When women find out about their husband’s pornography and sex addiction, they go through betrayal trauma. Finding the right help is vital to their recovery from trauma. Unfortunately, many therapists and counselors don’t understand the trauma that these women are suffering from.

At Betrayal Trauma Recovery, our trained coaches are women who have been there. BTR coaches have been through the trauma, the triggers, the hopelessness, and the healing. Working with a BTR coach has some benefits.

Claire, a BTR client, felt lost and confused.

“The biggest challenge was just the feeling of betrayal and not knowing when I’m living in truth and reality versus living in a lie.”

Coach Laura, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach, sees this often, “Many of the women have been struggling alone, some for decades.”

Many women are stuck in trauma for months or years, without knowing what to do or how to do it. Coach Laura talks about four reasons why.

4 Reasons Women Stay Stuck In Trauma

  1. Most women weren’t raised to know that they would have to deal with the issue of pornography, so there’s no preparation for it.
  2. Some women believe that, if their partner or husband is working recovery and doing well, then their issues will disappear.
  3. Some women have a difficult time finding qualified help. Many women have talked to counselors who just don’t get it or end up struggling even more.
  4. Many women are afraid to set and hold boundaries. They don’t understand boundaries and consequences.

I Wasn’t Prepared For This. Now How Do I Get Out?

Now that you know you have to deal with it, know that you are in trauma and get yourself to safety. For more information about betrayal trauma, read here. Find someone safe to talk to. You can learn about how to find a safe person and what a safe person does here.

BTR coaches are safe people and the coach-led support groups provide a safe place where you can share your experiences and receive validation. You can learn more about Betrayal Trauma Recovery Groups here.

You can also follow the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Checklist found here.

My Husband Is In Recovery, Shouldn’t I Be Enjoying Life?

Many women have waited for their husband to get into recovery, believing that all will be well once that happens. Unfortunately, they’ve been traumatized, so simply having a husband in recovery isn’t going to heal the wounds of the trauma.

Claire says, “My husband was in recovery for, probably, two to three years and I didn’t have any help until about a year ago, when I began working with Coach Laura.”

The trauma can leave lingering effects long after a husband has found recovery.

You might be wondering how you can heal from these wounds. Finding qualified help is a good start. Betrayal Trauma Recovery has qualified, experienced coaches to help you through your healing.

Can Qualified Help Get Me Out Of Trauma?

It can be difficult to find someone qualified to help you work get out of your betrayal trauma. Betrayal Trauma Recovery offers online coach-led support groups and one-on-one coaching sessions. You can learn more about what to expect from an Individual Session here.

Another way to find someone qualified is to talk to other women in your area. Many of them will know qualified therapists who helped them get back to their life. Another option is to call around. Call therapists in your area and ask them about sex addiction and their treatment model for partners.

Claire tried counselors in her area, unfortunately, they didn’t validate her or understand what she was going through. She said, “I felt like there wasn’t anyone who understood.”

Coach Laura says it’s important to address the trauma the women go through. She talks about why finding someone qualified is important.

“To have someone who has walked that journey themselves, who is sensitive to what is really going on with them, and who has the skills and tools that they need to cope with this, is really valuable.”

Will Boundaries Help Me Get Back To My Life?

Boundaries are like fences, they help keep the toxic, abusive people out. We set boundaries to keep us safe. Boundaries are going to be vital to your healing. You can learn more about boundaries here.

Claire found the help with boundaries to be extremely helpful. She says, “Probably, the most valuable thing I’ve been able to do was to set some really practical, yet powerful, boundaries.”

Coach Laura says, “It’s also difficult to think how to consequence a husband, who is an adult. You don’t punish and adult—some may try, but it doesn’t work. They don’t always play along.”

Coach Laura focuses on her client’s values to help them set their boundaries.

“I think this addiction, more than anything else, destroys our values. We value honesty and we’ve been lied to. We value monogamy and we’ve been cheated on. We value safety and all semblance of that is gone.”

Coach Laura believes that our boundaries should be based on our values. “If we know what our values are and practice making decisions based on them, then it’s much easier.”

With Coach Laura’s help, Claire was able to get out of trauma and get back to her life.

“It is really as simple as knowing I am not alone in my struggle. This has made the biggest difference.”

As you search for help, please know that you are not alone. Other women have experienced the loss of confidence, peace, and trust in themselves and their intuition.

Schedule a Group or Individual Session to find out for yourself how a Betrayal Trauma Recovery coach can help you.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Today Coach Laura is here with her client, Claire. We're going to talk about some of the challenges and struggles that wives of pornography addicts or sexual addicts go through, why they seek out a coach, and some of the things they have accomplished by working with our betrayal trauma recovery coaches. Welcome, Coach Laura and Claire!

Why You’re In Trauma

Claire: The biggest challenge was just the feeling of betrayal and not knowing when I'm living in truth and reality versus living in a lie. My experience was over a course of seven years of discovering addiction—probably three years in was when I realized it was an addiction—and then coping with how to handle the pain.

I didn't know if I was living in a reality where my husband was lying to me about doing it again or going to group, or if he was late to work, was he really late from work, or trying to work on the marriage. I felt stuck and really needed someone to talk to.

My husband was in recovery for probably two to three years and I didn't have any help, until about a year ago when I began seeing Coach Laura.

Coach Laura: This is such a common sentiment. Many of the women have been struggling alone, some for decades. I think it is for a couple of reasons.

Some women believe that if their partner or husband is working on recovery and in a good recovery, their issues will disappear. We know this is not true. Since this is a form of trauma, it can have some lingering effects.

The other reason I think this happens is there really isn't enough qualified help out there. I hear a lot of people saying they have talked to a counselor, but they just didn't get it. Which is why I am really grateful for my APSATS training.

It provides a specific framework to address the trauma that these partners go through. To have someone who has walked that journey themselves, who is sensitive to what is really going on with them, and who has the skills and tools that they need to cope with this, is really valuable.

Anne: This is why it is so important to me to provide qualified coaching—so it's a wonderful experience, from the beginning, with someone who understands them and who has the APSATS framework to help, instead of stumbling through trauma and sometimes suffering with treatment-induced trauma—if the therapist doesn't know what they are doing.

Claire: I felt like there wasn't anyone who understood. I had church counselors, a few good friends, but I did not have another woman who had been through what I had been through, who I could talk with, that would validate some of my feelings.

I felt really confused about what I was going through and what I was feeling, and some of my fears. It was really helpful, to me, for Coach Laura to still be married. She was the first person I talked to who had gone through this and was still married and in a good recovery. It gave me a lot of hope.

Anne: For our listeners, what has your experience been? Please comment below. You can comment anonymously. 

We would love to hear what your experience has been with therapists or church leaders or friends. Have they understood, have they been able to walk with you? Have they been able to hold your pain?

How Did A BTR Coach Help You Get Out Of Trauma?

Claire: Probably, the most valuable thing I've been able to do was to set some really practical, yet powerful, boundaries. She helped me realize that I have a right to feel safe and to communicate when I need to feel safe in my home. Boundaries were a huge thing for me.

Coach Laura: Yes, this is so crucial to our healing. There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around boundaries. I think a lot of wives have a difficult time naming their boundaries and enforcing them because:

  1. We weren't raised to know that we would have to deal with this particular issue. We never really had any preparation for it. We didn't know ahead of time—we didn't grow up thinking we would face this type of thing and how would we deal with it if we did.
  2. The other thing about boundaries is that, if you don't have appropriate consequences or effective consequences, they are useless. We are prone to think of consequences as punishment.

It's also difficult to think how to consequence my husband, who is an adult. You don't punish an adult—some may try but it doesn't work. Also, they don't always play along. We have to have consequences to our boundaries that we can enforce whether they are agreeable or not. It's about protecting us.

I spend a lot of time trying to help my clients understand that boundaries are for their protection. I help them come up with things they can do in various situations, that doesn't rely on their husbands agreeing with them or playing along. Especially in the beginning, we want to establish boundaries for physical and emotional safety.

As a coach, this is my number one initial priority with my clients—to make sure they have established safety in their home, both physically and emotionally, and it is done through the setting and enforcement of those healthy boundaries.

Anne: Absolutely. Sometimes, it takes time and having a coach be there for you, as this process evolves and develops, is really important because it's not just one session and, suddenly, we can say, "I've got boundaries! I understand this. I'm done." It doesn't work this way.

Coach Laura: Right. Knowing what we are prepared to actually follow through with is important. I remember, early on, setting some boundaries and thinking I had consequences but when it came time to enforce them, I really wasn't prepared for that consequence myself.

It takes some time to get it right. There is some trial and error. But this is the wonderful thing. Other people want to give us second chances. We can give ourselves a second chance and say, "Okay. I messed it up this time but there is always next time, and here is what I am going to do next time."

How To Get To Safety And Get Out Of Trauma

Claire: The coaching process, for me, involved meeting with Laura one-on-one for a couple of months, prior to joining the support group--which was another help and added to the individual sessions.

She gave me several resources and helped me realize the importance of my own recovery. I would read and work in the workbook she suggested, and I began to discover how this experience of my husband's addiction brought trauma.

I really realized how much work I needed to do, to heal from the trauma. We worked on defining my values and making value-based decisions. She helped me learn to trust my own intuition again, which was huge, in both the one-on-one coaching and in the support group, we talked about finding triggers and how to deal with them through grounding techniques and self-care.

Everything from values and boundaries work to coping mechanisms—I had the tools to use to really cope. I remember once, when I was leaving out of town, I was able to have a one-on-one session with Coach Laura. I was going to a friend's wedding. It was her second marriage and her first marriage had fallen apart due to sexual addiction.

I knew this would be very hard for me. She helped me come up with a list of what those triggers were and some grounding techniques I could do during that time which really helped me to heal and move forward in a healthier way.

Coach Laura: Claire did a really good job of talking about a lot of the different things I do, when I work with my clients in my coaching, both in the group and in one-on-one settings. All of them are really of equal importance.

If I could I would like to expand on the idea of the values. The work we do in values is really important in the carrying out of our day-to-day lives and living the life we want to live and knowing, at the end of the day, that we have made the right decisions for ourselves.

I think this addiction, more than anything else, destroys our values. If you think about it, from a wife's perspective, it’s the things we would say we value.

We value honesty and, here, we've been lied to. We value monogamy and we've been cheated on. We value safety and all semblance of that is gone.

One of my biggest values is my family and here I am, faced with the possibility of divorce and single parenting—and all of this is on the line.

The biggest thing, I think, is having confidence in ourselves, having peace with ourselves, and intuition, that Claire talked about. Now we are in a position where we have been made to feel—if not flat out told—that we aren't pretty enough, not good enough.

I know, and, hopefully, those listening to this know—that those things are not true but they are feelings we deal with. I really try to encourage my clients to explore their values, to put time into thinking through this.

If we know what our values are and practice making decisions based on them, then it's much easier—although this is difficult no matter what. If we know what is important to us, at the end of the day, we can say we addressed the right things. I think it helps us prioritize and make decisions.

These are the kind of things we set boundaries around too. These are my values and I want to protect them. I wanted to pull this out of what Claire said because it is a huge part of the work that I do with my clients.

Anne: I think that so many times wives of sexual addicts are thinking about values in a different way.

They're thinking, "I want a peaceful home. I want a peaceful marriage," and the way to do this is to talk to their spouse. It isn't usually boundary-based. It's more "How can I work harder to make this happen?"

Claire: One of the things I was thinking about, when we were talking about that, is that one of my boundaries was that I was no longer going to coerce my husband to do recovery or be honest.

It was a huge part of my recovery to remove that part of what I was doing—that coercing him, trying to convince him that what he was doing was destroying the family, “I know he wants to change. Why can't he change?”

This kind of convincing was not healthy for me because it was anxiety-building, it caused a lot of issues for me, so I knew I had to remove this.

Working With A BTR Coach Can Help You Get Back To Your Life

Claire: Really, just finding hope and healing through her story and the stories of the other ladies in the support group. It is really as simple as knowing I am not alone in my struggle. This has made the biggest difference.

Coach Laura: I really appreciate you saying that. It means a lot because, honestly, this is why I decided to become a coach. I remember, early on, meeting with my church's pastor who was also a friend.

I remember sitting with him, crying—I was lost and totally overwhelmed because this addiction brings so many layers of hurt and betrayal. It felt, to me, like a formidable task. It was something I could not imagine getting beyond.

I remember him asking me, very gently, "What is it, specifically, that you want from me?" I said, "Hope." I wasn't expecting cures. I didn't know what to expect, at this point, but I just wanted hope.

We know this is not by any means an easy process. There is very little joy in it, at least in the beginning. I feel very lucky that my story ended well. My husband is in a healthy recovery, but I so remember the period of feeling lost. It lasted a long time.

This has been my main passion—to be able to sit with my clients in their pain and to provide them with some hope, if nothing else. I can't make their husbands get into a healthy recovery any more than they can.

To be able to say to them that I understand, I've been there, you're going to be okay—it doesn't feel like it now—but, no matter what he does, we can put things into place to let you be okay. This is my goal. I just want to give people hope because without this first step, the rest seems impossible.

Anne: It is. I think, with coaching and with help, regardless of what your spouse chooses, you can have a happy ending. In both of your cases, your husbands chose a healthy recovery and are now emotionally safe to be around. This is a happy ending!

In my case, my husband decided not to work recovery and not to try to become safe to return to his family. Now I am on my way to a healthy life and happiness with my children - also a happy ending!

Just being on the path to recovery and knowing that our lives can be healthy and happy and productive in spite of the pain we go through to get to that point—there were many times when I thought my life was over and that I couldn't handle this.

I am really grateful to work with the amazing betrayal trauma recovery coaches who walk women through this process every day from darkness and sorrow and hopelessness at times to hope that can then evolve into peace and safety.

Coach Laura: I'm glad you pointed out joy and peace again because I tend to tell people that they are going to be okay, no matter what . . . but who wants to just be okay? I feel like our lives can be really rich and fulfilling, regardless of the stuff around us.

It can be challenging, obviously, but it's important to know that, with just the right tools and practice, we can live the life we value.

Anne: Thank you so much, Claire and Coach Laura, for being with us today. If you are wondering if coaching would be right for you, schedule an appointment with Coach Laura or click here to see the coaching schedule.

Again, we appreciate your comments and suggestions. Please comment or email directly at anne@btr.org or to Coach Laura at laura@btr.org.

Until next week, stay safe out there!

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