Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

How Does Infidelity Harm Victims?

by | Abuse Literacy

HOW DOES INFIDELITY HARM VICTIMS?

If abusive men knew how deeply their actions affected victims, would they continue to abuse?

Infidelity leaves lasting, painful trauma that can affect a victims life for years after the betrayal has occurred.

Hillevi, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to share her story – the sad truth that a partner’s intimate betrayal causes long-lasting devastation to victims and children.

Infidelity Causes Both Physical And Emotional Devastation

“I healed physically, but I have not healed emotionally yet.”

Hillevi, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Many victims of intimate betrayal suffer both physically and emotionally from the betrayal. Physical issues may include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections and diseases
  • Pelvic and sexual pain
  • Trauma-induced illnesses and ailments
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Autoimmune diseases

The Emotional Effects of Betrayal Trauma

Emotional issues due to the betrayal are sometimes harder to detect and treat. Women may experience:

  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Self-loathing
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Constant fear
  • Anger, rage
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Deep, unrelenting sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Grief
  • Numbness

While the effects of betrayal trauma may feel never-ending and daunting, victims can find healing.

Can I Heal From My Partner’s Betrayal?

If you have experienced intimate betrayal, you may be feeling hopeless.

For victims who were infected with STDs, are suffering from severe emotional symptoms, or continue to struggle after years of attempts at healing – the road to peace can feel impossible and overwhelming.

However, healing is possible.

With safety, self-care, and heaps of compassion, women can find healing after betrayal.

BTR Is Here For You

At BTR, we understand how devastating and life-altering intimate betrayal is – everything changes in that moment of discovery.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group offers women a safe space to process trauma, ask questions, and form compassionate relationships with other victims as they begin their journey to healing. Join today.

Full Transcript:

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

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. 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 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: “Thank you, Anne. I’m so thankful for these podcasts and hearing Anne’s story, which is exactly what I’m going through with my husband and his years of porn addiction gaslighting and screaming in my face. I just got done listening to the podcast, Is He Really in Recovery. It spoke right to my heart and validated my instincts. My husband isn’t doing any of the recovery work. I ordered the book, Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft and love the checklist she read on what real recovery looks like. I know God led me to BTR and all your excellent resources. Thank you for what you do and for all of us women’s suffering, you’ve empowered us and given us hope for a better life ahead.”

It Only Takes One Person To Destroy The Tango

Before we continue the conversation with Hillevi, a while back I did a Facebook Live with Sarah McDougal about how more sex does not help a man stop using pornography. Sara and I do some Facebook Live sometimes together, she’s a really good friend, and on that Facebook Live, we mentioned the phrase it takes two to tango. A lot of people say that, and Sarah said, “Yeah, but the Tango is a beautiful dance.”

And then I was like, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. It only takes one person to destroy the tango. It doesn’t matter how good of a dancer you are; you could be the best dancer in the world, you could be perfect, and if your partner is kicking you and punching you in the face and pulling you off, your tango would be destroyed. It does not matter how perfect you are. It’s really interesting. Nobody ever says it takes two to commit a crime. No one ever says it takes two to flunk out of college, or it takes two to bully. No one ever says it takes two to gain 100 pounds. The saying is, it takes two to tango, which is a beautiful dance.”

A Response To “It Takes Two To Tango”

So, if anyone ever says that to you, well it takes two to tango, you can say, well, it takes one to destroy the tango. It only takes one person to destroy a marriage, it only takes one person to argue if they’re lying or they’re gaslighting and they’re not telling the truth. If the other person is genuinely just confused and trying to understand and seeking truth and safety, and the other person is deceiving them on purpose or purposefully trying to hide their pornography use it only takes one. So yes, it’s true people, it does take two to tango, but it only takes one to destroy the tango.

One more thing before I finish my conversation with Hillevi, a member of our community decided to write one of the therapists that really harmed her, and she sent me this letter and she wanted me to read it, and I think it’s really good, so I’m going to read it here. She actually sent this to the therapist and was like, hey, look, I’m going to change the names and alter it just a tiny bit to protect her anonymity.

A Letter For Harmful Therapists

She says: Hi Therapist, you may not remember me, which is perfectly understandable because I can only imagine the hundreds of people you counsel in any given year. My ex-husband and I met with you in a counseling session nearly three years ago. I caught him viewing porn and was very concerned and distraught. During our meetings, viewing porn was the only thing he admitted to, however in the weeks and months that followed, in a progression-confession fashion, he admitted to not only viewing porn on a regular basis during our 31-year marriage but also having intercourse with multiple women and strippers in men’s bathrooms in bars and in our bedroom in all of the homes we lived in. Your advice to us was completely inappropriate (and she’s made some bullet points here).

You told me that my husband’s viewing of porn was not an indication or precursor of infidelity or porn or sex addiction. You were wrong.

You told me that men compartmentalize and just because the husband watches porn, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me or isn’t attracted to me, or doesn’t honor the vows, or sanctity of marriage. You are wrong.

You advised my ex-husband to follow through with his plans to go on a golf trip with his buddies over the weekend, you said it would be good for him to get away. I later learned that some of his most disgusting behaviors happened on these golf outings.

“You Were Wrong”

You told me while my ex-husband was on this golf trip that I should use the time to relax. You said I should have a glass of wine and engage in something that gives me enjoyment, like taking a bubble bath or going for a bike ride. You were wrong. With the discoveries I learned during that weekend, I was an emotional wreck. I should not have been alone at this time. Drinking alcohol only intensified my distressed emotional state, and at one point over the weekend, I considered suicide to end my pain. Thank goodness I could not leave my two adult children behind without having a trustworthy parent.

After meeting with you my ex-husband came away feeling happy and smiling. I came away from our session in tears. I felt that you did not validate or empathize with my overwhelming sadness. I felt that you thought I was just a crazy old-fashioned lady who was not hip enough to accept porn as acceptable.

“I Have Not Healed Emotionally Yet”

Fast forward. Between the time we met with you and six months later, I was treated by my GYN for various conditions related to his sexual promiscuity. We officially divorced. A year later my ex-husband was confronted about his browsing history on a porn site using work devices. This was obviously a serious violation of work rules. In order to avoid formal charges, an embarrassing investigation, the subsequent findings being placed in his personnel file, and the possibility of disciplinary action including termination, he resigned immediately and no longer works for his employer. Later I had an emotional and physical breakdown. Of everything I went through, this was my bottom. I healed physically, but I have not healed emotionally yet.

A year after that I discovered a podcast called Betrayal Trauma Recovery. For the first time, I felt understood and validated. This led me to sign up for group sessions with BTR coaches. I am now on the path to healing. My 27-year-old adult daughter describes her current relationship with her father as barely tolerable. My 30-year-old son has probably been the most affected of all of us. My daughter and I worry about what this family breakup has done to his health, well-being, and future. Recently a national company produced a song that I wrote about our family breakup. If you want to watch the video of my song, go to YouTube and search for Confession to My Children, Mugsy Reynolds. From now on, I only recommend Betrayal Trauma Recovery for women going through this experience so they can receive safe support.

“The Biggest Killer Of A Healthy, Stable Family is Porn”

I hope you receive this letter in the spirit it was intended. As a porn widow, I feel an obligation to urge you to please stop counseling your clients that porn for husbands is okay. It’s not. The biggest killer of a healthy, stable family is porn. Porn was the root cause of our family breakup. My children and I are permanently damaged. Our lives and our relationships with each other and their father, and my ex-husband will never be restored.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I wish you all the best in the future.

Thank you, member of our community, for sharing that letter. Hopefully, it will help her understand that she was not using the right model to address concerns. She was using a codependent model where both people have a part to play instead of using the abuse model that we use here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Women are brave to share this. The cool thing is as we get stronger, it’s not as scary to think about how they might react or what they might think of us as we share our truth with people in our communities and in our churches. I actually did the same thing with a guardian ad litem after my case that went so badly. I said, hey, look, these are all the lies that you believed, and these are all the ways that your decision affected my children in very real and damaging ways.

“Thank You For Standing For Truth With Me”

Unfortunately, I don’t think that that will help him change. I think he just thought, wow, she really is crazy. That’s the hard thing about the situation that we’re in, it’s almost like the stronger we get and the clearer we are about what’s happening, people who do not want to hear it or do not want to see it, just think of us as combative, rather than as standing for truth. So, thank you for standing for truth with me. Thank you for your bravery and your courage and your support. It really means a lot.

Okay, so if you didn’t listen to the last two weeks of my conversation with Hillevi, we have just a few more minutes of that conversation that we’re going to jump into right now.

Infidelity Seriously Harms Victims

Anne: What I would like men to understand is that your refusal to repent is continuing to harm your wife and children or your ex-wife and your children.

Hillevi: Adultery is mentioned 52 times in the Bible, not including the 10 Commandments. The only sins that are spoken of more than adultery are pride, self-righteousness, murder, and placing other gods in front of the one true God. That’s it. Adultery is right there on those top four. And interestingly enough, putting the God of self or idolatry is what leads to adultery. And self-righteousness or pride also leads to adultery. For some reason, there are writers out there in the recovery for men area that seem to think that the problems will be solved, you know, if the guy just holds up that I still need sex, sex is a need, and they’ve just made an idol out of sex, and they don’t get it. And their selfish righteousness, I’m going to be sexually successful. I think you and I both know who I’m talking about with that. It’s about humbling yourself, because everything else that you do is sheer torture to your wife, to your family, and to those who love you enough to tell you the truth.

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 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.

Here is a five-star review we received on Amazon. It’s called: The Simple Truth. Sometimes the trauma of abuse is so hidden and directed at ourselves we have no clue that we are in something so heinous and wrong. The confusion, the self-blame, and that is where they would love to keep you. This book, as simple as it is, is the real deal.

Thank you so much. Every single one of your ratings helps bump Trauma Mama Husband Drama up in that Amazon algorithm, and even if they don’t purchase the book they find this podcast, which is free to everyone.

And now back to our discussion.

How Does Infidelity Affect Victims?

Anne: Their actions are torturing their wife and children or their ex-wife and their children. And another word that I like in this sense is, women are being haunted by the decisions of the men in their lives, and they cannot escape the negative consequences of that abuse on a long-term basis. They’re trying to, they’re doing the best they can, but the consequences for women in this situation are pretty dire. We do our best to combat it and to live, you know, a peaceful life on our own but, this is why God made these commandments in the first place because the consequences are really, really bad to the victims. And I don’t think that the abusers feel the consequences that much, and if they did, they’d probably stop, but because the consequences to them aren’t really that big of a deal, you know, why is she so freaked out about it. What’s her deal?

Hillevi: And you hit the nail on the head. The initial conversation, I remember I was having with Dary at the very beginning, it was just sex. I just wanted different sex, it’s no big deal. It was just sex. Now, this is coming from a guy who’s been in church and on a worship team and knows all those commandments and knows what the Word of God has to say about sexual purity, but for him, that was how he dismissed it. It was like sex was nothing, and it had no consequences on my heart. And the idea of two becoming one, that intimate weaving of our flesh, of our spirits, of our minds. It was like, that was all out the window. And at some point, his heart was so hardened, that he could look me in the eyes and say, but it was just sex. WOW!

Support the BTR Podcast

Anne: Hillevi, it has been amazing to spend this time with you, and like you said, just talking to my friend, who we’ve been friends from afar but definitely kindred spirits, which is why I use the name Anne Blythe. So, thank you so much for coming on these episodes.

Hillevi: Thank you so much for asking me to be here and be a part of this wonderful ministry that you have.

Anne: If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.

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