How To Heal The Chaos of Abuse | BTR.ORG

How To Heal The Chaos of Abuse

by | Abuse Literacy


 The chaos of abuse can leave victims feeling confused, broken, lost, and fatigued.

But BTR Coach Denalee brings light and hope to trauma victims – your journey to healing isn’t complex or out of reach. Simple, moment-to-moment choices can help you begin to heal from the chaos of abuse and start feeling joy again.

Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.

Live in the Present to Heal the Chaos of Abuse

“Whatever it is, whatever direction your mind is going, if you can bring yourself back to the present, focus on right now, today, what am I going to do? I’m going to recognize it, I’m going to correctly label it, and then I’m going to see where it takes me tomorrow. What is the next thing that I need to do? I don’t have to think about it right now. I have to think about it in the moment when it comes.”

Coach Denalee, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Team

Victims of abuse will often live in extreme anxiety, worrying about the ramifications of future decisions – should I stay? Should I go? What about the kids? What about our church community? Choosing to live in the present and make decisions that are pertinent to the present moment can calm the chaos and empower victims to step back into their own power.

Try Meditation to Heal the Chaos of Abuse

An incredible tool in a victim’s arsenal is meditation.

Abuse and betrayal can create a wide schism between a victim and her ability to feel and experience her own body. Meditation helps victims become aware of their bodies and bridge the gap between body and mind.

Meditation can help victims process trauma, grieve, and express emotions that have been blocked.

Accept & Speak The Truth to Begin To Heal The Chaos of Abuse

“Many injured women don’t even know why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling. And when you could put a name to what’s going on, there’s a whole bunch of peace that comes because you can label what’s going on.”

Coach Denalee, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Team

When victims courageously choose to speak their truth, they jumpstart the healing process.

Accurately labeling abuse and betrayal can help victims to find the support and self-care that they need in order to begin healing.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is Here To help You Heal The Chaos of Abuse

At BTR, we know how confusing and devastating the chaos of abuse can feel.

We know that healing can feel insurmountable and even unobtainable.

However, we know that you can do it.

With the right tools, including self-care, support, and education, you can begin your healing journey today.

Attend BTR Group Sessions and find the support that you need today.

Full Transcript:

Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. 

Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, called BTRG for short, is a daily online support group.

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 are here for you. Check out the session schedule. We’d love to see you in a session today.

For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating 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 and reviews make a big difference for victims desperately trying to figure out what is happening to them. Here is a five-star review we received on Apple podcasts: This podcast saved my life. Thanks, Anne and the BTR team. I have listened to all of your episodes from Dr. Minwalla to Gail Dines, and all the heartfelt testimonials. I realized I’m “normal.” Thank you. 

Thank you. Every single one of your ratings just supports me personally and it also helps isolated women find us. So, thank you. 

Learn More About Center For Peace

Center for Peace has another start date soon. If you are looking for a men’s program that addresses pornography use and gaslighting and these other things as an abuse issue, it’s the only program out there that does that and it’s the only one we recommend. If you have questions or want to learn more, visit the website or email Coach Joi at to get more information. 

I have one of our amazing coaches, Coach Denalee, on today’s episode. 

Coach Denalee on the BTR Podcast

Denalee is a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach who helps women discover and move forward on their individual paths of healing and recovery from abuse and the consequences of victimization. With nearly four decades of experience in narcissistic partner abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, and sexual abuse, Denalee is passionate about helping women get to safety by moving upward and forward to create a beautiful life. Welcome, Denalee.

Denalee: Thank you, Anne. I am thrilled to be here today.

Anne: It’s so awesome to have such a strong coaching team here at BTR. All of our coaches are incredible and amazing. Coach Denalee, like every single one of our coaches, does several Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group sessions. So, when you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, you’ll be able to meet Coach Denalee and all of our other amazing coaches. I love how it becomes a community where you can meet all the coaches and get feedback because they all have their different personalities. I’m just so glad that you get to know her today. 

How To Heal The Chaos of Abuse

Denalee and I are going to talk about healing, which is of course the whole point of Betrayal Trauma Recovery. So many women when they come to BTR, they just want to feel peace, right? They want to feel calm and connected and they want all of the chaos and the pain to subside and to be able to live a peaceful life. What do you think is the first step to healing when someone is faced with betrayal trauma?

Denalee: It’s really hard, Anne because a big part of trauma and abuse is the chaos inside of ourselves. We don’t know which way is up or even where to turn. Coming to a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a great place to go because you immediately feel understood. You don’t have to say a whole lot, there’s not a whole lot of explanation that has to happen in order to know that your experience is not so unique. You know it’s the same experience with different spokes kind of, different players, that we women go through. The women who come to BTR, you see a lot of nodding of heads when somebody is sharing an experience, and I think that might be the first step is to be able to actually voice how you’re feeling or what’s been going on. That’s kind of a hard thing. You get stuck in the secrecy, and all that does is make the impact of the experience bigger and stronger and deeper and wider. 

How Long Does It Take To Heal The Chaos of Abuse?

Anne: I’ve found that when women find out about their husband’s porn use or they start to realize wait, this is emotional abuse, right. They’re hoping that things will get better quickly. Like for example, maybe they could get their husband into some kind of quick program like a weekend retreat or something or that maybe they’ll just file for divorce, right. Some kind of thing that’s going to solve the problem quickly. What would you say to women in terms of expectations for the length of time it takes to heal?

Denalee: Well, you know, that’s unique to each situation, but it is not fast for anybody. So, I love the saying that healing equals intentional action plus time. So, you need both. You can’t just sit there and let time pass and eventually things will just get better. You have to effort towards it. But all the effort, like putting in a whole bunch of effort right as soon as you find out there’s a problem, doesn’t immediately fix the problem. You need to have time.

BTR Coaches Help Women Navigate Their Healing Journeys

Anne: Right. So, one of your jobs at Betrayal Trauma Recovery is helping women navigate their healing journey. It’s more of a journey than it is a destination, right? So, you mentioned that the stories are similar, but the spokes are different, or the people are different. I like to say the patterns are really similar, but the details sometimes are different. We see the same patterns over and over, but of course, the details of everybody’s stories are different. How do you help a woman determine where to start with her healing once she is at Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and when she is getting coaching?

Denalee: Well, one of the things I love about BTR and just a general truth out there, is that there are methods that have been tried that really honestly work that are universal and work for everybody. And BTR coaches are trained in those methods and can help everybody. But another thing that I love about it is that every journey, every individual is different. Timing is different, how much effort to put into a specific type of healing or a specific practice is different depending on the individual. So, for anybody to presume that they know exactly what another person should do and when they should do it and how they should do it in order for them to get to a place of peace and joy and healing is presumptuous and frankly arrogant, you know. None of us knows, none of us are really in another person’s situation. And so, with the empathy comes a lot of freedom for the individual to use her agency to figure out really what is best for her and that’s done with talking, with me asking questions, and with the survivor not just sharing answers, but having thoughts, be triggered in her head, and figuring out her own journey. Just being guided by the coach.

Different Approaches & Time-Tested Methods to Healing From Trauma

Anne: I love that all the coaches have kind of a different perspective or a different personality or they’ve had different experiences, but they also know these tested methods that you were talking about of healing from trauma. So, everyone takes kind of a different perspective on it, but it’s all the same pattern that we know works and the same with every individual woman as she’s going through it.

Denalee: It’s really interesting that the BTR coaches, it’s a synergistic group. It’s a bunch of ladies who come from all different situations who really understand each other but approach healing from a different perspective. And I just love the synergy in the group, which goes out then to all those who attend group in search of healing and peace. And so, bouncing around from group to group is actually kind of a good idea there. Grab what you can, get the little gems from each of the coaches. There’s a lot of value there.

Trauma Mama Husband Drama

Anne: I am 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.

And now back to my conversation with Denalee. 

The Three Stages of Trauma Recovery

Anne: So, speaking of patterns, the general pattern that we know works is the three stages of trauma recovery. So, the first is safety and stabilization, right. Then processing and grieving, and then reconnecting. So, in the first stage of safety and stabilization in my mind, it’s a step to healing, it’s getting yourself on the healing path, but it’s not necessarily going to be healing in and of itself because if you’re not safe and you’re not stable, then healing is very difficult because you’re still being injured all the time. So, you can heal some parts of yourself but then you just get injured again. So, can you talk about the healing that can happen in that first stage, even though you’re still being injured?

Denalee: Yeah, I actually think that there’s a lot that can happen in that stage, and the first is recognition. Many injured women don’t even know why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling. And when you could put a name to what’s going on, and abuse is a good overall name for what’s happening but then there are specific names, and once you’re able to do that there’s a whole bunch of peace that comes because you can label what’s going on. And once you’ve labeled it and recognized it then you can start to categorize your abuser and his actions and put those in mental columns about what’s happening. That helps to depersonalize what’s happening to you. Then all of those actions, they land on him, not on you. I love this first stage for recognition and for categorizing and for letting go of the responsibility of someone else’s actions.

How Does Recognizing Truth Help You Heal the Chaos of Abuse?

Anne: And even though complete healing is a lifelong journey, and it’s certainly not going to happen if you’re not safe and if you’re not stable, right, if you’re continuing to be injured. It’s really important to know that there are things that start working in your life as you attempt to get to safety, as you start working on bringing security into your life. For women who are hesitant to call this abuse, right. Perhaps her husband is in a 12-step program or doing pornography addiction recovery or something and they think no, no, no, no, no, he just has this porn addiction, this is not emotional and psychological abuse. For women who are hesitant; why do you think recognizing the truth of their situation is a step to healing for them?

Denalee: Well, it’s a form of secrecy to not recognize it for what it is, and when you carry a secret then the effects of that grow. So, you may label it as, you know, just a little problem that he has, something that he’s trying to overcome. And when you do that, then you take the incident that happens that may be big, it may be small, it doesn’t matter, but it’s a specific size, and you set it inside of you and your body says oh, this is something I’ve got to carry. And so, the effect grows and grows and grows and it keeps getting bigger and bigger because you won’t acknowledge what it is and start to process it to get rid of it. We can shrink that effect. We’ll never be able to get rid of what happened to us, that will always exist. The incident or the incidents will always exist, the things that cause trauma. We can’t make the past go away, but we can get rid of the effects, and it starts with recognition and with the desire to move forward out of that. And it’s amazing how freeing it is just to label it correctly. It’s hard to do when you’re stuck in that, but when you do it, then all of a sudden it’s like you’ve been given wings.

No Matter How You Label It, You’re Still Going To Experience The Effects of Abuse

Anne: It’s really scary for women because I think the consequences of this abuse word are much more intense. They may have to work towards separation, they might have to actually take action and that seems pretty scary. Whereas if you don’t recognize it as abuse, then the consequences don’t seem as dire. But what I really want women to know is that regardless of what you label it, you can label it whatever you want, you’re still going to get the effects of that abuse. And you’re still going to end up carrying those in your body like what you talked about. So, for women who don’t know they’re being abused, for example, an argument could be made well it’s not as traumatic for them because they don’t understand what’s happening. And I would say it’s just as traumatic. They might not know but they’re still being injured and they’re still carrying those wounds with them all the time.

Denalee: Yes, and you know that the woman would know that as she listens to her body. Many victims of abuse cannot label it exactly for what it is. Emotions get turned off, our minds are tweaked, everything is turned upside down and chaotic because that’s what abusers do to us. They sort of steal our ability to do that, but our bodies never lie to us. So, if you’re getting shaky, or if your digestive system goes kerpluey, or you’ve got so much tension in your shoulders that your head won’t stop pounding. I mean, there’s any number of things. You start sweating, you know that he’s coming home soon so you hurry and run around the house because your heart’s beating fast and you make sure that everything’s in order. Whatever it is, your body is not going to lie to you, your mind and your heart will try different methods to cope, which is a good way of trying to protect you but it’s not going to heal you and it’s not going to get you better.

Meditation Can Help You Heal The Chaos of Abuse

Anne: I have heard from many members of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group that they are loving the meditations that you sometimes do in group. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that helps women get that stress and tension out of their bodies?

Denalee: I’m so happy that women are loving the meditations. I love doing them, and I do meditations on my own too because sometimes we can’t get our minds and bodies to do what we know we need to do especially when it comes to abuse. And like you were talking it’s so scary to label it correctly because of what the future might bring. And so, if we go in working on our bodies first, our bodies will allow our minds and our hearts to start to let go, start to release some of the emotion some of the pain, and just a lot of the injury that’s there. If we can’t work on it from our hearts and our minds, then we can work on it first with our bodies, and meditation really helps with that. 

The guided meditations that I do in group allow women at the end of the group to let go of all of the heavy things that they may have heard or may have been feeling and focus on letting their bodies relax so that their minds and hearts can come to a place of peace and calm and even sometimes surrender. I have different topics that I use for the meditations. I decide on which meditation I’m going to use depending on how the group goes, what are people talking about, what is everybody carrying that’s super heavy? What is it that these women need tonight or today? And that’s the meditation I’ll use.

Feeling Your Own Body & Living In The Moment Can Help You Heal The Chaos of Abuse

Anne: In my stage of healing, I have found that meditation is the most useful, meditation in yoga. In case you hadn’t noticed that I’ve talked about this a lot the last four years or six years or however long it’s been. This is my full-time job, right, so I talk about recovery all the time, I talk about what’s happening with me all the time, and sometimes I just get sick of talking. I just want to get in my body and feel the feels and focus on that and I have found that in my particular stage that is the most helpful thing, and so I really wanted to make sure that that was available to women and group.

Denalee: It is so scary when you begin your journey of healing because of recognition having to be first and admitting it to ourselves that it actually really is abuse, and then the what-ifs. Okay, so what road am I going to end up taking? I don’t want to be divorced or I don’t want to be separated or I need to get out right now. Whatever it is, whatever direction your mind is going, if you can bring yourself back to the present, focus on right now, today, what am I going to do? I’m going to recognize it, I’m going to correctly label it, and then I’m going to see where it takes me tomorrow. What is the next thing that I need to do? I don’t have to think about it right now. I have to think about it in the moment when it comes.

Embracing Your Agency Can Help You Heal The Chaos of Abuse

And it’s so interesting when you’re able to let go of the secrets and label something, you have your choice, your agency, nobody is going to tell you that you have to take a specific path. If you don’t want to get divorced, you don’t have to get divorced. If you don’t want to be separated, you don’t have to be separated. You will know your own path of safety. And the wonderful thing is you get to change your mind anytime. So, you can say I don’t want this in my life right now, and then tomorrow you can say I’m going to embrace this very thing I said I didn’t want. And that’s kind of my platform is that it’s individual. You get to decide, and you get to decide again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and your path will lead you. You don’t have to be afraid of your path.

Anne: It’s reminding me of the Frozen II song, Just Do the Next Right Thing, right. 

Denalee: Exactly. 

Anne: Just do the next right thing. Should we all break out in song? 

We’re going to pause the conversation right here. Stay tuned because I’m going to continue the conversation with Denalee next week. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to schedule a session with Denalee, go to our website. She’s also a member of our team and facilitates some of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group sessions, so you can also join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and attend her session and also meet our other coaches. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.

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  1. Keturah Sanders

    Are there women with success stories of a changed husband? Regardless if it took 1 year or 7 years?

    I want to know how realistic that hope is. But also, I’m not opposed to divorce if necessary. My husband has a traumatic childhood that contributes to his behavior and ik it can take years to change, so I’m open to waiting while be separated. But honestly if statistics matter, if 98% of emotional abusive husbands don’t change, I don’t want to hold on to hope. I’m wanting to prepare for the worst and hope for the best in terms of his recovery.

    • Anne Blythe

      I would focus on safety. Get to safety and don’t wait for him to change. It doesn’t matter what the “cause” of his abuse his. I’ve known many, many people with traumatic childhood’s who are delightful wonderful people. A traumatic childhood does not make an abuser. Abuse is a choice.


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