Dr. Barbara Steffens on Treatment-Induced Trauma

Dr. Barbara Steffens is on the podcast explaining what treatment-induced trauma is, and how to equip ourselves to choose safe treatment for trauma.

Clergy, therapists, and others often blame and shame betrayal victims.
This is called Treatment-Induced Trauma and if you’ve experienced it, you’re not alone.
Dr. Barbara Steffens, author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse, How Partners Can Cope and Heal, affirms that no woman deserves to be blamed for her partner’s abusive behavior. Listen to The BTR.ORG Podcast or read the full transcript below to learn more about what Dr. Steffens has to say to women who have been through this kind of insidious abuse.

Treatment-Induced Trauma Harms Victims

I was abused by my church leader. That has actually been more traumatizing to me than the actual betrayal because I was going to someone for help and I was being abused by proxy because he believed all of the things that my ex was saying.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
When women go to a therapist, religious leader, family member, or friend for help and are dismissed, minimized, and/or blamed, they experience secondary trauma. This secondary trauma can be even more painful and devastating than the initial abuse.
Dr. Steffens explains it this way:
I compare it to a child who is being sexually abused who has the courage to speak up and tell someone and when that person does not believe them or tells them they must have imagined things, or they shouldn’t talk like that, the victim pulls away and is even more hurt. When I have worked with abuse survivors, the ‘not being believed’ they say is worse than the actual abuse.
I think for partners there is a level of this that is true as well; not being heard, believed, seen, valued adds to, and in some situations, intensifies the trauma.
Dr. Barbara Steffens, author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal

Abuse and Addiction Are Not “Couples Issues”

When an abusive partner who acts out sexually, or identifies as a “sex addict”, harms his partner by his behavior, it is his problem that he has brought into the relationship.

Addiction is something in the individual that affects a marriage but a lot of times people try to treat it as a couple’s issue. And it’s not.

Dr. Barbara Steffens, author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Cope and Heal

Why, then, do therapists and clergy so often counsel women to treat his decisions to control, manipulate, and act out sexually, like it’s a “couple’s problem” by initiating couple’s therapy and counseling sessions?

Couples Therapy Harms Victims of Emotional Abuse

It is harmful for victims to attend couple’s therapy or religious counseling with their partners because abusers will usually manipulate therapists and clergy to believe that the abuser is actually the victim, and that the victim is crazy, unstable, or abusive.
Often, therapists will seek to identify relational issues, like communication, and tell both partners that they need to “work on it”; rather than correctly identifying abuse in the relationship.
I think that therapists are trained to recognize domestic violence physical abuse but they don’t have a lot of awareness of emotional, verbal, and especially psychological abuse and manipulation. So again, they are going to see this as a communication issue rather than a power issue, a control issue, or an abuse issue.
Dr. Barbara Steffens, author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Cope and Heal
This harms the victim because the longer that the abuse is not called out, the longer the abuser is enabled and she will continue to experience harm.

BTR.ORG Is On Your Side

At BTR, we do not enable abusive men. We stand beside trauma victims and support them through their pain.

Our BTR.ORG Group Sessions are available to you every single day; women all over the world process their trauma, share their triumphs and their pain, and find friendship and connection. Attend a session today and begin your journey to healing with a safe and loving community of survivors.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. This is Anne. I am honored and delighted to have Barb Steffens here today. She has just about every certification <laugh> available. Welcome, Barb.

Barb (00:19):
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity. That’s an awful lot of initials after my name. My kids really get after me about all that, but it’s kind of what we do in, in this field, so –

“There’s not a lot of knowledge about this topic in general”

Anne (00:30):
It’s awesome. You’re well trained and the expert in this area, and so that’s why I’m so honored to have you here today. Partners of Sex addicts have difficulty finding appropriate support and help for themselves. Why do you think it’s so difficult to find appropriate support?

Barb (00:48):
First, there’s not a lot of knowledge about the topic in general. I teach in a counseling program and I know that when I look at the course offerings, there’s very little that’s even being taught to therapists that are getting trained about sex addiction or compulsion in general, let alone talking about the impact on the family. So I think it starts there for the help providers.

“Certainly a lack of training”

There’s not a lot of public education on the topic, and it still tends to be one of those things that people don’t understand and so they don’t wanna talk about it. So there’s just very, very little information out there. I think the general, let’s say therapist or counselor, if this comes into their office, maybe they have some awareness of addiction, but they don’t make the leap to trauma for the family member or the wife, the spouse.

Also, sometimes people think they know just enough cuz they read one book or something, and so then they start saying, yes, I can help this population and end up not being helpful and sometimes hurtful. But I think overall it’s just a lack of conversation and information. Certainly a lack of training.

“I’m fighting two different fronts – society and the church”

Anne (02:05):
I’ve been talking to my mom about this and it seems like I’m fighting two different fronts – society in general, and their misunderstanding of the issue. And then also the church, which has such a misunderstanding, you’d think that they’d be on opposite sides and they kind of are.

But at the same time, because it’s so misunderstood with both populations, it’s difficult to be able to teach it because the religious community sees it a certain way and they think that you should heal in a certain way that at least for me was not helpful at all. And then society in general accepts pornography or they don’t understand the trauma aspect of it. So yeah. I think that makes it so difficult too.

“They don’t talk about it”

Barb (02:46):
It really does. And I’m really glad you brought up faith community, because I too have found that they don’t talk about it. They’re afraid to talk about it, or when they do, they lack adequate information. And especially when the wife and the spouse goes for assistance, they can get crazy kind of advice that can really be hurtful too. Like just be more sexual, of course. And your husband’s looking a pornography, you must be not doing something you’re supposed to do.

So those kinds of things don’t help at all. Trying to get into faith communities to educate them on this is extremely difficult. And I think they have a lot of fear. They don’t wanna talk about it. I think also we know that leadership in faith communities are struggling with this as well. So it also can be a hindrance to talking about the topic.

“They don’t want to admit that their behavior is causing this much trauma in someone else”

Anne (03:39):
Plus the fact that it’s trauma. And with the trauma model we’re identified as actual true victims. Not that we need to stay in victim mode, or not that we don’t have choices, or not that we can’t be empowered, but I think for a faith community that might have many men who are struggling with this, they don’t want to admit that their behavior is causing this much trauma in someone else, and that they have left a trail of destruction.

You know, they’d rather have it be well this is my part and your part is you asked me too many questions, or you did this, or you did that, or you didn’t make dinner like you were supposed to. Or one of my coaches said that her religious community told her that she needed to win him over with her godly demeanor. So that’s type of stuff is re-traumatizing to women.

Distorted Thoughts & Beliefs

Barb (04:35):
And what you’re describing are a lot of the common features that we see in someone who’s engaging in compulsive sexual behavior. They have distorted thoughts and beliefs. Those responses from faith communities just sound like so much of the distorted thinking that people have when they’re engaged in this compulsive behavior. It’s somebody else’s fault. It’s really not that bad. No one needs to know, no one needs to get hurt.

They minimize, they rationalize, they blame shift. And so unfortunately, what a lot of places, when they’re not adequately trained or they don’t wanna talk about it, they do the very same level of harm that the person does who is betraying their spouse. They use the same tactics.

Institutional Abuse Can Be Just as or MORE Traumatizing Than Intimate Betrayal

Anne (05:24):
Absolutely. I was abused by my church leader during this time of disclosure, and it that that has actually been more traumatizing to me than the actual portrayal because I was going to someone for help and I was abused. I I say abused by proxy because he believed all the things that my ex was saying. Yeah. So describe treatment induced trauma.

What is Treatement-Induced Trauma?

Barb (05:47):
Treatment- Induced Trauma is just a, a way of describing that process that happens when in this situation we’re talking about the partner or the spouse goes to someone that they have an expectation that that person can help me. And then in that process they find themselves feeling harmed.

And sometimes the harm in that setting can feel worse than the original betrayal. Because you go feeling betrayed, you’re very needy, you need to go and tell someone, get some assistance, and then when you’re not believed or blamed or minimized, it just adds to the level of trauma.

I compare it to a child who’s being sexually abused, has the, the courage to speak up and tell someone. And when that person doesn’t believe them or tells them that they must have imagined things or they shouldn’t talk like that, then that person pulls away and is even more hurt when I’ve worked with abuse survivors than not being believed they say is worse than the actual abuse.

“Taking the risk to go and tell someone, then not being heard”

And I think for partners, there’s a level of that that’s true. That not being heard, seen, believed, valued, just adds to and in some situations really intensifies the trauma. So that’s what we say. There’s a clinician that also calls it institutional betrayal, and she describes it as, again, this expectation that this place or this person I’m going to is there for me, and then when they turn against me, they add more level of harm and trauma to the individual. So that’s what it is.

And I can tell you that since I’ve started doing this work, I hear it all the time. I get emails, letters, phone calls from women from all across the United States and many other countries, and they’re all describing this, that similar experience of taking the risk to go and tell someone and then not being heard or being harmed in the process. And it really angers me because by now there’s enough information out here that I would think people would know what not to do, but it, it still occurs.

Couple Therapy is Counter-Indicated When Abuse is Present

Anne (08:08):
One of the things that I see is that the addict is so good at lying and manipulating that they are believed over the victim repeatedly. And so that is so difficult because how do you get away from that if someone’s lying about you and someone is manipulating the support that you’re trying to get.

And that leads me to think that it’s way better to get help for yourself without dragging your husband in so that you can kind of get a clear picture of what’s happening and get solid with what you are doing. I know in cases of abuse, couples counseling, for example, is counter-indicated until two years after the last abuse episode and yet I would tell therapists that he’s been abusing me, and they’d say, okay, let’s keep doing couples therapy.

You know, they wouldn’t say, okay, then we need to stop and he needs to get help for his abuse. And so it was just, it’s really difficult to want to get help to be willing to get help to actually make the effort to get help and then be harmed further.

Abuse is NOT a Marriage Issue

Barb (09:15):
Yeah. And I think a lot of times what happens, because we don’t have a lot of information on what sex addiction is or what treatment might look like, a lot of times the first person that the spouse goes to is either their clergy who’s going to look at it as a marriage issue or a couple’s counselor who’s going to view it through the lens of a marriage issue. And addiction is not a marriage issue.

Addiction is something that’s in the individual that affects the marriage. But a lot of times people try to treat it as primarily a couple’s issue and it’s not. And I think again, that’s where a lot of partners are, just as you’ve described, harmed, not understood or abused within the session and the therapist doesn’t catch it. And I also wanna talk about the word abuse that you’re using here.

Abuse is NOT a Communication Issue

I think that therapists are trained to recognize domestic violence, physical abuse, but they don’t have a lot of awareness of emotional abuse, verbal abuse, especially psychological abuse and manipulation. And so again, they’re gonna see that as a communication issue rather than a power issue, a control issue, or an abuse issue. So they need more training on how to identify those types of abuse. A lot of times people think the only trauma is the discovery of the secrets, and that’s, that’s horrific, that’s traumatic.

But what’s missed in a lot of help settings is that ongoing emotional abuse that has occurred before the addiction is even found out and it’s already done tons of damage and harm to the relationship, but particularly to the victim, to the person that’s on the receiving end of that.

And What About if They’re Just Manipulating You And/Or The Therapist?

Anne (11:05):
And then sometimes the continued abuse for addicts who are in quote unquote recovery. They’re not actually in recovery, they’re not showing recovery behaviors.

Barb (11:18):
Right. They may have stopped they behaviors, they acting out behaviors, but they haven’t taken on or started to practice healthy relational behaviors

Anne (11:28):
Or in some cases, I don’t know if they’ve stopped acting out sexually at all, I think. Right. Sometimes they may be lying. They may be hiding things better and just talking the talk because they found out what they need to say in order to get their wife off their back.

“How is a partner supposed to start to heal when the traumatizing has not stopped?”

Barb (11:43):
I did a workshop a few years ago at a large conference that is there for the sex addiction community, and I called it When the Chaos Doesn’t Stop. And I wanted to do that workshop because when partners, let’s say at six months to a year after discovery and partners are still not getting better in their view, I’m doing that in quotation marks. You can’t see me doing that, but I am, the partners aren’t getting better. And so what I tried to do was uncover the issues that get in the way of partner recovery. And most often it’s because either there’s ongoing sexual acting out that has not been uncovered yet.

He’s lying and or the ongoing chronic emotional abuse, manipulation, psychological abuse, and gaslighting. Just the things you were describing, you know, the recovery behavior really hasn’t kicked in yet. So how is a partner supposed to start to heal when the traumatizing has not stopped?

Anne (12:46):

“Trauma occurs where the partner is blamed for her not getting better when she is still not safe in the relationship”

Barb (12:47):
Yeah. And so we pathologize the partner for not getting well, rather than looking at what is going on in the relationship that she still doesn’t feel safe. And to me that is a huge place where treatment induced trauma occurs where the partner is blamed for her not getting better when she is still not safe in the relationship.

Anne (13:08):
I see that time and time again. Yeah. And it’s so distressing to me because the women in these situations are feeling guilty, they’re feeling terrible, they can’t figure out why they don’t feel good when the behaviors they’re describing to me and their husbands sound terrible. and I’m thinking, your therapist isn’t picking this up. You know, you’re not being protected, like you’re not safe and nobody’s picking this up.

There’s been a lot with the anti pornography movement and the movement to bring pornography addiction out into the light to not shame addicts and to give them more voice and to maybe normalize it a little bit so they don’t feel as deviant or as terrible. But in that same vein, I think in some ways the normalizing it has made it so maybe it’s not as bad as people –

“How has this impacted you (the abuser) as a human being in your relationships with other people?”

Barb (14:00):
Well, they’re not addressing the behaviors that go along with, or the behaviors that then become a, you know, as a result of chronic viewing of pornography or the other types of sexual acting out that can happen with this type of addiction.

They’re looking at the acting out behaviors alone, not looking at how is it impacting the character and getting in the way of that individual caring about having empathy for the people that they’re harming. So they can talk about how to control their behavior. So they’re not using porn, but they’re not addressing: How has this impacted you as a human being in your relationships with other people?

Anne (14:41):
As people try to get help, but they’re not getting the appropriate help, what are the effects of these treatment related injuries?

Treatment-Induced Trauma Makes it More Difficult for Victims to Get Help

Barb (14:49):
One of the saddest impacts is that it gets in the way of spouses, of partners going and getting help for themselves. Who wants to go get help and be told that you’re part of the problem, that there’s something wrong in you, or this wouldn’t have happened to you. And then if they don’t agree with that, then they pull away and say, well, I can’t trust telling this to anybody because all I’m doing is getting blamed for it. And so they pull away and they don’t seek help again.

So to me, that’s the greatest damage because we know that people who don’t get help, who are being traumatized or who are in chronically unsafe abusive relationships, they can develop more long-term chronic mental health issues. So it just adds to the level of distress for the spouse. So for me, that’s the greatest impact. But also there’s that secondary trauma that the partner experiences.

“It’s the extra trauma that doesn’t need to be there”

So not only are they working through the betrayal trauma in their relationship, but now they’re working through the betrayal trauma that they experienced at the hand of a clergy member, a therapist or some other help provider, a physician.

A lot of people will go to a physician to talk about what’s going on and try to get, say, medication or something and the physician can do things that are harmful as well. So it’s the extra trauma that doesn’t need to be there.

The shame from misplaced blame

That shame that comes when a partner is blamed for what happens to them. Partners experience that. Anyway, that’s kind of our first response is, well, you know, what’s wrong with me that this happened? How did I not know what did I do or not do that my husband is acting this way, but then when a care provider shames them or blames them as well, that just heaps more shame on the partner.

Anne (16:46):
Yeah. And it’s a extended form of the abuse too.

Barb (16:50):
Yes. Yeah. There’s a lot of gaslighting that happens to partners and it’s not all within the relationship.

Anne (16:57):
Exactly. In your estimation, what can partners look for in treatment or help providers to avoid this secondary injury?

Seeking Help? Try This Advice

Barb (17:06):
Partners are getting a lot more wise now that there are more and more resources available to them. Much like what you guys are doing, this is phenomenal that you are offering this kind of information for spouses. So getting educated, but really asking questions before you start working with a care provider.

So ask, you know, what kind of model do you use for working with partners? How do you view the partner? Do you believe all partners are codependent? Ask the therapist or the coach, if I don’t agree with you, is it okay for me to say, can we do something different? Or if it’s not working, how do you handle it? If a client says, this isn’t working for me, can we try another approach?

And if you have a therapist or a coach say, well, this is how I always do it and it works, then you might wanna think differently.

Or have second thoughts about that. You want a therapist or a coach who is aware of what you need and that that’s their primary focus is on getting to know you and identifying how they can help you and allow you to be a very active part of the process.

Unfortunately, I hear a lot of times partners go to get help and they’re given a program to follow and first we do this and then we do that. And there’s not a lot of room for individual needs for unique treatment opportunities. They’re just looking at one size fits all kind of way of, of working with partners. And I’ve never found that to work.

Ask Questions! Lots of Questions!

Anne (18:47):
Yeah. Me either.

Barb (18:49):
We’re all different, aren’t we? Yeah. So just ask questions. Ask questions about how do you work with partners? What’s your belief around how did this happen? What’s your understanding of the model around codependency or co addiction versus trauma? What books have you read? What training do you have? I’m always encouraging partners.

Find someone that has specific training as clinicians. I’m a clinician and a coach, so I’m gonna put on my clinician hat right now and say I am bound by ethical codes that say, if I am declaring that I am a specialist in something, I darn well better be able to demonstrate that I have specialized experience training and supervision in that area.

And unfortunately, a lot of therapists say, well, I treat blah, blah, blah, and they list them. But if you ask, well, where did you get specialized training? Well, no, I, I haven’t. I’ve, I’ve read a book or something like that. So, so ask, how did you get this training? Who supervised you and what is the model of the training you got?

Anne (19:57):
Yes. Yes. What can a partner do if she has experienced treatment induced trauma?

“What can a partner do if she has experienced Treatment-Induced Trauma?”

Barb (20:03):
I think the most important thing to do, if you can not take responsibility for what someone else did or didn’t do that you needed, I think, like we were talking about earlier, you shouldn’t have to train your treatment provider, your caregiver. So don’t own it, but also go and talk to someone about it.

When I’m working with my clients, if there’s prior treatment or some kind of treatment induced trauma that they experienced, like from their faith community, that’s part of what we do is processing that, talking about it, working on ways to find healing for that so that it doesn’t fester, it makes it more difficult in the healing, but it certainly is not insurmountable. It just needs to be discussed and worked on to be healed through, don’t keep it to yourself.

Anne (20:59):
Do you recommend picketing?

Seek Help, Talk it Through, Seek Safety

Barb (21:01):
I have not. But if, if the you know, the treatment induced trauma is severe and you talk through it with a therapist and it seems like, boy, this is not only they didn’t understand, but this is a clear ethical violation, then certainly a partner has every right to complain and you can do that privately, go to that therapist or that clergy member and talk to them about how it hurts. Certainly don’t do that right away.

You wanna feel strong and empowered and safe enough to do that. But that might be helpful. Sometimes there’s the level of complaint to a state board, if it’s a licensed individual against, that’s usually more extreme using an antiquated model or not understanding how to help, that might not be the level to which you file a formal complaint, but that’s always an option.

But I would always encourage that, talk that through with someone so that you know what all your options are and then do what, what fits for you?

Anne (22:03):
For me being stuck in that, wanting to pick it, not that I would literally wanna do that, but phase sometimes where I think this has to change, this is an institutional problem that I see within my church and it needs to change. I don’t know how to change it. I don’t even know where to start.

Last night I spent a lot of time actually just praying, what do you want me to do? God, I don’t know how to even overcome this. I don’t even know if that’s healthy for me in my recovery to worry about the institution as a whole or feel like the, the weight of that is on my shoulders. But because I talk to so many women about it, I think someone has to do something and maybe that is me. You know, I, I don’t know. It’s just such a difficult thing to,

Speaking Up & Sharing Your Voice is Bringing About Change

Barb (22:49):
It, it really is short of picketing. I don’t know if picketing would be helpful, but going and talking or doing education  the, the services that you provide through your podcast, through the coaching that you do, that is making a difference. That’s bringing about change. You know, the model is changing in the sex addiction field and in large part it’s because spouses and partners have gotten educated, they have found support, they are connected with other people that believe similar things.

And the consumer in this case is changing the institution because they are speaking up. When we do educational programming, we are making change too.

So as an organization, we’re looking at what else can we do? We wanna promote more research, we wanna do more community education in different communities to help just raise the topic and talk about it. So there’s a lot of things that we can do. It’s up to the individual on what makes sense for them and what’s safe for them to do, because this is risky stuff. It’s, if you go and start to talk out loud in a community setting about this because we don’t talk about sex addiction, it really can feel emotionally dangerous.

“I have experienced it as a call on my life”

Anne (24:15):
And dangerous in other ways too. Like dangerous to your reputation. Dangerous too. I mean, and that’s probably what you meant by emotionally dangerous. Yeah.

But it’s just, it is really risky and it’s not something that I necessarily would like to do, but I think it needs to be done. And I appreciate everything that you personally have done and Yeah. We owe a great debt to you, actually. Thank you.

Barb (24:38):
Well, I have really experienced it as a call on my life that any time I am having the opportunity to talk to someone about partners, spouses of sex addicts and what they need, I know that I’m not just speaking for me, I am speaking on behalf of spouses and partners everywhere that don’t have a voice or don’t know how to use their voice.

So whatever opportunity I have to verbalize and to stress how extreme this need is for ethical and appropriate care for partners, I’m gonna do it.

Anne (25:15):
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. From all of us. So I will, I’ll be the collective voice of thanks. Thank you.

Barb (25:23):
Yeah. And I’m not alone in doing it. We have a phenomenal group of people.

“It’s an amazing community”

Anne (25:30):
I’m very grateful to associate with the eight coaches that I do, and also frequently talk with Dr. Jill Manning, who is super helpful and yeah. Anyway, it’s, it’s an amazing community. The coaches at Betrayal Trauma Recovery are in all different time zones and we provide all of our services online.

We’re trying to provide it for women where they are and when they need it, because so many women are so busy with their children or their work schedules that Yeah. Just one more thing, in addition to all the trauma is very difficult, which may be a reason why women don’t get help is because they’re so overwhelmed with everything that they have going on.

Barb (26:07):
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I am always amazed when my clients who are in the throes of crisis, somehow or another find their way to think clear enough to get to my office and to get back home. So knowing that they can have additional support just by picking up a phone, going online, I love that.

“We are here, you are supported, you can come.”

Anne (26:27):
Shouting out in, into the void of the universe, we are here, you are supported, you can come and yeah, it doesn’t matter where you live, you can find us and we, we are here for you. So it’s really cool.

Barb (26:39):
Yes. I wanna say to partners that are listening to this, that I’m so proud of you for doing what it takes to get support and information that you’re seeking it out. Cause that takes risk, especially if you’ve already ventured into reading things or hearing things that didn’t make sense to you or hurt you. And if you are still seeking, you are courageous and amazing.

“We want to do whatever we can to connect you to what you need.”

So I want you to know that those of us that understand that and that are especially trained in how to help you, we wanna do whatever we can to help connect you to what you need. I’m really, really grateful for these types of podcasts.

Thanks so much for the work that Betrayal Trauma Recovery is doing, because there’s nothing more isolating, I don’t think, than being the spouse of someone who’s been sexually, compulsive, sexual acting out. It’s so isolating, so shaming, so scary to think about telling someone. So just taking a risk to listen to a podcast takes courage. So I wanna thank you for that and I wanna commend you for that.

Anne (27:57):
Dr. Stephens, thank you so much for being here and thank you for pioneering this for women all over the world who are desperately seeking information and help.



  1. Melissa

    Yes! I personally have found a therapy group that works with addicts and partners, as who do EMDR, and suport the Trauma Model… BUT, what I didn’t find helpful was that the words co Dependent were given out very early on. Yes, it’s part of my dynamic. I see that. BUT in early trauma, it was confusing and painful. They explained it was not my fault. But, my abusive childhood left me an open target for toxic realasionships. That my Co dependance added to the dance… UHG.
    It felt like I’d asked for it, or possibly could have possibly beefed up with someone healthy. As I was unhealthy.
    Not until I read My Sexually Addicted Spouse did I feel like some one nailed my feelings. I shared it with everyone in my recovery group. We all felt similar.
    Yes, I have trauma from childhood wounds. This trauma has re opened all my old wounds and also made new ones.

    I’m 18months in since discovery. Trauma 1.
    Then slow disclosure… with out help of therapist. 2. Then a few porn slips.
    Then formal disclosure ( horrific and re traumatizing.)3.
    Then my STD diagnosis and then major surgery. I’m healing. But my therapist is telling me I should be farther along in recovery. My partner is doing so well.

    I was to scream, I’m traumatized. And still don’t feel safe all of the time. Give me a break!

    • Anne

      Thanks for sharing! It is such a long process!

  2. Susan

    Thank you, so much…so much, for putting this information out there. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I need because it’s been a couple of years…but I’m still a bit of a mess. I appreciate being able to feel the support even though I’ve not been brave enough to grab on.

  3. martha

    he cheated on you and you where lucky to have found out.. would he cheat on you again ? no one can answer that question not even your husband. But if he has got a good heart . . . maybe?

  4. Shan

    Your podcasts have been my saving grace. They speak directly to my heart. I found out a month ago about my husbands pornography addiction. My spiritual leader told me many things that really bothered me. He told me that my husband didn’t commit a sin, that I need to forgive him, promising me that if I would forgive him my marriage would became stronger than I could ever imagine, instructing me to read books on forgiveness and telling me that if I truly understood the Atonement I would be able to forgive and trust him again. But the most hurtful was when he asked me why Eve was placed in the Garden of Eden. He then went on to answer his own question by saying, “to be a help meet to Adam. Likewise you were placed on this Earth to be a help meet to your husband and you must be true to your marriage covenants and be there for him as his help meet.” All of these things were said within the first week of me discovering his addiction. We as women are so much more than this. We are so much more than just a help meet to our husbands. Your podcasts have guided me in ways I could never express. Thank you for doing what you do. You have helped bring understanding and healing to my heart in a world I can not begin to comprehend.

    • Anne Blythe

      Dear sister, we are loved Daughters of God, and God does not want us to be abused. I’m sorry that you were also abused by your Bishop. Your husband has committed adultery and abused you by lying to you and manipulating you, and should be held accountable. I’m sorry that you’re spiritual leader didn’t act in a Christlike way, in fact, acted contrary to the commandments – hurting a victim and enabling an abuser. He is / was wrong. You deserve to be loved and cherished. I’m so glad you found us:).

  5. Paula

    I have waited literally 29 years for help like this. My marriage is probably over because of the trauma abuse. I’m seriously working on me now and just can’t worry about him any longer. It hurts because at one time he would have done anything to get real help. I believe sexual addiction has destroyed his heart and mind like the years of trauma has totally destroyed my trust in him and the church/professional counselors who sent me back in for more harmful abuse unknowingly.
    Thank you for being here in a time such as this.

    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so glad you find it helpful!

  6. Leah Forrest

    I need help ASAP. My husband and i separated 2 years ago in August because he physically abused my son. He is a war vet that started doing porn pre deployment. I couldnt put my finger on it until we had our daughter. A few months aftee his return from Iraq i found myself down on the ground with his forearm on my neck. He ripped my son out of my arms and threated to take off with him to another state where his mom lived. I told him he had PTSD and needed counseling. We took marriage counseling for a few months with counselor that wasnt trained for PTSD. I complained about his video game addictions and him pretty much locking himself in our closet leaaving me to do most of everything. His complaint to the counselor was I wasnt sexual enough. We both agreed we were intimate a minimum of 4 times a week and that wasnt enough. He quit being affectionate and started groping me all the time. Ridiculed me for watching movies like the bachelor or bachelorette. It wasnt until my daughter was born in 2015..8 years after his addiction started that i discovered his addiction. I walkes in on him masturbating to porn with my daughter within viewing distance. I had my daughter checked out because of unusual behaviors that she had started at the age of 1. Plus her dad started sleeping with both of my kids more than me except when he wanted something. My future ex finally started to seek help for PTSD in Feb 2017. He quit his medication regimen around August 2017 when he attacked my son. CPS temporarily suggested i supervise all his visits but later cleared him. He then acted like he wanted to work things out with me an I thought he was still activly seeking help. In december 2017 i discovered he was having an affair with my coworker. We then wenr to mediation in February 2018. At that time i planned joint custody. He sent my kids home not fed and sick 2 times without seeking medical attention. He continued to hurt my son all which ahs been overlooked by CPS. In August 2018 i discovered a cell phone my ex gave my son with Porn on it. I was advised to turn over to police and cps. They failed to do thorough investigation and continued his rights. When phone was given back to me my lawyer suggested having a computer specialist download it for evidence. That is when it was discovered mult. Porn sights that were looked at while the kids dad had the phone. I was able to see where he would look at the filth and then turn phone over to kids to play games. My kids didnt make any outcries to cps so they just said it was an accident. Fast forward to Dec 2018 that is when after 18 years i discovered my future ex is a narcissist. So many incidents of what i learned to be gaslighting. My daughter came home from a visit in January acting out sexually. She told her counselor that she saw what makes me believe porn on his netflix. Unfortunately it was brought up in one of the 4 times he chose to attend counseling the past 2 years. He denied it and said she was lying. Fastforward to 2 months ago and my daughter made sexual outcry about her brother who has been quite the opposite. If she acted out previously he would be the first to tell on her. We now have cps, po, and his court ordered attorney involved. Cps worker has pinned me as a vengeful ex wife and made it be known to all involved. Any time things dont go his way he is messaging the PO and my sons lawyer who demand i do what he is telling me. I have turned over tons of evidence showing these people where my kids have been exposed to such things and the abuse and neglect my kids have went through but have gotten nowhere. I need some advice please.


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recovering from betrayal trauma
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