How Does 40 Years Of Painful Abuse & Betrayal Affect A Woman?

How Does 40 Years Of Painful Abuse & Betrayal Affect A Woman?

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I am honored to have a client on the podcast today. Her name is Florence. Florence is 75-years-old, and she has experienced a lot of trauma throughout her life, multiple, multiple times.

Florence: Thank you, Anne, it’s nice to be here. Thank you for having this organization, it’s something I wish I’d had 45 years ago.

Anne: Florence, I wanted to ask you, over the years, how has it change? How did you relate to it, say in your 30s or 40s or 50s? Did you try different things?

Florence: I have engaged several processes in trying to figure what was going on. I think this is, probably, one of the most challenging issues that a spouse can be called upon to deal with. I tell my husband, and everybody I know, that I’m everything I am today because of him, because I had to survive.

How Trauma Effects Functioning

Anne: How old were you, when you and your husband married?

Florence: I’ve been married forty-four years. I was introduced to his illness, but I didn’t know it was an illness, three days after we were married.

Anne: You were about 30 at the time?

Florence: Yes, in my early 30s. My first reaction was devastation and fear. Back in those days, women didn’t have the same options that they do today. I had just moved my two daughters and myself to a new location, where I had no friends and no associates and very little opportunity to find gainful employment to support myself. In doing so, I had cut off any support systems that I might’ve had, and I was really on my own.

Anne: Were you married before this?

Florence: I was.

Anne: You had children?

Florence: I was, I had two—

Anne: Okay, so you had two daughters coming into this marriage.

Betrayal Is A Form Of Abuse

Florence: They were five and eight. I went very deep into a place of trying to comprehend. I didn’t call myself a spiritual person at that time in my life. I did not have a religious persuasion, and I found myself searching. In order to do that, I did what I think a lot of people do, from what I’ve read, is that they explore with their spouse, trying to figure out what it is that their spouse is looking for and needing. Of course, that leads one into, probably, the darkest places on earth, because it’s a world of debauchery.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that that was not for me. I had to make a heartfelt decision and tell my husband that I could not live that kind of life with freedom of sex with other people and going to nudist camps and pornographic exhibitions. It was just not the right thing for me at all. It hurt my heart, it didn’t help my heart. He apologized and swore that he would never make those bad choices again, and we started over. Until the next time.

By the next time, I became aware of his activities, I knew enough to go for help. We both went through a lot of counseling. He was identified as a sex addict. That being said, there were not the organizations that there are today, like the SLAA, 12-Step programs. He went through a lot of one-on-one counseling, but it came trailing back in.

What Is The Abusive Cycle?

The problem was, I didn’t realize that he had regressed back to those activities. I only was experiencing the negative behavior and the abuse, which, after 20, 25, 30 years of marriage, you get to the point where you do your own thing, you make the best of it, and if somebody wants to be a damn fool and act like a child, let them be a damn fool and act like a damn child. You just can’t let your life be run by that, you know.

Anne: Did you know you were being abused, or did you just think of it as, “Oh, my husband’s—”

Florence: I knew I was being abused and I knew he was sick. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, because the last year has been a year of repeated difficulties and such a challenge. I remember back when my youngest daughter was 15-years-old, and she and I took a trip out west, when we visited a childhood friend of mine. He asked me face-to-face, “What’s wrong? You’re not right.” I said, “Well, my husband isn’t right, he’s sick.” I didn’t elaborate on it. How could I? I didn’t have the words for it.

How Does Abuse Stay Hidden?

I remember thinking many years later, the only people that I could tell that to were people that I’d known for a long time, who actually had some confidence in me, because I became aware of the fact that nobody would believe me. People will say, “Oh, he’s so charming,” “Oh, he’s such a sweet man.” He is, and he’s a beguiling, needful child.

What do you do, go out on the street and bang a drum, and say, “I’m being emotionally abused by a man who can’t show me love, or who can’t relate to me?” You can’t do that. Nobody will believe you, so you try to create wellness within a challenging situation. That’s what I did for years, until it all broke open. For the last ten years, I thought he had frontal temporal lobe disorder.

It makes the second time I’ve misdiagnosed him in my life. Obviously, I’m not much of a psychotherapist. Because of his anger, I felt that his actions were typical of frontotemporal lobe dementia. In fact, I actually got him to go to a neurologist. It was really embarrassing and a waste of time, “It’s not Alzheimer’s, I’m right, it’s frontal temporal lobe.” Well, I wasn’t right. Yeah, it’s very hard when you get older.

What Is Betrayal Trauma?

Things don’t work the way they used to, when sex isn’t what it was when you were kids. Every now and then, you get an opportunity to enjoy one another to some extent, and he gave me an STD. That was a rude awakening. He had been back to his old tricks. It took me four months to get him to come clean. He’s been in one-on-one therapy, and three SLAA meetings a week since then, of his own volition. He’s reading everything, voraciously, that he can on the subject. It’s better late than never, I guess.

Anne: Wow. For our listeners, I just want to talk about SLAA for a minute. What she’s referring to is called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. There are multiple different types of 12-step for sexaholism. There’s SLAA, there’s SA, there’s SAA, there’s SALifeline. I personally do SALifeline. Now that we’ve had this overview, it sounds like, in the beginning, the way that you dealt with it was you tried to meet his needs, and then, as you got older and it just kept happening and happening, you started detaching. How would you say your reactions to him are now? Right now, at 75 and him 80?

Florence: It’s been like a fast forward of an earlier movie of everything that ever occurred. I go in a circle. Some days I’m distraught and I’m in pain, and I feel sorry for myself. Then I go through days where I am so angry. Those are not bad days, because I let him have it. I tell him that he cannot sit there and put on the TV and not answer my questions that, after all, I’ve had all these years of going without. The least he can do is respond to me and pay attention.

How To Deal With Trauma And Abuse

I’m more demanding, and I don’t accept his disassociation. Some days, I feel like nothing’s ever happened, we’re the best friends that we’ve always been. It’s like a circular thing that goes around. I’ve been able to grapple with this, because now I can be honest with our friends and our family and everybody knows. The freedom to be honest and forthright makes it possible to handle and work with.

Anne: Absolutely. Without it, it’s impossible. Now that we’re in this different age, I’m 40, the first place we go, when we have something happen is we start searching for things online. We go to social media, “Let’s see, is there a group like this on Facebook?” What thoughts do you have about women who are starting to search for this and think about this five years after marriage, or ten years after marriage? If you could go back and talk to yourself?

Florence: You can’t help them. You can’t fix them. I made a very concerted decision many, many years ago. Considering the pain and the grief and the disappointment and the challenges, probably 10 years into the marriage, that marriage wasn’t just for me to feel comfortable and happy, it was a family. I was going to build a family out of the dregs of this mess, if it killed me. I think I did it.

Trauma Is Not Easy To Live With

Our children are very bonded, they laugh a lot. They say, “We don’t care what happens to the two of you, we’re bonded, and that’s it.” They spend holidays together and we had all the children and grandchildren with us for his 80th birthday last year. I feel very successful for that. It was in a different age. Today, there are avenues for healing, and that I think anybody who’s identified with this kind of illness needs to get to the best possible resources.

Anne: I agree with you. At the beginning of recovery, especially now that there’s so many resources, women are very excited, and their husbands are very excited like, “Oh, recovery is going to be awesome, it’s going to be amazing.” Then 5, 10 years down the road, it’s a lot harder than they thought, and not the easy way.

Florence: It never goes away, and you end up being the caregiver. This has been my counterargument to my husband and all of his attempts to heal himself, as it was really convenient now that you’re 80 and impotent, you made these choices to have a responsibility. That responsibility is to their partner and their families. As somebody who’s suffered from it my whole life, you can’t give me back the past 20 years.

How Connection Can Help With Trauma

I didn’t know you were doing this. I knew you were being a jerk, but if I had known he had gone back to illicit deviant sexual practices, I wouldn’t have stayed. I might’ve had the chance to build a life with someone who might’ve genuinely been able to care and show real regard. I miss that, and nobody can give that back to me. That’s where the anger comes from.

I was told by a lot of professionals, “Oh, you need counseling.” I tried that. I’m sure this isn’t true across all mental health professionals, but what I found was that most therapists are not equipped to deal with this kind of addiction. They tend to try to use their behavior modification, which they’ve learned in graduate school somewhere, “If you do this, then he’ll do that. If you do that.” It doesn’t work.

I went to four sessions with one therapist, and I just walked out. I said, “This isn’t good for me. I’m getting angry about this.” I quit going. I’ve also challenged my husband on the fact that the SLAA thing is very self-absorbing. They’re all involved with taking care of themselves and getting better and praise God. You know, it’s like, “Wait a minute, you’re still just thinking about yourself. First, it was sex, and now it’s your healing process. Where does that leave me?” It still leaves me on my own. It still leaves me wanting and wanting.

Why Abuse Is So Misunderstood

Anne: Florence joined the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club. When you found us, how did you feel?

Florence: It was good to know that I wasn’t alone. Most people just don’t get it. They think your husband’s a philanderer, of course they are, but there’s so much more to it than that. The best thing that’s happened to me in the last year is the ability to be honest, to speak my truth. I am still sad about the loss that I’ve had in my life.

There are people that have worse lives, and I’m not going to bemoan all the good things, but I think that people need to re-evaluate who they are and what they want. I do think that a lot of women, myself included, were raised with low expectations and low sense of self. We didn’t really know when we weren’t being treated well. We may have known it, but we didn’t think we had any right to do anything about it.

Anne: I appreciate you sharing your story. I’m so grateful that you found Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

What To Do For Betrayal Trauma

We have a checklist that I’ve been developing for a year, for women to know exactly what they need to do when they find out about porn. If they find porn on the computer, if they have an inkling of, “Maybe my husband is looking at porn, or maybe he’s having an affair,” or have an inkling of abuse, this checklist is intended to save women years and years of their life, to save women of going through that cycle of trying to figure out what’s going on, and put safety as their first priority, so they can get to safety immediately.

My life goal is to save women from years and years of pain and confusion. I want to get this checklist in the hands of every single woman all over the world, so that right when she suspects it, she knows exactly what to do.

Please plaster this all over the internet, put it on all your secret Facebook groups, let women know. At the end of January, we had almost 20,000 RSS subscribers. You are making BTR happen, thank you. It is changing lives. I’m so grateful for all of you who are part of this movement to create more peace and more happiness in this world. Until next week, stay safe out there.

Determined To Rise Above The Lies, Infidelity & Abuse

Determined To Rise Above The Lies, Infidelity & Abuse

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. Today, I have Sara Nye and Kelly Smith, two of the three co-founders of Determined to Rise, which is a non-profit that provides in-person retreats and events for women in trauma. We decided to officially partner with them, because our missions are very similar, but we do two different things. I’m really excited to have Sara and Kelly on the call with me today.

Anne: Sara, your first event was in Bear Lake, Utah. It was the fall of 2017. Can you tell me why you decided to start Determined to Rise?

Why Trauma-Informed Resources Are So Important
Sara: We decided to start Determined to Rise because we’d realized there weren’t really events out there for us that were as big as we wanted, as inclusive as we wanted, for the price point that we wanted, and with as many professional aspects as we wanted. We just felt like we might be able to do it better, and we thought we’d go ahead and give it a try.

Anne: I had three women from my local group here, that I meet with in person, go to your event, and they absolutely love it. That was my first inkling of, “Hey, I want to partner with these guys, because they do such a great job. Cali, what surprised you about the first event?

Cali: It surprised me that we were able to pull it off at such a large scale. We had so many women there. I think we had 82 women, and we were just three women trying to pull off this huge event. It surprised me that we were able to get the speakers that we did.

Why Are Connections With Other Trauma Survivors So Vital To Healing?
We got high caliber therapists and professionals. We were able to do crafts and meals. The connection that these women had with each other, was something that we wanted to create—not that it was surprising, but it was very rewarding to see those connections form.

Anne: I just want to add here that Sara and Cali are trauma survivors themselves. This is a retreat by trauma survivors for betrayal trauma survivors, who have experienced so many of the things that we all have experienced. Sara, what surprised you about the first retreat?

Sara: The thing that surprised me is I went into this retreat knowing that we were going to provide a lot of connection, a lot of fun, a lot of emotional processing, but what I didn’t expect was the lives that we were able to change. Some of these women I’m still in contact with, and they continue to update me on how their lives have changed since the retreat, how their confidence has grown, how they’ve been able to learn to implement boundaries in their lives, and how they feel better than ever. That’s not something I anticipated, that really surprised me.

How Seeing Others In Their Journeys of Healing Can Help Trauma Survivors
There was one woman, in particular, who almost didn’t come to the retreat. I actually had to talk to her three times on the phone, before the retreat, to calm some of her fears. Because it could be scary to put yourself out there and connect with strangers, but it’s so good. It was so good for everybody there. That’s what she said. She said, “You know, I came out of my shell, I showed up, and it changed my life.” I still talk to her all the time, and she’s just doing better and better and better.

She was actually chronically ill before the retreat, not able to walk. She had to have help to get around. Now she’s living on her own, she’s happy, she’s active again, she’s healthy. It tears me up a little every time I talk to her, because that’s something that, literally, changed somebody’s life for the better, and I didn’t expect that.

Anne: I love when women who have been through betrayal trauma and have been abused get together and feel the strength and the beauty that all of us have. For some reason, it just helps to see other women who are smart and beautiful and capable who have been through similar things and think, “Okay, this isn’t me. This is not my fault, and this is something that I can recover from.”

When Is The Upcoming Retreat For Determined To Rise?
Anne: Cali, tell me about the retreat you have planned for March.

Cali: In March, we have a big retreat planned down in Southern Utah, over by Zion’s National Park. We are currently having people enroll. It’s going to be on March 2nd through 4th. It’s called, “The Warrior Within You Retreat,” and we’re going to do things like self-defense classes and archery classes, different kinds of events to empower the warrior within each of us. We, again, have a high caliber of therapists and professionals coming—and we’re very excited.

Anne: If you don’t live in Utah, and you don’t know anything about Utah, you could fly into Salt Lake City, or you could fly into Las Vegas and rent a car. It’s about a three, four-hour drive from either place. Is that about right?

Sara: It’s about 3 hours and 15 minutes either direction, and we also have carpools available from both Salt Lake City, Idaho, Arizona, Las Vegas. We have a whole carpool page set up just for people to connect, who would like to ride together and share the gas.

Why Hearing From Trauma-Informed Specialists Can Be Helpful In Healing
Anne: That’s great. It’s also fun to get to know new people and play carpool karaoke.

Sara: There’s actually a 15-passenger van headed up from Arizona, so it’s going to be—that one’s going to be a fun one. Everything that is included includes lodging, food, all of the workshops, all of the classes, a T-shirt, a gift, a swag bag. We want to make sure that everybody feels just as included as everybody else at the events.

For what you’re getting for the price is amazing. These speakers are really great speakers. Geoff Steurer is our keynote speaker for this one coming up in March. He is one of the founders of the Southern Utah chapter of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. He was just so excited to come do that for us. He’s actually going to be staying the whole weekend, just to hang out with the women, and talk to them and give them guidance one-on-one, with no extra charge. That’s pretty big in and of itself.

Anne: I’ll be down there. We’re going to do a giveaway for an APSATS coaching session, so if you come make sure you enter!!

Why Empathy Is So Powerful In Healing From Trauma
Anne: Cali, for locals in Utah and, hopefully, for locals all over the country, eventually, Determined to Rise provides Self-Care nights.

Cali: We try to do one every other month or so. It’s just on a smaller scale. Rather than an overnight retreat, we do a self-care night at a smaller location or at someone’s home. We can just sit with each other, get to know each other, and connect. It’s a really good opportunity for people who don’t really have those connections to be able to come and make a friend, or talk to somebody, just put themselves out there.

It’s not necessarily all about recovery, or anything like that, it’s just about connecting with women who are more, or less, in your situation or can empathize with your situation. We’ve done things like Paint Night, where we’ve brought in someone to teach us how to paint a painting. We’ve done a Valentine’s Night. We’ve all come to someone’s house and just did a big game and treat night. We try to do these every other month, and they’re a really good experience for everybody. We’ve had a lot of really good feedback.

Why Having Women Who Understand You Is So Vital After Trauma
Anne: Even before you start thinking, “Okay, how am I going to recover from this?” just being around other women who you can be honest with, and they react appropriately. They give you a hug, they tell you they’re sorry, they’re not like, “Oh, really? What did you do?” “Oh, well, maybe if you lost a few pounds,” you know, some crazy thing that we’ve all heard from someone who wasn’t safe. We don’t say stuff like that, because we know what it’s like.

Cali: Yeah. I think, at the first retreat, that was the thing that was so powerful for me, was being around 80-something other women who just got it. I didn’t have to put on a mask, I didn’t have to pretend, I didn’t have to hold back, or try to be anybody that I wasn’t. I could just be myself. I could talk about the hard things, or I could not and it was okay, because they just understood either not wanting to talk, or wanting to share.

That synergy that you feel, when you’re surrounded by that many women who get it, it’s like a buzz of air. It was tangible. You could just feel this energy of belonging and connection and comfort. I’ve never felt it as any other way. It’s such an amazing feeling.

How Is Gaining Connections Helpful When Healing From Trauma And Betrayal?
Sara: I had a lot of women tell me that same thing, that just the feeling in the room, just being in that environment with so many women, was just so powerful to them.

I did want to add, too, our first two events have been in Utah, but we do want to branch out. The plan is to, eventually, be able to take this to everybody who needs it, to have it close enough that anybody who needs it can have it. If people have ideas about locations where there might be enough interest to do an event on this scale, they’re more than welcome to email us and start that conversation about where this is needed and how. Because that is the ultimate goal, is to be able to include everybody.

Anne: The website is determinedtorise.org. Sara’s email is available there, if you click on their Contact button. Those of you familiar with the podcast, when you go to their site, you’ll see that out podcast is on their site, because we provide two different resources for the same mission. We provide the coaching services, and support calls and support groups online, as well as a podcast and the transcription of the podcast on our website.

When Betrayal Trauma Feels So Hurtful, Having Empathy and Connections Can Help
We don’t do anything in person and Determined to Rise is providing that in-person real life, face-to-face, actual—you know, you can give someone a hug contact, which is also so important. If you’re interested in getting involved with that, please email Sara from their Contact page. Sara and Cali, thank you so much for being here today.

Anne: You’re welcome. I will see you guys soon, in March, I’ll be down there and I’m so grateful for all of the good work that you do with your non-profit. Women all over the world are doing such exciting things to help each other and, as we all get stronger, there is an army of healthy women. We’re going to change the world together, it’s really exciting.

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Why Reaching Out Helps So Much In Recovery From Betrayal Trauma
When I started Betrayal Trauma Recovery, I knew that all our service would be online, because women are so isolated. It’s so difficult to get out of the house because of childcare, or because of your location, or because of all kinds of different factors that make it very difficult for women in this situation to get out of their homes. I know you need in-person contact, but in the meantime, please join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club where we have a session every single weekday and two on Tuesdays, where you can interact with women online.

These are face-to-face meetings, you’ll see their face, you can talk to them, they just happen to be on a computer, rather than in person. Also, schedule a support call with one of our coaches. Our support groups run differently than any other groups you’ll see. We do have days and times when they run, so you can see, “Oh, okay, this is going to run on Monday, it’s going to be at 8:00 p.m. Eastern,” but it doesn’t start until it fills. Right now we have women enrolled in the workbook study, Facing Heartbreak. That one is very inexpensive. It’s 16 weeks, it’s $320.00. Coach Ray runs that group.

We Recommend Covenant Eyes Accountability and Internet Filtering on Each Device

What Types Of Resources Are The Most Helpful For Trauma?
We also have Setting and Holding Boundaries that is going to be on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We have women signed up for Healing my Self-worth and Self-image, which is just a one session group with Coach Sarah, which is very powerful, and then Coach Cat’s group, So I Have Betrayal Trauma, Now What? Where Coach Cat takes you through the betrayal trauma healing stages and helps women understand, perhaps, where they are, and where they need to go.

We have an awesome opportunity where Coach Rae is going to be co-facilitating a group called, How Do I Protect and Heal My Children with Dr. Jill Manning. They will be facilitating that group together, so that will be on Saturday, March 17th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. That does have a particular start date because of Dr. Manning’s schedule. I created the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Checklist to save women from 7 to 30 years of pain and heartache.

How Can I Continue My Healing From Betrayal?
I’ve had so many women say, “I wish I would’ve found you 10 years ago.” “I wish I would’ve found you 20 years ago, my life would’ve been different.” Please let people know about that checklist and let them know about us. The healing process does take a long time. We recommend that women start with Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club, it’s the most inexpensive way to get out of isolation and get the support that you’re looking for. Purchase a support call package and then look at our different groups and see where you are and which topics would work for you.

Thank you, always, to those of you who have rated us on iTunes or any of the other podcasting apps that you use. Every single rating that you give us, or every comment that you put on the BTR site, increases our search engine rankings, and helps women who are isolated find us. Women are searching online for this, and I don’t want them to find, “Seven Ways to Better Communicate with Your Spouse,” I want them to find the truth that they are not at fault, that they are beautiful and loved, and they can set boundaries to find the peaceful life that they need and deserve. Until next week, stay safe out there.

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