9 Steps To Heal From Betrayal Trauma
If you’ve spent years stuck in cycles of your husband’s abuse & addiction, this checklist will save you from years more. At BTR, abuse means lies, porn use, infidelity, manipulation, gaslighting, emotional abuse, and narcissistic behaviors. This list will help you create an emotionally safe home.
Step 1: Open Up To A Safe Person
Examples of unsafe statements include:
- You need to be supportive of his recovery.
- Don’t be angry or he won’t feel comfortable enough to tell the truth.
- It’s just porn. Why are you so upset?
- Don’t do anything to shame him. Shame will make him act out.
- It’s not right to shun someone. Don’t push him away.
- The real / only problem is that you won’t forgive and trust your husband.
- Don’t tell anyone about your husband’s porn use or abuse. It would ruin his reputation, job, or church standing.
- What did you do?
- Are you meeting his sexual needs?
Someone who tells you outright or implies that you have any responsibility for his lies, abuse & infidelity isn’t safe. Someone who tells you outright or implies that you need to endure abuse to protect & enable the abuser is not safe.
In order to create safety, we recommend taking another woman who understands the abusive nature of porn use to go with you if / when you talk to clergy or a therapist about your husband’s abuse & infidelity. If clergy or therapist doesn’t believe you or proves to be an unsafe person, seek help elsewhere.
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Step 2: Make A Daily Self-care Plan
Step 3: Schedule An Appointment With Your OB-GYN Or Midwife
Step 4: Establish A Safe Network
Step 5: Don't Try To Identify The Cause Of His Abusive Behaviors
Step 6: Couple's Therapy Isn't The Right Place To Start
Too many professionals & clergy provide counsel without holding the perpetrator accountable for his abuse & infidelity, minimizing the seriousness of his behavior. In the interim, consider communicating with your husband’s therapist or clergy only to report specific abusive behaviors, including: lying, porn use, and verbal abuse, taking a safe woman with you to reduce the likelihood of the appointment causing further trauma.
Step 7: Learn About Boundaries
Though every situation is unique, victims need boundaries. Consider the following boundaries:
- Allocate time, energy and money toward your own healing, not just toward his recovery
- Abstain from sex
- Request a therapeutic disclosure, ideally in conjunction with a therapeutic polygraph
- Detach from abusive and manipulative conversations
- Sleep / live in separate parts of the house
- Explore a temporary or indefinite separation
- Choose to limit or eliminate all contact for a period of time
*BTR does not advocate for divorce. BTR’s aim is to help you establish emotional safety for yourselves and your children, in whatever form that takes.
Step 8: Hold Appropriate Boundaries & Establish An Emotionally Safe Home
Until your husband can make and maintain those changes without resentment toward you, hold boundaries to keep yourself safe. If he exhibits the following behaviors, it’s a sign he is capable of sharing your emotionally safe home . . .
- Honest and humble
- Willingness to meet your needs without anger, resentment, or retaliation
- Accountable for his lies, porn use, masturbation, and infidelity
- Accountable for his emotional abuse, deception, manipulation, and gaslighting
- Continually making restitution for his lies, infidelity, and abuse
Step 9: Be Kind To Yourself
Learn How To Establish Peace
- Have you discovered porn or texts on your husband’s phone?
- Have you had conversations with your husband that don’t make sense?
- Do you have a feeling that something isn’t right in your marriage?