How To Prepare For Infidelity & Abuse While Hoping It Never Happens Again

How To Prepare For Infidelity & Abuse While Hoping It Never Happens Again

4 Sessions, includes materials
Led by Coach Rae
The group will start as soon as it fills.
Limited to 6 participants (minimum 3)

What Is Relapse Preparedness When It Comes To Betrayal Trauma?

Anne: What is relapse preparedness, and what made you start thinking about this whole relapse preparedness thing?

Coach Rae: My vision for relapse preparedness kind of evolved from three separate ideas or awarenesses—which all happened to collide in precisely the right right time and space!

First, within my capacity as a coach—as well as just being a woman among women recovering myself from sexual betrayal trauma—I hear on a daily basis the deep fear and anxiety women express that their guys might relapse: in other words, that their partners will step away from recovery and healing, returning instead to their previous patterns of compulsive and secretive sexual behavior. So, at a very basic level, I’ve always known that relapse is a topic of significant concern to us women who are surviving and healing from sexual betrayal trauma.

Secondly, because I work so closely with professionals who treat and support clients who are the sex addicts or porn addicts in the relationships, I’d begun to hear these professionals (people I really admire and respect) talking about relapse prevention strategies—ways that sex and porn addicts can structure their recovery plans to meaningfully minimize the likelihood of their return to compulsive sexual behavior.

And honestly, listening to these professionals address this legitimately loaded topic, so passionately and proactively, with their sex addict and porn addict clients, I felt kind of left out of the party! I mean, I recognized that as partners of sex addicts, my clients and I can’t do the footwork involved in preventing a relapse—but the idea got me thinking that, even if the job of preventing a relapse doesn’t fall within our reach and responsibility? That doesn’t mean we need to sit back passively and leave our emotional fate in the hands of the sex addicts or porn addicts with whom we share life. That planted the seed for me to begin asking myself and my colleagues, “So if we can’t actively prevent the pain and trauma of a possible relapse, what kind of productive and proactive actions can we take, on our own behalf, in the meantime?”

How Can We Heal From Betrayal Trauma While Also Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario?

So THAT brings me to a third awareness that brought this whole relapse preparedness idea to the forefront for me, and this one goes back to 2013, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. At that time I was working part-time as a freelance writer for various publications, and one of my clients hired me to write an article on Active Emergency Preparedness, basically encouraging families to (a) plan and prepare for the “worst-case scenario”—in this case, natural disasters—while (b) simultaneously hoping and praying those worst-case scenarios wound never become necessary.

My subtitle for that article was “Just in Case.” And so, fast forward a few years, when I began to brainstorm ways that partners of sex addicts can actually DO SOMETHING with their concerns about relapse, rather than just sitting and waiting for something that may or may not happen, I stumbled into this fantastic metaphor or point of comparison between those two otherwise unrelated “unwanted experiences.” And that’s how my passion for “Relapse Preparedness” was conceived, developed and eventually born!

Anne: So obviously, as you describe in the Covenant Eyes article, you’ve lived through the whole relapse experience, and it’s something you encounter with many of your coaching clients, too, right? I’ll bet a lot of our listeners know more about relapse than they’d like to. But for anyone listening who hasn’t been through that, can you describe some of the feelings women commonly express in the aftermath of a relapse?

Like I said earlier, relapse is something women tend to fear deeply—and with good reason: it’s something that does happen, and when it happens, it brings with it a whole deluge of painful emotions.

For women who choose to stay in their relationships after discovering their guys’ compulsive sexual behavior, there’s an incalculable amount of emotional risk involved. When that emotional risk is met with ongoing incidents of sexual acting out, the wounds from a woman’s initial discoveries often deepen, worsen and fundamentally destabilize her past, present and future efforts toward betrayal trauma recovery. I hear my clients describe this experience as:

  • ripping the scab off their wounds
  • pulling the rug out from under me
  • stabbing me in the back
  • taking me for granted
  • betraying me with a kiss
  • breaking my heart all over again
  • knocking me back to square one

Through these and other expressions, women reflect their discouragement, despair and disappointment with the process of recovery in which they’d placed some degree of tentative, fragile and courageous hope and faith.

How Did You Feel When You Found Out Your Husband Was Lying to You?

Beyond these expressions, which I’m guessing most of our listeners have heard or even felt before, there’s another very unique and singular aspect I observe in my clients’ emotional response to repeat sexual betrayal—and that aspect is internalized grief, self-doubt and self-indictment.

We’ve all heard that saying, “Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me.” That concept is deeply and organically present for women who decide to try and salvage their traumatized relationships. I often hear my clients say they feel stupid for believing that their guys might successfully change. They often say they feel “pitiful and pathetic” (the two P words) for choosing to stay and for hoping to experience healing rather than a recurrence of harm.

In the aftermath of a relapse, a client may feel like she somehow asked for or allowed this to happen, expressing fear that she did something to trigger to the relapse, or she’ll express regret over something she didn’t do to support his recovery. Without a doubt, across the board, clients express an increase in their emotional distress and a decrease in their  hope and faith in recovery—which makes sense, especially when their early attempts at healing within the relationship are seemingly invalidated by this sexual relapse and the betrayal trauma that accompanies it.

What is a “relapse,” anyway. Is it different than a “slip?” Does it matter what we call it? And what if my husband and I disagree about this?

So, I’m one of these people for whom words really matter; when I can define and articulate something, it’s easier for me to process, understand and make peace with that subject, whatever it is. So I’m going to give you the standard, traditional, recovery-world distinction between a slip and a relapse—then I’m going to give you permission to  scrap those distinctions and redefine relapse in whatever words serve to help you “come to terms” with relapse preparedness:

When addiction specialists use the term “slip,” they’re often describing a one-time or short-term lapse back toward compulsive sexual behavior—a lapse that ends with some kind of swift and serious self-intervention. When an addict “slips,” he generally gets his butt “back on the wagon” relatively quickly, and while that slip is considered a setback, it doesn’t necessarily undo all of the positive recovery work that he’s been doing to that point.

For sex addicts, for example, a slip might involve clicking on an inappropriate website, viewing something sexually explicit, then stopping himself before allowing that behavior to draw him back into the vortex of chronic and compulsive sexual acting out.

Relapse In Pornography Addiction Includes Going Back to Emotionally Abusive Behaviors As Well As Sexual Acting Out

By contrast, when addiction specialists use the term “relapse,” they’re often referring to an extended period of sexual acting out—one wherein the addict does NOT stop himself, engage his recovery tools, or reach out for help to avoid getting sucked back into his pattern of compulsive sexual behavior. Relapse is often characterized by an addicts’ resistance to getting back on track, and it often involves an extended period of secrecy, some serious loss of sexual sobriety, an interruption in his detox from the neurochemical effects of sexual acting out. Relative to the work we do here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, a relapse deeply damages an addict’s efforts toward relational healing, holistic recovery and restitution for the harms he’s inflicted upon his family.

Now, all of that said, when I coach women through relapse preparedness–or through any aspect of sexual betrayal trauma, really—I remind my clients that labels are personal, purposeful and powerful. I also remind them that part of trauma resolution involves reclaiming our own independent sense of self-autonomy—which includes stating OUR OWN TRUTHS, even when those truths are different from how others perceive it.

So what does that have to do with the difference between a slip and a relapse? In my work with clients, that means empowering trauma survivors to label their guys’ addiction- and recovery-related behaviors using whichever definitions equip and inspire them to take meaningful, effective and positive action on their own behalf. I’ve watched so many women struggle under this conversation, wherein a guy says, “ABC doesn’t mean that I’ve relapsed,” but she says, “It certainly feels like a relapse to me!”

How To Opt Out Of A Conversation With Your Emotionally Abusive Husband

My best advice to a woman who feels trapped in that merry-go-round conversation is to simply “opt out” of the argument, step off the merry-go-round, and create for yourself your own working definitions for whichever behaviors impact you in relevant ways. You may need to get creative about how you communicate and converse with your guy when discussing these topics—but don’t let that stop you from seeking and securing your own sense of clarity about it. You don’t need his permission to define a relapse that violates your own boundaries—and you don’t need to apologize for it, either.

As The Wife Of A Porn Addict, Do I Have to Expect Relapse?

Anne: I’ve heard some porn addicts and recovery specialists say that “relapse is part of recovery.” Does that mean that relapse is unavoidable?

I’m gonna be straightforward and honest with you about this: I am not an expert in addiction recovery for porn addicts and sex addicts; my expertise lies in the field of recovery for women traumatized by the behaviors of porn and sex addicts. I desperately want to believe that relapse isn’t “unavoidable”—that women needn’t buy into the suggestion that relapse is going to happen, despite their addicts’ most dedicated recovery work.

There’s a small but loud voice that runs deep inside of me, one that screams, “Absolutely NOT! Relapse isn’t a ‘necessary’ part of addiction recovery!” And at the same time, I recognize the limitations of my training—and stand here with enough humility to say, You know what? I’m NOT the most qualified to answer that question—so instead of pretending that I am, I’m going to throw myself into something I DO know that I can do—and that is helping women prepare for the “possibility” of relapse if or when that day ultimately comes.

By Preparing For A Relapse, Am I Asking For One?

Anne: What would you say to women who worry that “preparing” for a relapse is giving him “permission” to do it?

For me, this one goes back to the concept of acceptance versus approval. In my work with women, I am very, very, very honest—that’s because I believe that most women have been lied to more than enough for one lifetime, and I refuse to participate in perpetrating even one more iota of deception-induced trauma in the women I’m privileged to know and coach. As I reflect my clients’ truth back to them in our coaching sessions, I encourage them to be equally, gut-level honest with themselves and with their loved ones. This often translates into accepting (or even embracing) a potential reality that makes our skin crawl, rather than denying (and therefore, resisting) a reality we wish wasn’t true.

When my clients and I talk about “preparing for relapse,” we are discussing an uneasy-yet-realistic threat to their hard-fought safety and stability; in doing that, I assure women that exploring this reality cannot and will not magically “invite it” to happen. On, the contrary, by preparing her to respond to a day she hopes will never arrive, she can actually stand even more firmly and confidently within her self-protective relational boundaries—in ways that fully honor and emphasize her right to respond in healthy ways to unhealthy behavior.

Common Mistakes When Anticipating A Relapse

Anne: Are there mistakes women sometimes make when approaching the idea of relapse preparedness?

Coach Rae: I would say yes and no. I tend to think that any woman who even entertains the idea of relapse preparedness is ahead of the game—she’s less likely to be caught off guard if or when that threat to her safety comes knocking at her door. That said, the women I know who do relapse preparedness most successfully avoid making some natural and understandable assumptions.

For example, relapse preparedness doesn’t work if you expect the process to be one-size fits all—in other words, Jane Doe’s relapse preparedness plan won’t adequately protect and serve Jenny Doe. Another example, relapse preparedness doesn’t work if it only happens in your head—in order to effectively implement the plans you create for yourself, those plans need to exist somewhere you can tangibly reach them in the midst of a potential trauma response. Relapse preparedness doesn’t work if it becomes a point of obsession and emotional overwhelm.

In other words, relapse preparedness SHOULD empower you to make your plan and tuck it away for the future; it shouldn’t heighten your anxiety into a constant, long-lasting and ever-present posture of imminent anticipation. Lastly, relapse preparedness won’t protect and serve you from chronic, frequent or ongoing sexual betrayal. This is easily the “mistake” I fear the most on behalf of my clients. When I encounter women who are experiencing their guys’ relapse on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, I encourage them to pursue a different form of betrayal trauma recovery care and coaching, one that focuses primarily on self-protective emotional, physical, sexual and relational boundaries.

How To Avoid Triggers When Preparing For A Relapse & A Return of Narcissistic Behaviors

Anne: What if even thinking about a relapse triggers my anxiety and trauma?

My response to this one might surprise you. But honesty, if thinking about a relapse does NOT trigger your anxiety and trauma? (a) You’d definitely be in the minority, AND (b) I’d be concerned about your vulnerability to denial, disassociation and/or disconnection from the impact of sexual betrayal trauma.

The good news is, betrayal trauma recovery coaching is all about tools: It’s about empowering women to rally their resources to meet triggers, anxiety and trauma with skill, with self-awareness and with meaningful steps toward our recovery endgame: post-traumatic growth! As I coach my clients through relapse preparedness, I offer them an entire spectrum of support resources to increase their tolerance for our discussion.

For example, in my Relapse Preparedness coaching group, I both open and close each 2- hour session with a different exercise, meditation or activity—so that when our four-week process comes to a close, participants leave with at least 8 ways to soothe their triggers about sexual relapse—or about any other betrayal trauma topic, for that matter.

Anne: Tell me more about the Relapse Preparedness support group. What will I get from the group that I won’t get from doing this on my own?

Coach Rae: Within this month-long support group, we’ll spend 8 hours of live group coaching time with an exclusive focus on relapse preparedness. As I said, we’ll open each session with a healing meditation or emotional grounding technique, then segue into a short participant checkin, just to get us all present and engaged within our group time and space. From there, I’ll speak for 10-20 minutes, to introduce our primary focal point for that session (each week’s objective is different, and builds upon work from the previous week).

During this section, I share my personal experience with this topic, as well as some “highlights” (insight, inspiration, encouragement, etc) and “lowlights” (pitfalls, stumbling blocks or common challenges) I’ve learned when coaching clients through their experiences of relapse preparedness (or sometimes unpreparedness!). At some point during each session, I pause and give participants 5-10 minutes of private work time—basically, inviting you to reflect and record your insights, questions and challenges in the moment—because in my experience, that is far more effective than asking/expecting you to do it AFTER our group session ends and you go back to life in all of it’s distraction and busyness.

After that, we’ll all come together again to share those reflections, request/receive/provide feedback as needed, and offer support for one another’s individual work through our shared group processes. We always close with another meditation or self-soothing exercise, along with individual participant checkouts and self-care commitments for the upcoming week.

Before and between each week’s live session, I provide clients with a collateral series of worksheets and journaling questions, designed to help you structure and strategize your individual relapse preparedness plan.

The live coaching sessions are designed to provide context, comprehension and community support as you complete your plan, with the help of those worksheets. I recommend participants set aside 1 (minimum) to 3 (maximum) hours per week between sessions, in order to get the most out of the month-long group.

In addition to the worksheets and live coaching sessions, I’ll assign each participant a relapse preparedness partner. This allows you and your partner to process together (safely, and in a more private one-on-one relationship) anything that comes up for you between the sessions themselves. Some participants engage their partners quite actively, while others do not. That’s ultimately up to you and the partner I assign to you—and I do my best to pair women with similar needs, priorities, available time/schedules, etc.

Bottom line, leave with (a) a comprehensive understanding of relapse preparedness in general, (b) tools to manage the fears, anxiety and expectations that accompany this unique internal and external work, (c) a small circle of support from other women who’ve participated in group with you, and (d) your very own detailed and individual relapse preparedness plan, something you can file away (digitally), print and secure in your own private space (hard copy) and/or share with others who comprise your personal support system (which may include close friends, therapists, coaches, counsellors, etc).

Anne: So, what if I love this whole relapse preparedness concept, but I can’t afford the group?

Coach Rae: First of all, by all means read my article on Covenant Eyes, titled How Can I Prepare for My Husband’s Next Porn Relapse? Next raise the topic with your betrayal trauma survivor friends, in your recovery or coaching groups, and with your coach or therapist. In other words, begin a dialogue! You’ll provably find that as you begin initiating the conversation, others will respond accordingly.

We have a wide and wonderful variety of listeners here at BTR, including women in different kinds of relationships, and in various stages of their recovery from betrayal trauma. Who do you think would benefit—or benefit most—from Relapse Preparedness Planning?

I honestly recommend this group for anyone who’s choosing, even one day at a time, to stay in a relationship wounded by sexual betrayal trauma. Going back to that analogy of Hurricane Sandy and emergency preparedness? I encourage women to explore what strategies could and would equip them in the event of a relapse—and once that’s done, you’ll likely find that your fear of a relapse subsides significantly—which frees you up to enjoy the beauty and benefits of your hard-fought recovery!

Anne: Coach Rae, I know you’re a big fan of quotes—so are there any quick and easy little tidbits you can leave for our listeners on this topic of relapse preparedness?

One quote that I’ve always loved is this one: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” I like to relate that to engaging in this process of relapse preparedness in the context of recovery: as long as we remain in the relative safety of that “take no risks” approach, we’ll also remain in the relative isolation of missing our greater purpose and potential.

Another quote I like says this: “A bird sitting upon a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch—her trust is in her own wings.”

Finally, very recently I was reminded of an AMAZING quote by the Baal Shem Tov (Jewish author, teacher and philosopher): “Let me fall if I must; The one I will become will catch me.”

How To Set Boundaries For A Narcissist

How To Set Boundaries For A Narcissist

Boundaries? “Um, what boundaries?!” That’s the dilemma Coach Rae found herself facing fifteen years ago, at the end of her first betrayal trauma marriage. Before there were books and groups designed to simplify boundaries for partners of porn and sex addicts, Rae learned a TON of tough lessons the hard way — lessons she now shares openly, humorously and passionately.

If you’re new to the concept of boundaries — register for Coach Sarah’s Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries group. Coach Sarah addresses these common FAQs about boundaries.

  • What’s IS a boundary, anyway? 
  • Why do boundaries matter?
  • Can anyone set boundaries?
  • Why are boundaries so scary for women in trauma?
  • Will boundaries really get me what I want?
  • Won’t boundaries actually push him away?
  • What boundaries are “reasonable” for women like us?
  • What consequences are appropriate for boundary violations?
  • What if my husband won’t honor my boundaries?
  • What if my husband responds to my boundaries with anger?
  • Are boundaries forever? What if I change my mind?
  • Does my own behavior need boundaries?
  • Boundaries are confusing! So where do I even start?

***

Hi Everyone! I’m Coach Rae, and I’m one of the APSATS Certified Coaches here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I’m also an ICF Certified Professional Life Coach, Couples Relationship Coach, Divorce Recovery Coach and the Coaching Coordinator for our entire team of coaches here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

This week, I’m excited to talk about one of my very favorite subjects — boundaries. Actually, if I’m going to get really specific about it, I’d call this topic, “the basics of boundaries,” or “boundaries for beginners,” or “boundaries from the ground up,” or even, as I’ve occasionally entitled such conversations, “Boundaries? What boundaries?!” 

Because honestly? When I press the rewind button on my own recovery, reflecting back to where my own experience of boundaries (or lack thereof) began more than 15 years ago?

Boundaries really wasn’t much of a word in my relational vocabulary. Sure, I could probably recite the Webster’s dictionary definition by heart — because if you haven’t learned this about me yet, I’m a pretty classic “word nerd.” But when it came to applying that word to my closest personal, professional and even community relationships?

Yeah. No. Not a chance. I definitely did not know anything about that. 

You see, I grew up with this absolutely lovely (albeit admittedly hyper-idealistic) concept about interpersonal relationships, and that concept went something like this:

The Fantasy Of Love Without Boundaries

Number one: I like you. 

Number two: Not only do I like you, I actually even love you. 

Number three: I love you so much, in fact, I’m prepared to lay down my life for you. And that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Loving you even more than I love myself?

Number four: Now that I’ve forsaken all others and laid my life down for your own, I’m happy to sit back, relax, and trust you to return the favor. I mean, my life with you is a fulfillment of our destiny is it not? What more could I ask for? What could possibly go wrong?

Number five: So, I’m now eagerly waiting, for you to love me with that same, dedicated, self-sacrificial love that I gave you. I’m ready anytime, honey! My arms are open wide, and my heart’s a blank canvas. Let’s get this party started, baby! 

Number six: (and stick with me here, because this is where the fantasy gets really good) — because of this love we now so seamlessly share, while I’m busy liking and loving and living and laying myself down for you, you’re doing all of those same things for me, right? Because surely, mutual self-sacrifice is an exercise of equal proportions… isn’t it? I mean, if I lay down my life for you, and you lay down your life for me, then obviously, I’ll meet your needs, you’ll meet my needs, and both of us will ride off into the endless, needless, boundary-less sunset together.

Right? 

Right.

Healthy Love Must Have Boundaries

Okay, I’ll admit it. I probably read one too many novels growing up. And chances are, my outlook on relational boundaries didn’t get me off to a terribly mature or realistic start. On your behalf, I hope that you got something a little bit more mature and realistic than I did.

But honestly? In this work I do with women healing from sexual betrayal? I can’t tell you how many fairytales turned horror-stories I’ve heard that begin this way, scripted by women with no greater (and no lesser) desire than to love and to be loved by the men we’ve so carefully chosen.

You see, when I began my journey of recovery from sexual betrayal trauma, near the beginning of the end of my first marriage, I was convinced that love could (and would) conquer all. Even as the reality of my shattered relationship came into focus, I FULLY believed that with God and faith and grace and forgiveness on my side, I could fix anything and everything that had fallen apart between us. 

Except that… when push came to shove, I couldn’t.

Boundaries Keep Us Safe When Our Best Fails

Not for lack of love or effort or commitment, but rather because of an invisible-yet-irrefutable line, one that divided the space in which I functioned from the space wherein my husband did.

That line, truth be told, was there all along, precisely as it should have been, plain as the nose on my face, letting me know where I ended and where my husband began. I simply never noticed its presence before, mostly because I’d never learned to look for it, to recognize it, or to respect its importance.

Because that line wasn’t one to which I’d grown accustomed to seeing or sensing — at least not until the moment that life as I knew it left me no other choice — I truly didn’t know the limitations of my ability to rescue my marriage, any more than I knew the imperative of protecting myself from my husband’s hidden sexual life. 

Boundaries Are Essential When Faced With Your Husband’s Sex Addiction & Abuse

By the time my relationship ground to a screeching halt, mangled with the wreckage of sexual betrayal trauma, I’d fallen into a state of complete and total panic, pouring into a surge of desperate self-preservation. From deep within that haze of hurt and fear and those horrible, horrible discoveries, I didn’t know what saving “us” might ask of me: I just know that, having invested and abdicated so much of myself into that man and into that relationship, there wasn’t any part of myself that I wouldn’t sacrificed, all in the interest of saving that marriage—never mind how utterly unhealthy it would have been for me to do what it took to satisfy my husband’s sexual appetite. 

Thankfully — and this is where my story gets a little bit lighter and a little bit brighter — in the fifteen years since my first marriage went belly up, I’ve grown a whole lot smarter and a heck of a lot stronger when it comes to recognizing that invisible line of relationship demarcation—the one I now lovingly refer to as a healthy boundary!

With the help of my own professional support team, I’ve learned more than I ever knew I’d never known about boundaries,  even within the fully functional and faithful relationships in my life—never mind the ABSOLUTE necessity of healthy boundaries within relationships traumatized by porn addiction, sex addition and other related forms of compulsive and abusive sexual behavior. 

In circles and communities like this one, when we introduce the topic of boundaries, it’s often in the context of managing or minimizing the impact of our partner’s behavior. That’s an entirely legitimate approach, and kudos to all of you for the work you’ve already done in those areas! I hope that by sharing this kind of odd and alternative story about my own boundaries (excuse me, I mean my non-boundaries) I’ve piqued your interest in going “back to the beginning,” as it were—and maybe I’ve inspired you to reflect upon your own most basic, most foundational and most original perspectives about boundaries.

Now at this point in our conversation, I’m going to pause here for a moment, and ask you about your early experiences, trials and errors within this realm of relational boundaries. Did you enter your childhood knowing where that line was, that point of demarcation between yourself and the person you love? Or did you, like me, learn that lesson the hard way, losing (or nearly losing) yourself beneath the back-breaking, soul-sucking weight of sexual betrayal trauma? How do you define a healthy boundary?

And, how has your concept of boundaries grown or changed along with your recovery? We invite you to share your comments anonymously below — and if this podcast has helped you, please consider rating it on iTunes, so that more women in trauma can find the support they need to recognize, understand and explore the value of healthy personal boundaries.

How To Learn About Boundaries When You Need Them The Most

Now, for those of you who’ve spent any time at all listening to our podcast, following us on social media or working with one of our BTR coaches, you know firsthand how often (and how emphatically) we encourage trauma survivors to seek safety and stability — those two key components that must be in place for meaningful healing and recovery from sexual betrayal. Because of our training through APSATS, The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, we don’t mess around when it comes to those two priorities—and it’s because of that emphasis that so many of our clients learn to survive (and ultimately to thrive) beyond the paralyzing pain of sexual betrayal. 

But here’s something cool you may not yet know: 

Because we believe so firmly in the power and priority of safety and stability, we’ve recently added two new opportunities for BTR listeners to “zero in” on all things boundaries! Coach Sarah (that’s Sarah with an H) has a six-week support group titled Setting & Holding Healthy Boundaries — a group that explores a comprehensive process for identifying, crafting and deciphering all aspects of setting boundaries. Because Sarah’s support group fills up so quickly, we offer it repeatedly as soon as it fills. For more info email Coach Sarah: sarah@btr.org.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group – Healing From Abuse The Proven Way

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group – Healing From Abuse The Proven Way

Hi Everyone! I’m Coach Gaelyn, and I’m one of the APSATS Certified Coaches here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I’m also a Certified Professional Life Coach, Couples Relationship Coach, Divorce Recovery Coach and the Coaching Coordinator for our entire team of coaches here at BTR.org.

I’m deeply passionate about the work that I do with women healing from sexual betrayal trauma. And more often than not, that passion translates into me having a lot to say, whenever Anne offers to hand me the microphone!

I am grateful to share this “on-air” time with you this week, and here’s why: within the next few days, I’ll be starting three new support groups for women healing from sexual betrayal trauma. I’ve been busy answering email inquiries from many of you who are planning to join me, so it’s nice to go ahead and connect with you by voice along the way.

So with the time we’ve got here today, I’m going to give you a marathon “sneak peek” into some of the highlights I’ve found are important for women who are healing—specifically within a group recovery context—from the impact of sexual betrayal trauma.

Is Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Right For Me?

For those of you who’ve been wondering if a BTR Group is right for you, I hope this podcast will further pique your interest, ignite your own passion for your own healing, and provide some clarifying reassurance that your intuition is leading you in precisely the right direction.

Before we go much further though, I’ve got a question for all of YOU! Because our theme today is healing within groups, I’d love to hear about the pros and cons you’ve encountered in various recovery circles. What would you say is the number one thing you get from a healthy group of recovering women? What’s that special “something” you just don’t get on your own? Or from a book? Or from individual work with a coach or therapist or clergy person? Have you had any negative group experiences, environments that felt unhealthy, unsafe or unproductive? And if you had one suggestion for coaches like me, who develop and facilitate groups of women healing from sexual betrayal trauma? We would really love to hear those comments too! We invite you to share your thoughts anonymously below—and if this podcast itself helped you, serving as your virtual audio “support group,” please consider rating it on iTunes! Doing so helps other women in trauma find us more easily, discovering (sometimes for the very first time) a community of women who understand this whole experience.

The Advantages Of Group Healing For Betrayal Trauma & Related Behaviors Like Gaslighting, Narcissistic Traits, Emotional Abuse

Now, I’ve been part of a lot of different groups over these past 11 years, facilitated by different leaders, functioning within different guidelines, meeting different goals and objectives and priorities. In reflecting back over these groups and analyzing the ones wherein I’ve found the most healing? I’ve identified my favorite group format for live, realtime, interactive coaching groups.

When I refer to a “live” coaching group, I’m referring to our interactive, online daily group sessions we offer here at BTR. You can see the schedule by clicking here. we meet at a specific time and day of the week—just as you would if you attended a local support group, therapy group or recovery meeting. Here at BTR, we use a virtual meeting platform called Zoom—and the cool thing is, you can join our group sessions in whatever manner works best for you—whether that’s logging in “on screen” from your computer, tablet or smart phone, or dialing in “off screen,” meaning audio-only, from an phone—land line or cell phone.

Learning To Accept Ourselves & Then Figure Out What We Want After Betrayal

I initially heard this “First and Then” concept suggested by one of the smartest (and incidentally, one of the most spiritually down-to-earth) therapists I’ve ever met in this field of sex addiction recovery. In his signature “cut to the chase” style, this guy was answering questions from a room full of women, all of whom were desperately seeking that ideal-yet-elusive balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement. In response to this struggle, this therapist uttered a suggestion that has now become one of my favorite quotes for trying to keep my recovery life in balance:

“FIRST,” he said, “make your peace with where you are today. THEN, when you’ve done that, make yourself grow in the direction you want to be tomorrow.”

Those two sentences have helped me keep my head on straight more times than I can count, during seasons when circumstances would have otherwise set it spinning—and it’s become one of my favorite reminders when designing groups for women healing from betrayal trauma.

You see, even though I think it’s wonderful for women in recovery to focus on topics and workbooks and other kinds of study materials? You know, the kind that make us stretch and grow in future healthy directions? I honestly don’t think we can grow forward without first engaging some quality time and space to share and process the most pressing, most present, day-to-day incidents that, let’s face it, tend to happen for women who share life with men who are sexually struggling or recovering!

So these days—nearly seven years after hearing this therapist’s “First and Then” suggestion—when I design live coaching groups for women healing from betrayal, I utilize those same two sentences to orient our communal recovery process. At the beginning of every group session, I first invite each participants to talk about the week you’ve had since our last meeting, sharing the highlights and lowlights of your life and relationship. I do this by providing a shortlist of checkin questions I’ve carefully written, questions I call “Soul Celebrations—Pausing to Honor What’s Present in My World.” These questions introduce a broad spectrum of sharing prompts, such as:

  • What is one thing I’ve accepted this week?
  • What is one boundary I’ve created, communicated or reinforced?
  • What is one risk I’ve taken this week?
  • What is one self-esteem affirmation I’ve been practicing?
  • What is one way I’ve enjoyed my relationship or my singleness?
  • What is one personal goal I have recently set, advanced or achieved?
  • What is one old idea I’ve challenged, changed or discarded?
  • What is one new tool I have recently utilized in action?
  • What is one fear I have faced, rather than running away or avoiding it?
  • What is one hurt I’ve been feeling most deeply?
  • What is one anxiety I can recognize, identify and/or address?
  • What is one sign of healing I have recently observed in myself?
  • What is one milestone I have celebrated this week?
  • What is one area in which I’ve been using and practicing my voice?
  • What is one vision for my future I have been exploring?

Or,

What I what need to share with the group tonight is… fill in the blank.

You’ve probably caught onto the point of these checkin questions, but to put them back into our “First” and “Then” context? Designing a group format with time and space for women to share their “make peace with where you are today” stuff? It genuinely and effectively serves to clear some much needed mental and emotional airspace! Once these “where you are today” stories have had their moment to be seen and heard?

That’s when the fun starts with, “Then… make yourself grow.”

By the way, one more little side note? These Soul Celebration questions, tucked within the context of a broader personal checkin tool, is something I provide to all of my coaching clients, women who join my groups or who see me individually. My clients often get the most from their coaching time by going through this checkin process, or one similar to it, before (or at the beginning of) our scheduled sessions, something I chalk up to an extension of my “First and Then” philosophy.

So, let’s move onto the second half of “First and Then”, and let’s take this group Top Ten Betrayal Trauma Topics as an example of “grow in the direction you want to be tomorrow.” Unlike most of the coaching groups we’ve offered here at BTR, Top Ten Betrayal Trauma Topics is intentionally, literally all about you and the direction you want to grow!

When women sign up for this particular group, I do something somewhat special, somewhat unpredictable but ultimately, very meaningful—I let each of our participating women nominate the topics you want to dedicate time exploring, discussing and debriefing during our three months together. This ensures that your deepest needs get addressed, and that your individual recovery goals get priority time and attention.

Believe it or not, I don’t do this simply as an act of politeness or as an attempt to guarantee client satisfaction. I do this because at its foundation, recovery from trauma involves taking our own self-empowered steps toward self-agency, self-advocacy and self-determination. In other words, by inviting you to identify what you need the most—all within a safe and reassuring circle of other women, doing exactly the same thing—I am actually preparing you to practice a skill that’s crucial to solid, long-term trauma resolution! In other words, if taking steps to name and reclaim your own healing sounds like “the direction you want to be tomorrow,” joining my group, Top Ten Betrayal Trauma Topics is a pretty safe stride in that direction—seeing as you’ll actually start making progress before our first group session even gets started.

My Personal Experience With Betrayal Trauma & Abuse Recovery

So, you ready for one of those personal anecdotes I promised, the one about my own biggest challenge in early recovery?

Now that I think about it, I’m actually kind of embarrassed to say this out loud, after that whole monologue about self-empowerment and self-advocacy!

Because when it comes right down to it, the place where I got myself almost irreversibly stuck—was on that very question:

“What… do I… need?”

Sounds pretty simple and straightforward… right? I mean, by that point in my life, I’d been married, divorced and remarried. I spent two blissful years in art school, resulting in a career I absolutely loved—one that took me halfway around the world to work in a country most people only dream of even visiting. I’d even made a few really major life decisions, like choosing to move far, far away from my loved ones, and “making peace” with the fact that I’d never have children. Sure, life had thrown me a few difficult curve balls—but heck if I didn’t swing my bat and knock those curve balls out of the park.

From the outside looking in, I wasn’t the girl who had any problems figuring out what she wanted, what she needed, or how to get there.

And for a number of years, my insides matched those outsides. I was a pretty authentic human being, and I prided myself on being exceptionally self-aware, spiritually mature and nothing if not adaptable.

What Does Mental Health Look Like When Faced With My Husband’s Cheating & Abuse?

In fact? In reality? I’d become far too “adaptable” for my own good.

I had adapted myself to life with a man whose preferred sexual relationship seemed to be with… porn.

I had adapted myself to life with a man whose rallying cry was, “I know need to do better”—but somehow, never quite translated that knowledge into action.

I had adapted myself to life with man I loved, a man whose own needs were emotionally all consuming. I knew that I knew that I knew that he needed me—but along the way I truly forgot that I had needs too.

I forgot that I COULD have needs.

I forgot that I SHOULD have needs.

And I forgot that my needs mattered.

I forgot that my needs weren’t a currency to be begged, borrowed or traded for safety under the emotionally abusive tyranny of my husband’s porn addiction.

Ultimately, I forgot the girl whose needs I could no longer remember.

If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, to the point that I know my experience with it isn’t unique. So with that little disclaimer, and at the risk of sounding painfully cliche, I’ll bottom line this for you:

I’d become someone I no longer recognized.

For whatever it’s worth, I care too much about all of you to sugarcoat this next part—so I’m gonna give it to you with as much brutal honestly as I can possibly stomach:

Climbing my way back to that girl who had needs, required me to do something that was utterly and paradoxically intolerable:

In order to resurrect and reconnect with my needs, I had to be willing to let myself be needy.

Having Needs Is OKAY!

Now I don’t know about all of you, but as a young, single, modern American woman? I believed that being NEEDY was about as appealing as having leprosy.

Needy wasn’t cute.
Needy wasn’t fun.
Needy didn’t get you a great guy, or an award, or a promotion.

In other words, needy didn’t make my list of desirable character qualities.

So when it came time for me to be needy, all in an effort to identify WHAT I needed (that was actually the easier part) followed by figuring out HOW to meet those needs once I knew what they were?

THAT was a lesson I couldn’t learn without the wisdom, experience and strength of other women—other women who, incidentally, had already been there, done that and lived to tell about it.

If you’re someone like me, a woman who’s forgotten what your needs are, or you blanche at the idea of trying to ask for what you need, feel like your needs are important, or believe that your needs are worth fighting for? In fact, if you, like me, have forgotten the girl you once were—or, you want to reconnect with the girl you are apart from this whole sordid sexual betrayal mess? I’d specifically invite you to consider joining doing individual sessions with me on the topic of Who Am I Beyond Betrayal Trauma?

When I began recovering from the pain and trauma of my husband’s porn addiction, suffice it to say I was stressed to the max. I didn’t have children like so many of you do, but I was working full time in a deadline-driven industry, commuting 3-5 hours daily, acting like a blissfully happy, successful, newlywed Superwoman to the world around me—all the while feeling like a battered woman within the private world of my own soul.

When I joined my first support group—let’s just say, it’s not exaggerating to say that group saved my life. Every single Wednesday night, when I turned my key in the ignition of my car, to drive toward that meeting, something intense inside of me kicked in… and I started bawling. Like, I’m not talking about a few delicate tears rolling down my face—I’m talking about the stuffy, sticky, smearing, throbbing kinds of tears—the ones I’d been holding hostage inside my body all week long, suppressed to the degree that simply turning that car key signaled my desperate opportunity to finally let it out for awhile: It was like my body and soul knew that, as I drove to this meeting and spent one hour each week talking with other women who understood and CARED about me? For that ONE hour I didn’t need to be Superwoman, or Wonder Woman, or Proverbs 31 woman—for that one hour, I could be a sobbing, suffocating girl on the floor… one who was learning, one hour at a time, how to pick myself up and start breathing again.

So, why am I telling you this story? Because, when I coach women healing from the trauma of loving someone with a porn addiction, sex addiction, or related forms of abusive and compulsive behavior? Encouraging women like us to join a group is one of the most critical appeals I find myself making. It’s a step toward strength and support for which there really is no substitute—without some circle of empathy and empowerment around us? Healing at its deepest, truest and most practical? It doesn’t ever happen. Women who try to “tough it out” or “suck it up” through wave after wave of betrayal trauma? Those are the women who continue to break down inside—unseen, unheard and unhealed—suffering alone, despite their loneliness.

As a woman in recovery, those are the stories that most break my heart. And as a woman who coaches others women through sexual betrayal trauma? Those are the stories that remind me why I fight so hard to break down barriers that prevent women in trauma from getting support.

Now, here’s an important factor to highlight. When I say that, eleven years ago, my weekly group saved my life, it’s important to note a really smart and intentional decision I made about that group, one that could have been a make-or-break factor in my ability to maintain the supportive connections my healing would require:

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Support Groups Can Safe Your Life

When I chose that group, I chose a group that was literally one mile away from my front door. In other words, I chose an option for support that was nearly as convenient as humanly possible—and I made a commitment to be there, no matter what, every. single. Wednesday. night. Unless I was out of town or on my deathbed, every Wednesday night at 7 o’clock, I turned that key in my ignition, let the tears flood in, and drove that one mile to my support group—where I walked in the door to be met by a circle of women who still hold me together, on days when facing a world filled with sexual betrayal gets overwhelming, even for me.

Fair warning, here: when I say what I’m about to say next, it has the potential to sound somewhat lazy, dismissive or self-indulgent. So just trust me when I say, I needed this permission in early recovery, and I’m thrilled to extend it to any one of you who might happen to need it, just as much as I did.

Here goes:

It’s okay to choose a support group that’s easy.

Sure, there are times when healing and recovery require us to summon some inner tough love.

But honestly, at the beginning? I needed something something that was so convenient, accessible and straightforward, (a) I didn’t need to figure anything out and (b) didn’t have any built-in excuses to discourage me from getting started.

Eleven years ago, I wasn’t on Facebook—so a support group one mile away from my house was about as good as it got. But here we are, a decade-plus later, and where do I find myself? I now do a huge portion of my coaching support for women via Facebook—in very private, safe and facilitated spaces that offer more convenience than I ever dreamed of in early recovery! Through these groups, I like to believe I’m giving my clients that permission to “choose a support group that’s easy.” With zero expectations for you to show up on a specific day, or time of day? No need to brush your hair, brush your teeth, or climb out of your PJs?

Well, betrayal trauma healing doesn’t get more convenient than that.

So as I say goodbye today, I’m wondering: Did I made good on my promises to you? Has this podcast inspired your enthusiasm for your own healing? Has it helped you figure out what kind of group support, if any, you may need to deepen your own recovery from sexual betrayal trauma? And have you gotten at least one or two helpful nuggets, reflections from my own meandering world of early recovery comings and goings?

If so, please join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.

Facing Heartbreak – Learning To Make Grief Count

Facing Heartbreak – Learning To Make Grief Count

How To Heal From Betrayal Trauma Through Individual Sessions

Grief is such a difficult thing to process in the context of betrayal and abuse. I do individual sessions with clients on grief.

One of the things I love so much about coaching women through grief is using the workbook Facing Heartbreak if the clients wants to. This workbook doesn’t swing in the dark, hit or miss, lucky to make contact with a few randomly common experiences. On the contrary! One of the best features about Facing Heartbreak is its strategic, sequential and specific lineup of recovery steps. When helping my clients decide which group or workbook might suit them best, I often tell them, “With Facing Heartbreak, you take one brave step onto a fast-moving freight train… then you hold on tightly, stopping at station after designated station, riding the rails of cross-country recovery.” Because, let’s face it: for most of us women, recovery is stressful enough without needing to chart our own independent roadmap through the process!

There’s something truly special about a book that ONLY asks you to crack open the cover, then continue taking the next indicated steps, one after another—fully KNOWING that, along the way, you’ll visit all the important, crucial and time sensitive issues that comprise our communal experience of sexual betrayal trauma recovery.

Discovering Your Husband’s Sex Addiction and Abuse

Speaking of trauma? That’s precisely where Facing Heartbreak begins, with Chapter One, “The Trauma of Discovery.” Within these opening pages, you’ll find a number of key self-assessments, allowing you to identify and rate your own symptoms of emotional, physical and spiritual trauma. Immediately following that, Facing Heartbreak invites you to create your own Partner’s Shield of Safety, asking you to identify four quadrants of proverbial refuge for yourself along this journey, including S = support, A = affirmations, F = areas of focus, and E = sources of encouragement. Together, these four quadrants spell out the word “SAFE,” and as your coach throughout this workbook, I’ll frequently remind you to USE your Shield of Safety when the process gets tough—which again, if your recovery’s anything like mine? You’ll have your fair share of days that aren’t easy.

Having customized your Shield of Safety, Facing Heartbreak digs deep into the good stuff, with Chapter Two, entitled “Manage The Crisis.” And here we find one of the next things I love so much about Facing Heartbreak: this workbook has its priorities straight! In the interest of establishing safety and stability in facing the trauma induced by our loved one’s sexual betrayal, “managing the crisis” is all about BOUNDARIES—the limits we conclude are absolutely necessary to protect ourselves within our relationships: emotionally, physically, sexually and environmentally.

This chapter provides a straightforward process for each area of self-protective boundaries, including the challenge of defining consequences (or as I prefer to call them, “responsive actions”) in the event that these boundaries are violated by our intimate partners. In addition to managing our crisis through self-protective boundaries, this chapter also addresses the important topic of what, when and how much to tell others, regarding the sexual betrayal and our subsequent trauma. Readers are prompted to create a detailed communication plan, one that honors our need for safety and privacy, balancing that with concurrent needs for support and community.

As you might imagine, both these areas of crisis management lend themselves to particular challenges. So I’m gonna tell you something I’d tell you even if I WASN’T a betrayal trauma recovery coach: self-care boundaries—including boundaries that determine what, when and how much to tell others—is NOT an area most women successfully navigate all by themselves. I certainly couldn’t, back when I was new to this whole overwhelming experience!

Which makes Chapter Two a prime example of something you’ll get from me as your BTR coach through this workbook: I’ll provide as much back and forth Q+A as you NEED while drafting your own unique boundaries; you won’t need to face one single element of it without my training, experience and support to back you up.

Discovering The Behaviors Related To Abuse: Lying, Porn Use, Sex Addiction, Gaslighting, And Narcissistic Behaviors

Chapter Three: “How To Deal with the Emotional Aftershock” tends to get heavy. In this section, we come face-to-face with some of our most painful “aha” moments, and we highlight some of our most significant and retrospective hindsights, through exercises that help us to identify our guys’ deceptions, manipulations, gaslighting and other forms of relational and psychological abuse.

Together, we document our discoveries, record a chronological timeline of memorable events, make an inventory of losses we’ve suffered as the result of sexual betrayal, and envision making peace with the pain of those specific losses.

We spend time learning to distinguish anger from other emotions, and we explore features of shame, denial, distraction and emotional numbness. Finally, we each write a personal letter expressing the weight of our unfiltered feelings toward porn and sex addiction—and trust me when I tell you that this letter is, without question, one of the most productive and empowering exercises many women in trauma have ever experienced.

As the coach for this group, I’ll have your back each step of the way; I’ll hold space FOR YOU as YOU hold space for your own “sometimes fierce, yet sometimes fragile” selves.

Healing From Betrayal Trauma Takes Support

Now at this point, I have a theory about something: Having made it through the intense “emotional aftershock” work of Chapter Three? I think the authors of Facing Heartbreak did us a favor and gave us a much needed break from staring down our own emotional overwhelm.

Because in Chapter Four, we shift gears a bit, turning our attention to the chapter entitled, “The Nature of Sex Addiction.” Up to this point, while we have—very appropriately, I might add—prioritized the ways our guys’ compulsive and problematic sexual behaviors have impacted US, we pivot here, for a few compassionate moments, to better understand how sex addiction impacts THEM.

This is our chance to explore several common preconceptions about sex addiction, including statements like, “It doesn’t exist,” and “If he cheated, he’s automatically a sex addict,” or “Every sex addict was molested as a child.”

We share about the ways we may (or may not) recognize factors that contributed to our guys’ problematic sexual behavior, including issues like gender abuse, childhood trauma, sexual exposure or other kinds of unhealthy influences.

In Chapter Five, we come back to us, and this chapter is a favorite for many women, as we begin to explore the section entitled, “How to Communicate our Feelings”—in this case, within a relationship wounded by sexual betrayal. First, we identify some of the unspoken rules from childhood—and while those issues are NOT the cause of our betrayal trauma, understanding them goes a LONG way toward helping us communicate our pain within our wounded intimate relationships.

Equipped with newfound keys to initiate productive and empowered communication—even about our most dreaded “hot button topics”—we close Chapter 5 by writing an Emotional Impact Letter to the addict himself.

Much as we a letter to sex addiction in Chapter Three, this statement invites us to articulate the depth, severity and specificity of our betrayal trauma. Facing Heartbreak prompts us to describe the thoughts, feelings, pain and fear we’ve suffered since discovery, including the cumulative loss of our emotional, sexual, relational and spiritual safety.

In some cases, women do either read or deliver their Emotional Impact Letter to their sexually addicted loved ones. In other cases, women choose not to communicate the content of their letters—instead, they consider it an “inside only” job, choosing to retain the value, effort and personal affirmation they’ve poured into that letter for themselves, close and safe at heart.

And this is when I invite participants to pause to take a VERY deep breath… or two… or three. Because having written that emotional impact statement? Most of us feel like we’ve let some serious trauma weight roll off of our shoulders—which makes it an ideal time to stretch, to reach, to reorient and to breathe again, often for the first time in a very long time.

By this point in the book, we’ve only got one month left in our 4-month Facing Heartbreak coaching group, as we move into Chapter Six, the one entitled, “Make Empowered Choices” This chapter is one of my personal favorites, as it encourages us to take ownership of any issues or coping mechanisms that may actually be harming us more than they’re helping us.

Several tools and exercises invite us to deeper levels of self-awareness, and self-introspection—and it’s within this chapter we refresh our opening themes of self-care, self-focus and self-support. Encircled and empowered by one another, we even tiptoe—slowly—into the topic of forgiveness, in conjunction with ownership, restoration, growth and empathy.

Just FYI… at this point, you probably want to keep taking those deep cleansing breaths… because here we come to Chapter Seven, the one entitled “Reclaim Your Sexuality”—and the like other deeply challenging, intimidating and sensitive themes, Facing Heartbreak handles this one beautifully.

With yet another series of simple self-assessments, we women are invited to reflect upon our own awareness of sexual hurt, sexual health and sexual hope. This chapter prompts us to ask questions like, “If your body could speak to you, what would it say?” and “What parts of my own sexuality do I want to heal and explore in the future?”

Like other parts of this book, this topic isn’t easy or automatic for most of us. However, in the company by other women, asking the same difficult personal questions? We find it’s exponentially easier than it would be if we were having this conversation in isolation, all alone.

Releasing The Pain Of Betrayal Trauma

Which brings us to the Eighth and Final Chapter of Facing Heartbreak, the one entitled “Choosing Your Next Steps.” As we cross this finish line, representing four whole months of deep inner work? This is where our communal efforts become undeniably and expressively obvious. Together, we plan a special, ceremonial, virtual “workbook burning party.” (Don’t worry, you can totally keep yours intact if you want to!)

But bottom line, we pause to stop the spirit of companionship and sisterhood that’s escorted us through this journey, and we communally vow to pay it forward—forward into the future of our own yet-unlived lives. We celebrate by leveraging the confidence we’ve developed from facing our heartbreak together, putting it to work on behalf of our own BRAVE and beautiful SELVES.

Click here for more information about my individual sessions on grief.

Surviving & Thriving Through Divorce

Surviving & Thriving Through Divorce

12 Sessions, includes original materials
Led by Coach Rae
The group will start as soon as it fills.
Limited to 6 participants (minimum 3)

Surviving & Thriving Through Divorce is a four-month program for any woman whose marriage does NOT survive the trauma of sexual betrayal. Unlike other programs that support all partners of sex addicts (regardless of their relationship status), this group focuses exclusively on the needs of divorced, divorcing and separated women. With advanced training in grief and divorce recovery coaching, Coach Rae seeks to help women heal from the multi-layered impact of this experience: first, from the underlying horror of betrayal trauma, then from the secondary (sometimes deeper) trauma of divorce itself.

During our safe and supportive group sessions, participants will utilize original material written by Coach Rae, to address 12 key topics of divorce recovery for partners of sex and pornography addicts, including:

  • Discovery Day: The beginning of the end
  • Decision = The “D” Word: How did I decide to divorce?
  • Disintegration: How do I now relate to my ex husband?
  • Detailing the Damage: What have I lost in this whole experience?
  • Death Spiral: How am I experiencing grief in response to my divorce?
  • Divorcing Homes, Divided Hearts: How is this divorce affecting my family and social relationships?
  • Does Divorce Equal Failure? If my marriage failed, what does that say about me?
  • Deconstructing Sex, Intimacy and Womanhood
  • Date Night? Where am I at with the idea of future romance?
  • Discovering Me—Who Am I, Anyway? What’s my identity in the aftermath of this experience?
  • Designing Our New Lives: What kind of post-divorce life do I want?
  • Declaration Day: How will I say goodbye to my once-married life?

For more details, email Coach Rae at rae@btr.org.


I’m Anne. If you’re wondering who I am and why I do this, I’m just a regular woman who is recovering from her ex-husband’s sexual addictions and related emotional and physical abuse, and subsequent abandonment and divorce.

Coach Rae is here today to talk about what it takes to thrive before and during a divorce from a sex addict.

Divorce Does Not Cure Betrayal Trauma

When we discuss a topic like divorce, I need to pause and say something that is really important to me. Here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’re very supportive of marriage. We do not want to suggest that divorce is a way to solve or resolve or heal from betrayal trauma. On the contrary, we know that some relationships do recover and we proudly support sheroes who experience healing within safe and stable relationships.

We also know that some relationships do not recover for a variety of reasons. We are equally as proud to support those sheroes who heal from separation and divorce.

Anne: Coach Rae, as you interact with women who are both in relationships of divorce or are divorcing, how do you see the trauma expressed in both of these situations?

Coach Rae: What I have concluded, Anne, in working with women who are in relationships and those who are healing from the aftermath of a relationship, is that it is an equal but opposite proposal–so there is healing to be done, regardless. Some women are able and successful due to some circumstances not in their control to heal within their relationship.

The reality is that women who do this healing for their own sake whether they are in a relationship or outside it, it is still healing and trauma and requires a great deal of support from others along the way.

Anne: What are the three most common challenges women have in dealing with the trauma during and after a divorce from a sex addict?

Coach Rae: Without a doubt, the number one most common challenge I encounter with the women I work with is grief. Grief is a really enormous issue. It’s multi-faceted. It’s complicated. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce involves a lot of grief. Divorce by itself is an independent trauma. So when you take the trauma related to a divorce and layer it upon sexual betrayal trauma, it further complicates the ways that grief can and does show up in any given woman’s life.

One of the things I mention when talk about grief and divorce, even with those who are anticipating or who have initiated divorce, or in situations where divorce is the healthiest option available, that divorce or end of marriage can feel like an amputation – a part is cut off; even if it’s a choice or a situation that you may know will save your life, it’s still bleeding, it’s still hemorrhaging . . . you may have needed it to save your life, but you know that it is still going to include major life changes and major impact; it’s going to change your life no matter how you look at it.

One of the things I often tell women is that when you know someone is dying, you can predict or figure out how you think you will feel when that person is gone. Ultimately, however, you don’t know how you will feel until it actually happens. It is similar with grief and divorce. You may anticipate what it might be like to go through it. Dealing with this in addition to all of the transitions you are going through with a divorce can be, without question, one of the most difficult things women face as they go through a divorce.

Another one is that everything is in a state of transition: relationships are changing; roles in relationship with others are changing; the boundaries that define and function in these relationships are changing. This is another thing that women don’t necessarily anticipate.

For example, if a woman who has reached a point of divorce, either through his choice or hers, and she has done a lot of recovery up to this point, if you take a topic such as boundaries and she already knows how to set boundaries with her husband, now she has to take a look at the relationship and figure out what boundaries look like in regard to her now ex-husband.

The third biggest challenge – which actually makes me cry the most because it is so incredibly hard, yet such an incredible breakthrough when a woman actually exercises this on her own – is self care. We discuss self care a lot in these circles, whether it is women healing in a divorce or in a relationship and it is difficult in all circumstances.

However, it becomes more challenging during the process of a woman extricating herself from a sex or porn addict. The additional financial strain and work and parenting stress are increased, while at the same time reducing the opportunity for self care. I find that women need to be really strategic and intentional when it comes to making this a priority. Sometimes we have to learn it the hard way. I remember during my own divorce 15 years ago and how I was burning the candle at both ends.

Even though I didn’t have kids, I was working full time and going to art school full time and I was completely and utterly exhausted. My wake up call that finally got through to me and made me realize that self care was no longer an option was when I ran a red light and stopped within inches of broadsiding a van full of kids. I realized that burning the candle at both ends might have felt valiant and successful, but there was a high cost coming with it as well. So self care has no substitute and a lot of women struggle with it.

Anne: I’m struggling with this the most, in addition to the financial stresses. All of these things you mention – the grief, the changing of roles in becoming a single mom – I have definitely experienced them.

What Betrayal Trauma Symptoms Do You Experience?

To our readers, what trauma have you been experiencing in relation to your separation or divorce? What is the most surprising thing and what is the worse thing? Please go comment on the bottom of this post. Tell us about anonymously your experience. We would appreciate you sharing things that maybe you are embarrassed to share, such as: do you miss your abusive husband?

Other things that are socially unacceptable such as something like people expected me to be relieved when my divorce was final because I had experienced abuse, but I was not relieved at all. I was extremely grief stricken because my ex had not made different choices. I was sad for him, for me, and for our children. I would really appreciate your feelings and thoughts about what you are going through with this.

Rae, how can women find some degree of peace even during a divorce process, as opposed to thinking that healing will only come after or as a result of the divorce?

Coach Rae: One of the things I really encourage women to do is to accept whatever emotions come up in them as authentically and in-the-moment as they can. Divorce is a huge learning curve – a dizzying curve that goes so fast there isn’t time to catch up or keep up. Emotions have an odd way of creeping up at less than ideal times! Remember how I just spoke about grief being unpredictable?

When I was going through my divorce I remember one moment when I felt more grief – pure sadness and loss – than at any other time. It was the moment when I found an email that his then-girlfriend sent to him saying she was going to call him the next morning at 7:00AM to wake him up. Somehow I had given all of my crap that I had found about his hidden sexual life less emotion than finding this little, silly, everyday intimate exchange.

This has been a good example to me of realizing that something so “small” compared to the bigger things still needed to be felt. I needed to feel all of the emotions. My advice in helping women through a divorce instead of waiting until the end is that whatever you are feeling, when it comes up, there is probably a reason you are feeling it in that capacity, in that moment. It is probably far more normal and healthy than you may tell yourself. Divorce is full of tough stuff. It’s full of tough challenges.

When those tough things happen, no matter how tough it is, put on your big girl panties, stare it down with whatever support network you need to make it happen, and get it done and then celebrate! Holding your own in court, finding a job that will pay you well enough, moving a dead rat from the garage – whatever it is, make it happen! Just yesterday one of the women posted a story that I got her permission to share with you. It really exemplified this in my mind.

She wrote: “I did something I detest this morning. It’s the worst chore in the universe and I didn’t ask for help! I cleaned my hair out of the shower drain! It was nasty, wet, and smelled like rotting sulfur. I almost puked repeatedly. Maybe I’ll be okay without a man to do the gross things for me.”

I think this crystalized how good women really are at surviving and thriving through this yucky, tough stuff, and maybe we have less reason to be afraid of those things than we might think. The last thing that may have a little different manifestation for everyone is understanding that a key to getting through a divorce and healing through the process is leaning on whatever degree or form of spiritual connection and support you possibly can.

Just as divorce is a time when we have to learn to do so much new on our own, by ourselves and for ourselves, it is also a time to learn to lean on others in ways we have not before. Going back to my divorce, I know there is no way in the world I could do it without feeling supported by God, without believing that despite the incredibly intense pain I was feeling, I knew that someone bigger and stronger was taking care of me and would make sure I would survive the experience.

During my divorce I remember watching a movie with a mom and young child who had been living with child’s dad who was a drug addict and dealer. It was a very unhealthy situation. The mom was pulling the kid out of the home and taking him away so he would not be exposed to all of the dad’s stuff.

The poor little kid was screaming bloody murder as the mom was pulling him from the home and putting him in the car. All he knew was that he was being taken away from his daddy. He was yelling and crying and kicking at his mom. I remember watching this movie when I was in the middle of my own brutal and excruciating pain and feeling like this little kid. I was so stirred up by all of the hurt. The only thing that really made me tolerate all of this was that I had someone like that mom–someone who was looking out for me and actually doing what was in my best interest even if it felt so completely, totally wrong to me at the time.

Anne: That example hits the nail on the head for me. In fact, the past even three days, I have been telling God that I want to listen to what he has to say, that I love Him, that I want to do what you want, but why aren’t you listening to ME? Your story is one I can use. Thank you for sharing it.

Luckily in my experience I have been able to have a lot of support.

How Does A Support Group During & After Divorce Help Women Deal With Betrayal Trauma?

Coach Rae: When dealing with betrayal trauma, medical research proves that for trauma survivors to speak openly, and in many cases, over and over, actually helps to repair the very real psychological and physiological injury the brain sustains due to the trauma it has experienced. When we bring these women together in these small groups of 3-5 women, it is safe.

We invite them to have focused time, space, and attention to give them the opportunity to share their experiences. It is a unique combination in divorce recovery of letting go of the old and letting in the new. Sometimes this feels like it’s going to split a person in two, in opposite directions.

But within this small group environment, that experience of amputation–like something has been cut off and life is different and hemorrhaging from what it used to be–serves to stop the hemorrhaging. The healing is cohesive and communal. Ultimately, it puts power back into the hands of women who are truly trauma survivors and allows them to navigate the divorce process within a safe, structured community of survivors. There is really no better way to heal from the experience of betrayal trauma or divorce trauma.

I’m so happy women are getting the help they need through this coaching group. Our next Surviving and Thriving Through Divorce group begins April 11, 2017. We only have one spot left.

Coach Rae, after a woman register for BTR Surviving and Thriving Through Divorce Group, what happens next? Is there a particular structure and what topics do you cover?

Coach Rae: Over the course of four months we cover 12 topics related to the experience of divorce or separation from a sex or porn addict. I won’t go into a lot of detail because they are listed on the BTR website. Within each 2-hour session, I make sure that in addition to having a designated topic for that night, we build in time to get to know each other’s lives and experience to give women a chance to ask a variety of questions.

A lot can and does happen throughout a divorce and it’s important to be able to give updates or share developments and checkins. We ask and answer questions like, “What is one boundary I have honored this week” or “What is one risk I have taken this week?” or “How have I enjoyed my singleness this week?” or “What is one sign of healing I have observed in myself?” or “What is one vision of my future I have explored this week?”

Through these conversations in addition to our topic, we make commitments to one another for things like self care and action steps that actually help us move through the process instead of sitting in the grief. One thing that is my favorite at the end of my individual and group coaching is asking each woman to complete this sentence: On the topic of ___________, I’m proud of myself for______________.

We end each session knowing we dove deeply into things that may have been uncomfortable, perhaps intense, and that may have really stretched someone is important because it helps women to recognize that within a particular area there is something that they can be proud about.

Anne: Is being divorced any easier than being married? I think people look at sex addiction in one of two extremes: you need to get divorced or stay married and ignore it. I personally have felt more comfortable in the middle, setting healthy boundaries and waiting to see what my spouse would do because I believe in marriage and I had no intention or desire for divorce. What are your thoughts? Does divorce stop the hurting?

When those papers are signed, how was it for you? For me, betrayal trauma was pretty the same before and after the papers were signed. In fact, in some ways the trauma got worse so I knew that divorce in and of itself was not the solution to my trauma.

However, I did know my no-contact boundary was super important for my healing. I needed to stop the trauma from happening in order to heal but the trauma never stopped. It kept coming every time I had an interaction with him it was another traumatizing event–where he was abusing me, withholding money, blaming me, claiming he was the victim. Because I held the no-contact boundary I was able to see him for who he really is.

If this website, podcast, articles are helpful to you, please donate $10 to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, so that we can continue to bring you helpful information.

If you’d like to schedule a Support Call with Coach Rae or any of our other coaches, click here.

For our Betrayal Trauma Support Group schedule, click here

An Exercise To Quiet Your Self-Defeating Inner Dialogue

An Exercise To Quiet Your Self-Defeating Inner Dialogue

I’m Coach Rae, one of the APSATS certified partner coaches here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. I’m also a certified professional life coach, couples relationship coach, and divorce recovery coach. I want to share with you one of my favorite tools for helping women who are just too hard on themselves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meet too many women who do not struggle with this to one degree or perhaps in a specific area of their lives. The belief is that they aren’t good enough; my best isn’t good enough; I’m screwing everything up; I can’t hack this; I must be a failure.

Self Care When Triggered By Betrayal Trauma

As a coach, nothing makes me want to cry more than watching these amazing, brave, beautiful, smart women reeling from betrayal trauma, trying to heal while holding all the rest of their lives together, beating themselves up for not doing better, for not doing as well as they think they should, for not being perfect, for having a learning curve when it comes to all of this.  Whenever I speak to women on this topic I have to add a little bit of a clarification that this sense of self-condemnation is not one more thing you are doing right.  It is actually a sign that you are able to observe what is happening and it gives you some leverage and momentum in terms of being able to turn the tables or shift and re-frame things in a way that instead of being self critical you can actually be self compassionate and self supportive.

Here is the exercise.  I recommend listening through as I describe it here first, before actually sitting down to do the exercise for yourself in real time.  This will increase you chances of making this a meaningful and genuine distraction-free exercise at your own pace and in your comfort zone.  

The first thing to do is to get as calm as possible.  This usually means taking a few deep breaths and shaking off some of the voices or gremlins we have been talking about here.  From this place of calm, picture as clearing as possible in your mind a woman whom you love dearly.  This can be a friend, a sister, a mother, a daughter or maybe someone who has helped you through your experience of betrayal trauma.  From this place of clarity, picture this woman carrying on her body`–on her shoulders or arms or back–all of the collective weight, the cumulative stress that you have been carrying in your own life.  For some women it is easy to think about what has been stressing them out today or what they have been carrying this week.  

For other women, it is helpful to telescope it out further – what has happened in the past month or year – and envision the bulk of this weighing on the shoulders or back or crowding the arms of your dear friend.  Imagine what it would feel like for her to go through everything you yourself is going through.  Imagine that you catch her out of the corner of your eye and you turn to face her as you think about the things that you would and would not say to this woman.  Chances are if this is someone you love you would not say things to her like, “You’re a failure,” or “You just can’t cut it,” or “You’re pathetic,” or “You did it again.  Look where you got yourself.  This is all your fault.”

How To Quiet Self Defeating Thoughts

Instead, think about–and some women find it helpful to write down the things you would say to her instead of those things.  Maybe you would say to her, “I see you and I see your burdens and I see your hurts.”  Maybe you tell her, “I care about you.  I’m on your side.  I have your back and you don’t have to do any of this alone.”  Maybe you would tell her, “Let me share some of this burden for awhile so you can catch your breath.  When you are ready, you can take it back and deal with it then.”  Maybe you tell her, “I believe in you.  I won’t give up on you.  You are so strong.”  Maybe it’s, “You don’t have to be strong forever.  You don’t need to be perfect.  I’m going to love you no matter how this whole things shakes out.”  Maybe you say, “Let’s not talk about this stuff for a little while.  Let’s take a minute to set it aside and give ourselves a self-care break and laugh about something completely meaningless or silly.”  

Whatever messages you come up with for your friend, try to make them as meaningful, as personal, as substantive as possible.  Ultimately, these messages you are crafting for your friend typically reflect exactly the things you need to hear in your own soul, given that you are the one actually carrying all of this weight upon your own body and your own soul.  

When you are doing this exercise, take a few more deep breaths and just sit with the reality of this and how it impacts you to think about everything you are carrying and everything inside that you are deeply craving and wanting and needing to hear.  As the final step in this exercise, speak out loud (it may feel hokey; it does for me!) with your own voice what you need to hear with your own ears and absorb with your own soul.  See if you experience some kind of shift–a sense of well being that perhaps you are doing better than you are giving yourself credit for.  Maybe you have everything it takes to get through this experience in a far better and more successful way than you think you can.  

Even though I don’t have a lot of time to talk about it right now,  I would love to continue this conversation with you.  You can leave me a comment or email me at rae@btr.org.  Let me know if this works for you.  Are you facing any unexpected roadblocks with the process?  Or maybe you are being hard on yourself in ways that an exercise like this just does not conquer.  If you prefer a more personal dialogue on this topic, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with myself or any of the other BTR coaches.  We can get really specific and strategize some solutions for your specific kinds of self-condemnation and the things that might be sabotaging your attempts to heal from betrayal trauma.

As I wrap up, let me say thank you for giving me a voice in this forum and inviting me into this part of your life and your healing process.  I really do hope it has been helpful.  I feel like I have done my job today if you are taking away a little bit more hope than you had before, a little more self confidence that maybe you can start talking back to all of these voices and giving them a different tone and a different role and a different kind of input into your life and recovery.

I believe you can do it!  I hope you believe you can do it.  Most importantly, i hope you know that you do not have to do any of this by yourself.  That is what support is for.  This is why we all need support along this journey.  This is my desire for you as you continue healing from betrayal trauma.

For more assistance learning recovery tools, schedule a call with Coach Rae or any one of our APSATS coaches.

I’m Broken. I’m Exhausted. And I Don’t Know What to Do.

I’m Broken. I’m Exhausted. And I Don’t Know What to Do.

Sometimes, even the most heroic of women finds herself hitting that dreaded “rock bottom.”  You know the one—that moment where our best attempts at healing have flat-out FAILED, hope is at an all-time LOW, and we’re hijacked somewhere between desperate (“Please throw me a life vest!”) and dead inside (“I honestly don’t care anymore.”) Life as we’ve known it implodes or explodes, and we truly don’t know how to salvage ourselves from beneath the wreckage. 

All we really DO know is this: SOMETHING. MUST. CHANGE. 

The survival of our hearts and souls depend upon it.

So, Then What?

For women reeling from the trauma of sex addiction, “rock bottom” can be the darkest, most horrific moment of our lives. Yet for those of us who survive that moment of despair? It can morph, with breathtaking momentum, into a life we honestly didn’t even know was ours for the taking.

Because I don’t believe in gracious little soundbites (at least not without the guts to back them up), here’s a little glimpse into my own “rock bottom” story. I wrote this in my journal two years ago, on the eve my 9-year recovery “birthday.” It’s an intimate little piece of my most private experience, but honored to share it here with my BTR sisters… even though I still can’t read it without crying. 

July 21, 2015

Before recovery, I thought I understood the concept of “hitting bottom.” At the very least, I’d watched it happen to addicts on television. Wasn’t “hitting bottom” the point where addicts lost their grip on everything that mattered, when life no longer felt worth living?

As the partner of a recovering sex addict, it took two years of excruciating efforts for me to reach my very own “rock bottom” moment. By the time I did, I desperately needed to STOP banging my head against a concrete wall, one emblazoned with slogans like “Please be honest,” and “Just say no!” I needed to stop bruising my hands black-and-blue, trying to squeeze water from a granite rock, one inscribed with seductive phrases like “I wish you would,” and “If only you could.” And just as addicts need to get desperate enough to fight for their recovery, willing to do anything it takes to get sober, that’s precisely what I needed, too: I needed to get desperate for my own healing, willing to do anything it took to change the way I was living.

After two years of forcing my marriage (unsuccessfully) to become what I wanted, I finally released my iron grip (no joke) and whispered these words to into the universe:

“Okay. You win. I’m done. I give up. I’m willing to stop trying to fix this marriage, my-way-or-no-way, against prevailing odds. I’m scared to death about whatever comes next, but I’m going to let go and let You take over. I’ll work with whatever marriage You have in mind for me, not the one I’ve been fighting so hard to make happen. I’m even willing to leave this marriage, (God, this is killing me), if that’s the ultimate solution to this mess that I’m living. In the meantime, I’m a wreck. I’m broken. I’m exhausted. And I really, really, really don’t know what to do.”

With that whispered prayer, I confronted my deepest fears about the war I’d been waging: I faced my dread that somehow, despite my best efforts, I could end up with another divorce on my record, withering at the end of a second failed marriage.

That was my bottom. Yes, it was awful. And no, I honestly DIDN’T know what would happen next.

Years later, as I look back on that day, I’m choking back tears all over again. I pause for a moment to honor the guts I poured into those whispered words, the vulnerability I scraped from the deepest part of my little-girl soul.

That night, seven years ago, I cried because I thought my marriage was over. 

Tonight, I’m crying because it wasn’t.

I’m minutes away from midnight, on the eve of my recovery birthday. I’m feeling more emotional than usual, as a decade of memories hover around the glow of my laptop. It feels good to write about recovery on this occasion, wrapped within the comfort of hindsight and reflection. Here in the dark, amidst this chorus of crickets, I realize that I’m waiting for the clock to strike twelve. This may sound silly, but I want to be the first person to wish me “Happy Birthday.” It might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but I WANT that meaningful moment to remember, just between me, myself and I.

Because, after all, who else really understands what it took to get here?

Are you hitting your own rock bottom? 
You’re not alone, sister! Most of us need HELP to rise from that moment of meltdown—to stare down the darkness, talk back to the trauma, and overcome the fear that’s been holding us hostage. For us as women, seeking support is NOT a sign of failure or weakness—it’s actually one of the most beautiful, courageous and empowering steps we can take.

Here at BTR, our coaches understand the “guts and grace” reality of hitting rock bottom, and we strive to help you make this pain COUNT.

Have you already risen from your own rock bottom? Click here to schedule a support call

I’d love to hear more! Please share your story in the comments below, or email me at rae@btr.org.

How Do I Protect & Heal My Children From My Husband’s Abuse?

How Do I Protect & Heal My Children From My Husband’s Abuse?

How Do I Protect & Heal My Children?
3 Hour Class
Led by Coach Rae
REGISTER – Saturday 3PM Eastern (USA) – March 17, 2018
Limited to 12 participants (minimum 6)

For most women reeling from the trauma of sexual betrayal, one concern tends to rise above the rest: “How can I protect and heal my children from the impact of what’s happening?” The good news is, you’re not alone in your question. The better news is, we’ll help you find answers!

During this highly-interactive group session, join Coach Rae and special guest Dr. Jill Manning for a three-part exploration on this important topic:

  • First, as an experienced marriage and family therapist, one who specializes in treating betrayal trauma in partners of sex addicts, Dr. Manning will introduce the primary factors involved in creating a safe and healing environment for children in the aftermath of sexual betrayal.
  • Next, you’ll be invited to ask YOUR specific questions, scenarios that relate to your unique family dynamics. During this process, you’ll also listen and learn from other women living in similar situations. 
  • Finally, Coach Rae will close with 30-60 minutes of group coaching time, designed to help you identify your individual takeaways and goals moving forward—action steps to integrate the information and awareness you’ve received from Dr. Manning.

Originally designed for women whose relationships DON’T survive the impact of addiction and abuse, “How Can I Protect & Heal My Children?” is also appropriate for women who are healing within their recovering relationships.

Here are some of the questions commonly asked by women in this support group:

  • What if my kids are exposed to porn while they’re with my husband or ex-husband? How can I prevent this from happening in the first place?
  • My children are misbehaving in ways they didn’t before discovering my husband’s addiction. Are those two things related? And if so, how do I deal with that?
  • As a mother, I know what my kids need to heal from this family trauma. The problem is, my husband or ex-husband disagrees completely, which has resulted in even more conflict. How can I convince him, or what if I can’t?
  • Are my requests on this topic reasonable, or am I overreacting? Are my expectations realistic? What boundaries are appropriate under these circumstances?
  • Should my kids be in therapy? If so, how do I choose the right therapist?
  • I can’t afford specialized help for my family. Is any family counseling better than none at all?
  • My partner blames me for our separation and/or divorce—because I’m the one who finally said, “enough is enough.” Now, he’s telling the kids that I’m the reason our family isn’t together. How do I deal with that?
  • Though my husband is no longer acting out sexually, his attitudes toward me are still very abusive. How can I protect my children from internalizing this example of marriage and family?
  • I hate that my kids have been hurt by their father’s actions and my responses to it. How can help them heal from this family trauma?

For more details, email Coach Rae at rae@btr.org

Healing & Growing Through Grief

Healing & Growing Through Grief

Healing & Growing Through Grief
2 Hour Class
Led by Coach Rae 
REGISTER – Saturday 1PM Eastern (USA)
The group will start as soon as it fills. 
Limited to 12 participants (minimum 6)

For women reeling from sexual betrayal, grief is a frightening, confusing and unpredictable process. Grief involves “feeling our way” through the evolution of its pain and trauma, facing losses that are immeasurable, irreversible and indeterminate. Some women heal alone in the aftermath of relationships that don’t survive, while others seek to heal in close proximity to their sexually addicted loved ones. Both realities create complex internal and interpersonal dynamics—the kind that can be difficult (sometimes impossible) to navigate alone.

The good news is, you are NOT alone! In this group, Healing and Growing through Grief, Coach Rae will explain why sexual and relational abandonment triggers such an acute and unique grieving process, teaching participants to:

  • Recognize and identify a grief response when it happens, using the unique and effective “SWIRL” model—along with its easy-to-remember visual and verbal cues.
  • Utilize this recognition to (a) improve self-awareness, (b) increase self-compassion, (c) accelerate your healing from sexual/relational abandonment, and (d) advance the process of resolving your betrayal trauma.
  • Initiate a SAFE, strategic plan for detailing the damage, making peace (or making progress) with those losses, and engaging an intentional period of grief recovery. 
  • Learn to leverage your grief responses into an internal advantage, using them to motivate, fuel and facilitate deep, lasting and meaningful post-traumatic growth.

This group is designed to ask and answer YOUR tough questions about grief, grieving and betrayal trauma. Here are some popular questions asked by Coach Rae’s clients:

  • I think what I’m feeling is grief. But how do I know for sure? 
  • Are these feelings “normal?” Or am I overreacting?
  • Why do I miss him, even though he abused and abandoned me?
  • My husband, family and friends don’t get me. Am I resigned to grieve alone, invisible and isolated?
  • Am I strong enough to tolerate an intentional grief process or intensive grief retreat? 
  • What if I “open Pandora’s box” and discover I can’t survive what comes flooding out?
  • Is grieving necessary? What if I’m NOT grieving, but feel like I should be? 
  • Will grief actually help me? Or will I risk getting stuck in my pain from the past?
  • I thought I was done grieving! So why do I still get hit with these waves of it? 
  • I’m grieving, but not healing. Am I doing something wrong?
  • My grief is unpredictable, striking at the most confusing and  inconvenient times. How do I handle THAT?
  • Is grief recovery truly possible?
  • Is there a point when grief becomes unhealthy?
  • How do I grieve the bad stuff without losing the good stuff?
  • This pain feels like death, but it also feels different. What’s up with that?

After the group, you’ll leave with three of Coach Rae’s favorite takeaways:
    • Top Ten Tips for Healing and Growing through Grief
    • Top Ten Quotes about Loss, Grief and Healing
    • Top Ten Reasons Why Grief is a Good Thing—Even Though it Feels TERRIBLE!

Testimonials From Past Participants

“Coach Rae helped me realize how important it is for me to let myself feel all the emotions associated with the grieving process, including RAGE. I have denied myself that emotion for too long, and during this group, I finally gave myself permission to feel angry about my divorce and process that anger in healthy ways.” — Participant, Healing and Growing Through Grief

“Coach Rae’s group helped me to see a tunnel of light in my long journey toward healing after a heart-wrenching divorce. The grief tools she introduced are helping me to accept and process important emotions, including some I’ve needed to validate for a long time.” — Participant, Healing and Growing Through Grief

“You’re an angel to do such needed work. Thank you for your time and efforts. They are appreciated more than words can express. Again, thank you!” — Participant, Healing and Growing Through Grief

“Coach Rae’s coaching style brings compassion and love into a difficult environment. She is well-versed in the topics she presents and emphasizes safety as her foremost concern, providing practical tips and tools that allow me to grow, heal and move forward.” — Participant, Healing and Growing Through Grief

What To Expect From Betrayal Trauma Recovery Services

What To Expect From Betrayal Trauma Recovery Services

How Do The Coaching Sessions Work?

Betrayal Trauma coaching sessions are live, one-on-one calls with a trained APSATS coach.

All of the calls take place on Zoom – it’s an app you can download onto your phone. When you schedule, you’ll be emailed a link. At the appointed time, just click on that link. 

What To Expect From Your Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coaching Experience

The process of healing is a process. Many of us took years to understand that the conventional therapeutic approaches were not helping us. Our trauma was often exacerbated by the harmful advice of professionals who didn’t understand our situation. That’s why we’re here. Because when we were at the end of our rope and had nowhere else to turn, we found a model that works for us.

All of the coaches at Betrayal Trauma Recovery utilize the APSATS’ Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model (M-PTM), equipping us to support women through three distinct phases of healing from betrayal trauma. With this unifying foundation, we collaborate to provide our BTR clients with a sense of safety, consistency and predictability. 

So, what CAN you anticipate when working with any one of our BTR coaches?

In EVERY single session, expect your coach to:

  • Provide a safe space to process your trauma, experience compassion, and receive validation for everything you’re feeling and facing.
  • Help you regain your own strength, clarity and sense of direction.
  • Support you with absolutely NO AGENDA of her own—offering instead only patience, empathy, and tools to help you uncover your own truth, for your own sake.

In sessions during your first phase, Safety & Stabilization, expect your coach to help you:

  • Identify your most urgent needs.
  • Assess your network of “safe people,” those upon whom you can lean for support.
  • Work toward stabilizing your relationships, specifically in terms of emotional, mental, physical and sexual safety.
  • Learn techniques to ground yourself, especially during moments when your trauma is triggered.
  • Recognize your most frequent or significant triggers, then create healthy boundaries to remove, reduce or respond to them.

In sessions during your second phase of your recovery – the Grieving & Processing phase – expect your coach to help you:

  • Accept yourself and where you’re at within the process of grief and recovery.
  • Articulate the specific things you’ve lost, in relation to sexual abandonment, addiction and/or abusive behavior.
  • Recognize the different ways grief manifests within survivors of betrayal trauma.
  • Experience and process the pain in healthy (versus harmful) ways.
  • Leverage the grief to move yourself through the trauma and toward long-term healing.

In sessions during your third phase of your recovery – the Rebuilding & Reconnection phase – expect your coach to help you:

  • Reclaim parts of yourself you’ve lost through your experience of betrayal trauma
  • Reorient yourself within a new, post-traumatic reality
  • Reconnect with others—often in new ways, supported by new boundaries and new priorities
  • Rebuild the kind of life you want to live moving forward, with new convictions, purpose and passions.

Bottom line? WE GET IT. As women recovering from betrayal trauma, we balance a strong need for predictability (no more surprises, please!) with a sense of cautious openness to whatever comes next. That’s one of the reasons you can email any of our coaches. 

xoxo

Coach Sarah & Coach Rae

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