This episode is Part 3 of Anne’s interview with Paige.
Part 1: “Armchair Pathology”: What You Need to Know
Part 2: Is My Husband Enmeshed With His Mother?
Part 3: Can Herbal Medicine Help With Betrayal Trauma Symptoms? (this episode)
Part 4: Navigating Pregnancy When You’re in Trauma
Just as every victim experiences betrayal trauma symptoms differently, victims also find comfort and healing using different healing modalities. Paige is back on The BTR.ORG Podcast, discussing herbal medicines for betrayal trauma.
Betrayal trauma affects the body
It’s important for victims of betrayal and abuse to understand that our bodies can be deeply affected, even when physical violence is never used.
Many women in our community express that they have experienced:
- Sleep issues
- Digestive issues
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic pain, including pelvic pain
Can herbal medicines help me heal from betrayal trauma?
In our community, we’ve found that the only way for women to even begin healing from betrayal trauma and abuse, is to seek safety. Healing modalities, like herbal remedies, medical care, meditation, and therapy, can often help women gain needed mental clarity and strength.
BTR.ORG is here for you
At BTR.ORG, we know how desperately victims desire healing and peace. Please prioritize your safety and understand that healing can only occur where safety is present.
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. We have Paige back on the episode today. We were talking about boundaries with her in-laws, and I started talking about The BTR.ORG Living Free Workshop, which teaches victims strategies for how to think and communicate and how to set boundaries. We include tactical strategy for how to set boundaries that is more safe and also thought tactics and communication tactics to deal with abusers. Generally speaking, we’re talking about abusive husbands, but these strategic things work with all kinds of abusive people. I want everyone who listens to the podcast to take it because it’s the foundation of all the basic tactical things to keep yourself safe. We don’t promote divorce here. We’re all about safety.
Have you taken The BTR.ORG Living Free Workshop yet?
Safety is going to look different for everybody. It’s more about recognizing what’s unsafe and being able to separate yourself from the harm in ways that are safe rather than in ways that might injure you more. Because I did a lot of things trying to be safe that I was doing the best I could. So it wasn’t necessarily my fault, but my lack of education about what to do, and there wasn’t anyone to give me the education. It also wasn’t my fault, but injured me further unfortunately.
That’s what we’re trying to avoid by offering The BTR.ORG Living Free Workshop. So in addition to knowing tactical strategies, how to think about the situation and how to communicate, and none of these things are victim blaming issues. We at BTR see victims as just injured through no fault of their own, and then we are helping them gain skills to heal and to get to safety, but not because they’re not smart or not because they didn’t make good choices or anything like that, but just because that type of education wasn’t available for whatever reason. And so that’s what we do here.
Using herbal medicine to heal from trauma
You use herbs to help women heal from trauma. Can you introduce us to Herb Midwifery and what that entails?
Essentially, it’s using herbal medicine to support different parts of the body as it experiences trauma or abuse or as it’s healing from trauma or abuse. I actually come from a long line of herbalists. My great-grandfather from Greece used a lot of herbal remedies. Actually, some of the herbs that I use specifically for myself, I get from someone who wild crafts them on the island that he’s from. So that generational connection just for me and my own healing. And then I have family from Appalachia where herbal remedies were and still are in some places the only source of medicinal healing. And then we have some Pennsylvania Dutch thrown in there. So my own generational learning paired with what I learned through my midwifery training is how I have used and utilized her midwifery for trauma.
“At BTR, I want to support whatever works for women”
At BTR, I want to support whatever works for women. So it’s sort of this catch 22 sometimes because some women feel like they’re clinically depressed and they’re definitely depressed and the cause is abuse. And so I don’t want to say, well, don’t go on depression medication because it’s abuse, and when you get to safety, you’ll feel better because if they do go on depression medication, no matter what the cause, they’ll likely feel better and hopefully also get to safety.
But I don’t want them to just take medication and feel a little bit better and then continue to be abused. So it’s this Catch 22. I have been on medication for depression from time to time throughout my abuse history, and when I was on depression medication, I took Lexapro and I don’t take it now. So I just want to get all of the shame or embarrassment or whatever out of the way about getting medical help or medication. And that’s also to say if you’re feeling depressed and you don’t want to go on medication and you want to just get to safety, great. All options are available to everyone. So some women might choose herbal remedies like either in conjunction with medication or they feel more comfortable doing herbal remedies than going through traditional medicine. Paige, from your experience, why would someone choose herbal remedies when it comes to trauma?
Why do some women choose herbal medication?
In my experience, some of the reasons to seek out herbal medication can be access to a provider If they’re in an abuse situation where going to a doctor and getting a prescription for medication is going to cause them further harm, either further abuse from the spouse as a result of them seeking that out, or just the act of going to a provider by themself is going to escalate abuse towards them. Sometimes using herbal remedies is a path to go in pregnancy. Not all medications are recommended, so an alternative that is safer in pregnancy would be an option. And then some people use herbal remedies with taking prescription psychiatric medication. So there are herbs that you can use with those medications that aren’t going to interact and are going to support you physiologically to feel better, feel more empowered in making hard decisions.
From your perspective, what are some accessible ways for women to start using herbs in their healing that are safe and recommended? Like you mentioned, pregnancy is a really precarious time, so you wouldn’t want to just be like, Hey, I’m going to take all these herbs when you’re not necessarily being mentored on that. So can you talk about some recommendations that you have?
How to use herbal medicines in a simple, gradual way
I like to work in herbs or in flower essences from a simplistic mindset. So just one or two, get familiar with them. If you are having a purging of feelings or a negative response or just a change, you can recognize, okay, it’s from this specific thing versus if you’re using a combination of herbs or essences, you can’t really pin it down which one’s the culprit. Divorce is not something that like, oh yeah, you need to divorce because that’s not always the safe choice.
What steps can you take?
So what steps can you take? And this can kind of give you that grounding in that decisiveness so that it’s less of a can be such a feeling of chaos, trying to decide what is safe for me, what is safe. Right now I have society telling me all of these terrible things about divorce or all of these terrible things about an abuser can just help with that indecisiveness.
One of the parts of the Living Free Workshop is knowing what steps to take today, just do one step towards safety and then reassess your safety. Then take another step towards safety, and you don’t necessarily know where that path is going to lead you. It might actually lead you toward divorce or it might not. We don’t know, but all you have to do is take one step at a time. You don’t have to make giant decisions. The path will lead you to where you’re supposed to go. You will get to safety, whatever that looks like for you, and it’s different for everyone, but you can only take one step at a time, and I think that that’s what paralyzes women sometimes is that rather than just take one step at a time, they think if I set this boundary, he might file for divorce, for example.
“What could you do to feel safe today? Take that step.”
I don’t want to have sex with him and I want to set that boundary, but what if I do that and then he files for divorce. So because they’re trying to avoid something, they might not set a boundary rather than worrying about what might happen. Just think, what could you do to feel safe today? Take that step. Let’s say you don’t have sex. Where does that next step lead you and lead you and lead you? And again, might you end up divorced? Yes, absolutely. You end up in a healthy relationship. Yes, that also might occur. So I think it’s really important for women to know that they don’t have to know the future. They don’t have to have a crystal ball; they don’t have to do any of that. All they need to do is take one step at a time and really, really follow their inner guide. Some people call it the spirit. We call it the Sacred internal warning system here at B T R because it will guide you and you will make your way to safety eventually.
Yeah. One of the things that I had somebody say to me really early on was, you do not have to make any permanent decisions today. And I’m like, yeah, same as what you’re saying.
“You have to see how you feel.”
You have to see how you feel. You could do something and if they escalate, it’s going to feel worse, but you didn’t do that. Then you’d be like, oh, they’re more abusive than I thought. If you set a boundary and they escalate and they get worse, then you’ll be like, wow, their abuse is really coming to the surface.
You don’t have to think I made it worse. But then you could say, okay, well now I need to set another boundary. Whereas if you set a boundary for safety and over time things improve and they get healthier, fine, you can’t them do anything. It’s not necessarily going to be a direct result of what you do. So I’m not trying to say you’re playing some kind of game or that you’re in a dance with them, but what I am trying to say is, as you set boundaries and make your way to safety, you’ll be able to see the level of their abuse. You’ll be able to observe from a safe distance, how safe they are, how skilled they are, how interested they are in the relationship. It’ll give you a lot of clarity about what’s actually going on.