Victims of betrayal and abuse deserve a safe space to process trauma, openly speak their truths, ask hard questions, and receive validation. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, or BTRG, is that place for you.
Coach Christina joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to share her own experience seeking safety in and ultimately joining BTRG. Rad the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
BTRG Is Your Safe Space, No Matter Where You Are In Your Healing Journey
Whether you discovered your husband’s betrayal today or you’ve been on your healing journey for decades, BTRG is the safe space for you:
“The ladies were safe to cry. They were safe to talk about very vulnerable topics. And they were safe to wade through the questions and get to a place where they were enlightened. I saw women at different stages of their recovery, and I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. And I thought that that was so powerful from my very first meeting.”Coach Christina, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Team
BTRG Uses The Trauma Model (We’ll Never Label You “Codependent”)
At BTR, we understand that betrayal is an abuse issue – not a marriage issue.
Unlike traditional sex addiction therapists, we never use the codependency model. This means that you will never be labeled “codependent”; too many therapists and clergy, including Coach Christina’s therapist, focus their energies on blaming the victim rather than accurately treating the betrayal as abuse.
In BTRG, you are safe: abuse is abuse. We’ll never blame you for it.
At BTRG, Your Safety Is Priority
“Your safety, the safety of your family is the primary focus.”Coach Christina, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Team
Where other support systems – clergy, therapists, and others – may primarily focus on communication, reconciliation, and prematurely establishing trust, at BTR, your safety is our number one priority.
There is nothing more important to us than your emotional, sexual, mental, physical, and spiritual safety. BTRG is a safe space for you to process and work toward establishing safety for yourself and your children.
BTRG is Here For You
We believe in you.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, called BTRG for short, is a daily online support group.
Our daily online support group has more sessions than any other support group out there. We have over 21 sessions per week for you to choose from. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, you don’t have to leave your home, you can join from your closet or your parked car in your garage. We are here for you. Check out the session schedule; we’d love to see you in a session today.
For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating on Apple podcasts or other podcasting apps, thank you so much. If this podcast has helped you when you rate it, you help other women find it, so your ratings and reviews make a big difference for victims desperately trying to figure out what is happening to them.
Coach Christina on the BTR Podcast
I have one of our BTR coaches on today’s episode. Coach Christina, she’s a betrayal trauma coach with over 15 years of experience. She validates women’s experiences while helping them fortify plans for emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological safety by identifying and establishing boundaries. She believes every woman can be equipped with specific strategies to recover and heal from trauma. I am so grateful that Christina is on our coaching team. She is incredible. Welcome, Christina.
Christina: Thank you, thank you so much, Anne, for having me.
Anne: So, just like all of our other coaches, when you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, Christina facilitates several of our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group sessions, and she’s also available for individual sessions. I’m so excited for you to get to know her today. Let’s start with how you found BTR. Can you talk about your experience finding us?
Finding the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
Christina: I found BTR as a woman who had just experienced my own betrayal. I had found out in January of that year, and I found BTR in March, but then I was nervous. As I hear many of our clients say, I was nervous. I did not know this place was safe. Is it real? I had no clue. I was very terrified of contacting a group of people I did not know, and there are so many different groups out there. I found some, I said, well, I’m not going to be seeking revenge. I really want to heal and even just understand what has happened, but I put it off for another two months. So that May, after going through a codependent model through therapy and I knew that that wasn’t it, I found BTR again. I said, well, you know what, what do I have to lose? I don’t know any of these people, but I am going to try it out, and I did. I clicked on it, I joined, and I went to my first group that very same day.
Anne: So, let’s talk about your fears for a minute because I think so many women have these same concerns. And let me see if these are some of them. Maybe we can just say check, check, check. Perhaps you thought Anne sounds like she hates men, or maybe like she doesn’t believe in families, or this is just going to be pro-divorce, or I don’t know. What are the other things you can think of that maybe people think that aren’t true?
“I Don’t See Anyone That Looks Like Me, So I Don’t Know If This Is A Good Route For Me”
Christina: Oh, my goodness, yeah. When I looked, I did not have the immediate fear that this would tear up my family because I believe my husband was already doing that work. I was already in trauma, and I was more concerned that I didn’t know anyone. I thought well, I don’t see anyone that looks like me. I am an African American woman, so I don’t see anyone that looks like me, so I don’t know if this is a good route for me. And so that was my main issue. I didn’t see that, and so I said, well, I will just put this off for a little bit, and I actually hate that I did that, and I’m glad at the same time because after two more months of the codependent situation I was going, you know what, I don’t care what race some of these women are. I don’t care, I need help, and I’m going to get on this call. I’m going to join right away and I’m getting on the call, and it was the best decision I made.
Anne: I’m so glad you did. Now, thank goodness because of you and Coach Sharon coming on, we’re not just a bunch of white ladies hanging out anymore. We’re so grateful to have you. Thank you and thank you for giving it a try. So, what are some of the things that surprised you when you first joined?
“Are These Women Safe? Am I In The Right Group?”
Christina: Okay, so I like many of our clients when they come and they’re new, my first session, I did not know so I didn’t say anything. So, I’ll just listen and just see if these women are safe. That was my biggest thing. Are these women safe? Am I in the right group? And that was the first thing I found. I found the rules of the group, they were safe. It was for safety. The coach, I mean, she was just full of education, and yet she didn’t tell us what to do. She just simply asked us questions. She was asking the other lady’s questions. And the ladies were safe to cry. They were safe to talk about very vulnerable topics. And they were safe to wade through the questions and get to a place where they were enlightened. I saw women at different stages of their recovery, and I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. And I thought that that was so powerful from my very first meeting.
Anne: That’s awesome. What was the difference between that and maybe some of the other codependent groups you had been to? Can you talk about that, like maybe a difference in feeling or difference in tone or?
BTR Uses The Trauma Model, Not The Codependency Model
Christina: Absolutely. Well, I only went through my personal therapist at the time and so I was so hungry. My therapist knew within 24 hours, and some of the information that was given shook me to my core. I’m so glad I don’t remember the book because it’s not even worth mentioning, but it was tailored more about making sure that my husband was safe, seeing why he had an affair, delving into him, what was he missing from the marriage, it was the marriage at fault. And I fought that with tooth and nail. There was never one time that I surrendered to that idea. And so, I didn’t realize that as I was fighting through those codependent ideas, which really had him not taking full responsibility because he can just simply blame the marriage which therefore meant he was blaming me. I’m so glad I never surrendered to that idea, so I would fight it, fight it, fight it, but then through the BTR groups, I also learned that I needed to be in safety, and that’s what the codependent model did not teach me.
I needed to be safe, and that was my responsibility. I was more taught in that model with you have a boundary, you communicate that boundary, and he’s just going to magically do what you say because clearly, he’s going to do it now that he’s betrayed the relationship. Actually, is the opposite. He’s betrayed that relationship because of his character, and he is boundless so he’s not going to respect the boundaries. And so, I learned that it’s my job to keep myself safe. And that’s exactly what I did after that.
Recognizing Abusive Behaviors
Anne: Well, I’m so grateful that you found us and I’m grateful when any woman finds us because it seems like a revelation to so many women. We get so many messages and so many stories that say I had been through therapy for years or I’ve gone to couple therapy or pornography addiction recovery or something and nobody ever said the word abuse.
At the beginning of your marriage did you recognize his behaviors as abuse?
Christina: Absolutely not. And I pretty much kind of grew up around manipulation tactics and stonewalling. That was actually very common for me, so I thought that that’s what marriage was about. And so, I would tackle it head-on. It was not something I didn’t address. I definitely addressed it and I thought oh, we’re good we talked about and so I didn’t recognize it as abuse. And I was very shocked when I learned the word abuse in a proper way because I would only think about abuse in terms of physical abuse. I did not think of it in terms of emotional or psychological, although throughout the marriage I addressed it because I knew that it wasn’t right, and it did not leave me feeling like I was being valued.
Anne: Yeah, you knew something was wrong. When did you recognize that these typical you know, love, serve, forgive, do your part kinds of things weren’t working?
Coach Christina’s Moment of Realization
Christina: I realized that after BTR and when you know they recommend; I remember it was my second group meeting when I did open up and they started giving us tools and books, and when I read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. I remember once I got to chapter four, I put the book back and I ran to the mirror and I was like, oh my god, I’ve been abused. And I ran back, and I just literally stayed up late after all my children went to bed and I just sat with it. I set with that and I’m like this is abuse. This is why it is wrong. This is what I was feeling this whole time and yet did not have the word for it. Or you had to forgive, you serve, we talked about it, then you’re okay, but it never went away. That was the key, and I certainly was never encouraged to create safety for myself. Like you know this, you’re you are safe, you’re married. This is safety. And so that’s when I finally realized wait a minute, this is abuse, and now I can look back and say that was abuse throughout the marriage.
Anne: Yeah. Now from a coaching perspective, why do you think it’s so hard for women to recognize that what they’re experiencing is abuse?
“This Person Is My Husband And He Is An Abuser.”
Christina: Probably one of the things that I have seen is the hardest thing is because it is someone our clients love. This is your husband, and this is who you love. And so, it is hard to associate I’ve been loving this person who has been abusing me. This person is my husband, and he is an abuser. That is so hard to reconcile those two things.
Anne: It is. Especially when everything about love is trying to understand someone’s point of view and give them the benefit of the doubt and serve them, and you know things like that. When so many of those things when you’re in an abusive situation are used as weapons. Even your emotions, like because abusers don’t see emotion as a way to connect, they see emotion as a way to manipulate people. And so, even those emotional times where you thought maybe we’re close or something you recognize, once you get out of the fog, whoa I shared those things and then he used them to groom me and use them as weapons. And that is just so shocking to so many women when they finally realize what was going on.
Christina: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s hard to accept that as reality. Absolutely.
Understanding Forgiveness In The Context of Abuse
Anne: So, one of the things that you love talking about, which I’m going to just preface this word carefully because it’s a very triggering word for people, and because a lot of clergy uses it as a weapon against victims and then also therapists use it as a weapon, and maybe the abuser’s family uses this word as a weapon. And so, let’s say the word, everyone kind of brace yourself, here we go, it’s forgiveness.
Anne: So, people will say well, you just need to forgive, or you know he’s trying, or he’s changed, when he hasn’t, and you know that he hasn’t or other situations. So, when we talk about forgiveness, one of your favorite questions to ask clients, and I love that you do this, is you ask what are you forgiving? Can you talk about why that question is so important to you?
A Deep Dive Into Forgiveness
Christina: It is so important because you know a client comes to their clergy, their pastor, their small group leader, they go to their family, some of their friends even, and they say what happens and then that scripture is used. You must forgive, you must forgive, and I encourage our class and look directly at them and say well, what exactly am I forgiving? Because, okay, am I forgiving the acting out? Okay, so what caused the acting out? What informed my husband to betray me? What informed him to commit adultery? What informed him to watch porn? What informed him to be unkind to only me? What informed him to abuse me? And ask them directly, is that what I’m forgiving? Is it that or just the acting out?
And where do we engage with who that person is? Who my husband is, and what he has done to me? And I believe when that question is asked, that is the place where true healing is for the victim of abuse because you’re saying well, this is who you are, and this is what you’ve done to me, I’m accepting who you are. I do have to move forward in time, but only after I really have all of the information, and is that being addressed? Is who he is being addressed and what he’s done? Is that being addressed or are you just using forgiveness as a weapon against me and trying to fast forward me when I’ve been a victim and I’ve been injured in this process by his behavior by his abuse? I’m injured, and you’re telling me to forgive when he has not even been addressed on who he is, and the violations? For me the violations against Scripture. He violated God’s word, he violated God. He violated our family. And so, I have to know who that person is, and then I’ll be on the journey to forgiveness.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Anne: I am going to take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. You can find it on our books page which has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, is a picture book for adults. So, it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it, it’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations, as well as infographics at the back.
So, let me see if I can restate, and you tell me if I’m understanding this correctly. From your perspective what you’re forgiving is that he is an abuser. So essentially, you’re saying in order to forgive him, you have to acknowledge the truth, which is this is abuse. So essentially, you’re saying, I know you’re an abuser. I’m forgiving you for being an abuser. Now that I know you’re an abuser and I can forgive you, I now need to also make sure that I am safe from you because now that I know what you really are, I can forgive and move on by setting boundaries, by making sure that I’m as safe as I can be, etc., etc. So, am I stating that correctly?
Christina: You are saying it absolutely correctly because once you delve into who he is, what I am actually forgiving then, number one, the hope is that pastors, friends, persons say wait a minute, hold up, she’s actually not safe. His core of who he is has informed him to make these decisions, to abuse, that is a choice. That was his willful decision, and she absolutely needs to get to a place of safety. That’s the hope. And if they don’t, then for the woman, for the wife, for the betrayed, for the victim is saying wait a minute, hold up, that is who he is. I absolutely need to be in a place of safety. It does not automatically mean there will be reconciliation. That will be for the offender to do the work of changing the core of who he is. He has to reform who he is. But it does say hey, I need to be safe where there’s some separation. If you cannot leave, you wrap yourself in bubble wrap. You know exactly who you’re dealing with. You don’t have any surprises; you know exactly who he is. But now you know, that’s not lost on you or anyone else, and you know your safety, the safety of your family is the primary focus. That’s what I mean when I say what are you forgiving because that puts the highlight on who he is.
“Boundaries and Safety Enable Forgiveness”
Anne: That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way before. We do know that forgiveness is, I wouldn’t say impossible but very difficult without boundaries. Boundaries and safety enable that forgiveness. And it’s also part of this radical acceptance that everybody’s talking about. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around what exactly is radical acceptance, but I think it’s that same thing where you’re like oh, this person is dangerous, or they are unhealthy. And they’re dangerous to my emotional health. They’re dangerous to my psychological health. They’re dangerous to my spirit. And so, I’m going to forgive them for that. I’m really sorry that that happened, and I’m going to ensure that doesn’t happen again by setting boundaries because we all know, well hopefully we know and if you don’t, I’m telling you now, forgiveness has nothing to do with trust. It has nothing to do with reconciliation. It has nothing to do with being able to communicate with your abuser or letting him back into your life. It is to set us free, and it is a thing that takes time and it’s a process. And so, anyone who’s expecting forgiveness of you quickly and also, they’re expecting reconciliation is a part of that does not understand forgiveness, and also is not prioritizing your safety.
“Forgiveness Requires Nothing Of The Offender”
Christina: 100% agree. You know, I love how in our sessions I’m able to even hold up the diagram, what forgiveness is versus what trust is. You know, forgiveness, it requires nothing of the offender. It is unconditional, it is based on grace, and trust requires much of the offender. It’s conditional, it’s based on words. And I love that it’s just right from your book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, and I love how is simply put and it is absolutely true. Forgiveness, in my humble opinion, doesn’t have to be a horrible word for those of us who have been injured, and yet it doesn’t give anyone the right to use it as a weapon. It is a process; it does take time. A lot of times our husbands have been keeping this secret world and secret life for years, for years, and usually before they even met us. And so, to find out and then in the next moment you’re supposed to forgive, is unfair and it’s definitely should not be used as a weapon of any sort. It is a process, and in time forgiveness sets us free. And it doesn’t mean there’ll be a reconciliation of any sort. It doesn’t mean you will automatically trust them at all. They have to do the work to gain the trust that they destroy. That that is their job.
“I Totally Forgive You”
Anne: I’m feeling impressed to do this. It’s just kind of weird, but with you here, maybe I’m safe to do this with all of our listeners. I don’t know if my ex listens to this podcast or not. When I started it, my intent was I hoped he wouldn’t find it, right, because I just wanted to share my own vulnerable feelings with other victims who have been through it. But in the chance that he is listening, I just want to tell him I totally forgive you. I’m at this place now where I have compassion for his lack of health. I feel bad for him that he’s still an abuser. And your behavior is still the same unhealthy abusive behavior that I’ve witnessed now for over 13 years, and it has never improved, which is why I maintain my boundaries, but I forgive you. I’m going to continue to maintain my boundaries. So, if you’re listening, I just want you to know that. That everything is good; my life is great. I’m really, now this is for him and not for all the victims out there, I’m super grateful for all that you taught me and all that I’ve learned.
And now to my fellow victims out there, the reason why I’m grateful is because I can be here with you. Because I can feel your pain. Because I understand what you went through, and now I’m part of this amazing community of women who only can understand this if we’ve been through it. And there’s no way I could have started BTR or be doing BTR without my experience, and for that, I’m super, super grateful. And also grateful for the skills that I’ve learned along the way. Boundaries and all the other skills I learned that just have blessed my life so much.
BTR Is Here For You
So, in saying that, now back to all the listeners. I don’t want to say that to trigger anyone or to be like, look at me, I’m so healthy and happy, everything’s good in my life right now, because that is so triggering for victims, right? Especially when you’re in the thick of it. I remember when people would tell me, you know, a long time ago, they’d be like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it would make me so mad. I’m like, there is no light, there is only tunnel. And so, now saying that here to you, please know that I know that that’s painful to hear. I know that it’s so hard when you’re in the thick of it and you’re in the fog and things are hard. It’s still actually hard for me, but I have healed so much that things are now beautiful, and I can see the sun again and you will be able to too, I promise. But if you’re not feeling that right now, I get it and I think Christina gets it, and all of the coaches here get it. That it takes time, and it is painful, and we are here for you during that time. We are here for you now and we’re here for you at Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and in our individual sessions, because we really get that.
Support the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast
Thank you for bearing with me on that tangent for a minute. Those of you who have listened to this podcast from the beginning know that my voice now sounds so much different than it did in the beginning. Number one because I altered it before because I was so terrified. Now, this is my actual voice. But number two, my confidence, my peace, my safety has just improved over time. So, if this is your first time listening to the podcast, I recommend you go back to the first episode that you can find and listen to my voice then. You can hear me crying, you can hear me just absolutely in the trauma, and you’ll know that I have been there. If you listen chronologically from the beginning to the end, it takes you on this journey where you can see what it’s like to heal. And even though I’m not fully healed yet, I’m on my way.
Christina and I are going to continue this conversation next week, so stay tuned.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.