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BTR.ORG Group Sessions Are Your Safe Space

by | Betrayal Trauma

BTRG IS YOUR SAFE SPACE: JOIN US

This episode is Part 1 of Anne’s interview with Coach Christina.
Part 1: BTR.ORG Group Sessions Are Your Safe Space (this episode)
Part 2: 3 Compelling Reasons to Learn About Hidden Abuse

Victims of betrayal and abuse deserve a completely safe space to process trauma, openly speak truths, ask hard questions, and receive validation. BTR.ORG Group Sessions can be that safe space for you.

Coach Christina is sharing her personal and professional experiences on the podcast – tune in and read the full transcript below for more.

BTR.ORG Group Sessions Are 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, you belong.

“You are safe to cry. You are safe to talk about very vulnerable topics. And you are safe to wade through the questions and get to a place where you are enlightened.”

Coach Christina, BTR.ORG

BTR Coaches Use The Trauma Model (We’ll Never Label You “Codependent”)

At BTR, we understand that intimate betrayal is an abuse issue – not a marriage issue.

Unlike traditional sex addiction therapists, we do not use the Codependency Model – we use the Trauma Model. This means we will never label you “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 our BTR.ORG Group Sessions, abuse is abuse. We’ll never blame you for it.

Your Safety Is Priority

“Your safety, the safety of your family is the primary focus.”

Coach Christina, BTR.ORG

Other support systems – clergy, therapists, even friends and family – may primarily focus on communication, reconciliation, and prematurely establishing trust. However, 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.

BTR.ORG Group Sessions

If you would like to attend a BTR.ORG Group Session today, please check out our session schedule. We are anxious to support you on your journey to safety and healing.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
I have one of our BTR coaches on today’s episode. Coach Christina. She’s a betrayal trauma coach. With over 15 years experience. She validates women’s experiences while helping them fortify plans for emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological safety. She believes every woman can equipped herself with specific strategies to recover and heal from trauma by identifying and establishing boundaries. I am so grateful that Christina is on our coaching team. She is incredible. Welcome, Christina.

Coach Christina (00:31):
Thank you. Thank you so much, Anne, for having me.

Anne (00:33):
I’m so excited for you to get to know her today. Let’s just start with how you found BTR. Can you talk about your experience finding us?

Finding BTR.ORG Group Sessions

Coach Christina (00:51):
I found BTR as a woman who had just experienced my own betrayal. I’d found out in January 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. I said, is this place safe? Is it real?

I had no clue. And I was very terrified of contacting a group of people I did not know, and there are so many different groups out there. So 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, what do I have to lose? I don’t know any of these people, but I’m going to try it out and I did.

Anne (01:53):
So let’s talk about your fears for a minute. I think so many women have these same concerns. 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 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?

“Best decision I made”

Coach Christina (02:18):
Oh my goodness. Yeah. When I looked, I did not have the immediate fear that this would tear up my family. I believe my husband was already doing that work. And I was already in trauma and I was more concerned. I didn’t know anyone, I thought, well, I don’t see anyone that looks like me. I’m an African-American woman. I said, well, I don’t see anyone that looks like me, so I don’t know if this is a good group for me. And so that was my main issue. I didn’t see that.

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 said, well, you know what? I don’t care what race these women, I don’t care. I need help and I’m going to get on this call right away. Best decision I made.

Anne (03:13):
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?

BTR.ORG Group Sessions Meet You Where You’re At

Coach Christina (03:31):
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? Then I found the rules of the group. They were safety. It was for our 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 ladies 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 experienced enlightenment. 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 for my very first meeting.

Anne (04:34):
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, maybe a difference in feeling or a difference in tone?

The Codependency Model Harms Victims

Coach Christina (04:44):
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 they gave me 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, delve into him. What was he missing from the marriage? It was the marriage’s fault, and I thought 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, he could 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.

“I learned that I needed safety”

(05:41):
But then I also learned that I needed 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 was you communicate that boundary and then 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 it’s the opposite. He’s betrayed the relationship because of his character, and he is bound less 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.

“I didn’t recognize it as abuse”

Anne (06:22):
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 had 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?

Coach Christina (06:48):
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 it.

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.

“I sat with that.”

Anne (07:33):
Yeah, you knew something was wrong. When did you recognize that these typical love, serve, forgive, do your part kinds of things weren’t working?

Coach Christina (07:42):
I realized that after BTR and when they recommended, I remember 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 down and I ran to the mirror and I was like, oh my God, I’ve been abused. And I ran back and I literally, I stayed up late after all of my children went to bed. And I just sat with that.

I sat 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, serve. We talk about it, then you’re, hey. But it never went away. That was the key. And certainly no one ever encouraged me to create safety for myself. Like, 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.

Why is it so difficult to identify the abuse?

Anne (08:49):
Yeah. Now, from a coaching perspective, why do you think it’s so hard for women to accept that what they’re experiencing is abuse?

Coach Christina (08:58):
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.

“It’s hard to accept that as reality.”

Anne (09:30):
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 things like that when so many of those things when you’re in an abusive situation are used as weapons and even your emotions, 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 you were close or something you recognize once you get out of the fog, whoa, I shared those things. 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 realized what was going on.

Coach Christina (10:13):
Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s hard to accept that as reality. Absolutely.

TW: Forgiveness

Anne (10:19):
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 because a lot of clergy uses it as a weapon against victims, and then also therapists use it as a weapon. 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.

Coach Christina (10:46):
Yes.

Anne (10:48):
So people will say, well, you just need to forgive, or He’s trying or He is 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?

“What exactly am I forgiving?”

Coach Christina (11:09):
It is so important because 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 they use that scripture, you must forgive. You must forgive. And I encourage our clients to look directly at them and say, well, what exactly am I forgiving? Because okay, am I forgiving the acting out? Okay, but what caused the acting out?

What informed my husband to betray me? What informed him to commit adultery? And 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.

A new understanding of forgiveness

(12:26):
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 in 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 are 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.

In order to forgive, you have to acknowledge the truth.

Anne (13:20):
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 am as safe as I can be, et cetera, et cetera. So am I stating that correctly?

“I absolutely need to be in a place of safety”

Coach Christina (14:11):
You are stating that absolutely correctly because once you delve into who he is, what I am actually forgiven, then number one, the hope is that pastor strength said, 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, it’s 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 that’ll be reconciliation. That’ll be for the offender to do the work of changing his core of who he is. He has to reform who he is, but it does say, Hey, I need to be safe.

Whether it’s through 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 that’s not lost on you or anyone else. And your safety, the safety of your family is the primary focus. That’s what I mean when I say, what are you forgiven? Because that puts the highlight on who he is.

Understanding the concept of forgiveness

Anne (15:35):
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. And 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: A process, not a weapon

Coach Christina (16:55):
A hundred percent agree. I love how in our sessions I’m able to even hold up the diagram what forgiveness is versus what trust is forgiveness. It requires nothing of the offender. It is unconditional. It’s based on grace and trust requires much of the offender is conditional. It’s based on works. And I love that it’s just right from your book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, and I love how it’s simply put, and it’s absolutely true.

Forgiveness in my humble opinion, doesn’t have to be a horrible word for of us who’ve 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 in 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 no one should use forgiveness 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’ll automatically trust them at all. They have to do the work to gain the trust that they destroyed back. That is their job.

“I Forgive You”

Anne (18:19):
I’m feeling impressed to do this. This is kind of weird, but with you here, maybe I’m safe to do this and 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 not to, I hoped he wouldn’t find it right, because I would just wanted to share my own vulnerable feelings with other victims who had 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, and I’m going to continue to maintain my boundaries.

When Forgiveness leads to Gratitude

(19:13):
So if you’re listening, I just want you to know that, that everything’s 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. 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’ve learned that just have blessed my life so much.

When You’re in the Thick of It

(20:02):
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 triggery for victims, right? Especially when you’re in the thick of it. I remember when people would tell me 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 was 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. They’re still actually hard for me, but I have healed so much that things are now beautiful and I can see the sun again.

You Are NOT Alone – We Get It

(20:46):
And you 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. 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, 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.

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1 Comment

  1. Lauren

    I have seen your post on Facebook and it hits hard right now. I am trying to not drown while getting out of an emotional and psychological abusive relationship and even my kids haven taken a hard tole. But it’s hard! Your words and video post mean so much!

    Reply

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