It may feel impossible right now when your partner has betrayed you, abused you, and devalued you, but you can become fearless, free, and uncontrollable.
Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 Initiative joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to empower victims to understand how they can find liberation from abuse and experience their own “chair-burning” moments. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
What does it mean to be fearless?
Tom Pryde explains:
“Fearless is not about the absence of fear, but rather it’s the presence of courage in the face of fear. And I can be fearless by simply doing what’s right, taking the steps necessary to protect myself.
My image for this is when I liked to play ice hockey when I was younger. And when you’re out on the ice, and that puck is whizzing around, I’ve been hit without pads by a hockey puck. Shot really, really hard. And it was very, very painful, bruised up. But when somebody winds up for a slap shot, and you’ve got pads from head to toe, that thing’s just going to bounce off your pads. And so, you’re fearless because you’ve protected yourself, you’ve done the necessary things to take those steps. It isn’t that the puck is not a fearsome thing. And it’s not that it wouldn’t hurt if something happens. It’s just that I now have taken the steps necessary to diminish my fear.”Tom Pryde, Psalm 82 Initiative
Victims can work toward becoming fearless by setting safety boundaries, distancing themselves from harmful and abusive behaviors.
Victims become free from their abusers when they are able to make decisions based upon what is best for themselves, rather than making decisions out of fear or trying to guess what their abuser wants them to do.
When victims feel ownership of their own minds and thoughts, their own decisions and choices, they are free from their abusers.
Some power phrases that victims can use as they work toward freedom include:
- I am capable of making good decisions
- I know what is best for myself
- I give myself permission to take however long I need to when making decisions
- I am patient with myself when I struggle with making choices
“That’s the uncontrollable part, that strength of will that says no, I’m going to do what’s right and I’m going to do that regardless of what you say. That kind of uncontrollable spirit is embedded in there.”Tom Pryde, Psalm 82 Initiative
Victims can and will become uncontrollable as they set safety boundaries that separate them from abuse. Support, self-care, and education about trauma and abuse can help victims work toward the safety they need to become uncontrollable.
BTR Is Here For You
At BTR we understand how overwhelming it can feel to work toward freedom from abuse.
That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets every single day in every time zone.
Join today and find the community that you need as you seek support on your journey to healing.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Before we get to today’s episode, there are a lot of so-called betrayal trauma therapists, or coaches or professionals, or groups out there. I talked with a woman who listened to my podcast, let’s call her Bridget, and after listening to this podcast, Bridget knew she needed help for betrayal trauma. And instead of coming to our website and joining our group, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, she just got online and googled the term “betrayal trauma” and found a so-called betrayal trauma coach elsewhere.
She didn’t realize the difference between our services here a BTR and a generic so-called betrayal trauma professional. And so of course, the coach that she found wasn’t a BTR coach from Betrayal Trauma Recovery, our organization. And even though this coach claimed to understand betrayal trauma, Bridget had a terrible experience. After trying to help this so-called expert understand her situation over several sessions, Bridget stopped scheduling sessions with her. A lot of so-called professionals throw around the phrase betrayal trauma, but they actually don’t know how to help women in session. Some of them even do a great online presentation or YouTube video, but once you get in session, they start to focus on your part of the problem. They just don’t get it. When women find so-called betrayal trauma professionals elsewhere, not here, it’s hit and miss. And many women come back to us more traumatized because of the experience that they had.
Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we know how to actually help women. 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. Our clinical director, Coach Joi, and I personally train every coach at BTR. Not that they need much training. They don’t join the team in the first place unless they really get it. Our coaches already had a lifetime of experience and training before they even came to us. Our training ensures that when women schedule sessions or join our group that they have a safe and validating experience from the very first session.
BTR Coaches Can Help You
Our group sessions are intended to help victims of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion in the form of their husband’s pornography use or infidelity. If you’re experiencing physical assault or crime of any kind, rather than joining group, schedule an individual session with Coach Renee, so she can help you navigate your local resources as soon as possible. She can even help you navigate reporting. But if you’re like a majority of our clients, you’re experiencing trauma caused by your husband’s porn use, infidelity, gaslighting, emotional abuse, and psychological abuse. You’re experiencing the type of abuse that’s invisible and difficult to wrap your head around. Here at BTR, you won’t have to convince our coaches that you need help. They’ll outline a clear path to emotional and psychological safety without you having to educate them. They’re here to help you, not the other way around.
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 says: Thank you. What an incredible resource this podcast has been for me since I discovered it a few months ago. In every episode and with every survivor story I can see elements of what I experienced during my 20-year marriage and continue to experience post-divorce. My heart breaks for these women and I applaud their bravery for sharing their darkest experiences. I feel an unbelievable sense of sisterhood with the host, the guests, and other listeners everywhere. Deception, pornography use, withholding money, emotional and physical affairs, gaslighting, intimidation, it’s all abuse.
Learn More About Center For Peace
If you’re looking for a program for your husband who is exhibiting abusive behaviors, we only recommend Center for Peace because it’s the only place that sees these behaviors for what they really are, which is abuse. To learn more about Center for Peace, email Joi at email@example.com.
This week, we have Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 initiative back on today’s podcast. So, if you didn’t listen to the last week, listen to that first and then join us here. We’re just going to jump right into the conversation.
Anne’s “Chair-Burning Moment”
As I’ve been working with Tom, I had a really difficult thing that happened where my custody situation got worse. And my listeners know that I had been going through my dad for communication. That I have been doing no contact and only communicating through my father. Well, as a result of the court case, I had to go from that to actually communicating with him through Our Family Wizard. And as Tom and I were talking, he thought that was my burning chair moment. And I was like, why do you think that? And he explained it. So, I’d like you to explain why you thought that me facing him or actually communicating with him directly through Our Family Wizard was a chair-burning moment for me.
“It’s When You Take Back Control”
Tom: The chair is really something that keeps you tied and stuck. And so, it’s a symbol of that control. As long as the mechanism of your communication is controlled by other people, there’s a sense of a lack of autonomy and a lack of independence in dealing with it, and that tends to hold back things, at least in some people’s case, that kind of thing. And so, the decision to say I’m going to do, it’s the decision that makes the burning chair moment, it’s not really what it is. And different people are going to be able to do that at different times, or maybe not at all, depending upon the circumstance.
So, it’s really important not to say that this is what other people need to do to make it their moment, their declaration of independence as it were, but rather to say that there’s going to always be something that is a symbolic statement. So, for instance, in your case, you were still the one communicating, you were doing the thing, it just was being obscured that you were doing it and it was coming from your dad. Whereas it was much better for you to do that directly and own it. And it was that sense of owning it that makes it like my view, a burning chair moment. It’s when you take back control of that part of your existence. And even if you have to keep dealing with an abuser, do it on your own terms. And to take back that sense of ownership of it is really an important part of kind of getting things going forward.
“We’re Not Going To Be Controlled By You Any More”
If you think like the Boston Tea Party, before I had the burning chair kind of metaphor from which was, I think, special for us. It’s really like the Boston Tea Party, it was a symbolic gesture that says no, we’re not going to be controlled by you anymore. And in essence, it’s like a little Boston Tea Party that abuse victims can have. Invite a couple of friends over and dump the tea in the harbor, or bring the chair, or paint the wall or knock it down. Each person is going to find their own thing that says no, I will be free of this abuse.
Anne: In my case, going through my dad was, well for years on the podcast I touted no contact as a good thing. And I’m super grateful to my listeners who know that I am not perfect and that I am just podcasting in real-time through my own abuse recovery, doing the best I can. And so, I had said for years like oh, you’ve got to go no contact, try and get someone to be an intermediary because safety is the most important thing.
“Fearless, Free, Uncontrollable”
At least in my case, a lot of that was also based on fear, where I had this immense fear of communicating with him directly because I was so concerned about his lies and manipulation, which I still experience dealing with him directly, but the fear has subsided substantially. And so, being able to face it was good, that fear can also help us stay safe, right? So, there are two sides to that, but on the coin that’s one of the things it says. This side of the coin that has the burning chair, says fearless, free, and uncontrollable. And I definitely feel like as my recovery has progressed and I’ve learned more skills that I am becoming more and more fearless, free. and uncontrollable. Although that’s still a process. Can you talk about why you chose these words in connection with the burning chair?
What Does It Mean To Be Fearless?
Tom: Well, there’s a whole bunch of these, of course, it is The Freedom Coin. We do want people to experience freedom from abuse and the idea of fearlessness, so let’s start there. Fearless is really maybe a misnomer. If we wanted to say courage, but for me, fearless is not about the absence of fear but rather it’s the presence of courage in the face of fear. And I can be fearless by simply doing what’s right, taking the steps necessary to protect myself. My image for this is when I liked to play ice hockey when I was younger. And when you’re out on the ice, and that puck is whizzing around, I’ve been hit without pads by a hockey puck. Shot really, really hard. And it was very, very painful, bruised up. But when somebody winds up for a slap shot, and you’ve got pads from head to toe, that thing’s just going to bounce off your pads. And so, you’re fearless because you’ve protected yourself, you’ve done the necessary things to take those steps. It isn’t that the puck is not a fearsome thing. And it’s not that it wouldn’t hurt if something happens. It’s just that I now have taken the steps necessary to diminish my fear.
Freedom: My Mind Is Free, My Thinking Is Free
The freedom is also not necessarily even about whether I am actually free from being abused entirely or not. It’s really that my mind is free, that my thinking is free, and that if I’m going to do something that is what the abuser wants, I’m going to do it because I chose it because it made the most sense for me at the moment. I’m not going to put that decision-making process in their hands as if they made me do it, I’m going to own it and the reasons why I chose it.
So freedom has something to do with my own perception of how I view my decision-making process. And then uncontrollable is basically the idea, there’s a story of a little boy whose teacher told him to sit down, and he didn’t want to sit down. And so, he begrudgingly sits down and says, I may be sitting down, but I’m standing on the inside.
“Standing On The Inside: That’s The Uncontrollable”
It’s the standing on the inside, that’s the uncontrollable. So, a lot of times what happens is when you look at the fearless, free, and uncontrollable sometimes, you can look at your current situation and say that’s not true of me. But this is something that can be true of you personally, while your external environment doesn’t feel that way at all. And so, this has to do with the way we approach our life, and the ownership of our life, and how we’re going to take charge of it again. And to help people do that requires that we have three different stages. Safety, stability, and strength.
Safety, Stability, Strength
And each of those goes with one of these words. So, in order to be fearless, you have to take the steps necessary to be safe, just like the hockey player and the pads. In order to be free, you have to have a place of stability, you have to find that stability in your life, a solid footing where you can make decisions without feeling like you’re being dragged around left and right. And then to find strength, that’s the uncontrollable part, that strength of will that says no, I’m going to do what’s right and I’m going to do that regardless of what you say. That kind of uncontrollable spirit is embedded in there. So, we teach that safety, stability, and strength pattern in terms of how we sequence our help for abuse victims.
And what’s interesting is there’s also a theological component to this because, at Psalm 82 initiative, I’m a pastor, I love the Bible, and I think that God has given us truth in his word that is valuable for us.
Setting Boundaries Is Biblical – For Real!
Anne: Wait, wait. I’m going to just interrupt you, because I really want to emphasize this really, really a lot right now. So many of our listeners are Christian, and I think that this is where you’re going, but I’ve heard a lot of women, several women have listened, and they’ve heard me talk about boundaries or something and several of them have said things like, oh, this woman doesn’t know Jesus. Because I’m like, you need to get to safety, and safety means boundaries, rather than pray for him and just hope that he does this. And so many Christians are concerned about what our philosophy is here at BTR, of safety and boundaries, because they’ve been taught in their church that they need to submit.
So, I just want to be very clear that Tom is a pastor who believes in the Bible, and I am Christian, and I believe in the Bible, not that you need to be that way to listen to this podcast because we welcome everyone here, but I just want to make that clear. Because if you’re thinking that, oh, I don’t know Jesus, or the Bible says submit or my christian Church teaches me that I need to obey my husband or something. Is this where you’re going? Because I would really like to go in this direction now.
“If You Are Afraid Of God, It’s Because Somebody Taught You Something About God That’s Not True.”
Tom: Sort of. The theological component, let me speak to that, and then I’m going to make a point about submission at the end of it. The first is when we talk about fearless, the Bible says perfect love casts out fear. And when the Bible says that the reason we can be fearless is because God has set his love on us. And in that love, we do not need to fear him. If you are afraid of God, it’s because somebody taught you something about God that’s not true. If you’re afraid of God, it’s because you’re an enemy of God, or you don’t know him. Those are the only options because when you know God, you know God’s love, there will be a diminishing of fear. And so, we are fearless because God the Father loved us. We are free, because the Son came to set us free, and if the Son sets you free, then you are free indeed. And that freedom and that way of being in Christ are that which should be in freedom. And so, our leadership, whatever it looks like in the world, and whatever we talk about it, it has to feel like freedom in order to be Christ-like.
Submission vs. Subjection
Uncontrollable has a corresponding value with the Holy Spirit, and that is this. That the Holy Spirit, for the believer, is the only valid controlling influence for the believer. Everyone else, you are uncontrollable, because you are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. So, you have in the entirety, the Godhead represented in each of these three words, as well as the safety, the stability, and the strength. And the one thing that’s really, really important is we talk about this as a freedom coin. If you want to talk about biblical submission, you cannot practice biblical submission, unless you are fearless, free, and uncontrollable. Because if you take and remove any one of those submissions, as the Bible teaches it, is not submission anymore. So, if you take fearless out, it’s no longer submission. It’s coercion. It’s a tyrant. It is someone who is lording over. It is someone who is domineering. And the Bible forbids that kind of thing in our way of being as Christians. If I’m going to be submissive, I need to be free to not submit. Otherwise, it’s again, not voluntary, and submission is a voluntary act. So. whatever the Bible teaches about it, and however we want to take it, it has to be voluntary. If it’s coerced, it’s not voluntary. It’s not submission, it’s subjection, it’s somebody who has made you into a slave.
Biblical Submission Is Cooperation
Same thing with uncontrollable. If I am uncontrollable, then when I choose to follow, when I choose to cooperate, which is a better word for Biblical submission is cooperation. When I choose to cooperate, it’s not because you’re controlling me, but it’s because I believe this is what God would have me do, and that I am doing what is right by doing this because I believe God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit says together this is something Tom that you should do. And so, when the Bible says all of you be submissive to one another in the church, what the Bible is saying is all of you who have been rendered fearless by love and free by the sacrifice of Christ, and uncontrollable because the Holy Spirit is your controlling influence, all of you cooperate with one another, put yourself under one another, esteem the other better than yourselves. And in so doing, you fulfill the love that God has called you to in all of these things.
If we would practice what the Bible actually teaches, instead of the nonsense that abusers want to make it say, we would actually have far less abuse in churches.
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. Our books page 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’s a five-star review we received on Amazon. It says: Betrayal trauma simplified. This book is simple yet validating. It does a good job of painting a quick picture of what a betrayed woman sees and feels when her husband is using pornography. I like that it’s short and simple because just after I experienced my trauma, I literally could not read paragraphs of information. I think I could have handled this, and it comes with very useful guides and help in the back of the book and points you in the direction of support, which is so needed when dealing with this problem.
Thank you so much for your review. When you purchase the book Trauma Mama Husband Drama on Amazon, please circle back and leave a review. I love reading them. Especially when I have a hard day. Sometimes it’s like, oh, maybe why I went through this so that I could share my experience and help other people out. It really helps isolated women find us, and when they find the book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama on Amazon, even if they don’t buy it, it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.
Okay, now back to our conversation.
Why Don’t Church Leaders Seem To Understand?
Why do you think other pastors either feel comfortable or use this submission thing to abuse victims by proxy? Like I’m not sure if they consciously know that that’s what they’re doing? But like, why do you think that that is so common in the church, this submit to your husband when he’s viewing pornography, or saying, well, the problem is if you just would submit and love him, or whatever he would overcome his porn or he would overcome his anger problems. And as a dutiful wife, your only job apparently, is to pray for him. But not necessarily to get to safety. Why do you think that that has sort of become something that is a stumbling block for many church members?
Tom: So in part, it’s a misunderstanding of biblical principles. There’s this kind of this idea that the wife can influence a husband, an unbelieving husband towards the gospel. And that’s true, we can be an influence in other people’s lives. And so, a believing wife could potentially be a sanctifying influence in their husband’s life. The problem with that is that that’s not a universal promise. It’s just a possibility, which means it’s one of the tools that a woman might have in a relationship where they might otherwise not stay, but instead to stay to stick it out, for the purpose of the gospel in their husband’s life.
An Unbeliever vs An Abuser
Anne: That scripture though, is talking about an unbeliever, it’s not necessarily talking about an abuser, right?
Tom: Well, it’s definitely not talking about an abuser. And you can tell that by how the Bible deals with the fear part at the end of that passage. This is basically true if you’re not afraid of any terror. And so that might be beyond the scope of our conversation to go into that passage too far, but the idea that we can be a sanctifying influence, that is not necessarily exclusively about unbelievers, though the passage is definitely referring to unbelievers. For instance, I would just say, I’m a better man because of my wife’s influence in my life because she has the strength of character to tell me when she thinks I’m wrong. And by God’s grace, I can recognize, most of the time, that she’s right. And it’s in that the Bible talks about iron sharpening iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friends. So, there is that sharpening bettering influence that we can have on one another.
The problem with abuse is that doesn’t work with abuse, it is not a promise or a guarantee that if I am good, the other person is going to be automatically made better. So, that’s what’s really important to remember about that is that there’s no real guarantee for that. So, a lot of the reason why we have the pastors who teach or churches that teach errors in misunderstandings of the Scriptures is largely because of an understanding of authority that is actually foreign to what the Bible talks about as an authority. And so, for instance, what we think of as authority is that there is a person who must always be the decider and the other people who are the submissive people, they are the ones who are the doers. So, you have the decider and the teller, and then you have the doers.
“You Don’t Stand At The Top And Pontificate Down On The Underlings Who Do Your Bidding”
Anne: Okay, and in some Christian’s faiths this might be called like, he presides over the home, the presider might be another way to say that, right?
Tom: Yeah, you think of it as the Lord of the home. But the problem is, is that Jesus expressly forbade this kind of leadership. He said, you know, that the Gentiles and the kings of the earth, they exercise lordship over one, they call them benefactor, they are doing it for the good of the people. And Jesus says, it shall not be so among you. Rather, let the older, the one who’s going to be treated as the elder, be as the younger. Let the one who is the stronger as the weaker. He’s specifically saying that you lower yourself to the lower standard, the lower position, and then you serve and support from there. You don’t stand on top and pontificate down on the underlings who do your bidding. That’s not how it works.
The reason is, we have one Lord, that’s Jesus. We have one God, that’s the Father, and we have one Holy Spirit, and that’s our teacher and our guide and our comforter. Abuse wants to invert that worship. If you look at the coin, you have the throne. The abuser wants the throne in your life, the abuser wants to sit there. And when you give that place to them, the abuser then has that kind of power that they do not deserve, that they do not have by right, and that is only the place for God. And so that’s why we burn the chair because there’s no place for that throne to exist in my life because God is that for me, and only God, no one else.
When Victims Experience Faith-Trauma
Anne: Would you be everyone’s pastor Tom? I think my friend, Sarah McDougal, is doing some devotionals for victims who are traumatized by the church. I adhere to a specific faith, but everyone’s welcome here so we’re not a particular faith place. But I just know that so many victims have been traumatized by their church. We have a lot of Jewish women who come here to or any kind of faith, where women have been traumatized by the sort of spiritual abuse that they experience. For women who have been through that experience, and you can’t be their pastor, do you have any words of wisdom for them if they feel like they’ve lost their faith maybe or even if they’re trying to hold on to their faith, but they can’t find a church where they feel comfortable or where they feel safe?
“They Are Not God As He Is”
Tom: Well, so people, in general, are not safe, and that’s just a truth. It’s just like with pastors who teach error about authority, they don’t always do it willingly. This is what they were taught. They were taught that this is the right thing and so they’re doing that. And other times people are just ignorant, they don’t understand. They don’t realize that the words that they’re saying have a particular kind of impact. Sometimes they do, sometimes they’re just mean. But in general, relationships with people are an unsafe thing, from an emotional standpoint. But when you find safe people, they’re very precious. People who you can be honest with, people who you can share your thoughts with and who you can be truthful with, who will be truthful back, but in a kind and generous and loving way. That speaking the truth in love is a special commodity. And so, what I would say to someone in that situation is the first thing is to understand that most abusive situations, most abusive church dynamics are a cartoon of God. They are not God as He is. It’s not truthful about God. But rather, they have created a God in their image. Kind of like what Peter did. Peter had an idea of what God was supposed to be like, of what the Lord was supposed to be like. Jesus came to wash Peter’s feet, and Peter was like, oh no Lord. And Peter began to teach the Lord on what being Lord really means and how the Lord isn’t supposed to do washing of feet. That’s what servants do.
And Jesus rebukes Peter and says, no, if you don’t accept this, you have no part with me. And then Peter is like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, okay, wash it off. I think Jesus, having a sense of humor chuckled a little and said, no, Peter, your feet will do. But what was really happening there is Peter had a secular worldly view of authority, and Jesus was getting a very visible expression of what it looks like.
“Find The Church… Where The Leaders Are Not The Ones Who Are Telling, But They’re The Ones Serving”
Find the church that is willing to wash the feet, as a metaphor of service. Where the leaders are not the ones who are telling, but they’re the ones who are serving. And when you can find those kinds of places with people who are the washing your feet kind of people. And there are some church traditions that actually practice foot washing, I’m not necessarily referring to that as an ordinance, I’m more referring to it as the serving of one another, that core idea. And so, when you can find a church like that, that is a much better place. In terms of finding God when God has been so maligned by example and by teaching, where even saying God or Bible is triggering, that is a horrendously bad thing.
Anne: Yeah, or I would even say like men in suits or something, that type of stuff, where it’s just like so traumatic to even think about God or the Bible, or men in suits.
The Gentleness, The Kindness of Jesus
Tom: Sure. And so, it’s just important to weed through the lies. And the truth is, there’s a lot of lies. And those are lies that whether by accident or by malicious intent, those things have been promulgated throughout the evangelical world and have been used by unscrupulous and evil people to subject others to mistreatment that God would never approve of. Jesus himself is described as one who would not quench a smoking flax or break a bruised reed. That’s the gentleness, the kindness of Jesus, and if your experience of the Bible and of Jesus isn’t that, if your experience isn’t the freeing experience of love and grace, that if your experience is one of punishment and torment rather than of grace and of love, then you are not experiencing a place where God’s love is present.
Anne: This coming from an awesome man who’s also fearless when it comes to holding abusers accountable. I just want to make that point. That as gentle and kind and loving as you are to victims, you’re also very justice-oriented when it comes to abusers.
We’re going to pause our conversation right now, but Tom is going to come back on the episode next week, so stay tuned for that.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.