After the discovery of betrayal, life may feel overwhelming and the simplest tasks may feel daunting. What are your next steps? How will you make sure you are getting the safety and support that you need?
What Do I Do Now? Post-Discovery Checklist
Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we have created a checklist to help you in this situation:
- Open up to a safe person.
- Make a daily self-care plan.
- Schedule an appointment with your OB or midwife to get tested for STDs even if your husband tells you he’s only used pornography. If you’re still having sex with a known pornography user, it’s good to get an STD workup once a year.
- Establish a safe network.
- Don’t try to identify the cause of his abusive behaviors.
- Know that couple’s therapy is NOT the right place to start.
- Learn about boundaries.
- Use your boundaries to create an emotionally safe home.
- Be kind to yourself.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal
At BTR, we know how devastating this time period can be. Hang in there and know that you are not alone.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers a validating, supportive community to help you get through the agony as they begin your journey to healing. Join today.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery this is Anne.
Many of you are familiar with our safety checklist but I wanted to go over it today for people who are not familiar with it.
The first step is: Open up to a safe person. I want to go over this checklist today for those of you who aren’t familiar so that you know what you’re looking for when you start to embark on establishing safety in your life.
So, the first step is: Open up to a safe person, and the checklist has examples of unsafe statements. So, if you go to someone and say: Hey, this is the situation I have, can you help me? And they respond with one of these unsafe statements, then you can know this is someone who doesn’t understand it and move on. So, go to the checklist on our website to find out what those unsafe statements are.
Our Checklist Can Help You Clear The Fog Of Betrayal
The second step is: Make a daily self-care plan, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot because it took me 3 years to actually create a daily self-care plan and I’m still not very good at it, so doing it in the thick of things is really hard because I’ve been no contact, with no injury in terms of an active abuse episode, for about 3 years. He’s still abusive in that he lies, but in terms of him yelling in my face that has happened for a long time, so I’m still working on that, but I want everyone to start thinking about self-care from the very beginning.
The third step is: Schedule an appointment with your OB or midwife to get tested for STD’s even if your husband tells you he’s only used pornography. This is really important because then you can get actual objective information to help you make your decisions. If you’re still having sex with a known pornography user, it’s good to get an STD workup once a year.
After The Trauma, You Need Support
Step four is: Establish a safe network. So, that’s a little bit different than reaching out to a safe person. Reaching out to a safe person is just making sure that you have a least one person that you can talk to who is safe. Establishing a safe network is starting to look at who is safe and who is not. So, I actually made a list. I wrote safe and then I had a line and I wrote unsafe. On the safe side, I wrote all the people that I could talk to that totally understood, that weren’t going to say things that were triggery, that weren’t going to enable the abuse. Then on the unsafe side, I wrote all the people that every time I tried to talk to them it felt like I was explaining to them what was going on and they couldn’t quite wrap their head around it. Those are unsafe people. This is part of that.
We encourage women to make the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group or a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach part of that safe network. You know it’s always going to be safe here. Go to btr.org for more information, but also people in your church or people in your neighborhood, friends, family. Some of them are going to be safe and some of them are going to be unsafe, and it may surprise you who the safe people are and who the unsafe people are. You don’t really know until you start talking to them. That’s where you want to actually gather your wits about you and decide who your safe network is.
After The Betrayal And Discovery, Healing Can Happen
Step five is really important. On the website you can click on some links and it will take you to articles that further explore these topics, but step five is: Don’t try to identify the cause of his abusive behaviors. So many of us get stuck in: Does he have a personality disorder? Is this a pornography addiction? Is it an addiction or does he just use pornography sometimes? So, he had an affair, does that make him a sex addict?
Circling around like that rather than setting boundaries to be safe from the actual abusive behaviors is just a black hole that keeps women stuck in the abuse, and that’s pretty scary. We want to make sure that women are safe right away. That you don’t have to tolerate any more abuse in your life.
Step six is: Couple therapy is NOT the right place to start. Many couple therapists make the emotional abuse a communication issue and they give victims of the abuse pointers about how they can improve their communication, for example, but improved communication is not going to stop the abuse. So, you want to make sure that you’re not going to clergy or a therapist that’s making it a couple’s issue.
A Checklist Can Point Out Clear Steps After Trauma
A really good example is on the Cold podcast when Susan and Josh Powell, and he ended up murdering her, okay. So, I’m not saying they’re murders but he was obviously abusive in many ways. When they went to clergy they would say: Okay, Josh you need to work on getting a job and Susan you need to work on your temper. They just made it equal problems rather than realizing she was being actively abused. Be aware that couple’s sessions with clergy are not a good way to go in the beginning. It’s probably going to keep you in that abuse cycle.
Step seven is: Learn about boundaries. Now, before you can actually start setting boundaries you need to learn about them. So, step seven is learning about it. Thinking about what it means to feel safe. Thinking about what you would need to feel safe. There are lots of links on the website about different articles that you can go to, to start considering what your options are. There is a lot of options.
So, think about what those are before you start setting them. Some of them come naturally, for example, most women don’t want to have sex with someone who is abusive to them. That is a natural boundary. They pull back and think: You know what, I need some space. Some of them happen naturally. The other thing is, if you have been abused for years, boundaries are going to feel wrong because you’ve maybe tried to set some boundaries or you’ve tried to extricate yourself, you’ve tried to get to safety and every time you try you get put down more or you get gaslighted more or you get abused more or you get blamed more.
Betrayal Is Traumatic And Guidance Is Key
So, you might think: Well, I am a nice person but he’s calling me mean when I try to set this boundary and I really want to be nice, so I guess I can’t do this. That’s just the abuse talking and the abuse fighting back. Considering that a lot of the things that you do while you’re trying to get to safety, they’re not going to feel right. I want you in this stage when you’re thinking about boundaries, to consider that nothing is going to feel right. An abusive situation is bad. None of it is going to feel good. There’s no part of it that’s going to feel good. Setting a boundary is not going to feel good. Requesting a separation is not going to feel good. There’s nothing about it that’s going to feel good.
So many women say: Well, it just didn’t feel right so I couldn’t set a boundary. What that means is, it doesn’t feel right because you’re being abused. Nothing in that situation will end up feeling right. Don’t let that stop you from getting to safety.
Step eight is: To actually hold appropriate boundaries to establish an emotionally safe home. That is tough, and it takes that support network, so it’s really important to have that support network established first. There are some examples of what an emotionally safe home looks like on the website with some links to more information there.
Step nine is: Be kind to yourself. There is information about that as well on the website.
A Checklist Can Help Sort Through The Trauma
I would really like every single BTR listener to be very familiar with the safety checklist. To know where they are on the safety checklist, to know the things that they’re really good at, maybe some of you are good at making a daily self-care plan and actually implementing it. Maybe some of you have actually taken that step and been STD tested. That’s great.
Please get familiar with the checklist and get a good idea of where you are so that you can start making progress. Schedule an appointment with one of the BTR coaches to help you understand where you’re at and what you need to do to move forward. Join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which had multiple sessions per day in multiple time zones. We want you to be safe and in order to be safe, you need to know what your current situation is.
I just want to tell everyone who listens that I’m so grateful that you listen because everyone who listens and gets educated ends up telling someone else about Betrayal Trauma Recovery or about the concepts that they learn here, and that makes a huge difference. Also, a huge thank you to those of you who make a monthly recurring donation. That helps immensely for me to continue podcasting for free for every woman throughout the world, so I really appreciate it.
After The Trauma Of Betrayal, It Is Important To Get Support
You can get a downloadable PDF of this checklist to give to clergy or a therapist or other people. Please help us get the word out about this checklist by telling people about it on social media, on Facebook, on Twitter, sending out links, so that everyone can be aware that this is what you do if you find out that your husband has been using pornography or if you suspect that or if you have some strange gaslighting episode where you’re like: What happened there, I don’t really understand that? This is what women need to get to safety.
So many women, they find out about their husband’s porn use, they’re paralyzed, and the only thought that comes to them is: I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to get divorced so what should I do? And that keeps them from getting to safety. So, please help us get the word out about this.
I also appreciate all of you who have rated us on your podcasting apps. So, if you haven’t already, please go to iTunes or your other podcasting apps and give us a rating. Every single rating helps isolated women find us. Thank you for your support and until next week, stay safe out there.