Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse need a safe place to process trauma, share their stories, ask questions, and receive trauma and abuse-informed answers that will help rather than harm.
Too many women spend months, years, even decades, isolated in their trauma.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, started the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group so that every woman, no matter where she lives, can have access to a supportive, compassionate, and trauma-informed community.
Nikki, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to validate women all over the world (Nikki lives in Australia) as they seek help and support for abuse and betrayal. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
Anywhere You Live: Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Is There For You
For years, Nikki’s husband betrayed her with his pornography use and consistent emotional abuse. Like many victims, Nikki was conditioned to feel shame for needing support. She explains:
I felt so deeply ashamed and hurt that I needed some kind of support and I just wasn’t getting it in the real world. When I came across the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group it changed the way that I viewed my life.Nikki, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Educates Victims About Betrayal & Emotional Abuse
Knowing that I am not alone and being informed are two gifts BTRG has given me. Knowledge is power. Once you have power, you’re able to change the way that you operate. Change the way that you do things.Nikki, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
An integral part of building a foundation of safety and peace, is education about abuse and trauma. When women become empowered through knowledge, they are better able to set and maintain safety boundaries and move toward healing.
Joining the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is essential because victims are able to ask questions and get truthful and healthy answers. Victims are also able to process their trauma without judgment. As group members and BTR coaches validate and listen, victims are empowered to separate themselves from abusive behavior.
Victims of Betrayal & Abuse Re-Learn Their Worth With BTRG
When men betray and abuse women, they are conditioning women to forget their own worth. Women who are begin abused often feel:
- Deserving of the abuse
When victims courageously seek support, these negative core beliefs are challenged and victims re-learn their own value.
I’m very grateful for the women and coaches in the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group because their support has given me my life back and enabled me to take my power back as a woman.Nikki, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Helps Victims Identify & Separate From Gaslighting
Many victims report that the gaslighting and manipulation is just as painful as the actual betrayal.
Gaslighting is a universal tool of abusers, utilized to make a victim question reality so that the abuser can protect his behaviors without accountability.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group empowers women to understand gaslighting tactics and reject psychological abuse
I no longer buy into his beliefs. Like, if I ask him a question and I know he’s done something, I know to expect that whatever comes out of his mouth is going to be a lie. I state my case, drop it, walk away, and allow him time to be truthful.Nikki, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Prioritizes YOUR Safety Above All Else
For the time being, Nikki is still married to her abusive partner. But the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group also supports women who are separated, divorced, or in the process of separation.
Regardless of how you choose to proceed with your relationship, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is there for you. We advocate for YOUR safety above all else.
I see us as a safety-first organization. Your safety is the most important thing and you can figure out what that looks like in your own life.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Join today and begin your journey to safety as you receive the validation, compassion, and support that you deserve.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Today, we have a member of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group talking about her experience. Before we get to her, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group was created by a bunch of women who went through this exact same situation. We’re moms, we have a hard time getting out of the house, we have a hard time finding childcare.
When you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, you can usually get into a session with a BTR professional coach within a couple of hours. We have multiple sessions per day in every single time zone.
We’re going to talk with Nikki. She lives in Australia, and she is a member of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.
Anne: Welcome, Nikki.
Nikki: Welcome, Anne. Hello, everyone.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Is For Healing
Anne: As a member of our community, she wanted to reach out and share some of her story. Nikki, tell me a little bit about Betrayal Trauma life in Australia. Where do you live in Australia?
Nikki: In Melbourne, Victoria, but I’m from Tasmania.
Anne: Okay. How do you feel like the support is there?
Nikki: None. We have struggled to find anybody in this field that can really help.
Anne: Nothing, huh? Are you still married?
Anne: Okay. Let’s start with your story. Tell me your story.
Did you recognize your husband’s behaviors at first?
Nikki: Not at all. Goodness me, no. I was 15, just had my 16th birthday, when I met my husband. I was in the UK and we’ve been together ever since.
I first discovered his material, because we’re going back to when it was only magazines. I was six months pregnant with our first child when I was 18, and he brought this little black bag home and not having seen it before—we weren’t living together at the time—but he brought it back into my little flat. Being curious, I opened it and there was all of this material in there. It was pornography.
I was horrified, and I said to him, “This is not what I want as part of my life.” Even at 18, I knew this wasn’t what I wanted, and he said, “Oh, I’ll get rid of it.” There were other bits in this bag, as well, which just baffled me.
One day, I walked out and there were magazines all over the place. I was horrified. The next day I went into labor because I was just that traumatized, I guess. From that point it just never really stopped. I would continually find magazines under the couch.
No, I never really recognized the abuse. Not until I started educating myself, really. It was when I came across the BTR Facebook page is when I knew that what he was doing was abusive.
We tried getting help before. We’d gone to several pastors who were basically more about the codependent model but, from what I’d seen, I’d done nothing except protect myself and our children throughout our marriage.
Anne: And try to protect your marriage from the pornography.
Nikki: Yeah, I didn’t want our children to spend time with me and then time with him because he’d pretty much gone down the rabbit hole. I didn’t want there to be a point where he was left with them alone.
Anne: Yeah. Before you found BTR, when you were trying to get help from pastors and other things, what types of things did you do to try and improve? If this didn’t happen, then let us know, but did you try to be more beautiful or did you work out more or did you try to do the laundry better?
Nikki: Yep. I thought if I looked better, if I tried harder, if I loved him more. I learned the Love Languages. I was always trying to improve myself and even going to counseling to try and improve something. Yeah, I took it on board, but I think it has a lot more to do with how I was raised, to be a better wife, and then he wouldn’t do this thing.
How Support Groups Can Help You Heal
Anne: You knew about the porn, but did you recognize the other types of abusive behaviors like lying and manipulation and gaslighting? Could you identify those back in the day or did you not realize all that was going on too?
Nikki: I knew that there was lying and manipulation because that goes hand-in-hand with sneaky behavior, doesn’t it? It wasn’t really until the internet came about and you could Google this kind of stuff, that I became aware of it really. It wasn’t until much later in our marriage.
Anne: When did you realize that common marriage advice “look good, love, serve, forgive, make sure dinner is on the table, make sure the house is clean,” that sort of thing, when did you realize that the common marriage advice was not working and that things were not improving?
Nikki: Probably about 20 years ago.
Anne: How long have you been married?
Nikki: We’ve been married for about 27 years.
Anne: Okay, so seven years in, you realize, “Wait a minute, this isn’t working.”
What helped you come to that realization?
Nikki: I think it was shortly after we’d had intercourse and I walked in and found him looking at pornography. I actually just thought he was deliberately trying to hurt me. That was my train of thought.
Anne: When you thought that, “He’s deliberately trying to hurt me,” which they want to maintain control, they want to maintain their reputation, they want to maintain their relationship, but I don’t know if it’s deliberate per se, but sometimes it is. When you thought that you also didn’t think abuse way back then. Like, he’s deliberately trying to hurt me, therefore, he is abusive. You didn’t have that full thought process, I’m guessing?
Nikki: No, not at all. The abuse part has only really been the last six years. That I’ve seen his actions as being abusive.
Anne: Why do you think it takes so long for victims of emotional abuse and psychological abuse and this type of sexual coercion to understand the reality of their situation?
Nikki: Trauma. I think our brain is in trauma because the person that you most trust, the person who you think will never hurt you is the one who’s doing it. I think it’s protection. I mean I can’t speak for everyone. I can only speak for me because whatever your circumstances there’s a part of you that needs to protect your own mind and yourself. Sometimes your brain and your body are just not ready to realize that this is what it is.
Anne: There’s also the education factor. You don’t have an abuse class in high school, along with math and English. So many people think they understand abuse because they’ve seen a TV show where a guy beats up his wife or whatever and they’re like, “That’s what abuse is.” They don’t really recognize all the covert ways that you can be abused.
Connection With Other Woman Who Know Is Powerful
Nikki: I think it’s the gaslighting, as well, because it’s been going on for so long in my marriage. It’s kind of like, “No, I must have misunderstood what he said.” “I know he’s right. I’ve got that wrong.” “Okay, I thought you meant this, but you actually meant this way.” “Oh, alright.” You’re second-guessing yourself all the time.
Anne: Yeah. That’s interesting. What were you looking for online when you found BTR on Facebook?
Nikki: I think we hit a crisis point in our marriage, that brought me to the point where I was trying to seek some kind of support, basically anywhere, because here in Australia it’s very much like, “Oh, you’ll be alright, mate.”
Whoever you spoke to thought you were being prissy, really. It just wasn’t cutting it. I just felt so deeply ashamed and hurt that I needed some kind of support and I just wasn’t getting it in the real world. When I came across the group it changed the way that I viewed my life really.
Anne: Did you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group?
Anne: Let’s talk about that. How has it changed your life?
Nikki: Knowing that I am not alone and being informed. Because I’ve always told our children that knowledge is power. Once you have power, you’re able to change the way that you operate. Change the way that you do things. For me, that’s been the greatest thing, being informed and then being able to research that and having the facts behind it, which has been a great thing.
Anne: Being educated, I think, brings so much confidence. Because the gaslighting process you’re like, “Is this me, is this real, what’s going on?” If you don’t have words for it, you can never fully define it for someone else.
They’ll give you typical things like, “Well, he must be stressed,” or, “Don’t worry it will get better,” things like that, because you’re not able to say what’s happening. Getting educated, then you’re able to actually talk about it. Having words to describe it immediately helps people understand what is happening. It also helps the victim understand what is going on because there is so much confusion. It is so difficult.
Nikki: Yeah, it is. I just find, for me, what I’m experiencing now, because we’ve been in this for a very long time and there’s been a lot of game-playing on his behalf, but my body has actually physically had stuff coming out. I’ve developed really bad tinnitus, which, to me, is a physical representation of what’s going on in the outside world.
Also, I’ve found that through the trauma, as I’ve gotten older, my brain just isn’t working the same. I really think that’s because of the trauma that’s gone on throughout our whole marriage and through childhood. My brain has kind of gotten to the point where it’s like, “I don’t want to work anymore. I don’t want to hold this memory,” or it just kind of phases out or disassociates, which I know is part of the trauma, but it’s really frustrating.
Anne: I can imagine. How old are you know?
Nikki: I am 47. We have five children. They’re all adults now. Thank you, God. They survived. They’re pretty good people. We’ve got four boys and one girl. My children, growing up, would ask him a question and he wouldn’t respond. They’d always be, “Okay, we’ll go to the sensible parent,” meaning they were going to go see mum.
Anne: He wouldn’t respond because he was distracted, or he just couldn’t focus?
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Aims for Safety
Nikki: I don’t know if he didn’t know the answer, and he didn’t want to look silly, so he’d muck about. I really think his pornography stunted his intellectual growth. He must have been about 14 I think. I always developed critical thinking in our children, taught them to think about the ways, whys, and what’s of any situation, and because he didn’t develop that skill, the children overtook him in their thinking and their emotional development. He just really frustrated them.
Anne: That makes sense. In terms of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, how has the education and the support that you’ve received there helped you to make different choices about how you are interacting with him?
Nikki: I no longer buy into his beliefs. Like, if I ask him a question and I know he’s done something, I know to expect whatever comes out of his mouth is going to be a lie. I state my case, I drop it, I walk away, and I allow him time to be truthful.
I no longer check up on him because I found that, oh my goodness me, it was driving me nuts. I felt like I was chasing him. My whole life was engaged in trying to catch him out, playing detective. It just doesn’t work, for me anyway. I understand there is some form of control, especially early on when you’re still buying into the gaslighting. Now I’m at a point where I’m like, “You know what, you do you.”
I’ve gone out and I’m back into work fulltime. I’m just living my life to the best of my ability, and the group conversations that happen within the group and the information that’s in the group really helped me say that. I’m very grateful for them because it’s given me my life back and it’s enabled me to take my power back as a woman. If that makes sense.
Anne: It does make sense. We talk about boundaries a lot at BTR and in the BTR group. A lot of people that don’t listen to the podcast or they misunderstand what we do, accuse me of being pro-divorce or a man-hater or something like that or that BTR is just a place where, if you go there, you’re going to end up bitter and angry and all that.
You are still married. Would you speak to that a little bit and talk about how do you see BTR? Like I see us as a safety-first organization. Your safety is the most important thing and you can figure out what that looks like in your own life. Could you talk to that point?
Nikki: I’ve never seen you say to get a divorce or being a man-hater. You lay the facts out as they are. Whatever a woman does with that is their choice, their option. Yeah, what you do promote though is are you safe? Are you okay?
Anne: We have to walk this very fine line because, when we’re talking about abuse there are a lot of people that want to say, “Well, you should only encourage them to leave immediately.” Then there are the pornography addiction recovery people and they’re like, “No, you should be nice and understanding and don’t shame them and don’t make any decisions, and know that they are sick and how can you help them?”
We’re not on that side, for sure. I’m right in this section where I want to give people correct information and that your safety is the most important thing. I am not living in your shoes. I am not living in your home. I don’t know all of your specific circumstances. I trust every woman, every victim to make the best decisions about her particular situation.
I think that’s one thing that I’m wondering. Do you feel supported in your circumstances and where you are right now in the BTR group? Do you feel like you’re accepted for the decisions that you’re making?
Nikki: Yeah. People will always speak from their own inner knowledge or their own feelings, I think. Whatever you put out on a group, expect that response to come from that aspect. You take what you can and leave what you don’t need.
Like you said, you’re the only one that knows what’s happening within the relationship. Yeah, I feel supported because I take what I need from it. After all, I am the only one that knows what’s happening and why I stay within my marriage.
We’ve got a lot of financial obligations together. You know, we still have grandchildren that would visit granddad, and I’d much prefer to be around. I know why I stay within my marriage and I think it’s up to every individual person to make that decision.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Can Help You Be Safe
Anne: Yeah. People who haven’t been through it or people who have, I mean it’s a lot more complex then I think anybody can even wrap their head around. It’s such a complex situation and it unfolds over time. Not everything can be decided in a split second.
Nikki: Everything feels split second when you’re in it though, doesn’t it?
Anne: It does, and it feels like you have to. It feels like you have to decide, or you have to know everything. There’s this overwhelming desire to resolve things as quickly as possible, whatever resolution or “fixing it” means, but it’s impossible to resolve or fix quickly. It is a very long-term complex problem.
Nikki: Right. We found a therapist. We’ve thrown all the money we can at him.
Anne: You’re still with a man who is continuing to exhibit emotionally abusive behaviors. How do you feel right now?
Nikki: Oh boy, okay so we’ve just had an episode, so everything is just a little bit raw for me right now. Because he’s what I think of as a surface person. He wants everything to look great on the outside and that everything is going really well, meanwhile, he’s doing underhanded things and he gets off on knowing that he is getting away with it.
When he becomes overly nice, I’ll then become on guard and I’ll wait for the next influx of emotional abuse. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t do any of that, he just becomes very quiet. We had, we’ll say six months of nice, and so I was waiting for it.
He was just discovered and we’re just going through that now and he hasn’t gone back to see his therapist. He’s just waiting to go back to see her but it’s very difficult because I don’t know what she’s saying to him or whether he’s telling her partial truths.
Have I reached some kind of peace within myself around our marriage and our life? No, there isn’t peace. I’m making do with what I’ve got because of circumstance. That’s really awful to say because it feels like a half-life.
Anne: Do you feel like you’re progressing towards something, even though current circumstances are what they are? Do you have hope for the future?
Nikki: I’ve got a lot of hope for my future, because I make the best of my life no matter what. For our marriage and for us together, we are going to have to take a step either away from each other. I don’t think that is going to be too long down the road.
There’ll be a conversation that I will have with my grown children. They know about his addiction. I just don’t think they realize how far he’s gone within that addiction. I’ve got peace in me, but within our marriage, I’m not sure. We’ve got a few really big decisions to come ahead of us, which will affect a lot of outcomes, for myself, and my daughter, and him.
Anne: Well, that is what is so awesome, if I can praise BTR, about BTR is that we get it. We get how complex it is, we get that it takes a long time, we get that sometimes you know what the right thing is or what the thing is that you want to do, but it’s not the right time or there are other factors. There are so many complexities to it and having someone who totally understands and is supportive is really helpful with a long-term trial like this. A long-term problem.
What would you tell other women, let’s say what you went through in your early thirties, so if someone is listening and that is where they’re at? Let’s say they just discovered porn for the first time.
Nikki: Oh, my goodness, I’m really sorry that this is your journey. Get help. Get into immediate help. Find a really good support network. Find somebody you trust that you can tell absolutely anything to, and they will not judge and will just be there for you. Find that one person and walk beside them and let them walk beside you because that is going to be the best thing you can do for you, to heal you. Know that it is not your fault. Know that he has made choices that have affected both of your lives, it’s just not your fault though. Don’t try and fix him.
Anne: Oh, we’ve all done that.
Nikki: Yep. Oh, if we just do this. If I look a bit prettier. If I wear this lingerie. If I do that risky behavior that he would like me to do, that will make him happy and he won’t do it anymore.
Anne: When women go down that road, they end up doing it more or he wants it more, right. There is no end to it.
Nikki: Or he wants a bit freakier. The indulging of their immature behaviors, their man-child silliness. I think that’s something that we didn’t realize is that they get themselves stuck emotionally at the age they start using. What you’re actually doing is complying with a teenager or child. What happens when a child doesn’t get what it wants? They tantrum. Unfortunately, a man-tantrum has bigger impacts because there are disposables to play with, like income or whatever it is that’s protecting the family.
Anne: Yeah, and also their tantrums are way more sophisticated. They might not scream and yell and punch the wall, although some of them do that, their tantrum might look really nice and kind when behind your back they’re spending $10,000 of their retirement.
Nikki: Yeah, or they’ve got a hidden phone, so they’re happy to show you the phone that they’ve got, and all the while feeling quite proud of themselves that they’ve got a hidden phone and that’s what gets them off.
Anne: Exactly. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story and spending time with us today. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is that amazing place where you can just be yourself and be understood. Is there anything else that you would like to share about the group or about BTR that you have found helpful?
Support From Women Who Know Is Essential
Nikki: For me, in the early stages and now as I’ve been here for a while, this is the place you go to when you need to feel heard, you need to feel safe, you need to be able to reach out, when you just need somebody to say, “Hey I’m here for you,” or you need to feel loved because this group, for me anyway, has provided that. Get in contact. Try and join the group because, if you want to feel loved, this is where it’s at.
Anne: That’s good to hear. That’s the purpose of BTR, to love women and hope that they love themselves and they can make choices due to that love and that confidence to get them to safety. That’s the whole goal.
Nikki: To know that you’re not alone and that the crazy-making that happens, sometimes this group has helped me unravel that craziness as well. This is going on in your head because they’ve gaslighted you so much. You’re double-guessing your own mine. To notice that when you go in there somebody says, “Ugh, yep that’s normal, my husband does that. It’s what they do, it’s one of their little tactics.” You just come away thinking, “Oh, okay,” and you’re able to take a big sigh of relief and say, “I’m not that crazy after all.”
Anne: No, you are not. You are a beautiful, amazing, competent woman. It’s a cool place to be, right. It’s a cool club to be in with all of these awesome women.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story today, and we’ll see you in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.
Nikki: Thank you, Anne.
Anne: If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Also, to those of you who have rated this podcast on iTunes or other podcasting apps, thank you so much. If you are so inclined and you haven’t already, please go to iTunes and rate this podcast. Every single one of your ratings helps women who are isolated find us.
Another huge thank you to those of you who have purchased the book Trauma Mama, Husband Drama. It’s a picture book for adults that really helps explain what it’s like to go through this and some of the pitfalls that women fall into. We want women to find BTR quickly, so they can stop the pain and chaos right away. Your reviews help women find us.
Thank you for your support.
Until next week, stay safe out there.