enduring custody battle with narcissist
How To Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist

3 must-know tips for victims preparing to divorce their narcissistic partner.

Many victims of betrayal and relational abuse are faced with the daunting task of protecting their children from their narcissistic and abusive father.

Too many women are pushed to their limits financially, emotionally, and physically as they fight for custody of their children. Isabelle, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Community, is one such victim.

Isabelle joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to share her harrowing experience and offer validation, empowerment, and information for other victims of narcissistic abuse. Read the full transcript below and tune in to the BTR podcast for more.

Thinking about separating from and/or divorcing your abusive, narcissistic husband? These 3 MUST-KNOW tips will help you along the process.

#1 Prepare For Intimidation And More Abuse When Divorcing a Narcissist

He threatened me that if he ever heard the words “separation, divorce, attorneys” come out of my mouth again he was taking everything we owned and leaving me and the kids and no one could make him ever pay child support or anything.

Isabelle, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community

When victims of narcissistic abuse begin to take action toward separation and divorce, abusive men almost always increase the severity of their abusive behaviors. This can include:

  • Physical threats
  • Threats to take the children
  • Threats to tell “everyone” that you are crazy, abusive, a bad parent, etc.
  • Being cut-off financially from bank accounts
  • Physical attacks
  • Rape
  • Intimidation through yelling, trapping you in the house/bedroom, destroying property
  • Attempts at manipulation through shaming you for putting the children through a divorce
  • Turning family and friends against you
  • Voyeurism (planting cameras in your home, car, etc)
  • Threats of self-harm or suicide

Victims Can Prepare NOW To Protect Themselves

Expecting and preparing for the possible escalation of abuse is an absolute necessity for every woman considering separation and/or divorce from a narcissist.

Victims can prepare by compiling evidence to obtain a restraining order, finding a safe place to stay where he is not allowed to visit (a family member or friend who is fully supportive of you), and preparing a “safe” bag that includes the items that you will need if you have to leave in a hurry (clothing, cash, important documents, medication).

#2 When Divorcing a Narcissist, Expect Outright Lies & Manipulation

It can be infuriating to hear the lies that narcissistic abusers spew in and out of the court room. Abusers will lie to judges, attorneys, police officers, colleagues, and your people. Your boss, your family, your friends, your children.

Understanding that this is simply the reality can help you steel yourself against the frustration and set appropriate boundaries to help you be as protected as possible from his abusiveness.

I had to prove [what he had done to me] and I had to disprove that I was a delusional liar.

Isabelle, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community

How Can Victims Endure The Lying?

It is especially difficult when a narcissistic abuser lies to the courts because abusers are, by nature, incredible manipulators. Women often find themselves on the defensive, trying to clear their own names of things that they have never done.

When this happens, a strong support system, daily self-care, and a legal team that understand trauma and abuse are important foundations for getting through and eventually healing.

#3 Understand That Courts Will Often Favor The Abuser

Tragically, most courts do not take emotional, psychological, and marital sexual abuse seriously.

A high percentage of women are treated like they are crazy, lying, or exaggerating the abuse that they have endured.

Anticipating the lack of equality in the courtroom helps women to know how to plan ahead.

Victims can:

  • Hire an attorney/legal team that understand abuse and trauma
  • Talk to an abuse expert to help you uncover any covert physical abuse – oftentimes it is hard to identify without a supportive person’s help. If you can truthfully submit testimony of physical abuse, you may be taken more seriously.
  • Speak with a divorce expert for guidance on how to speak, dress, and act in court. Because abusers are generally favored by courts, women have to work harder for justice. It’s messed up, but it’s the truth.

The Truth Is The Truth: Even When Divorcing A Narcissist

The truth WILL set you free… eventually. Isabelle shares how, after years of fighting, she was finally able to get custody of her children:

It wasn’t until near the very end of going to trial that he, in front of three of the older children, bit my youngest child hard enough that there was still a bite mark when she got home to me. I was able to get her to the guardian ad litem so she could see the evidence, and then she had to stop saying that the children and I lied, that we were the liars.

Isabelle, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Narcissistic Abuse

At BTR, we understand the terror, devastation, and grief that accompanies divorcing a narcissist. The fear of losing your children, the intense anger when your character is lied about and trampled… it is truly one of the hardest experiences many victims face.

Every victim deserves a safe place to process trauma, share their stories, ask questions, and make connections with other victims who get it.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers women that safe space of validation, support, and compassion. Join today.

Remember, you are not alone.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

Last week, I started my conversation with Isabelle about her abusive relationship with a man who was not only deceiving her and lying to her and viewing pornography, but also marital rape. If you didn’t hear the first part of our interview together, please go to last week’s episode, catch up there first, and then join us here today.

Remember to join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. You can get in to talk to a professional BTR Coach and other women who are going through similar circumstances today, because our schedule has multiple sessions per day in multiple time zones.

Now, we’re going to continue the conversation we had last week with Isabelle.

Legalized Marital Rape Helps Narcissists In Court Battles

Anne: As you were getting divorced, you had mentioned that the marital rape issue became an issue with the law. Can you talk about that and how that made things worse for you in the divorce?

Isabelle: Yes. When I first decided that I was going to need an attorney, I first went talking to attorneys for a legal separation. Being Catholic I thought, “I can’t get a divorce, but the kids and I need to get out of here.” Of course, they said, “Oh, no. You’re being abused. Your children are being abused. You need a divorce if you’re going to really be safe.”

Even Catholic attorneys were telling me that, just, “You need a divorce.” I didn’t tell anyone. Even when I hired my first attorney, the first questions I asked him were, “To get a divorce will I ever have to talk about things that went on between him and I?” That’s how I phrased it. “Will I have to prove anything?”

Narcissists Do Not Handle Rejection Well

He said, “Oh, no. It’s a no-fault state, anybody can get a divorce. You don’t like that he snores, you get a divorce.” Not quite true, because I told him, I said, “No one will believe me. No one will believe me. They will believe him.” I went ahead, and I filed for the divorce. I even told my former husband, when I told him that I filed for the divorce, that we can just work this out.

Anne: Was he shocked when you told him?

Isabelle: He said he was. He sure acted like he was, which I had already told him, a few months before, that I had seen an attorney about a legal separation. Of course, he just threatened me that if he ever heard the words separation, divorce, attorneys come out of my mouth again he was taking everything we owned and leaving me and the kids and no one could make him ever pay child support or anything.

“He Probably Never Told Me The Truth About Anything”

Anne: You actually do it, amid his threats and, my guess is, he was kind of shocked? That would be my guess.

Isabelle: Yeah, I can be pretty certain that he probably never told me the truth about anything. That everything that even sounded like truth had some sort of distortion to it, and that I’d stay in that. That helps me to stop trying to figure it out.

Anne: That’s a good plan. Sorry, if I’m encroaching on that plan.

Isabelle:  Because you can make yourself crazy trying to figure them out. I’ve realized I can’t go in his head. What was funny was I told him that we don’t have to talk about anything. Nobody has to know the things that went on. Even at that point, I was still willing to work out shared parenting and I was trying to be very, very cooperative and make it simple.

“He Started Following Me Around The House”

We had to live together for a few weeks after I filed. He wouldn’t move out. It got to the point where it was just scary. It was very, very scary. He left the divorce papers in the envelope with a crucifix on them in the middle of the kitchen counter.

Every time, I would move them into his office, he would put them back and say, “If you didn’t want to have to look at this,” or, “If you didn’t want the kids to see, then you shouldn’t have done it. Take it back. You can still put an end to this.”

He started following me around the house and trapping me in closets, unlocking the bathroom door and coming in when I was in the shower and not letting me out. It got to the point where I was packing up a bag for myself and my youngest and leaving the house really early in the morning and just trying to hide. Moving around town: the library, Starbucks, wherever I had to go to try and hide.

“In A Second Flat, He Started The Tears In His Eyes”

Finally, after a night of him trapping me in the laundry room for hours and while not knowing there was a child in the room next to us, I said, out loud, that he can go from raging to crying and being the poor little victim, the poor little boy. In a second flat, he started the tears in the eyes, saying, “You know, our problem is really that you just don’t want to admit the ways that you’ve hurt me and, if you could just admit that you haven’t been the perfect wife and that you’ve hurt me, then maybe we could work on getting some change.”

This was after about two hours of being trapped, and I said that that was not true. That I had always admitted that I was not a good wife, but that nothing I had done or failed to do could equal the hurt of him raping me. He looked at me and said, “There you go bringing that up again. When are you going to get over it?”

Witness To A Confession From A Narcissist

We didn’t know it, but our teenage daughter had heard that part of the conversation. The next day, my attorney was able to get him out of the house. He hadn’t hired an attorney yet. He was forced to hire an attorney and the first thing he did was tell his attorney that I was crazy and delusional and mentally ill and that I would start saying all of these things.

He told her all of the things that I would say and that they were all lies and that everyone knew that he was a good Catholic man and husband and father and if they listened to me, they would think he was a monster. They all knew that wasn’t true, that I was the crazy one.

Then, right from the beginning that’s how I was seen, and I had that to disprove. Not only did I have to prove what he had done, I don’t care if anybody ever even knows, now I had to prove it and I had to disprove that I was a delusional liar.

“A Husband Can’t Rape His Wife, You’re Lying”

In eight states in our country, marital rape is not a crime. You cannot charge your spouse with rape. There are spousal exemption laws.

Anne: And you’re living in one of these states at the time?

Isabelle: Yes. I had people within the court system who, immediately, when they heard that I thought he had raped me, that was evidence. Just my thinking that, was evidence that I was a liar because I was told it’s impossible. “A husband can’t rape his wife, you’re lying.”

Anne: I was accused by my ecclesiastical leader of being abusive and the proof he had was that I’d said my husband was abusive. A supportive and nurturing wife does not claim her husband is abusive. Yeah, so I get that.

So, here you are. What happened? What happened next?

Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist By Understanding That The Courts Probably Won’t Believe You

Isabelle: My attorney gets off the phone with his attorney, their first meeting, and he calls me and says, “We have to meet right now. You’re going to have to tell me the story because he’s already gone out there and said you’re going to say A, B, C, D, E, F, G. You have to tell me what happened. Now, he’s made it THE issue.” What I had said nobody ever needed to know, he turned it into the whole issue.

It took over three years, several attorneys, guardian ad litem, custody evaluator, and further trauma for my poor children. The system and their father, the people appointed within the court, who were supposed to protect the children, further traumatized them.

I know exactly what you meant when you said that you would wish that he would’ve hit you. No one within the system wanted to believe that what he had done was abuse or physical abuse, and the courts really didn’t seem to care at all about the emotional and psychological abuse. Not of me and not of my children.

“There Were Moments Of Almost Despair”

It didn’t matter that, in the course of the divorce. two children were hospitalized for suicidal ideation. Children’s services were called several times during his parenting time. None of that mattered. It wasn’t until near the very end of going to trial that he, in front of three of the older children, bit my youngest child hard enough that there was still a bite mark when she got home to me.

I was able to get her to the guardian ad litem so she could see the evidence, and then she had to stop saying that the children and I lied, that we were the liars.

We still went to trial. I can see now, and even at the time, there were moments of almost despair but there were also moments when I could see that God was at work and that His timing is perfect, and He knows the whole story. He can see it all and we have tunnel vision.

In the end, it had to take that long and get to that point because now my children don’t have to see him unless they want to. Which, where I am, the attorney and everyone said that that is miraculous.

“They’re Forced To Go, And They Don’t Like It”

Anne: My kids would love that. That’s how they feel right now. Like, “We just wish we didn’t have to go unless we wanted to,” but they’re forced to go, and they don’t like it.

Isabelle: In the end, it all worked out beyond what anyone could imagine. The safety and the peace that we have now—before, I was living in an absolute nightmare. Whether I was awake or asleep, it was just a nightmare. Now, there are days when I walk around and I’m like, “Wait a minute. Am I dreaming? Am I awake?” It’s like, “Is this real?”

Anne: Do you feel like—I feel like this sometimes and I think it’s just a terrible thing to say—but, when I’m at church and the other women at church are talking about the HOA and how they charge them an extra $25 or whatever, just stuff like that, that they’re really concerned about, I’m smiling.

Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist By Remembering The Big Picture

I’m thinking, “Oh, you poor women, who are so upset about the HOA. I wish you had gone through hell. Then, you’d be like, ‘Oh, who cares about the HOA.’” I don’t know if that’s how you feel sometimes. “Oh, I’m so blessed, and life is so good that these little things aren’t a big deal.”

I’m sure, even with the safety that you feel, there are still things that are happening. Do you still live in the same city or are you completely away from him now?

Isabelle: No. Not completely away. In a different home now.

Narcissists Often Sexually Abuse Their Wives

Do you know of chronic pelvic floor dysfunction? Do I need to describe what that is a little bit?

Anne: Yeah, you should describe it. I don’t really know and then I’m sure some other listeners don’t know, but I’m guessing it has something to do with being raped repeatedly, abused, and having nine kids?

Isabelle: For years, I had debilitating physical pain. Sometimes, the pain was all over my entire body, so I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, herniated discs, and all kinds of back diagnoses. Tested for lupus repeatedly, and just thrown on lots and lots of meds to try this and try that. Nothing worked. Years and years of physical therapy.

It wasn’t until he was forced to move out of the marital residence that, all of a sudden, PTSD symptoms popped up. I guess that’s because, when you’re actually still being abused, it’s not considered PTSD.

Pelvic Pain Is An Indicator Of Sexual Abuse

Anne: No, it’s still trauma. Constant trauma. I love it when women are living with their abuser, they say things like, “I got triggered today and I need to know how to deal with the triggers.” I’m like, “No, you got triggered because you’re still in abuse.”

Isabelle: Yeah, and this was like flashbacks and PTSD nightmares and that all started. The pain that I experienced was, primarily, in my pelvic area. My hips and my back and it would shoot down my legs. Basically, I lived feeling as though I was being raped all the time. All the time. It began to trigger memories of rapes that I didn’t even have a conscious memory of. I would start to see them, feel them, relive them.

Now, the pain, I’m living in this chronic pain, it’s triggering all these memories. There were moments, even driving the car when, all of a sudden, I’d find myself screaming, “Get off of me!” It became a real problem in the divorce case because it was looking like I was crazy to people who didn’t believe that I had been traumatized.

“She Could Feel Fear”

Why did I have PTSD now? Why were my kids saying I was crying all the time and not able to sleep? It was very scary because they were using it to try and threaten to take the kids from me. “Well, if you’re not well, you know, the kids should not be living with you.”

I ended up seeing a new physical therapist, a young woman, who after only treating me a few times for my back pain asked me if she could ask me a personal question. She asked me if I had ever been sexually abused. Of course, I was like, “Why? Why would you even ask that?” She said that the way that my body was responding, first of all, she could feel fear.

She could feel fear when she touched me, and she said those muscles, in a woman, clench and tighten like that because they are trying to protect. That’s what they do, is protect that part of your body. She said, “What you really need is an internal pelvic floor therapist. This isn’t a back problem. It’s your internal muscles, it’s your pelvic floor muscles.”

Sexual And Emotional Pain Can Only Begin To Heal When Victims Begin To Experience Safety

It took a long time for me to get up the courage to go see someone, and I went through a couple of years of doctors who specialized in chronic pelvic floor pain and internal physical floor therapists. Botox injections, where they put me to sleep and dig ten needles into my pelvic floor. Nothing. Nothing working.

It got to the point where, pretty much, they all said, “Look, until you’re divorced and you go through years of EMDR and therapy and get over the PTSD, we really can’t do anything more for the pelvic pain.” One of them was ready to testify at my divorce trial and say, “She’ll never be able to work. She’ll never be healed from this.”    

Two Battles Endured And Won

The divorce gets done. It was actually just this past Valentine’s Day. One of the things that I have been using to try and cope with the pain and the flashbacks from the pain was my therapist had made me Catholic guided visualizations and muscle relaxation recordings.

You know, progressive muscle relaxation takes you through each of the parts of your body and has you relax those muscles. She added to it having Jesus standing there touching me and, me, feeling His warmth and healing power relaxing my muscles and His tenderness. She would move into Him touching my back and my abdomen and my pelvic floor muscles relaxing in the warmth of His healing.

“I Felt Those Muscles Just Give”

On that night, lying there in my bed, I just started sobbing, and I said, “Jesus, I’m so tired. I can’t keep just imagining you touching me and healing me. I can’t do this. I’m so tired.” Immediately… Immediately, this warmth and this comforting, I don’t know, I want to call it a heaviness, but not the heaviness I knew from the sadness and the suffocation, this was like being held so tightly. Just warmth and peace, and I felt those muscles just give.

Like, just relax and they hadn’t relaxed in 20 some years. I actually fell asleep lying on my back and I slept through the night. I slept through the night on my back, which never ever would I have done that.

I woke up and I thought, “Wow! Jesus, you gave me a good night’s sleep. Thank you!” I thought that was the miracle. I had slept through the night without any nightmares. “You gave me a goodnight’s sleep, thank you.” I got up and I started getting them ready for school and when I bent down in the kitchen to pick something up and I just stood up like I didn’t have to hold on to the counter.

“I Had No Pain. I Have No Pain.”

“Oh my gosh, something’s wrong, where is my pain? Where is my pain?” It has never come back. After about a month of no pain I went back to the internal pelvic floor therapist and asked her to please do an exam and feel those muscles and see. Were they really healed?

She had tears in her eyes, and she said, “I cannot explain it.” She said, “I would expect more dysfunction in your pelvic floor just for being the age that you are, having the number of kids that you do, and never exercising, and they’re healed.”

She said, “They are soft.” She told me they used to feel like hard, dry clay and it was so painful that she could never even reach all of them because I would just begin to have flashbacks. I had no pain. I have no pain. When He healed the physical pain, it healed the PTSD.

I no longer take any medications of any kind. There is no depression. There is no bipolar. It was all abuse. It was all the effects of abuse.

Finding Miracles In The Battles You’re Enduring

Anne: That is an amazing story. I’m so grateful that you shared it. I’ve been thinking about miracles a lot lately. Like big miracles and this is one of them. There are several things in my life, I want to see a big miracle. It’s interesting to me that you weren’t necessarily looking for a big miracle, right. You were just wanting to relax at that moment.

I wrote down all the big miracles that I would like to see, and I wrote them on a piece of paper, and I said a prayer. I said, “God, I can’t do the loaves and the fishes or bring Lazarus back to life or anything like that. I’ve tried those things and I’m not spiritual enough or not capable or whatever,” and I wrote them down and I prayed.

I said, “These are the things that I would like to see but I’m going to leave it up to you.” I put it in a drawer and I’ve just left it there, but hearing your story gives me hope. Not necessarily for the miracles that I want, but to surrender my will and my life to God and let Him bring to pass the miracles that He sees fit.

See The Miracles As You Endure Your Custody Battle With A Narcissist

I’m so grateful hearing your story that that’s the miracle that He bestowed on you in addition to all the tiny miracles that both of us probably see every day, and maybe don’t recognize.

Isabelle: You know, when you were talking about how you hear other women and the things that they’re worried about and complaining about. I don’t worry anymore. That, to me, is a miracle too. I have seen what God can do. What He saved us from. Little miracle, big miracle, what do I have to worry about? What will He not take care of when I trust in him? Now I see miracles all the time. Everything.

I think about how it really is true that, when you have seen the deepest, blackest darkness then it’s like the light is so beautiful and brilliant. Sometimes, I just say to him, “God, when are the miracles going to stop? You don’t have to give me anymore. You’re overwhelming me,” but I think it’s because we’ve seen the darkness, that now what other people miss sometimes, I don’t miss it anymore because I know what it’s like on the other side.

Trust That Things Will Be Okay

Anne: Yeah, and I’m grateful to talk to you today because I think I’ve been—I don’t know if angry is the right word—resentful, frustrated but there are these prayers I’ve been praying that would take a huge miracle, right. He’s answering the little prayers.

Just over this week, we got to this camp spot and it didn’t work out, and I told my kids to pray that we’ll find a better camp spot and we drove up and there was a great camp spot. I had everybody pray and be grateful. I’m like, “Okay, He’s answering all these little prayers and these big ones aren’t happening.”

Isabelle: Do you know what though? Do you think you could look and see, if maybe the big ones are, but they’re not happening in one big shocking moment?

Anne: Yeah. It might be, and that’s what prompted me to write them down because I recognized that part of my problem is that I have so much faith that when I pray and I know God can do things and He doesn’t do them, I also know they’re good, it’s not like I’m praying for—  

Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist: Fill Your Tank With Strength and Positivity

Isabelle: Just to win the lottery so you can go buy some new clothes and cars.

Anne: Yeah, although that would be great. I know these would be good things and they don’t happen. I get like, “Why? You’re God, you can do anything.” It feels like He’s purposefully withholding it or something. I recognize all the little ones and that’s why I decided I’m just going to write these down. These are the things that I am frustrated about and I’m going to put them into a box and I’m going to pray about it and I’m going to give it to Him.

Ever since then, I’ve just been praying that my desires and my will, will be in line with His so that I can see the miracles that He wants to give me. The ones that He decides, “This is the right thing for you.” I can recognize that and live in gratitude rather than just being frustrated all the time. Like, “Why isn’t this happening?”

Isabelle: Yeah, I think that’s huge. I would pray, when I was in all that pain, especially in the divorce, because I knew they could use it to take the kids from me. On top of the pain and the flashbacks, it was scary.

It was so scary, and I would pray and ask “Why? I know you can do miracles. If you can heal me with one word, why are you not healing this?” Part of it was that His timing, He knew the right timing for it.

Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist: Faith & Hope

My pelvic floor therapist, you know she said, “I always knew God would heal you, but I thought it would take a lot of time and you would have to work really hard at it.”

Anne: The other thing I think is fascinating, if you don’t mind me really getting into this, is that He can heal you instantly and He did, right. Why not during the divorce proceedings where you’re in so much pain? Logically speaking with our mortal minds, it would have been a really good time to heal you because then you may have been more confident or stronger or less emotional.

Isabelle: This is what I learned, because I learned to trust in Him. I learned that He knows better than I do. I learned that, even in the horrible pain I was in and the emotional pain, with Jesus with me, within me, I can do all things. People have said, “You were unstoppable. How did you do it? It was not humanly possible.” Now, I can witness to people that, with Jesus, if you rely on Jesus, you can do all things through Him. You can, and I did it. It’s hard for me to say it. This is probably the first time I have actually said I did it out loud, because it’s hard for me to take any credit for it, but I could not have done it alone.

Believe In Miracles As You Endure Your Custody Battle With A Narcissist

Anne: You’re not glorying in yourself, you’re glorying in Jesus, right, and in God.

Isabelle: That’s the thing, people who hear my story, and the people I know who walked my story with me, are like, “There’s no way. It’s not humanly possible. God was with you because no one could do that alone.”

Anne: Absolutely. Absolutely, and I’m proud and honored to be able to hear your story, especially at a time like this in my particular life where I’m hoping and praying for miracles that I’m not necessarily seeing yet or maybe ever, but to know that they do happen and the angels are with us and that God loves us.

I want all of our listeners, who are praying for miracles to know that, even though you might not recognize your miracle right now, or you might not see it, but that it will happen or something like it. I prayed for a miracle in 2015, and then, a few months later, my ex was actually arrested, which is not what I thought the miracle would look like, but that’s what it looked like for me.

Trust That Good Will Triumph As You Endure Your Custody Battle

Isabelle: Yeah, that maybe, because our human sight is short-sighted, and when we think that our prayers only have one way that it could possibly be answered, God’s up there saying, “Oh, no. You know what, I can see a hundred possibilities for answering that prayer.” And He does it in a way that is not what we thought but is just always coming back to the fact that He is love.

He IS love. Nothing but love, and after having been abused by a narcissist, that just is incomprehensible sometimes, most of the time, to see how God loves. It’s so different, and so just trusting in that love and that He only wants what’s good for us.

Anne: Isabelle, I appreciate your faith and your testimony today and your willingness to come share such a vulnerable story. I know so many other women are going through similar things, and I hope that, through listening to this podcast, they come away with a couple of things.

It’s Not Just Psychological Or Emotional Abuse

Number one, that God absolutely loves them and that they have not been abandoned, and that, if they hold on to God’s love and know that they don’t deserve to be abused and harmed, even if it’s “just” psychologically, even if it’s “just” emotional abuse, even if it’s “just” that their husband is viewing pornography, which is a gateway to harm and abuse, that they can make their way to safety because they deserve to be absolutely adored and loved like God loves them.

I hope that women can take that with them today. Knowing that through your story, that they can know that God loves them too just as much as He loves you and continues to love you.

Isabelle: And He made us. We were created by love for love and we are loved. Not for abuse, we’re not created for abuse.

Anne: Yeah, and abuse is Satan, right. It’s Satan’s tool. Women who have been in our situation, I feel like we have looked in the eyes of evil. We’ve seen evil. We’ve had it in our home, and it’s like a nightmare. A never-ending nightmare.

Learn About Abuse And Trauma

Thank you. I would love to check in with you again in a few months. I’m sure listeners would love to hear how you’re doing, so stay tuned. Maybe in six months, or so, we’ll have Isabelle on the podcast again to talk about where she is now and how she’s doing. Thank you so much for your time, Isabelle.

Isabelle: Thank you.

Anne: The reason I want to talk about and educate women about verbal abuse or emotional abuse is because, if they know about the porn use or if they know about the infidelity, usually women focus on that, which is a good thing to focus on, but they also don’t realize the ways in which they’re being psychologically or emotionally abused. If they’re educated about it, then they can make good decisions about it. They can say, “Oh, I’m not being abused in this manner,” or they could say, “Whoa, I didn’t realize it.”

Endure A Custody Battle With A Narcissist By Becoming Educated About Abuse

I think, as women learn more about psychological, verbal, emotional, and spiritual abuse, they’re able to better asses the safety of their situation. For women who are afraid of the word abuse or they’re thinking, “Oh, I don’t want to go down this road because I don’t want to get divorced,” if you put your safety first and if you think, “I’m going to learn about what it means to be safe,” then you will make your way to a better place, whatever that is.

Some of you, in your study of emotional abuse, might realize that your husband is not emotionally abusive in these ways, and that can put your mind at ease and comfort your heart. Learning about it is not the problem. The abuse, in and of itself, is the problem, and so I always want you to remember that.

Support Betrayal Trauma Recovery

I’m currently reading the book The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans and I want everybody, after this episode, to go to the library and put it on hold. It really opened my eyes.

I think it will help everyone really understand the verbal abuse that women experience in this scenario. We know that pornography use adds to this dynamic of a woman being an object or a man feeling entitled to power over her.

Remember to follow us on social media. You can also find us on Instagram @BetrayalTraumaRecovery, on Facebook look for Betrayal Trauma Recovery, and on Twitter @BetrayalTrauma. We’d love to interact with you on our social media platforms.

It really means a lot to me when you guys comment on these podcast articles and I get to see your responses and see what you think. I also really appreciate all of you who have rated the podcast.

Until next week, stay safe out there.


  1. Princess Karaoke

    I can’t thank you enough for these wonderful and incredibly helpful podcasts. Thank you for your bravery and efforts to share and research all this. One thing I feel I would like to comment on (and I mean absolutely no offence or disrespect) is that I am not Christian and I sometimes find it difficult to feel akin to when you use the words Christ, Satan, God etc. but I do not consider myself to be unspiritual so, during your podcasts when you refer to these I replace them with: the Light side, the Dark side, or the Force which I find easier to connect with – don’t laugh! ?

    • Anne Blythe

      I love it! I’m so glad you shared:). Yes, I don’t want to alienate non-Christians, and I appreciate the patience and generosity you show when you allow me to describe it from my faith paradigm. Thank you. Would you consider coming on the podcast to talk about this? I love to hear all perspectives:). Email my assistant and she can schedule the interview:).

  2. Dovid B

    Wow! I just listened to both parts of Isabelle’s story. I was really hoping that Isabelle’s husband would end up in jail for multiple consecutive life sentences. So that didn’t happen, but I am very happy to hear she got full custody of her children and that she was healed miraculously from her physical and psychological pain.

    What I am still very worried about is her children who, while they no longer have to be abused by their father, are most likely completely traumatized by their experiences growing up.

    It is unfathomable that raping and physically abusing a women in the way she described for so many decades would not be against the law. While I am not in government or a lawyer, it seems to me that the laws are due for some major changes in those eight states. It also made me really angry that the court appointed representatives who where supposed to help your children also, further traumatized them. G-d willing, some brave Sheros will help to transform these messed up systems of law to better serve abused women and children.

    • Anne Blythe

      Yes, as it currently stands, the custody laws see the abuser and the victim as equals in terms of custody. Unless there is significant proof that he has physically or sexually abused the children (or in jail for something), he is seen as an equal in the eyes of the law when it comes to custody. It’s extremely sad and wrong.

  3. Anonymous

    When I went through my very similar divorce, I wasn’t able to find this type of encouragement. I frequently research narcissism because of the trauma, and I believe my daughter may have some traits as well. The experience was a waking nightmare. I was so naive, ignorant, blinded that I didn’t fully see the truth until he completely removed his mask after almost 20 years of marriage and 3 kids.

    My situation called for miracles, and it was the most painful thing I think I’ll ever experience. He tried to get me to leave the marital home, I’m sure to give the appearance of abandonment. Instead, he left and took the kids with him. Thankfully, the most grievous loss was the kids, so his affair and abandonment didn’t affect me as much. I was the primary caregiver, a stay at home mom, and very close to my children. I was in disbelief and bewildered. I think others, including my own family, were perplexed because he tried very hard to charm them.

    I do remember finding an article about a mom who lost custody because her ex had strong political ties. I believe she lost her children when they were small and had not seen them still as they were approaching adulthood. This story was horrifying. I usually don’t comment but feel compelled because I lived it and wish to give others desperately needed hope.

    I magnify and Glorify the Lord because He loves me so much. He provided everything I needed. He fought the battle because I couldn’t. I tried hard to make sound decisions, but I just seemed to encounter so many of the problems that were warned about on this podcast. It was the fight of my life, and I wanted to die. I couldn’t seem to win, and perhaps it was so others could see the impossibility of the situation and realize the Greatness of God. Gods still untangling the mess in His timing 10 yrs later. Friends, invite Christ into your life. Hand it to His father and trust Him to fix it and heal you perfectly. Prepare yourself to be provided for and loved in unexpected ways. He will show Himself mightily through your trial and you will grow closer to Him. You’ll learn a lot, and it will be so much more than OK!!!



  1. How To Deal With Narcissism | Betrayal Trauma Recovery - […] If you decide to leave the marriage, you will still need plenty of support and self-care. The abuse will…

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