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Victim blaming gaslighting
How To Recognize Victim Blaming

Victim-blaming is harmful and hurtful. BTR can help.

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Victim blaming gaslighting

Victim blaming is an insidious form of abuse in and of itself. In the betrayal trauma community, abusers, clergy, therapists, and others blame victims for “their part” in the betrayal and abuse that they experience at the hands of their partners. Recognizing victim blaming is an essential in the toolkit of every victim. 

Victim Blaming Is Harmful To Women

“We see time and time again women thinking: If I would have done something differently, if I looked different this wouldn’t have happened to me.”

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

When women are blamed by abusive partners, family, friends, and professionals for their partner’s abusive and compulsive behaviors, there can be deeply harmful effects.

Because victims are conditioned to be compliant, many internalize the false and harmful claims and begin to blame themselves. Further, those close to the victim have the unique opportunity to help and support her. When they choose to blame her, overtly or covertly, they are enabling the abuser and putting the victim into harm’s way.

What Does Victim Blaming Look Like?

Wonder if you have experienced victim blaming? Here are some common statements that indicate that others are blaming you for the abuse and betrayal.

  1. “How have you contributed to your husbands infidelity?”
  2. “If you make yourself more available, he wouldn’t need to act out.”
  3. “If you take care of yourself a little more, he would be more interested.”
  4. “You need to be a safe person so he won’t lie to you.”
  5. “You should just forgive him and move on.”
  6. “How can you ever stay with him after this?”

How Can I Respond When I Experience Victim Blaming?

Victim blaming is deeply hurtful to abuse and betrayal victims. Here are some phrases that may help you respond when you experience victim blaming:

  1. “I don’t have to prove my point, my feelings, or myself and I’m done talking about this for now.”
  2. “That’s not how I see it, I’m walking away.”
  3. “I’m feeling defensive right now so it’s best if we end this conversation.”
  4.  “That’s not who I am, this conversation is over.”
  5. “I’m not feeling heard, so I am done with this conversation.”

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal and Abuse

At BTR, we place the blame where it belongs: with the abuser. Women who join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community are never blamed for their partner’s abusive choices.

Our BTR.ORG Group Sessions meet daily in every time zone and offers women the unique opportunity to process trauma, share their stories, ask important questions, and express hard feelings in a safe place.  


Jennifer, a member of the BTR.ORG community, shared her own experience with victim blaming on the BTR.ORG podcast. Read the full transcript below. 

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I have Jennifer on today’s episode today. She is a member of our community and she follows us on social media. We have accounts on Instagram @BetrayalTraumaRecovery, we’re on Facebook and can find our page if you search Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’re on Twitter @BetrayalTrauma, and you can follow us on Pinterest. So, she has been watching a lot of these things on social media and she contacted me and said, “You know what, I’m seeing a lot of misogynistic language here that is common and floating around that women are believing and keeping them stuck in the trauma.” She wanted to come to talk about some of the things she’s seen on social media, some of the things she’s heard in her own life, some of the things she’s observed from YouTube videos that are sort of self-help things or other situations like that.

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Now on to this week’s conversation.

Welcome, Jennifer.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Anne: What made you think, “Hey, I ought to contact Anne and really want to talk about the misogynistic things I’m seeing on social media”?

Misogyny Is All Around Us

Jennifer: I think it started when I actually had a friend kind of point it out or just acknowledge it and I had never noticed it before because it was just so normal. I had heard these phrases or words and terminology used quite often and so I never stopped to think about how the way words were used or how we talked about women in our everyday language was actually very damaging to women. So, I just thought it would make a good conversation because maybe there are other people who haven’t realized that yet also.

Anne: I think it’s interesting that it’s not just men who use this type of language. It’s women too.

Jennifer: Right, I mean I still catch myself using terms or phrases or just making assumptions about other women. I’m catching myself; I’m trying to shift how I speak.

Misogyny Encourages Victims to Question Themselves

Anne: Can you state the specific example that brought this to your attention on Facebook?

Jennifer: There were a couple. One of them was, “Hell hath no fury like that of a scorned woman, or a woman scorned”, and then the one that was really personal to me was “happy wife, happy life”. That one was actually shared the night before my wedding at the rehearsal dinner. My then father-in-law gave a toast and he shared his advice to each of us, my then-husband, and myself. Then he had given me some advice, and then to my then-husband the only thing that he had to share was “happy wife, happy life”, and that was it.

Narcissistic Abusers Seek Power Over, Not Power With

I, at the time kind of laughed, I never stopped to think that that just seemed off. I felt like throughout our marriage I felt like my husband had that mindset but it wasn’t in a genuinely authentic way of, “I want to live in a way that we can both be happy and be comfortable and be safe”, but it was like, “if I can just fake it so that you aren’t annoyed with me or upset with me or hurt by me. If I can kind of put on this façade and you are happy enough then whatever I can get away with as long as you are happy it’s okay.” So, I think just that mindset. I’ve started to process that the mindset that he grew up with and that other men have in their minds, that if we can just keep women placated and we can just hide these things that we’re doing, then it’s okay to do them. 

Anne: Yeah, that’s really good. Let’s go back to “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” for a minute. Is that Shakespeare?

Jennifer: William Congreve, an English playwriter and poet. The entire quote reads “Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned. No hell hath fury like a woman scorned.”

It is Not Crazy To Feel Angry When You Are Betrayed

Anne: Let’s talk about this. So, this is the classic, a woman should not be angry when she’s been seriously injured by her husband. It’s not appropriate for her to be super mad about it. It’s not super appropriate for her to be really sad about it. The appropriate thing is for her to be understanding and forgiving, basically, or something like that. Because, I’m very angry, you’ve got to get out of my house, which is an appropriate reaction, would be weird. I keep thinking of people who would like to perpetuate these misogynistic themes about women, people who expect women to not actually be human.

Jennifer: Right, there is no room for women to be human. Right.

It is Healthy To Feel Pain & Anger As a Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

Anne: Yeah, you would have to be some kind of weird robot to not be very upset and angry when you find out that you’ve been lied to. I mean, you think about a man when he finds out he’s been lied to by a business partner. How mad he would be and how appropriate everybody would think that situation was, and the wife is way more important and way more intimate than a business partner, so why is it that she can’t get angry and be angry? 

Jennifer: Right. I’m just thinking of the context that this phrase is often used in, and I think maybe it’s used in many different ways. I hear it a lot of times almost used sarcastically or to provoke humor. It’s kind of used maybe facetiously or in a way that kind of mocks women as it implies that women are emotional and that’s not acceptable or appropriate. Kind of like you were saying before, but I just think it’s almost their pain or their anger is mocked, or ours as women or just in general, like emotions that women feel, is comical in some way. That’s how I kind of hear it used.

You Are Not Crazy For Being Human

Anne: I agree. That it’s overreacting, that it’s nonsensical, that it should be different. You know what’s interesting about it is it’s their expectation of women being robots that is the nonsensical thing.

Jennifer: Correct. Yes.

Anne: That is nonsensical, that is what should be mocked. Like, “oh, so you think women should just smile and sit still and look pretty”. Okay, so in your thinking about this did you come up with some other things that you’d seen?

Jennifer: I did. I started to just make a list of things that come to mind, and I just jotted a few of them down and I’ll just read them off.

Misogynistic Messages Enable Narcissistic Abuse

Boys will be boys.

Wear the pants in the relationship. I think that one is often used when people are talking about a woman who has a strong personality or just has opinions and speaks them and is not quite all the time. I’ve heard that used like, “Oh, she wears the pants in the relationship.”

She’s crazy.

You’re too intense, too loud, or too bossy.

Women are impossible to understand.

If Momma ain’t happy no one is.

It is Not Crazy or “Man-Hating” To Expect Honesty & Respect

Those were just a few. Oh, and then this one, and this is just kind of a general observation, but I’ve noticed that when we as women want or even demand accountability and respect I think we often get the label that we’re man-haters or that we’re bitter women when in all reality we’re just asking that men take accountability for their actions and that we are treated with respect.

Anne: Yeah, it’s not that much to ask. To say that a woman expects respect and fidelity in her marriage, and to not be lied to and manipulated and abused, that’s a pretty low bar.

Jennifer: It is, and it’s really common. I mean, if you think about how often people mock, I’ve even seen on a BTR post people mocking the idea of fidelity or expecting a husband to not use pornography. That is so often that people almost think it’s a joke. Like, wait, you’re asking your husband to not use porn. Like, who do you think you are, or all men do this. You would think it would be really basic, but it’s not.

Trauma Mama Husband Drama Helps Victims of Narcissistic Abuse

Anne: I’m going to take a little break here to talk about Trauma Mama Husband Drama, which is the picture book for adults that I wrote that is beautifully illustrated. It’s amazing. I really appreciate those of you who have rated it on Amazon.

Okay, now back to our conversation.

Back in the day before I married when I was single, so I was in my late 20’s. I remember my mom saying, “What do you expect? You have these super high expectations. What do you want from a man?” I remember saying, “Well, it’s pretty simple. I just want someone who I want to call and when they call me, I am happy that they called. Like, it’s not that complex, Mom.” This was before I understood sex addiction or abuse or anything like that. I feel the same thing about this. That men are trying to say that women’s reasonable expectations and some women are trying to say it too, that women’s just reasonable, normal expectations are too much.

It is Not Crazy To Expect Your Partner To Tell You the Truth

Jennifer: Right, we’ve really lowered the bar. I feel like the bar for how women are treated has been lowered in so many ways.

Anne: Yeah, to the point where it’s like you can’t expect them to be faithful, you can’t expect them to tell the truth unless apparently, you’re perfect. You have to be a “Stepford wife robot” in order to merit a man to completely tell the truth to you, to be faithful to you, to be all of these things, otherwise if you do or say anything that someone could construe as not quite the right thing, then you could get blamed for this.

Jennifer: Right, it’s like it gives the man permission to act out in abusive ways if you’re not that robot.

Narcissistic Abusers Label Ex-Partners As “Crazy”

Anne: I think the most common is “my crazy ex”. I would say that when men say, “Yeah, she was controlling, she was crazy, she just asked me a ton of questions, she just wouldn’t leave me alone”, and stuff like that; that seems like a very red flag for an abuser, and in fact, Lundy Bancroft says in his book that any time a man claims that he was abused it is a red flag that he was an abuser himself or that he is an abuser himself. Why do you think that is?

Narcissistic Abusers Use DARVO

Jennifer: Well, abusers in their very nature are always trying to put on a show for other people. They always want to be perceived as the victim and they are really good at manipulating the situation to deny, attack, reverse the victim and the offender, so they use truth and they twist it. They turn it against the victim in order to confuse the victim. They try to put the victim and the offender on the same even playing ground. I feel like they do that to try to minimize their abuse towards the victim and then create this illusion that the reaction the victim is experiencing from the abuse is actually abuse when it’s not.

Anne: Right. If a woman is very concerned and worried, and she just found out that her husband is using porn and she’s wondering if he is having an affair, her motivation is safety, peace, and truth. So, if she’s trying to look and see what he’s got going on on his phone it’s because she is desperate for safety, she’s desperate for truth, whereas if an abuser is going through his victim’s phone he is looking for ways to manipulate her or harm her.

Safety-Seeking Behaviors Are Not “Crazy”

Jennifer: Yes, and you described it exactly how it is. In my marriage, I used to do lots of those safety-seeking behaviors like looking through his phone, or trying to drill him with questions, or monitor his behavior, all those kinds of, you know, what would be labeled as controlling behaviors, and they were. “Why are you so controlling?” I got that a lot, but the reality was I was doing those things in order to try and create safety for myself. To exist in a safe way. My intent was not to gain power over anyone, it was just to feel comfortable and safe in my own home, whereas my husband’s behavior was he was using that against me in order to hide his own behaviors and to deceive me.

Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Blame Themselves

Anne: I think this is where a lot of victims of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion get tripped up because they might watch a popular narcissist YouTube channel for example, and in that YouTube channel somebody might say, “Okay, here are 7 things that narcissists do,” and as you’re listening to them, you might think, I have done that. I have tried to isolate my abuser from his flying monkey family because every time we get around his family, I end up more abused because they end up believing him and they end up putting him down, so am I the narcissist or am I the abuser?

Narcissistic Abusers Turn Tables On Victims

In one popular narcissist video that I recently saw, the YouTuber was suggesting that narcissists can never answer this question: Why is it so difficult for you to admit your flaws? Supposedly, if you ask a narcissist this questions and they can’t answer it then it’s proof that they are a narcissist, and that might be the case, but in an abuse situation if an abuser asks his victim, “Why is it so hard for you to admit your flaws?” then he’s gaslighting her and trying to make her think that it’s her fault, that she’s got flaws. Like, “Yeah, so what, I looked at porn but why is it so hard for you to admit your flaws?” That would be a question an abuser would ask a victim in order to trip her up.

Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Often Wonder If They’re the Offender

A lot of these YouTube channels on narcissists or other things, if you don’t interpret what they are saying correctly then you might think, “Well, am I the narcissist because I don’t think I would answer that question because he’s asked me that and I’m like, ‘what are you talking about?’ You just cheated on me and you just lied to me for 20 years and now you’re asking me what my flaws are, excuse me?” At that moment a victim shouldn’t play into that. A victim should not say, “Oh, you’re right, I didn’t do the dishes and so I deserve to be lied to.” Like, no.

Jennifer wrote down a few more questions from this type of YouTube channel.

Jennifer: Yeah, this one really stood out to me.

Narcissistic Abusers Gaslight Victims

“Why do my differences threaten you?” I think that that, maybe it’s not worded just like that, but I think the general sentiment is used quite often. Like, “Why do my hobbies like porn or these inappropriate games or books, comics, video games, or whatever they may be that I like to do, why do they threaten you? Why do you feel threatened by me looking at this photo?” I think that one is really misused against victims quite often.

Anne: Yeah, so if you have watched some of these popular narcissist videos on YouTube and you’re thinking, “Am I the narcissist?”, take a step back and take a deep breath and think about your intention for safety, peace, and truth. The other thing is look at your behaviors. So, if your behaviors are in line or they are consistent with known abusive tactics, for example, isolation. Look at your own behavior, if you’re like, “Man, I really have been trying to isolate him from his abusive family because I’ve thought that if I can separate him from his flying monkeys, then maybe we would have a chance”, right. Maybe he would stop being abusive to me and things would be okay.

Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Can Seek Safety by Separating From Abusive Behavior

The problem with that is that trying to control an abuser’s environment is never going to bring you safety. The only thing you’ve done there is that you have now isolated your own self with your abuser in your house. You’ve separated him perhaps from his flying monkeys that are enabling him or whatever, but now you’re still with an abuser. You’re not away from him. So, I want women to think about if your desire is for peace, if your desire is for safety, if your desire is for truth then you’re actually going to have to detach and walk away from the harm rather than barricade yourself in with the harm.

Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Can Find Support

Jennifer: That’s a good point. Another thing that I think is important to note is if you’re looking at these questions or if you’re hearing these things on these videos and you’re reflecting on yourself and asking yourself, “Am I doing these things?” that’s probably a sign that you’re not a narcissist because narcissists don’t have that awareness. They don’t reflect on themselves; they don’t internally process things that they can do to improve themselves and how they treat other people. So, I think just the fact alone that you’re reflecting or that we can be asking ourselves these questions is a sign that we’re not a narcissist. Hopefully.

Narcissistic Abusers Manipulate Others

Anne: Hopefully, right. I did hear a story from a woman in our community who said her husband who has exhibited serious abusive tendencies, including physical violence, actually went to a therapist and asked the therapist, “Am I a narcissist?” and manipulated the therapist. The therapist said, “The fact that you’re here asking this question means that you’re not”, and then he went back and said, “I went to therapy, the therapist said I was not a narcissist,” and used that to manipulate his victim. So, it’s so complex and difficult and the most important thing is standing in your own truth and getting to safety regardless of what other people are saying all around you, which can be really daunting when maybe your clergy, maybe your family, maybe people all around you are like, “What is wrong with you? Why are you saying these things or doing these things? Chill out?”

BTR Advocates for Safety First

Jennifer: Yeah, that is a good point and it also reminds me of everything you talk about on the podcast. I think it always comes back to establishing safety. So, establishing safety before you make big decisions, establishing safety before you make any decisions before progressing in the marriage or not, but also establishing safety before you assess whether you are a narcissist. It’s just interesting how it always comes back to safety. I think that’s just the take-home message- safety first.

Anne: Any other things that you’ve observed from the community, or scripting, or things your parents have said or your clergy or people at your church or anything that is misogynistic?  

Misogyny Is Rampant in Popular Media

Jennifer: Well, when I was pondering about this, I did have a funny scene that came up in my mind from The Office. There is an episode, it’s called Women’s Appreciation, and Michael, the boss of the office is saying all of these things about women, lots of sexist comments, and he’s unaware. Angela, one of the employees says, “And when we get mad you always ask us if we’re on our periods,” and he says, “I know. I have to know whether you’re serious or not.” It’s funny and comical, but it just reflects the reality that women are just not taken seriously in general. Their emotions are not taken seriously. They are expected to suppress them, or if they are expressing them there must be an underlying reason other than them having valid concerns.

Narcissistic Abusers Minimize Victims’ Concerns

Anne: Right, so you don’t have a valid concern. It’s not concerning. You’re not justified in being angry about your husband using porn, so you must be on your period.

Jennifer: Another example that I thought about, and this is just kind of in general and like in a professional work environment. So, in the industry that I work in, I work with a lot of men as my peers and colleagues, and I notice that I started to kind of suppress some of my natural emotions or just the way I express myself or thoughts that I’d had that maybe weren’t in line with what a man would want to hear. I just started to try and filter myself so that I was accepted to what men wanted to see or hear because I wanted to be perceived as smart or I wanted to be taken seriously because I felt like if I had any type of emotion; I’m a single mom so I had lots of stress of trying to work a full-time job and then my son would get sick and I didn’t have anyone to help me take care him. Just if I showed any kind of weakness, and that’s not even a weakness. There I go again, but if I had shown any kind of emotion then I assumed it would be seen as a weakness by my colleges.

Misogyny & Narcissistic Abuse in the Workplace

Anne: Absolutely, it reminds me of the book How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings- Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women by Sarah Cooper. Have you ever heard of that book?

Jennifer: I haven’t.

Anne: I just want to read the Amazon description. “In this fast-paced business world, female leaders need to make sure they’re not perceived as pushy, aggressive, or competent. Sarah Cooper illustrates how women can achieve their dreams, succeed in their careers, and become leaders, without harming the fragile male ego. Chapters include, among others, “Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women,” “How to Ace Your Job Interview Without Over-acing It,” and “Choose Your Own Adventure: Do You Want to Be Likable or Successful?” It even includes several pages to doodle on while men finish what they’re saying. Each chapter also features an exercise with a set of “inaction items” designed to challenge women to be less challenging.”  I think it’s really cute.

Emotionally Healthy Men See Women As Equals

The reason why we bring this up and the reason why we perhaps get accused of being man-haters is not that we hate men or that we don’t appreciate men. I would like to share that now that I know what emotional safety looks like, amazing healthy men have come into my life who I really rely on, who care about me, who treat me with respect, who really respect my opinion, and respect me and they think I’m incredible. It’s been so amazing to be around good men, and I have several in my life now and interact with them frequently and it is a delight. So, I actually have more faith now in men than I’ve ever had, which is cool.

Misogynistic Scripting Keeps Women Stuck

That being said, the reason why we bring misogyny into this is that when women are trying to get out of an abusive situation, this misogynistic scripting that they hear from perhaps a therapist, even a female therapist, or clergy or friends or family, it keeps them stuck in the abuse. They don’t see that it’s this fog of misogyny and abuse that is harming them. It also keeps them from getting to safety, so the reason that we have to talk about misogyny is that if they don’t start seeing what it is it will not help them get to safety.

Can you talk about how misogyny kept you in your abusive situation?

Misogyny in the Faith Community

Jennifer: In my marriage, we were really active in our religion and in our faith community, and I would just want to have this marriage that I had learned about and had wanted for so long that was based on equality. I wanted this positive happy relationship, but I was getting a lot of messages about a woman being like a helper and being needed to keep her husband from acting out, using pornography, or other behaviors. So, I felt like I got responsibility whether it was in how I maintained our home and how I spoke and interacted with my husband or in my sexuality. There were so many different ways in which I wanted to help him. I wanted to make it better because I felt like that was my job. Part of me felt like I as a woman had this duty to prevent this man from going through these behaviors or acting out in certain ways.

Flying Monkeys Blame Victims For Abuser’s Choices

On top of that, I was just getting a lot of messages from my in-laws who just kind of casually share these stories about how if a woman doesn’t keep her man happy then he’s going to find it somewhere else or go somewhere else. Even though part of me knew that wasn’t true, there was a part of me that really believed that that was true and so I just continued to try and fix myself so that I could fix our relationship, but in reality, as we talked about the most important thing that I needed to do at the time was to get to safety because safety allowed me to have the clarity that I needed to see what was actually happening in our situation, which was I was being emotionally abused and manipulated.

Victims Can Heal From Narcissistic Abuse After Seeking Safety

Once I was in a safe place I could really wait and see what he was going to do. If he was going to make changes or not, and I could have the clarity to make decisions, whereas when I was in an unsafe situation I just felt confused and I just felt like we were going through these cycles of turmoil and chaos and it was going nowhere.

Anne: Yeah. In the faith community the: pray for your husband, a faithful woman can bring to pass miracles, so have you prayed? are you reading your scriptures? are you filling your home with spiritual things because if you did that he wouldn’t be acting this way are common and really harm women because they’re not true.

Misogyny In Clergy

I did talk to a man whose wife had had several affairs and he went in and told his faith leader this and the faith leader did not say, are you having sex with her, have you lost weight, are you being a man of God? They didn’t ask him any of those questions. They said, “Oh, that can’t happen. You should probably file for divorce if she continues to have affairs and she won’t stop.” Isn’t that interesting?

Jennifer: That is so backward. That is the perfect example though of how this standard the world has for women. Like we have the higher expectation. There is a higher expectation for us that we have to carry the weight of a man whereas men get off so easily.

Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Deserve Support

Anne: “Yeah, like, well, that can’t happen. You shouldn’t be treated like that, you don’t deserve that, you need to get out.” That’s how women should be too. “You don’t deserve that, you shouldn’t be treated that way, you need to get to safety.”

Jennifer: I think that should just be the norm. That needs to be the new normal. That woman should be expected to be treated with respect.

Anne: Mind-blowing with that, but also that women should be able to speak their mind, they should be able to tell their opinions, they should be able to hold boundaries without people saying they are an abuser or they’re the problem too. It goes kind of both ways.

Accept That They Will Call You Crazy

Jennifer: Absolutely. Have you ever seen that Nike commercial that came out this year? I think it’s Serena Williams who is narrating it and she says, “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts, and if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there is something wrong with us. If we get angry or hysterical or irrational, we’re just being crazy, but a woman running a marathon was crazy. A woman boxing was crazy. A woman dunking, crazy. Coaching an NBA team, crazy. A woman competing in her job, changing her sport, landing a double cork 1080 or winning 23 grand slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more; crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, and crazy. So, if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.”

I just love that quote.

Seek Safety Regardless of What Your Abuser Says About You

Anne: I want women to know that fine, let everybody call you crazy. You get to safety. When you’re not being emotionally and psychologically abused and you’re not in this fog and you can see straight, you can be a lawyer. You can be whatever you want or do whatever you want. The world is open to you and it is an incredible place, and if you genuinely want to be a stay-at-home mom, there are options for you to figure out how you can make a living and work from home or get assistance from your church or from your family so that you can stay at home with your kids when they are young or whatever it is. There are so many options for you. You are brave, you are strong, and you can do it. You can do it, and God sent you down here with amazing talents and he wants you to use those talents to improve the world. So, don’t let anybody tell you that the extent of your talents is laundry or whatever. You have a mission that you were sent down here to this earth to accomplish with the talents that you have.

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My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with this very difficult situation. I know that it seems impossible and it seems just overwhelming, but there are women who have been through it and they could see the light at the end of the tunnel and we hope that we can get you to that point too. We care and we are here for you; and until next week, stay safe out there. 


  1. Poncho

    Hi. As a male who has been severely traumatized and physically and mentally abused by a malignant narcissist, it is difficult to process that all these examples and solutions and suggestions apply only to women(?). I really try to envision these scenarios in a neutral way, yet knowing that men are also abused and have little to no resources available is terribly disappointing and it hurts more than you could know! I did read that you are welcoming to men and anyone struggling, so that is reassuring. I have an incredible story to share, but it is very difficult to explain to normal people who havent experienced such treachery and cant grasp the concept, or just think its far fetched, or its embellished in some way! Im not sure if you would welcome my input, but hope you could understand. I am in a bad way, and could really use some solid advice. thank you

    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so sorry about what you’ve gone through! Our site and podcast are specifically for women who have been abused. Perhaps the advice we give women will help you . . . not sure since we are geared only for women victims. But know that my heart goes out to you. It’s incredibly painful!

    • A

      Poncho, I am so sorry for your pain. A male family member of mine went through the same thing. I can really sympathize because there are more resources out there for women;I don’t actually like that the name of the page makes it sound like it’s for everyone yet it’s all geared toward women. I would prefer it to say Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Women or something like that. Then I hope men will follow suit and start resources for men, and perhaps eventually there could be a Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Women and Betrayal Trauma Recovery for Men, or a different group altogether. Don’t stop speaking out or seeking trauma therapy if you are able to get it. The more men voice these concerns, the more men will band together and form resources like this. The article says “Blaming comes from three different areas I believe. One of them is from the husband, or you know it could be the wife if they stepped outside of the marriage, but for the sake of our audience we’re going to stick with the husband. Whoever has the problematic sexual behaviors.” We can extend this to non-married abusive relationships also.

    • Ruth

      It’s interesting that wherever there is talk of abuse and it’s focused on women, who are statistically victimized more often than men, and face additional societal hurdles due to instructional misogyny and ingrained patriarchal bias which determine that men earn more money for the same work, and that women carry the extra burden of mental load and silent work within their relationships and households where they are expected to do more or all of the chores like cleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry, childcare, emotional support of spouses and family. The violence against women which is normalized in that we see reports of women being killed by a partner or ex-partner on a daily basis, and most women don’t feel safe to walk alone after dark even in their own neighborhood, or go running in a wooded area, things that men do without fear.

      Margaret Atwood observed that, “Men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, and women’s greatest fear is that men will kill them.”

      This is an undeniable and statistical truth: women are killed by male partners or former partners at much higher rate than women kill their male partners. Half of all women who are killed are killed by an intimate partner. This is not the case for men.

      We don’t need to keep shifting the focus away from the message because it wasn’t written specifically to your situation. If you’re bothered by that and desire a space where you can relate to other victims who share your situation, then go ahead and start your own blog or write an article which speaks to your experience.

      Men abusers pose a high risk of injury and death for their female victims due to the differences in physiology. It’s a real thing that exists and pretending it’s not doesn’t change that fact. Women who are abused by their male partners fear for their lives in many cases. We’re not able to overcome and break away from the abuser when they pin us against a wall or hold us down so we can’t seek safety and get away. It’s a rare instance when a man faces that situation and a woman is overpowering him to the point of helplessness. It’s a horrible feeling that most men will never experience.

      Abuse by any gender or person is wrong. You don’t need to keep pointing this concept. We all agree. But the need to constantly insert yourself as the victim of both domestic abuse and gender bias points more towards the personality a narcissistic abuser. Narcissists can’t stand it if the attention is on anyone else but them. Narcissistic abuses are the perpetual victim and constantly seek out sympathy from anyone who will give it to them. They love to turn the tables and claim they are the real victim and their victim is the abused; DARVO is their MO.

      So please consider these facts before you feel compelled to make yourself the victim of online support forums for abuse victims. You’re looking in the wrong place. Women have lived with institutional exclusion for centuries. and we don’t find it necessary to make it known in every possible instance we stumble upon. Go find your place of healing where you can be heard and share your experience with others who share the same.

  2. Nasca

    I have only got half way through this post cast and I am baffled I have been hearing these lines for 25 years. Crazy part is the 5 helpful scripts that you payed out for victims my husband has been already using on me. What do you suggest!!!

  3. NRichey

    I have only got half way through this post cast and I am baffled I have been hearing these lines for 25 years. Crazy part is the 5 helpful scripts that you payed out for victims my husband has been already using on me. What do you suggest!!!

  4. Julie Wilson

    Hi Anne,
    Thank you for this podcast. It has helped me validate what I believe God has been showing me to find my own healing. Like yourself, I like to debate too but not to win but to try to help explain how I feel or how my husbands actions has made me feel. Which usually ends up with him apologizing before blaming me. I’ve been married nearly 25 years now and 2 years ago I discovered my marriage was a sham because he’s been unfaithful throughout which I never knew. Then a year and a half later I discovered that the first disclosure (only because he was caught) of his behavior was a complete lie. He didn’t even tell me the truth.
    Anyway, my question is this: as a victim of betrayal trauma, is it my responsibility to help my husband with his healing? He says it is. Because I can’t, he continues to put blame on me and I will not accept that I had anything to do with his unfaithfulness. Especially after he says he’s sorry and “owns” his infidelity but then I say one wrong thing then it’s back to being my fault again. And why or when will I take responsibility for my contribution to his behavior. I have chosen to walk away. We are currently separated, I kicked him out. And I am not allowing myself to be tempted or to be enticed by his “I’m sorry’s, I don’t mean to hurt you” apologies. I have set my boundary not to believe his apologies anymore. Because that is all they are, apologies, nothing more because his apologies mean absolutely nothing! Because his behavior remains the same. Even though he tries to convince me to acknowledge the “changes” he’s made or is making. I simply do not see it because his treatment of me has not changed. This podcast helped validate the way I feel and let’s me know I’m on the right track to my own healing and recovery. However, am I responsible to help with his healing? He says he needs me. But I think he only needs me so he can have someone else to look at, see my faults which then prevents him from looking at himself and at all his faults. I played the “okay, I forgive you” game for a year and a half which I told myself I would give him. He failed. So, I quickly set my boundary and kicked him out. It’s been victim blaming ever since including what example am I setting for our adult daughters. My husband told me that I’m showing them that I’m giving up on their dad. I know better. I trust God and I trust myself. I don’t trust my husband.
    Thank you for listening. And thank you again for your weekly podcast. It has helped me understand myself. But am I responsible for my husbands healing too?

    • Anne Blythe

      The answer is no. You are not responsible in any way shape or form to “help” your husband stop emotionally abusing you. Don’t let anyone, yourself, clergy, therapists, etc, make you think that you have any responsibility at all the “help” your emotional abuser stop his harm to you. You only have the responsibility to set boundaries for safety. That is where your responsibility starts and stops.

  5. Julie Wilson

    Thank you, Anne.

    I appreciate your podcasts. Like many others have said, it has become my lifeline too. So, thank you again for responding to me.


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