Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

I Saw Porn On My Husband’s Phone

by | Abuse Literacy, Boundaries

I SAW PORN ON MY HUSBAND'S PHONE

Shock. Pain. Grief. Fear. Anger. Rage. Confusion. Denial.

Did you just discover pornography on your husband’s phone or computer? You are probably experiencing life-altering trauma. Your world has changed in a way you never imagined.

You’re asking: Now what?

No matter how much your husband or others minimize this situation, you need to treat it like a five-alarm fire. You need support, education, and clear steps to get you to safety.

Cristy, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, joins Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast to share her own story of discovering her husband’s pornography use. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.

“I Saw Porn On My Husband’s Phone”: Expect Him To Manipulate, Lie, and Gaslight

Most porn users will manipulate, gaslight, and lie to their partners. It’s important to porn users to protect their sexually depraved behaviors and maintain the privileges that they receive from being “good guys”.

Manipulation, gaslighting, and lying may look like:

  • Flat-out denial of the pornography use, whether there is evidence or not (in cases where there is evidence, he might say, “I have no idea how that got on my phone, it must have been the kids/my brother/a co-worker)
  • Blaming the victim (if you would ____, I wouldn’t have to use it)
  • Minimization (I downloaded it but I didn’t look at it; I looked at it but I didn’t masturbate; I texted her but never had sex with her)
  • Blame-shifting: “Why are you checking my phone in the first place?”
  • Partial truths: “I was just studying for a test and it popped up – I did look at it, but I wasn’t searching for it”
  • Gaslighting with questions like, “Do you really think so low of me?” “How could you accuse me of something like that?”

“I Saw Porn On My Husband’s Phone”… But It’s Never Only Porn Use

Understand that even though you may have discovered pornographic content, pornography is never a standalone issue.

Abusive men use pornography. Ask a healthy friend or schedule a session with a BTR coach to help you thoroughly scan your relationship to understand what kinds of abuse you are living with.

Further, sexually perverse behaviors, like pornography use, are just a branch on a very sick tree. Pornography is almost always accompanied by any combination of the following:

  • Secretive masturbation
  • Sexual coercion
  • Fantasy
  • Emotional affairs
  • Solicitation of prostitutes
  • Child sexual abuse material (formerly known as child pornography)
  • Consensual affairs
  • Marital rape
  • Marital sexual assault
  • Voyeurism
  • Sexual exploitation of a spouse

“I Saw Porn On My Husband’s Phone: What Do I Do Now?”

If you feel overwhelmed and afraid, we understand.

You’re not alone.

Check out our free, downloadable checklist where your next steps are clearly outlined.

For right now, take a deep breath. You didn’t cause this, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it.

You can only work toward your own safety and the safety of your children. BTR is here to help you.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is Here For You

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets every day in every single time zone. Join today and find the support and answers you need as you begin your journey to healing.

Did you just discover your pornography on your partner’s device? Love and hugs to you. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. This is Anne.


We have a member of our community on today’s episode. Her name is Cristy, but before we get to her, thank you to all of you who have reviewed the podcast. We got a five-star review that says: Lifeline. This podcast has been exactly what I’ve needed. I’ve spent way too much money on counseling when they truly didn’t understand the situation. BTR truly gets it. I feel this podcast is empowering and gives the facts about what’s really going on so that I can focus on healing. I’ve joined the BTR group and look forward to more healing and shared experiences with the women there. Thank you, Anne, so much for creating this podcast. I look forward to listening to more episodes to come. Finally, some light in this trauma-bonded abuse.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Is Here For You


I’m actually going to do an episode on trauma bonds soon, so stay tuned for that. Thank you so much for your five-star review. if you haven’t already and you’re so inclined, these five-star reviews really help the algorithm on Apple podcast and the other podcasting apps. And remember, we are here for you just like we always are with the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. It’s always running and there are multiple sessions a day in every single time zone.


Okay. Now to my conversation with Cristy.


Anne: Welcome, Cristy.


Cristy: Thank you.

“I Did Find Porn On Our Computer”


Anne: Just like so many members of our community, you went through this for years and didn’t understand what was happening. Can you tell me your story? Did you recognize your husband’s abusive behaviors at first?


Cristy: No. I did not. We have been married 11 years and I’m fairly young so we both went to Christian College, and that’s where we met. After we graduated we got married. So I kind of had these expectations and we talked through our values. In our first year of marriage I had suspicions. I asked him and he lied. Then I did find porn on our computer.


Anne: What made you suspicious that he was using porn when you asked him and he lied?

When You Just Have That Feeling That Something Is Off


Cristy: I have no idea. I think now, just the Holy Spirit, and throughout my story you’ll just kind of hear that theme of I knew something was wrong and couldn’t pinpoint it, and so all I can relate it to is I knew something was wrong. I was asking, hoping I get an honest answer. I don’t know that I believed him, but I wanted to. So I didn’t push it any further. But for some reason, I snooped enough to where I found something. He was kind of put in a corner so he said he had looked at it and I kind of firmly said, “Well, I’d like to go to counseling together about this. It’s very hurtful towards me. I don’t think this is something good. I want to be there for you and be enough for you.”

Marital Counseling & Couple’s Therapy Doesn’t Stop His Porn Use (He Has To Choose To Stop Harming You)


So, we went to counseling together and now I know he lied, but I didn’t know at the time. He kind of treated it as an isolated incident. He was very regretful, remorseful, could see how it hurt me, never wanted to do that again. Previous to that, we didn’t communicate well. He kind of yelled a lot, and I even at one point had found myself just in the car for hours, not knowing where else to go. So, some of that counseling did help that piece, so I kind of felt hopeful.

Abusive, Manipulative Men Use Porn


Anne: It’s really interesting that you say that because what I see there is that he became better at manipulating you.


Cristy: Yes. I know that now, yeah.


Anne: It was less obvious because he wasn’t yelling at you anymore, but he was still lying to and manipulating you and hiding the truth from you. So really, he just got better at psychological abuse as a result of couple therapy.

Porn Users Manipulate & Groom Victims


Cristy: Yeah, and I’m sure spiritual abuse too. Yeah.

Anne: That’s really hard for women to understand. I think the other thing that’s interesting in that case is those things that you view as, good – he didn’t yell and he was acting nicer. If it’s coming from a place of manipulation, it’s still not good. It’s just grooming, so that makes it tricky too.

Porn Users Use “Check-Ins” To Manipulate Victims


What types of things do you do yourself to try to establish peace and safety in your home besides the therapy? Were there other things that you tried like checking in with him?


Cristy: No. I would kind of do that if I were triggered. I’d be like oh, are you still looking at it. But he said he had people he felt comfortable talking to about it, and I said, “Okay, are you talking to them?” You know, I’d just try and do it that way. And then I did say, “I do not want you to yell at me.” And he didn’t anymore. And then, I think just life got busy, and so I kind of pushed it to the back of my brain. Like, you know, this isn’t going on. I think he probably got a smartphone. He wasn’t on our computer as much. Things drifted to where I couldn’t see it and didn’t know what was going on.

Expect Manipulation, Lying, & Gaslighting When You Discovery Your Husband’s Porn Use


Anne: In the meantime, I’m guessing, the manipulation and the lying and the gaslighting were still occurring?


Cristy: It was. So, let’s fast forward a couple of years into now. I see lying in other places. So, I found in our basement hidden away the vodka bottle. So, now I know he’s hiding and lying about drinking liquor alone and I expressed that concern. I don’t think it’s healthy for either one of us to drink alone, and can we come to that agreement. He agreed to that, but later on, continue that habit as well. I knew when I found evidence that those were lies, but until hearing the podcast I didn’t realize how much it was emotional abuse, and like you said he knew what he was doing the whole time.

Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Can Help You When You’ve Discovered Your Husband’s Porn Use


Anne: I’m going to take a break here for just a second to talk about my book Trauma Mama Husband Drama. When a man tries to have sex with his wife without giving her all the information that she needs to give consent, it’s called sexual coercion. It’s a really important concept to understand and I’m so grateful that we talk about it here all the time.


So, to understand these concepts better Trauma Mama Husband Drama shows those in picture format and it’s really short.


Okay, now back to my conversation with Cristy.

Love, Service, and Forgiveness Won’t Save Him From His Choice To Use Porn


Before you get to the podcast, when do you realize that loving and serving, and forgiving aren’t solving your marriage problems? These classic Christian values that people teach. When do you realize, wait a minute, all this love and the service or the forgiveness isn’t helping?


Cristy: Right, so this pattern kind of continued. And then about two years ago we found out we were pregnant with our third daughter; so they’re all each about two years apart. However, this time I was on birth control, I take it religiously at the same time every day, it had worked for years, and it did not. And we were having a surprise baby and his world just came crashing down. He made comments like, “No. I’m going to have another child. I’m going to screw up and it’s going to end up in counseling because of me. I’m never going to have freedom ever again.” And so, when I had to tell him that I was pregnant, that’s when I first started seeing him spiral.

Porn Users Lose It During A Crisis: They Can’t Control YOU As Well Because You’re Focused On Someone Or Something Else


Then, when she was born, it really hit him. I was like four weeks postpartum, and he comes home shaking, having anxiety attacks. This is when, as you said, I started like, okay, I’ll give him space. What do I need to do to love him more? Do all the things in the house. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I’m taking care of a four-year-old, a two-year-old, a three-month-old, doing all the things I can, and nothing seems to be working. So then for the weekend, let me go drive. It was supposed to be three and a half hours and I think that time ends up being five and a half, to see my parents for the weekend. Like you rest up, do everything you can, and I’m going to come back.

Expect The Porn User To Blame You For The Emotional Abuse


When I came back, I realize even that wasn’t going to help him. He was blaming it on the baby, like, I’m depressed. The drinking and the lying about that increased, and so I was noticing all this and for months I worked really hard and realize I wasn’t helping him. So I talked to him about that and said, “I’m going to go to counseling then because I don’t know how to be the best mom the best wife and caretaker for everybody.” He was like, okay, go ahead. So, I did. It was frustrating because of course I wanted him to go or for us to go together, but he didn’t want to.

Expect Your Husband’s Sexual Behaviors To Escalate


Then about a year ago at Christmastime I saw him texting heart emojis on his phone late one night and I approached him about that, and when I did he deleted it and denied anything was going on. He gave me the code to his phone saying, “I’ve got nothing to hide.” Even Christmas morning I was still processing it, crying on the floor. He was in the room with the kids playing with all the toys and I was just sad thinking about having to share my kids with him and another woman. Later on, I told him and he denied it and said, “You’ve got nothing to worry about. I love you, I want you, I want this family, and there’s nothing I’d do to put that in jeopardy.” I was like, “Okay.” But I had the code to his phone, and over the next couple of months I looked on there, using that.

Expect Your Husband To Engage In Emotional Affairs And Fantasy


He would drink at night and it interacted with his anti-depressant medicine. There were some different opinions on that. He didn’t think it was too much and I thought it was. I would see his eyes get so heavy and he’d get knocked out like that. I even tried to wake him up one time to talk to him and he was incoherent. Those were the times I would get his phone and start trolling around. I found text messaging from a co-worker three years ago when they were on a work trip and it was like, “Come on back at 12:15 am, or you’ll have to carry me back to my hotel room at 3 am.” I just like showed him. I was like, “What is this? It looks like you’ve been with another woman and you’re texting her and we’re in the hospital with our newborn or you’re texting about birthday presents?” He said, “No, you’ve got nothing to worry about.” And I was like, “You’re denying anything happened. Regardless, this is an inappropriate emotional relationship.”

He said he didn’t agree but would respect me enough to stop. Then, as he was walking out the door, he had an anxiety attack on the steps that night too. I was like, is this my life now?

Expect Your Husband To Play The Victim So That You Can’t Focus On Your Own Safety


Anne: Or a carefully contrived anxiety attack perhaps to make you feel sorry for him? Yeah.


Cristy: Or he held it together enough to get through this conversation and then lost it? I don’t know.


,Anne: I’m of the opinion, it was a contrived anxiety attack to control you and manipulate you into feeling sorry for him, rather than taking accountability.


Cristy: Yeah, so these are all little things. Again, I was finding him drinking throughout the day and denying that. He would say, “This is the only thing I can control.” We stopped having sex, we would try, and he physically could not. I was starting to think, oh, something’s wrong with me or you’re cheating on me. He’d say, “No, I love you, I’d never do that to you.”

Immediately Make An Appointment To Check For STDs After Discovery


Our two youngest daughters, their birthdays are July 11 and July 13. July 12 of this year again he drank, passed out. I picked up his phone, and it’s a different phone than mine so I had to work hard. I found how like on the computer there’s a downloads file, I guess your phone saves what you download even if you transfer phones, but I found an STD test result from three years ago. Then also, like a menu of, I still don’t know if it was like phone sex or prostitutes, but pictures and pricing with a woman.

I said, “What is this? What are you doing?” I didn’t know at the time, but he fed me another lie of: I was on a work trip, I met a woman, we didn’t have sex. I said, “Well, you might as well have if you felt like you had to go get an STD test.” He said, “Well, you’re not perfect either.” I said, “I never said I was, and I have held up every one of our marriage vows.” In my head, I knew the next day was our daughter’s first birthday and we had to stay in the house. Like I couldn’t wake up the next day and he not be there for this daughter’s birthday for some reason.

Immediately Gain Access To Finances And Financial Records After Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Use


So, he stayed in the house for about five to seven days, and I started to listen to the podcast. I started to talk to people. I just looked at him and I said, “I can’t even look at you anymore, you have to leave.” And it wasn’t thought out. We didn’t have answers, and everybody was crying, especially the five-year-old, but I knew we couldn’t keep doing this. From there he drove straight to the ABC store. He had kept the finances from me our whole marriage, and finally, I was pushing I need every login, I need to see exactly what’s being spent, where.


So, he had called me from his hotel a couple of days later I guess after finished binge drinking for a little bit, and he said, “I have more to tell you. I have paid for services. I’ve been with at least four women who were prostitutes. When you saw me text messaging over Christmas, I was text texting somebody.” I was like, “Okay, I’m done. Do you have anything else to tell me?” And he said no. It took me another week. I got into the finances. Actually, my dad was very patient and gracious with me to sit down because I was so scared. I made a list of questions to get a time frame and I asked him, and finally put it all together.

Expect Your Husband To Minimize, Lie, And Exaggerate: You Will Probably Never Get The Full Truth

Okay, so the first prostitute was in 2017 when you’re on a work trip here, you paid for it with the cash you got here. Like I had to ask him to get the whole picture. One was a year ago and then two were this winter, like right before COVID hit, and his traveling stopped. Even though a few were local, but I just had to get into the finances and ask him specific questions to get the full picture. I said, “Does anybody else know this full picture?” He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve told… people know now.” I didn’t dig any further. I knew what I needed to know at this point.


Anne: Well, and also you can’t believe anything he says, so asking him things isn’t really going to help you. Talk about how you found the podcast. How did that come about that you found the Betrayal Trauma Recovery podcast?

BTR Can Help You When You’ve Found Porn On Your Husband’s Phone Or Computer


Cristy: So I continued to see my counselor I saw last December, so when everything went down recently I said I need to see you every week, and she said but I’m not trained in this. She’s really into the Enneagram, which has helped me too, but she said there used to be a local group but with the COVID they’re not meeting. I just started googling betrayal trauma groups, recovery, and I came across the podcast. I’m a big runner, I now run a lot on the treadmill while the kids are still asleep, but I just listened, and it just opened my eyes.

Hearing other people’s stories similar to mine, I think there was one in particular, and I wrote this down because it spoke to me. She said, “I had to work hard on myself all the time because everything was falling apart because of me.” She did her best to please her husband and to be the best she could be, but it was never enough. She gave and gave and gave, and all he did was take. And I remember I sent that one to my mom and I said, this was my story too. Then I started to reduce time with my counselor from once a week, so I could add in the funds to meet on betrayal trauma recovery group. I have bounced around because of childcare, depending on which coach or which time. Just even being able to meet while the kids are asleep, and it’s a safe place.

Porn Use Is Abuse. Period.


Anne: Once you started listening to the podcast, were you surprised that you had been abused for so long and that you didn’t know? Talk about that.


Cristy: Yes. I think on Instagram it had the picture saying alcoholics abuse alcohol, drug addicts abuse drugs, and porn addicts abuse people. I think those things, and realizing, and he admitted it too later on saying, I took advantage of you. I knew what I was doing the whole time, I would have never told you, things would have gotten worse. Hearing that and hearing from the podcast how often times it’s said porn is bad. I’m sorry I did it. It’s okay, like just don’t do it again. It’s not that scenario, it’s like he admitted he wanted to live two separate lives. He knew what he was doing the whole time. To me, that just opened my eyes of like, and you did this anyways? You risked me, our marriage, our kids? He said yeah. All he could say was I’m sorry. I’ve told him, I’ve looked him in the eyes and said, “I could never trust you again because of the way you’ve emotionally abused me. You’ve looked me straight in the eyes for years when I said ‘are you cheating on me, are you doing this?'”

Find Safety Instead of Going Into “Detective Mode” After Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Use

He’d say, “No, I love you, I’d never do that to you. Trust me. I want you, I want our family.” He was doing that just so I wouldn’t continue down the rabbit hole of like, well, what is this hair? I was totally in detective mode of like trying to figure out what was going on and wasn’t getting any answers.


Anne: Yeah. Well, I’m so grateful that you found the podcast and it was helpful to you. With the coaching services, how has that helped you gain strength or helped you be grounded more in the reality of what the true situation is?


Cristy: It’s been a lot. From the coaches and the other women. This is, I think somebody said this, not a club anybody wants to be a part of, but we’re thankful that you’re here, or that anybody is here. So I’m in my young 30s with three small kids, and then I’ve seen a woman in her 70s and 80s been married and has grandkids, and she’s walking the same path that I am. The coaches hear all the stories, we have this common thread, of porn use. It could also be infidelity, and in my case, prostitution, but they’re also different scenarios. So, we each get a chance to share that and get some feedback from the other women and from the coaches.

BTR Can Help You Find Safety After Discovering Your Husband’s Porn Use


For me personally, it’s been just processing it all, but also still we’re separated. I said, “You cannot come back.” But now I’m trying to figure out the safest steps forward for my kids. They haven’t spent the night with him, at what point is it safe for them too? How does that look like? So, talking through all those different pieces and processing what happened, right, that has now affected how I and my children live our days and interact with him too.


Anne: It’s really interesting, I think, that as victims once you get the appropriate glasses on, where you’re like, oh, I need to look at this through the lens of the abuse rather than some other thing that we view it as like he needs help, or he has anxiety problems or you know whatever it is, that you have to sort of like reframe everything that happened in the past with these new glasses on, and the new glasses make everything so clear. Did you have that experience?

See Pornography Use Through The Lens of Abuse, Not Addiction


Cristy: Yeah, and then even just asking him those questions of, like, did you know what you were doing when you would feed me this lie of like, I’ll go to counseling with you together, but nothing big is going come out? And if he knew the whole time what he was doing he was never going to say anything? Now I have those glasses on as you said, and I, oh but you said that and you knew what you were doing and he’s like, yeah.


So, in the beginning, I would replay as much as I could remember of our whole marriage and trying to figure out what was lies or manipulation and what wasn’t. At this point, one of the coaches, made a good point of like, do you know what you already need to know now? I can say yeah. I don’t go through all that, like replaying or digging on the device. I can’t even see his device anymore, but I think I’ve seen and heard enough that I can make my decisions now and moving forward.


Anne: So, if you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her?

If Something Feels Off, Trust Your Gut


Cristy: I think that’s the hardest piece because I think of trusting your gut, which sometimes I would. My problem was I didn’t have the evidence for him to come forward until I found what I found. So, you know, had I found it two years ago he wouldn’t have seen as many prostitutes, but then we wouldn’t have had this daughter, and so I do kind of play around with that game. I think I’d say: make sure that they are honest with you, that you have eyes on the finances. I think that’s one of my biggest regrets. Even recently I had questions and so he would screenshot the statement that would answer my question, and I would be like, no, I really want in on the finances. Can I have the logins now? He was like, “Oh yeah, yeah.” But never would give them to me because he knew there was evidence there. So I would say it’s important if you want that open relationship with finances to share. That you’re on it on day one, too.

“Trust Yourself, Trust Your Gut, Get Safety”


Yeah, I think just trusting yourself. If something’s not right. Had I said any of those things to him, he would have lied. He would have never admitted had I not had that point-blank evidence because he lied when we were in counseling together. Trust yourself, trust your gut, get safety. I don’t think I realized what that meant, as far as emotional safety, until he’s been gone and I realized I don’t have to tiptoe around my house, I don’t have to be a detective. I can create a safe and healthy space for me and my girls. We can live in this place of: we’re going to be honest with each other and treat each other with respect, and this is what it means for you to have boundaries even as if three and five-year-old with your emotions and with your body, too.

Share Your Story on the BTR Podcast


Anne: Well I’m so grateful that you found us, and that you are part of our community and thank you so much for sharing your story today.


Cristy: Thank you.

Anne: I appreciate Cristy’s courage to come and share her story on the podcast. If you would like to share your story, we would love to hear it. Please contact my assistant Kari at kari@btr.org to set up a podcast interview, so that we can hear your story. We all grow stronger and we have epiphanies as we work together to truly understand this.


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

Did you just discover your pornography on your partner’s device? Love and hugs to you. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments.

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1 Comment

  1. DeDe

    This was the best podcast I’ve heard on BTR! Thank you!

    Reply

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