Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

The Manufactured Relational Tether

by | Abuse Literacy

THE MANUFACTURED RELATIONAL TETHER

That indescribably feeling of being stuck – pulled – attached to a situation that makes you sick, sad, and broken. What is it?

It’s the abuser’s manufactured relational tether, and it’s time to learn how to break it.

Dee, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community rejoins Anne on the free BTR podcast to share how she courageously left her abusive therapist’s care and broke the manufactured relational tether that kept her in an abusive situation that was destroying her self-esteem.

Learn more by reading the full transcript below and listening to the BTR podcast.

What Is The Manufactured Relational Tether?

The manufactured relational tether is the result of the abuser creating chaos and stress that only he can solve. By keeping his victim close, battering her emotionally and/or physically, and offering relief intermittently, he keeps her emotionally tethered to his own emotional state.

The way that I like to think of it is more like a tether ball. So, you have been attached on this string to this abuser, and he hits the ball and you’re flying through space, and you feel very insecure, and you feel worried, and you feel concerned, and then the ball wraps around the pole and for a brief moment, it’s like okay, relief. I feel good, this makes sense, I like how this feels, and then it starts to unravel, and it feels very uncomfortable and then he hits it again and it’s like, whoa. And in order to take yourself out of that manufactured relational tether, it’s going to be painful. You actually have to detach yourself from that cord and be like, okay I’m going to be away from this.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

What Does a Manufactured Relational Tether Feel Like?

When your abusive partner has manipulated you into believing that your wellbeing and security is dependent on their intermittent “kindness”, it may be difficult to identify that you are, indeed, experiencing the effects of a manufactured emotional tether.

You may feel:

  • Dependent on the abuser
  • Simultaneously disgusted by and drawn to the abuser
  • Frustrated with yourself for not leaving or maintaining firmer boundaries
  • Confused by the abuser’s words and behavior
  • Unworthy, unimportant, and unloved
  • Like you’re walking on eggshells
  • Ashamed, guilty, and complicit in the abuse – especially if it’s sexual in nature

How Can I Break The Manufactured Relational Tether?

If you feel attached, loyal, or subject to or protective of your abuser, you may have a manufactured relational tether. If you’re afraid to leave or feel unable to leave, you may have a manufactured relational tether.

So how do you break free? You may want to take these steps:

  • Open up about what’s going on and talk to a safe person or safe group, like BTRG
  • Courageously step away from the relationship so that you can get your bearings
  • Become educated about abuse and betrayal trauma; the BTR books page provides excellent recommendations for
  • Practice radical self-care daily

Betrayal Trauma Recovery is Here For You

At BTR, we know how difficult it is to both identify and sever a manufactured relational tether.

That’s why the BTRG meets daily in multiple time zones – to provide you with the support you need to break free from your abuser’s grip.

Join today and find the validation, compassion, and empowerment that you need as you begin your journey to safety.

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+ 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 are here for you. We’d love to see you in a session today.

For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating on Apple podcasts 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 is a five-star review we recently received. She said: Understanding and empathy, that’s what you’ll find here. I’m an Atheist and have been really struggling to understand what my life has been for the last decade, through the secular lens. Empathetic, useful, secular resources either don’t exist for “sex addiction”, or I haven’t been able to find them. The host of this podcast is or was, (I am, just for your knowledge) a Christian and it took me a while to set that aside. The information here and the understanding that these women have for what I’m going through is so refreshing and helpful. There are a lot of things that aren’t based on science or research, but that’s because science and research just don’t exist for these issues. I definitely recommend this podcast.

Thank you so much for your review. We really appreciate it, and again, every single review that you give helps isolated women find us.

Dee, A Victim of Therapist Abuse

We’re continuing the conversation today with Dee about her therapist abusing her. So, if you didn’t catch last week’s episode, listen to that first and then join us here. We’re just going to start right into the conversation.

Anne: When do you start to notice, hey, you know what, something’s got to change here. This is not the right therapist for me.

Dee: I think it was way earlier than when I actually left, honestly. It’s hard because to some degree, these things felt good to me to have. You know, certain attention or to have that kind of comfort but there was also a tremendous amount of guilt and shame because I recognized that these things shouldn’t be happening, but it took me a while to get to a place where I felt like I could just leave. Because I remember feeling very emotionally attached to him, and now I know that I have a trauma bond to him. I’m still dealing with that. You know, it’s very weird to feel the need for somebody in your life who you know has hurt you tremendously, but yet you still wish they could be there for you when they’re the one who hurts you. The other day I was thinking about it I was like, it’s like craving poison.

The Truth About Trauma Bonds

Anne: Can we talk about trauma bond for just a second? Let me, if you don’t mind, giving a little rant about trauma bonding. I believe in trauma bond when it comes to two people who have been through a tornado together, for example. So, they’re both maybe about to be killed by a tornado and both of them run down together and they get in the bathroom, and the tornado goes by, and they survive together, and forevermore, they have this bond that they created through their shared trauma experience. In my mind, that’s what trauma bond means. Two people who have both experienced a traumatic event together and supported each other and relied on each other through that traumatic event.

The Manufactured Relational Tether

What you’re talking about is sometimes called Stockholm Syndrome, which I also don’t think we should use that term because there’s some level of victim-blaming. That somehow in the process of being abused, she decided she needed her abuser. What I would prefer to call it, and if you want to continue calling it a trauma bond be my guest if that’s helpful to you. I’m not trying to take away a helpful term because some people have found the term trauma bond really helpful. I prefer the term that I made up. That is what I call a manufactured relational tether.

And the reason why I prefer to call it that, is because this person has created a problem that is very stressful. Like, you’re not getting their approval or you’re not getting their appreciation or their love or their attention or whatever the thing is that they created on purpose to reel you back in. It’s a manipulation tactic. So, when you feel the stress of that manipulated emotion of, hey, I’m not paying attention to you, or I don’t care about you, you sort of have this detachment push away when you expect some type of attachment or some type of bond. And then, they do it on purpose, and then they relieve it on purpose.

“They Create A Problem Only They Can Solve”

So then you feel totally relieved when you’re reattached to that person. When they create a problem that only they can solve so then when it’s solved you feel relief, right. So, it’s sort of this manufactured relational tether and the way that I like to think of it is more like a tether ball. So, you have been attached on this string to this abuser, and he hits the ball and you’re flying through space, and you feel very insecure, and you feel worried, and you feel concerned, and then the ball wraps around the pole and for a brief moment, it’s like okay, relief. I feel good, this makes sense, I like how this feels, and then it starts to unravel, and it feels very uncomfortable and then he hits it again and it’s like, whoa. And in order to take yourself out of that manufactured relational tether, it’s going to be painful. You actually have to detach yourself from that cord and be like, okay I’m going to be away from this. So, I don’t see it as a trauma bond so much as this thing that they do on purpose to manipulate your emotions to make you feel attached to them, but it’s all manipulation.

The Term “Trauma Bond” Can Unintentionally Blame Victims

You’ll have to tell me after you think about it for a while if thinking about it that way is more helpful than this, I’m bonded to this person. I don’t think you’re bonded to the person. I think that what happened is, you’ve been manipulated so much that it just feels very uncomfortable to be in this free for all, to detach and just sort of be floating in space. Whereas before you’ve had some sort of like manufactured tether, that was going on. I just worry that victims think I’m bonded to this person. When it’s not really a true bond that you’re feeling.

Dee: What you’re saying makes a lot of sense, and I am all for any language that helps release me of some of that shame and guilt that I carry around because that just as much as anything has been part of my healing, and it’s been a really difficult part for me.

Anne: What happened was you were slapped around a lot, I mean thinking of yourself as a tetherball, and the only thing that gave you any semblance of security was that rope attached to you. And right now, I think what you’re feeling rather than the bond is just the wound from having to rip that rope out. That bond hurts. I can hear you crying, sorry.

Why do you think you’re crying right now? Talk about how you’re feeling.

Find Support To Help You Break The Manufactured Relational Tether

Dee: At the very end, I reached out to a friend of mine who I knew would give it to me straight. I went to her, and I just said, you know, these are the kinds of things that are happening, and I don’t know what to do. And she said so clearly, you have to stop seeing him. I remember telling her, but I don’t want to. Like, I don’t know how to do that, I don’t know how to leave. I just don’t know how to do that. And I had one more session after that and I just had her words running around in my head and was able to see it more from her eyes than my own, and that is what allowed me to leave, and that was my last time to go.

I texted him the next day and said I’m looking for a new therapist and he said, okay, I’ve made the final charge to your credit card; thanks for letting me know. I confronted him a couple of weeks later. I showed up at his office without an appointment and I just said, can we talk, and I recorded our conversation and got him admitting to basically all of it. I sent that recording with my complaint to the board. I know I went back one other time for the same reason, just being really confused and I said, “I want you to clarify: are you a villain? Are you just a weak person? Are you unethical? I don’t know who you are. I’m so confused. I don’t you know.” I kept trying to make sense of it and wanting him to explain to me who he really is, which I now realize is never going to happen.

Abusers Won’t Admit To Creating A Manufactured Relational Tether

Anne: Yeah, abusers are never going to say I’m an abuser, I groomed you, and then I slowly abused you over time until it got worse and worse and worse until you noticed. What is the status of your complaint right now?

Dee: Oh, so it’s been a little over a year. I have requested, an open records request is what I’ve sent in because right now I have not been contacted by the board at all. So, all that I had been told in the past when I would call to check on the status was that my complaint is in the queue. And they said that means it hasn’t been assigned to an investigator yet. So, as far as I know, it’s still in the queue, but right now I can’t get ahold of anybody because with the COVID situation, they are not answering phone calls, and I have sent emails, and I don’t get a response. So, I don’t know.

Anne: So, this therapist is still practicing, is the gist of the answer.

Trying To Find Closure After Abuse

Dee: As far as I know, yes. Now just in the last, I think two weeks, I was able to, I’ve checked on the status of his license a few times since then, just in case. For whatever reason I wasn’t contacted and maybe something had happened, and everything looked in order online until this last time I checked, and his license is listed as delinquent. But I talked to a lawyer, and she said, really that probably just means that he didn’t pay to renew. I guess it’s in sort of this in-between stage of whether he will renew it or not, but he still could be practicing, even with a delinquent license.

Anne: We also know of people who have had their license revoked, and they’ve just decided to start coaching. So, they just decided to start calling themselves a coach, and then they’re doing that. With our coaches, we have done background checks with Coach Joi, with our clinical director. We’ve done a background check.

Dee: And what’s frustrating is when all of this is waiting to be investigated, there’s no way for anybody to know. So, this whole time, if anybody did go on to verify that he was licensed, they wouldn’t see that there were any complaints filed. And until he let it go delinquent.

“There Were No Red Flags At All”

Anne: To make sure that everyone is really, genuinely, who and what they’re supposed to be with our practice because I find that to be very, very important. Right, we don’t want anyone practicing who has had any type of disciplinary action. ‘

Dee: There were no red flags at all.

Anne: Well, that’s the other thing, is a lot of people will check and say, okay, well, they don’t have any complaints so this must be a good therapist, but we hear horror stories all the time from active therapists with active licenses. Who when women go in and they are told, oh, you just need to have more sex with your husband or oh, you need to have better communication or whatever it is regarding their husband’s abuse toward them. So, the therapist doesn’t necessarily abuse them per se but what the therapist does not do is help them identify the abuse that they’re experiencing in their relationship. And that is a super traumatic experience as well, where you go in for help for abuse and then they blame you for the abuse. So, in this case, that you’re talking about he actually was abusing you directly in the sessions, which you can tell, I mean I’ve talked to you twice now and this is still, rightfully so, very very close to the surface for you, and it’s been over a year, and that makes total sense.

Moving Forward After Breaking the Manufactured Emotional Tether

What are you looking forward to? What is your plan I guess for progressing through this or maybe don’t have a plan, but you know what I mean? Like, what are the next steps for you in this journey?

Dee: I definitely feel like waiting to be contacted by the Board has sort of been, I don’t know that it’s holding me back so much is it’s just this big question mark of, of where that’s going to go and I’ve even tried to prepare myself to accept whatever happens with that because, you know, I can only tell them my side, and hope that whatever they decide is the right thing and prevents anybody else from being abused. But they’re looking into some things to see if we can even go forward. Part of me just really wants to get through to him the damage that he did. And so far, I feel like he’s completely gotten away with it, and it’s hard because I feel really powerless. So, in some ways, this feels like I have a little bit of power to go to him and say, you know, this has been a very traumatic experience, and I just want to be able to get that through to him.

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. You can find it on our books page. That books page also has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book Trauma Mama Husband Drama 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 recently received on Amazon. Best information source for betrayal trauma. The story of my life. Every betrayed woman needs a copy of this book, actually several to give those who are going through this. Finally, some hope and healing for moving forward. Thank you, Anne, for writing this.

And thank you for circling back to Amazon to give this five-star review. We really appreciate it. Every one of your reviews helps isolated women find us.

Okay, we’re now getting back to the interview.

The Bargaining Stage & Hoping For Closure

This is the perennial question for victims of abuse, right, because so many women are in this waiting stage where they’re waiting for mediation, for example, for a divorce. Or they’re waiting to see if he’s going to file for divorce or they’re separated and they’re waiting to see how they feel, they’re waiting for him to get it. They’re waiting for someone to help him understand the damage that he caused. This is a very typical commonplace to be. This waiting place of will he get it, will he understand? When you think about the grieving process, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I wonder if this stage of we’re trying to get him to get it, is part of that bargaining stage, or you’re trying to figure out a way of like how can I help him know how bad this is or whatever.

“That’s The Thing You Are Waiting For”

I don’t know, but I want you to take heart in the fact that so many women are in this stage, and that so many women, I’d say like 90%, 95-98% of women never get that, oh, I get it, I get how much I hurt you. Regardless of what happens in court, regardless of what happens with custody, regardless of what happens in any situation, they never get that. And that’s the thing we want most. And so that’s the thing that’s so painful. And when you tell a victim that’s not going to happen, he’s not going say that, then it’s like, where do you go from there because that’s the thing that you think will make you feel better. That’s the thing that you are waiting for. And so, I think knowing that this is a stage that all victims go through and that it’s very rare that a victim ever gets justice.

Hopefully, you will, by the way, hopefully, there’ll be some type of justice and I totally believe in reporting, and I believe in telling people your story, and even telling people that live around you. This is the name of this guy, don’t go to this guy, you know, you can post it from wherever you want, but knowing that, how am I going to get through this if he continues to practice. If he continues to not be held accountable. If he continues to not acknowledge anything that happened. That is the question on every victim’s mind, and that I don’t have the answer to, and I don’t think any other victim has the answer to it either. All I can say is in my own experience, that time has healed that part of me and so I’m not so much in that stage anymore, which I’m really grateful for, but I remember it really, really well. Well, and then sometimes I am in that stage, sometimes I go back and think, when is he going to get it.

Finding Healing After Breaking the Manufactured Emotional Tether

Dee: I think I do recognize, even what I’m hoping for those things, that there’s a good chance that those things won’t happen. Whether it’s maybe having his license revoked or him having some moment of clarity where he really understands what happened and what damage was done. I mean there’s definitely a big part of me that realizes that’s unlikely to happen. I just haven’t completely let go of that yet. But there are other things, sometimes I just need to sit down and do something creative like watercolor and I find that to be healing, and I write poetry, and I’ve even wondered if I could publish a book someday. You know, these are things I think about. I don’t know if they’ll happen or not but just trying to find a way to make something positive out of it is kind of where my head’s been lately. And doing this as well, being able to talk about it I think is one more step in moving that direction, you know, feeling like, if I can share what happened to me, and maybe help somebody else avoid being in the situation, then there’s some comfort in that, and a sense of healing that can come from that.

Post-Traumatic Growth After the Manufactured Emotional Tether

Anne: Let’s talk about post-traumatic growth for a minute. Not that we would wish this experience on anyone, and not that you went through this because you needed to grow, and not because of any of those things, but having been through it and now being a year out can you see any part of you that has changed for the better?

Dee: Being able to speak up for myself. Just, for example, I’ve seen a couple of therapists since then, and with one, in particular, just having the courage to come to her and say I need to know how she viewed certain things to make sure that she was a good fit for me. And not ending up in a situation where I felt like, you know, the therapy maybe wasn’t helping or even maybe doing more harm. Because, especially after going through this, and going to therapy for this, it was important to me that I was able to see somebody who recognized it as abuse and didn’t cause more trauma by blaming me, and just helping me recognize the abuse in all the ways that that happened. I definitely think that’s something that I didn’t have before.

As well as being a little more firm in knowing who I am, because when I was seeing him, you know, there were times when he would tell me that I’m not an empathetic person that he is, and I’ve always recognized that I was an empathetic person. I feel like that’s definitely part of who I am, but I started to doubt that when he kept telling me that that wasn’t the case. And now, of course, I completely disagree with his characterization of me. I think I’m still definitely in the process of getting to maybe a place where I can say I can clearly see where I’ve gotten stronger or changed for the better. Being where I’m at, it’s still a work in progress. I think I’ve just felt really wounded. I don’t want to always feel that way.

Advice For Women Experiencing a Manufactured Emotional Tether

Anne: Is there any advice after this horrific experience? What advice would you give to other women who are going to therapy or trying to get help?

Dee: I think being educated on what their ethical standards are. I feel like it would be great if anybody, before they started therapy, were familiar with those things. I was able to print all of the ethical standards in Texas for therapists off the internet, and unfortunately, I read them after my experience. I just feel like if I had been educated in that maybe I would have recognized things much earlier on that were unethical. I can’t say how I would have handled it, but I’d like to think if I was able to recognize those things earlier that it may have helped me from being in the position that I ended up in. So, I think just recognizing what’s okay and what’s not okay in therapy.

Abusive Therapists Will Cross Personal Boundaries

You know one thing that he did was talking about himself, talking about his personal life, and going into details about his family, and even to the point of him telling me that he thought maybe his mom had had an affair because he thought his youngest brothers didn’t look like him, that they only look like his mom and not like him and his dad. You know, obviously, now I realize that that was way over the line on what kind of information I should have had about his personal life. If you’re in therapy, and there’s any kind of phone conversations or texting that happens outside of therapy, the only topics that should be talked about are appointment times.

Becoming Educated About Manufactured Emotional Tethers Helps You Protect Yourself Against Them

There shouldn’t be conversational-type texting going on, or phone conversations that are not related to therapy going on. I can see both sides of it. Saying well you know maybe I needed a little extra time but ultimately having those boundaries does protect the client. I shouldn’t have been confused by therapy, and my therapist. You know walking into his office, he was very inconsistent and how he would behave towards me. Sometimes he could be really cold and distant and have a curt tone with me and I felt like he didn’t like me, or he was angry with me, and having him, tell me that he felt manipulated by me was a pretty extreme example. Just even something as small as you know I had shared an article with him that I felt was relevant to my situation, and when I asked him in the session if he had read it, he was really rude to me about it. Being able to look back on that now I just see how unprofessional he was at times with me. And just that inconsistency of not really knowing what I was walking into, not knowing which version of him I was going to have that day. And I could leave there feeling really good, or I could leave there feeling really bad.

Anne: And a lot of us see this with our exes where they’re inconsistently giving our children approval. So, because our children are safe with us, they kind of care more about what their father thinks because he’s intermittently kind to them or he’s intermittently involved in their lives. So then when they show up, it’s like, oh, he showed up and they’re so excited, whereas when the consistent mom shows up and she’s just always there, they’re not as excited because they just expect it.

The Manufactured Emotional Tether & Brain Chemistry

Dee: That’s something that my therapist who deals with psychological abuse was really helpful in pointing out to me, and even talking about the brain chemistry involved. You know, I mean like you were saying about victim-blaming and the trauma bond, that really kind of fits into that as well because I didn’t understand why I was feeling the way that I was feeling until she was able to explain to me about the hormones and in the ways that your body reacts to these things. That. like you said, maybe it’s not a true addiction, but you can definitely see how it’s parallel to that.

Anne: Yeah, it’s some type of manufactured tether that you experience due to his abuse. One of the things we talk about frequently here, which I want to remind people, is that it’s absolutely unethical to do couples therapy with your abuser. So, you should not be going to couple therapy with someone who’s exhibiting abusive behaviors. That is unethical. It’s also unethical when you are a victim of abuse for your therapist to blame you in any way shape or form for the abuse. And that happens frequently when women try to get help from perhaps a pornography addiction recovery specialist who is like okay, well your husband’s part is this, and then your part is this. You need to communicate better, you need to not shame him, you need to do this, this, and this.

The Manufactured Emotional Tether Forms When Abusers Traumatize Victims Over & Over Again

I believe that that is unethical. To blame a victim for her own abuse is not ethical. The ethical thing to do is to help the victim get to safety, whatever that means and whatever that looks like. So, I just want to remind people where we’re talking about therapy and ethical ways of doing therapy, that pornography is an abuse issue. And so, anyone who’s looking at it from a different lens I believe is looking at it from an unethical lens, and that is where we hear all the horror stories, right. Of women coming back and saying, man, he told me I need to have more sex or that I needed to be kind, or that I needed to be patient with his abuse or whatever they say.

Okay, so, Dee and I have talked privately about some of the other things that happened in her session, which because that happened in a therapy session, we won’t be giving you the details here, but many of the details she gave me about the way he talked to her, the things that he said indicated to me that this man was a pornography addict. So, some of the things he said were referencing like what women might look like naked or other things that we won’t tell the details of made me think this guy is a porn addict and also probably a sexual predator. Meaning that he thinks that having sex with multiple women is just a form of entertainment, those kinds of things. Why don’t you talk about that for a little bit?

“Someone Who Thinks Sex Is Entertainment Is Going To Hurt People”

Dee: I remember him talking about how, I don’t remember if he was speaking, as you know, just men in general or himself specifically, but I remember him saying that for him sex didn’t have to be anything emotional. It could just be purely a physical thing to enjoy and that even in his own personal life that he had discussed that with one particular woman. But then after they had engaged in sex, that she was saying things that made him believe that she was getting emotionally involved, and he was surprised by that. He said, well, we just had that talk. So what you’re saying about how he viewed sex, I definitely feel like there were things that he talked about that show evidence of that.

Anne: Yeah, that’s definitely something that someone with heavy porn use or someone who thinks that sex is entertainment rather than connection. I would venture to say that someone who thinks that sex is entertainment is going to hurt people.

The Manufactured Relational Tether Is Built Gradually, Over Time

Dee: I do remember thinking it was strange that he would make these comments, but I think just so often that you know they would happen here and there and not in every session. It was easier to just sort of brush them off if once every few weeks, something like that was said, whereas if it had been consistent each time, or numerous times in the session, maybe that would have had the alarm bells would have been screaming a little bit louder, but it was easy to sort of brush it off.

Anne: So, I’m not sure what the therapists who say to their clients who are victims of this type of abuse regarding pornography, right, and their husband’s pornography. I’m not sure if when they say, hey, what are you doing? Could you be more sexual or you’re probably not safe enough for him to tell the truth to or something like that, who knows if they are pornography users or not. But the thing that we do know is they don’t understand abuse. In his case, in your therapist’s case, he was actively grooming and abusing you, and also saying inappropriate sexual things to you during the sessions. Perhaps, perhaps not, had you known more about sex addiction. That’s another thing that I wanted to bring up.

“Part Of Healing Feels Like Needing To Take Action”

So, you brought up knowing the ethical parameters and what boundaries that you should have with your therapist, what is normal or not normal in a therapy session. Then also being really educated about abuse, about this world of sex addiction that many people call an addiction, which really is just abusive behavior. What that looks like, what that sounds like, and sexual assault. Because part of what you’ve described to me sounds like verbal sexual assault, where he’s talking about these sexual things in really detailed ways, in ways that make you feel very uncomfortable. At the very least, I guess it would be sexual harassment from your therapist is probably the correct definition.

Dee: As far as abuse goes, in general, I feel fortunate in that I’ve never experienced it in my life, at least, nothing like this. I have a healthy relationship with my parents, they’re healthy people. I’d never had any abusive boyfriends. I was really unfamiliar with abuse, just in general. And so, I mean all of this has been a huge learning experience for me. Unfortunately, having to learn it the hard way. I’m sure that healing should be my focus, but part of that process of healing feels like needing to take action. I just want to find meaningful ways to do that. I don’t know, I think finding some purpose and positive things to come out of this is really important to me.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is Here For You

Anne: Well, hopefully, this experience will be a positive one sharing your story, and helping women know that the answer that everyone gives when you’ve got a problem, or you seem distressed, that clergy will give you, that friends and family will be, have you seen a therapist? It can be very useful and helpful. I’m not anti-therapy at all, but it can also be very harmful. And I’d like to say one more thing about that. So many times, the victim’s rightful and true reaction to trauma, which is sadness, which is depression, which is an inability to concentrate, which is a hard time reading or making decisions, the answer to that could therapy but it also could just be a hug from a friend who tells you hey, I love you. How you’re acting is completely normal, there is nothing wrong with you. And so, this question of therapy is one that I want victims to really consider. To know, do you just need support and validation for acting in completely appropriate ways in a crazy situation or is there something really “wrong” with you that you need therapy for?

I would say in so many cases, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re amazing. You’re brave. You’re beautiful. You’re strong. You may need support. The easiest, safest place to go for help is obviously Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.You may need individual coaching to help you see what next steps to take, but in terms of like there’s something wrong with you deep down that you need therapy for, I don’t see it. I see a bunch of amazing, strong, brave women who are doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances.

Be Careful When Choosing A Therapist

In your case, you genuinely are struggling with anxiety and depression that necessitated therapy, right. You wanted to go to therapy, and you wanted to get help, and in your vulnerable state, he abused you in that situation. Does that mean you should never go to therapy? Uh, no, right. Like therapy has really helped you since then, but considering what your actual problem is, is really important. I don’t think just this blanket of oh, go to therapy is the answer for everyone. Also just take stock in knowing if the therapy is actually helping you. If it’s actually helping you to get to safety, if it’s actually helping you feel more peace, if it’s actually helping you get a handle on your anxiety or whatever it is you’re going through, great, but know that so many of the women who come to Betrayal Trauma Recovery have been deeply injured from therapy, including Dee. So that’s just a thought that I’d like to leave you with. I’m not saying therapy is dangerous in general, but it’s something that women really need to consider.

The BTR Podcast Can Help You Break The Manufactured Relational Tether

Dee: I know, going to therapy after that experience has helped me, but I would say, what has been just as helpful is finding a community of people that have been through similar situations. Even just being able to share that we are feeling the same things, that has been, I feel like just as helpful as having someone to talk to, you know, a professional to talk to about it. I think it’s just been every bit as helpful as therapy has been, if not more.

Anne: How have you found the Betrayal Trauma Recovery podcast to be helpful?

Dee: I think a lot of it, just even though I noticed that the situations are different, just, there’s a lot of overlap in recognizing the patterns of abuse, and just feeling validated in my experience and my feelings and seeing other women and the strength that they have. They might be further along, you know, in their process than I am, and just being able to recognize that in time I’ll be there too. It’s just not something that I can rush myself through and trying to give myself the grace to go through the place that I’m at now, to get to that place later on.

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Anne: You can’t go around. You can’t avoid it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You just have to go through it, and that’s the part that really stinks and other people want you to be able to go over it. They want you to be able to just get over it. They say that often, right. And it’s like, well I can’t get over it. I have to go through it, but thanks for nothing, pal.

Dee: Well-intentioned comments of that nature that I’ve definitely heard, and the nice thing like I said about having a community that you know is experiencing it now or has experienced it in the past, is they get that that’s not necessarily helpful. Maybe just saying you know what I completely understand how you’re feeling, and I’ve been there too. And, you know, just be kind to yourself.

Anne: And we’re here for you through that process, right. We’re here for you.

Thank you so much, Dee, for sharing your story and for your courage. We’ll try and check back with you in, I don’t know, six months to a year, and see how you’re doing.

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

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