The wonderful thing about self-care is learning that I am enough, and that whatever size I am is enough, and that I don’t have to be anything else to be lovable, to be cherished.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Abusers condition victims to bury their own needs, wants, hopes, dreams, and feelings deep, deep down. This gives the abuser center stage in the victim’s life and allows him to experience the privileges, control, and entitlement that he is seeking.
When Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, met up with Courtney, a professional bra-fitter, she did not expect the emotional self-care experience that she received.
Anne and Courtney discuss how self-care can help victims remember their own self-worth and aid them on their journey to healing. Listen in on the free BTR podcast or read the full transcript below to learn more.
Victims Are Conditioned To Feel Worthless
A lot of women who are abused get messages like, “You’re not enough.” The messages I always got were, “You’re too much.” I always just wanted to try and make myself smaller.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Betrayed women often feel that they are inadequate. Their self-esteem and self-worth plummets as their abusive partner continues to degrade them through betrayals, hidden, and overt abuse.
At BTR, we believe that every woman is beautiful, powerful, and important. With support, self-care, and safety, victims can find healing and peace, and restore their sense of self-love and acceptance.
Victims Are Not Responsible For Their Partner’s Abuse
Emotionally abusive men blame-shift. Blame-shifting occurs when abusers explain their behavior as being a result of something their partner is or is not, has or has not done. For example, “If you were thinner/prettier/more sexual, then I wouldn’t have to use pornography.”
This tactic is as deceitful as it is toxic.
Don’t think that if you had the perfect size whatever, or if you looked a certain way, that the abuse would stop, or that your husband would stop looking at pornography. That is not true.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
The Most Powerful Form of Self-Care
Safety from abuse is the most powerful form of self-care. Setting boundaries helps women protect themselves.
Women Cannot Control, Cure, or Cause Abusive Behavior
Victim-blaming occurs when abusers and their enablers send overt or subtle messages of responsibility to the victim.
This is particularly damaging because it is a false belief: victims cannot control, cure, or cause abusive behavior. Implying or overtly stating that they can (by being thinner, sexier, more compliant, a better homemaker, etc)., is both enabling abuse and putting the victim in further psychological, sexual, and physical danger.
Victims Can Find Safety Practice Self-Care To Heal
When you compare yourself to pornography, you’re always going to lose. There’s no way to win. Pornography is women who are staged, who are likely on drugs, who are being exploited.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Many abusive men use pornography. It is difficult for partners to understand the lying and hidden abuse that men use to protect their pornography use.
Often, women will compare themselves to the pornographic material to try to understand if the pornography use and accompanying abusive behaviors are due to some inadequacy on their part.
Of course, pornographic material is both significantly altered from reality and sexual exploitation and sexual slavery. There is simply no comparison that can be made to actual human beings.
As women find safety and practice healthy self-care, they can begin to heal from these painfully traumatic feelings of inadequacy.
How Can I Practice Self-Care Today?
Do you want to begin practicing self-care today? Here are some simple tips:
- Write in a journal
- Take a bath
- Take a nap
- Get hydrated
- Eat a treat
- Brush your hair
- Do yoga
- Take a walk outside
- Listen to music
- Watch a movie
- Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
- Share your story with a safe friend
- Listen to the free BTR podcast
- Write a list of things you love about yourself
- Look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful.”
- Write positive affirmations and post them around your room
- Write down a prayer
- Write a poem
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims
At BTR, we understand that betrayal and emotional abuse is painful. We also know how impossible it is to cope and move forward without support.
Remember, you are not alone.
I had the most amazing experience last week. I went to a bra fitting with Courtney, and she changed my life. I’ve actually been excited to wear a bra, which I haven’t felt in years!
Facing Self-Care When It Can Be Triggery
We’re going to talk about self-care today.
Before we talk about it, I want to acknowledge that, during my trauma years, wearing a bra was very difficult for a lot of reasons. Because I was so overwhelmed with everything, for some reason, it expressed itself like I didn’t want to wear a bra, I refused to wear a bra. It stressed me out going shopping for bras.
Learning Self-Care Is A Process
I am now at the stage where I am working on self-care. I know that some of you are not at that stage yet. I have been at that—I don’t know what stage to call it, where you’re in your sweat pants, watching Netflix, eating popcorn.
If you’re in that stage, stay there for as long as you need to. Please don’t feel guilty about this episode, because I have been there myself. Since I am in this new stage of self-care, and moving forward, I wanted to connect with Courtney. I wanted to get a bra-fitting, and really start progressing my healing, and starting to take care of myself.
Self-Care Is Individual
Anne: Welcome, Courtney.
Courtney: Thanks. Thank you for having me on.
Anne: Courtney runs Bra Fittings by Court. It’s an amazing service that she does to help women who are stressed out, or need help with choosing bras. Courtney, tell me how you discovered that you have such an amazing talent for fitting women.
Courtney: When I was in college, I got a job at Nordstrom in the lingerie department. Little did I know that that job would, literally, change my life. I quickly found that fitting bras is more than selling bras, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Self Care Can Be Very Emotional
There’s a lot of emotion involved in it. It’s an intimate process, you’re seeing women in their most vulnerable state, with their shirt off. I found that I was really good at helping women feel comfortable.
I found that most women were never taught how bras should fit, and that 99% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. I found that I was educating these women on how to dress their bodies, and how to take care of their bosoms. I felt like I was giving back to the world. I felt like I was making a small difference in the world by helping women feel more confident, and beautiful. This is my way to make a small difference in the world.
Self-Care Can Be Fun
Anne: I think you’re making a large difference. Like, for me, it made a huge difference. I had such a good time.
Courtney: We did have a good time.
Anne: Getting undressed in front of you, and having you put a bra on me was so healing in so many ways. You now have a bra shop in your home called Bosom Friends.
Making Sure You Have The Necessities – Like A Bra – Is Self Care
Anne: It’s a beautiful shop. Just being in there made me happy. The colors! There’s this big sign on the wall that says, “You’re like, really pretty.” I thought, “Thank you. I really love this.” How does helping women with their bra problems relate to self-care?
Courtney: Most women are busy. They don’t have a lot of time. So a lot of women hate going bra shopping. Which I completely understand because a lot of places, places like Walmart, Target, Kohls, those places don’t have a large range of sizes. That’s why it’s harder for women.
Self-Care Can Feel Exhausting
It’s really stressful. And if you’re already burdened emotionally, going through trauma, that’s the last thing you want to work out is having to do research, because you’re not guaranteed to get somebody to help you that knows what they’re doing.
I’ve recommended some other places to go get fitted, and they went, and they were like, “That was an awful experience.” The reason why is because I feel like a lot of these places, those high turnover, there’s just not the experience that you’d need in a fitter, that can really help people and understand how the different styles of bras are going to fit different women. Bra shopping is overwhelming because there’s so many different components to it.
Anne: I felt pampered.
Courtney: Well, thank you.
Self-Care Means Accepting Yourself
Anne: I’ve never felt like that when I went bra shopping. The size that you fitted me in is completely different than any other size I’ve ever thought about. I never would’ve imagined that was my size.
Courtney: Can we talk about your size?
Anne: There’s no way—
Courtney: Do you want to tell them what size you were in, and then what size you are now?
Anne: Yeah. I don’t know what size I was in. What size was I in?
Courtney: You were wearing a 36C.
Anne: Okay, let’s just talk about my bra issues my whole life. I’ve always considered myself very small-chested, which I liked. I’ve never felt like I wanted to be any bigger, or anything. But I don’t fill the cup right, and my straps always fall of, and just the thought of a bra stressed me out.
Self-Care Means Loving Yourself Now
I have cursed the man who invented corsets way back in the day like, “Why? Why have you done this to us?” Anyway, the bra that Courtney fitted me with—and I don’t even want to say it, because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, but I feel like it’s the perfect size.
Like if you asked, “What is the most beautiful, perfect size?” You would be this. That’s the one I’m wearing. It was a 32DD. That is amazing. Who has that perfect size? Now I’m like, “Aah!” I wrote in my gratitude journal today, “I am grateful that I have the perfect boobs.”
Courtney: You do. I was telling Anne that, “I wish I was your size, like the perfect size really.” But that’s just me.
Don’t Worry, You Don’t Need The Perfect Bra Size To Deserve To Be Treated Well
Anne: I’m here to tell you that here’s a woman who was abused, and whose husband refused to tell her that she was beautiful, literally. I was like, “I want you to tell me I’m beautiful,” and he said, “No.”
Just awful things that were done to me. I have the perfect boobs. Don’t think that if you had the perfect size whatever, or if you looked a certain way, that the abuse would stop, or that your husband would stop looking at porn. That is not true.
Courtney: It’s true.
Anne: Everyone should love where they’re at.
Courtney: Of course.
Anne: Also, to accept ourselves where we are, and to know that we’re enough. Having this experience, and going from being emotionally abused, and having trauma for seven years, to the point where I wasn’t wearing bras, where I wasn’t putting makeup on hardly ever, where I just slumped around with my shoulders really slumped forward, because I wasn’t wearing a bra.
Self-Care & Trauma
Even when I went to the store, or even when I went out of the house, so I didn’t really want to be indecent, so I slumped forward, so I wasn’t scaring everyone with my braless boobs, to being like, “Oh, my word, I am wearing a bra and it is this perfect size for me,” and I am feeling so—I don’t know, empowered almost.
It’s so different for me after seven years—well, almost nine years. I don’t know, I always say my years wrong, depending on when I was in the relationship, and then after the relationship, slumping around feeling like I wanted to take up less space.
You Are Enough
A lot of women, who are abused, they get messages like, “You’re not enough.” The messages I always got were, “You’re too much.” I always just wanted to try and make myself smaller, like I didn’t want to have as many—
Courtney: Or hide yourself. I feel like that’s why you were slumping over, to hide what you—to be invisible. You didn’t want to cause attention, or anything.
Anne: Yeah, totally. This place where I can hold my shoulders back, and hold my head up high, and know that I’m not indecent. Because I actually have a bra on, so I’m not scaring anybody. It fit, it was just so cool. I’m really excited to be at this point in my healing process.
Self-Care Is Personal
Now, for our listeners, wherever you are in your healing process, please don’t let this podcast turn you off to the podcast. Because I, myself, was in this place of, “I don’t really want to talk about the way I look. I don’t want to talk about the way I eat. I don’t want to talk about exercise. I don’t want to talk about anything right now. The only thing I can do right now is survive.” And so many women are in that stage.
When you want to, and when you feel like coming out of that—and it may take years, it took me years—then a bra-fitting might be a really cool celebration activity for you to throw off the old, and bring in the new. Courtney, why is the bra the most important thing women wear?
Courtney: It does a really hard job. It holds up your bosoms all day long. That’s why they’re so important, because you’re more put-together, your clothes will look better, you can feel more confident, and comfortable doing the things you want to do.
Self-Care Helps You Find Yourself Again
I have a lot of women who come into my shop that want to be active. They want to exercise. They want to work on their fitness and their health. But they don’t feel comfortable doing so because their breast size makes it so that they feel really uncomfortable exercising. They feel like their boobs are flapping in the air or they’re in the way.
Getting a sports bra that fits them, that can make it so that they can feel comfortable exercising, is life-changing. It really can change women’s lives. That’s why my slogan, on my website, is “I am changing lives one bra-fitting at a time.” Because it gives you both the courage, the freedom, and the confidence to do what they want to do in their life.
If You Try To Compete With Pornography, You’ll Always Lose
Anne: I think our audience probably has, depending on the woman, depending on the situation, has a lot of issues with bras too, because their husbands are abusive pornography users. When you compare yourself to pornography, you’re always going to lose. There’s no way to win.
Porn is women who are staged, who are likely on drugs, who are being exploited. Having these parts of our body be something that our husband wants to use is such a difficult thing. This bra-fitting for me was a way to take my body back, to give it back to myself, and to take care of myself, rather than this is part of my body that is for someone else, or for some other use.
I feel like this is part of me, and I can integrate it back into myself, and use it as part of my healing, rather than disown it, almost, as a thing that’s for someone else’s use. Which, I think it feels like a lot of times when you’re married to someone who’s an addict, who’s not in recovery, who’s using you as a drug, rather than seeing you as a person to be cherished and loved and cared for.
Donate Your Used Bras To Help Others
Another awesome thing that Courtney does is she’s the Northern Director of I Support the Girls. This is a non-profit, where she coordinates a statewide bra and feminine hygiene drive throughout the state of Utah. So all the donations are donated to local women’s shelters to help homeless women, and refugee women, and victims of domestic violence.
When I went to a domestic violence shelter to get my victim advocate, I, thank goodness, didn’t need to stay at the domestic violence shelter. But if I had, and if I had had to go there suddenly, without any clothes, then I would, perhaps, be a recipient of one of these donated bras. In 2016, her drive collected over 1,300 bras and 30,000 hygiene products. Those are things like sanitary napkins, tampons. The only requirement, Courtney, is?
Help Other Women Learn Self-Care
Courtney: The only requirement is that they have to be individually sealed. Then, you can drop these off, and then at the end of this month, of December, all those items will be collected. Then we’ll donate them to nine different women’s shelters throughout the state of Utah.
If you don’t live in Utah, and you want to participate, there’s really good news. Because there’s over 50 chapters throughout the world, the majority of them are in the United States, if you don’t see a location by you, they’re looking for women who want to help volunteer, and start up a chapter.
It’s really easy, all you have to do is just contact your local women’s shelter, and start collecting bras and donate them, and you can start a chapter in your area. It’s really awesome. It’s blessed my life to be able to help these women, and help facilitate this. I feel really lucky to be a part of it.
Women Supporting Women On Their Journey To Healing
Anne: I’m really grateful that women are working together to improve women’s health, and women’s wellbeing across the world.
Courtney: One of the reasons I got into I Support the Girls non-profit is because, obviously, I love bras. I love helping women feel more confident and beautiful. The sad thing is that, being a part of this organization, I learned—and working with the different women’s shelters in Utah, is that bras and hygiene products are one of the least donated items when it comes to women’s shelters.
People need food. They need blankets. But a lot of bras and hygiene products are not donated. The problem with these things, for normal women, they’re necessities. Everybody needs hygiene products, and everybody needs bras.
Self Care & Dignity
A lot of these homeless women, or refugees, or victims of domestic violence, if they don’t have these items then their chances of recovery—it sounds crazy, but their chances for recovery and making a better life for themselves is harder. They can’t hold down jobs. They don’t feel like they have their dignity. These items takes a huge weight off these women’s shoulders.
I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have to make a decision of whether I should spend my money feeding my family, or buying a hygiene product. By providing these items to women, it’s going to help them make their life better. If they can help make their life better than that can help their children, that can help generations to come get out of the depths of poverty or break the cycle of violence.
Every Woman Deserves Safety
I strongly believe that no matter what a woman’s circumstance is, you know, if she’s homeless, a refugee, she’s fleeing abusive relationship, I feel like every single woman in this world has the right to have these items.
Anne: Totally agreed. I think another reason why bra shopping is so triggering for women, in at least my audience here listening, is the advertising, or seeing other women in their bras, or whatever. It’s been interesting to go to your Instagram, and see women in their bras.
Owning Your Self Care Can Be Scary – But It Can Also Be Empowering
That is part of what is super-triggery for many women in this situation. I just want to, first of all do a trigger warning with, also, a notice that I think the more healed we get, the more we can realize that this is for me, rather than worry about what our husband’s thinking, or doing, or how it’s affecting someone else.
Courtney: On my website, the message that I try to convey for my business, and on my Instagram (@brafittingsbycourt) is that our society thinks of bras as sexual. On my Instagram, I really try to show that they’re not just sexual. I really try to embrace that bras are more of a necessity, and that they’re not just, primarily, for other people’s gratification. I really try to convey that, showing how bras can really help us to feel more confident.
Anne: That’s what I really appreciated. Rather than having it be for someone else’s gratification.
Courtney: Thank you.
Self Care Is For YOU
Anne: If anyone is doing it right, Courtney is. I immediately came home and told my mom, “You have got to go do this.” Cool thing about it is knowing that I am enough. That whatever size I am is enough. That I don’t have to be anything else to be lovable, to be cherished. And that I can find a bra that fits me where I’m at.
I don’t have to be different in order to fit in the perfect bra. Rather than the other way around. Like going bra shopping, and thinking, “Ugh, because I am damaged, and I am not perfect, I’m never going to be able to find the bra that fits, because bras only fit perfect women.”
Practice Self-Care. Love Your Body.
We’re taking our bodies back, women. As I progress my recovery, I’m just excited. I’m excited that I can do these things that are fun, and not be so triggered by them, where I was before. If you are still in that triggered stage, we love you. Just don’t do this right now.
Courtney: Yep, and I’ll be there.
When Your Trauma Gets In The Way Of Self Care
Anne: I’m no longer going to let my stance against pornography get in the way of my own self-care.
Courtney: I feel like a lot of women just get to this point. They’re like, “Enough. I’ve had enough of wearing bras that don’t fit. I’ve had enough of feeling this way. I want a change.” That’s when you know you’re ready. It’s is when you’ve had enough.
Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
Anne: I love that. Thanks for being here today, Court.
Remember, the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is an incredible resource for victims of betrayal and abuse. We are meeting in multiple time zones every day, so join now to get the help you deserve.
Until next week, stay safe out there.