but I couldn’t find it anywhere and it didn’t exist. There was no one using the abuse model in this pornography addiction scenario at the time, and I’m so grateful that it’s helped other people and grateful to hear your story. Also, a little bit sad actually, to tell you the truth, that my situation is so difficult still.

We press on. Thank you so much, Connie, for coming on today’s episode. We really appreciate you taking the time and for being so brave in sharing your story. I genuinely hope and will pray that things continue to improve for you and your family.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please become a monthly supporter.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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  1. Linda

    Dear Anne,
    This is brilliant brilliant brilliant!! Thank you for posting this one today! Without BTR, I would still be lost and confused by the terribly damaging models that SA field promotes. I could never figure out what was wrong with that CSAT model and why they made me feel so bad (on top of all of my horrific trauma at the disclosures). And why they promoted my husband’s ignoring me and my feelings in order to protect his “fragile emotional state” after his double life of decades came out. But your programs and your profound understanding of what is really going on are the key shifts all of us victims need to hear. CARSD men are abusers and need a completely different model. Thank you Coach Joi for your bravery, insight and skill! Thank you Anne for the best possible help in this miserable sewer! You have saved me! Change in this field can’t come quickly enough!!

    • Coach Debra

      Linda, thank YOU! I’m so glad our content is helping with your situation!

  2. Susie Pothier

    I am listening to this for the first time ever. I definitely found that therapists and clergy were clueless about the abuse.


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