Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse may spend years in the dark, trying to find resources to tell them what is happening to them and how they can find safety.
Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, discusses three empowering resources from betrayed and abused women. Lindsey, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community joins her on the podcast. Listen to the BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
3 Resources For Victims of Betrayal and Abuse
- Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That. This is a helpful resource for anyone who is suffering from any abuse. Here at BTR, we take the position that porn use is abuse. This book can help you to identify boundaries and get to safety.
- Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group-We offer group sessions daily, every single day, so no matter where you are, you can attend a group recovery session from the comfort of your own home. Group sessions can be very helpful for women to gain connection and feel empowered to learn and set boundaries.
- Individual Sessions with a BTR coach– This may be especially helpful at first because you are less likely to be triggered by other group members. You can just be with 1 woman who totally gets what you’re going through, and that might be the safest place for you depending on your situation.
What Are “Safe” Resources For Victims of Betrayal and Abuse?
Often, victims will find a book, therapist, or website that seems helpful at first, but then starts to introduce harmful content: codependency language, victim-blaming, and abuse-enabling content.
When seeking safe resources, it is important that the resources is trauma and abuse-informed, covert-abuse informed, and promotes victim’s safety above the relationship.
There are resources available, but some of these resources can pose problems to the victim, by further endangering women by not recognizing abuse when it is happening. For example, therapists who use the drama triangle in their treatment can cause further harm in abusive situations. The drama triangle considers the victim, perpetrator, and rescuer all equal parts of the problem. In the context of abuse, there is no triangle. There is abuse.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Safe Resources Can Help Victims of Betrayal and Abuse Find Safety From Abuse
In the tangle of confusing resources that tend to covertly blame victims for relational abuse, safe resources can provide clarity and validation to victims.
For 9 months I prayed every day to know what the truth of my situation was, and I was really open to knowing exactly what that was. So that if it was me, I wanted to know and what I discovered was: “You are in an abusive relationship.” That was the truth of my situation. Being educated about what abuse looks like and what manipulation looks like is really important.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
As victims become empowered by knowledge about abuse, find safe support, and set and maintain effective boundaries to separate themselves from abuse, reality becomes even more clear and healing becomes possible.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal and Abuse
At BTR, we know how harmful victim-blaming resources can be to women. That is why we use the trauma model and clearly label victims as victims and perpetrators as perpetrators.
Every woman who has been betrayed and abused deserves a safe place to share hard feelings, process trauma, and ask hard questions. That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets every day in every time zone. Join today and find the supportive and validating community that you deserve.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Last week my friend Lindsey and I were hanging out in my basement and we’re going to continue the conversation today.
We left off with talking about why I started Betrayal Trauma Recovery. So, some of the principles I used, I wanted all the educational material: the podcast, the website, the transcribed articles to be free.
The other thing I wanted was for women to be able to have our professional services anywhere they were. From their home or from their car and that they needed to be immediately accessible within hours of an abuse episode so they could either get into an individual session or get into a group session. That you never had to call your therapist and get the sad news that they couldn’t see you for 2 weeks or that you had to be on some waitlist. I just wanted to make sure that women had a safe place to go, which is one of the things on the checklist: establishing a safe support network.
When I first started BTR, I thought that BTR would be to shorten the timespan between trying to get help while being in the abuse cycle. It was basically to shorten the time span from when you find out about their porn and immediately you know that it’s abuse, and immediately you can set boundaries. I was like: “I’m going to make sure that no women have to go through 10 or 20 years of this again. Well, what I have found is that most women have to go through that stage. So, for women who are like: “Oh, I’m so stupid, why didn’t I see it before?” It’s almost like you had to go through that. No woman goes straight from: “I found porn on his phone to the hardcore boundary”, usually.
Where Do I Turn As A Wife Of A Porn Addict?
Anne: I mean maybe if you’re the miracle out there email me, and we will have you on the podcast.
So, then I realized that this podcast is to educate women. We’ll just speak our truth and wherever they are is okay.
Lindsey: Yeah, take you where you are.
Anne: Yeah, and we’ll just grow together from whatever stage we’re in, and hopefully in the process number 1 is safety and number 2 is that post-traumatic growth that people talk about a lot.
Anne: Being able to grow, and I feel like I’m finally getting to that stage. I have changed a lot and grown a lot but I also am like: “Oh my word, I’m wearing makeup. I’m really getting to my character defects.” There are so many things now that I’m working toward and it’s so exciting.
Now, you’re in a really tough mess stage right now.
Anne: You are separating as a boundary for repeated lies and porn use.
Anne: You don’t know what the outcome of your boundary setting is going to be.
Can I Heal As A Wife Of A Porn User?
Anne: I believe it’s your best chance for a happy future and I also believe it’s your husband’s best chance to get healthy, but how are you feeling now in the context of your own personal growth?
Lindsey: One thing that was truly powerful about this weekend at the retreat was just remembering, not that I didn’t know this before, but remembering that this is painful and it’s going to be painful. Part of the unmanageability is if I am stabbed by a knife, I can’t control whether that hurts. It’s going to hurt.
Holding Boundaries Despite Immense Pain
Lindsey: So, letting myself feel those emotions in a real way that’s awful, it’s awful to sit there and bawl and cry and have a big pile of Kleenex.
Anne: We’ve all been there. It’s the worst. You feel like all the the liquid in your entire body has come out your nose.
Lindsey: Yes. It’s awful and none of it is going to be fun and it’s not going to be easy, and I’m going to make mistakes. I mean yes, I’m holding a boundary but oh my word, I have no clue if this is the right thing, the right answer, and that’s okay. I don’t have to be perfect at this and it’s okay for me to be messy and raw and in pain right now. That has been one thing that I just love this idea of the 12-steps saying: “I can’t do this, but I have a higher power and He is strong enough to take on anything. He’s bigger than any mistakes that I make.
Anne: I love that too. The part I really hate about it is that I believe that 100%. I feel like I have given my life to Him, but then I’m like looking at my watch like: “When is it going to happen?” You don’t know what that’s going to mean. For me, it’s been years of pain and unresolved things that I still can’t fix. They’re still here and I still can’t fix them.
“Things Have Happened Slowly Over Time”
There’s one woman who I talk to on the phone and her situation was bleak. She had no support. Nobody understood what she was going through. She was actually living with her in-laws and they didn’t understand. So, everything was really bad. I just prayed with her over the phone. I was like: “You can get a coach, you can get a therapist.” Your situation is so bad that you need help from God, and she believed in God, so that wasn’t a stretch for her. So, we said a prayer and she emailed me a little bit later and said: “You know I haven’t had any huge miracle happen.”
I told her there were so many times where I was screaming and yelling and jumping up and down and saying: “Send help now. I need help now. I need something to change now” and nobody came, and nothing happened, but things have happened slowly over time.
Anne: That has been really cool to watch and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen 10 years from now.
What Can I Do To Heal After Betrayal From My Partners Porn Use?
Anne: It makes it kind of exciting knowing that it’s all working for my good and having that faith that it will, even if I can’t see it.
Lindsey: So, I had a question for you. You talk about the checklist. Let’s say that there is somebody that’s out there and they’re totally new, this is their first introduction to anything recovery.
Anne: This podcast right now?
Lindsey: What resources are available? If the resources that are available to them aren’t healthy, what can they look for in what they have available to make it still work for them? Because obviously, you’ve done that. You took 12-step and you went and crossed out all the stuff. You re-wrote it. You made it work for you.
“BTR Is The Best Resource For Victims Of Betrayal”
Anne: Yeah. I would say you’re in the right place now. So, if this is your first time and this is the first thing and you’re like: “What resource?” You are at it. BTR is the best resource there is for victims of betrayal. The reason I feel confident about saying that is because women have gone to lots of other places and then come back and said: “Well, this wasn’t safe from me.” You are very lucky to go to an SLA group that is super safe. I have attended it. It’s amazing. The women there are awesome, and they rock. There has never been a time where I didn’t feel safe there and feel supported.
But, let’s say a woman tries something and it’s not safe. Like she goes to a COSA group or different 12-step group for example and it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t safe. So, I would say that’s why I built BTR with a checklist and the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and individual sessions. Now that being said, there are still some times where women get triggered in some of our groups. We try to make it as healthy as possible but nothing is perfect.
“The Drama Triangle” Is Not Accurate For Abusive Scenarios
Anne: That being said, if people want to try different resources then using that checklist, knowing that you’re looking for a place that sees it as a victim and perpetrator situation. So, someone said to me the other day: “How do you feel about the drama triangle?”
Anne: Victim, perpetrator, and rescuer. In this context, there is no triangle.
Anne: Same thing with people who think it takes 2 to tango or both sides of the story. There is one truth and for me, for 9 months I prayed every day to know what the truth of my situation was, and I was really open to knowing exactly what that was. So that if it was me, I wanted to know and what I discovered was: “You are in an abusive relationship.” That was the truth of my situation. So, being educated about what abuse looks like and what manipulation looks like is really important.
Which Resources Should I Try First?
So, for someone just starting out I’d say read Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That.
Lindsey: Absolutely. Check it out from your library.
Anne: Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group if you need a safe place, because we have built it to be what I think is the safest we can get, but if you want to really work on yourself and you want to try a 12-step, don’t think that you have to go to any one group.
Anne: Shop around a little bit, but I would say go for 6 weeks. If you think it would be helpful to you don’t just go one time because the first time you might not like it.
Lindsey: It just feels awkward the first time no matter what.
Anne: It’s kind of like yoga. You go to yoga once and it’s like: “I’m not going to do this again.” Then you go the 2nd time and you’re like: That was kind of cool.”
What Resources Are Healthy For Me As A Wife Of A Porn User?
Anne: So, I would say if you’re going to try a 12-step commit to 6 weeks and then if you still don’t like it, but you still feel like it might be useful, try a different group.
Anne: The problem with that is, although that’s good advice when you’re in super trauma and you can’t even process things, shopping around is really difficult.
Anne: It might also be better for people to do individual sessions at first because you’re not going to get triggered by other group members. You can just be with 1 woman who totally gets what you’re going through, and that might be the safest place.
Lindsey: And in some ways, there is absolutely value to that. I just know often women don’t have the funds.
Anne: Yeah, that’s true.
Lindsey: 12-step is free, but it’s also free so take it for what it is.
What Resources Are There For Me As A Victim Of Abuse?
Anne: That is true. We are actively working toward receiving grants to give services to women who can’t afford them. So, if anybody knows foundations or grant-making entities that give grants to people that we could apply for, we actually have a woman now who is writing grants full time. She’s applied for 5 or maybe 6 and we haven’t received any yet, which is really disappointing and very hard because you’d think that people would really to support abuse victims, but if you’re listening out there and know someone that could donate then that would be great so that we could get woman who can’t afford it services because it is pricey and sometime in 12-step you get what you pay for.
The other thing is that sometimes with 12-step it’s just a gift.
Lindsey: Yeah, it is.
Resources For Betrayal Trauma Victims
Anne: So, with books to read, they are inexpensive. We have a books page that is a compilation of all those books and most of them you can get at your local library.
Lindsey: Yeah, even on audiobook, which is awesome.
Anne: Yes. Listen to Why Does He Do That on audiobook and then read it.
Lindsey: That’s what I did. I listened on audio.
Anne: Lundy Bancroft also has free YouTube stuff to watch and guess what else is free? This podcast.
Anne: I was just recently reading the ratings on iTunes, I hadn’t done it before, and I was like: “Oh, they’re so nice.” They were saying that listening to your podcast has done more for me than 10 years of therapy. I was like: “Really? I’m so glad, that’s the whole point of it!” which is free and all of our educational materials on our website are free. So, healing from abuse is a long term emotionally, physically, and financially expensive endeavor.
Lindsey: It is.
What Resources Will Keep Me Safe After Betrayal?
Anne: It is worth it though. So, whatever resource you choose, even if it’s just reading books or even if the only thing you do is go into your closet and pray and that’s your “recovery plan”, it will be worth it.
Lindsey: Yeah. At the retreat, one thing that I came away with that I loved is that they really are trying to shift to be trauma-sensitive. They are actively working on it. Obviously, it’s going to be a work in progress for all of us. I mean that’s what growth is, it’s always a work in progress, but they have online groups so you can access it from anywhere and in-person groups if your fortunate to be right here where it is.
Anne: Where there is one. Yeah, when I attend 12-step, which has not been for 9 months,
Lindsey: Too long.
Anne: But I attend SA lifeline. I loved it and my sponsor at SA lifeline saved my life and so it’s a great free resource with the caveats that we have said.
Lindsey: Absolutely, and they recognize those caveats. I mean we read through the script, even at the retreat we read through the script, and they said: “Hey, recognize this was written way back when. We’re totally open to you doing what you need to do to make this fit you.”
Anne: Yeah, I adore SA Lifeline and the help that I received there.
Lindsey: And if it doesn’t fit you that’s fine too. No judgment.
What Resources Are Safe After Betrayal Trauma?
Lindsey: So, in one of the 2 podcasts that you recorded earlier was this idea that you go to 12-step and you expect that you’re going to have certain results: “If I do these 12-steps my relationship will be better.” I had this really interesting discussion about the language that’s used here. It says gifts of the S-ANON program.
Anne: So, this is from the blue book?
Lindsey: This is from the green book from S-ANON. It says: “Our ability to give and receive love will expand tremendously and we will become increasingly available for loving relationships with others.” Nowhere in there does it say: “My relationship with my husband will heal” because that is not necessarily a loving relationship. If it’s abusive it’s not loving, but I can become open for loving relationships.
Betrayal Trauma Resources Should Help Women Heal, Not Focus On “Helping” The Abuser
Anne: I never interpreted it that way, but I think some women do.
Anne: One of the groups that I went to, not ours that I love but a different SA group, but when I went women said: “When I started coming here that’s what made the difference to my husband.”
Anne: And I was just like: “Stop saying that.” The other thing that I thought was interesting was that in that stage they thought their husband was doing well. I’m not saying one particular person, but I’ve seen this happen a lot of times, and then later they find out that he wasn’t even in a good stage at all like they thought he was. So, that’s another thing that’s difficult about this journey is that really understanding what a recovery safe person really looks like takes a lot of time.
What Can Help Me After Betrayal Trauma?
Lindsey: So much time. Even for me, I’m still developing my understanding of what that looks like. I gather all the research that I can and put them in one Apple note.
Anne: Lindsey is a very intense researcher.
Lindsey: Yes, I am.
Anne: And very organized.
Lindsey: I’m working on letting that go. It is still very much a work in progress.
Anne: Well, I’m grateful that you felt safe enough here number 1 with me as my friend, that means a lot to me, but also to share your story here and to help women throughout the world know what is the best route for them to take? Again, any route is fine. Anything that works is great because there are so many women in this situation. There is no shortage of victims and unfortunately, there is a shortage of resources.
Support the BTR Podcast
Lindsey is actually going to come back on the podcast next week to talk about her personal story, which we haven’t talked about yet, and talk about how her in-house separation went and talk about how the out-of-home separation is going. So, she’s going to share her experience with this particular boundary of in-house separation and then out-of-home separation, and hopefully, you’ll find that helpful.
I want to thank all of you who support the podcast. Your support enables this message of hope and peace to get to women throughout the world and saves victims of abuse from further harm.
Similarly, if you’re so inclined and you have not yet, please rate this podcast on iTunes. Every single one of your ratings helps isolated women find us. Until next week, stay safe out there.