Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

Many women who attend Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group realize that one of the most vital things that they’ve lost through their trauma is themselves.

Discovering that her life is not what she thought it was can leave a woman facing a stranger in the mirror.

Trying to get back to what she once loved can be a challenge.

For some women, that love has changed.

For others, it remains the same, but their passion is gone.

For each of these women, getting back to herself, whether it’s a new her or an old her, can be the best thing in her healing journey.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, continues her discussion with Julianne Cusick. Julianne is a Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul. Julianne is a betrayal trauma specialist and works with women one-on-one and in support groups. Previously, Julianne shared her own experience and her own journey to healing. This time, she turned the tables on Anne and asked Anne about her healing journey.

Losing Yourself In Emotional Abuse

Abuse comes in many different forms. The most damaging of these forms can be emotional and psychological abuse.

This type of abuse can include lying, manipulation, and gaslighting.

These create confusion in the victim.

They cause the victim to question themselves and they begin to doubt their own truth.

When this happens, it’s easy to lose their identity.

Sometimes it’s as simple as an activity they used to love.

Julianne Cusick, who started out as the guest, turned the questions on Anne to found out what part of herself she lost when she was being abused.

For many abused women, their sole purpose becomes keeping their abuser happy.

To do this, they often set aside their own feelings, desires, and passions.

Essentially, they set aside themselves.

For Anne, once she got married, her focus became her husband and, as they came along, her children.

Anne has always loved the outdoors and being active.

“I’ve always been really athletic, and everything went out the window when this all went down. I didn’t ski anymore, I didn’t mountain bike anymore, I didn’t row anymore. I didn’t do any of the things that I really loved doing.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery  

When trauma really hit Anne, as with most betrayed and abused women, she could barely function, let alone do the things she used to enjoy.

Part of a woman’s journey to healing from abuse and trauma becomes rediscovering who she used to be and who she is now.

Finding Yourself Again After Emotional Abuse

Anne began to do a few things as she started down the healing path.

She started writing a book.

At first, she loaded it with examples of abuse from her own experience. She had about 100 pages of examples.

She sent it to an editor who helped her with organization.

When she got it back, she began reading it and discovered something amazing.

“I was so sick of my own story and I thought that was a really good sign. It was a healing moment for me and I’m deleting huge sections out of it because I don’t have to hold him accountable, so to speak, for every single little instance anymore.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Anne realized that she no longer felt the need to prove that her ex was abusive and that other women could tell their own stories, helping her accomplish the same goal: to show specific examples of abuse.

Another thing Anne did as she started healing was to start a podcast, which grew into Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

As Anne has moved further down her healing path, she has rediscovered the outdoors and physical activity, which is bringing her great joy.

“Now, I’m getting back to that. I’m doing yoga every day and I’m weightlifting again. Coming back to myself has been a huge relief!”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

The journey hasn’t been easy, but Anne continues moving forward.

Getting Back To Yourself After Emotional Abuse

Anne and Julianne have both found ways to help find themselves again after trauma and abuse.

They provide helpful tips for getting back to yourself after abuse.

How To Get Back To Yourself After Emotional Abuse

  • Take care of your physical health.
  • Allow yourself to feel everything when you are ready.
  • Find support and be a support.
  • Remember that healing takes time.
  • Be gentle with yourself.

Many women who experience betrayal trauma and abuse tend to have health problems.

Oftentimes, they put their own needs aside to take care of others, which puts them at risk for significant health problems.

Anne makes sure she takes the time to care for her body.

“Focusing on my own physical health has been good.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Like many other women in trauma, for several years, Anne took a prescribed anti-depressant. Without a diagnosis of clinical depression, she chose to go off her medication so she could make more progress in her healing journey.

At the same time, she decided that she would stop stuffing her emotions with junk food. It turned out to be an extremely emotional but progressive month for her.

“Recently, there was about a month where I was crying every day. There were some feelings that I hadn’t quite felt in a while and that lasted about a month. It would have killed me if I would have had to feel everything all at the same time. Now, I’m at the stage where I could handle pretty intense emotions. I was stronger so I could handle it.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Anne had made the decision to start an anti-depressant because she was struggling.

Julianne agrees that sometimes medication can help a woman get through a really rough period, whether it’s through fresh trauma or a couple of years later.

“There is no shame with medication. It is there for a reason and it wouldn’t work if we didn’t need it. Some women need it right away because of the amount of dysregulation and the trauma symptoms that they’re having. I’ve also seen women that get through that period but a year or two out, when they can finally exhale, they notice that they’re slipping into a depression and need some support, at that time.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Anne agrees and adds that women tend to know what they need, when they need it, and they should pay attention to that.

“Women are really strong, and they’re really smart. The stronger you get, the more you can really think rationally through those decisions and make the right choice for you, whatever it is. The more healed we get, the more we’re able to make better choices for ourselves.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Since trauma affects the entire person, Julianne says it’s important to get help for the body and the mind.

“There is absolutely no shame at all in getting support through this because our systems—it affects our whole body and all of the chemicals that our body makes.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Julianne expressed appreciation for Anne’s courage in finally letting herself feel the feelings she wasn’t ready for a few years ago.

“I love that you gave yourself the freedom and permission to just feel your feelings that were coming up as you chose to take some steps with your coping mechanisms.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

It’s important for women to make sure they have safe support that can help them through those rough times when the feelings are intense.

Another thing Julianne and Anne have both done is to find support and be a support to other women.

Anne started Betrayal Trauma Recovery to help other women know that they aren’t suffering alone.

Julianne started support groups when her husband started getting requests from wives of the men he was helping in recovery. Providing these support groups allowed Julianne to help others where there hadn’t been adequate support before.

“As I started running these support groups for wives, I really started to see the impact and the trauma that they were experiencing. I never really bought into that whole codependency/co-addict model. That’s all that was out there when I was going through this. Thankfully, that did not influence my recovery process, but it has impacted many women and not for good.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Julianne says that even five years after her D-day, she was still struggling with some things because healing takes time.

“Even for me, even though Michael was repentant and disclosed everything and was doing his work, five years out, I was still hurting and struggled with trust. Something from the past would come up into the present and it was like the past would come rushing forward like, ‘Here I am again,’ with all of the pain and the fear and insecurity. You know, ‘Can I really trust you? Have you really changed?’ It is a long process.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

It’s been more than 20 years for Julianne now, and she is definitely in a much better place and much further along the healing path.

For Anne, however, she’s still moving along but has come a long way since she first started five years ago.

“Time has helped a lot too. It’s taken a lot of time to process.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Whether it’s been 20 years or 5 years, healing takes time. Julianne says the longer a woman is in it, the longer the healing may take, so women should be patient with themselves.

Anne agrees and reminds women that progress is progress.

“Knowing that this takes time and it takes processing. Even if you’re making forward progress, be gentle with yourself.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Whether a woman has been working on her healing for one day, one year, or one decade it’s still a process that takes time and patience.

If You Want To Get Back To Yourself After Emotional Abuse, Make Safety Your Priority

Before a woman can even begin to heal, she needs to be safe.

Safety should be her first priority, then she can begin her healing journey, otherwise, she’ll continue to be reinjured.

Julianne reminds Anne that finding the right treatment for the addict abuser is vital. If the right treatment isn’t found, then the abusive behaviors will continue and the woman will continue to be traumatized.

Finding a therapist who digs into the root of the issue is going to be the best route.

“Unless you get underneath the waterline and you look at the source, you know, where it’s coming from and what’s fueling the behavior, really, we’re just managing symptoms on the surface.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Julianne says a lot of times these men don’t realize the impact their behavior and choices are going to have on their wife, so finding a therapist who helps him see that, too, is also going to be important.

“Many men don’t set out on purpose [to lie to their wife], they’re trying to keep it separate. But, even if that wasn’t their intent, that is their impact because lying, deceiving, and having a secret double life does have consequences. There is a very significant and serious impact on the wife emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Anne agrees and says that if the abuser goes to a therapist that doesn’t understand abuse, they’re just going to provide the abuser with more ammunition to use on his wife.

“You don’t want to give an abuser a shovel because he’s just going to dig his trench even deeper. Finding someone who really understands abuse on the therapist end for your husband is really, really important because we see all the time that the more fuel a therapist might give him to his entitlement and his feelings of being a victim and stuff like that makes it worse for the wife.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Betrayal Trauma Recovery believes that the best-case scenario is that families and marriages remain intact and become healthy.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the outcome for one reason or another.

Julianne says that a good therapist will do their best to make sure that, if a relationship is going to end, it is going to “end well.”

“When relationships do end, when they’re not restored, what does it need to end well, to limit the damage, especially when children are involved. In some ways, these people are going to be connected for the rest of their lives because of the children, so we believe in ending well.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Anne says that ending well is sometimes get-out-as-fast-as-you-can.

“Sometimes, ‘ending well’ means grabbing your kids and your stuff and getting in the car and never talking to him again. That is the best-case scenario for some women because of the abuse that they are going through.”

-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Julianne agrees and says that a good therapist will always make the wife’s safety their top priority.

Safety has to come first because there is no ending well unless that’s a part of it. A trauma-informed therapist knows that is essential. It’s more on how the therapist provides support and safety for the woman and helps her set those boundaries and minimize the damage to her. To me, that’s ending well, is minimizing the damage.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Julianne was able to stay with her husband because he sought recovery. She knows that isn’t the case for many women and praises those women.

“A round of applause for all the single working moms out there. It’s so hard to do that alone and then, on top of that, you’ve got these multiple betrayal traumas that impacted you emotionally, psychologically, and also impacted you physically.”

-Julianne Cusick, Shero and co-founder of Restoring the Soul

Anne, being a single working mom herself, understands how difficult it is to balance everything and still find time to work on her own healing. That’s one of the reasons she created Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery wants all women, married or single, to have access to professional support. BTR Group provides that support by giving women a safe place to share their experiences. With more than 15 sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a BTR Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I have Julianne Cusick on today’s episode. I interviewed her last week, so if you did not hear that interview, please go to last week and listen to that first. You can hear her bio there. She is incredible and very compassionate.

During this interview, the tables accidentally got turned, which was very delightful, and I really appreciated it. She was really caring and compassionate and started asking me questions. She became the interviewer and I was the interviewee. It made for a fun episode.

Before we get to that, so many women are in so much pain from their husband’s lies, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, the sexual coercion involved with their husband’s porn use, and crossing sexual boundaries. When they find out, they’re devastated.

If this has happened to you, which I’m guessing it has or you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast, but if you didn’t know already, we have a Daily Support Group where you can talk to one of our professional coaches. Our professional coaches are the best. They are amazing. They immediately understand what’s going on. They immediately understand the abuse and they can help you.

You can get into one of our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group sessions most likely within four to six hours, so check out our website. You can see when the next session starts and you can talk with one of our coaches and talk with women in this situation face-to-face, online from your computer, smartphone, wherever you are. You also don’t have to get childcare. Go to btr.org, click on Online Support Group, which is under the Services tab, to learn more.

Now, for my continued interview with Julianne.

Your Healing Journey Can Help You Get Back To Yourself After Abuse

Julianne: What are some of the steps that you’re taking and have taken that have helped you regain your own sense of balance and to heal from this?

Anne: Hey, the interview just kind of swapped where now you’re the interviewer and I’m the interviewee?

Julianne: I’m just curious about you?

Anne: Yeah, if our listeners don’t mind then I’ll just talk about myself for a little while. Which I always do, which they know.

When I first started writing my book, I wrote, literally, every single abuse episode that I could think of. Every instance of gaslighting. Every instance of emotional or psychological abuse, every single instance. It was like 100 pages, it was crazy, it was huge. It’s been in editing for a long time. Another editor is just working on it.

She sent the version back and I started reading it and I was so sick of my own story and I thought that was a really good sign. I started reading the first few chapters to outline the things that he did, because I wanted to give people really concrete examples and I was like, “Ugh, I don’t want to read this.”

Instead of thinking like, “I have to prove that he was abusive,” which is how I felt before. Now I’m like, “We can use examples from 30 or 40 other women in the book.” I was thinking that these other women’s examples will suffice for this. It was just a healing moment for me and I’m deleting huge sections out of it because I don’t have to hold him accountable, so to speak, for every single little instance anymore.

Julianne: And you don’t have to prove why it was so crazy-making for you.

Anne: Yeah, so writing has been really healing for me. I’m a writer, so that’s how the book started. It was my personal account so that I could sort through what was going on and what was real and what wasn’t real. Now that I’ve healed more it’s less for me because I don’t need to process that anymore and now more for which examples really will help other women.

I’ve been doing Yoga every day so that’s been really helpful. My no-contact boundary is actually the most helpful thing for me. Like I said, any interaction is just insane. Focusing on my own physical health has been good. I’ve always been really athletic, and everything went out the window when this all went down.

In fact, the moment I married him I didn’t ski anymore, I didn’t mountain bike anymore, I didn’t row anymore. I didn’t do any of the things that I really loved doing, and now I’m getting back to that. I’m doing yoga every day and I’m weightlifting again. I may work up at the ski resort on the weekends when my kids are gone.

Coming back to myself has been a huge relief, “I’m getting back to myself!”

Julianne: I love that phrase by the way, “Coming back to myself.”

Anne: Yeah, and part of that was the abuse and also part of it was that I had three kids under the age of six and getting out of the house was really hard. They’re getting older now and my youngest is five. She was 11 months old when he was arrested. Time has helped a lot too. It’s taken a lot of time to process.

Getting Back To Yourself After Abuse Takes Time

I was thinking today, it’s been almost five years now, because it was in 2015 when he was arrested. I’ve improved so much. In fact, I just went through a pretty hard period. I went off my anti-depressant and I decided I was going to eat better. I wasn’t going to emotionally eat anymore.

There was about a month where I was crying every day. Really bad, like hysterical, in the shower, at church having to find a room where no one was, locking myself in there, sitting on the floor, full-on bawling my head off about everything that happened because I didn’t have the crutch of food anymore, and I didn’t have my anti-depressants. There were some feelings that I hadn’t quite felt in a while and that lasted about a month.

My sister was getting very worried about me and so was everyone else. I was like, “Guys, I’m going to be okay. I just need to feel this right now. I’m not going to eat popcorn. I’m not going to eat Oreos. I’m not going to take an anti-depressant. I just need to feel these feelings that I was not ready to feel four years ago because it was too much.”

It would have killed me if I would have had to feel everything all at the same time. I used an anti-depressant for two years and I ate a lot and I gained a lot of weight, which is fine. Both of those things are fine. Do it if that helps you.

Now, I’m at the stage where I could handle pretty intense emotions. I was stronger so I could handle it. Once I felt it and once they cycled through, I’m still not emotionally eating and I’m still not on an anti-depressant. I’m feeling great now, but it was a pretty intense three to four weeks of emotions that I hadn’t really processed or felt, and that was four years later.

Knowing that this takes time and it takes processing. Even if you’re making forward progress, be gentle with yourself. Women, at least in my situation, we have all kinds of problems. We have financial problems, then we have work issues where we have to figure out what we’ll do for work. Then we have physical problems if we’re dealing with our emotions through eating or through watching TV all the time, or other physical things that put our health at risk. 

Julianne: That’s the basic woman working with three children that are young on her own. I mean, a round of applause for all the single working moms out there. It’s so hard to do that alone and then, on top of that, you’ve got these multiple betrayal traumas that impacted you emotionally, psychologically, and also impacted you physically.

Anne: Yeah, and they were coming from therapists. My clergy took his side and friends and family, stuff like that. When I say family, I mean his family. This is not a small thing.

Julianne: No, it isn’t.

Anne: It is life-changing.

Julianne: Even for me, even though Michael was repentant and disclosed everything and was doing his work, five years out, I was still hurting and struggled with trust and we call them triggers or emotionally activated. Something from the past would come up into the present and it was like the past would come rushing forward like, “Here I am again,” with all of the pain and the fear and insecurity. You know, can I really trust you? Have you really changed?

It is a long process. The more serious the situation, like what you’re describing, the longer it takes. Anniversaries: 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, getting into another relationship, all of those things kind of come back. I love that you gave yourself the freedom and permission to just feel your feelings that were coming up as you chose to take some steps with your coping mechanisms.

Anne: Yeah, that’s the cool part. I know I’m healing when I’m ready to say, “Okay, I’m not going to use food in this way anymore.” Because I’m not clinically depressed, while I don’t even know the word for it, because my mental health situation is such that I can go off an anti-depressant, let me put it that way. I’m not saying anything bad about people who never go off of it, good for you, but because I knew that, for me, that was an option. Going off of it was a choice and knowing that dealing with these emotions is important for me now.

Women are really strong, and they’re really smart. They can think, “Oh, I need to be on a medication right now or I don’t,” or whatever it is that they need to do at that point. The stronger you get, the more you can really think rationally through those decisions and make the right choice for you.

What one of them might be is, “I’m feeling really good but now I’m realizing my brain is imbalanced and now I need to go on anti-depressants.” It could be any one of those choices for people, but the more healed we get, the more we’re able to make better choices for ourselves, I think.

Julianne: Yes, absolutely. There is no shame with medication. It is there for a reason and it wouldn’t work if we didn’t need it. Some women need it right away because of the amount of dysregulation and the trauma symptoms that they’re having like hypervigilance, can’t eat, can’t sleep, the constant worry, fear, anxiety that’s there.

I’ve also seen women that get through that period because of all the adrenalin cortisol that’s pumping through their system. It keeps them on high alert and they’re able to get through the crisis. But it’s a year or two out, when they can finally exhale, and then they kind of notice they’re slipping into a depression and need some support, at that time.

It’s not a one-shoe-fits-all type of situation. There is absolutely no shame at all in getting support through this because our systems—it affects our whole body and all of the chemicals that our body makes.

Anne: Absolutely. I am not anti-medication. I just want to make that very clear to everybody. Please go on it, if you need it. This is where I am right now.

Finding Safe Support Can Help You Get Back To Yourself After Abuse

Julianne: Well, kudos to you for all the hard work you’ve done and for the place that you’re in. I’m sure that even doing BTR is part of taking what has harmed you and turned it around to provide support and encouragement and resources for other hurting women that are out there.

I know that, when I went through this 25 years ago, there was nothing out there. It was on my own that I started doing my own work and then having other women come into my life saying, “Hey, can I talk to you about this?”

My husband was actually leading men’s groups where men were really getting free from their pornography use, and he kept saying, “Gosh, the wives want to talk to you.” Somebody wants to know and so I started meeting with women. I was asked to speak a couple times at different groups.

As I started running these support groups for wives, I really started to see the impact and the trauma that they were experiencing. I never really bought into that whole codependency/co-addict model. That’s all that was out there when I was going through this. Thankfully, that did not influence my recovery process, but it has impacted many women and not for good.

Anne: Yeah, the victim-blaming. I think what the current pornography recovery field misses is the abuse, first of all, but also this bigger wider discussion of misogyny and the #metoo movement and feminism and all of these other aspects. You might be going to a male therapist—I’m not saying all male therapists are bad, many of them are very good—or maybe even a female therapist, who buys into codependency, not realizing it’s a form of victim-blaming, which is also sort of misogynistic in its view, right. It’s so much bigger than just “Does he look at porn or not?”

Julianne: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Anne: That’s one reason why I wanted to start BTR was to talk about all of these really important issues in one place because I was not seeing that in your typical 12-Step group or your typical therapist’s office.

Julianne: Because they’re focusing on all the issues that are above the water line, the behaviors that you can see. Where what’s underneath the water line is all of the issues that are driving the behavior. Unless you get underneath the waterline and you look at what’s the source, you know, where is this coming from and what’s fueling the behavior. Really, we’re just managing symptoms on the surface.

It’s kind of like when you gave up food, that was your behavior on the surface, but what came up, for you, underneath was all of that pain.

Anne: Yeah.

Julianne: Right?

Anne: Yeah. I am still eating, by the way.

Julianne: I’m glad for that. That’s the hard thing with food is we just can’t totally give it up.

Anne: Yeah, exactly. Don’t worry everyone, I’m alive and well and I’m still eating, I’m just not eating buckets and buckets of popcorn anymore.

Julianne: But when we’re looking at an addiction, if we’re just strictly looking at the behavior, like if we said, “Okay, Anne, white-knuckle it and don’t eat those buckets of popcorn.” You might be able to do that, but you wouldn’t be entering into everything that’s underneath the waterline. That’s all that pain and all of those feelings that are underneath, right.

Many times, I think focusing on sex-addiction recovery is superficial and focuses on behavior and, “Oh, is that a red light or green light or what are my yellow lights?” It doesn’t really go underneath. It’s kind of like the accountability is more like a cop, “Hey, you were speeding,” or “Hey, you ran that red light.”

Versus a cardiologist where they are really going deep into the heart of the person and saying, “Tell me your story. Where do you feel loved? Where do you feel valued? Where have you been wounded?” Start peeling back layers like on an onion to get down into the deeper depths of what’s really going on in that person’s mind, heart, and soul.

That’s not an excuse for the behavior, and it certainly doesn’t minimize the impact. You know, many men don’t set out on purpose like, “Oh, I’m going to really mess with my wife and lie to her today,” they’re trying to keep it separate. But, even if that wasn’t their intent, that is their impact. Lying, deceiving, and having a secret or a double life does have consequences. There is a very significant and serious impact on the wife emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically.

Anne: Right. That’s one reason we partner with Center for Peace is that we have seen this. Often times, traditional therapy that tries to get to the heart of “why he doesn’t feel loved” or whatever, just gives an abuser a shovel to dig his trench deeper, rather than recognizing, “Wait a minute, I am loved and I just don’t feel loved because of my misogynistic attitude or my feelings of entitlement or my compulsive sexual behavior or other things.”

I always like to warn people that you don’t want to give an abuser a shovel. You do not want to give him a shovel because he’s just going to dig his trench even deeper. Finding someone who really understands abuse on the therapist end for your husband is really, really important because we see all the time that the more fuel a therapist might give him to his entitlement and his feelings of being a victim and stuff like that makes it worse for the wife. We see that all the time.

Julianne: Yeah, I don’t support him being more of a victim and not owning the impact that he’s had on her, but I think again, there’s probably a range in a spectrum, like [abuse], where one is they never look at that and the other one is they’re just navel-gazing and absorbed in it and it becomes another form of abuse on the wife.

I think there is a balance in the middle that may be hard to find, but it is out there. That’s where we’re saying true healing and recovery and restorations of relationships. Then when they do end, when they’re not restored, what does it need to end well, to limit the damage, especially when children are involved.

In some ways, these people are going to be connected for the rest of their lives because of the children, so we believe in ending well.

Anne: If possible. Sometimes, “ending well” means grabbing your kids and your stuff and getting in the car and never talking to him again. That is the best-case scenario for some women because of the abuse that they are going through. Knowing that getting along might not ever be possible. It just depends on somebody’s situation.

That’s why, at BTR, we really try and put the abuse first so that getting safe from the abuse is women’s top priority, and that could look like many different things. Otherwise, I worry that they’re trying to “end it well” or other various sundry things that people want them to do to be socially acceptable, without making sure that they’re emotionally and psychologically safe.

Julianne: Right, that has to come first because there is no ending well unless that’s a part of it. I assume that that’s first and foremost and there certainly is no pressure or expectation on the wife to end well. It’s more on how the therapist provides support and safety for the woman and helps her set those boundaries and minimize the damage to her. To me, that’s ending well, is minimizing the damage.

Anne: Yeah, and you’re a good therapist, so you assume that safety happens first.

Julianne: Absolutely.

Anne: What I would say is that most therapists don’t.

Safety Can Help You Get Back To Yourself After Abuse

Julianne: Then they must not be trauma-informed because a trauma-informed therapist knows that is essential. This is a person who has just been violated and has no sense of safety, much like a sexual assault victim.

Anne: Exactly.

Julianne: Safety is of the utmost importance. You can’t do any work unless that client feels safe, and that is of utmost importance for any woman seeking help from a professional. She has got to feel safe. If she doesn’t feel safe, run. Get a different therapist.

Anne: Yeah, and at BTR that’s actually the bulk of what we see. Is that they don’t account for that safety first. The best example I can give is a friend of mine who is going through a divorce with an extremely abusive man. She can’t talk to him without being psychologically abused, blamed, you know that sort of thing. In court the judge said, “Look, you guys are both professional people, work it out.”

Julianne: Oh, geez.

Anne: Right. There is no way she can work it out with him. It’s impossible. A therapist might think, “Okay, you both seem intelligent and nice, let’s work together to let this end well.” It can’t. You’re like, “We can’t coordinate or cooperate about anything without me being harmed in the process, and every time I try and ‘be nice’ and do the right thing I end up getting gaslit and taken advantage of or those various and sundry things.”

Safety, so many people like lawyers, court people, clergy, therapists, they just don’t have safety as what is the top priority. That has to be the top priority when any type of emotional or psychological abuse is involved.

Julianne: Absolutely, and for you and me and listeners, we can’t have a healthy relationship with an unhealthy individual.

Anne: No.

Julianne: You can’t end well with an unhealthy individual. It takes two.

Anne: Exactly. I think what you meant is end well for you. Like my ending hasn’t happened yet, and it’s in progress, right. I’m not dead yet but is it ending well for me? The answer is it’s getting better every day.

Julianne: Yeah, and that’s the best you can do with what you’ve been through. Yay, for you. You’ve come a long way.

Anne: Julianne, thank you so much for coming on today. We really appreciate your time.

Julianne: Anne, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a joy and delight. I feel like I could talk another couple of hours with you.

Anne: Yeah, me too. We’ll have you on again. Everybody, stay tuned, we’ll have Julianne on again another time.

Julianne: Thank you so much, and I just really want to applaud you for all your work and how you’re giving back to women through this podcast. Kudos to you for writing your book and giving up buckets of popcorn. I wish you all the best.

Anne: Thank you.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes or your other podcasting apps. Every single rating helps women who are isolated find us.

If the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group schedule doesn’t work for you or you’re a little nervous about a group, we also have Individual Sessions and you can schedule those with any of our coaches on our site btr.org. Go to our site btr.org to learn more.

On our site, we also have all of the podcast episodes, which are transcribed into articles so you can go and get quotes from there. We really appreciate it when people share our articles on social media so that other women can hear and learn more about the truth that pornography use is abusive, and that betrayal is abusive.

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Until next week, stay safe out there.

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