My feelings after finding safety from abuse
Here Are My Emotions in the Aftermath of Abuse

Excitement, fear, frustration, self-loathing - Vicki shares the torrent of emotions she's experienced in the aftermath of her abusive marriage.

In the aftermath of abuse  in marriage, many victims still have to work toward physical safety – but after physical safety has been achieved, there is a spectrum of emotions to process.

Vicki is on The BTR.ORG Podcast in the final installment of her three-part interview, sharing her joys, insecurities, fears, and hopes in the aftermath of abuse in her her thirty-year marriage. Tune in to the podcast and read the full transcript below.

This episode is Part 3 of Anne’s interview with Vicki. 
Part 1: Walking Away After 30 Years of Narcissistic Abuse
Part 2: This is How You Know It’s Time To Leave
Part 3: Here Are My Emotions in the Aftermath of Abuse (this episode)

But I’m Safe Now – Shouldn’t I Be Happy All The Time?

Many victims experience a level of guilt or frustration with themselves for feeling negative emotions after they’ve achieved a level of physical safety, post-divorce. It can be helpful to understand that all emotions simply are – they’re not good or bad. So when you experience things like:

  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • A lack of desire for relationships
  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Grief

Understand that you are normal – these emotions are part of the healing experience.

“It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are healing.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

For many women in our community, it can be difficult to articulate the complexities of the many levels of healing to someone who has not experienced covert abuse. Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today so that you can process your experience with other women who understand.

Full Transcript:

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

Today we have Vicki back on the podcast today. She’s been with us the last two episodes, so if you haven’t heard the beginning or middle of her story, go there first, listen and then join us here. Let’s just jump right into the conversation. Where are you in the journey to safety right now?

There’s Nothing Wrong With You. You are Healing, The Aftermath of Abuse is Intense

Vicki (01:44): Well, physically safe. Yes, emotionally still struggling and it has very much so affected my ability to have relationships with other people. I don’t date at all. As far as being able to have a bonded relationship where we go hang out, we will call each other up and just be besties. No, I haven’t been able to do a thing like that.

Anne (02:15): It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are healing. I don’t date and there’s nothing wrong with me. If I were unquote better, I still wouldn’t date because dating’s dumb. There’s nothing wrong with you. I bet it will come with time.

Vicki (02:34): I did, of course, BTR Group Sessions.

Anne (02:37): Vicki, if you could go back and talk to your younger self, maybe you at like 16, what would you tell her?

“If something feels off, assume it is.”

Vicki (02:45): I would definitely say if something feels off, assume it is and do not let what someone says dismiss something that feels off, because every time I would express something being off, there would always be this perfect little explanation that was.

I feel like rehearsed just in case, and so I would dismiss it. I would just teach a 16-year-old self. Just go with what you’re feeling. If it feels off, it is. And then the other thing I would teach them is we teach people how to treat us by what we tolerate.

The most important thing that I learned was it is not compassion to provide a convenient environment for someone to continue sinning and hurting others without any consequence. That’s not compassionate.

“This is a choice he made over and over and over again”

Anne (03:42): It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault for unquote tolerating it because there are a lot of people who are, I’m going to say kind and someone makes a mistake and then the person doesn’t continue to abuse them.

This was a choice that he made over and over and over and over again, and the only thing that you lacked was one thing. It was the knowledge that what he was doing was abuse, and it was the skills to know what to do when you’re being abused.

Two things, sorry, two things, but I don’t think your compassion was the problem because once you know it’s abuse like, oh, this isn’t going to help.

Vicki (04:37): Right. Well, and the other thing is the lies. I didn’t know that every day I was being lied to heavily  – had I known that the reality I was living in was a manufactured false reality than I could have made better choices and better decisions.

Since I didn’t lie, I couldn’t wrap my head around somebody else who cared about me lying to me, so that just wasn’t even in the realm of my comprehension.

“You did everything you could.”

Anne (05:06): It’s so difficult when there’s nothing you could do because you don’t know. It’s not like you knew something and you didn’t do it. You did everything you could. Thank goodness when you saw it with your own eyeballs and you did know, that you did take action. You are brave and strong. How did you find BTR?

Vicki (05:31): There was another incident of clergy betrayal that happened and I was just so frustrated and I started searching on the internet for just resources for betrayal trauma.

I didn’t even know that was a term, but I was like, this is the trauma that I’m experiencing is the constant betrayal over and over by this person and that person shouldn’t be betraying me.

So anyway, that was what I was doing. Internet searches on betrayal trauma, and that’s when I found it. I found some other good books and other resources too, but this was the one that just jumped out and it was like, oh my gosh, where was this 10 years ago? Where was this? 20 years ago?

There was nothing to help women, and so that’s why I’m just like now, oh, I just want to get this word out so I don’t want even one girl to go through what I did.

Anne Started BTR in the Aftermath of Abuse

I started BTR because was I was so concerned that any woman would go down the pornography addiction recovery path rather than the abuse path. She needs to know it’s abuse. She needs to treat it like abuse from day one. They use porn – abusers use porn.

Porn is abusive. Even if a woman thinks, well, he was abusive in other ways, but he doesn’t use porn, the likelihood of him actually not using porn is almost zero. He might not know, but he does.

Vicki (08:14): Yeah. I recently met a lady who was saying that he was physically and emotionally abusive, and I’m like, yeah, he was also a porn addict.

Anne (08:21): He was using porn.

Vicki (08:22): If you were able to do the research, you would find that that’s true. For sure. I just told her he was, don’t worry about it. She goes, well, yeah. There was the one time I took his phone and he freaked out at me. Yeah,

Anne (08:35): Exactly. When you found BTR, did you start listening to the podcast or what was your experience with BTR?

In the Aftermath of Abuse, I Just Wish I Would’ve Known This Before

Vicki (08:41): Oh, I just started devouring the podcast and I would just cry and cry because I was like, oh my gosh, I’m not the only one that’s validating and sad at the same time, so devastating and healing because there were so many and just all of the information.

I was like, oh, I just wish I would’ve known this before, just over and over and just so grateful that it’s there. I just hope that so many other people are finding this while they’re still in it so that they can get education about what’s happening.

Anne (09:20): I do find even post-divorce for women who are divorced and they never knew they were abused. They didn’t even know porn was happening, and they’re still struggling When they find us, I do think that it facilitates healing faster because they realize it was abuse.

Then they’re like, oh, yes, because it’s again, a sad commentary on the state of abuse education that a woman can be abused, get divorced from an abuser, continue to be abused, and still not know she’s being abused. The number one reason women don’t get out of abusive relationships is because they do not know that they are in one.

Vicki (10:00): Yes.

“I feel like you have a very bright future.”

Anne (10:01): I feel like you have a very bright future. I sense this. That right now you are still struggling and that you’re worried about yourself in terms of relationships. Would you say you have other worries like financial or otherwise, or is your main worry relationships?

Vicki (10:22): Yes, relationships.

Anne (10:24): The reason why I have hope for you is this. You seem solution oriented.

“You were just trying to solve problems”

(10:30): Your whole marriage, you didn’t know it was abuse and you were just trying to solve problems, and so now that you recognize like, wait a minute, I want better relationships. I want a good friend that just the desire and the faith and the forward movement, I’m not your coach.

I’m not your therapist or anything, but I am going to give you a suggestion, write on a piece of paper, one close emotionally intimate relationship. Not a boyfriend. I’m thinking like a friend that’s a girl, like a neighbor. Just write that and then kneel down and pray and say, Heavenly Father, I don’t even know how to do this.

This is what I want because I feel like I’m missing something, but I don’t know how to heal. I don’t know what to do I don’t know if it’s me. I don’t know if it’s other people.

The amount of things I don’t know about this would fill the universe. I can’t heal myself, so I need you to help me, and I also maybe need a friend to show me how to do this. I don’t know how to do it, and then stand up and tape it on your wall, and that will be the beginning of your miracle board.

Vicki (11:49): Okay.

“We just need to take one step”

Anne (11:50): Try that out. See how that goes, because feel like when we know what we need and we know what we want, we just need to take one step and then the next step will be revealed, and then we take the next step.

Maybe you’ll get the impression to call somebody in your congregation or go to a movie by yourself. Maybe there’s someone else that’s going to be sitting there by themselves. You never know. You have a bright future and God loves you.

“The reason why you were abused has nothing to do with you.”

Vicki (13:24): It’s very comforting to have that faith that I don’t think that this is as good as it gets. I think it’s getting better. That does give me hope and optimism to continue.

I’ve never gotten mad at God, been like, why did you give me such a creepy husband or anything like that It’s just been like, wow, I must’ve been kind of arrogant. When we sat down to plan my life, I must’ve been like, yeah, bring it on. I got this.

Anne (13:53): No, no, no, no. All you have to do is look around you. There are other arrogant women who have perfectly loving husbands, so no, that was not the reason. The reason why you were abused has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with the abuser.

Vicki (14:14): Abusers, I feel like are more and more common because it worked. They get away with it, and more and more people are like, yeah, I could control all kinds of things and all I have to do is be abusive.

Anne (14:30): All I have to do is be willing to not live according to truth.

In the Aftermath of Abuse, I Have Hope for Your Future.”

(14:36): I have to be willing to lie so that I can maintain power so that I can maintain the power over – I have information that she doesn’t have. And I have to be willing to threaten people.

I have to be willing to do really awful things for power, for money, whatever the thing they want to do is, and it’s scary, but thank goodness there are people in the world. You’re not willing to lie.

You are a person of principles and God loves you and he will bless you. I have hope for your future. I just sense that you really do have a bright future ahead of you in this life. In this life,

Vicki (15:14): And that’s the thing I have no problem about next life. That is not a problem for me at all, but I’m super skeptical that there will be anything good in this life.

Advice for Moving Forward, in the Aftermath of Abuse

Anne (15:25): In the aftermath of abuse a miracle board is what I’m suggesting. Little goals, like maybe some shoes that you really like that maybe you can’t afford right now. Put that on your miracle board and maybe you’ll be like, oh, my word, they’re on sale. What? I can buy ’em now. Right?

So if there’s three things that you desire a friend, some shoes, a pot that will help you to cook this thing that you like better, I don’t know, whatever the thing is, maybe put three things on that and just say, Heavenly Father, I really need something good, something small, but something good to happen.

I need help hoping for this because right now I don’t have any, I don’t know, but my guess is he’ll come through because I feel like it’s the little prayers that I say where I always get an answer. So I lost something and I pray and I find it.

I always get these little prayers answered, and I’m so grateful because it helps me know that the big prayers that I said for so long that my husband would be a normal person that was not answered, but I did still know that he knew who I was and that he was aware of me through the answers to the little things, and the little things can build on each other and build on each other.

Building a Joyful Life

We can build a really peaceful, happy, joyous life on all those little things. The simple things, like one friend.

Vicki (16:54): Well, I appreciate, that’s really good advice.

Anne (16:57): You didn’t ask for advice, so now I’m feeling kind of bad, but anyway, I am so grateful that you took the time to share your story with us. Vicki, thank you so much for talking with me today,

Vicki (17:08): Thanks for all the work you do with BTR.

4 Comments

  1. AL

    Thank you for the comment on death Anne. I feel the same way though I’m not religious. It gives me comfort to know that at some point I will be saved, loved and that I’ll belong. I do not believe in miracles either, let alone after seen all the injustice in the world, but at least I know that there will be an end to this live full of abuse since I was born.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for this, is so true.

    Reply
  3. CA

    I felt every word of this episode so deeply that it was like a breath of fresh air as my heart became a bit lighter with every sentence.

    I’ve been feeling like it’s my responsibility to become an “investigator” like it’s my job to scrutinize every little thing that I’ve experienced just to figure out where I went wrong in letting certain patterns repeat throughout my life. This moment of letting go made me finally realize how much all that had been weighing on me on top of everything else during this process of becoming a single mother from divorcing a narcissist after a 10 year relationship.

    Thank you Vicki for sharing your story and thank you Ann for creating this podcast to be a beacon of hope & healing to women everywhere that are in recovery from this experience!

    Reply
  4. CA

    I felt every word of this episode so deeply that it was like a breath of fresh air as my heart became a bit lighter with every sentence.

    I’ve been feeling like it’s my responsibility to become an “investigator” like it’s my job to scrutinize every little thing that I’ve experienced just to figure out where I went wrong in letting certain patterns repeat throughout my life. This moment of letting go made me finally realize how much all that had been weighing on me on top of everything else during this process of becoming a single mother from divorcing a narcissist after a 10 year relationship.

    Thank you Vicki for sharing your story and thank you Anne for creating this podcast to be a beacon of hope & healing to women everywhere that are in recovery from this experience!

    Reply

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