Intimate Deception: How To Heal | BTR.ORG

Intimate Deception: How To Heal

by | Abuse Literacy

Safety is critical. And asking ourselves, “What do we need?” Working with thousands of women, at this point, as I sat with them, and heard their story, I discovered that safety is a critical pillar. But the other critical pillar is the truth. We’re looking for two things. Safety and the truth.

Dr. Sheri Keffer, author of Intimate Deception

Men cause betrayal trauma when they betray their partners.

What is betrayal? Pornography use. Affairs. Masturbation. Fantasizing. Intimate Deception.

In her new book, Dr. Sheri Keffer coined the term “Intimate Deception”. Intimate deception describes the abuse that occurs when a partner does not disclose his sexual behavior in full. Understanding that intimate deception is abusive helps women to move forward on their journey to healing.

Dr. Sheri joins Anne on the free BTR podcast. Together, they take a deep dive into intimate deception.

Tune in to the BTR podcast or read the full transcript below for more.

Gaslighting Destroys Women

It’s incredibly important that we get in front of wise counsel. When someone has been gaslit for a while, and they come into me, and they almost seem a little numbed out, like foggy in the head, they even say, “I’m sorry.” They just feel more collapsed on the inside, unsure of themselves. These are like nurses, who’ve been in a surgery room. These are women who’ve been teaching. These are moms that have had five kids that have had to manage busy households.

Dr. Sheri Keffer

Unfaithful men usually gaslight their victims.

Gaslighting is severe psychological abuse and can be extremely damaging to a woman’s brain, body, and emotional health. When women have experienced gaslighting, it is necessary, as Dr. Keffer says, for them to find “wise counsel”. This means trauma-informed, abuse-informed, compassionate professionals who have walked this path.

Connection With Safe People Is Key To Healing

Abusive and unfaithful men condition victims to isolate themselves, both socially and emotionally. Often, victims feel too afraid, ashamed, overwhelmed, or exhausted to attempt to forge healthy connections. This is completely understandable.

However, when women courageously step toward connection, healing can begin.

The lying and deceit, it causes us harm. But we can’t isolate. We’ve got to stay connected. We’ve got to find a group that we feel validated in, that we can tell people what’s going on and somebody else is smelling the gas in the room. “Tell me that again, I want to hear your story again, because it sounds to me like there might be something that’s being hidden.” That’s validation.

Dr. Sheri Keffer

Empower Yourself To Hold On To Reality

Tragically, many abusers use gaslighting, manipulation, and blame-shifting to make reality confusing for their victims.

When women can learn to “stand in their story”, as Dr. Keffer suggests, they are essentially choosing to hold on to what they experience, believe, and think, rather than taking on the reality that their abuser is trying to impose upon them.

We have to learn to stand in our story. There’s these common phrases that can help people hold onto their power when they’re being gaslit or being lied to. You can say something like this, “Hmm, that’s interesting. That’s not how I remember it.” Again, that’s an empowering phrase that allows you to hold onto your mind and your memory. You don’t have to take the bait. One more that I often use, I’ve used myself or have other used, is, “You know, we may have to agree to disagree on this one.” We don’t have to agree with what they’re bringing us.

Dr. Sheri Keffer

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal and Abuse

At BTR, we understand how difficult it can be to hold on to reality when an abusive partner is gaslighting and manipulating. Finding strong connections with other women is incredibly powerful in helping victims get to safety and healing.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers the validation, support, and love that you deserve. Join today.

You can heal. You can find peace. You can find yourself again. You can do this.

Remember, you are not alone.

Full Transcript:

Dr. Sheri Keffer, has nearly 20 years of clinical experience, and out of her own personal story of recovery from betrayal trauma, she understands the impact of sexual deception. She is APSATS-certified, as a certified clinical partner specialist and a CSAT, which is Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist. She believes that betrayed women are looking for the two necessary pillars of:

  1. Safety
  2. Truth

Dr. Sheri Keffer

Her passion in healing trauma has brought new tools and a fresh look at what betrayed women need. Not only to heal but to heal well. Dr. Sheri commonly uses brain specked imaging, brainwave optimization and EMDR to treat depression, anxiety, loss, and self-image issues caused by post-traumatic stress. She is the author of her new book, Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal. She enjoys being a regular co-host on the nationally syndicated talk show, New Life Live.

New Life Live is heard daily by over two million listeners. Her engaging warmth and ability to immediately connect puts callers at ease. I’m very excited to have an expert radio host on the podcast today. In her personal life, she enjoys the beach, reading, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and big game sport fishing.

What Is Intimate Betrayal?

Anne: Your new book just came out. I am in the process of reading it. I’m loving it so far. What did you mean by the title, Intimate Deception?

Sheri: Intimate deception is when we are not a consenting partner to some act that the person we are in love with, could be our husband or it could be our boyfriend, there is a non-consensual sexual act that they do behind our backs. It actually came out of my work looking at some ancient Hebrew. Hebrew is a cool language. It used to be done much like Chinese or Arabic or Egyptian, where it was more sounds and word pictures.

Intimate Deception Causes Chaos

When I looked at what it meant to betray, there’s two ideas that came to mind. The first one was the word rema. Which means “to betray,” and it—listen to this, Anne. It means what comes from a person of chaos. The other word is close, it’s to deceive. Which is the word badad. It means “to hide. To cover. To offend. To deal unfaithfully with. Or to pillage.” Betrayal is a deliberate act of disloyalty where another person is left to feel duped or cheated by lying and someone who’s broken their trust. It hurts us.

Anne: I’ve been talking about it as abuse, in and of itself, what is your feeling about that? That the lies and the deception and the infidelity are abusive in and of themselves?

Sheri: When you think about it, if you ask somebody, “How did you feel when you found out?” I know for me, when I first found out, I felt sucker-punched. Sucker-punch, it’s one of those words that seems to fit. That’s a violent word. When I did my research, out of 100 women 100 of them said they felt sexually violated.

Why Does Intimate Deception Feel So Bad?

When you look at lying and how it harms us, the phrase “addicts lie. They lie a lot.” We throw that phrase around. But you know what? For every addict that lies, and every act of deception, it hurts a woman on the other side. Lying causes harm.

When I think about it as abuse, if somebody wants to sexually act out, I often, when I’m working with men and women, husbands and wives, I will tell the man, “If you want to do something like look at porn, all you need to do is just ask your wife. Just say, ‘Hey. I really want to look at porn today. I’m going to do it after I get off of work, but I just wanted to let you know.’” You know what, I haven’t had one of them take me up on it.

Intimate Deception Is Lying

Let me tell you what I think is behind the pain that’s involved in lying. I don’t want you to know what I’m doing. I feel bad about what I’m doing. That sounds crazy to us, because they don’t act like they feel bad, but they feel bad about the reputation, losing that.

I’ve had them tell me, “I feel bad that I’m hurting wife. I feel bad that my son found it on my computer.” In order to cover up their bad feelings, they hide. They lie. They deceive. That goes all the way from lying and blaming all the way over to gaslighting, which we know can, in many cases, be psychological abuse.

Intimate Deception Is Abuse

Anne: I think it’s abusive in and of itself because it’s a control issue. They are trying to control your perception of the. They are trying to control your perception of reality by not telling you the truth about who they are.

Sheri: I get the idea of control, so yes. You’re right. They use that to control the situation. There’s a spectrum. I have worked with men who, when I talk to them about the idea of gaslighting, the most severest form of a lie, gaslighting happens when someone strategically twists the truth to make us believe we’re crazy or something is wrong with us. They do that in order to cover up their own sexually deceptive acts. They’re trying to hide their tracks.

Confronting Gaslighting

Now, I have educated some of the guys I’ve worked with on gaslighting. Because I said, “Wait a second. You just made her out to be crazy. You told her she was crazy.” I said, “Do you know that’s psychological abuse?” They look at me like, “What?” That is psychological abuse. When you make it about your wife, and you make her wrong and bad while you’re covering up your lie, you’re harming her.

Anne: But the lie in and of itself is harming her.

Sheri: It is. For those guys that I confront, and I tell them, and they are able to own it, and they are able to go back and, with remorse, say, “You know what, I am very sorry. Dr. Sheri just told me today that what I’ve been doing is abusive. It’s harmful to you, because I’m making you bad and I covered up a lie.” They then begin to change the trajectory. They don’t make it about their wife anymore. I’ve had guys that have been able to do that.

Safety And Security Is Lost With Intimate Betrayal

Now, there are other men that they are doing it systematically because they’re really trying to keep their affair hidden. They are trying to keep their sexual acting out hidden, and they want to keep you there. They want to keep their world intact, their reputation intact, their kids out of the know. They want to just have everything be the same. If they can make you feel crazy, it takes the focus off of them. They’re not softened to the confrontations. That’s psychological abuse, clearly.

Intimate Deception & Confrontation

Anne: That’s what we’re seeing at Betrayal Trauma Recovery a lot. When you confront the lie, there’s no remorse. There’s no restitution. There’s no acknowledgement. It’s just continual gaslighting. I’m not saying every woman who listens to this podcast has that experience, but, generally speaking, those are the types of clients that we get, because they’re able to manipulate the therapist that they’re going to, or the clergy that they’re going to, and the women are just left devastated. Because there’s nowhere else to go. Because of the level of emotional abuse that’s happening through the lying.

Sheri: I know. I have this thing in my book that’s called the Empowerment Wheel. The reason I created this Empowerment Wheel is because I got sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing exactly what you’re talking about, Anne. Women that felt really powerless and helpless and didn’t know where to go with the crazy-making that was happening around them.

Empowerment Is Essential In Healing Intimate Deception

Oftentimes, what happens, Anne, is we get into this powerless, helpless place and we don’t know what the next step is in the moment. We lose our way. My Empowerment Wheel is a way of helping that woman take her choice back, find her voice, press into what’s happening in the here and now. In my book, I also have a section that is the eight steps to taking your truth back. Because when somebody is lying at that level, Anne, which it’s not uncommon, what happens is we get foggy-brained ourselves.

Gaslighting Destroys Women

It’s incredibly important that we get in front of wise counsel. When someone has been gaslit for a while, and they come into me, and they almost seem a little numbed out, like foggy in the head, they even say, “I’m sorry,” they just feel more collapsed on the inside, unsure of themselves. These are like nurses, who’ve been in a surgery room. These are women who’ve been teaching. These are moms that have had five kids that have had to manage busy households.

I’m talking about women who, at one point, were doing well. But, the lying and deceit, when it’s made to be about them, or it happens on a regular basis, it causes us harm. We can’t isolate. We’ve got to stay connected. That’s point number two. We’ve got to find a group that we feel validated in, that we can tell people what’s going on and somebody else is smelling the gas in the room. “Tell me that again, I want to hear your story again, because it sounds to me like there might be something that’s being hidden.” That’s validation.

Safe Support Is Key In Handling Intimate Betrayal

Then we have to learn to stand in our story. There’s these common phrases, and I’ll give them to you, because these are three phrases that can help people hold onto their power when they’re being gaslit or being lied to. You can say something like this, “Hmm, that’s interesting. That’s not how I remember it.” Okay, now look at that.

Anne: The scenario you’re giving right now is that someone is lying to me and I’m responding to the liar?

Sheri: Yes.

Anne: Okay, so I say to him, “Hmm, that’s interesting. That’s not how I remember it.”

Empower Yourself: Hold Your Truth

Sheri: Yeah, that’s what you say. You can hold onto your perspective. Now, they’re not going to like that, but what can they do to take it away. “That’s interesting, but that’s not how I remember it.” It is actually more empowering to hold our truth. The next one is, “I don’t remember saying it that way.” “Okay, I don’t remember saying it that way.”

Again, that’s an empowering phrase that allows you to hold onto your mind and your memory. You don’t have to take the bait. One more that I often use, I’ve used myself or have other used, is, “You know, we may have to agree to disagree on this one.” We don’t have to agree with what they’re bringing us.

Rebuilding Trust After Intimate Deception

Anne: That’s so important because it just gets so foggy and confusing in those times.

Sheri: It does.

Anne: You’ve wrote of women being shell-shocked and experiencing betrayal trauma. What does that mean, that shell-shocked phrase that you used and how does someone recognize that they’re experiencing that shell-shock?


Sheri: In my book, I wrote 20 reasons to stop the crazy train. In the research, what I found is that 79% of them had clinical symptoms of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s something called a TIPSA, which is a trauma inventory for partners of sex addicts, and I paired it with something called a PCL-5, which is a tool well-known out there for PTSD. I gave them some other assessments. When I did that, 79% of them had symptoms of PTSD. That’s the shell-shock.

Situations like this, you feel shocked or in disbelief. You might have anxiety or panic around that discovery. You might be more reactive, more edgy. All of a sudden you don’t feel as trusting. You end up feeling powerless and helpless. You have a hard time concentrating. Our brains go to mush. We feel numbed out. We might be crying more and confused more when we experience post-traumatic stress.

Symptoms Of Experiencing Intimate Betrayal

I had a series of discoveries in my marriage with Connor. A big discovery came which meant that we had to leave our profession. He was a pastor. So we were asked to step down and go into treatment. Not only was the lying and the deceit and the porn and all that difficult at that time, but losing my home. Losing our community.

My brain, in that season, just basically went to mush. I’m in the store and I’m in the frozen foods section. This very nice woman walked up to me and touched me on the arm. I looked at her, and she said, “Hey, Sheri. It’s so good to see you. How are you?” I was frozen, because I thought, “I don’t know who she is and how I know her.”

Intimate Betrayal & Your Brain

I decided to fall on my sword. So I said, “I’m so sorry. Can you tell me your name? I’m trying to connect how I know you.” She looked at me and she said, “Sheri? You had dinner at my house last Sunday.” That’s how off my brain was. That’s how off my world was. I was shell-shocked.

Anne: I’m still having things like that happen. I was at the store a month ago, and I saw a woman and I had a conversation with her, thinking that she was someone else. Then I left the store and I went home and I thought, “That conversation was so weird. What was weird about it?” I realized that is not the person I thought it was.

How To Heal From Intimate Deception

When I got home, I called her. I said, “I am so sorry. I thought you were this other person.” She said, “You know, that was really interesting because I could tell something was wrong with you, but I didn’t know what it was.” I’ve never done that before, so that was super alarming to me. In fact, in your book, the part that I am at right now is about the brain. I’m like, “Holy cow. This is happening to me right now.”

I thought I was doing better than I was. I’m feeling better in many ways. I’m more stabilized. Then, when I read about the brain issues and took that test that you have in the book by Dr. Amen, I was like, “Oh. My brain’s in trouble.” I’m doing the things that are suggested. But I’m just thinking, “Okay. Maybe I need to do EMDR.” I’m not exactly sure what next step to take. Because I’ve done all of the setting boundaries and all these basic things that are super important to get me to safety.

“Let Me Hug Your Brain For You”

Sheri: Yeah. I totally hear you. First off, let me hug your brain for you.

Anne: Thank you. it needs a hug.

Sheri: Because, truly, that makes me happy that you’re thinking that way. Let me tell you why I put this section in the book. Dr. Amen, I had the real privilege of working with him for five years. I was boots on the ground, at his office. I treated trauma. I got a chance to see the spec scans, and I got a chance to see the brain before and after treatment, like of EMDR.

Intimate Betrayal Is Emotionally Traumatizing

Let me give you a little backstory. When we experience emotional trauma, whether it’s emotion or physical, or even chemotherapy, right, can do things to our brain. Our brain lights up like a Christmas tree. The brain doesn’t know that it’s supposed to switch down again.

It knows how to kindle up, because it’s trying to keep you in your most alert state. But it doesn’t have an on-off switch. It doesn’t know it’s supposed to get you back into a place of rest and digest. It keeps us in fight/flight, because those are safer ways of living, as far as your brain is concerned.

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fold

If we are in fight or flight for too long, we go into freeze. And then we also can even go into fold, which is kind of a brain collapse. My goal is to help women love their brains. I love the fact, Anne, that you said things are more stable, the boundaries and all that. You felt some stable platform, but many women come to me, and I’ll have them go and do something called brainwave optimization.

The company I have worked with for years is called Many women that he’s seen are either stuck in fight, like they’re still in the battle, because this is a long battle that we’re in. As Patrick Carnes says it can take three to five years for a husband to work through his sobriety. To get to a point that he’s more stable.

Trauma Must Be Addressed With Intimate Betrayal

For us, we’ve been on a minefield trying to avoid bombs going off. Many times, these women, that they’ve been stuck in fight or they’ve been stuck in flight or some of them are in freeze, he helps to reset their brain, kind of bring it back down to more of a place of rest, like it was before all this happened.

Anne: For somebody like me who is out of the daily trauma, because I don’t live with my ex anymore, but I still have frequent traumatizing events, because he has minimum custody. He’s still acting out. He’s still abusive. And he’s still in my life. There’s no way for me to completely cut all ties with him.

When The Trauma Is Still Occurring

On a day-to-day basis, I have peace. But I just don’t know how to heal when I can’t stop the traumatizing events. I have no-contact and I go through a third-party and all of that stuff. I’ve done everything that I can. When you say someone who’s in recovery who takes three to five years, great.

Sheri: Right.

Anne: But, for those of us who’s ex-husbands or husbands are not in recovery and not going to get in recovery, how do we get to a place where we can stabilize our brain when the trauma is still occurring?

Trust Is Lost And Broken In Intimate Deception

Sheri: In the brainwave optimization, it’s taking a brain that’s in a heightened, aroused state and its putting it more in a calm, Zen place. Like a more relaxed place. As relaxed as your brain can be. They use something called brain maroneurons. It’s basically an acoustical mirror. Your brain looks in it—like when you wake up in the morning and you have bedhead and you don’t want to leave your house without doing something to your hair or face. It basically shows that mirror to your unique brain and then it corrects itself to take it back down to a place of rest.

For you to have the best brain when you’re trying to dodge bullets, we need to have self-care, because self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is fidelity to self. It’s saying, “I matter this much to myself. I’ve been through a lot. My brain doesn’t know how to quiet itself down again. I need the best brain I can have for my kids. I’m going to invest in me.”

Get To Safety Now

Anne: The question I’m asking is, if the trauma is still occurring, will the brainwave optimization stuff work, or does it just help until the next trauma time? I think a lot of women are thinking, “I can’t start doing something like this until I get the trauma stopped, because then it’ll just come back.”

Sheri: I know we all think that. The truth is, there’s things that we can do to help us walk through the trauma better. After trauma happens, we have to look at ourselves and say, “What can I do to get through this?” I liken it to being in Al-Qaeda territory. I need to take care of myself. I’m fighting this battle, because I have seen women that didn’t do anything to relax their body, to help their brain along the way.

Betrayal In Intimacy Is Emotionally Abusive

Then, guess what we get tagged with. We have irritable bowel syndrome. Women had to have heart pacers put in. There’s chronic fatigue syndrome. There’s all kind of immune disorders that come out of not taking care of ourselves. I thought, “You know what, Anne. I’m going to tell this story.” Because I need women to know that they do need to take care of themselves.

We’re worth it. There are some preventative measures we can take while we’re going through the traumas to help us take care of our brains and bodies along the way.

Anne: What are the two must-haves that a woman is looking for in the midst of intimate deception?

Sheri: I love Barbara Steffens. You probably love her too. She wrote the book, in 2009, called, Your Sexually Addicted Spouse. Then started this organization called APSATS. We are so grateful for her. She brought in this idea that we really need to have safety.

Staying Safe Is First In Dealing With Betrayal

Safety is critical. Asking ourselves, “What do we need?” working with thousands of women, at this point, as I sat with them, and heard their story, I discovered that safety is a critical pillar. But the other critical pillar is the truth. We’re looking for two things. Safety and the truth.

Safety & Truth

Anne: Which is exactly what I was just talking about, because I cannot get that safety or that truth from my ex-husband who is still in my life, who I cannot avoid because I have kids with him. That’s the situation that so many of our listeners are in. They cannot have those must-haves.

Sheri: Let me ask you a question. Do you, for the most part, feel safe in your home?

Anne: Yes.

Sheri: Do you govern your home with the value of truth?

Anne: Yes.

Healing From Intimate Deception Takes Feeling Free Of Harm

Sheri: Guess what? You’ve got it girl. You may only have it in 1500 square feet of your life. But let me tell you something. That is priceless. You are governing your world. You have made it possible for you to have those two things. That’s what you’re going for. Because that is our reality. Maybe how you redeem the truth is you redeem it with your kiddos. You become the mom they can trust. You become the mom that is above reproach and lives with integrity.

Anne: The way that I look at it is, “Okay. I have to make my life as safe as possible. I have to be completely absorbed and covered in truth myself in the way that I live. That’s all I can control.” Now that I’m like, “Okay. My brain is obviously messed up. I can see that.” Now I can work toward that.

What Do Abusers Need To Do To Live Amends?

Hopefully, I guess in the process of this conversation I’m thinking so that when further harm happens, which it will happen to either my children or to me, through his choices that he continues to make, that at least my brain will get better at coming down. There’s never going to be a time where I’m like, “Oh. that didn’t hurt.” But where I can be like, “Wow. Okay. There he is being harmful again. But at least I’m safe. I can get my brain back on line in a more efficient fashion.”

Because you often talk about cheap I’m sorry’s, which I’ve received with absolutely no change in behavior whatsoever. If someone stays together—not even if they stay married, for me, I can’t even have a relationship with my ex. That’s not even a possibility. Even if someone is divorced, if they’re going to have a relationship with that someone, what does the one who betrayed them need to do in order to be able to have a relationship with her?

Accountability Is Necessary In Working Through Deception

Sheri: This is probably one of my pet peeves. I’m just going to tell you. I am really over the cheap sorry’s. I hear so many. There’s been these huge violations, right? Affairs. Long-term chronic porn. Deception. Cybersex.

When our husband or partner comes to us and says, “I’m sorry. I told you I was sorry. I don’t know why you can’t let it go. Why you can’t forgive me.” I want to choke on my vomit a little bit. Because I just go, “That is a cheap sorry. It’s not okay.”


A principle that is in Judaism, it’s called a teshuva. The word teshuva is a word that means “repentance, or to turn things around.” It’s got some basic steps. When I’m sitting with a couple in the midst of hearing a cheap sorry, or I have a wife and she’s beyond herself. She goes, “He doesn’t really get it.” I talk about a concept of owning and atoning. Owning the wrongs that were done, and then doing whatever it takes to make that relationship right.

The teshuva has some basic steps. They all start with “R.” Recognize what you did and how it wronged the other person. Then, you’ve got to reveal. Reveal takes time to listen to how they have offended you. That’s done through confession. Through listening. Through closing their mouths for a moment. Opening their ears to what it cost you.

Steps To Healing From Intimate Deception

The next one is regret. You have to regret what you did wholeheartedly. That comes out of a deeper place than just a quick “Sorry” or “Get over it.” There’s got to be remorse over what you did by making amends.

A lot of them come in to the program before they go, they’re like, “I’m not that bad. I’m going to group. There’s a lot of guys who do stuff and I don’t really belong.” The truth of it is humility happens over time as they sit week by week by week and hear others have to confess what they’ve done to hurt others.

Resolve by making every effort to avoid doing it again. Refrain from doing that thing the next time. To refrain, you’ve got to have accountability. There’s got to be recovery. There’s got to be sobriety. Then there’s restitution. Sometimes it means paying for the wife to get her brain cared for.

What Is Restitution After Intimate Betrayal?

I had a guy just this week call me. He’d read my book, and he said, “Dr. Sheri. I just need to talk to you. I actually caused my wife’s PTSD. Can you point us in a direction to what I need to do to help her heal?” That guy made my heart happy for that moment, because he’s being responsible. That’s restitution. He wants to pay to help her get better.

Then, the last one is repair. You’ve got to repair it with truth. That takes time. Trust. Which takes time. Then, ultimately, it’s forgiveness. But forgiveness is a process. When somebody’s engaging in these steps of the teshuva, it’s doing the work that’s necessary to repair our hearts.

Repairing The Relationship After Intimate Betrayal

Anne: Some people get cheap I’m sorry’s and some don’t get any at all. Keeping our hearts safe from this type of abuse is so important, so we don’t continually get hurt.

Sheri: I didn’t get a sorry from Connor. In fact, it was years of him sexually acting out with pornography. Multiple affairs. Prostitutes. The second time we were separated he ended up calling me at my office, where I was working, and he was bawling on the phone. I actually thought somebody had died. He couldn’t even get the words out of his mouth.

“I’m Not Safe With You”

I said, “Connor. What’s happened?” His words were, “I just came from being with a prostitute.” I went blank. I couldn’t even tell you what I said in that moment or did right after it that got me to a point that I just said, “What’s happened to you? I’m not safe with you. I can’t be with you. I’m not going to put up with this anymore. It’s not changing.”

He and I didn’t go through any kind of repair. We separated. And then, ultimately, divorced. It wasn’t until five years later that I had a chance to tell him some of my process on how I had worked through some steps of forgiveness. I wasn’t completely through my forgiveness process. I was through a stage of it.

Healing Is Possible After Intimate Deception

It’s taken me years to let go of all the impact, because I didn’t have a child. Not having a baby was a permanent effect of the betrayal. But, over the years, Anne, I’ve had to learn to release this, because it would eat me alive if I didn’t. It’s been a long journey. A challenging journey. But one that I can say I love who I’ve become. I don’t ever want to go through it again. But I know that I’ve grown. I like who I am now.

Anne: That’s so interesting that you would say that, because I do not regret having my children. I love them. I’m so grateful. They are the best blessing that came out of my situation. Because I have children with him, there’s no way to stop being harmed by him. I can’t completely get him out of my life.

Sheri: We sat on the front porch on a Sunday afternoon and we looked at each other and we made a decision to not have kids, because of all the sexual infidelity. We couldn’t imagine bringing them in at that point. Then we just never came out of it. Deal and ache.

Anne: I guess I should count my blessings. Three. I have three blessings.

Growing After Intimate Betrayal And Deception

Sheri: I love your attitude, because we can always look around and see what there is to be grateful for. After a long, long, long, long time, way over a decade and a half have remarried, and that’s how I figured out how to help people heal. Because I didn’t have anybody telling me.

I went, “Okay. I’m going to put it in a book so that, hopefully, it can direct women, and they can do this quicker than it took me.” I did marry a man of integrity. Man. I sifted him a lot before we actually got married. I asked him a ton of questions. He had to meet a ton of people. I didn’t want to go through it again.

Kyle and I look at each other, and I say, “Honey. You and I have a target as big as Texas on our back.” There are unseen forces that I’m sure would love to take us out. But we just take one day at a time. We just do the right thing and stay connected and worked on staying intimate. If I am triggered, which I am from time to time, I bring it to him. I don’t keep that stuff from him. We work it through.

Anne: I am grateful for your book, and also a little bummed that now I know I have so much more work to do. But that’s okay. I guess I’ll keep trying. I will keep working at it.

Recovery Takes Work After Being Deceived Intimately

Sheri: You have to realize we only have one day at a time. It’s not about doing everything at the same time. It’s knowing the trajectory. It’s saying, “Okay. What can I do in this next three months? What can I work on in this next six months? What can I have as a goal in a year from now, to do?”

My hope was to give you all what happens to the body, the brain, the mind, the spirit, the soul because if those things aren’t addressed, Anne, we heal crooked. Right, we heal with wounds. We don’t trust our judgment in the future. We get jacked up like I was, walking wounded for 17 years, because my beliefs were, “I can’t trust anyone. I can’t even trust my own judgment.”

“I Want Them To Heal Better”

I call those the deadly duo. That kept me out of relationships. I don’t want them to have Epstein-Barre. I don’t want these things to happen to them, because they could get their brain quieted down again. They could learn how to tell themselves the truth and get back into truth-telling. I want them to heal better. That was the goal of my book.

Anne: I’m so grateful. At BTR, we provide the education and support for basic things like boundary setting, detecting gaslighting, knowing if you’re being emotionally abused, those basic things. I’m so grateful that I have the basics down. That’s awesome. I’ve nailed the basics. Yay!

Taking It One Day At A Time Is Key After Intimate Betrayal

Sheri: Woo-hoo! I love it. That’s good. Those are hard enough.

Anne: They are. And they take years to master. The basics are not easy. That’s not what I mean to say. They take time. They take work. Now that I’ve got the basics down, I think I’m going to start looking towards what exactly my brain really needs now, to overcome this, so that I can heal well. I really appreciate your book for bringing these things to my attention.

“As Long As I Keep Walking Toward Help”

Just a shout out to all of our listeners to not be overwhelmed. Just taking one day at a time, like Sheri just said. We will be okay. And we will die, eventually, which is the really good news. Right. If I keep walking down this path and I don’t quite make it to my brain being completely healed, then I will die. And it will be healed after I die.

I just am going to keep trying while I’m alive and having the hope that the next life will be better. I think that’s where I’m at right now. Which is an okay place to be. As long as I keep walking toward help.

Sheri: You know what, it’s just about dying well. I don’t want to die bitter. I don’t want to die because I haven’t taken care of my brain or body. I want to die with integrity. I don’t want to stoop low and get into deception myself. It’s just living well. That’s the goal. I care about all y’all. I love, Anne, that you have this program and this place of support for so many women.

There Are Resources For Handling Intimate Deception

I’m thrilled. And there’s going to be more coming your way, because I’ve even had some contact me. I’m pointing them towards you because you have such a fortified and really informative group. If they want to get in touch with me, I’m going to be doing some workshops.

Anne: If this podcast is helpful to you, please consider making a recurring monthly donation. Support this free podcast for women in need, and our free website. We have daily support group through Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. We would love to see you in a session today.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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    Amazing… simply amazing, enlightening and validating

    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so glad it was helpful to you, Teresa!

  2. Laura

    Thank you for posting the transcripts of the interviews. With two children in the house, and the computer in a central location, I really appreciate being able to read instead of listen. Less chance of it getting overheard. This interview explained so much of what I’m currently experiencing; thank you (both) for sharing your stories of growth and healing.

    • Anne Blythe

      I’m so glad you find it helpful. Hugs!!

  3. A Carter

    This is the first of your podcasts that I have had the pleasure to listen to. I can’t say thank you enough. I have felt so alone for more than 20 years. Finally someone else gets it. I’ll be listening to many more. Thank you for sharing this. Wish I had of had something like this years ago.

  4. Sophie Walker

    2 years in a very deep hole. Stuck and no idea how to get a life again. I relate to a lot of what you said. My husband and I did not separate but somehow I wish we did. I feel a coward for not walking out. I thought he and I were meant to die old together. I’m scared of the unknown. I don’t have financial securities. He does try, but more often than not uses the cheap sorries that destabilise me. I have therapy, he has therapy, but can’t see any light at the end of this very dark place. I have lost my self-confidence, believe I’m too ugly, too old, too fat, too no matter what to ever be wanted or loved. I have bought countless self help books… with little success. I’m not greedy. I just want to stop looking over my shoulder. I just want some quality in my life, something that drives me, something that can make me feel whole again! Betrayal has destroyed all i believed in, my little universe, my life. I know it should not define me. I know i am not the one to blame. I know I am not guilty, crazy or stupid for asking about his hotel invoices stating 2 guests! But i do. There is not a second of every day that i don’t have the whole thing going round and round in my head. How do i make this stop?


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