He makes promises to change. He joins groups. He seems sincere. He has spiritual awakenings. He maintains sobriety for long periods. But something still nags in the back of your mind.
In the midst of all the confusion, you need to know: is your husband grooming you?
On the free BTR podcast, hear Miss C share her powerful story of identifying and breaking free from her abusive husband’s grooming tactics. Miss C’s abuser went to great lengths to keep her confused, afraid, and isolated. She now courageously shares her experiences with other victims to help them identify grooming in their own abusive relationships. Listen to the BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
If He’s Had A Sudden Spiritual Awakening, He’s Grooming You
Many abusive and unfaithful men have sudden and intense supposed “spiritual awakenings.” Moments or periods of time when they claim to be especially close to God or another higher power. Some men take convincingly sincere steps, like confessing to spiritual leaders, going to rehabilitation facilities, or joining groups.
Interestingly, a large number of men who undergo a supposed spiritual transformation often:
- Start going by a different name (often a variation of their first name or their middle name)
- Alter their physical appearance
- Appear humble, meek, and uncharacteristically calm
- Share their experiences with many people, even speaking publicly or over the pulpit
‘Spiritual Awakening’ Grooming Is Drastic
This dramatic shift from lying, sexual depravity, and gaslighting to near fanaticism can be shocking for victims. Many women feel so confused and caught off-guard by this form of grooming that they believe the abuser and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this is a severe and strange from of manipulative grooming. Abusers may appear miraculously changed for a period of time, but will go right back to their abusive behaviors before too long.
How He Handles Trust Can Tell You If He’s Grooming You
Abusers feel entitled to trust. They believe their partners should have absolute faith and trust in them, regardless of their own actions and behavior.
Conversely, a man who is living amends understands that he will never be entitled to his partner’s trust. He works diligently to be trustworthy, but never expects to be given trust. Any trust he is given, he is supremely grateful for.
He’s Grooming You
If your husband:
- Asks you things like, “Will it always be this way?” in regard to your questions, level of trust, etc.
- Demands that you believe him
- Sulks when you don’t take his word or do not exhibit trust in him
- Asks why you don’t trust him
- Shames or guilts you for not trusting him
- Uses scripture or other spiritual resources to convince you to trust him
- Enlists other people to convince you to trust him
- Asks you for a blank slate
- Implies that you can’t be trusted either
Then he is grooming you. Even if he’s sober from pornography use and other sexually acting out behaviors… if he is entitled to your trust, he is an abusive man. And you are not safe.
If Things Aren’t Adding Up, He’s Probably Grooming You
Sobriety isn’t recovery. And recovery never includes pornography use or other forms of betrayal.
Broken down, this means that even if your husband is acting really kind and honest and humble, but he’s using porn… he’s grooming you.
If he’s sober from pornography and other deviant sexual behaviors but he’s emotionally abusive…. he’s grooming you.
And if, as far as you know, he’s sober and he’s acting really great, but something just feels off… he’s probably grooming you.
Don’t Despair: BTR Can Help You
At BTR we know the pain of desperately wanting your husband to be safe. Wanting your family to stay together. Wanting to just have peace in your home and in your heart.
It’s not your fault that your husband isn’t safe. But it is your responsibility to cherish yourself and bring yourself and your children to safety.
You can do it. You are strong enough. You are worth it.
You don’t have to do it alone.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets every day in every single time zone. You can talk this through with other women who get it. Join today.
Remember, you’re not alone.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. This is Anne.
Today I’m going to continue my conversation with Miss C, a member of our community. if you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, go there and listen to that first, and then join us here.
Before we get to that, so many of you are joining Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our daily live online group. We have multiple sessions a day in every single time zone. When you join you get unlimited support. Our coaches are incredible. They get it without you having to explain anything, without you having to justify how you feel.
The BTR Podcast Can Help You Find Peace & Safety
I’ve been reading some of the five-star ratings we receive on Apple podcasts. Here’s one called peace and safety. “Peace and safety. Peace and safety. These are what I have now. I found this podcast two years ago and so wish I had found it sooner. I spent years trying to figure out what the heck was going on with my ex-husband. Now I know. It was emotional and mental abuse. Instead of trying to find peace and safety for myself and my three children, I wanted reconciliation. I yearned for it. He knew it and used it to draw out our marriage, all the while building relationship with his girlfriend and her husband. All three are living what is now known as a polyamorous relationship, along with the couple’s son. I hope new listeners going through what I did take Anne’s encouragement to make the goal peace and safety and not try to figure out what is going on with their abuser. Thank you for the podcast, Anne. I now have peace and safety.”
Rate the BTR Podcast
Well, thank you for the five-star rating. Every single one of your five-star ratings helps isolated women find us. They are searching, they want to know what’s going on. If you haven’t yet and you’re so inclined, please help other women out by rating this podcast on Apple podcasts or your other podcasting apps.
Similarly, if you’re on Facebook, we’d love a recommendation on Facebook. For those of you who are on social media, we always appreciate it when you share these episodes.
Okay, now to continuing our conversation with Miss C.
Trying To Find Safety While He’s Grooming You
ANNE: Before we talk about it falling apart, during this pornography addiction recovery period of time, can you talk about what you did to try and establish safety and peace? Talk about during that time how you’re, I’m sure, making this effort right to love and serve and forgive and support him and whatever you need to do to help him with his addiction. When do you start kind of realizing this is not working? Or maybe you don’t? Maybe you don’t realize it until it does fall apart? I don’t know, talk about that.
MISS C: I think it was a slow process. It erodes. I think that’s probably the best way to describe it, it erodes you, not necessarily didn’t erode my faith in God it, eroded my faith in him. I think it wasn’t necessarily the porn that did it. It was the lies that it takes to keep the porn alive. There’s a lot of lies. financial lies. Where were you, lies. The bus was “always late” or traffic was always super heavy. You know, and he gets home really late like an hour, hour and a half past the time. Well, that’s because he would pull over and watch porn.
I don’t think I had peace.
If He’s Convincing You That ‘We’re In This Together’, He’s Grooming You
ANNE: Maybe peace is around the corner? If we go to this camp, maybe we’ll have peace? if we pray more maybe we’ll have peace? Was it sort of that kind of a place?
MISS C: I think for a long time it was this we’re in this together, you’ve got this, let’s pray. Let’s make sure that we’re being careful about what’s going to be on TV. We downloaded apps like Common Sense Media that would take things out like swear words and scenes, and as long as we kept our eye on the prize. A lot of my effort went into that. I do remember saying this much later that one of the faults that I realized I started doing was I got in the Holy Spirit’s way. As long as I created this perfect environment for him; you know sun, moon, and stars. Everything raised and aligned, then he wouldn’t be stressed, because that was one of the things he said was I don’t go look at porn because I want to look at these women. Porn started when I was 17 and it became this salve or this balm for rejection. So anytime I feel rejected or stressed in my life porn won’t reject me. So, I’m going to go to it. I thought if I created this environment of perfection then he wouldn’t do that. That’s why I say I don’t think I had peace. I was just constantly running and keeping everything perfect and straight.
If He’s Using His Childhood Issues To Explain His Porn Use, He’s Grooming You
ANNE: I view those reasons why they use porn now, not as an actual reason but as a way to manipulate us and to make us feel sorry for them, because there could be someone else who didn’t have peace as a kid and they didn’t look at porn, so they don’t give you some sob story. Do you know what I mean? And now it’s like, wow, I did not realize that all the ways he elicited my compassion, which was not legitimate. It was actually him manipulating me into managing him and to feel sorry for him and not hold him accountable. It’s hard to recognize, but to admit to ourselves wow, we played into that manipulation rather than setting boundaries.
Abusers Will Do Anything To Take On The Victim Role
MISS C: Oh, absolutely. There were so many times that I would feel this compassion. He would be standing there, you know, talking because also what came on board in the midst of all this was a mental illness diagnosis.
ANNE: Hmm, okay.
MISS C: So, in the midst of all this came a suicide attempt. Then, several weeks at a hospital for therapies and diagnosis, and medication.
ANNE: Okay, so this is also making you kind of feel sorry for him, I’m sure. Yes?
MISS C: Yes, he’s mentally ill. This is why he struggles. He’s weak. He needs me to step up to the plate. I’m going to have to, you know, take on some of those stresses, help with some of the finances, and this kind of stuff, keep the kids quiet. Don’t let them be too rowdy when he gets home from work, you know he needs things to be quiet. He doesn’t like things to be out of control or whatever. So, yeah, I didn’t have peace until I left.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama
ANNE: I’m going to take a break for a minute to talk about my picture book called Trauma Mama Husband Drama. Here’s a five-star rating we received on Amazon. It says “I think she has been inside my house. I love this book because I was able to understand what is going on with me and the “game” my husband was playing. He acted in secret, but for the world, he was a saint. With this book, I was able to explain the real abuse.”
Those of you who have given it a rating thank you so much.
If You Are In A Cycle, He’s Probably Grooming You
Okay, now back to my conversation with Miss C.
So, let’s talk about when things fall apart. You don’t recognize its abuse, you’re just doing the best you can, you’re not feeling peace but you’re trying to get to safety and you’re trying to get help. Then what happens when things fall apart? And I’m guessing even when they fell apart you didn’t exactly realize this is an abusive relationship, even at that moment, but let’s talk about how you get to that point where you recognize he’s an abuser. Start with the falling apart and then how you came to recognize it.
If Things Aren’t Adding Up, He’s Probably Grooming You
MISS C: So, we had separated the first time with children, and we had just gotten into a fight again about the pornography. There were just phenomenal colossal lies. There were points where I would catch him in the act of something and I would focus on making him stand up and be accountable for what he had said or done within this lie and he would present evidence to the contrary. But then, make me feel really bad.
Like are we going to struggle with this our entire life? I mean, for example, he had gone to a video store and rented some videos while I was gone. I saw the charge and asked about it. Why did you go to the video store when we can rent movies on TV? Like why did you have to go video store? He was like, oh, I just wanted to get some westerns, they remind me of my dad, blah blah blah. So I called the video store. Can I get a copy of this receipt? No, we don’t do that. So, I called him back and I said, I need proof. You know where we’re at. I need proof that you’re not lying.
If He Is Demanding Your Trust, He Is Grooming You
So, he went to the video store and he came back with a handwritten receipt. I called and I said, I need to know. So, he gets me on the speakerphone with the video store, and the guy answers and he said, yeah, I just came in and got a paper receipt from you. Can you explain to my wife that you can’t send receipts or you can’t do receipts over the phone or anything like that? And he’s like yeah, ma’am we can’t do any of that. What I sent is what we do. I’m sitting there and I’m going ugh, and so then he hangs up and he turns to me, the kids are crawling around us, and says are we going to struggle with this our entire life? Are you just not ever going to trust me? I started crying. I felt bad. Am I so horrible that I can’t even trust him for the smallest thing like am I going to struggle?
I later found out that was a lie. He came clean with it. He let me cry. He let me apologize to him and ask him to forgive me, with our children crawling around us, but he knew it was a lie. And he forgave me.
ANNE: That’s evil.
If He Has A Sudden Change Of Heart, He Is Probably Grooming You
MISS C: It is evil. So, things like that kept happening and I finally had had enough, and we got into just a giant fight about it. He found a roommate, and he left us just before Christmas. Just left. I just didn’t even know what to do. He cut us off financially because he had everything in his name, and just left us. About, I would say two months after he left, he started realizing that I shouldn’t have done this. He kind of stepped back in and a few months later he came to one of the visits with the kids and claimed to have this Jesus moment, and cried and begged my son to forgive him, begged me to forgive him, and promised that he was going to, you know, do everything that he’s supposed to do and wanted to come back home.
If He EVER Uses Pornography, He Is Grooming You
I said no, you don’t just get to come in here and say all the things you need to say and come back home. I’m going to have to see real proof. So, he went and instituted putting covenant eyes back on his thing, he found two accountability partners, he went back to his group. He was all in, and I bought it. I didn’t want the kids to grow up without a dad and he was showing repentance and I knew it was my place then to forgive and restore and step back in, step back up to the plate. We got back together, and four months later, there was porn again.
ANNE: How do you feel about the sort of misapplied Christian principles now? Like forgiveness and love. What do you wish you knew about these principles that were misapplied in this scenario that you didn’t know at the time?
MISS C: Well I think one of the strongest ones that I do know is when this all blew up, and I was having my moments of anger and just having to throw things against the wall, one of the things that I was most angry with was, and here I’m just a good little Christian girl taking it, and feeling like I should take it because, for better or for worse, I’m supposed to stand by him. This is the covenant that I made. So, it’s almost self-harming because it’s like I chose him, so I have got to put up with the abuse.
“How Quickly He Turned On And Off His Jesus”
ANNE: When do you start calling it abuse? When do you recognize that wait a minute, all this porn, all these lies, all this gaslighting? This has not been, I mean, sure he’s probably addicted to pornography right. Sure, he’s addicted to these things, but this isn’t an addiction issue. This is an abuse issue. I have an abuser on my hands. When do you start recognizing whoa, I’ve been looking at this through the wrong lens?
MISS C: I think it did start to turn when he had that come to Jesus moment, supposedly, and how quickly he turned on and off his Jesus.
ANNE: Right, so you start recognizing wait a minute, this is grooming, this is not sincere repentance.
Trust Your Gut If You Feel Like Your Husband Is Grooming You
MISS C: Right, and I remember saying one day when we had gone and we had communion, and I remember sitting there in communion; and when I have communion, it’s me and God. I’m just thinking and asking the Lord to help me to remind me of the things that I should repent of and just me and God. I don’t open my eyes, I don’t pay attention to what anybody else is doing. It’s just me, but at this moment I remember opening my eyes and looking at him, and his head is not even bowed. He’s not even in the moment. He’s holding the cup, and I remember asking him later. I said, what does communion mean to you? What does that symbolize to you? I said, do you realize that at that moment watching you not participate in communion, I realized in the 20 some years that we’ve been together that I’ve never seen you fall on your face.
ANNE: When you say fall on your face what do you mean by that?
MISS C: It’s an act of submission. I had never seen it.
ANNE: You mean like completely and totally submit himself to God’s will?
He’s Grooming You If His Ugly Side Shows Up
MISS C: No. Not in our home, not, you know, sometimes they’ll have altar calls. I just had not seen a genuine call. He got really mad when I said that, but it was things like that. Those are the pieces of evidence where I started to kind of turn my head away from what was actually happening and watching all of the things he wasn’t saying. And those were the things that I realized, like in the moments when he would make me cry, he would get very ugly. He would sit there, and he would tell me like he liked to make me cry. It made him feel powerful, and I would tell him that’s really sick, that you’re saying that. Or he didn’t want to be made to feel ugly that way so if I cried then he would just leave. He would just leave the room.
So, it was starting to become things like that, that I started actually looking up. What is it, what does this mean like, why would someone treat you like this? Certain people that I would talk to, and I honestly stumbled across Betrayal Trauma Recovery.
Support the BTR Podcast
ANNE: So, you and I both are dying to know how Miss C found Betrayal Trauma Recovery, but we actually got interrupted at this point, and we had to reschedule the interview. So, it’s going to be a couple of weeks until even I find out how she discovered Betrayal Trauma Recovery, so look for that in a few weeks. We’ll have a couple of episodes in between.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.