Finding A Safe Person Can Save You From Abuse
***Podcast disclaimer: Early in Anne’s healing journey, as are many women, she was exposed to the codependency model for recovery from being married to a sex addict. She has since realized that she and other wives of addicts have truly experienced betrayal trauma. Betrayal Trauma Recovery no longer supports the codependency model because it has been found to cause more harm than good. Betrayal Trauma Recovery strictly uses the trauma model for assisting women who are seeking peace and safety amid the chaos of their reality.
Anne continues to utilize the 12-step manual for developing and improving her own relationship with God. Anne now uses the trauma model for her own healing. You can find more about her thoughts on this podcast here.***
When Your Safe Person Isn’t Safe Anymore
The devastating blow that women receive when their husband discloses, or she discovers, his porn addiction can leave her feeling as though she is drowning. The man she trusted and shared everything with has put a whole in the boat. His disclosure leaves her feeling lost, in the middle of the ocean of lies and deceit, without a life preserver.
The trauma of that moment, when she finds out her life, and her marriage, has been a lie, can leave her feeling like she is suffocating. Sometimes, it’s a physical feeling, but, mostly, it’s a mental and emotional feeling.
This overwhelming discovery—the cheating, the lies, the secrecy, everything—can leave her feeling like she will never breathe again. When this happens, it is difficult for her to reach out for help. You see, she’s barely treading water. She’ll have days where she seems to be fine, on the surface, but underneath, she’s being dragged down by the undertow and she’s trying to stay above water.
Other days, she’ll give in to the undertow and let herself go down… slowly, ever so slowly, until she’s almost at the bottom of the ocean… then, something happens to bring her back up, perhaps, it’s that tiny thread of hope that she’s been clinging to. The hope that it’s all a nightmare. The hope that the lies are a lie and her husband didn’t look at porn, have an affair, etc.
That tiny thread brings her up just long enough to realize that it isn’t just a nightmare, it’s her new reality… it’s been her reality all along, she just didn’t know it. As she reaches the surface, she gasps for air and looks around. She doesn’t see anyone. There is no one to help her. She wants to give up and let the ocean take her.
How Do You Know When You’ve Found A Safe Person?
She can’t give up. She has a job. She has parents. She has siblings. She has children. She stays above water for as long as she can, because, deep inside, she knows she is worthy, she knows she is needed. It’s buried inside her under the crashing waves of the ocean of lies.
It may seem hopeless, and lonely, like no one is there to help, but there is someone.
A family member.
To find safety, we need to reach out for support. We need to find someone who can hang onto the other end of the thread to pull us up when we're drowning, but who can we trust?
Unfortunately, not everyone is safe.
8 Ways To Identify A Safe Person
- A safe person doesn't judge you, criticize you, chastise you, or put you down.
- A safe person doesn’t tell you that you should have more sex with him.
- A safe person doesn’t tell you that you shouldn’t nag him so much.
- A safe person doesn’t tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do.
- A safe person will listen without judgement and treat you with respect.
- A safe person will validate your feelings, whether they agree with them or not.
- A safe person will encourage you to find help and safety.
- A safe person will encourage you to set boundaries.
God Can Be Your Safe Person
The most difficult part of getting help can be sharing your story. Some women feel it’s their fault, or that they could have prevented the acting out and abuse. This can create feelings of responsibility. However, they are not responsible for their husband’s choices. They could have been the most perfect wife, and their husband would still have chosen to act out. This is not their fault.
Besides our friends, family, and others, there is another person who can provide support and help us find safety. The greatest support we can find is God. He is always there. Even if we don’t see Him or feel Him, He is there. We may be angry at Him, but He still listens.
Asking for help from God, or a friend or family member may be scary. Remember, asking for help does not mean we are weak, or worthless. It means we are strong enough to know that we can’t do this by ourselves. It means that we have realized that we are hanging on by a thread and want a life preserver. It means that we have recognized that we can’t continue treading water.
We are worthy of love, respect, and honesty. We are worthy of support.
If you are hanging onto that thread and treading water, please reach out for help. There are many women in your community who have been there, and they want to help you. Betrayal Trauma Recovery offers many Individual and Group Sessions.