Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

3 Roadblocks That Keep Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion Stuck

by | Abuse Literacy

I hear that you are brave. I hear that you are strong. I hear that you have courage in spite of the most difficult odds. You are incredible and brave and strong. You are amazing, and we are proud of you.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Leaving an abuser for good can feel terrifying, insurmountable, and overwhelming to victims of betrayal and abuse. Appropriate support and resources are key to maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental safety as you make the courageous decision to separate yourself from abuse.

Tania joins Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast from a living space provided to her by a domestic violence women’s shelter. Tania understands the heartbreaking reality that women face when they have to decide between a home, money, and custody of their children, or their own safety. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast to hear Tania’s full story.

What If My Husband Takes All The Money?

Many women live in constant fear of losing access to bank accounts and having their wallets, cash, or other resources stolen by their abusive partners. Financial abuse is real and it is terrifying.

Disturbingly, many abusive men use this tactic (cutting victims off from financial resources) as a way to control and harm the victim.

This tragic reality may be making it very difficult for you to choose safety at this time. However, there are numerous, plentiful resources for women just like you.

Know that these resources are there for you because people who don’t even know you, people in the government, people at the justice center, women all over the world, they care about other women who are being victimized. They might not even know your name. Because of them, resources for abused women are available. They are for this type of situation [domestic abuse, including sexual coercion], and we freely give them to you. The community, the culture, freely gives it to you because you deserve it. You deserve help.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

What Resources Are Available To Victims of Domestic Abuse & Sexual Coercion?

There are many organizations and programs for victims of domestic abuse. Remember domestic abuse doesn’t only mean physical battering. Any abuse in your home is domestic abuse, and that includes:

  • Sexual coercion
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Marital rape
  • Financial abuse
  • Physical intimidation

Some of the resources available to victims of domestic abuse include:

  • Local women’s shelters
  • Rape and emotional support hotlines
  • Victim advocates for legal support

What If My Abuser Takes My Children?

The tragic reality is that many victims of abuse have to share custody with their abuser. In truly sickening instances, some women even lose custody to their abusers.

To protect their children, victims can:

  • Always report physical abuse (including the destruction of property, threats, and any unwanted physical touch)
  • Seek an attorney who understands covert abuse
  • Speak to a divorce professional, like Coach Debra

Should I Stay In My Marriage To Protect My Kids?

Some victims worry that it’s better for them to stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of their children. Whether it is the fear of losing custody, the fear of abusive in-laws, or concern that the abuser might escalate into physical battering, women are in an impossible situation when they feel they have to choose between their own safety and their children.

Remember that your safety must be your priority. Allow others to help you as you seek safety for your children.

What If No One Believes I’m A Victim of Abuse & Sexual Coercion?

So many victims, even if they do have family or if they do have financial resources, still feel that sense of nobody believes me and I can’t figure out how to fix this or they wonder, how can I ever get out of this? and they feel stuck.

Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Ultimately, many women face the sad reality that most people do not want to believe the victim (even if they say they do). Too many victims are invalidated, dismissed, and even vilified for telling the truth about the abuse.

Women can work through the fear of being disbelieved by:

  • Joining a network of victims, like the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
  • Sharing their story with a safe person
  • Practicing daily affirmations like, “I know in my heart what is true, and that is all that matters.”

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse

At BTR, we understand the horrifying and heartbreaking complexities of seeking safety from an abuser. Women need a safe place to process their trauma, ask pressing questions, and connect with other victims who get it.

That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in multiple time zones: to offer victims of abuse and sexual coercion a compassionate and helpful space as they begin their journey to safety and healing.

Join today.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I’m continuing my conversation with Tania and it’s a really hard conversation. If you haven’t heard the first part of her story please go to last week’s episode, listen there first, and then join us back here.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims in Custody Battles

I’ve been made aware in the last few weeks of our dear sisters who are struggling with losing their children in custody situations or legal situations that just seem so difficult. So, I want you to look forward to me interviewing a bunch of amazing women who have a lot to say about how to navigate the legal system, which also comes up in this episode of the podcast. I really think that God is trying to help us, and as each of us is praying for help that we also need to pray collectively for the help of all women. So, I invite you to pray with us. I pray morning and night, and I’m going to talk more about this later regarding the wheat and the tares.

Victims of Betrayal & Abuse Can Support Each Other

If you’re not religious just perhaps a moment of silence or something, I don’t know, but if we can unite around the world to bring peace to the world and peace to individual homes, I think God would be proud of us and it’s what he wants us to do. He wants us to have peaceful homes and to bring peace. 

So, we’re going to continue our conversation and Tania is just going to start.

Abusers Condition Victims of Sexual Coercion To Blame Themselves

Tania: I was thinking it was because I was trying to destroy his life. I was trying to destroy his career. I was trying to destroy his family, but it was because he was having an affair behind my back with a woman inside of his gym, and not just one. There were more people.

Anne: His family knew about it and they still blamed you?

Abusers Manipulate Family & Friends Into Enabling Them

Tania: His family knew about it because he doesn’t just manipulate me. I feel like he manipulates his family. I started to understand that he blames his mom for anything that he does if she doesn’t help him with his needs. I think he threatens her with I’m not coming to visit you. 

Anne: So, the final time you leave; let’s talk about that. The time you were actually able to escape.

Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse Deserve Patience and Support

Tania: The final time that I left, this time I had been with him for almost 9 years, and verbal abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse. I would go outside and ask my neighbors for food. He would masturbate in front of me. He would watch porn right in front of me. He would sleep outside of the home. He completely isolated me from everyone. At this time now, I wasn’t able to contact my family members because I started to feel so ashamed. They started to tell me, Tania, he is not a good person. You have been with him now for over 10 years and all this time you have already left him two times. Those two times you decided to come back, and this is the third time now. There is nothing we can do because you chose to go back. You chose to believe in this family, and you still are calling us back and telling us he does this, and he does that. You are the only one who is there, and you are the only one who sees what’s going on inside of your home. What else can we do?

Abusers Use Control & Entitlement To Harm Victims

So, my family practically washed their hands, and his family, they still are there but not for me, for him, and we have a son now. I was home with my son, and I was worried about coughing. My son was going to school. He had this cough that we were afraid of. It was so congested and I said, I don’t know if it would be a good idea for us to take him to the hospital, (because I’m very good with herbal medications and all that stuff) so I was just doing anything I could at home. He wouldn’t give me the car keys or money to take my son to the hospital. Then I said, I think he’s sick, what if he has COVID? That day he came home at 1 o’clock in the morning. My son and I were sleeping, and he comes upstairs, didn’t take a shower, didn’t sanitize and he wants to jump inside of the bed.

Trigger Warning For Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse

I told him, no, you can’t. My son also looks at him and says, no, you can’t because I’m scared of the virus. He says, this is my home, this is my bed, I’ll sleep here. I said no you can’t, and I stand up from the bed and as I was walking he comes behind me and he starts doing sexual movements and I pushed him and he pushes me back, and we start going back and forth and he tells me B-word, the S-word, nobody wants me, nobody likes me, I am nothing. Look at me and look at him as a football player. Everybody wants to be with him and I’m here in his life doing nothing. There are other women who would gladly be with him. I said go, I don’t care what women would be with you, but I will not stand you talking to me like that anymore. Never again, not in front of my son.

Abusers Escalate When Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion Set Boundaries

He said, listen, tonight we’ll see who’s going to live. My son starts crying so I grabbed my son and I go to another room and I close the door. I ran outside and he comes behind me, he grabs my nightgown, and he pushes me to the ground, and I grab a picture frame and I threw the picture frame at his head. My son was watching and right away he starts screaming, today, I will call the police and you are going to be arrested. Right away, he grabs the phone and calls the police. The police came in and they ask what happened. I sat to explain, and he says, even my son saw her throwing the picture frame at me, and the police officer just takes me in. 

Anne: So, you are arrested for domestic violence after being abused consistently for years. This happens to women. It happened to a friend of mine. We know that it does happen to victims, so talk about what happens next.

When Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion Find The Strength To Leave

Tania: I am inside the jail for some reason. I just felt this beast coming over me that now I know I can leave this marriage. I know that God took me out. I know that God took me out from that situation because just me all these years I was not able to get out of that place. I was not even able to explain to anyone what was going on for over 10 years. I actually went to church, I actually went to a shelter and explained to them what was going on, but I was never able to stay there and tell them I don’t want to go back inside of that home. When I went to church, I told them, listen this is what he does sexually, this is what he says. Yes, I am his wife but how can a wife have sex with her husband that does those things? That calls her names. Please make me understand as a wife in a Bible, how can I do that? There is no one that ever came to me and told me that my not accepting having a sexual relationship with my husband, under those circumstances, was wrong. Everyone that I went to was telling me, you have to try; you have to save your marriage; you have to try.

Abuse & Sexual Coercion Can Harm Victims’ Health

The more I tried the more he was abusing me. The more I cleaned the home, the more I became more submissive, the more I dressed more conservatively, the more I didn’t speak to my family, the more I didn’t go to his place of work, the more I stayed home. Anything that I tried was abuse to the point where I was starting to develop hives all over my body. I was starting to develop anxiety. Anyone that would come to my home and knock on the door I would have these panic attacks.

Supportive Networks Can Help Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion

When I went to jail everything stopped. I stayed in jail for 3 days. I didn’t have any panic attacks. I slept so well that I woke up, I drink water, I felt so good. When I came out of jail, I didn’t have a place to go because, again, he isolated me from anything that I knew, everyone that I knew. I couldn’t go home. One of the moms called and she told me, I want to invite you to bring your son, let’s go play soccer, let’s go to the beach, let’s go do something. I said, please help me, I just came out of jail and she says where are you and I told her where I was, and she came to pick me up. She took me to her home, and I stayed there for almost a month. 

What Resources Are Available To Women Who Have Left Their Abusers?

After a month now I had to find a place to go, and shelters were helping me with food and lawyers, and people that I can talk to to help me with my case. I’m here. I haven’t gone home yet, and our case is still going on. He was fighting to take custody of my son. For almost a month I wasn’t allowed to see my son. My lawyer was actually able to help me regain back the custody somehow. We have 50/50 since I have been here now.

Anne: When you say since I have been here, you’re in a domestic violence shelter now?

Tania: Yes, they found an apartment for me to stay in. 

Anne: Okay, you’re staying in an apartment with the help of the domestic violence shelter now?

Abusers Victimize Women By Love-Bombing

Tania: Yes, and since I have been here in the apartment, he’s been trying to contact me. Telling me that he doesn’t want to get a divorce, telling me that he’s sorry, telling me that he doesn’t know why he has been behaving the way he does. I still have this confusion in my head. Outside everyone sees him as this wonderful man. He’s a coach, he’s a leader in our community, he goes to volunteer at my son’s school, he helps his clients develop this positive attitude about themselves and their bodies and minds and soul, but at home, he was so disrespectful to me that I lost myself.

After me going to jail, for me to be where I am, for him to say that he wants to go back with me, that he doesn’t want to get a divorce, I am still confused. I am still lost. 

Why Abusers Promise To Change

Anne: Well, he does not want to lose control over you. When he says those things, that is grooming. He’s trying to groom you back to be with him because he does not want to lose control over you. I would say you’re not important to him as much the control over you is super important to him and his reputation.

Tania: Yes, I’m not important to him because he has never done anything to make me feel important. He really thought that I am only worth to take care of our son, have sex with him, clean the home, cook, and do whatever it was that he needed to do with me. 

Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse Need Support To Identify Abuse

Anne: So, in this confusion are people helping you see through that? Because it is a really hard time. To think, well maybe he really does care or maybe he really will change or something like that, and that’s a dangerous time because he has never shown any evidence of doing that, so all of his words are really dangerous right now. How are you feeling right now while this grooming is happening? Is it easy for you to see it as grooming or is it still just so traumatizing and confusing?

Tania: I say it’s both because when speaking to a counselor and she’s helping me see, listen, he has a restraining order, you can’t speak to him, you can’t go back to his home, you cannot go to his gym, you cannot speak to his family members. He has a restraining order on me. 

Abusers Confuse Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse By Love-Bombing

Anne: Despite that, he’s contacting you to try and get you to talk to him?

Tania: He’s the one who is contacting me, he’s the one who calls me, he invited me to a staycation, he wants to buy me stuff. He keeps asking me if I need anything, and I ignore him. I blocked him from my phone, but he still is going back and forth with me and wanting to have that communication, and another part of the confusion just comes maybe this fact of me going to jail made something click in his mind and me filing for divorce. I keep going back and forth.

Going Back To An Abuser Is Dangerous

Anne: Yeah, that makes sense, and it’s also just the abuse talking. It’s the abuse talking that maybe he’s changed, maybe he can change, maybe he does care, whatever. That’s just the abuse talking. It’s not reality because he hasn’t shown up as a completely different person. He hasn’t called his parents and said, hey, I’ve abused her all of these years physically, emotionally, sexually. It would be like a nuclear bomb went off; he would be so different and the worst part about it is the abuse, if you went back now, he’d only know that he really could genuinely get away with it again. I mean, it would only embolden him more. 

Roadblocks To Victims Seeking Safety

Tania: Yeah, that’s what she’s saying as well, but you have to remember I have a 7-year-old and I have nobody. I just filed for divorce and I have no finances. I was not allowed to take any courses, no going to school, and no training. Nothing. I depended on him for almost everything and anything, so I am very sure because I know that my lawyer told me that he denied my request for child support and alimony. So, I’m sitting down here and I’m still waiting. I ask myself if I am going to continue to live in a shelter. Now my question is, do I go back to Canada and even if I go back to Canada, am I going to be able to take my son with me? I cannot continue to be in a shelter having 50/50 percent custody and I don’t have the financial means to take care of my son. You also have to remember that I don’t have my green card in order for me to get a good job.

Anne: Because he took your green card. With your lawyer what does your lawyer say about these circumstances right now?

Support Networks Can Help Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion Become Independent

Tania: She’s helping. She’s helping, trying to regain all my documentation that he has taken away from me and helping me with counselors and therapy. She actually was insisting that I go and take a psychological evaluation when I was asking for my son’s custody. He wanted me to do that, my lawyer said, no, because even though she can’t really explain the extent of what was going on in your home there is proof. Just the simple fact that she doesn’t have her documentation and all of this year she hasn’t been able to go see her family. There are flaws, so, no. We’re going to continue to support you, we’re going to continue to listen to you, and we’re going to be able to get something for you to survive and for you to be able to help your son. 

I think this is where he knows that I am that vulnerable. That I am going to want to get help from him so that my head would go back and say oh, since I don’t have anyone here and life is really hard out there, okay.

Pray for Tania

Anne: Right. Yeah, you’re in an extremely vulnerable situation but you can get out of it. It’s going to take time and effort, and so hard, and probably seems impossible but I just want all of our listeners to pray for Tania. She needs us, she has nothing and needs our help. So, I’m going to solicit prayers for you from our community that understands. 

Victims of Abuse & Sexual Coercion Feel Stuck

You’re in an extremely vulnerable situation but I would say so many victims, even if they do have family or if they do have things, they still feel that sense of nobody believes me and I can’t figure out how to fix this or how to get out of this and they feel stuck. So, that feeling of being stuck is something that is really familiar to all of our listeners. We can really empathize with you in your specific situation. I am so sorry that you are in this situation. It sounds absolutely almost impossible.

Women Can Fight For Healing & Safety From Abuse

Tania: But I think the impossible part is just the fact that I feel like nobody is listening, no one is listening, no one cares, no one wants to believe me. I felt so sheltered for a very long time that now who am I? That I have lasted this long in this marriage that now that I even want to come out, I cannot come out because of my lack of knowledge. My lack of understanding. Fear of what marriage should be or shouldn’t be and listening to the outside world and I continue to come back to the situation that I knew from the first day was bad. That I knew that leaving this country by myself with a man who would do anything that he can to make me feel ugly, alone. It’s a battle that I don’t want to fight, and it’s not my own battle but it’s a fight that I am in that I don’t want to fight. So many times I doubt I’m going to give my son to him and I’m going to go, but also again it goes back to that place where I keep hearing, what mother would leave their kid, what mother would leave her son to be raised in a place with so much dysfunction? I cannot do this anymore.

Victims Can Celebrate Progress

Anne: Yeah, and I really truly believe; I don’t know what your life is going to look like, it’s most likely going to be very difficult for a very long time, but I do think that God will light the way one tiny step at a time and the rest, even though it was crazy that it was a blessing, and the attorney that you have now and the fact that you have food and you have a roof over your head is progress. It’s progress.

Tania: It is progress, but I also feel like, should I even pray? because the times that I went to church and spoke to them and had a counselor in the church, they kept me pushing back to go to that place of abuse. I keep having that picture of him masturbating in front of me, of him just completely disregarding me in that way.

Victims of Sexual Coercion Need Support

Anne: Yeah, and that’s really extreme sexual coercion, psychological and emotional abuse that you were experiencing. It is mindboggling to me that people out there think that pornography is not an abuse issue or that women are not affected by their husband’s porn use or that somehow their infidelity is just something that men do. That it’s not an absolutely debilitating abuse to their spouse is crazy to me. It’s interesting to me that in telling your story you have been physically abused, you’ve been verbally abused, you’ve been psychologically abused. You’ve mentioned those several times and one of the most traumatic things for you was the pornography of all the things, and people might be like, well, that wasn’t a big deal. He punched you and you’re like, the thing that is most traumatizing was the sexual abuse.

Pornography Use Is Sexual Coercion

Tania: It is because I really do feel that if there wasn’t the sexual behavior, meaning the infidelity, watching porn, just having a woman at his disposal. I just feel like men would be able to understand marriage or the marriage covenant a little bit more if porn was not there in their faces. I’m not saying that may not be just one aspect of the abuse but I feel like it was the main aspect of the abuse. When men have access to this porn, women, infidelity, and they come home they act like, what do I need you for except to be angry with you, not to respect you, to call you the names that I can call you. I really do believe the sexual abuse for me was a very big thing, a very big part of my abuse situation in my marriage. I really do believe that.

Anne: And one of the most traumatic of all the abusive things. 

Going No Contact Is A Step Toward Safety

Well, we wish you God speed in your healing and with your son. That things can start going a little better step by step. They can’t go any better if you’re in contact with him, so obviously, your current trajectory of maintaining no contact with him is your best bet for safety.

Tania: I just want to say thank you so much for listening. I have been listening to you for a very long time. I came across your podcast and it made me listen to all the viewers that you had and people that we’re listening to you and heard their stories and they resonated with me so much. You have no idea, and that gave me strength. As the first thing when I came out of jail, I just thought about you. It is very sad. I feel very sad and I feel very lost. I don’t know where my life will go right now, and I am afraid. 

I do believe that there is a higher power out there. I do believe that I will come out of this very strong.

Victims of Sexual Coercion & Abuse Can Support Each Other

Anne: There are thousands of listeners to this podcast, Tania. You’ve now just told your story to thousands of women across the world who have heard you, who are praying for you, who genuinely care about you. We might not be able to do anything for you, but we care and we are here with you in sisterhood, and we will pray and hope that God provides a miracle for you because not knowing where your next meal is going to come from and not having any control over where you’re living and having no money and no support system; in fact, your “support system” supports your abuser more than it supports you in an untenable and completely overwhelming situation. 

Victims Are Not Alone In The Fight For Safety

I don’t know how it’s going to work out for you, but I do know that God sees you. He is listening now. He loves you, and we love you. I mean thousands of women, Tania. You’ve listened to us on the podcast. We’ve been this hopefully light in the darkness, but at this moment right now we’re all here with you, and I hope you can feel our love and our support in your absolutely crazy fight. You have to fight.

Tania: It is crazy and it’s scary and it’s lonely. It’s everything that you can ever think of, but I do have my son and I do have this podcast that I have been listening to, and it’s just made me feel I’m not alone. That brings me comfort.

Thinking “I Am Crazy” Proves That You Are A Victim of Abuse

Anne: We’re not crazy. These similar thoughts go through every women’s head who is faced with this. Do I just put up with the abuse? What alternative do I have? Am I going to be homeless? Am I going to be able to have my son? You are not crazy. The only thing that these types of thoughts prove is that you are a victim of abuse. That’s it. This is how victims of abuse think, and to walk yourself out of it takes a lot of courage and bravery, but I also hear that in your voice. I hear that you are brave. I hear that you are strong. I hear that you have courage in spite of the most difficult odds. Some of the most difficult odds that I have ever heard of, but you can do this. You are incredible and brave and strong. You are amazing, and we are proud of you. I am proud of you for coming on this podcast and sharing your story when you really don’t have a happy ending, at least not yet, right. I’m hoping that maybe next year or maybe in 6 months that you can come back on and share the glimpse of your happy ending, perhaps the light of the tunnel. Some light that you can see because you’ve continued to take steps, you’ve trusted your attorney, you’ve used the resources that were available to you.

Victims Need Others To Help Them Find Safety

I think that’s another thing that is really hard like right now you’re at the mercy of other people for food and housing. That feels absolutely humiliating, but it’s okay. You can’t do it by yourself. You’re not some superhuman. You are amazing and you’re incredible, but you’re normal. You’re just a human like all the rest of us, and so just know it’s fine. This is what these systems are for. Utilize these systems. Don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel bad. Know that you will make your way out of it, but instead of feeling ashamed just know that they are there for you because people who don’t even know you, people in the government, people at the justice center, women all over the world, they care about other women who are being victimized and they might not even know your name, and that’s why a lot of these resources that you have available now to you are available. They are for this type of situation, and we freely give them to you. The community, the culture freely gives it to you because you deserve it. You deserve help.

Send Prayers of Courage, Strength, and Positive Energy To Tania & Victims All Over The World

Tania: There is something that I would like to ask you guys, to anyone who is listening. I don’t want to go back to that man. I would like to have my son with me, and what I’m asking is just to everyone to send me that energy, that strength, and courage to please make me be strong and not go back in the hands of that man because what I’ve seen I cannot even explain to you. I never knew rest until I went inside of that jail. Another thing is, I do not have a family member, not even one in this country, other than my son. He’s the only person that gives me hope to continue. I’m asking you to please pray for me.

Anne: We will. We have listeners from all over the world who listen to this podcast, including you. You’ve been listening to this podcast since 2018 and you are one of our sisters. You are one of us. We are with you, and we will pray. We will pray for you, Tania.

So, thank you for being so brave to share your story. Keep listening to the podcast, and we are with you.

Join the Sisterhood of The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group

I want to thank everybody for listening. My heart is really tender right now about not just Tania’s story but so many stories that I’ve heard. If you’d like to join us in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, we built it for the situation. It’s the least expensive, appropriate option out there. It’s unlimited live support, all the time, 24/7 practically. There are multiple sessions per day in every single time zone.

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

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