***Disclaimer: Each woman is unique and has her own experience. This is a fictitious snapshot of how one woman may experience her trauma. You may be able to relate to bits and pieces of it, or to the entire experience. The goal of this article is to let you know that you are not alone. Thousands of women are experiencing betrayal trauma and many more have yet to experience it. Betrayal Trauma Recovery wishes no one had to experience it. It is a devastating experience, a life-altering blow that can knock a woman to the ground, figuratively and literally. Our goal is to share the message that there is hope and there is help and that no woman needs to suffer through this arduous journey alone.***
Many women, who find out their husband has been lying to them and viewing pornography or having an affair, often feel responsible. Many times, they’ll try to talk to someone about it and that person will assign the wife responsibility either directly or indirectly.
This responsibility could be assigned by their husband, a family member, friend, their clergy, or even a mental health professional. Often, the term codependent or co-addict may even come up.
The Betrayal Tells Her She’s Not Enough
For some women, the feelings of shame, despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness can sometimes emotionally paralyze her for days, months, or even years.
She may not try to talk to another person about it again for a very long time.
Why would she? The last time she did, she was blamed for it.
She may bury her original feelings so deeply she’s forgotten they were there.
Instead of dealing with these emotions, because she’s been told they’re wrong, she goes on with life, feeling as though everything she does is in vain.
Nothing is good enough.
Nothing will ever be good enough.
Sometimes she may feel that nothing will ever be good enough, so why should she even try.
She operates on autopilot.
By all appearances, she seems perfectly normal.
She laughs at jokes, and even makes them.
She socializes with others.
She volunteers at the school and at church.
Her house may seem a bit disorganized but, overall, she SEEMS to be “put together.”
But appearances can be deceiving… as she already knows.
The Betrayal Can Make It Difficult To Keep Going
The kids get fed… sometimes she cooks a well-balanced meal.
The kids are dressed… most of the time, they match, but only because she’s more concerned about what other people will think about HER, if they don’t.
The kids get bathed… if they get obviously dirty, start to stink, they do it themselves (if they’re old enough), or they actually ask for one (but, even then, it’s a struggle).
The kids get to school… mostly because they want to go and she doesn’t want to be blamed for her kids being uneducated.
Groceries get bought… only because people in the house are hungry or because she doesn’t want to be home.
She goes to church… sometimes she’s on time and sometimes she gets there with the family.
She goes to family functions… because she doesn’t want to be judged for not being there and she doesn’t want to be gossiped about (because she knows that happens).
On the outside, she seems to be doing all right.
On the inside, she’s completely broken.
Shattered into a million little pieces.
She’s in so many pieces that she has a hard time finding the pieces that are truly her.
Betrayal Trauma: Is It A Ripple Of Hope?
Then, one day, she goes to a support group or she comes across an article, or a podcast, or a long-lost friend, or even talks to a stranger. At that support group, in that article, that podcast, from that friend or stranger, she hears something that drips into the pool of her soggy, downtrodden spirit.
That thing, those two words, create a ripple.
“What is that?” she wonders.
It’s as if an undertow is pulling her toward this thing called betrayal trauma, but she doesn’t know what it is.
It seems familiar to her.
It feels familiar…
She tries to remember when she felt it.
It seems so long ago but, as the emotion resurfaces, it feels like it happened a moment ago.
Her husband had betrayed her.
That’s what that feeling was.
That’s when this all started.
It hadn’t always been like this.
SHE hadn’t always been like this. What happened to her?
Also, familiar but in a different way.
She’s heard that word before, but that only happens to soldiers and victims of natural disasters and major accidents.
Trauma Can Happen To Anyone
Trauma is caused by any emotional, physical, or psychological event that creates stress beyond a person’s ability to cope.
Anyone can be traumatized.
A child, for example, could be traumatized by a severe injury from falling off their bike. A teenager could be traumatized by witnessing a friend or family member being beaten up. An adult could be traumatized by being involved in a car accident, even a minor one.
Not every event is traumatizing for every person.
What is traumatizing for one person may not be traumatizing for another person.
People expect their enemies to attack them. When a coworker betrays or lies to them, it probably hurts, and their relationship will probably never be the same again but, most likely, it’s not traumatizing.
It’s different when someone close, like a best friend, a sibling or parent violates the sacred trust that comes with the relationship.
It’s also different when someone even closer, who is supposed to be “the one” person that another person shares their most intimate secrets with, the one person they are the most vulnerable with, the one person whom they trust their life with the most, violates the sacred trust, vows, and companionship that one only finds in a marriage.
Betrayal Trauma Can Crush A Woman’s Self-Worth
This type of betrayal runs deep. It’s very personal.
When a woman loves a man and he chooses to lust after another woman, he might as well just tell her, “You just aren’t enough for me.”
Whether the lust object (because that’s what she becomes when she’s lusted after—an object) is an in-the-flesh person, an image on a screen, or a picture in his head, every time he chooses to view it (because it could be a woman or a man), he’s telling her, “I’m not satisfied in my relationship with you. You’re not good enough.”
When a woman finds out that her husband has been viewing pornography and that he’s been lying to her for a long time, it feels like he’s taken her self-worth and trampled all over it. What she hears is, “You are worthless.”
It’s too much for her heart, mind, and body to handle, so she goes into trauma.
The Lies Can Hurt As Much As The Betrayal
Her reality, the life she thought she was living, seems like a dream or a nightmare, depending on what her life was like.
Either way, it’s been crushed.
She’s been shaken to the core.
She begins to question… everything.
“Was he really at work when he said he was?”
“Did he really spend all that money at a baseball game?”
“Why did he tell me he just bought diapers, he spent more than that package costs? What else did he buy?”
The questions can go on and on, but the one that can hurt the most…
“Does he or did he ever even love me?”
All of this leads to the feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness, and responsibility.
Learning About Betrayal Trauma Can Give You Hope
Once she finds out what betrayal trauma is, she finds herself feeling a tiny sliver of relief.
It starts as a tiny thought, almost a question, “It wasn’t my fault? I’m not responsible for the choices he made? Nothing I do can fix him?”
It might be difficult to believe at first, but, as she learns more, it grows into a hesitant statement, “I guess it wasn’t my fault because I’m not responsible for his choices. I guess I can’t fix him.”
She continues learning about betrayal trauma, trying to find all the information she can.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Can Feel Like Home
Then, one day, she stumbles across a website, “Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Hmm, this looks interesting.”
She browses for a bit, reading some of the articles, listening to some of the podcasts, and comes across some of the testimonials, “Wow! It looks like this could be helpful to someone like me!”
She finds that Betrayal Trauma Recovery offers Daily Group sessions online and decides to give it a try, “I’ll just try it once and see how I like it.”
She decides to attend a Group session determined to only give a brief introduction of herself, “I don’t want anyone to know. It’s so embarrassing that I have to deal with this. No one else REALLY knows what it’s like.”
When she joins the call, she sees there’s someone leading the group. It’s a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach. There’s a format to this group session, too. “This is interesting,” she thinks.
She looks carefully at the other women. “These women are gorgeous! Why are their husband’s looking at other women?!?”
She listens to the other women check in, “These women DO know what I’m going through!”
She starts to feel a little safer.
When it’s her turn, she finds herself saying a lot more than she’d planned on.
She starts to feel a little lighter, like the two-ton boulder on her heart had a piece broken off of it.
Another woman asks a question. “Oh, that IS a good question. How do I find that out? What do I do about it?” she thinks.
Another woman shares an experience. “Oh, my goodness! That’s happened to me before!” she can’t help but exclaim out loud.
Phew! Her microphone is on mute.
When it’s her turn to share again, she lets it all out. Soon, she’s sobbing.
She feels so overwhelmed by the sisterhood and support she’s felt.
She tries to apologize, but they tell her it’s not necessary.
The Coach indicates that it’s the end of the session.
Sadness, mixed with a bit of hope, seeps in.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coaches Provide Individual Help & Hope
After the group session, she feels a bit empowered.
She tells her husband that she’s not going to allow pornography in her home any longer.
She sets a boundary, since she finally knows what they are.
Then, she starts taking care of herself.
As part of her self-care, she wants to find someone to help her navigate through the chaos of trauma.
She tries to look up therapists that are covered by her insurance, but none of them use the trauma model and some of them don’t even think that pornography is bad!
She broadens her search. The nearest therapist who says they use the trauma model is an hour and a half away and very expensive. “Yikes!”
Then she remembers that Betrayal Trauma Recovery offers Individual Sessions.
She’d really enjoyed the group session she’d attended, “Why not give an Individual Session a try?”
She goes online and schedules an appointment.
She’s excited to find out that, since she joined the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, she gets 10% off of Individual Sessions!
That’s much better than the therapist she found. Plus, she doesn’t have to pay for travel or a babysitter!
The day of her appointment arrives. She finds a secluded spot in the house and goes online.
The Coach seems really easygoing and confident.
The Coach empathizes really well, after all, she’s been through betrayal trauma too.
The woman finds herself talking to the Coach like she would to a best friend, only it’s different. A better different.
The Coach helps her to focus on her strengths and figure out what her next steps are going to be.
She’s already set some boundaries, but she’s afraid to set anymore. This is new for her.
The Coach guides her through figuring out what boundaries she needs to feel safe and how to communicate those.
The Coach also helps her to dig deep and find another of those buried emotions just by asking her questions.
Once her emotions have been voiced, they’re easier to process, so she finds herself feeling even lighter.
Another huge chunk has been broken off the, formerly, two-ton boulder.
The Coach leaves her with an assignment and encouragement to follow up.
When the session is over, the woman feels more hope than she’s felt in a long time.
Oh, how she wishes she’d found Betrayal Trauma Recovery sooner.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Wants Women To Be Safe & Have Peace
Anne Blythe started Betrayal Trauma Recovery because she had a difficult time finding appropriate services to help her identify and navigate what was happening in her own marriage.
Anne didn’t realize how unsafe she was until a doctor reported her, then, husband to the police, for spraining her fingers. A judge then issued a no-contact order, and Anne has held that boundary since.
Anne and her husband had been to numerous counselors who never addressed the abuse happening in her marriage. They treated his addiction as a couple’s issue.
She didn’t want other women ending up in the same situation as her, so she launched Betrayal Trauma Recovery after beginning a podcast to talk about her situation and some of the things she had learned along the way. It has since grown into what it is today, offering online individual and group sessions, daily.
Some might say that BTR promotes separation and divorce, but that isn’t the case. Betrayal Trauma Recovery’s first priority has always been, and always will be safety for women and her children.
Anne and everyone at BTR believe that anyone can change, if they choose to, including addicts and abusers.
In Anne’s case, to her disappointment, her husband chose to file for divorce instead of put in the work to make the necessary changes to provide a safe environment for his family.
Anne still believes the best-case scenario is that a family be healthy, happy, safe and intact. She also believes that it CAN happen.
Once a woman has established safety, she can begin healing from the trauma caused by her husband’s betrayal and abuse.
Healing takes time and is a process. The journey may look different for each woman, but the ultimate destination is the same: Peace.
Peace is difficult to find unless a woman knows how to keep herself safe, has built up her support system with safe people, and restores her self-worth.
The journey to safety and peace can be long and difficult. Betrayal Trauma Recovery is here to guide you along the path.