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7 Truths About Emotional Abuse

Myths about emotional abuse enable abusers to keep abusing victims. The 7 Powerful Truths About Emotional Abuse help victims find safety.

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“I want to let you know that BTR was a lifesaver for me. It was barely over a year ago that I found your organization. Wait, I didn’t find you, God brought me to you. It changed my life. I just want you to know how much of a difference you make in the lives of hurt women. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing. There are a lot of women out there who desperately need what BTR has to offer. I know this because I was one of them.”


At Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we know how devastating it is to discover a partner’s secret pornography use, sexual acting out, and infidelity.

We know the devastation and terror that seize women’s hearts when the reality sinks in that what has been happening to them isn’t “marital dysfunction” or “just stress” but abuse.

Myths About Emotional Abuse Enable Abusers

Tragically, the truth about relational abuse, including betrayal, sexual coercion, emotional, psychological, and narcissistic abuse, is overrun by abusers themselves who skillfully manipulate society into seeing abuse only as domestic violence.

Abusers are enabled as these myths are embedded into the population: therapists, clergy, friends, family, and neighbors, and random people on the internet, like a recent BTR Podcast reviewer who left a comment riddled with the 7 Toxic Myths about Emotional Abuse.

Just because he doesn't hit you doesn't mean his lies, porn use, gaslighting, and manipulation aren't abuse.
Just because he’s not physically violent, doesn’t mean his actions aren’t abusive.

The 7 Toxic Myths About Emotional Abuse

Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript below to hear Anne’s detailed rebuttal of each myth.

7 Toxic Myths About Emotional Abuse

  1. Women with strong opinions, religious views, and world views should not be taken seriously.
  2. Emotional abuse advocates are usually just trying to find someone to listen to their own story and aren’t actually helping victims.
  3. If it doesn’t include physical violence, it’s not abuse.
  4. If it only happens once, or occasionally, it’s not abuse.
  5. A man can harm his partner, and it’s not technically abuse.
  6. Pornography use isn’t abuse.
  7. Betrayal isn’t abuse.

These myths are dangerous: they enable abusers to keep abusing and they encourage victims to stay in abusive situations.

7 Powerful Truths About Emotional Abuse

The truth is simple: any time a man compromises his partner’s safety and/or harms her emotionally, physically, spiritually, or psychologically, he is abusing her.

  1. All women deserve a voice, especially victims of emotional abuse. As women share their stories, they can begin the journey to healing. Further, strong world views, opinions and perspectives are absolutely necessary for women to begin healing. In an abusive situation, it is black and white: there is an abuser and a victim. There is the truth and there are lies. It does not take “two to tango,” and there are not “two sides” to the story of abuse.
  2. The most powerful advocates for victims of abuse, are survivors of abuse! As women courageously tell their stories to other victims, powerful communities filled with hope, healing, and validation are created.
  3. Physical battery is absolutely abusive, but there are many other forms of abuse that are equally destructive to another human being. Emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual coercion, and betrayal are all forms of abuse that are just as serious as physical violence.
  4. When a man harms a woman, even once, it is abuse. Pure and simple. The phrase “isolated incident” has enabled too many abusers and has put too many women in mortal danger.
  5. Harm is another word for abuse. If someone is harming you, they are abusing you.
  6. Pornography is abuse: it’s abusive to partners, it’s abusive to children, it’s abusive to the women and children used in the pornography industry.
  7. Betrayal is an excruciating form of emotional abuse.

How Is Pornography Abusive?

Pornography users exhibit many abusive behaviors: gaslighting, manipulation, intimidation, and financial abuse. Further, pornography use is sexual coercion as it takes away the right of a woman to informed consent.

But it’s important to know that pornography use is abusive.

Dr. Omar Minwalla explains it in the video below.


Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse

At BTR, we will not stop advocating for the safety of women and children all over the world. We believe that you deserve a voice.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers support, validation, and community to women all over the world as they process trauma and share successes. Join today and find the support you deserve.

Remember, you are not alone.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is an amazing resource for hundreds of women across the globe. We have live sessions every single day in every single time zone, and when you join you get unlimited support.

I got a really interesting review on iTunes and I’d really like to talk about some of the points that he brought up. It is the perfect example of what every victim going through this faces from the community, all the reason’s she can’t get help, all the reasons people dismiss her concerns, all the reasons they dismiss her.

This rating says some very problematic things.

“To be fair, there are some nuggets of truth in this podcast, but there are still a disproportionate number of problematic things going on with it.”

I’m assuming this is a man, I guess it could be a woman, but I’m going to say he.

Yes, BTR Has an Agenda: It’s Called Safety

“First of all, there seems to be a clear agenda with this podcast.”

This makes me laugh, because it’s obvious that there’s a clear agenda. I say it every week, “Pornography use and adultery are abusive to your spouse. Lying, manipulation, and psychological abuse are abusive to your spouse,” so yeah, there’s a very clear agenda.

Myth # 1: Religious People and Their Views Should Be Dismissed

Then he says, “It has lots of religious overtones and a strong anti-porn sentiment.”

Basically, if you’re religious, then you should be dismissed, because if you’re religious, then your opinions don’t matter, apparently. Similarly, if you oppose pornography, then you should be discounted because people who oppose pornography don’t know what they’re talking about, or something?

Truth # 1: All Women, Religious Or Not, Deserve To Have a Voice and To Be Taken Seriously

I’m like, “Okay, well neither of those things are true.” Religious people can be smart and logical, and they can have something important to say. Also, you can be opposed to porn and be a decent person. I found that to be really interesting.

Myth # 2: Advocates For Abuse Reflect Their Own Pain Rather than Actually Doing Good For Victims

Then it says, “It comes across as the host is using the podcast to validate her own experiences and values, which centers herself and not the guest.”

That’s true, I talk about myself all the time. However, my name Anne Blythe is symbolic–which is not my real name, as you know, that’s from Anne of Green Gables—it’s symbolic of this universal story that all of us experience this type of abuse. I am meant to be this archetype for all of you. The spokesperson for all of you. To give every one of you a voice because you’ve have been silenced.

Truth # 2: The Most Effective Advocates For Victims Are Abuse Survivors Who Are Brave Enough to Share Their Own Stories

He says, “This is not what effective advocacy looks like.”

What would it look like? What does effective advocacy look like? I can’t, apparently, have a clear agenda. I, apparently, can’t speak from my own experience from religious views. I also can’t hate porn, so what would effective advocacy look like to this guy? Just being wishy-washy? I don’t get it.

Myth # 3: Having a Specific Perspective and Worldview Is Not Acceptable

“This podcast is really about promoting a specific perspective and worldview,” he says that.

Truth # 3: Abusers Use The “Gray Area” and “Two Sides to Every Story” To Silence Victims (Not Gonna Work Here, Buddy)

That is true. This is about a specific perspective of the victim. We are not going to take into account what our abusers think because that’s just abuse, right, so yeah, exactly.

I love this:

Myth # 4: Gaslighting, Relational Betrayal, Manipulation, Intimidation, Marital Rape, and Sexual Coercion Are Not Abuse… (Really? Come on.)

“Second of all, the host is not using definitions of abuse that are universally accepted by professionals in the field.”

Truth # 4: Do We Need to Say It? Gaslighting, Relational Betrayal, Manipulation, Intimidation, Marital Rape, and Sexual Coercion Are Universally Accepted By Professionals As Abuse

That’s just not true. It is universally accepted that manipulation is psychological abuse and that gaslighting is psychological abuse.

He says, “Not all dysfunction and harm is abuse.”

Myth # 5: A Man Can Harm His Partner And It’s Not Technically “Abuse”

That’s true that not all dysfunction is abuse. But all harm, what else would you call it? You really hurt someone really bad consistently all the time, what else do you want to call it? They’re just consistently harmful? There’s a word for that. It’s called ABUSE.

“Harm is still harm and it’s not okay, but abuse is about one partner systematically using tactics to try and gain and maintain power and control over the other partner.”

Truth # 5: Any Time A Woman’s Safety Is Compromised And/Or She is Harmed, To Any Degree, It Is Abuse

This is exactly what we’re talking about. This woman is consistently having her needs and her concerns dismissed, over and over and over again by professionals, by clergy, by everyone. If that’s not trying to gain and maintain power over her, I don’t know what is.

Then he says this, I love this:

Myth # 6: If It Happens Once, It’s Not Abuse

“It’s not about isolated incidents of harm or even ongoing issues of betrayal.”

Truth # 6: When a Man Harms a Woman Even One Time, It Is Absolutely Abuse

He’s saying it’s not about isolated incidents and it’s not about ongoing things. Then what is it about? It’s about both. Any instance of abuse can be an isolated incident, or it can be ongoing. It’s not rocket science.

Then he says, “Not all porn use is abuse.”

Myth #7 All Pornography Is Not Abusive

Which I just disagree with. I think all porn use is abusive.

Then he says, “it’s dangerous to conflate the two.”

Truth # 7: All Pornography Is Abusive. Period.

Which I 100% disagree with. It’s dangerous not to. It’s dangerous to the victims in the porn industry. It’s dangerous to families. It’s dangerous to people throughout the world.

Then he says, “But being betrayed is not necessarily a systematic attempt to dominate the other partner.”

Myth # 8: Betrayal Is Not Abuse

I disagree. It is an absolute systematic attempt to dismiss her as a human being. To dismiss her concerns, to dismiss her feelings, to dismiss her sexual needs, her emotional needs, her psychological needs.

Truth # 8: Betrayal Is Called Relational Abuse And Yes, It’s Abusive

Now he goes to the third point, and a lot of people say this:

“Thirdly, there are many instances through the podcast where it is suggested that victims should try and work it out or give their spouse a chance to change before calling it quits.”

Myth # 9: BTR Encourages Women To Stay in Abusive Situations

That is not true. I absolutely never say that. You need safety, number one. Whatever safety looks like for you is up to you. I’m not going to tell you what that means, I’m not going to tell you what that is, but safety has to be a top priority.

Does it mean divorce for you? Maybe. Does it mean separation? Maybe. I don’t know, and I’m not about to tell you what that is. This man, attempting to think that he knows what that is, is ludicrous. I don’t want you to give your husband a chance to abuse you again. You need to get to safety right this very second.

Truth # 9: Betrayal Trauma Recovery Affirms “Safety First” For All Victims of Abuse: Always Have, Always Will

Then a lot of people accuse me of being pro-divorce or anti-men, or anti-family. No, I’m none of those things. Pro-safety. What does pro-safety look like for you?

Then he says, “I understand this sentiment, but if it truly is an abusive relationship then encouraging a victim to stay is dangerous.”

BTR Encourages Women To Get To Safety

I never encourage victims to stay in an abusive situation. Get to safety. I’ve always said that on the podcast, consistently. Get to safety, get to safety, so that is just false.

“All attempts should be made to help that victim find her own strength and take back their power and leave the abusive relationship.”

I would say that BTR’s stance, in all attempts, is that we help the victim find her strength, take back her power, set boundaries for safety, and then make choices that make sense for her.

BTR Helps Victims of Abuse Identify Abuse And Find Support

The problem with this is, he’s saying two things, “It’s not abusive, but if it is abusive, then she has to get out.” That leaves absolutely no room for a victim who is being psychologically abused and trying to figure it out, she can’t quite figure it out, to start figuring it out, “Is it abuse, is it not abuse?”

If she goes to a therapist and he says, “It’s not abuse,” then she can’t go down the road of trying to figure out if it’s abuse or not. If she goes to a therapist and he says, “It is abusive, get out right away,” then she’s not able to process what is happening.

Identifying Emotional Abuse Is a Process

Get to safety, whatever that looks like, and then process what is going on. When it’s psychological abuse, when it’s emotional abuse, it takes a while to figure out. It’s not something that you can just know instantly. You can’t—I mean you could—but I’ve never met a woman who instantly is like, “Oh, this is emotional abuse,” on the first instance and then immediately files for divorce.

She’s trying to figure it out. She’s trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. She’s trying to see if it was her. She’s trying to understand.

Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Understanding and Empathy: Not Judgement

This person who did this review is not giving victims any space whatsoever to try and figure out if they’re being emotionally abused or not. He’s saying, “Number one, it’s not abuse, so don’t go down that road, and, number two, if it is abuse, get divorced immediately,” which gives victims absolutely no space.

This person who wrote this has, obviously, not been through it and doesn’t understand what it’s like to be in the fog of abuse and try and figure out what’s happening.

Abuse is a Universal Issue: BTR Focuses on Women Being Abused By Men

Then he goes on to say that, “While domestic violence does disproportionally affect women, anyone can be an abuser, and anyone can be a victim. It can happen in non-heterosexual relationships, queer folks, and non-cisgender folks too.”

I agree. Anyone who is using porn is engaging in abuse. At BTR, we have a specific agenda. Our agenda is to keep women, who are in relationships with abusive men, safe. In whatever way that looks like. Yeah, our specific audience is that. It says that all over the podcast. It says that all over the website. If you’re not in that audience, this podcast isn’t for you. That’s fine.

Then at the end he says, “But if you have found a home in this community, more power to you, but as a trained domestic violence advocate and community educator I feel the need to point some of these problematic things out.”

People Who Dismiss Emotional Abuse Victims, Enable Perpetrators

I’m like, I also am a trained domestic violence advocate and a community educator, so who wins? You or me, buddy? I would say the thousands of victims who follow this community and say this is abuse, he’s dismissing all of us. People who tell a victim, “No, what you experienced isn’t abuse,” are dismissing the abuse and also supporting and enabling the perpetrator.

These are the kinds of arguments that people might throw in your face when you go down this road. You might get it from clergy, therapists, professionals. We know this.

Emotional Abuse is Complex: Together, We Can Find Safety

This is why I started Betrayal Trauma Recovery and, as Anne Blythe, as a spokesperson for you, I take the heat for this, which is fine. That’s my job, but I so appreciate your prayers and your support because this type of confrontation we are regularly experiencing online, through emails, through people accusing me of things that aren’t true, for people saying both things. “If it’s abuse, why isn’t she just telling everybody to get out,”then, “Wait a minute, she shouldn’t be calling it abuse because that’s too harsh.”

They’re talking out of both sides of their mouth. They don’t understand how complex the situation is for victims, and they’re not giving the victims the power to make choices that are right for them, for their safety. Safety, safety, safety, whatever that looks like for you.

Support BTR With Podcast Reviews

I really appreciate your prayers. I also really appreciate all the positive reviews you give and the explanations you give of why this podcast works for you. It really makes a huge difference, so thank you to those of you who have rated the podcast. I really love reading those and it gives me a lot of hope and support and it means a lot, so thank you, for those of you who have rated the podcast.

Thank You, Bad Reviewer, For Reminding Us Why Our Voices Must Be Heard

Thank you to this guy. This guy really exposed what it’s like to be on the other side of this argument. It really shows what victims are up against, and why we feel so dismissed, why we feel so unheard, why all of us are rising up and trying to strengthen our voices to be heard.

People can hear it, but they, for some reason, won’t accept it. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink, and that’s okay. That was an explanation of the frequent criticisms that I get here at BTR about how, apparently, I hate men, apparently, I hate families, apparently, I’m pro-divorce, but at the same time, I’m not pro-divorce enough or all the reasons people give why the abuse model applied in this scenario doesn’t work.

Don’t Let Them Get You Down: Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Support

I could not disagree with them more. The abuse model is the only model that works in this scenario because we are dealing with psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse and sexual coercion. That is what this is.

Can an abuser change is also a really interesting question? I don’t know. Do they change? Maybe. Do they not change? I’m not sure.

I also know that abusers are really tricky. This situation is very complex. There are a lot of moving parts. There are also issues of women praying and getting answers to their prayers that they’re saying I need to stay for example, or it felt like I needed to do this thing that goes against all logic.

Victims of Abuse Deserve Support and Empowerment

As a religious person, I’m actually pretty skeptical sometimes. I think, “Well, that answer that you received might just be what you want. It might be scripting from society. It might just be because you’re really afraid, so maybe that’s not really the right answer, but who am I to say.” Also, I’ve received answers that I believe are from God that seemed completely illogical in this situation.

When I was going through this, I got the answer not to divorce and not to amend the no-contact order, so I was just in limbo. I got the answer to start a podcast, so who am I to judge? Who am I to judge? My job is only to educate you about what this looks like and pray for you and offer you support, and offer you validation.

Our Privilege: To Let Our Voices Be Heard

For those out there who are critical of us or think we’re crazy, or whatever they think, that is our privilege, to stand up and say to them, “You know what, I don’t really care what you think. I am doing what I think is right, and I am teaching what I think is the truth to lead women to safety, and to empower them to choose the safety path that works the best for them in their situation, and I am not about to tell them what that looks like for them.”

I love you sisters. I genuinely love you.

Those of you who are not religious, thank you for tolerating when I do go into these religious things, because you are our sisters too. We’re all sisters.

I study the Scriptures every day and I pray, because my only goal is to lead you, I guess like Moses, though I don’t feel like Moses, through the Red Sea, on dry ground to safety. That’s it.

Boundaries: Common Sense

From a non-religious perspective, it’s just freaking common sense. That’s it. It’s common sense. If someone is lying to you and gaslighting you, and cheating on you all the time, you need to set boundaries. You’re going to get hurt. They’re dangerous for your soul.

Pornography is misogyny, packaged and sold and processed, specifically for men’s consumption, generally speaking. Do women use it? Sure, but it’s an industry that harms women. It harms men’s view of women. It harms men’s relationships with women. It creates this problem, where women are continually dismissed and discarded.

BTR Offers Empowerment, Safety, and Validation

What is BTR? In a nutshell, it’s a women’s empowerment organization. It is a place where you are safe and validated, and where we believe you.

Okay, was that a big enough rant? In other words, thanks for your reviews. I really appreciate it.

If you haven’t yet, and you’re so inclined, please go to Apple Podcasts and review the podcast today.

Be An Advocate: Write a Review And Help Women Who Are Searching

Comment on our podcast, post podcasts episodes on your social media, or tag us on Instagram to help get the word out so women really can get this life-saving, soul-saving, emotion-saving, psychological-saving information so that they know that they’re not crazy and they can stand up in power and take their voice back and have peace in their life, which is what they deserve.

Thanks, everyone. Thanks for your support and your prayers. For all of my atheist and agnostic friends, thank you for your well-wishes and good vibes.

Until next week, stay safe out there.  

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