Victims of betrayal and abuse often feel paralyzed when they consider leaving their partner – the uncertainty, sadness, and confusion can make it feel impossible to ditch your divorce fears.
Coach Debra, divorce expert, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to empower women to work through their divorce fears and find the peace and safety they need. Read the full transcript below and listen to the BTR podcast for more.
Ditch Your Divorce Fears: Money, Kids, Conflict
Coach Debra shares that the main three fears that women face when deciding whether or not to divorce are money, kids, and conflict:
“Very often, women have money on their minds. They have been kept out of the loop, in terms of family finances, or they’re stay-at-home moms or lower earners, and they’re really worried about can they support themselves. They’re often worried about the impact this is going to have on their children, and they’re worried about the conflict because we know when we’re married to abusers, they don’t like to be told no. So when we say, no more, I’m done, they don’t like to take that as an answer because that’s a pretty hard boundary we’re setting.”Coach Debra, Betrayal Trauma Recovery
How Do I Face My Divorce Fears?
The fears that victims face regarding divorce are real and valid. Victims can work through these fears by honoring the reality that divorce is hard, but divorcing an abuser is hard on an entirely different level.
Fears regarding money, kids, and conflict are more easily resolved when victims use a strategic mindset.
Steps To Take Today To Ditch Your Divorce Fears
You can begin ditching your divorce fears today by taking a few steps in the direction of educating and preparing yourself. Coach Debra shares some practical steps:
- Begin gathering financial information, such as tax returns, W2s, and pay stubs.
- Do not tell your partner that you are considering divorce – yet. Wait until you have made a firm decision.
- Begin researching attorneys in your area.
- Establish a simple, daily self-care routine that includes adequate nutrition and hydration so that your basic needs are being met.
BTR Supports You
At BTR we understand the agony of the decision to divorce. We also understand how difficult it can be to ditch those divorce fears.
With support, self-care, and empowerment through education, we know that you can get to safety and create the beautiful, peaceful life that you deserve.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is here for you – to offer you the support, validation, and compassion that you need as you begin your healing journey. Join today.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, called BTRG for short, is a daily online support group. So, when I say join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, I’m not talking about just any betrayal support group out there. I’m talking about our group, the group we run, it’s only available here.
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 do recommend that the first time that you join from a desktop or a laptop, it’s just easier to navigate it. And once you’ve done it once or twice from your laptop, then joining from your phone is simple. Check out the session schedule; we’d love to see you in a session today.
Rate the BTR Podcast
For everyone who has given this podcast, a five-star rating and perhaps even a review 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 make a big difference. Here’s a five-star review we received on Apple podcasts – it’s titled “Lifeline”: This podcast has been exactly what I’ve needed. I’ve spent too much money on counseling when they truly didn’t understand the situation. BTR truly gets it. I feel this podcast is empowering and gives the facts about what’s really going on so that I can focus on healing. I’ve joined the BTR Group and look forward to more healing and shared experiences with the women. Thank you, Anne, so much for creating this podcast.
Coach Debra on the BTR Podcast
On today’s episode, I have one of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery coaches, Coach Debra. She is an amazing part of our team. She coaches many Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group sessions as well as individual sessions and specializes in helping women navigate divorce or assess whether or not they want to take that step, and so I’ve invited Debra to talk about divorce today. From time to time she runs a workshop of ours called Ditch Your Divorce Fears. Some of you may have seen that floating around. It fills up quickly, so if you see it and you’re interested in it, please sign up as fast as you can because we only do it every so often and it fills up really fast. Welcome, Debra.
Debra: Oh, thanks. I’m so happy to be here.
“Ditch Your Divorce Fears” Workshop
Anne: You have a workshop that is a three-hour workshop with a 16-page curriculum that you developed, and you also work one on one with women in individual sessions, and you also talk about divorce in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group in a very, you know, limited way in the amount of time that people have there. Why do you think the thought of divorce is so scary for most women?
Debra: There are so many reasons and they’re always individual, but there are three common themes, I usually hear. Money, kids, and conflict. So, very often, women have money on their minds. They have been kept out of the loop, in terms of family finances, or they’re stay-at-home moms or lower earners, and they’re really worried about can they support themselves. They’re often worried about the impact this is going to have on their children, and they’re worried about the conflict because we know when we’re married to abusers, they don’t like to be told no. So when we say no more, I’m done, they don’t like to take that as an answer because that’s a pretty hard boundary we’re setting then.
“Sometimes You Have To Pick Your Hard”
Anne: And we have seen with the abuse situation, it usually gets a lot worse before it gets better. So that divorce period of actually filing and going through divorce gets really sticky and tricky and traumatic for women, for a substantial period of time.
Debra: Yeah, but one of the things that I tell clients when we’re on the fence, and we’re working through that decision is sometimes you have to pick your hard because it’s also hard to stay married to an abuser who’s not in recovery. So, yes, it’s going to be hard to go through the divorce process. But the alternative of staying in that really dysfunctional relationship is hard too.
Helping Women Seek Peace & Safety
Anne: the thing that so many women appreciate about Betrayal Trauma Recovery Services is our goal to give women information, and then to validate and support them. So, there’s never going to be a time when someone comes to BTR where we say you have to get divorced, right. That’s what you have to do and just suck it up and do it. We like to give women the education that they need, give them their options, and then help them assess what’s right for them. Can you talk about how you as a coach support women through making their own decisions and helping validate and support their experience?
Debra: That’s really the foundation of coaching. To help a client self-discover what is the best option for them. The first thing we do is help clients seek peace and safety. So, we’re helping them set the boundaries that they need, helping them observe their partner’s patterns of behavior, determining if they need to set the next boundary and the next boundary and the next boundary. So, when the boundaries that they’ve been trying to set aren’t working and they have to set tighter and tighter or stronger and stronger boundaries, that’s when we start to see separation or financial separation or starting to take those bigger steps. So, when they get to that point, that’s when the word divorce starts coming up in their mind and they start thinking, hmm, I wonder if this is going to have to be the next step I take. This whole idea of parallel paths so you can be working on your marriage and praying that your husband recovers, and at the same time, getting yourself knowledgeable about what would it look like if I took this other path toward divorce.
“How Will I Know When It’s Time To Go?”
Anne: Yeah, I think that’s a really good way to go about making that decision. It’s sort of like when I think maybe I would want to go on a vacation, right. I plan out a vacation, I see if I can afford it, I see where I would stay, I see all of those things. I basically plan the whole thing out before I even make the decision about whether or not I’m going to go, and then I can see, this isn’t really going to work. It’s going to be too expensive or there’s really not a good place for small children in this area of the world, or whatever. And I think, going through the motions, let’s put it, of assessing what would actually happen in this case, what are my options really helps people.
Debra: Well, it does, and I think also for many women we go back and forth for quite a long time. And people ask me all the time, “How will I know when it’s time to go?” And I say, you will have a crystallin moment of clarity. There comes for most women, a time when the heavens open up, a spotlight shines down, and you know today’s the day. And I say to them what I want is when that happens for you, when you have that moment of clarity, I want you to be ready and not afraid. So, if we have all this information, and you know what divorce is going to look like, and you’ve had the consultations you need, and you have the numbers you need, and you know what you’re stepping into then when the heavens open up and the spotlight shines on you, and you know, today’s the day. You’ll simply nod your head and say, okay, today’s the day. I’m not scared.
Why the “Ditch Your Divorce Fears” Workshop Is Essential For Abuse Victims
Anne: And that day might never come. Right.
Debra: It might never. It might be next week it might be a year from now. It might never come, but if it does, you’ll be ready.
Anne: There are so many things that those of us who have gone through divorce wish we would have known long before we even started considering it because it would have helped prepare us. And so, I’d like women to think about when you’re in high school and you take adult roles for example or you take a cooking class or you take driver’s ed or whatever it is, you need like a divorce class. A place where you can learn about these are the consequences, these are the things you’re going to face long before you ever even need to consider it. I think it’s really smart for women to know what they’re facing, maybe even before they’re ready to make a decision, or maybe even before they’re considering it. Sort of like how we wish all women were educated about abuse, long before they were in an abusive marriage.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Can Help You Ditch Your Divorce Fears
Anne: At Betrayal Trauma Recovery women join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our online daily support group. We have multiple sessions a day in every single time zone. Right now, Coach Debra, how many sessions do you facilitate?
Debra: I believe I do five.
Anne: Okay. Coach Debra, can you talk about the difference between the really in-depth help that women can get? I guess there are two completely different things and can you just kind of talk about the differences? They’re both really positive, in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and individual sessions when someone’s considering divorce.
Individual Coaching VS. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
Debra: Sure. So, in group, we could tackle a particular thing, a particular high-level issue. For instance, can you give me a few tips for how it might be appropriate to talk to a six-year-old about this? And so, in three or four minutes I might be able to give a couple of high-level tips about the age-appropriate conversation. Great. In an individual session, we can look at your finances, we can look at your budget, we can talk through a strategy for you to get back to work. I can help you make negotiation decisions. We can really get into the meat of it. We can talk about how to pick the right attorney for your case, who else you might need on your team. Like we can really dive into the details of your particular situation that probably aren’t appropriate for group, and so you can get really individual stuff there. It makes a big difference to actually be able to look at your spreadsheets and your numbers and especially if you haven’t been involved in your finances, let me educate you about some of that.
BTR Coaches Can Help You Ditch Your Divorce Fears
Anne: Many women in our community are both members of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, and they also from time to time do individual sessions with coaches with specific things that they need in-depth help with. So, we always recommend that if you feel like man, I’m just not getting quite enough share time in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group that you consider scheduling an individual session with one of our coaches depending on what issue you’re coming up with. For example, Coach Joanne is excellent with health problems because she’s also a nurse for issues like that. So, going back to divorce, what are the first steps someone should take if they think divorce might be in their future?
Debra: Actually, the first thing I want to say is what you shouldn’t do. Please do not tell your spouse. I don’t want you to put that out there yet until we have a chance to do a little bit of planning. In my workshop Ditch Your Divorce Fears ditch is actually an acronym, and the first letter D is decide. So, the very first thing I want you to do is work through the decision. Are you really ready to seriously consider it? Because it shouldn’t be a threat in the heat of the moment, it shouldn’t be a punishment, it shouldn’t be anything like that. It should be something you’re really seriously considering. So that’s probably the first thing, and then the next thing is, let’s start getting you educated about this process.
Ditch Your Divorce Fears By Becoming Educated About Divorce
So, there’s the way you end your marriage, which is divorce contested, or dissolution which is uncontested. We can talk about all the different ways you can do this. Mediation, pro se, you do it yourself. So, I want you to start getting familiar with this glossary of terms that sound like a foreign language and how things work in your state, and then we start stepping down into, let’s look at your finances, let’s talk about what you would want in your parenting plan, does your budget line up, or do we need to start doing some career planning, let’s dream about what would you like to do if you went back to work. Let’s do a little bit of education around the language so it doesn’t feel scary. You were talking about planning a trip, you wouldn’t plan a trip to go over to France or Spain without a dictionary or having learned a little bit of the language so that you can find a bathroom or find a restaurant, right.
“Fear Is A Limiting Belief”
What I want to do is talk about is fears because fear is a limiting belief in a lot of cases. So, I just want to make sure that you aren’t deciding not to divorce because a fear that’s not rooted in truth, is standing in your way. I tell this story all the time. I have a client I had, who lived out in the San Francisco Bay area where it’s expensive to live and she thought, I can never, ever afford to leave there’s just no way. I’m miserable, I want to leave, but I can’t afford to. And when we looked at the numbers her budget was only short $1,000 a month. And she said, see, I can never afford to leave. And I said well, what if we broke this down and said, that means you need to find a way to earn $250 a week. And she said, oh, you’re right, I can do that. So, I just want to look and say, is that fear that’s holding you back really?
I want to talk about this: is divorce really worse for kids or is staying in abuse worse for kids? I just want to make sure it’s not a false fear that’s holding them back. I’m not trying to get them to decide. I just want them to have truth. At BTR we are all about all truth all the time.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Anne: I’m 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 also 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. When you go to our books page and click on any of those books, it just takes you directly to Amazon and you can throw those books in your cart. After you have purchased the book, please remember to circle back around to Amazon and write a verified purchase review, along with a five-star rating. That helps isolated women find us, it bumps Trauma Mama Husband Drama up in the Amazon algorithm, and even if women don’t purchase the book, it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.
Review Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Here is a five-star review we received on Amazon. It’s titled: Wish I had this years ago. If you or someone you know is suffering from betrayal trauma, you should buy this book. It’s an incredible resource with beautiful illustrations written in a powerful yet simple way as to not overload a trauma brain. When I was in the thick of it, I struggled to focus or concentrate on anything and had to leave my beloved career due to that, and the overwhelming and debilitating pain and fatigue that hit me hard. Betrayal Trauma is a serious life-changing form of PTSD that can take years of work to recover from. If this book would have been around back when the gaslighting and manipulation began over five years ago, because he was starting an affair, it would have given me so much strength to know what I was dealing with much earlier instead of believing his lies and cowering, which was totally unlike me. And if I would have had it a decade earlier, I would have understood that I was being abused by my first husband’s porn use and got out earlier instead of it eating me up inside and killing our marriage years before it finally ended.
Thank you for such a thorough review. When you buy Trauma Mama Husband Drama on Amazon please circle back. These really detailed reviews bump up the algorithm on Amazon, and they help women find us. So, if they find the book on Amazon, even if they don’t buy it, it helps women find the podcast which is free to everyone. So. thank you, those of you who’ve taken the time to do that.
Alright, now back to our conversation with Coach Debra.
“Divorce Isn’t Something We Take Lightly At All”
Anne: Yeah, and it’s painful, especially when so many of us come from a religious background and divorce isn’t something we take lightly at all. In fact, we feel like we’ve made serious vows, not only to our spouse but to God. So, considering divorce feels like not just maybe “betraying our husband,” I’m going to say that in quotes because obviously, we’re not, because he betrayed us. Also, in so many ways feels like we’re betraying God.
Debra: That can be a fear that we have to work through. So that’s another one of those fears. Decide really just means facing our fears. Decide to face our fears, see if they’re real. If they’re false we’re going to find a way to face them.
Ditch Your Divorce Fears By Getting Prepared
Anne: If someone decides that they do want to go ahead and divorce, is there anything that they can do to prepare?
Debra: The number one thing is to start learning about your finances, and specifically, think about what your life might look like afterward because regardless of the conflict, and regardless of the parenting, divorce is breaking a legal contract about money, for the most part. That’s what a lot of the decisions are going to be about. That’s what the law is written about. So, the first thing I want you to do is understand the money that’s involved. Do you have access to your tax returns, your husband’s pay stub, or W2? Do you know how much is in your retirement account, how much your house is worth, what’s the balance on your mortgage? Do you know what your monthly expenses are?
I want you to start gathering some of this financial information. And then the second step would be we’ll go consult with some attorneys. It’s good to have the financial information before you consult with an attorney so that an attorney can give you an estimate of spousal support and child support. That’s what we need to help fill in our budget. If one of your fears is, well, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, I don’t think I can support myself. Well then, the income line in your budget is mostly going to be child support and spousal support so that’s important information for us to know. We can’t know that unless we know what some of your financials are, so we need to know what your husband earns. That’s what the attorney needs to know in order to give you an estimate of that. So, I want you to gather some of the financials before you run off to consult with attorneys that way that meeting will be much more productive for you.
“You Are An Expert On Your Husband”
Anne: If a woman decides that she does want to divorce, she’s prepared, she’s worked with a coach, for example, she’s done everything she needs to do and she’s ready to do it. When is the right time to tell her husband that she wants a divorce?
Debra: I always say you are an expert on your husband.
Anne: So never? So never is the right time.
Debra: This is individual, but I would say when you’re ready to either file or mediate. So, if you have reason to believe that he’s going to be the kind of guy that will move the paycheck into a separate account and not give you access to money. You know, one of the preparation steps that, and we’ll go through this in the workshop, but it’s setting up a bank account, making sure you have emergency funds, doing those things because a dirty divorce trick abusers like to play is they’ll move their paycheck and not give you access to any money. So, if you think that that’s the case, then you tell him the same day you file the paperwork.
“It Was Shocking & Upsetting, But I Made The Right Decision”
Anne: I think it’s interesting that so many women in our community, me included, did not think that our husband was like that. And then we found out that, no, he is like this, and it was shocking to us during the divorce process. So, I think that’s a warning to women that you may think, oh no, he would never do that he would always support us, that kind of a thing and then you find out whoa. Like in my case, he’s shut down our bank account. In so many cases that happens and really the abuse starts to be very overt, where perhaps before it was covert. You know for me, it was shocking and upsetting but it was also like, I guess I made the right decision.
Debra: It’s confirmation, yeah.
Anne: Yeah, because it was like, whoa, he’s getting more and more abusive through this, not less. And you are going to be hurt by it, but you can also think, oh, okay, this is another sign that I’m making the right decision.
Preparation Can Help You Ditch Your Divorce Fears
Debra: We as women have such a tendency to wait until the bullets start flying before we put on our armor, and I want women who are in abusive relationships to know if he says you know, don’t worry, I’m going to be fair, don’t worry, I’ll always take care of you and the kids, let’s not assume that’s true. If this is a person that’s been deceiving you for a decade, I’m not sure we should take that statement at face value. Let’s prepare and assume it’s not true and if it does turn out to be true that he does negotiate in good faith and he does take care of you. That’ll be a bonus.
Anne: Because this is someone who looked you straight in the eye and said, “Of course I’m not using porn,” and was using porn. Or, “Of course I’m faithful to my marriage vows,” and was having an affair or whatever. So, we know this is not a trustworthy person.
“This Is The Decision I’ve Made For Me”
Debra: Let’s just make sure we have on our Kevlar vest, just in case. So, the best time to tell him is when it’s done. This is another thing a coach can help with is preparing you for that conversation. Now, one alternative is not to have the conversation. If you are already separated, you can simply file have him served and call it a day. If you want to have a conversation, the conversation is very simple. It is this is a decision I’ve made. It’s what I need to do for myself. When he rails against it, you can say I hear you’re mad, I hear you’re upset, I hear this isn’t the way you wanted it to go. This is the decision I’ve made for me. He’s going to throw accusations at you, and you don’t need to defend yourself, you don’t need to explain why you chose to do it. You don’t have to tell them all the ways he hurt you, you simply repeat, “This is a decision I felt like I needed to make.”
Anne: And that is the best option to keep you out of their abuse. So, if you try to explain it or you’re hoping somehow that they’re doing this they will groom you again, you’re thinking they’ll tell me no, I love you, I’ll change or whatever, which is really just going to be grooming. If you’re looking for something for them to do, it’s only going to put you in the way of more abuse.
“We Don’t Mention Divorce Until We Are Doing It”
Debra: Correct. We don’t mention divorce until we are doing it. It is never a threat, it’s never an incentive, it’s never a punishment. Once you mentioned divorce, you must follow through. So, this conversation is only a notification conversation. Then he may throw what the legal world calls declarations, you’ll never get a penny, you’ll never see the children, I’m getting full custody, you’ll be homeless, whatever these declarations are that they’re making. My best response to that is to say, we’ll see. That’s it. This is not a time where you’re going to negotiate, I don’t want you to fight back, I don’t want you to explain. You simply say this is a decision that I feel like I need to make. If he throws those accusations or declarations out, you simply say, we’ll see. That’s it, that’s the end of the conversation
Anne: That is very smart. You know, so many of us have learned the hard way, like what we did, didn’t work. I assure you, listeners, that you may feel like well I could never do that thing, or I couldn’t say that, or you know I’d have to explain to him or something. You don’t have to take our word for it, but I wish I would have had someone like Coach Debra in my life, and that I would have put my trust in her because she genuinely knows what she’s talking about and I would have fared better, and I would have had a less traumatic experience. It feels counterintuitive. So many of the things, boundaries feel counterintuitive right, because we love this person, we want to explain to them what’s going on, but you can’t explain to your abuser why his abuse is hurting you, without getting abused more. So, it just doesn’t work. Anyway, we’ve tried and tried and tried and my guess is the reason why you’re here listening to Betrayal Trauma Recovery is that you’ve tried a lot of different things too, and you’ve realized through your own experience that it doesn’t work as well.
Work With A BTR Coach To Ditch Your Divorce Fears
We talked about this a little bit at the beginning of today’s episode about the difference between Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and individual sessions at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Can you go more in-depth about why it’s important to work with a coach when you’re considering divorce rather than just sort of perhaps just an attorney for example, or maybe just getting support from your sister or something like that?
Debra: I just demonstrated one of them, helping you plan for that conversation so that it goes well, and you can stay as safe as possible in that conversation. If you let your emotions or your amygdala, your lizard brain, that fight, flight or freeze, or fawn reflex drive what you’re doing in the divorce you won’t fare as well. If we can keep you calm and emotionally regulated so that you can make really informed strategic decisions, you will do a lot better emotionally, financially, relationally, you’ll be a better mom through the process. You’ll help your kids navigate the process better. Your attorney is not an expert on the emotions in divorce, they’re an expert in the legal process.
The Right Experts Can Help You Through The Trauma Of Divorce
Anne: And a lot of women want to sort of talk to their attorney a lot, getting validation from their attorney, or even want their attorney to be their therapist, which is a very expensive way to go. Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and the workshop that Coach Debra does and individual sessions with Coach Debra are much less expensive than an attorney’s hourly fee.
Debra: And I’m better at it.
Debra: Just to say that I’m better at supporting women in trauma than an attorney is. They’re not skilled at it, trained at it, and they haven’t been through it.
Anne: Don’t look to your attorney for emotional support or validation or anything like that. That is not what their job is and it’s not what they’re trained to do. And it will be frustrating and extremely expensive
“You Need Somebody Really Strong In Your Corner”
Debra: And they won’t help you be a better mom and stay grounded and make the best decisions for you. They’ll tell you what the law says about how it works. The other thing is often mediation can be a decent choice, even with abusive guys, sometimes, if you can stand on your own well, and your courts are really backed up. But you have to be prepared for that, and you need somebody really strong in your corner to help you prepare for mediation.
Anne: So, if you see Coach Debra’s Ditch Your Divorce Fears workshop floating around, we’ll usually post about it on Facebook so follow us on Facebook to see it there. We also email our email list about it, when the workshop opens up, so make sure that you’re a member of our community and that you’re getting our email. The first time we ran Ditch Your Divorce Fears it filled up in what, Coach Debra, a day 24 hours?
Debra: Yeah, less than 24 hours.
Join the Ditch Your Divorce Fears Workshop
Anne: So, it fills up very quickly. When you see it, if you’re interested, sign up right away. We’ll be running it several times a year so that you can get the 16-page workbook and also that really in-depth upfront information from that workshop that everyone needs, really, that she should have been teaching in high school. So, if you can’t wait for that workshop, which many women can’t, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a great place to get really condensed spot coaching about small issues, but if you really need to dive into this, scheduling an individual session with Coach Debra is the best way to go.
Thank you, Coach Debra. You’re amazing, and you’re an amazing part of our team.
Deborah: I love it. I love it. BTR is an amazing organization. I love helping women have what I wish I’d had.
Anne: Yeah, me too. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.