Betrayal
Trauma
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3 Ways Healthy Womanhood Helps Victims Of Emotional Abuse

by | Abuse Literacy, Self-Care

Too many men are victimizing women through emotional abuse, betrayal, and sexual coercion.

How can victims rise above abuse and oppression, both in their homes and in their society?

Tracy joins Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast to empower victims to embrace healthy womanhood. Tune in to the podcast and read the full transcript below for more.

Healthy Womanhood Rejects “Bypass”

Spiritual Bypass and New Age Bypass are two dangerous means to push women toward forgiving, enabling, and ultimately accepting abuse. Women are harmed and abuse is enabled when they are counseled to bypass the process of working through trauma.

When victims embrace healthy womanhood, they are able to reject bypass and instead process their emotions and experiences in appropriate ways that lead to healing.

Healthy Womanhood Means Being True To Yourself

Abusive men condition women to isolate themselves, ignore their own safety needs, and bury their values deep within themselves.

Tragically, many faith-communities glorify women who submit to the conditioning of their abusive partners. In some cultures this includes:

  • Having sexual contact with their partner when they don’t feel safe.
  • Ignoring self-care needs (known as being “selfless” in faith communities) to put their abusive partner’s desires first.
  • Adopting their partner’s political, religious, and societal viewpoints while ignoring their own.
  • Staying in an abusive relationship to avoid divorce.
  • Not receiving an education or working outside the home because their partner is coercing or manipulating them (many women do choose to stay home with their children because they want to and BTR supports this decision)

When women choose safety ahead of their abusive relationship and the harmful expectations from faith-communities or others, they are embracing healthy womanhood and can begin their journey to healing.

Education & Empowerment Fuel Healthy Womanhood

Abusers and their enablers covertly (or overtly) influence women to avoid education and empowerment.

This may mean that abusers:

  • Discourage a woman’s higher education
  • Discourage a woman’s career ambitions
  • Push the idea that women in the workplace is dangerous
  • Discourage women from seeking support
  • Discourage women from trying new hobbies

Abusers may literally force women to stay in the home, but with hidden abuse, women are usually oppressed through more covert means. Men may sulk, coerce, threaten, or withhold to control women and prevent them from being empowered through education.

If you are an abusive or unfaithful man, seek help through an abuse cessation program today.

How Can Victims Become Empowered Today?

For women in betrayal trauma, the idea of going back to school or re-entering the workforce can be terrifying. However, empowerment through education is an essential step toward healing.

Women can take small steps toward empowerment, including:

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Advocates For Healthy Womanhood

Betrayal Trauma Recovery, more than anything, is for women’s empowerment. To help women come out of the fog of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion and take their power back and be able to live lives of peace and safety. That is what women deserve. 

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

At BTR, we know that there is no limit to what women can accomplish when they become empowered and seek safety. We affirm every woman’s right to emotional, sexual, and financial safety.

Victims of abuse and betrayal deserve a safe place to share their stories, process trauma, ask questions, and make connections with other victims who get it. That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in multiple time zones. Join today and receive the validation and support you deserve as you embrace healthy womanhood.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

Tracy and I are continuing our discussion about the book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. If you did not hear the first part of this conversation, please go back a couple of episodes and when you’re done listening to that you can catch up with us here.

You can see a curated list of books that we recommend here. It’s great to go look at our curated list so that you can get an idea of the things that we recommend. 

Rate The BTR Podcast

Thank you to all of you who have rated the podcast. There is nothing that you could do that would better help other women who are isolated and who need help than to share our content or to rate it on Apple Podcast or your other podcasting apps, or to comment here.

Here is one 5-star rating that we received on Apple podcasts.  She said:

Yes, this is really happening. This podcast, along with the BTR group, has been a Godsend for me. My life has been shattered, but with the knowledge of those who came before me, I see the truth. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

BTR Podcast Reviewer

Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group has meetings in multiple time zones every day. We created this group long before COVID, online, for women in this situation. Join today.

BTR group is specifically for emotional abuse and psychological abuse and sexual coercion. Coach Rene is really good at helping women who are dealing with actual crimes, so physical assault, other criminal behavior; how to report that safely. Schedule a session with Coach Rene today.

Now continuing my conversation with Tracy about the book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. 

What Is “Biblical Womanhood”?

Anne: So, from your experience, what do you feel like biblical womanhood is after studying this?

Tracy: It’s coming to an intimate relationship with God, with Christ, and standing in my own truth. Honoring my own spiritual path. I love the example that she gives of Mary in the story of Mary and Martha. I had never read this story like this before. First of all, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, right, as a pupil. She says this is on page 19, she says “the daughters had never had that spot. Even after Martha tried to remind her of her duties and responsibilities to their guests, Jesus defended her right to learn as his disciple. He honored her choice as the better one and said it will not be taken away from her.”

And what is she doing right there but defying gender roles and cultural standards? Christ is honoring and encouraging her in that. I’d never understood the story that way because in the Church culture that I grew up in, it was very much known that to be a woman, to be a good woman, you do it this way. You fit this role. You think this way and you feel this way, and to get out of that is, “Well then, you’re not being the right kind of woman anymore.”

Healthy Womanhood Means Rejecting Oppression

One more example is she talks about Mary, the Mother of Jesus on page 17. She is quoting Rachel Held Evens here, but she says “her worthiness is in her obedience not to a man, not to a culture, not even to a cause or a religion, but to the creative work of a God who lifts up the humble and fills the hungry with good things.” I love it.

Anne: Yeah, that’s really good. So, this reminds me of the discussion we’ve had about spiritual bypass in the past few weeks and new age bypass. Religious institutions and societies are asking women to bypass painful things.

Tracy: Right. 

Healthy Womanhood vs. Spiritual & New Age Bypass

Anne: You should be able to have enough faith in Jesus that you can create miracles in your family. If you’re a real true righteous woman then your husband wouldn’t be looking at porn because your prayers would be powerful enough and he wouldn’t want to do that. There is this kind of intersection here of the bypass that we’ve been talking about and feminism. Can you talk about that a little bit?

What Is “Benevolent Patriarchy”?

Tracy: Yeah. What that actually reminds me of benevolent patriarchy, which is what exists in my church organization. It’s a, “We are going to put women on a pedestal, we’re going to talk them up, we’re going talk about how wonderful they are, how spiritual they are, how incredible they are, how they are more inclined to righteousness then men are. Like they don’t have to work as hard for it.” It just comes more naturally to them, but that then sets women up for these unrealistic expectations. We’re just human. We are just human just like men are. We have the same feelings that they do. We have the same access to the Spirit that they do. We have the same access to God that they do, but there is this interesting dichotomy because it’s on the one hand, women are so much more spiritual and pure but on the other hand we don’t actually want to hear what they have to say. We don’t actually want their unique experiences because if their unique experiences contradict what we’re saying their experience should be, then they have fallen off the pedestal. They are not valuable anymore.

Anne: Well, there is the, they are more spiritual, and they are better, but they can’t be trusted to lead.

Healthy Womanhood Means Being True To Yourself

Tracy: Exactly, it doesn’t make sense. It’s very much an: as long as you’re falling in line and holding up this system, then your voice is very valuable and we will give you a pulpit and we will let you speak and we will applaud you because it’s coming from the mouth of a woman and she’s so spiritual. But if that same woman says, “Well, this is my experience and this is what God is teaching me,” but it contradicts a little bit against the status quo or infringes on the comfort of men, then suddenly her voice is not valuable anymore. Suddenly her access to the Sprit is impinged. 

Anne: Wonky. She’s gone off the deep end. She’s a little cray, cray, which I think is really interesting because what women are fighting for when they get labeled crazy or that they’ve gone too far, usually it’s when they are saying something that’s right in line with Church doctrine. So, for example, they’re complaining that they are being abused and that no one is holding the abuser accountable. That is something that is totally in line with most churches. Most churches say they do not tolerate abuse. They will not stand for abuse. Most societal people say that right. Abuse is wrong, but then they’ll be like, “Well, this woman is kind of making this up or she’s being too loud or she’s talking about it in a way that’s not the right way.” So, it’s like, but what I’m saying is exactly in line with what you profess to believe?

What Is “Radical Feminism?”

Tracy: Well, you know what’s very interesting is that actually reminds me, stepping outside of the church for a minute and just into a secular place, we had the first-wave feminists with the suffragettes, getting the right to vote. Then we had the second-wave feminists in the ’60s and ’70s, and then we had the third-wave feminists a few decades later, but the second-wave who referred to themselves as the radical feminists, and that’s who I actually identify with more. 

We’re really just saying look, we want to hold men to the same standard that we’ve been held to all along. All we want is to say men you need to live up to the same standard. It wasn’t we think men are awful, we think men are terrible. It was, we expect more of you. We expect more of you, and when men resisted that, when society resisted that, and labeled the feminists as a problem, as too extreme, as asking too much or whatever, then many of them began to say fine. If you’re not going to live up to the same standard then we’re going to live down to your standard, which is sad, I think. It’s really sad. 

Healthy Womanhood Seeks Healthy Equality

So, in other words; okay fine, if men are allowed to be this promiscuous, if men are allowed to cheat, if men are allowed to have unattached sex, well then, we should be able to too. That is in one sense a kind of seeking equality, but it’s still not healthy for either one.

Anne: I was going to say ironically, I agree with that. Meaning that women have always been able to do that, and they should have that right just as men have. Women should have the right to have whatever kind of sex they want, to do whatever they want, to act however they want. That is what true equality means. Do I think they should act that way? No. It’s unhealthy, and it’s also unhealthy for men. 

When men are given rights or privileges or allowances, and women are not, it is not an equal system.

Healthy Womanhood Means Holding To Your Values

Tracy: Exactly, but I think a lot of women just kind of threw their hands up in the air and said, “Fine, if you’re not going to live up to this standard that we’re asking you to live up to then we are going to find equality by doing all the same things that you can,” in which society did make a little bit more room for. Women are able to do some of those things more than they used to be able to do, but there still is a huge double standard. A huge double standard, which you pointed out. 

Anne: That, and the unfortunate thing is women who choose to do that, I feel like they get more victimized. I feel like they get more exploited, so they still aren’t equal. They still just are more victimized when they go down that road.

Women Are Exploited, Victimized, and Shamed

Tracy: Society has learned to tolerate it to an extent, like more than it has in the past, but women are still villainized for doing it. There’s still shame. They are still shamed, whereas men are applauded for that kind of behavior. It’s encouraged or accepted, whereas women are very much shamed for it.

Anne: Yeah. So, I want to encourage women who are listening to start getting informed about feminist issues and to start thinking about what can you do to further human rights for women. Not in a political sense per se but in the reality that the best thing you can do for women is getting yourself to safety and security. 

Healthy Womanhood Means Exploring Talents and Interests

On that note, I want to talk about women in the workforce for a second. So, a lot of women when they have to get divorced or they are considering a job or something, a lot of women think, “Okay, well I want to be a therapist or I’ll work at the library or at the school or something that sort of fits with how can I be a mom and do this.” With the way that the world is going, there are so many opportunities, and I just want to give a shout out to women who are considering how you can become more independent or use your talents better or whatever it is that you feel like you need to do. 

There are so many needs for women in politics or in policing or in law by becoming lawyers or becoming judges. I really want women to open their minds to you can do anything, and you can help the world in so many different ways. You can have a real grown-up career as an attorney or as a doctor. I’m not saying that you need too, I’m just saying that whatever it is, just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you need to take a low wage job.

Healthy Womanhood Means Fighting Against and Overcoming Societal Limitations

Tracy: I agree. I mean we see more women in these fields than we used to, which is good. I’m happy for that, but even still, I’m not even 40 and I grew up; it’s interesting because as a kid I had all those kinds of ambitions. I remember wanting to be a doctor. I remember wanting to be a lawyer. I remember wanting to be a teacher. I remember wanting to be an architect. Like all those things you named, and I wanted to be a writer, but when it came down to it and as I got older it’s like I forgot about all of that because at my core I believed that I couldn’t. There was a limitation there, and it was because of the way that it was talked about and it was the way that it was modeled for me. 

I was very much encouraged to go to college and to get an education, which I really appreciate and I appreciate that I was able to do that, but still, the way it was talked about, I felt great limitations. I was told yes, you need to go to college, and you need to get a degree so that you can get a job in case your husband gets hit by a truck someday. That’s literally what I was told.

Healthy Womanhood Means Empowerment Through Education & Learning

Anne: It wasn’t so that you can fill the measure of your creation.

Tracy: Exactly. It was always a backup plan, and because of that; I’d had ambitions to go to business school. I had all of these ambitions, and yet I felt these limitations that made it very difficult to actually pursue any of that and I ended up just doing what my culture told me to do, which was get married really young. I’d barely graduated from college before my first baby was born and I didn’t really get any real work experience. So, although I have a degree, it’s sad. I feel embarrassed even talking about it because it feels like a worthless piece of paper to me because I’ve never really used it and I have no serious career work experience. I mean I’ve had little jobs here and there, but I was not set up to think about my life in terms of, yes, I could pursue a career because that could be a fulfilling thing for me.

Healthy Womanhood Means Confidence To Become Financially Independent

And beyond that, so many women in our community feel so trapped. It’s just another layer to add to all the difficulties of their situations because they don’t have a way out. I mean it’s difficult to see a way out. It’s not that they don’t, but it’s difficult to see a way out when they have been financially dependent for so many years when they have not been able to pursue work outside the home because they’ve been relying on their husband, and then a time comes when they need a way out, they want a way out and they feel so helpless. 

Society did not, society does not, set women up to take care of themselves and their families. It sets them up to be dependent.

Healthy Womanhood Means “It’s Not Too Late”

Anne: Right, and the thing is too, like let’s say now at 40 that you decide you would go to law school, which would be awesome. You could do that, right, but then you’re like 15 years behind the man who went to law school at 25. So, that’s what makes it difficult is that there are those 15 years, but that doesn’t make it impossible and that’s what I want to tell women. That you might think that you have lost your chance to do that thing that you really feel like in your heart you’ve always wanted to do, it could be that you wanted to be a painter. Like literally, painter; like paint peoples’ houses, not like an artist. It could be that you wanted to run a yard care business. It’s not too late. Will it be hard? Will you be behind your male counterparts who started when they were 25? Yeah, but it’s also not too late. 

I want women to know that if they start now on whatever it is that they wanted to do; if they wanted to go to med school and finally graduate when they are 60, they could still be a doctor for 20 years. There are always options and I want women to realize that it’s not too late for you.

Healthy Womanhood Is Strength In Struggle

Tracy: Yes. I see women do it. I see women go through the struggle because it is a struggle, but then I see them do it. So, it is absolutely possible. It’s incredible to see. Also, I think it sets a wonderful example for your children.

Anne: Yeah. Now that being said, so many women want to stay at home, and I honor that choice as well. I remember when I had my son and I was thinking about going back to work because at the time my husband didn’t have a job and I was the one who could get a job easier at that time, it was during the economic downturn in 2008. My son was nursing, and so just the thought of leaving him to go to work horrified me and I did not want to do that. So, I do want to honor women who are like no, my place right now is with my children. Honor that because those things are really important and supporting women in their choices and what they feel like they need to do in their lives is our aim here at BTR. For us to support and validate and encourage and just be there for you. Regardless of what you choose we care about you and love you and validate you and want you to do what’s right for you, whatever that is.

Don’t Be Afraid of The Word “Feminism”

Tracy: Yes. Just another reminder for women who are unfamiliar or a little uncomfortable with the idea of feminism, that feminism is not a niche. It’s not a small or a catch-all. They are not all cut from the same cloth, and there is no shame in the word. You don’t have to align yourself politically with a particular brand of feminism to call yourself a feminist. There are pro-life feminists. You know if that’s an issue for some women. Just don’t be afraid of the word.

Anne: I agree that we can embrace the term feminist. It can mean many different things to many different people, but the cool thing is you can define your own type of feminism. You can define the way that you would like to promote equal rights for yourself in your own life and also for women throughout the world.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports, Empowers, and Validates Women

This podcast, more than anything, is for women’s empowerment. To help women come out of the fog of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion and take their power back and be able to live lives of peace and safety. That is what women deserve. 

So, if this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.   

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