When abusive manipulators get inside your head, it takes everything to stay in truth, hold to reality, and remember your worth.
Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 Initiative, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to empower victims of abuse with three power phrases that you need today – to help you deliver yourself, safely, from the grip of oppressive, covert abuse. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
“I Will Not Comply”
“Withholding their compliance from the abuser is saying no, I’m not going to put up with the isolation, I’m not going to put up with the intimidation, I’m not going to respect your entitlements, I’m not going to be controlled, and I’m not going to be coerced anymore. That spirit of I will not comply is essential to breaking the abusive pattern.”Tom Pryde, Psalm 82 Initiative
When victims adopt the power phrase, “I Will Not Comply”, they are adopting a firm boundary against abuse.
Choosing to remove themselves from the “game” of abuse is an empowering stride toward safety.
“I Choose Community Over Isolation”
One of the most devastating tools of abusers is isolation. When abusers successfully isolate victims from family and friends, they are able to better manage the victim’s perception of reality.
When victims choose community over isolation, they are actively choosing reality over distortion.
Tom Pryde explains that victims of abuse need a strong community in order to validate reality and have those “checks and balances” against the abuser’s distorted reality that he may try to impose on the victim.
“I Honor My Emotions And Deal With Them in Healthy Ways”
Anger, fear, frustration, grief, joy, and delight.
Abusers condition victims to believe that emotions are dangerous, stupid, and weak.
It takes courage and dignity for victims to choose to honor their emotions and express them in healthy ways.
Specifically, victims can choose to honor their anger.
“Someone might say, ‘Well, you’re so angry,’ and that is true, you are angry. But the implied thing is there’s something wrong with anger, and the truth is that anger is awesome. Your anger is welcome here at BTR and it’s also welcome at Psalm 82 Initiative, because your anger is justified in this situation.”Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
How Can Victims Honor Their Emotions?
Honoring emotions may feel like learning a new language. It may feel awkward and uncomfortable, or even morally wrong.
However, as victims practice honoring their emotions and practice patience and self-compassion, it can become a beautiful experience.
Victims can honor their emotions by:
- Accepting what they are feeling without judgment
- Journaling their experiences and accompanying feelings
- Sharing their trauma and associated feelings with safe people
- Expressing difficult feelings through creativity, exercise, or other physical activities
- Reporting criminal behavior
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is Here For You
At BTR, we understand how difficult it is to reclaim reality during and after abuse. Complying with abuse, living in isolation, and ignoring your emotions – these are the endgame of abuse and it takes everything to fight against these tactics and get to safety.
That is why BTR is here – to help you. To support you. To believe you.
You are not alone.
You can do this. We are here for you.
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 plus 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’s one of the five-star reviews that we received on Apple podcasts.
It says: This podcast is a grounding resource. I had stumbled across BTR in the chaos and fog after discovery. I was hesitant at first, unsure if online support was for me. When I finally booked a session with Coach Joi, it was life-changing. In one session she gave me resources and helped me put words to what I had been experiencing, abuse. I later met with Coach Deborah once I knew I was preparing for divorce. She helped me make sense of the financials and legal jargon. Anne’s podcast and BTR posts have kept me going, keeping me grounded in my reality, helping me know I’m not alone. I only regret not diving in sooner when I was trying to make sense of it all. Safety should have been my initial priority. No matter what your spiritual background or where you are in the mess that is betrayal, this is a must-have on your list of self-care resources.
Review the BTR Podcast
Thank you so much for that review. Each one of these reviews on Apple podcasts helps isolated women find us. Similarly, if we say something today that really strikes you or you have a similar experience, please comment below. We’d love to hear your stories.
I have Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 Initiative back on today’s podcast. I have had him on the podcast before, he is amazing, and I am so grateful for the work that he does. I’m grateful for his help, and for everything that he does for victims. So welcome back, Tom.
Tom: Thank you, Anne. It’s great to be back.
Tom Pryde, Psalm 82 Initiative
Anne: I received in the mail this awesome coin that I wanted Tom to come on the podcast to talk about. I am so proud of this. When I received it in the mail, I’m going to have him describe it but just emotionally speaking I cannot say enough about it. It feels good, like the weight of it and the words. It really holds a special place in my heart and I’m not an object person, but this really means a lot to me. So, Tom, can you talk about the coin that you guys created at Psalm 82 Initiative?
Tom: We wanted a coin for people who come here to visit us at the refuge, who had been through the training in some way, or who has been a client of ours and we wanted something to be able to give to them to say, you know, good job. You finished. So, for instance, with the training program, we did a conference here at the refuge and this is what we gave at the end of it when they went through all of that first introductory conference to the four tools that we teach. We wanted something substantial, that was meaningful like you said because you take a certificate, you get a certificate, and it’s not like you’re going to load your walls with all kinds of certificates, it just goes in a file somewhere. I wanted something that you could put in your pocket but that would have the entire conference and the entire basic principles on a single coin. And so that’s what they did.
I Will Not Comply
Anne: My favorite part is really big letters on one side, it says I will not comply, which is just so telling, and I love it. We have talked about the four tools on a previous episode, we’ll put that in the show notes so that if you haven’t heard that episode before you can go listen to that one and then join us back here. Compliance is one thing that is required for abuse. So, can you talk about the compliance issue and why you thought it was so important to write in really big letters, I will not comply?
Tom: So, we call this the freedom coin. The only way to be free from abuse is to not play the game. The four tools, four elements of the eight of those things, there’s only one that is actually in the control of the victim, and that is their compliance. And so, withholding their compliance from the abuser saying no, I’m not going to put up with the isolation, I’m not going to put up with the intimidation, I’m not going to respect your entitlements, I’m not going to be controlled, and I’m not going to be coerced anymore. That spirit of I will not comply is essential to breaking the abusive pattern. It’s one of the reasons why as an advocate, my job is to make that as safe as humanly possible. To help someone do that and have that view but only with a sense of safety. How to do it in a way that’s not going to increase their risk or at least unnecessarily so.
I Will Not Comply With Gaslighting
Anne: One of the things that I think, at least listeners to this podcast, the type of abuse that they experience a lot is gaslighting. Complying with gaslighting is like thinking, well, am I the crazy one? Or do I really have the problem or maybe this is just me, maybe it isn’t a big deal. Part of not complying in the face of gaslighting would be really going with your gut, like trusting yourself and being willing to say, you know, even though he’s telling me this, it just doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t seem right. What are your thoughts about victims not complying with gaslighting?
Tom: With gaslighting, the way to combat manipulation is with truth and truth is just simply being honest with myself about myself, my situation. So, the part when you say go with your gut, the way I would refer to that is more, if you are feeling something, that you should be honest with yourself about that feeling. Something in this feels wrong, I’m confused, there’s something going on here that doesn’t make sense. This doesn’t feel true, and I need to figure that out.
“Grab Hold Of What Is True, Hang On To It For All You’re Worth”
The best way to not comply is to grab hold of what is true, hang on to it for all you’re worth. Because the key to gaslighting is that it makes you doubt what is true, makes you doubt what is real. If an abuser can actually accomplish that, then they can do whatever they want, and you don’t believe your own eyes. If they can get you to the point where you don’t even trust your own perception, then they have successfully undermined your own ability to even deal with the abuse. So, refusing to comply with that kind of manipulation, just says, no, I know what happened to me, I know how it happened, I know that you did it, and that’s just the truth. And it’s that clinging to the truth which is going to be the refusal to comply.
Anne: If our listeners take anything away, manipulation is an abuse tactic, and it is possible to not comply with that in that way. Because so much of the abuse that our listeners experience is this covert sort of non-aggressive but sneaky manipulative types of abuse rather than the overt stuff that’s really obvious.
“I’m Not Managing That”
Tom: One of the things that happens with that covert manipulative kind of abuse tactics is that the victim gets in the habit of managing the abuser. That requires a suspense of what is true of the situation for them in that process of trying to manage the abuser. One of the things that’s very handy is to say, that’s not going to be what I’m going to do anymore. I’m not managing that. This is what’s true, and I’m not going past that. The only thing I would say in that regard is when you actually put that wall that says no, this is true, what you’re saying is not true, and I am not going to be going down that road with you. That can be an escalating event. And so, you do want to be very cautious, and make sure that whatever decisions you’re making you’re doing from a position of safety so that you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way in the process.
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. Our books page 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 received on Amazon: Spot on. I’m not alone. I am not naïve. A perfect book to validate and explain. I wish this book was available when I was struggling. I’m beyond that point now, but I am committed to supporting those traumatized unsupported, and alone. There’s help and understanding available. You weren’t meant to suffer.
Review, Share, and Interact with BTR
Thank you so much for leaving that review. Again, every single review on Amazon helps isolated women find us, and even if they don’t buy the book, the Amazon algorithm can help them find this podcast which is free to everyone. I so appreciate those of you who share these podcast episodes on Facebook or tag us on Instagram, comment on our YouTube channel. Any time you interact with us online, it really helps other isolative women find us. And now back to the conversation.
Abuse Victims As Truth-Seekers
One of the things that impress me about abuse victims, and I think other people or people who don’t understand abuse would perhaps see this maybe as a weakness, but for me, I think it’s a strength and it impresses me so much is that I have never met an abuse victim who is not willing to do some self-reflection. In fact, they’re so willing to do it and there’s this level of humility and a level of willingness to take responsibility, that I find in abuse victims that actually makes them susceptible to abuse because they’re so willing to take responsibility, which I see as a strength. Can we talk about that for a minute?
Of a victim’s willingness to say, well, you know, maybe what he’s saying is true, maybe I do need to cook a better dinner, or maybe I do need to work out more or maybe I do need to read the Bible more, or maybe I do need to submit more or something like that. What would you say to women who are having a hard time ferreting out what is true, because they really genuinely want to know the truth, and they’re wondering if what their abuser is saying about them is true?
I Choose Community Over Isolation
Tom: Yeah, that’s a tough one. Most of the ways that we can filter out the truth are in terms of our personal experience. But when we’re talking about something that is a perception-based idea, that becomes much more difficult. Well, maybe I’m perceiving it wrong, maybe this or maybe that. That’s where we really need to also look at isolation and how isolation plays a part in the ability to manipulate. So, if I’m talking to my friend and I’m saying hey, this happened and someone said this to me, my friend can say that’s nuts. And now I have a check on my perception that says, oh, my perception might be actually more accurate than I thought.
It’s in community, and it’s in those kinds of healthy relationships, where we have those checks and balances on what’s happening to me. But a lot of times we get this, this secrecy. This extreme privacy or loyalty where we don’t actually talk to people about what’s happening, and we’re not willing to speak to others about that and speak truthfully about it, or we don’t know that we can. We don’t have anybody that can kind of be a sanity check.
“It Is A Priceless Commodity, The Truth”
One of the most valuable gifts that I can give to someone is the truth. And so, when someone calls me one of the things that we talk about is that my job is to speak back to you about what is true about the situation that you’ve brought to me. So, the Bible says buy the truth, sell it not. It is a priceless commodity, the truth. And so, when you find relationships where someone can actually speak truthfully about your situation back to you. Here’s what that looks like, here’s what that says. And then, even just reframing something that the abuser says as well, that just sounds like this. And there’s like, Oh, yeah. And it’s that reframing of a particular manipulative tactic to a thing that’s more true. And when that truth is then set starkly, which is what relationships do, it’s what good friends can do, it’s what a therapist can do, even a support group, those kinds of resources are valuable in terms of checking that and finding out. Am I out in left field here?
So, we always got to kind of leave the possibility, well maybe I am in left field. That’s part of our ability to see the truth, and that kind of humility is a good trait that allows me to consider the truth. But then I also need to be able to validate the information coming in, so that I’m making sure that what is true or what I’m taking as true actually is.
My Humility Is A Good Trait; My Abuser Uses it Against Me
Anne: Yeah, and I just want to say, of our listeners like I’m proud of you for having that “maybe this is true” feeling. And I don’t want anyone to be like, well, you know, it’s your fault that you were gaslit or whatever because that strength that you have of being humble or being willing to look at yourself, is a really good quality. In the case of abuse, unfortunately, abusers use that against their victims, but it doesn’t mean that that trait isn’t awesome.
Tom: Let me say this as well, that idea of truth and living in truth, that’s not as easy as it sounds, and sometimes we can get overly simplistic about our notion of truth. And so, we don’t allow ourselves to say something like, I don’t know. So just because I’m conflicted doesn’t mean I have to pick which emotion is true. I can just simply say I don’t know, these two are what I’m experiencing. The truthfulness with myself about myself is something that is much harder to achieve than it seems because our perceptions are funny about that. And so that humility is actually an essential trait to being able to evaluate that. But when the truth is valuable to me, when that is the thing that I’m holding on to, manipulation is much harder to achieve.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is Here For You
Anne: I love what you said about community, and that’s one of the things at Betrayal Trauma Recovery that we really really value and that we’ve tried to create, is an online community where we have multiple group sessions a day where women can come and get feedback from each other to say is this really what’s happening, is this really what’s going on. I think that’s really important. And I have one other thought about that and that is that sometimes it’s true but the way that we’re interpreting it isn’t true. So, for example, someone might say well you’re so angry, and that is true, you are angry. But the implied thing is there’s something wrong with anger, and the truth is that anger is awesome.
You should feel angry for being abused and the anger can help you. And so, the lie in that might be that something is wrong with your anger, instead of that you’re not angry or not and so I think that that’s an important thing to look at too when we’re thinking about truth is that the thing might be true but the way you’re interpreting it might not be true.
My Emotions Are Welcome Among Safe People & Safe Organizations
Tom: And most of the time when something’s true like that what we want to do is we want to instinctively be defensive, like no, no, I’m not angry. Instead, you should press into it to say well yes, I am angry. Here’s why.
Anne: Exactly. Your anger is welcome here at BTR and it’s also welcome at Psalm 82 Initiative, right, because your anger is justified in this situation.
Tom: Yeah, so anger is just an emotion, you know, it’s like the idiot light on your car. It says something, you know your oil light comes on. That means, you better turn off your car and put some oil in it because that’s bad. You need oil in your engine. What happens is we see something like anger emotions, which indicates hey, there’s a problem. Anger is just an indicator. There’s something wrong. And that something wrong might be something that isn’t wrong that I think is wrong, it may be my perception, one way or the other. I can be angry because I stubbed my toe and it’s just, there’s no real reason to be angered it’s just I stubbed my toe.
But there’s also anger where someone has done something hurtful and it’s there’s something wrong, and a lot of times what happens with anger, in particular, is we try to do things like tape it over, you know. So, if you’re driving your car down the road the oil light comes on, you get a little piece of tape and you put it over the oil light so you can’t see it anymore. That is not going to help you when your engine gives up the ghost another 10 miles down the road. You can’t just simply cover it up and pretend it doesn’t exist without it having really bad effects on you personally.
I Honor My Emotions & Deal With Them In Healthy Ways
There are certain things you have to do, and the other thing that happens is when anger comes up, we get out of the car like when the oil light comes on. Oh no, my car’s broken, I need to pull over, so you pull over on the side of the road, and I let the air out of all my tires, and I get back on the road and I start driving again. But the oil light says something specific, if I get out and do something random, that’s not going to fix the problem. I have to actually fix THE problem. And so, identifying the problem accurately and truthfully is an essential part of actually dealing with what’s at the root of this anger. Why do I feel this way? And then, is there something that I need to do to stop what’s happening, can I get help, how do I respond? The problem comes when we retaliate, out of anger. That never works out well.
Anne: So, on the side of the coin that says I will not comply, which is my favorite part, you also include four elements of abuse and the four tools, and we talked about these in a previous episode that I’ve referred to a lot. I love that everything is included on this side and in order to earn this coin, which I earned from working with Tom, there’s another side of the coin, which has an image of a burning chair, which is a metaphor. And one of the ways that you can earn this coin is to have your own burning chair moment. So, Tom, can you talk about the woman who inspired this metaphor?
The Burning Chair Metaphor
Tom: Yeah, so we had someone come and stay at the refuge and one of the things we encourage is for people to have some kind of moment or some kind of a gesture, some event in their life that is a symbol of freedom for them, and you know it’ll be painting a room or redoing a floor or changing a picture. It can be any number of things, but it’s really symbolic of the control and it’s undoing some symbol of control that exists in the victim’s life. And so, we had somebody come and they talked about a chair that was kind of that symbol of control for them. And I just kind of made an offhand comment I said, well, you got to go home and burn it. They were like, oh no, I could never do that. And about two weeks later I got a text message from this person, and they sent me a video of the chair on a bonfire burning, and it just made me so happy.
And I thought what a great image, and we were designing the coin at the time, and I thought that has to be the center of this side of the Freedom Coin. It is a symbol of personal freedom, breaking that control, just in terms of a symbolic break that takes place, and the truth is that every abuse victim is going to have at least one, and sometimes multiple variations on it. There’s a lot of chairs that get burned when you’re dealing with abuse and sometimes it’s a whole series of them, one right after another, but it’s just the burning throne, just as kind of a symbol of saying, I’m breaking free of abuse. And so, for those people that we work with who have had that burning chair moment, we send them a coin that is their Freedom Coin. And so that’s what this is.
“For Years I Felt Stuck and Felt Frustrated”
Anne: So, I’ve had a few. One I actually experienced while working with Tom, but I will tell you one that happened before I ever met Tom, and that was when I bought this home with my ex-husband, I did not like it. The whole plan was to remodel it. And after he was arrested, I felt stuck because I felt like I can’t do anything, you know. I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the know-how to do this remodeling and I felt really stuck because I wouldn’t have bought this home, thinking I wasn’t going to remodel it. If that makes any sense. Like, it wasn’t working the way that it was, so the plan was always to remodel it.
So, for years I just felt stuck and felt frustrated and felt like he was controlling my destiny, sort of. That I couldn’t live the life that I wanted to because of the situation that he had put me in. And my brother was doing some stuff around his home, and he had this workman that was working at this house who was charging $20 an hour for demolition, and I called him and said hey, I want this wall to come down, to see if I can just do that one thing. I called him and he said yeah, I can come over within a couple of days, it was really quick, and I was surprised. I was like oh, okay. I thought it would take all day I thought, you know, at the very least cost me like $1,000 or something to get this wall down and that was super expensive, and I didn’t really know if it was going to work out.
“I Can Move On, I Can Move Forward”
He came over at nine in the morning, and that wall was completely down by noon. It cost me $60 was all. And it was such a moment where it was like oh, I can move on, I can move forward, I can live the life that I want. Like, tearing down that wall, even though I didn’t physically do it but the workmen came and did it was so like, whoa, and then all kinds of things started, I would say coming down. Mental walls and other walls that I kind of have and so it wasn’t just a physical thing for me it was also just this huge emotional rush of like I can work towards the life that I always wanted, in spite of the fact that I’m an abuse victim and in spite of the fact that I still have to deal with my ex-husband all the time.
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We’re going to pause the conversation here but join me again next week when Tom and I talk. Next week we’re going to have a discussion about biblical submission and how he sees it, he’s a pastor. You will not want to miss it so stay tuned for next week.
If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.