Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

How To Support Betrayal Victims

by | Abuse Literacy

How to Help Betrayal Victims

Are you the family member, friend, clergy, or therapist of a victim of betrayal and abuse?

Do you want to know how to help and support her on her journey to healing?

BTR is dedicated to helping you be a validating source of support to the courageous shero in your life.

Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast, as Miss C, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to share how others can be a pillar of strength to victims on their journey to healing.

Support Betrayal Victims By Accepting Reality

When family, friends, and others minimize, deny, or “silver-line” reality, they are harming victims. Accepting reality, and voicing that acceptance, is a powerful way to support victims.

Phrases like:

  • He abused and betrayed you
  • You are a victim of abuse
  • I want to support you
  • None of this is your fault
  • This is a serious situation
  • I believe you
  • I stand fully with you
  • I am on your side

Are powerful ways of both accepting reality and showing solidarity with the victim.

Support Betrayal Victims By Supporting Their Boundaries

A pivotal moment in every victim’s story is the moment that she begins setting and internalizing her boundaries. When you fully support her in her boundaries, you are empowering her to stay strong in her own power. You can support her boundaries by asking her questions like:

  • “How can I support you in holding your safety boundaries?”
  • “Is there anything I’m doing that is making you feel unsafe or insecure?”
  • “Can I help you hold your boundaries?”
  • “Is there anything I can do to reassure you that I fully support your boundaries?”

Support Betrayal Victims By Understanding That Healing Takes Time

When victims feel rushed into healing, they may isolate themselves or feel ashamed.

You can offer incredible amounts of support by understanding that healing takes time. Continuous, unrelenting, compassionate support over long long periods of time is an invaluable way to support victims of betrayal.

Sometimes victims receive a lot of support after a particularly egregious incident, only to be ignored or marginalized in the weeks, months, or years that follow. During that time, victims are still suffering from the aftershock and need as much, or more, support.

By offering a continuous flow of support, you can be instrumental in helping victims feel loved, validated, and supported through their healing journey.

Full Transcript:

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

Before we get to today’s episode, BTRG is our daily online support group. We have 21 plus sessions per week for you to choose from. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, you don’t have to leave your home. We’d love to see you in a session today.

For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating on Apple podcast or other podcasting apps, thank you so much. Every single rating helps isolated women find us, and if this podcast has helped you when you rate it, you help another woman find it. So, your ratings, make a big difference. Here are two five-star reviews we received. This podcast is everything. I’ve listened to this for two years, on and off and it has helped me and I’m not even in the relationship anymore. Then another one: your podcast has been an answer to prayer. Keep up the good work.

“Whether You Like To Acknowledge It Or Not, We Are Victims”

We have Miss C back on today’s episode, so if you didn’t hear her story, please go back to her previous episodes, listen to those first and then catch up with us here. We’re just going to dive right in.

Miss C: I remember one of the phraseologies that to this day will set me on fire is to not be a victim and don’t teach your children to be a victim. I can’t even tell you how much you; do you remember that character where he’s got flames shooting off the top of his head? That sets me on fire because, to me, whether you like it or not, or whether you like to acknowledge it or not, we are victims.

Anne: Yes.

Support Betrayal Victims By Accepting Reality

Miss C: We’re victims. I’m sorry that that makes life uncomfortable for you, and you don’t like to think about the things that we’ve been through, but we are victims. We don’t live the life of a victim; we don’t look for ways that things are going so bad for us. We’re not looking to, you know, walk around like Eeyore and woe is me and everything bad is happening to me. We are processing through the pain and healing from what has happened. I just, seriously it sets me on fire when people say that.

Anne: I could not agree more, you’re like, I’m not acting like a victim. I am a victim.

Miss C: Yes. I know it’s meant well. I think the hardest thing for some people is, it’s hard to watch someone go through a tragedy, and whether they’ll say it or not, I really believe it’s generational in a way where it’s like, we don’t want that to touch our life. It’s too hard. It’s too ugly. It’s uncomfortable, so we really just want you to get better and move on.

Support Victims By Support Their Boundaries

Anne: I think it’s also a control thing. They can tell you, hey, you got to do something about this, but when you’re an actual victim, there is obviously a lack of ability to stop the harm. The only thing you can do is try to separate yourself from it. You could build a big wall around you, you could do all these things, and the person can still act abusively toward you. For those of us who set a ton of boundaries, our abuser is still abusive. There’s nothing we can do to stop them from being abusive. All we can do is try to protect ourselves as best we can, and I don’t think other people can wrap their heads around that. I think they think well, eventually they won’t bug you anymore right or you can just pretend like they don’t exist or something and you’re like no. If someone’s punching you in the face all the time you’re going to have a bruise.

Support Victims By Understanding That Healing Takes Time

This is an interesting thing. I like it when people are like, well, now that you know what it is when they hurt you, you can just get better faster, you can be like, oh, that was just abuse, no big deal, they’re an abuser or whatever. And I’m like, if someone punches you in the face, the bruise is going take however long it’s going to take to heal. You can’t be like to the bruise, hey bruise, heal faster. Like, oh, I know that he was crazy when he punched me in the face and so the bruise is going to take faster to heal.

No, it’s just going to take the amount of time it is to heal. So even if you’re divorced, even if you set all these boundaries, if there’s a traumatic incident that happens with your ex during a parenting exchange or maybe during a court case, they’re lying or they say things that aren’t true or something, and it’s like a punch to the gut. You’ve got a bruise; it’s going to take some time to heal. The cool thing is, the more confident we get, the better we get at setting boundaries, the more we understand what’s happening, I do think we’ve become a little bit like superheroes, and we can feel a little bit faster, which is cool, but we still have to heal.

“I Don’t Know Why You Let It Bother You So Much”

Miss C: Right, and we get better at being able to, in a way, block those mental and emotional punches because we now recognize it. And I think that goes back to what you and I talked about before, where when you get space, you get clarity, and you start to see. What does the Bible say to let your yeah be yeah and your nay be nay? You actually really start to see those much more clearly, especially when they speak now.

Anne: Yeah, I agree. This is the one (that gets me). It’s been five years; you know he’s a jerk. I don’t know why you let it bother you so much.

Miss C: But see, that goes all back to again it’s these stigmas that come with relationships and with divorce, and with what everybody believes is how it’s supposed to go, and the fact that it makes people uncomfortable. I really am going to dig in, because like I said my story goes a little bit deeper, and I definitely believe that there needs to be something out there on what is the next step, what do I do, how do I get through this, how do I get up the next day, how do I get up the next morning, how do I make it through that afternoon because sometimes it literally is all you can do to do the next five minutes because you’re in so much pain.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is A Resource For Victims

I’m so thankful for Betrayal Trauma Recovery because there is healing in coming together. I really think there are going to be more and more women that are going to become braver and be able to come together and be able to meet each other in a way that we have great friends. We all have great friends. I have phenomenal friends, but to have someone and look in the eyes of someone that known, there’s healing in that too.

Anne: The other thing I appreciate about the community is that we’re all learning collectively, right. Like when you said that’s a layer of grief I was like, oh, I hadn’t thought of it that way before. And because we’re talking about it and we’re honest with each other and we’re being vulnerable with each other, collectively we’re able to learn more quickly. I think back in the 40’s and 50’s when number one there wasn’t the internet so even if women tried to reach out, it was probably pretty hard for them but also, it wasn’t common for a woman to be like, hey, my husband’s looking at porn, umm help me, right. I mean, there was sort of a societal you didn’t really, I mean I’ve talked to many victims who were perhaps like in their early 70’s or late 60’s, and they didn’t tell anybody for a long time and now they’re able to talk to people about it.

Support Victims By Allowing Them To Be Vulnerable With You

So, they could only learn in this isolated silo, and they knew okay, this doesn’t work, this doesn’t work, but collectively now as we speak the truth and we’re vulnerable with each other, with safe people; that’s the cool thing we don’t have to be vulnerable with our abusers, but we can be vulnerable with each other. Collectively, we are learning so much and becoming so much more enlightened I guess, and safe, and I am going to use the word powerful. And when I say that I don’t mean that we’re like trying to like take over the world but I mean like own our own power and our own voice and be able to say wait, I know what to do. I know how to do it, I can do this.

Miss C: It’s Biblical to bear one another’s burdens indicates the ability to do it. So, you can’t bear a burden if you’re weak, and it’s not the physical strength we’re speaking of. You know, so, yeah, I think there’s power in that too. Absolutely. I know there’s scripture and I can’t think of it, but where it talks about the fact that we’re supposed to speak the truth. I’ve heard this phrase many times that the church is supposed to be a hospital for the broken. And I believe the church is where two or more are gathered together. And I really believe there’s healing there and being able to talk about it. Like what you said, I really appreciate that you said that about the ladies who kept quiet their entire life. You know what I really believe that they believed in their mind that it was their fault. That’s abusive too.

Trauma Mama Husband Drama

Anne: I’m going to take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. It is a picture book for adults, so it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations as well as infographics at the back. When you go to our books page and click on any of those books, it just takes you directly to Amazon and you can throw those books in your cart. After you have purchased the book, please remember to circle back around to Amazon and write a verified purchase review, along with a five-star rating. That helps isolated women find us. It bumps Trauma Mama Husband Drama up in the Amazon algorithm and even if women don’t purchase the book it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.

 Here is a five-star review we received on Amazon. It says: clear simple and helpful. I appreciate how this cuts through all the BS I have heard from everyone, church, counselors, family, friends society, etc. Be nicer, don’t shame him, porn isn’t a big deal. I appreciate how boundaries are made clear. Get to safety, period.

Thank you so much for that review. And now, back to our interview.

The BTR Community Is Here For You, Regardless Of Where You Are In Your Healing Journey

Anne: Well and now the cool thing is, we have so many women of various ages in the community and in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group or ones that I’ve talked to who are in their 60’s or 70’s or however old they are, you know, all different ages right. We have 30-year-olds and 20-year-olds, and you know everyone, but I really appreciate the wisdom of the women who bore it alone for a long time and they’re sharing. They’re really strong.

Miss C: Yeah, I would love to listen to that and to hear their story. Did they stay, did they not stay, how that went for them. I’m bet you there were some huge nuggets of wisdom.

Anne: Yeah, so speaking of that, if you’re listening and you’re like, that was me, I didn’t speak out and I finally found Betrayal Trauma Recovery or I finally told somebody when I was in my late 60’s or early 70’s or 80’s or whatever age you are. If that’s you, and we’d love to hear your story so contact my assistant Kari at kari@btr.org and let her know and we’ll have you on.

“You Can Talk About It”

Miss C: I just wanted to make sure you’re not alone, because I really do believe that it’s odd, but you will feel like you’re betraying your husband to speak to someone about your betrayal. That’s okay. You can talk about it. It’s not betraying your husband.

Anne: Yeah. In fact, it’s helping your husband because it’s accountability, it’s speaking the truth.

Miss C: Absolutely.

Anne: Truth is painful sometimes, truth is hard. The truth might lead us down a road that seems like it’s more difficult, but I believe it always leads to more peace in the end, even if it gets harder before it gets better.

Miss C: I cannot sing that praise hard enough because I will tell you the last 2 years have been hard. They’ve been hard financially. They’ve been hard mentally, emotionally, spiritually, they have been so hard, but I will take that over one more day living the lie. I would in a heartbeat. Because now, at least the hard is normal, you know, just a normal hard, and I’m okay with that.

Support Victims Because Seeking Safety Is Hard

Anne: I would say it’s not like cray-cray town, right or cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, right. It’s direct, and obvious, and clear.

Miss C: Right. I’ll take this, it’s so much more peaceful. When you’re living this chaotic lie, and there’s so much chaos and there’s so much manipulation, there’s so much lying that goes on for pornography to exist. It’s meant to be that way; it’s meant to be a destroyer of the home. It’s like an invisible tornado constantly happening. My ex, he would play head games with the kids, he would get them in this manipulation mode so that what he was doing could seem less heinous. Like he would get, you know, oh, they’re such awful kids, they are so disrespectful. They don’t respect me; they don’t listen to me.

Support Victims By Supporting Their Children

But then I find out a year down the road, that my son had gotten after him twice because he found porn on his phone. Those two had animosity toward each other all the time. I couldn’t understand it. I would have asked my son, but he was too young at the time to even put the two together. I would be like, “Son, why are you so disrespectful to your dad? Why when I ask you to do something it’s, ‘yes ma’am’ and you know you’re helpful and you’re thoughtful and your dad asks you and the gloves come off?”

He would do the same thing. He would be like, that kid is so disrespectful, you spoil him, and it was always our fault. Well then, you come to find out he had confronted him a couple of times. And he told him, don’t you dare tell your mom, because he had left his phone on the bed with stuff open and he would come in and he would turn it off and go hand it to his dad and be like, you shouldn’t be looking at that. Like I said, I’ll take the two years that it’s been the hard heart that it’s been when I didn’t know if I’d have two nickels to rub together. I’ll take that any day than what I lived. That was a lie.

Support the BTR Podcast

Anne: Well, we’ll have Miss C back on, I don’t know, let’s say six months to a year from now, where she can share her entire story and I’m looking forward to that. I appreciate her strength and her bravery, and her willingness to share her story. Thank you so much for coming on today’s episode.

Miss C: Thank you for having me.

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

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