How To Deal With Betrayal Trauma Triggers
Know That Trauma Triggers Happen
Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, still gets triggered. She still has those days.
“I’m having a really bad day. Just when I think I’m feeling better and that everything is going to be okay, the trauma hits, and the only thing that goes through my mind is that I want my husband back. I want him to come home."
“It’s been over a year since we separated, and, still, I ruminate on thoughts like, My husband hates me. Why does he hate me? My husband betrayed me. Why?
“He has the kids this week and it’s a beautiful, beautiful fall day. I would give anything to be with my husband and children again, as a family. I have these days, sometimes—I’m still healing—where I wonder when I will be able to truly heal.
“Right now, in this moment of trauma, I feel like the only way I could heal is if he repents, truly changes, and comes home to us. Then the ruminating thoughts come back: My husband lies. My husband doesn't love me.”
Reach Out When Your Trauma Is Triggered
Anne struggled with knowing that she had continued to be faithful and her, now ex, husband was still choosing his addiction and abusiveness.
“This whole year, I’ve been faithful to my husband and to the commandments. I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted. I’ve gone to therapy, and I trust that God will heal me, eventually. Right now, in this moment of trauma, the pain is intense.
“I keep praying, God, please, save my family. Please. I don’t want to get divorced. I don’t want my family to be separated like this.”
When you are triggered, you might feel like doing something that could put you in danger. When she’s triggered, Anne reaches out to a safe person.
“On a day like this, a few months ago, I called one of my friends from support group and told her that I just want to tell him, that I just want to talk to him and be able to explain things to him.
“She said, ‘Because of his current mindset, he’ll think it’s about how great he is, not how forgiving and loving and caring and what a wonderful person you are. It will just set you up to be abused and hurt again.’”
If you are struggling to find a safe support group, try Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group (BTRG). BTRG provides a safe place for women to share their experiences. Each group is facilitated by a BTR Coach.
Boundaries Can Help You Manage Your Triggers
Setting and holding boundaries is probably one of the most difficult things we may have to do to stay safe. We can struggle to keep our boundaries. For help, try an Individual Session on Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries. Realizing that your boundaries are there to keep you safe from the abuse, can help you remember why you have them.
Anne really struggled with holding the court-ordered no contact boundary.
“It has been really hard to hold the no contact boundary for this long. There have been nights where I just cling to the sheets on my bed—it’s so painful and difficult. I have held my boundary for over a year.
"I’ve only had one conversation with him at a soccer game. It was so strange. He didn’t show any emotion, and, as I cried, he patted me on the shoulder from a distance, and brought up strange things that didn’t make sense.
“This didn’t, in any way, indicate that he was safe or that he was changed, or anything. It was just strange.
“Right now, I have faith. I’m having faith and still holding my boundary, even though I don’t want to, even though I want to talk to him and explain things to him.”
Identify What Triggers Your Trauma
Anne was being triggered every time she watched her, now ex, husband come pick up the children.
“It’s become so painful for me to look out the window when he picks up our children. There’s no semblance of remorse. He just puts this mask on that he’s happy and he’s glad to pick up the kids.”
When we recognize what our triggers are, we can set boundaries around them. Sometimes, that may mean staying away from certain people and certain places. Sometimes, that means we must stop doing something or start doing something.
Anne has had to stop looking out the window.
When she focuses on what’s most important to her, God, Anne can recognize her triggers and learn what boundaries she needs for herself.
“Most of the time I have God at my center, and I feel peaceful, and I’m grateful for the experiences God has given me.”
Other Women Have Trauma And Triggers
Anne knows that other women struggle with trauma and feel like they are the only ones experiencing it. She wants to let them know that they aren’t alone.
“I decided to record today so you know what trauma sounds like. This is what it feels like. This is what it feels like to be abused, betrayed, and then abandoned. Abandoned by someone who made covenants with God and with me to be faithful.
“I know this is probably painful to listen to. I’m sorry. I just know that there are so many of you out there who know what this feels like, and I’m sorry.
“I know that God can heal us. As we work with a BTR coach and join a support group, as we surrender our triggers to Him, as we repeatedly attempt to get God in our center—and our addicted spouse who is creating chaos and who is abusing us out of our center—we will find peace.
“Days like this will come and they are very painful. Someday, we will be in a place where we don’t get triggered. Where we are at peace.
“Sometimes, I feel like it won’t be until the next life, but I think it will be in this life. I just pray, Heavenly Father, please help us. There are those of us who have been hurt and are seeking healing. Please! Please come to us and heal us.”
Having boundaries and working on finding our own healing and peace doesn’t mean we don’t love and care for our husband anymore. Anne still loves her ex-husband. She still hopes he will change, but she can’t sit and wait for him to change before she finds her own peace.
“I’m so worried about my husband’s salvation, really. I truly love him and want the best for him.
“I’m worried that what I see looks righteous and happy, but I know it’s just a mask. If he were truly righteous and happy, he would not have broken his covenants, and I wouldn’t be in this situation.”
What To Do When You Are Triggered
When you find yourself triggered, try these five things:
5 Things You Can Do When Your Trauma is Triggered
- Recognize that you’ve been triggered.
- Try to identify what triggered your trauma.
- Reach out to someone safe.
- Do self-care.
- Set a boundary around the trigger.
When you’ve been triggered, reach out, then do some self-care. When Anne has been triggered, after she reaches out, she does some self-care. For her, she finds that surrendering what she has no control over brings her peace and brings her closer to God.
“This is what it sounds like to when I’m in trauma. now I’m going to go, I’m going to go do some self-care. I’m going to surrender.
“I’m going to ask God to come back in my center and have faith that, if I do what He asks me to do—as I have been doing faithfully for over a year—that all things will be made right. I pray that my children and I will continue to have peace, happiness, and joy here in our home.”
Anne appreciates all those who work with her and who support her. Your listening, even during the difficult times, gives her hope.
“Thank you so much for being here with me during these difficult times.
“I’m so grateful for all the women who work with me. They are in trauma too and they share and they care. I’m so grateful to know them.”
If you struggle with recognizing your triggers, try an Individual Session on Understanding & Managing Triggers. With help, your triggers will lessen.
Why Betrayal Trauma Recovery Was Started
Anne talks about why she started Betrayal Trauma Recovery:
“I don’t know what it was like in World War II, but I imagine that maybe a radio show like Little Orphan Annie kept people’s hopes up.
“I kind of envision myself like that sometimes—like this lone voice on the radio, during this intense spiritual battle, coming to you through the internet, letting you know you’re not alone.
“God loves you, and even though it’s hard to set boundaries and, through doing so, you might be blamed for the destruction of your family, it’s better to set a boundary and be safe. God wants us to be safe.
“He will hold our abusers and our betrayers accountable. He wants us to forgive so that WE can move on and be happy and have joy. That's what he wants for us.
“I hope, I just hope, that the information that we give to you through btr.org will help you... that it will help me and that it will help all of us together. We’re all on this journey and this path together and we can rise triumphant.”