How To Know The Truth – An Interview With Laurie Hall

Laurie Hall is the author of An Affair of the Mind , which was the first book on sex addiction written from a partner’s perspective. It broke ground in a world that saw the partner as a codependent, just as sick in her own way as the addict, which we know is not true. Laurie knew at the time, it wasn’t true and she refused to accept that view.  She advocated strongly for partners, saying that they had been betrayed and traumatized and that they were victims, which, of course, we know that we are.

Laurie has used her book and experience to become a voice for partners. She’s been a guest on over 200 radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family, Moody, and The 700 Club. She’s also done television and radio, including being interviewed by Laura Ingraham, Extra, Leeza Gibbons, Diane Rehm, and many others.

In addition, she’s spoken to many colleagues and a wide variety of churches across the country and Canada. She was the first woman to speak at a Promise Keepers event, because porn was the number one reason that men went forward for prayer at Promise Keepers events.

Laurie is APSATS trained, a member of the International Coaches Federation, and a licensed spiritual coach. She facilitates partner groups and does individual coaching as well. She’s currently revising and updating An Affair of the Mind for re-release early next year.

Discovering a Husband’s Addiction Through Spiritual Crisis

Anne: I am honored to have you on the show today. Welcome, Laurie.

Laurie: Oh, I’m honored to be with you. This is a really exciting thing that you’re doing here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. It’s awesome!

Anne: We met in person a few weeks ago, and that was an honor. We’ve been having this discussion around a crisis of faith that many partners experience, when they find out about their husband’s sexual addiction, and the abusive behaviors surrounding that. We are going to explore this further. Laurie, in your book, you write about how prayer helped you discover your husband’s addiction. Can you tell us about that?

Laurie: Yes. This is a great place to start the discussion of how this whole issue can lead to a spiritual crisis because I knew there were problems in my marriage but I didn’t know what it was that I was dealing with. My ex-husband grew up on the mission field. He had a White House security clearance when I met him. Everyone who knew him said, “Oh, he’s a super nice, squeaky clean guy.”

Something Wasn’t Right In My Marriage

I really thought that I was marrying a Boy Scout, but there was just this sense that something wasn’t right. I kept trying to figure out what it was. I went to my church for help, because, as a young Christian woman, I wanted to know how to do marriage God’s way. I was told that I just needed to submit more, that I needed to support him more, that I needed to pray for him more.

Every remedy that they gave me put me further, and further under. At one point, I thought, “Well, they said you’re too strong. If you were not as strong, he would be stronger.” I just kept thinking, “Well, wait a minute, I’ve read all the books. I’ve become a fascinating woman. I’ve become a total woman. I’ve become the ‘He’s from Home Depot, she’s from Walmart’ woman.”

Nothing was working. It was still just the sense that something was wrong. I decided that I was going to put all the outside advice outside, and spend time back in scripture, which I already was a student of the Bible, but I was reading the Bible based on what other people told me it meant.

I began to really go into the Word. I really started to pray, “You know, Lord, if in anything I’m otherwise minded in Christ Jesus, show me what it is, and show me what’s going on in my marriage, because I know there’s something, and I don’t know what it is. I know you know what it is, because you are the God of all truth, so show me what the truth is.”

God Can Lead You To The Truth

I prayed this for years, actually, and part of what had to happen for me was I had to come to a different understanding of who God is, before I could even grasp the truth of what was going on in my relationship. I began to see God in a bigger, more empowering, more loving way as I studied the Word. Then I decided I would start fasting.

The first time I fasted, I got this impression in my head that was almost like a voice saying to me, “There’s three problems in your marriage. The first one is your husband’s taken $350.00 that doesn’t belong to him. The second one is he’s committing adultery, and the third is he has a lot of pride.” At that point, I was like, “Okay, this is what comes of trying to fast and pray. You’ve now gone completely nuts because you’re hearing a voice.”

I was like, “Why did you do this to yourself, because, obviously, none of that can be true. I married a Boy Scout.” Sure enough, shortly after that, I found out about the $350.00, he confessed that he had a lot of pride, and that left this little nasty thing in the middle, which was the adultery.

I said, “I think you’re committing adultery.” He said, “Oh no, I would never do that. You’re a horrible person for believing that. Why would you even accuse me of that? You’re probably the one doing it.” I continued to pray, and seek the Lord.

Dreams Can Inform And Warn You Of Infidelity

Eventually, I started having dreams. I started having dreams where I would see exactly what was going on. Then, I decided that what I was going to do was accept that this was the truth, whether I had any evidence of it, or not, because my husband hid everything. Even his best friend, who worked with him, didn’t know what he was doing.

I began to journal, using the 12 steps. I said, “I admit that my life is out of control, because my husband is cheating on me, and I don’t know what to do about it, but I’m turning it all over to God.” One day as I was praying and just sobbing, the phone rang. It was a woman I barely knew. She said, “God has heard your prayers, and seen your tears, and he’s going to heal you.”

Within an hour, there was a phone call from a credit card company that I did not know my husband had a credit card with, and there was a past due payment. That’s how the truth came out.

Anne: Wow! I am so impressed, because I was having dreams, nightmares, and I just thought I was crazy, and I had this super intense sense of dread that I told my husband about. I was like, “I have the worst sense of dread. I really think something bad is going to happen.”

Then, in the same breath, without listening to him, or without waiting for his response, I said, “Ugh, I just must be crazy, right.” I just dismissed it, so I am so impressed that you were able to accept your dreams and feelings as the truth. That is gutsy!

Trust Your Intuition Before You Trust That You’re Crazy

Laurie: Well, let me back up, and tell you how not gutsy I was, and what actually forced me to that position. Because, just like you, I thought I was going nuts. One day, I actually climbed into bed, put the covers over my head, and started running my finger up and down my mouth like, “Bluh-bluh-bluh.”

I said, “I am going crazy, because part of me is saying there’s something wrong and this is what it is. The other part of me doesn’t know how that could possibly be true. Therefore, I’m choosing to ignore what I’ve asked God to show me. I’m going to have to take a giant leap of faith, and say, ‘This is the truth.  And if I’m wrong, hey, I’ll own it, but from here on out, I’m not second-guessing myself anymore.’” I get it, girlfriend. I was there. It was that fear that I was going to go crazy that made me say, “Yes, I’m accepting the truth.”

Anne: That is amazing. If every woman did that, this world would be so different. Not that we can blame ourselves, because obviously, we’re doing the best we can in the situation. I just think, if every woman would say, “You know what, I’m going to trust myself, and I’m going to trust God,” that would be a huge breakthrough for humanity. If every woman listening can be like, “You know what, I’m going to be willing to learn what the truth is from God, straight from God, and then trust it,” holy cow. That’s big.

Accepting Your Worst Nightmare As Truth

Laurie: Anne, I completely agree with you on that. Part of the reason why women have a difficult time accepting truth—aside from the fact that, can we say it? How awful is it that your worst nightmare is actually true? Okay, this is not the thing that you can wake up to, and accept. It’s an awful, awful thing. The ground drops underneath your feet. On the one hand, you’re really happy to know you weren’t nuts. On the other hand, you’re like, “I really wish I would’ve been nuts, because this new reality is something I don’t want to deal with.”

We are not trained how to live in the Spirit. This was a really big Ah-ha for me, because, when I came to realize I have a body that has senses in it. It has the sense of touch, sight, taste, hearing, smell. Through those senses, I experience the physical world. I have a soul, which allows me to know my internal world. Those senses are my mind, my will, and my emotions.

I also have a spirit. It is through my spirit that I know God, and that I experience others in a transcendent way, where deep connects to deep. This has nothing to do with what I can see with my eyes. It is an inner-knowing that we have, and our spirit’s senses are conscience, intuition, and communion. We’re designed to operate from the spirit into the soul, and out into the body. When we intuit something, it is really God speaking to us, the absolute truth.

The idea, if we’re operating in a healthy way, is then we take that information into our mind and provide instructions for our mind based on what our conscience tells us; this is a good situation or this is not a good situation. Then, the will tells the body what to do in response, and as the body follows these instructions, our emotions are at peace because we’re in integrity.

Integrity Is Key To Discovering The Truth And Finding Peace Amidst The Storm

We can know that we’re not in integrity, and I don’t mean this in the sense of we’re intentionally doing something we know is wrong, but where we are second-guessing our spirit.  Because when our mind doesn’t have the facts, we argue, the spirit and the mind argue with each other. You know what I mean? It’s like, “No, that can’t be true, I have no evidence.”

Yes, it is true, because God sees it as it really is, but our mind doesn’t see it. I only saw porn in our home one time, and we were married for 33 years. It was one time. I had no physical evidence. As you know, with this particular addiction, there’s no needle marks, there’s no tell-tale breath. It’s very easy to hide.

What I tell women is, when your emotions are a mess, it is a sign that you’re spirit is arguing with your soul because your soul doesn’t have any facts to back up what your spirit is sensing, so you’re second-guessing yourself. If you will say, “I’m going to accept what I’m sensing as true until proven otherwise,” and then start lining your actions up with that, you will find peace amidst the storm.

Anne: Wow. This is cool. I love you. I’m so glad you’re here!

Laurie: I love you. It only took me 20 years to figure that out.

Anne: When did you write your book? What year was it?

Laurie: It came out in 1996.

Anne: 1996, man, and how old are you?

Laurie: 66. I’m not a teenager anymore, girlfriend.

You’re My Shero!

Anne: I know so many women who are your age, or older, who went through this. They, of no fault of their own, didn’t know what was going on, didn’t understand it, were abused for years. I am just in awe that you’re part of this generation of women who were caught in all the cultural issues, all of the misogynistic-type things that, at the time were very common, that you couldn’t even see, and you have this head on your shoulders to see this thing straight.

You’re like a hero. You’re my shero, good job. Way to go! I think a lot of other women saw it, but they didn’t write a book. A lot of women figured out what was going on, but then it was super scary to speak out about it back then. It still is now. Sometimes even now, people think I’m crazy. Once you knew about your husband’s addiction, did you go to your church for help? If you did, what happened?

Coping With Pornography Addiction As A Woman Of Faith

Laurie: Yes, I did. I was a woman of faith. I wanted to handle this God’s way. I can remember saying, “What are the rules? What are the rules? What are the rules?” I went to my church, I entered a buzz saw when I did that. I was told things like, I needed to pray for him.

I was the more spiritually mature, and therefore it was my responsibility to pray for my husband, and that if I would just pray for him and trust God, that he would become a man who would stand at the gates. They quoted Proverbs for me, that it was my job to create that in him.

I was told that I needed to be more sexually available. I was told that I had to be more submissive, that no matter what he said or did, I needed to trust God in the middle of all of that. I can remember sitting there in my church leader’s office, and I just wanted him to say, “Adultery is wrong.”

Addicts Often Get Away With Lies, Theft, and Damaging Family Relationships

That’s all I wanted him to say. He didn’t have to give any magic solutions. I just wanted him to say to me, “What has happened to you is wrong.” Instead, he was telling me that it was obvious why my husband was doing this, because I was such a strong woman, and was totally lined up with my husband.

I can remember going to a Christian counselor, and my husband had taken some money from one of our children. As part of his making amends, he was supposed to apologize and return the money. Just before we went to see the therapist the next time, this child came to me and said, “You know, Dad still hasn’t dealt with this issue.”

This child was sobbing. It’s breaking my mother’s heart to see my child suffer like that. We went to see the therapist and my ex-husband went in first. When I got in, the therapist was thrilled because my husband had cooked up this story about how he had gone to the child and apologized, given the money back, and everything was great. I sat there with my mouth open, and I said, “Um, no, that’s not what happened.” He’s like, “What?” I said, “No, none of that happened.” This is where the church is so naïve, and, believe me, I’m not trying to slam Christianity—and this therapist said, “Well, he wouldn’t lie to me.”

Pornography Users Spin The Truth To Avoid Being Accountable – In The Process You Get Blamed

What he was really saying is, “The reason why he lies to you is because you’re too hard on him, you’re not on his team, and if you would just be on his team, he wouldn’t need to lie to you. I’m on his team, and he knows I’m on his team, so he wouldn’t lie to me.”

Anne: Right, like you’re the problem, you caused his lying, right?

Laurie: Exactly, that’s it. I have worked with hundreds of women, and I’ve received so many letters, and so many of them tell similar stories. I’ve had women who were suicidal, because their church disciplined them, because they dared to go and try to get help.

Related: We Recommend Covenant Eyes Internet Filtering & Accountability On Every Device

I’ve heard from women who were excommunicated and shamed. They’re made to be accountable to another woman in the church for whether they’re properly submitting, praying for their husband, and giving their husband sex. Because of course, that’s the woman’s responsibility; don’t withhold yourself.

I want to believe these people are well-intentioned, although, at some point, I began to doubt, especially when I saw the size of the problem in the leadership at the church, because many, many, many church leaders have this issue. They’re so naïve about how real life operates that they have this fantasy that if we just do A, B, and C, then everything is going to be okay, and that marriage is all about roles, instead of relationships. They teach marriage as roles, and therefore the husband is the head of the home, the wife is to submit to him, the children are to obey the parents. What it does is it creates dysfunction, because you don’t learn how to be in a real relationship.

Healthy Marriages Use Healthy Emotional Skills – Not Just A List Of Roles About What Men & Women Are “Supposed” To Do

When marriage is all about power and who has the most power, there’s no training in communication skills, listening skills, negotiation skills, conflict resolution skills, how to be truly intimate with each other, how to really recognize and celebrate each other’s strengths, and how to support each other in weakness. Because if somebody’s weak, especially if they’re at the top, everybody’s going to be scared, because they’re going to be vulnerable, instead of, “This is a team effort…let’s pool our resources here.”

Anne: I always felt like I was on the same team with my husband, my ex now, but that he was always in competition with me. I couldn’t understand that. I thought, “Well, we’re on the same team. I’m trying to solve a problem, let’s solve it together.” He didn’t like the resolution of the problem, if it wasn’t his idea, or he didn’t do it, or if he didn’t get credit for it.

Laurie: Yeah.

Sex Addicts Can Exhibit Narcissistic Traits

Anne: Then, I found him taking credit for the things I had done, instead of saying, “Oh, my wife did this. She’s amazing.” He took credit for it himself. I started to be really bothered, “We’re not on a team. He sees me as some kind of minion,” like to set him up higher and higher, or the better I look the better he looks, not the better we look. Does that make sense?

Laurie: It totally does. You can see how that worldview feeds into the narcissism of the addict. His whole goal is to be admired, right?

Anne: Right, and the more you love them, and forgive them, and submit, and serve, and all of those things, the more their abusive behaviors are getting them what they want. Lundy Bancroft talks over and over again about how the reason why men use these abusive behaviors, manipulation, lying, etcetera, is because they get stuff out of it. If they didn’t get anything out of it, then they wouldn’t do it, number one. Number two, unless they stop getting something out of it, they’re not going to stop.

Laurie: That’s right.

Anne: Yeah, it’s working for them. The whole love, forgiveness, service-type stuff—which are all wonderful values, but when misused as a way to get someone to love you, or to stop abuse, or to stop adultery, it does not work. The abuser just continues to get all of the things that they want and need, and they have none of the accountability. In fact, the women are held accountable, like what you said.

Laurie: Yes, and that’s the sad thing. These women are going into a church with all male leadership. This is really hard to talk about, Anne, because my relationship with God is very important to me, and I don’t want to needlessly put the church in a bad light. I’m just saying, talking to hundreds of women—and there are some church leaders who do a fabulous job, fabulous job of supporting wives, but there are some institutional things that happen in the church that make it harder for the wife to get the support she needs and for the addict to get the help he deserves, and the freedom.

Lying, Porn Use, Infidelity And Manipulation Are Forms Of Abuse

Then, you couple that with the fact that a recent Barna Group survey showed that 57% of church leaders, and 64% of youth church leaders struggle with porn, or have struggled with porn, she could actually be talking to somebody who has the very same problem her husband has, and not know it. It becomes like clubbing baby seals. These women are so vulnerable. It just breaks my heart, what happens to them.

Anne: They get further abused by their church leadership. Yeah, it is painful, and it’s wrong.

Laurie: Yes.

Anne: It is wrong. I am so excited about the time we’re in right now, though, with the rash of sexual harassment allegations and men being held accountable for their actions.

Women Are Starting To Be Believed – You Can Believe Yourself

Laurie: Oh, yeah, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

Anne: All these women who are all of a sudden feeling like, “I can speak up,” and women who are being taken seriously and women who, before, people maybe said they were crazy, now it’s coming out. No, all the things this “crazy woman” said were true. It’s an exciting time!

Laurie: That’s right.

Anne: It’s really exciting because women are becoming more, and more healthy, and that will enable and help the men to become more healthy too. Because I envision a time where men are accountable for their behaviors, where they are responsible and fantastic husbands and fathers. That is what everyone wants, right? It’s not like we want the demise of the male sex, we just want them to step up to the plate, and become men.

Laurie: And we want to be women. I love the idea of being loved. I love the idea of being in a close relationship with a strong man. That just makes me feel all kinds of feminine. When I’m with a man who has really good character, who knows how to treat me, who I can sense is genuine. Now genuine, not perfect, because if he’s trying to look like he’s perfect there’s probably a problem.

Anne: I know. It’s like, “Oh, scary, scary.”

Laurie: Yeah, so this is how we grow together. This is the beauty that God wants for us. You’re right, we are living in a very exciting time, because the cover is being pulled off of this stuff. More and more’s going to come out. I really believe that. This is the time where God is going to pull the cover back, and give us opportunities to become who He truly created us to be, which is loving beings.

That is what the whole purpose of being here is, it’s about loving one another. Those who love are living in God. That’s one of the teachings of scripture. If we’re not really loving each other, we’re really not even experiencing God in any real way.

Anne: If we don’t have integrity, we’re not experiencing God in any real way either, the true living our truth, living in the truth, right?

Integrity Means That We Live A Life Consistent With Our Values

Laurie: Absolutely. You bring up such a fabulous point, because, recently, I’ve been going to a lot of church conferences, and I’m listening to church leaders say that the way we deal with this issue is we just draw closer to Jesus. We substitute the pleasure of porn for the pleasure of being with Jesus.

I want to say, “Okay. Hello, hello, we’re talking about the way. We’re talking about the truth. We’re talking about the light.” First of all, drawing closer to the Lord is about actually living in truth, as you just so brilliantly said, Anne. It’s about living in what is true. It’s about as we know, and rely on the love God has for us, and know that we live in love, then we’re made complete, so that we can love others.

Being Close To God Means That We Know How To Have Healthy Relationships With Other People

That it’s really about the “one another”, about being close to others. That’s how we truly express our spirituality. Jesus even said that. He said, when you feed the hungry, or the thirsty, or clothe the naked, or visit someone in prison, you’re doing that as if you were doing it to me.

This thing about a relationship with God that is some kind of—I want to have this come out right—and I’m just starting to see this in a bigger way. It’s almost like they’re teaching to replace the fantasy of porn with the fantasy of an imaginary relationship that happens in your mind.

Instead of how we treat each other, how we see God all around us, right here, right now, and rejoice in that, and love one another, and respect one another, instead of this checking out, where I’m having a magical relationship in my head with someone, as a substitute for actually having a real relationship with a real human being. I hope that doesn’t come across as being heretical, but I really think it’s part of the key girlfriend, because we’re still teaching men to dissociate.

Anne: Yeah.

Learning How To Be In Real Intimate Relationships I Learning To Be Whole

Laurie: To dissociate, because it all happens in their mind. Instead of this place of vulnerability, where we’re naked before each other, and loving each other, and feeling what it is to be truly loved.

Anne: That’s awesome, you’re very emphatic.

Laurie: I am. I feel it so strongly, because—I’m sitting here pounding.

Anne: I love it.

Laurie: Because, you know, here’s why, because I see the hunger and the thirst in these men, to want to be whole. They want to be whole. They’re looking for a way to make it happen. It’s really about learning how to be in real intimate relationships, that’s where the wholeness is.

Anne: Well, if you just respected him more, and if you just loved him more, and if you just did more laundry, right?

Laurie: If I had more sex, don’t forget that part.

Anne: Yeah. Oh, the sex. There’s a leader in our church that said—I’m going to mess this up, but he said, “True religion, undefiled before God, is helping the poor and the widows and the orphans.”

Porn Use Causes Men To Emotionally Abandon Their Families – Which Leaves Grieving Widows & Orphans

Anne: These men, through their actions, which are un-Godlike, are creating widows and orphans. They are leaving their wives, or their wives have to say, “You can’t be around us anymore,” because they’re so unhealthy. The opposite of that would be really taking care of a woman so she does not become a porn widow, making sure that you are a good husband and father so that you do not leave your children fatherless.

It’s based on action, not your ideal version of what you are like, based on all the scriptures you can quote, or all the prayers that you can say in church to make you look beautiful. It’s actually what your real relationship is like with your wife, and with your children. Women, who are truly loved and cherished, love and cherish their husbands.

Laurie: Yes, they do.

Anne: They love and cherish their husbands, even when they’re being abused by their husbands.

Laurie: Yes, they do.

Anne: They just want their family to work.

Laurie: In fairness, I’ve met some women who are real horror shows. It’s really about this whole thing of, faith without works is dead. We can talk a good talk, but how do we walk the walk. The church needs a theology of trauma that understands that the pursuit of justice is a godly pursuit, and one that allows us to reestablish trust where it’s been broken.

Because a theology of trauma understands that there’s a difference between forgiveness and restoration and between grace and calling a thing a thing, so that grace can much more abound. No, it says in Isaiah 1:17, to learn to do right, to seek justice, to defend the oppressed, to take up the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow.

Abuser Accountability Is The Key To A Widow’s Healing

Anne, you’re so right, we are porn widows, and the church is called to be salt and light in matters of justice. If the church would just do this, if they would just stand for living in truth, and support what is true, then I really, truly believe that we would be able to restore families because there would be a path forward.

Anne: Yeah, there is no path forward without accountability.

Laurie: No.

Anne: None. Well, I so appreciate you coming on today. Thank you so much for being here, Laurie.

Laurie: Oh, thank you, Anne, it’s been a real pleasure to talk with you.

Anne: You can find Laurie at . We’ll announce when her new book comes out. Like I said before, Laurie is APSATS-trained, and we appreciate that perspective that only APSATS coaches, and therapists can bring. Currently, the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club is running through the holidays.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club gives you access to six APSATS-facilitated group sessions per week, one every weekday, and two on Tuesdays, one Tuesday during the day, and one Tuesday evening. By all means, you don’t need to go to every single session.  It’s available when you need it. Many times, you’re one of a few women that are in that session.

We’ve had a few sessions where only one woman went, and she got personal attention for an hour. It makes it so that you can get in any time that you’re in trauma. That gives you up to 30 APSATS-facilitated group sessions per month, which means that you get an APSATS-facilitated session for less than $3.00 an hour, which we do because we love you, we care, and we’ve been there, and we understand what you’re going through. Register for Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club today.

If you are interested in scheduling a one-on-one support call with  an APSATS Coach, click here.

I’d like to thank all of you who helped get us closer to our $5,000.00 Giving Tuesday goal for the year, to cover our expenses. If you have not donated yet, please do! Consider making a monthly, recurring donation to BTR.

$5.00 or $10.00 a month will help us to reach more women, to make sure that all our technology is up-to-date, to make sure that we continue to bring these amazing podcasts to you, that help bring you peace, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.

Until next time, stay safe out there.

Coping With Your Husband’s Porn Addiction, Infidelity & Abuse

Today we have Amy Kate, an advocate for partners of those with sexual addictions and a survivor of two marriages that ended as a result of sexual addiction. She has six awesome kids and is trained through The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS), as well as the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). She is a fierce warrior determined to point women to freedom and healing found at the feet of Jesus. She is also a customer service representative for Covenant Eyes and can be found at Welcome Amy Kate!

Amy: Thanks for having me.

Discovery Day: The Day Everything In Your Life Falls Apart When You Find Out About Your Husband’s Affair

Anne: We are going to talk to you about your personal story. We know that you went through two marriages due to sex addiction. Let’s focus on the second marriage and what happened there. Can you tell us what your life was like before D-day in your second marriage?

Amy: I was divorced from my first husband who was a porn addict and I met this guy who was everything I never imagined existed. He was soft, sweet, feminine but not in a weird way; he was just a super, awesome guy. I was actually not a Christian at the time; neither was he. We dated for a couple of years and then we bought a house together and we went to church where we both were saved. When we got saved we got convinced for living together so we got married.

I already had six children from my first marriage and he was a very good step dad. My children were rather young. It was a pretty normal like. I had the kind of relationship that my friends were jealous of because my husband was always home, he would do chores, he didn’t leave his underwear on the floor!, he looked like a model man. Life was good. I had all kinds of health problems but despite this, he was just good.

In 2010, after a couple of major surgeries and a foreclosure on my house, we moved and everything began to change in the relationship. He was very different and I couldn’t figure out why. Of course I thought it was me or my kids; it couldn’t possibly have been him. I started to create my own world outside of him. I had been a stay-at-home mom, which I loved, but I opened up a photography studio. We were a pretty normal couple.

Should You Believe Your Husband When He Says He Doesn’t View Porn?

We didn’t go to church which is unfortunate; I kept trying to get him to try new churches but he was resistant. As time progressed, he got more and more distant; I began to see more anger and our sex life pretty much disappeared. One day, September 20, 2012, I was on his computer (we had each other’s passwords)–we didn’t have anything to hide, right? I looked at his history even though I’m not sure why–he swore he never watched porn – and I believed him.

I saw a bunch of meet-up groups in his history and all of the profiles he looked at were female. I thought this was really weird but I brushed it off thinking he was looking for a tech meet-up group because he is a tech guy. As I kept looking and seeing the female profiles, it was literally like a lightbulb went off and out loud, to myself, said, “My husband’s having an affair.”

But I couldn’t see anything so I ended up combing through his computer to find something and I couldn’t find anything. So then I went upstairs and got his phone and I began to look through it; I didn’t find anything until I found the Google voice app. At this point I took the phone downstairs and I promptly read two years worth of texts from his affair partner. This was my first D-day. As I am telling this, I can still feel the emotion I felt when reading the texts from her. At first I thought it was just virtual but it wasn’t. By the end of the texting I realized that they had actually met in person.

What Happened The Day You Found Out About Your Husband’s Affair?

Anne: For our listeners, maybe some of you are not familiar with the term “D-day” which I have used a lot on the podcast. It means “discovery day.” The day the addiction was discovered, the day you discovered your husband was lying to you, that he had a secret life; in my case, my worst D-day was when my husband was arrested for domestic violence and I realized the behaviors I had been experiencing for the last seven years were emotional abuse and physical intimidation.

That day, when everything came to a halt. This is what we refer to as D-day. We would love to hear about your D-day and experience. If you go to you can find this podcast and comment anonymously about what happened to you. We also have a secret FB group if you would like to join our community. You can join for free and share your stories there as well.

Amy: If I can actually piggy-back on your story, I think this is one of the most healing things a spouse can do–to tell her story. The more you tell your story, the more healing that happens. This is what I have experienced as well as the women I have worked with. Telling your story is super hard but there is so much healing in sharing. Please tell your stories. 

I confronted my husband and he tried minimizing and lying. Then I decided to relapse myself. I am a recovering drug addict and in my cabinet in my kitchen was some tequila.(one of my clients had flown me down to Florida to shoot their wedding and they had party favors of tequila that had their names on it). This day I grabbed it and my own relapse began and did not end for quite awhile. I wanted to kick him out but I was too busy yelling at him so I didn’t kick him out.

Then I tried to get to the whys and of course, it was all me–everything that I was doing wrong. I went into the “I have to be a perfect wife” because I drove my husband to an affair. It lasted a little while–longer than it should have and then the relapse got worse for me and he was still doing things that I didn’t know he was doing yet; Ied the “recovery” by handing him books and finding him therapists and trying to teach him how to help me. The entire time everything was getting worse for us.

When Pornography Addiction “Recovery” Is A Way For Your Husband To Abuse You

There were more fights. He was getting borderline violent; he didn’t actually hit me but he would trap me in rooms when I wanted to leave a discussion or he would try to force his way into rooms if I didn’t want to have a discussion then and there. The behaviors really escalated. About 15 months of this chaos and unfortunately I did my own sexual acting out; I thought it was revenge and that it would make me feel better. All it did was make me feel worse. T

o this day, it still breaks my heart that I did that. So 15 months later, nothing was better; everything was worse. I clearly had PTSD at this point. The symptoms were there. I was a twitching mess. So I kicked him out. Two days later, the floodgates opened and I found out about all of the porn and the men and the prostitutes and everything else that went along with the sex addictions. For 15 months I thought it was just an affair. And then everything else came out. When he did all of the admitting, he was really broken.

You could see he was legitimately broken. Because I have so much history about recovering from addiction, I know that change is possible. I let him come home because now I had an answer. This is why we haven’t been able to heal–because of addiction; and now we could fix the addiction. I tried to control his recovery because he still wasn’t doing it.

Can I Sleep Around Because My Husband Did (Should I)? Will I Feel Better If I Act Out Too?

Anne: Were you still active in your addiction at this time?

Amy: Yes. I wasn’t fully committed. I would have bouts of sobriety and then I would relapse again. I was still active. Apparently this is my response to a D-day–it was my response; I don’t do this anymore.

Anne: You’re having ups and downs with your own recovery during this time and then you get the bombshell of finding out that he has been looking at porn, that he has been with other men, he’s been visiting prostitutes…where were you then?

Amy: I was a weird mix of terrified and shocked yet hopeful. Again, I believe in the power of recovery. I know that an addict can change. I know it because I changed and I know a ton of addicts that have changed. Actually, some of the addicts I know who have changed are some of the most authentic people you will meet. So I know that change is possible. But I was terrified.

Anne: I feel the same way. Even with what I have been through, my ex-husband is not in recovery…but I have been praying every day that Christ will revive him–literally bring him back from the dead. I watch him and I want so badly for our family to be together even though he is my ex-husband now and even though I hold a no contact boundary because of his lack of emotional health, I still want our family to be together.

I am with you there! I absolutely believe that addicts can change. This is really what breaks your heart. And also what gives you hope! As you are hoping for him to change, what were you doing?

When Gaslighting Leads You To Feel Crazy

Amy: I did my research but it was the wrong research. I ended up in the female co-sex addict codependent books and didn’t find the right path to healing for a long time. I was slowly starting to recover me because I had lost me at this point. I was unrecognizable. Within a couple months of him moving back home after the second large disclosure, that is when the PTSD got insanely bad. Nothing changed when he came home.

All of the behaviors that come along with addiction were there–he was still lying to me, he was angry, he was blaming me for stuff, we were having circular conversations that were making me feel insane. I did not know my reality. Is what he just said true? Am I going crazy?

I really wrestled with this one for a long time. And then I got some form of agoraphobia. I was so triggered whenever I left my bedroom that I basically lived in my room for a year. I remember there was a period for a couple of weeks where just going to the bathroom was traumatic, which sounds traumatic but it really was…I would put my hoodie on and put my hood over my head; for some reason this made me feel safer. I would then literally run to the bathroom like there was this monster in the house going to get me and then run back. My bedroom was like my cocoon. It was the only place I felt safe.

C-PTSD Symptoms Found In Wives Of Sex Addicts Due To Their Related Behaviors Of Abuse & Manipulation

I missed a lot of my life for almost a year in this place. During this, my husband was acting out and claiming his sobriety from the rooftops and that “she’s just crazy.” Actually, later I found out, just after the divorce so not long ago, that his therapist had suggested to him multiple times that I needed mental help because he was afraid for my own safety. My ex-husband chose not to address it with me. He didn’t even acknowledge it despite a trained therapist saying, “Your wife needs help.”

Anne: Was he sleeping in the bedroom with you at the time?

Amy: After he moved home, he was in the bedroom for a very short time and then he was on the couch.

Anne: Ok. So he was not in the bedroom with you and so thus you felt like you had a little bit of a safe place.

Amy: yes. It was my cocoon. We were in a chaotic cycle where the behaviors progressed and he pushed me; once he grabbed my arm because he was arguing and I said we needed to stop the conversation, and he tried to force me to talk to him; he did it so hard that my arms bruised. I didn’t realize this was physical abuse. This thought never crossed my mind. One time he pushed me into my car. He began to get mean with the kids. Everything was escalating and my children were really suffering because mom’s locked in her bedroom and Dad’s gone crazy. It was a really, really rough time period.

Many Women Hit Rock Bottom Before Seeking Help For Betrayal Trauma

Then the depression really kicked in. I stopped eating. I literally did not care about anything. I have a brain condition that gives me migraines. I was on meds for it and I did a bunch of research on how many I would need to take to commit suicide. I counted them out and went out to my car to take them all. This part is a little hard because I have kids I love and I was so depressed that they didn’t even matter. As a mom, this is really, really hard to admit but this is how low things got. I should explain that I have no family and my ex had isolated me from my church and from my friends and so I was literally alone.

Betrayal Trauma Can Lead To Thoughts Of Suicide

So I was sitting in my car with this bottle and I hadn’t been to church in a couple of years and all of the sudden I kept hearing, “Call Robin.” She is a woman from my old church. Robin and I were never close. I knew her and I liked her but it’s not like we were good friends. But I kept feeling this, “Call Robin. Call Robin. Call Robin.” I was like, “I don’t want to call Robin. I’m done with life. I can’t do this anymore.” Somehow I summoned up the nerve to call Robin and I went over to her house and I vomited my entire story onto her. This is the first time I had ever told my entire story. She had no advice. She just listened.

By the end of it, I got angry. All of the sudden I asked her for a sharpie. She was looking at me like I had three heads but she got the sharpie and on my wrists I wrote, “Live free.” That day, I decided I was done and that I was not going to end my life because he couldn’t fix his. This is really when recovery started for me.

Anne: Wow. You have a really powerful story and I really appreciate your candor in sharing this with us today. I am really sorry for all of your pain. I can hear it in your voice. So many of our listeners have felt similar feelings to what you felt. When you decided to recover yourself, what were your first steps?

Amy: The first thing I did was go back to church. I knew that I was so far in a pit that I could not get out of it by myself. I began to read my Bible all of the time and I stopped to listening to secular music and surrounded myself with the word of God. I actually sought out people for the first time and told them my story. I needed help. I was desperate that I didn’t care if you were a rock. If you could help me, I was going to tell you my story because during all of this, I found out that one of my six children was struggling with pornography. It was really bad.

Many Women Loose Faith In God After Experiencing The Lies, Gaslighting, Narcissistic Behaviors Of Pornography Addicts

I began going back to church. I found a couple of different websites that had me doing exercises on visualizing what I wanted my life to be, what my values are; I learned the word “boundary.” I had never heard it. I started reading books and piece by piece, I started getting better. Then I found a FB support group and this is where things began to take off because people understood and I wasn’t crazy; I needed people to tell me I wasn’t crazy because I wasn’t sure. Now I call them my tribe. It’s what it felt like–a tribe, people who had my back.

Anne: Like I said earlier, you can join our secret FB group by going to, scroll down, and select to join our community. Add your email and we will send you an email with the instructions about how to join this group. It’s so fantastic that you were able to find a support group through FB. Now that you had this support, what happened next?

Amy: I figured out what boundaries where and I made them. He faked it for a little while; he was good at faking. Things were not changing and I kicked him out and I filed for divorce. It wasn’t what I wanted but I was literally dieing and so I felt like I had no other options. Somewhere in there I got the job at Covenant Eyes which also significantly helped my healing. We were a month away from divorce when I heard about a program called Teen Challenge, designed for drug addicts. It’s a year-long, live in program.

I felt led to tell my husband at the time that I would stop the divorce and see who he was if he would commit to go to Teen Challenge. At first, when I felt like this is what I was supposed to do, I told God no. We argued about this a lot because I was done and did not want to do this anymore. But I listened and resentfully submitted.

Anne: I totally get it! I have had so many moments like this where I did the surrender process but I did not want to.

Amy: It was like, “I know you want me to do this. I don’t want do this but I will obey anyway because I trust you. So I offered it to him, mostly because I didn’t think he would say yes, but he did. He went away for a year. He quit his job. He lived in the program for a year. He got better for a couple of months and then relapsed in Teen Challenge–or so he told me.

Now he says he didn’t relapse. He has changed the story so many times I do not know the truth, but either way, we was not getting better. He graduated Teen Challenge and seemed better but not good. I was still very afraid of a relapse. There were a lot of red flags to me. He moved in with our pastor for awhile so I could see how he could handle life on the outside. My landlord in the house we lived in gave us 30-days notice because he was selling the house. So I had to find a new rental that would accept my brood of children and animals, while I’m working full-time and still dealing with trauma, so I actually let him move home to help me.

We got the new house and it spiraled very, very quickly over the summer. He went from a fairly soft, sweet guy back to the old bad behaviors of physically threatening me, the anger, the lying…and then I caught him with porn and I kicked him out.

Anne: I can’t imagine what you are feeling–actually I sort of can…so you send him away for a year; you’re doing what God asked you to do; you have faith in God. He has been through the program and he moves back home and it all falls apart again. Right? I’m imagining you were completely devastated at this point?

Amy: I began to go back into PTSD land, where I lived with all of the PTSD symptoms. What made me make the decision to kick him out was the agoraphobia came back again. At this point, I had regained my life. I was an active mom. I was who I was–fun, light, doing things outside in the world, I could handle football games with my son, I was me again–and then this relapse during the summer began and I said, “no. I’m not going there again.”

I gave him a two-week warning and literally, nothing happened. He made no steps towards fixing his relapse. I gave him two-weeks notice and kicked him out.

Anne: How are you feeling about God at this point?

Amy: I’m angry. 

Where Is God When We Are Experiencing The Pain Of Infidelity, Abuse & Abandonment?

Anne: I would be too! I’m thinking God’s told you to send him to this year thing, you’ve been doing life alone, he comes back and he basically hasn’t changed at all. So it’s like, “God, why? Why didn’t you have me end this a year ago?” we’ve all been through this thought process before.

Amy: I just went through a year of basically hell while he was in rehab and he isn’t out even two months and relapses…what am I missing here? Something isn’t adding up. Yes, I was angry. I felt betrayed by God

Anne: I can imagine. What did you do to repair your relationship with God?

Amy: I had to tackle a couple of big triggers: music. I love worship music but all of my worship music reminded me of my husband so I stopped listening to this. One song talks about taking back what the enemy has stolen. For the longest time this song resonated with me and my husband; we were going to take back our marriage. I decided to flip this song around. It wasn’t about my marriage anymore. It was about what the enemy stole from me. One of those things was my faith in God. He didn’t get to have that. He got my marriage but he doesn’t get to have my faith. He doesn’t get to take the pieces of me that I like.

Recovering Your Faith In God After Betrayal

Basically, I declared war on Satan so I tackled every trigger I had around it. Honestly, I yelled at God a lot. I yelled at him some more and more. Every time I did it I felt like he was saying he understood but he had it. I kicked out my husband and he moved 900 miles away. In this process I met Coach Rae. Between Coach Rae and learning what I learned at APSATS, it was like everything flipped and made sense and just in that short period of time, I have done more healing than I did in the two years before that.

Anne: Coach Rae is amazing!

Amy: She is. We got divorced and it was final and I offered reconciliation. If it required repentance and recovery, this has not happened. He has abandoned the kids and has no contact with them at all. Right now this is the hardest part watching my teenage girls going through this abandonment.

Anne: Yes. My ex moved from a city he was living in temporarily back to the city where we lived. He told his friends that he was so excited to move back so he could spend more time with his kids and then from the day he moved back, he did not see the kids for 4 weeks…I know this is not completely abandoning them but it is so interesting that these men do not realize the impact their decisions are having on other people.

I’m so sorry for your children. It stinks but it is so good to know that so many other women understand and are walking this path with us and that we do have support from them. We have amazing professionals like APSATS coaches who help walk us through. We do have God. We are not alone in this journey even when we feel like we are.

Amy Kate will be with us again next week, talking about demystifying the behaviors of sex addicts, a theme she has learned being trained by APSATS and also in her training with the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). I look forward to talking about his aspect of how to understand these behaviors if they do not make any sense.

If this podcast was helpful, please rate it on iTunes. We are also on SoundCloud. Every rating increases our visibility with women who are isolated and need our help. Betrayal Trauma Recovery is a 501(c)(3) and your donations make this podcast possible. Please click here to donate and keep this information coming. Women need it badly!

Thank you, Amy Kate. I will see you next week. 

If you need support, consider joining Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club.

Stay safe out there!

I’m Broken. I’m Exhausted. And I Don’t Know What to Do.

Sometimes, even the most heroic of women finds herself hitting that dreaded “rock bottom.”  You know the one—that moment where our best attempts at healing have flat-out FAILED, hope is at an all-time LOW, and we’re hijacked somewhere between desperate (“Please throw me a life vest!”) and dead inside (“I honestly don’t care anymore.”) Life as we’ve known it implodes or explodes, and we truly don’t know how to salvage ourselves from beneath the wreckage. 

All we really DO know is this: SOMETHING. MUST. CHANGE. 

The survival of our hearts and souls depend upon it.

So, Then What?

For women reeling from the trauma of sex addiction, “rock bottom” can be the darkest, most horrific moment of our lives. Yet for those of us who survive that moment of despair? It can morph, with breathtaking momentum, into a life we honestly didn’t even know was ours for the taking.

Because I don’t believe in gracious little soundbites (at least not without the guts to back them up), here’s a little glimpse into my own “rock bottom” story. I wrote this in my journal two years ago, on the eve my 9-year recovery “birthday.” It’s an intimate little piece of my most private experience, but honored to share it here with my BTR sisters… even though I still can’t read it without crying. 

July 21, 2015

Before recovery, I thought I understood the concept of “hitting bottom.” At the very least, I’d watched it happen to addicts on television. Wasn’t “hitting bottom” the point where addicts lost their grip on everything that mattered, when life no longer felt worth living?

As the partner of a recovering sex addict, it took two years of excruciating efforts for me to reach my very own “rock bottom” moment. By the time I did, I desperately needed to STOP banging my head against a concrete wall, one emblazoned with slogans like “Please be honest,” and “Just say no!” I needed to stop bruising my hands black-and-blue, trying to squeeze water from a granite rock, one inscribed with seductive phrases like “I wish you would,” and “If only you could.” And just as addicts need to get desperate enough to fight for their recovery, willing to do anything it takes to get sober, that’s precisely what I needed, too: I needed to get desperate for my own healing, willing to do anything it took to change the way I was living.

After two years of forcing my marriage (unsuccessfully) to become what I wanted, I finally released my iron grip (no joke) and whispered these words to into the universe:

“Okay. You win. I’m done. I give up. I’m willing to stop trying to fix this marriage, my-way-or-no-way, against prevailing odds. I’m scared to death about whatever comes next, but I’m going to let go and let You take over. I’ll work with whatever marriage You have in mind for me, not the one I’ve been fighting so hard to make happen. I’m even willing to leave this marriage, (God, this is killing me), if that’s the ultimate solution to this mess that I’m living. In the meantime, I’m a wreck. I’m broken. I’m exhausted. And I really, really, really don’t know what to do.”

With that whispered prayer, I confronted my deepest fears about the war I’d been waging: I faced my dread that somehow, despite my best efforts, I could end up with another divorce on my record, withering at the end of a second failed marriage.

That was my bottom. Yes, it was awful. And no, I honestly DIDN’T know what would happen next.

Years later, as I look back on that day, I’m choking back tears all over again. I pause for a moment to honor the guts I poured into those whispered words, the vulnerability I scraped from the deepest part of my little-girl soul.

That night, seven years ago, I cried because I thought my marriage was over. 

Tonight, I’m crying because it wasn’t.

I’m minutes away from midnight, on the eve of my recovery birthday. I’m feeling more emotional than usual, as a decade of memories hover around the glow of my laptop. It feels good to write about recovery on this occasion, wrapped within the comfort of hindsight and reflection. Here in the dark, amidst this chorus of crickets, I realize that I’m waiting for the clock to strike twelve. This may sound silly, but I want to be the first person to wish me “Happy Birthday.” It might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I WANT that meaningful moment to remember, just between me, myself and I.

Because, after all, who else really understands what it took to get here?

Are you hitting your own rock bottom? 
You’re not alone, sister! Most of us need HELP to rise from that moment of meltdown—to stare down the darkness, talk back to the trauma, and overcome the fear that’s been holding us hostage. For us as women, seeking support is NOT a sign of failure or weakness—it’s actually one of the most beautiful, courageous and empowering steps we can take.

Here at BTR, our coaches understand the “guts and grace” reality of hitting rock bottom, and we strive to help you make this pain COUNT.

Have you already risen from your own rock bottom? Click here to schedule a support call

I’d love to hear more! Please share your story in the comments below, or email me at

Discovering My Husband’s Devastating, Disturbing Secret

Today we have a brave woman sharing her D-Day story.  

If you are interested in sharing your D-Day story please email me at

I’d also like to ask those of you who are working the SALifeline Twelve Step Betrayal Trauma Recovery program with a sponsor to consider sharing on this podcast as part of your Step Twelve work. I’m grateful for those who went before me to share their stories and help me find this program. It’s wonderful to help others come to the program too.  So here is one of my sisters sharing her story:

I wanted to do a share about my D-Day, mostly because today is the three year anniversary of my D-Day.

My Husband A Pornography Addict? No Way.

Three years ago, it was a Sunday and I had been at church. At that time I had a young colicky baby. So church for me meant a lot of walking the halls and dealing with sad baby.  But that particular day the third hour of church they had a special kind of visitor come. It was two missionaries from the LDS church’s addiction recovery program specifically on pornography recovery.

They came and talked to the women and the men of my congregation about the addiction recovery program and about their stories. I only was able to hear a little of it because I was in and out with the baby. But I was just thinking at the time “Wow, I’m so grateful I don’t have to deal with that.”  

So we went home after church and we got the baby and my older daughter down for a nap and I was just talking to my husband and I said something like, “I’m really glad that you don’t have that problem so we don’t have to deal with it.”

And he got this look on his face, just this like green, almost sick look.  

And I said, “Am I right? We don’t have to deal with that, right?”

And I had thought, I mean I had thought it wasn’t even an issue. Before we got married I had asked him about it, he had told me he was fine, and so in my mind I had covered that.  But he hadn’t been truthful because, hello, addict!  So we had been living a lie.  

So, his face goes green, and he said, “Actually I have a problem.” And went on to shatter my life. It was three days before our three year wedding anniversary which really pissed me off too, let’s be honest, because it just, I mean I was looking forward to our anniversary.  I can’t even remember right now what we had planned, probably just dinner, but it just changed the whole thing.

I kept thinking. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I wondered, “Do I check up on him? How do I check cookies? How will I know if my husband is lying again?”

And after that I just froze – Is My Husband Really Unfaithful?  

I felt like I couldn’t trust my husband anymore that trust was completely shattered and I didn’t know where to go from there. I am one who struggles, who has struggled with emotions.  Dealing with, sharing with, just feeling emotions. I grew up in a home where especially negative emotions were not ok.  We, my siblings and I joke that we grew up in, like our family is British.  We don’t talk about real things. We don’t talk about negative emotion. We don’t talk about depression, or anxiety, or pornography addiction.  

I didn’t know how to handle it, so I just froze.  It took me a long time to start my own recovery.  In fact it wasn’t until this year when my husband had another relapse and I just kind of was done and decided to stop focusing on him and started focusing on me, and that has helped me to be in recovery.

It’s kind of been neat for me to look back on this the third anniversary of my D-Day and see just the crushed person I was back then because I was, I was so crushed and so sure that it would lead to divorce or sadness or just how it effected the next, you know, two or three years of my life where I was terrified to have another child with him or terrified to make any plans because my fear of the future was so great.

But then now, today, being where I am, where I have a sponsor, I’m in good recovery, I’ve found my serenity, and luckily my husband has been working too, I’ve been blessed with that so he’s been in recovery and our relationship is the best it’s ever been.  So I guess I just wanted to share my experience of D-Day those crushing feelings that I’m sure others recognize and just kind of where I am now these three years later that you can have good recovery and you don’t have to let one moment destroy your life.  It definitely works when you work it!  I’ve seen that and I’m just really grateful for the programs available and for the support I have and where it’s led me.

Anne: Those of you interested in scheduling a support call with one of our APSATS coaches, to explore how she can help you in your recovery process, click here