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Parenting special needs child
Parenting Special Needs Children

Every victim of betrayal and abuse deserves support: especially mothers of special needs children. BTR can help.

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Parenting special needs child

A lot of people see the disability from the outside, but they don’t see anything that is going on in the inside, like what types of things are going on with their spouse. Women may be free and open to talk about their children’s needs and the disabilities, but they are quiet about the private suffering due to abuse in their home.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse deal may feel overwhelmed by the trauma. Some of these victims are also mothers of special needs children. These courageous women deserve support, love, and validation. Anne interviews June, a victim of abuse and mother of four special needs children. June offers experiences and advice for abused mothers of special needs children. Listen to the BTR podcast for more.

Children Are Always Impacted By Domestic Abuse

All of my children have been affected by trauma from seeing abuse in the home, in regards to how my husband treated me in front of them. He was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive and eventually physically abusive to me in front of them. Regardless of whether or not a child has special needs, the treatment for children who have been impacted by trauma and children that have special needs overlaps greatly.

June, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Regardless of whether or not your partner has directly abused your children, children are always impacted by abuse in a home.

Betrayal and Emotional Abuse Drain Mothers Of Energy and Time

All mothers, but especially mothers of special needs children, need to have energy and strength to nurture children.

When a woman is being abused, her attention and time may be directed to her partner and trying to save the relationship. For June, this wasn’t acceptable and she decided to focus on her children’s safety:

I tried very hard to save my marriage. I delved into learning all I could about porn use, unhealthy relationships, overcoming affairs and infidelity, and abuse. It became clear to me that the situation I was in was taking away from my ability to be the best parent I could for my children. So much of the time, I was in trauma repeatedly from daily verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, sexual coercion, and spiritual abuse and it impacted by ability to really be present for my children and advocate for them.

June, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Abuse Must Not Be Normalized Or Modeled For Children With Special Needs

Being in an abusive relationship can hinder a woman’s ability to be the best parent she can be because she is in a constant state of trauma. Implementing boundaries and learning about abuse and toxic relationships can help empower women in these difficult situations. June shares the point of intersection that became undeniable for her to realize her situation was not sustainable,

My son did not speak until he was age 5. The turning point for me was when he started talking, I realized he could start mimicking the verbal abuse he was hearing in the home and repeating the horrific words I was being called by my husband. I knew it was a impacting my children and would continue to impact them. I did not want this abuse to be normalized for my children any longer.

June, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

How Trauma Impacts Children With Special Needs

Any child that is going through the divorce of their parents is experiencing a trauma, even in the best of circumstances. Trauma can cause challenging behaviors to increase in children, particularly in children that have special needs. In regards to her 9-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration Disorder and ADHD, June explains,

My autistic son is the most profoundly impacted by disabilities. He can have a very hard time processing things. He can tend to perseverate on things. He may have more difficult time with changes in routine or going between two homes for weekend visitations. He may have a more difficult time understanding the separation and divorce. He tends to have some insomnia and anxiety. Some of his behaviors have escalated due to the trauma.

June, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

How Do You Help Special Needs Children Cope With Trauma?

What is the best way to deal with a child that has special needs who may be experiencing the trauma of an abusive home? It is important to teach children what emotions look like and how to handle difficult feelings in healthy and productive ways. June describes some of her tips:

In my own home and in my own parenting, I incorporate things to help them feel safe and process trauma and handle their emotions. We will do mindfulness work together often times in those difficult moments. Using coping skills and tools that help strengthen emotional intelligence is key in managing these types of challenges.

June, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Four Tools To Increase Coping Skills In Children With Special Needs

  1. Make a Calm Corner or a Sensory Safe Space in your home can help children feel safe.
  2. Do Time-In’s instead of Time-Out’s where children can check in emotionally and examine the “why” of a difficult behavior.
  3. Use a Question Jar at mealtimes that can help prompt conversation and connection.
  4. Start a Communication Journal or Sharing Diary with your child to promote one-one-one communication that may be difficult to share verbally.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Abused Mothers

At BTR, we understand how daunting life can seem: just getting out of bed feels like an unconquerable feat at times.

All women, but especially mothers of special needs children deserve support, validation, and empowerment. Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group ; sessions are scheduled every day in every time zone.

Join now and find the community that will support you through your hardest moments.


  1. Bev

    OMG!This is me! Same situation except my children are 16 to 24 (2 boys, 2 girls) and I’ve yet to start the separation/divorce to a sexually addicted spouse (same as yours). Personally just too busy with kids and full time job. I worried about my girls being with my husband so I decided to wait.Such a relief to hear from you. Carving out time for me so I can stay positive has been extremely difficult some days but finally getting better. I agree mindfulness is so useful .

  2. Bev

    Me too!


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