Staying In A Marriage After Betrayal

Staying In A Marriage After Betrayal

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. Wow, I have Esther Hosea on today. She is a blogger at hisdearlyloveddaughter.com. We’ve been having technical difficulties.

Anne: Both Esther and I have been feeling a lot of—what do we call it—opposition to doing this podcast today. I’m just touched right now, and grateful to have her on the podcast. This woman is a woman of faith.

In 2016, Esther discovered that her husband of nearly 17 years, and the love of her life, had a serious sexual addiction and had been repeatedly unfaithful throughout her marriage. I’ll let her talk more about that. Esther, I want you to start with how would you have described your marriage before you found out about your husband’s infidelity?

Betrayal Trauma Can Feel Life-Shattering

Esther: Before I found out, I would have called our marriage an idyllic marriage. I would’ve said that we had pretty much a storybook relationship. We were best friends, we’re each other’s favorite person in the whole world. We’ve always enjoyed spending time together. All of our friends, all of our family, a lot of them looked to us as the example for marriage. It seemed really great.

Anne: What was it like to realize that everything you believed was a lie?

Esther: It was devastating. It shattered my whole world. I’ve described it to people like a puzzle. If our life is a puzzle and, before that day, I felt like my puzzle was all together, all the pieces fit. It was a really pretty puzzle. That day, when I found that out, it was if someone took that puzzle and just threw it. The pieces went everywhere. Maybe some of them even broke and went under pieces of furniture or something.

For the next however many months after that, it was this scramble, this panicky scramble to try and find all those pieces and get them to fit back together. Except now, I realize that they don’t fit. All those perfect pictures that I thought I had, it isn’t what I thought it was, and it doesn’t fit together like I thought it did.

How The Discovery Of Infidelity Causes Trauma

Anne: Yeah, I think that’s how all of us feel when that discovery happens. We’ve talked about D-day on the podcast before, which means discovery day, the day you find out that your reality that you’re living in is not actual reality, right?

Esther: Right.

Anne: It is mind-bending. How did you navigate the fog after D-day?

Esther: If I’m being honest, I would say that the first, at least, three months, maybe longer than that, after the first D-day, I didn’t navigate it. I went into this deep, deep, deep fog and I didn’t know which way was up. I didn’t even really try. I’d call it a zombie phase where you’re dead on your feet. You’re getting up and you’re going through the motions and you’re getting done the things that HAVE to get done.

Being Betrayed Causes Deep Despair

I have very few memories of that time. It was almost like I was just a robot, or something, going through that time. I don’t know, my brain was just off. I really, really struggled with my relationship with God during that time. I didn’t understand how he could let the happen. I had spent my whole life following him, praying for my husband and for our marriage.

It felt like God had betrayed me too. I was angry. I was really angry with him. I would pray and say terrible things to him. It was an awful time, but he pursued me through that time and was patient with me through my tantrums. After several months, I did eventually start to believe what he says in his word about me, about him. Eventually, I got through that fog by believing truth.

Anne: I want to quote you. You said that during that time, he “pursued me with reckless abandon.” I love that image of God pursuing us. I’ve felt a similar thing during the worst fog that I had, which was a nine-month period after my husband’s arrest. I couldn’t feel God at all, in spite of my prayers, in spite of my scripture study, in spite of everything that I was doing to try to obey the commandments and do the right things.

Trauma Causes Fog, Confusion, and Hopelessness

That was such a difficult time. Now, out of the fog, I can see him during that time. I’m just so grateful for his patience with us, because what we went through, that fog, is a classic trauma response where we are very wounded and can’t process things. He is there, even if we can’t feel him.

Esther: And he’s so patient. The scripture, especially the Psalms, and, also, Lamentations, helps me to be at peace, I think, with that time and to recognize that—I wouldn’t even say like God was just okay with it, I think he appreciated that I was coming to him with my raw honesty.

I wasn’t holding back and pretending that everything was fine when it wasn’t. I was screaming at him when I wanted to scream at him, and, I think, being real. I think he wants our authentic selves. He knows we’re broken. He knows we’re ugly and he just wants us to come to him as we are.

Anne: Either during this time, or after this time, talk to me about some of the “Ah-ha” moments that you experienced.

How Can We Honor Our Values In The Midst Of Trauma

Esther: For me, one of the first and biggest “Ah-ha” moments was when I got to the place where I had to be okay with the idea of my marriage ending. I was a child of divorce and I had vowed that I would never ever, ever get divorced. I clung to that. God brought me to a place where I recognized that I had made my marriage into an idol.

I had put this “I won’t get divorced” above God. I had decided that, almost, that if God asked me to leave my marriage, I wouldn’t. I would rather stay married than do what He was asking me to do. I had to get to a place where I said, “Okay, God, I’m going to follow you. I’m going to do what you want me to do, even if that means I’m going to be a divorced person,” which was this terrible thing in my mind.

Anne: This is where it gets really tricky, I think, for women of faith, because there’s these values and conflict. Also, this “idol.” I never thought of this until you said it, but worshipping our marriage over obedience and safety, knowing that what God wants for us, what God’s will is for us is to be in a safe, spiritual situation. It’s not to be in this dangerous situation with someone who’s being duplicitous.

Betrayal Trauma Is A Normal Response To An Abnormal Situation

Esther: A passage that struck me really hard recently is—I’m not going to remember the exact reference—but it’s in Malachi. It’s the passage where God talks about how he hates divorce. He’s talking to the men of Israel. They’re asking why isn’t He accepting their worship.

He says, “Because I saw the vows you made to your wives and I see that you’re being unfaithful to them.” He says, “I hate divorce,” but the message behind that is more than I hate divorce, I hate seeing my daughters abused. He demands their faithfulness. He says, “Come back, and be faithful to your wives.”

Anne: Absolutely. The reason why God made commandments was to keep people safe.

Esther: Yes.

How To Find Healing And Hope After Trauma

Anne: If everyone in the world obeyed God’s commandments, the exploitation and the abuse and the harm done to other people, if everyone was honest, would disappear. That’s the point of the commandments. That is lost, I think, when you don’t obey the commandments, it actually harms someone else. It’s not just for your own like, “Oh, good, I’m going to go to heaven,”—

Esther: It’s for our safety, yeah.

Anne: I was reading my scriptures every day, and I kept thinking, “You need to create this plan that helps you study the scriptures using the 12 steps.” Because I do SALifeline, which is a 12-step program for betrayal trauma. I have a Master’s degree in curriculum instruction, so this type of thing of developing a study plan is in my skillset.

One of my podcasts, Luke 18, about the unjust judge. So many of my podcasts have come out of my scripture study and the way that I’ve been marking my scriptures since I started this. If you’re interested, it’s 12stepscriptures.org. I am so grateful for how he showed me about boundaries. This very dark purple pen, so that it would really pop out of each page. I was finding boundaries on almost every single page as I did my scripture study in the morning. It was amazing.

How Healing From Trauma Can Be Guided By Faith

I’m really grateful for His guidance through the scriptures. I think its sad, because so many women are so traumatized that picking up their scriptures just seems so overwhelming. It just seems like, “There’s no way. Why would I do that? I’m not getting any answers, I’m mad at God. God has abandoned me. He hasn’t kept his promise, because I’ve obeyed the commandments, and here I am in this awful situation.” That power that can come from the scriptures during this very difficult time is sometimes lost.

Esther: Absolutely.

Anne: You mentioned that one of your “Ah-ha” moments was that you wanted to cover yourself in truth. What did that look like for you?

Esther: Before I talk about covering myself in truth, before that, he had asked me to start the blog. That was really terrifying to me, because I was still trying to live in the secrets. I didn’t want the whole world to know, so it was really scary to just put it all out there. But, in starting the blog, because I wanted it to completely point people towards Christ, everything that I wanted to write, I had to find out what the Bible had to say about it.

If I wanted to write about boundaries, I had to find out what the Bible has to say about that. If I wanted to write about telling the truth, everything that I wanted to write about, I had to go to scripture first, and find scripture to back up what I wanted to say. That became how I covered myself in truth, because I was studying and studying and studying, finding all these verses. Then, those would be in my head.

Finding Connection Is Essential In Trauma-Recovery

Every day for months, just scripture going through my head and going through my head and going through my head. That has massive effects on our life. I suddenly started seeing lies everywhere, and myself, not just my husband.

He would ask me a question, and I would give my normal “oh, I’m fine” answer, trying to minimize my pain, or trying to pretend like I was okay. That wasn’t truth. I learned through that time to just let everything that came out of my mouth—I mean as much as possible, because I’m still human—be saturated in truth. It changed everything.

Anne: The truth shall set you free.

Esther: Absolutely.

Anne:     There’s so much confidence that I gain knowing that this type of sin is wrong and that I am doing God’s will to set a very firm boundary around it.

Esther: Yes.

How Faith Can Help In The Midst Of Trauma

Anne: I don’t know if I would have that really firm confidence if I didn’t know it was coming straight from God. Especially because my particular church leaders, at the time, weren’t really supportive of what I was doing, or they couldn’t really understand it.

They thought I was not being faithful. It just gave me the confidence that I needed to stand up to, I would say, just either my church culture or society, or people who don’t understand this, and it brought me a lot of peace.

Esther: I had talked earlier about making my marriage an idol. I believe that’s another thing I had made an idol of is the teachings of the church. Instead of following just scripture, I had allowed man’s interpretation of that to shape me. I became more dedicated to that than to the Word itself.

Like you said, there are so many churches that don’t get it all right, especially in this area. I don’t think it’s intentional. I think there’s a lack of understanding and a lack of education in this area, years and years and years, probably centuries of tradition has gotten in the way of what the Bible actually says about it.

How Can I Feel Peace After Being Traumatized By Betrayal?

Anne: Sexual sin is old.

Esther: Right.

Anne: We’re talking Sodom and Gomorrah.

Esther: Oh, absolutely.

Anne: It is the deepest sin that we have as humans. It is the most destructive.

Esther: Absolutely.

Anne: Well, I guess aside from murder. It is so deep in our culture, and so ingrained in “what it means to be a man” and, also, “what it means to be a woman,” how we are supposed to interact, and all of those, we would say, roles, rather than the relationship that God wants us to have, and focusing on a peaceful, loving relationship. I think part of that is coming from centuries of sexual sin.

Esther: Yeah.

Connection Is An Important Part In Trauma-Recovery

Anne: You talked about how you started speaking the truth. That’s one way that you dealt with your anger and negative feelings toward your husband. Talk about other ways that you dealt with it, especially after you decided to stay.

Esther: For me, I had been so isolated for so long. This does kind of go along with the truth part of it. We decided that we were going to come out—I don’t know if that’s the right word, or the right way to say it. We weren’t going to hide anymore. My husband went in front of our church and confessed everything to them.

We told our children about it, they’re preteens through teenagers, so old enough to understand, and our friends. I found others. I found Facebook groups, and all kinds—to come alongside me. People that I knew in real life and people that I virtually know, just got help.

The Bible talks about as iron sharpens iron being with other believers. I think that was really important for me. Another way that I was able to get through was just to get support from other believers, and then also through my blog, to be that support.

How Does Faith Help With Recovery From Betrayal Trauma

One of my life verses has become 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

I found that, as I walked in obedience with the blog, God just started bringing women into my life who were hurting. I was able to share what he had done for me with them. There was something about that that was healing for me, not them. Them, too, hopefully, but for me to share the comfort that God had given me with someone else, it somehow miraculously, also was healing for me.

Anne: My experience was similar. I was praying just so much after my ex’s arrest, and he was given a 14-month probation with a No Contact order from a judge. I knew I needed a separation, I knew I needed space, so as I prayed and said, “God, should I file for divorce, or should I amend the No Contact order? Should I allow him to talk to me?” I just kept getting this answer to, “Be still. Be still.”

One day, I told my mom, “Mom, I got an answer.” She was like, “You did, that’s awesome! Which one is it?” Because I was only praying about these two things, divorce or amend the No Contact order, those are the only two options. His answer was, “Start a podcast.” I told my mom, “I’m supposed to start a podcast.” She was like, “Okay,” so I started podcasting, and that’s all I did. A few months after that, my husband, at the time, he actually filed for divorce, and so I never had to make that decision.

Esther: Isn’t that just like God? I mean, to make it so you didn’t have to do it.

How Trauma Can Become A Part Of Our Strengths

Anne: No. Because I was committed to my marriage vows and my marriage covenants. I knew I couldn’t break them, and I had no desire to do that. I just was waiting on God to let me know what sort of man is he? Not God, what sort of man is my husband? Is he really a godly man, who can make the changes and repent, or is he not? I found out that he wasn’t. I was heartbroken about it, of course.

Esther: Isn’t it so like us to limit ourselves to A and B. I did that so much too. We’re going through and we say, “Okay, I can do this, or I can do this.” I’ve seen this all over the place as I speak with other women, too. “Well, it’s this or this.” “Well, it’s this or this.” I’m always saying, “Or it’s C. There’s a C. There’s a C, D, and E, actually.” I feel like that’s a huge part of betrayal trauma, is that we get stuck in A and B. “These are my two choices.” There’s almost always more choices.

Anne: Yeah. I think God was just waiting for me to be at the right place where he could show that other choice. Now it’s opened up this amazing world for me. You’ve experienced this same thing where there are so many women out there who are going through this. Had we not been able to tell the truth, had we not told the truth, we would never have found each other. There’s so much power in truth.

Esther: Absolutely.

Healing From Trauma Requires Hope

Anne: After all the opposition that we’ve had in recording this podcast, I’m feeling right now that that’s what God wants for this particular podcast, is to encourage women to open their scriptures.

Esther: The beat of my heart is to see women turn to God through His word.

Anne: We’re having a board meeting tomorrow to vote on the mission and the vision of BTR, to build a worldwide army of women, empowered to create, set and hold boundaries, to stop the pornography epidemic. I see that army as an army of righteous women, an army of women confident because they read their scriptures, and because they have the spirit of God in their lives.

I think we can do it. I really do. I think that, if we each open our scriptures every day, we can stop this pornography epidemic. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. It seems like a crazy goal. I have to believe that it’s possible, right?

Esther: Absolutely, and with the God that we serve, shouldn’t we be setting crazy goals? I mean, he is the creator of heaven and earth. He holds everything together with His power. Why would we limit him to something that wasn’t crazy?

Anne: That’s a good point. It is pretty crazy, the things He’s done, when you think about him.

How Betrayal Trauma Influences Our Faith

Esther: Absolutely.

Anne: Then I think about the parting of the Red Sea, right. It gets a little intense.

Esther: This is small compared to that.

Anne: It seems bigger to me. For some reason, stopping pornography seems harder than parting the Red Sea.

Esther: Also, don’t you think we know that God—He created the world, so, therefore, he’s in control of nature, right?

Anne: Right.

Esther: So parting the Red Sea, we’re comfortable with that falling within His realm of influence, or whatever. But this, this is people. This is the hearts of people. Our God is able. He’s sovereign. He’s in control of everything. While he does allow sin, he is able to conquer this.

Anne: Because so many women are praying and praying and praying and praying and praying for their husband’s hearts to change, and it’s not happening.

Setting Boundaries Is Important After Betrayal

Esther: For a lot of them, yes. We don’t know the end yet. Earlier I said that we had this idyllic marriage. Which was true, but I also did know about the pornography. I didn’t know about the infidelity, but I knew about the pornography long before all of this D-day, and all of that. I knew there was a struggle there.

I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed and, even though I would’ve said our marriage was idyllic, there were signs that I’d ignored. I spent many, many, many years crying out to God for my husband, that he would turn from that. For a long, long, long, long time it seemed like that prayer wasn’t being answered. It had to get really bad before it finally did change.

It had to get to the point where he was repeatedly unfaithful in really, really, really horrible ways, but he did, eventually, change. If someone would’ve told me 10 years ago, I would’ve said what you said, “My husband hasn’t changed.”

Anne: You just think like, “How bad would it have to get?” Like for my ex, it’s really bad, and he hasn’t changed yet. That is my hope for those of us whose husbands are not showing any signs of change. Then those boundaries are our only option. In my case, I really would love for him to change.

Emotional Abuse Causes A Traumatic Response

Actually, I would be open to him coming back and having our family be whole again, if he were capable of doing that, but I lost hope in him, while I have also increased my faith and hope in God. Which has been an interesting journey. Letting go of that idol of the marriage, or letting go of that idol of my husband, and putting it in God. God put me on this path.

I want to talk for just a second about the emotional abuse that pornography users frequently exhibit. Before you found out about your husband’s addiction, you perceived it as the ideal marriage with a few red flags that you discounted. Now, living with your husband in recovery, when you look back on his behaviors, do they look different now? Do they seem a lot worse than they did at the time?

Esther: Oh, my goodness, yes. Actually, I have a whole post on this. It’s called, “How to Know if Recovery is Real.” For all those years, he would tell me, “I did struggle with pornography, but I’ve quit.” Every time that he got caught, it was, “Okay, this is it. This is it. This is it.” I remember thinking, “How will I ever know if it really is real, because it’s just a matter of time before I find it again?”

Trauma From Infidelity Can Be Healed But It Takes Work

Now, now I know how I’ll know if it’s real, because everything changes. Everything changes. He is a totally different person. Yes, now I look back and see, like you said, abuse. It was an abusive relationship before. Even though I didn’t feel like it was, now, in hindsight, I can see that the manipulative ways that they communicate, and the lies, and then all the—I don’t know what the right word is, but the tactics, maybe, to deflect from those lies and to keep us where they want us.

It was downright abusive, but now I see the fruits of the Spirit. He’s loving. His love, it doesn’t just flow to me, it flows to everyone. He has started seeing people in a way he never did before. Just this past weekend, we had people over from his work for dinner, because he felt this call from God to have these people over for dinner.

So he did, and we sat there all evening talking with this couple. He wasn’t just looking for an opportunity to tell his next great story. He was listening to them. He was interested in them. It was love. Love flowed out of him. He’s at peace. That’s huge. Before, everything was so not peaceful.

Anne: Right, chaos.

What Does Recovery Look Like After Betrayal Trauma?

Esther: Now there’s peace. Yeah, chaos, exactly, chaotic. He, I think, looked for conspiracies everywhere. Always felt like everyone was out to get him. There was this—yeah, kind of craziness about him sometimes, where now there’s peace. He’s trusting God. When things happen at work that feel like, “Oh, do these people not like me? Are they out to get me?” he’s like, “You know what, God’s in control, so whatever happens, it’s going to be okay.”

He’s not obsessing about it, he’s just leaving it in God’s hands. That’s peace, and it wasn’t there before. Patient, kind, good—that’s a big one—faithful—don’t get me started on that one. Faithful is obviously a big one, but, yeah, he’s faithful in ways he never was before. Not just sexually faithful, but faithful in all ways. He’s gentle with me in ways he never was before.

He’s interested in what I’m doing. I’m not here just to serve him. He rushed home from work today to set all this up, so that I could sound professional on this podcast with all the right equipment and everything. He’s interested in me, he’s taking care of me, instead of me just being here to take care of him.

Betrayal Abuse Is A Form Of Relational Control

Anne: We’re looking for four things: accountability, honesty, humility, and a willingness to surrender to God’s will. Without those things, they cannot recover, or they are not in recovery without those things. Us too, recovering from betrayal trauma, even though its not our fault, we didn’t cause anything, is like recovering from a terrible accident. The way out is the same thing, honesty, and a willingness to surrender to God’s will.

God’s will is awesome. He wants us to be safe. He wants us to be loved. He wants us to have a wonderful, loving relationship. That is the purpose of marriage. It is not to be abused. I’m so interested in bringing this to light, of so many people who think their marriages are ideal, and then, later, when they look back, when they’re in recovery, realize, “Wow, no. It was an abusive situation.”

I was the same way. I was being abused for seven years. My husband was arrested for domestic violence. At the time he was arrested, it took me a few weeks to realize, “Wait a minute, he really is abusive.” For about three weeks after, I thought, “No, this is my wonderful, loving husband.” It’s so hard to wrap your head around abuse.

How Healing From Trauma Begins With Hope

That’s one of the things that I’m really trying to help people understand are the correlations between pornography use and abuse, because the world just thinks, “Wow, pornography. It doesn’t hurt anyone or anything.” If women know when someone’s using pornography, there’s always going to be some element of abuse. It might not seem extreme. It might be very subtle, but there’s always some element of abuse happening. I think it helps us have the confidence to set those boundaries that we need to set to be safe.

Esther: Right, definitely.

Anne: Esther, thank you so much for coming on today. Again, for those of you interested in hearing more about her story, or the “Ah-ha” moments that Esther has as she studies the scriptures, her blog is hisdearlyloveddaughter.com. You can find links to it from our site btr.org.

Esther: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me. Anne, it was awesome. Thank you, also, for what you do.

Why Does Trauma Feel So Isolating?

Anne: Please visit btr.org to learn more about what you need. The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club and support calls, and also what you need to know, the classes that we have available. Coming up soon will be Coach Sarah’s class, called Healing Your Self-worth. Coach Rae, has changed her name to Coach Gaelen, and so Coach Gaelen will be doing How do I Protect and Heal my Children, with Dr. Jill Manning on April 14th. We have spots left there.

We have some women registered for the Separation and Reconciliation: How do I Reconcile, if I want to? All the different classes are available from our Services page. Just go to Services and scroll down, and click on Classes, and you can see all of the options. I’m so grateful for all your donations that have made the website possible.

We’ve had lots of hacking problems and just tons of problems that we did not anticipate, so, if you are able to donate, we would really appreciate your donations right now, to make sure that this website is secure, and its robust for all of the things that we need to make Betrayal Trauma Recovery a worldwide organization that helps women establish safety in their lives. If this podcast is helpful to you, please rate it on iTunes. Also, it would help us if you came to our website and commented on our articles. All the interaction that you do, either by way of rating something, or commenting, increases our search engine rankings and helps women find us. Also, when you register for a course, if you feel comfortable, post it in a secret Facebook group. It doesn’t have to be a BTR Facebook group, it could be any secret Facebook group that you’re a part of. Say, “Hey, I’ve signed up for Understanding and Managing Triggers at BTR. Join me, I’m excited about this course.” That way, women can find out about the classes that we have and get to safety. Until next week, stay safe out there.

Knowing What To Do And Why

 

 

Most women think, “What do I do?” when they discover porn on their husband’s phone or their husband rages at them. This checklist is a proven path to an emotionally safe relationship. My goal is that every woman has access to this check list when they:

  • discover porn on their husband’s phone.
  • experience a strange conversation with their husband where things just don’t make sense.
  • have a feeling in their gut that something isn’t right.

For those of us who wasted years stuck in the cycles of our husband’s abuse / addiction, this checklist would have given us back years of our lives. It’s the only way to a peaceful and safe home.

My hope is that every woman will have access to this checklist and learn about the concepts taught here.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Checklist

 Because lies, manipulation, gaslighting, emotional abuse, and narcissistic traits are common for users of pornography, begin to think about what it means to be emotionally safe. Get educated by listening to the Betrayal Trauma Recovery (BTR) Podcast. Consider sharing your situation with safe people. Someone who tells you outright or implies that there is something (anything) you can do to change your husband or “help” him is not safe. “What did you do to set him off?” is a typical statement from an unsafe person.

⃞ Make a daily self-care plan. Start small! Step outside and take a breath of fresh air. Get the nutrition and sleep you need. Focus on meeting your own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs — and allow yourself to receive love, validation, and answers from safe and supportive people.

⃞ Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist, OB or midwife to be tested for all STD’s, even if your husband tells you he’s only used pornography. Request a full-panel STD workup every year with your annual physical. We understand that this step can be emotionally overwhelming or horrifying. However, it will provide you with objective, direct, and potentially life-saving information.

⃞ Read / listen to the following books & podcasts:

 Determine your level of emotional safety. Establish a support network by identifying the safe people upon whom you can rely. Schedule a support call with an APSATS-trained Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach who can help you to determine your next steps, based on your individual situation. If possible, join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club and/or a BTR Support Group for consistent support.

 Avoid attempting to identify the cause of your husband’s problematic behaviors. As you lean into your recovery from betrayal trauma, you’ll likely find that understanding the source of his behaviors (shame, trauma, personality disorders, addiction, etc) don’t make a significant difference in how those behaviors affect you — nor will it empower you to change, undo or minimize its traumatic impact. For too many women, seeking to “help” your husband figure out the source of his behaviors while those behaviors are still present only keeps you in harm’s way.

⃞ Move toward establishing an “emotionally safe home zone” as soon as possible. Unlike seeking to understand the source of your husband’s behaviors, this priority goal actually WILL make a big difference! In most cases, this means needing your husband to become 100% honest with you and everyone else within his community of support. He needs to be accountable, stop his problematic behaviors completely, and make restitution to those he has harmed — beginning with you and your children. If/when your husband can make and maintain those changes without resentment toward you, that’s a sign that he is capable of sharing your “emotionally safe home zone.”

 Recognize that couples therapy is rarely the right place to start. Here at BTR, we recognize that, in cases involving porn use and abuse, there are NOT “two sides of the story” — there is only truth. We know that pornography use is NOT a “couples issue”. Emotional abuse is NOT a “communication breakdown”. Too many professionals prematurely attempt to provide couple therapy without first holding your husband accountable for his porn use and abuse, thereby minimizing the seriousness of his behavior. In the interim, consider communicating with your husband’s therapist or coach only to report specific violations of problematic behaviors and recovery commitments. 

⃞ Begin to think about boundaries that support your need for emotionally safe space, even temporarily. Though your situation is unique to you, many betrayal trauma survivors need boundaries such as:
Abstain from sex
Detach from abusive and manipulative conversations
Sleep / live in separate parts of the house
Explore a temporary or indefinite separation
• Choose to limit or eliminate all contact for a period of time
• Allocate time, energy and money toward your own healing, not just toward his recovery
Request a therapeutic polygraph, ideally in conjunction with a complete therapeutic disclosure
*BTR does not advocate for divorce. BTR’s aim is to help clients establish emotional safety for yourselves and your children, in whatever form that takes.

 Set appropriate boundaries while waiting for your husband to show these signs of recovery:

  • Honesty and humility
  • A willingness to meet your needs without anger, resentment, or retaliation
  • Accountability for his secret infidelity (lies, porn use, and masturbation) and emotional abuse (deception, manipulation, gaslighting)
  • Clear restitution for his lies, infidelity, and abuse

  Be gentle with yourself. As a betrayal trauma survivor, recognize that even your “baby steps” count! When the pain is intense and survival feels overwhelming, remember that an entire army of other women have survived this experience—and YOU WILL TOO. We know, because we’ve been there, and we believe in you!

For support implementing this checklist, join a support group or schedule a support call today.

DOWNLOADS

Here are downloadable PDF’s for you to print. Because many women experiencing betrayal trauma struggle with finances, we have found these PDF’s help when approaching church leaders or businesses to ask for donations to BTR on your behalf, so you can receive these proven services. BTR is a nonprofit 510(c)(3) and donations are tax deductible.

Self Care Challenge: My Bra Fitting With Courtney

Self Care Challenge: My Bra Fitting With Courtney

*Click here for more information about how to donate your bra to I Support The Girls.

We’re still working on our $5,000.00 goal for the end of the year. If you have donated, thank you so much. For those listeners who have not donated yet, please go to btr.org. Consider making a monthly donation to support this podcast and all we do here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we really appreciate your financial support.

I had the most amazing experience last week. I went to a bra fitting with Courtney, and she changed my life. I’ve actually been excited to wear a bra, which I haven’t felt in years!

Facing Self Care When It Can Be Triggery

We’re going to talk about self-care today.

Before we talk about it, I want to acknowledge that, during my trauma years, wearing a bra was very difficult for a lot of reasons. Because I was so overwhelmed with everything, for some reason, it expressed itself like I didn’t want to wear a bra, I refused to wear a bra. It stressed me out going shopping for bras.

I am now at the stage where I am working on self-care. I know that some of you are not at that stage yet, and I have been at that—I don’t know what stage to call it, where you’re in your sweat pants, watching Netflix, eating popcorn.

If you’re in that stage, stay there for as long as you need to, and don’t feel guilty about this episode, because I have been there myself. Since I am in this new stage of self-care, and moving forward, I wanted to connect with Courtney, and get a bra-fitting, and really start progressing my healing, and starting to take care of myself.

Anne: Welcome, Courtney.

Courtney: Thanks. Thank you for having me on.

Anne: Courtney runs Bra Fittings by Court, an amazing service that she does to help women who are stressed out, or need help with choosing bras. Courtney, tell me how you discovered that you have such an amazing talent for fitting women.

Courtney: When I was in college, I got a job at Nordstrom in the lingerie department. Little did I know that that job would, literally, change my life. I quickly found that fitting bras is more than selling bras, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Self Care Can Be Very Emotional

There’s a lot of emotion involved in it. It’s an intimate process, you’re seeing women in their most vulnerable state, with their shirt off. I found that I was really good at helping women feel comfortable.

I found that most women were never taught how bras should fit, and that 99% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. I found that I was educating these women on how to dress their bodies, and how to take care of their bosoms. I felt like I was giving back to the world. I felt like I was making a small difference in the world by helping women feel more confident, and beautiful. This is my way to make a small difference in the world.

Anne: I think you’re making a large difference. Like, for me, it made a huge difference. I had such a good time.

Courtney: We did have a good time.

Anne: Getting undressed in front of you, and having you put a bra on me was so healing in so many ways. You know have a bra shop in your home called Bosom Friends.

Courtney: Yes.

Making Sure You Have The Necessities – Like A Bra – Is Self Care

Anne: It’s a beautiful shop, just being in there made me happy. The colors! There’s this big sign on the wall that says, “You’re like, really pretty.” I thought, “Thank you, I really love this.” How does helping women with their bra problems relate to self-care?

Courtney: Most women are busy, they don’t have a lot of time, and so a lot of women hate going bra shopping. Which I completely understand because a lot of places, places like Walmart, Target, Kohls, those places don’t have a large range of sizes. That’s why it’s harder for women.

It’s really stressful, and if you’re already burdened emotionally, going through trauma, that’s the last thing you want to work out is having to do research, because you’re not guaranteed to get somebody to help you that knows what they’re doing.

I’ve recommended some other places to go get fitted, and they went, and they were like, “That was an awful experience.” The reason why is because I feel like a lot of these places, those high turnover, there’s just not the experience that you’d need in a fitter, that can really help people and understand how the different styles of bras are going to fit different women. Bra shopping is overwhelming because there’s so many different components to it.

Anne: I felt like I was being pampered by you.

Courtney: Well, thank you.

Anne: I’ve never felt like that when I went bra shopping. The size that you fitted me in is completely different than any other size I’ve ever thought about. I never would’ve imagined that was my size.

Courtney: Can we talk about your size?

Anne: There’s no way—

Courtney: Do you want to tell them what size you were in, and then what size you are now?

Anne: Yeah. I don’t know what size I was in. What size was I in?

Courtney: You were wearing a 36C.

Anne: Okay, let’s just talk about my bra issues my whole life. I’ve always considered myself very small-chested, which I liked. I’ve never felt like I wanted to be any bigger, or anything, but I don’t fill the cup right, and my straps always fall of, and just the thought of a bra stressed me out.

I have cursed the man who invented corsets way back in the day like, “Why? Why have you done this to us?” Anyway, the bra that Courtney fitted me with—and I don’t even want to say it, because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, but I feel like it’s the perfect size.

Like if you asked, “What is the most beautiful, perfect size?” You would be this. That’s the one I’m wearing. It was a 32DD. That is amazing. Who has that perfect size? Now I’m like, “Aah!” I wrote in my gratitude journal today, “I am grateful that I have the perfect boobs.”

Courtney: You do. I was telling Anne that, “I wish I was your size, like the perfect size really,” but that’s just me.

Don’t Worry, You Don’t Need The Perfect Bra Size To Deserve To Be Treated Well

Anne: I’m here to tell you that here’s a woman who was abused, and whose husband refused to tell her that she was beautiful, literally. I was like, “I want you to tell me I’m beautiful,” and he said, “No.”

Just awful things that were done to me, and I have the perfect boobs. Don’t think that if you had the perfect size whatever, or if you looked a certain way, that the abuse would stop, or that your husband would stop looking at porn. That is not true.

Courtney: It’s true.

Anne: Everyone should love where they’re at.

Courtney: Of course.

Anne: Also, to accept ourselves where we are, and to know that we’re enough. Having this experience, and going from being emotionally abused, and having trauma for seven years, to the point where I wasn’t wearing bras, where I wasn’t putting makeup on hardly ever, where I just slumped around with my shoulders really slumped forward, because I wasn’t wearing a bra.

Even when I went to the store, or even when I went out of the house, so I didn’t really want to be indecent, so I slumped forward, so I wasn’t scaring everyone with my braless boobs, to being like, “Oh, my word, I am wearing a bra and it is this perfect size for me,” and I am feeling so—I don’t know, empowered almost.

It’s so different for me after seven years—well, almost nine years. I don’t know, I always say my years wrong, depending on when I was in the relationship, and then after the relationship, slumping around feeling like I wanted to take up less space.

“You’re Too Much” Or “You’re Not Enough” Are Common Messages From Abusers

A lot of women, who are abused, they get messages like, “You’re not enough.” The messages I always got were, “You’re too much.” I always just wanted to try and make myself smaller, like I didn’t want to have as many—

Courtney: Or hide yourself. I feel like that’s why you were slumping over, to hide what you—to be invisible. You didn’t want to cause attention, or anything.

Anne: Yeah, totally. This place where I can hold my shoulders back, and hold my head up high, and know that I’m not indecent, because I actually have a bra on, so I’m not scaring anybody. It fit, was just so cool. I’m really excited to be at this point in my healing process.

Now, for our listeners, wherever you are in your healing process, please don’t let this podcast turn you off to the podcast, because I, myself, was in this place of, “I don’t really want to talk about the way I look. I don’t want to talk about the way I eat. I don’t want to talk about exercise. I don’t want to talk about anything right now. The only thing I can do right now is survive,” and so many women are in that stage.


We recommend Covenant Eyes Internet Filtering & Accountability On Every Device


When you want to, and when you feel like coming out of that—and it may take years, it took me years—then a bra-fitting might be a really cool celebration activity for you to throw off the old, and bring in the new. Courtney, why is the bra the most important thing women wear?

Courtney: It does a really hard job. It holds up your bosoms all day long. That’s why they’re so important, because you’re more put-together, your clothes will look better, you can feel more confident, and comfortable doing the things you want to do.

I have a lot of women, who come into my shop, that want to be active. They want to exercise, they want to work on their fitness and their health, but they don’t feel comfortable doing so, because their breast size makes it so that they feel really uncomfortable exercising. They feel like their boobs are flapping in the air, or they’re in the way.

Getting a sports bra that fits them, that can make it so that they can feel comfortable exercising, is life-changing. It really can change women’s lives. That’s why my slogan, on my website, is “I am changing lives on bra-fitting at a time,” because it gives you both the courage, the freedom, and the confidence to do what they want to do in their life.

If You Try To Compete With Porn, You’ll Always Lose

Anne: I think our audience probably has, depending on the woman, depending on the situation, has a lot of issues with bras too, because their husbands are sex addicts, and pornography users, right. When you compare yourself to porn, you’re always going to lose. There’s no way to win.

Porn is women who are staged, who are likely on drugs, who are being exploited. Having these parts of our body be something that our husband wants to use is such a difficult thing. This bra-fitting for me was a way to take my body back, to give it back to myself, and to take care of myself, rather than this is part of my body that is for someone else, or for some other use.

I feel like this is part of me, and I can integrate it back into myself, and use it as part of my healing, rather than disown it, almost, as a thing that’s for someone else’s use. Which, I think it feels like a lot of times when you’re married to someone who’s an addict, who’s not in recovery, who’s using you as a drug, rather than seeing you as a person to be cherished and loved and cared for.

Donate Your Used Bras To Help Others

Another awesome thing that Courtney does is she’s the Northern Director of I Support the Girls, which is a non-profit, where she coordinates a statewide bra and feminine hygiene drive throughout the state of Utah, so all the donations are donated to local women’s shelters to help homeless women, and refugee women, and victims of domestic violence.

When I went to a domestic violence shelter, to get my victim advocate, I, thank goodness, didn’t need to stay at the domestic violence shelter, but, if I had, and if I had had to go there suddenly, without any clothes, then I would, perhaps, be a recipient of one of these donated bras. In 2016, her drive collected over 1,300 bras and 30,000 hygiene products. Those are things like sanitary napkins, tampons. The only requirement, Courtney, is?

Courtney: The only requirement is that they have to be individually sealed. Then, you can drop these off, and then at the end of this month, of December, all those items will be collected, and then we’ll donate them to nine different women’s shelters throughout the state of Utah.

If you don’t live in Utah, and you want to participate, there’s really good news. Because there’s over 50 chapters throughout the world, the majority of them are in the United States, if you don’t see a location by you, they’re looking for women who want to help volunteer, and start up a chapter.

It’s really easy, all you have to do is just contact your local women’s shelter, and start collecting bras and donate them, and you can start a chapter in your area. It’s really awesome. It’s blessed my life to be able to help these women, and help facilitate this. I feel really lucky to be a part of it.

Women Supporting Other Women On Their Journey To Healing

Anne: I’m really grateful that women are working together to improve women’s health, and women’s wellbeing across the world. Again, if you are not in Utah, and you want to donate, click here.

Courtney: One of the reasons I got into I Support the Girls non-profit is because, obviously, I love bras. I love helping women feel more confident and beautiful. The sad thing is that, being a part of this organization, I learned—and working with the different women’s shelters in Utah, is that bras and hygiene products are one of the least donated items when it comes to women’s shelters.

People need food, and they need blankets, and everything, but a lot of bras and hygiene products are not donated. The problem with these things, for normal women, they’re necessities, everybody needs hygiene products, and everybody needs bras.

A lot of these homeless women, or refugees, or victims of domestic violence, if they don’t have these items then their chances of recovery—it sounds crazy, but their chances for recovery and making a better life for themselves is harder, because they can’t hold down jobs, they don’t feel like they have their dignity. These items takes a huge weight off these women’s shoulders.

I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have to make a decision of whether I should spend my money feeding my family, or buying a hygiene product. By providing these items to women, it’s going to help them make their life better. If they can help make their life better than that can help their children, that can help generations to come get out of the depths of poverty or break the cycle of violence.

I strongly believe that no matter what a woman’s circumstance is, you know, if she’s homeless, a refugee, she’s fleeing abusive relationship, I feel like every single woman in this world has the right to have these items.

Anne: Totally agreed. I think another reason why bra shopping is so triggering for women, in at least my audience here listening, is the advertising, or seeing other women in their bras, or whatever. It’s been interesting to go to your Instagram, and see women in their bras.

Owning Your Self Care Can Be Scary – But It Can Also Be Empowering

That is part of what is super-triggery for many women in this situation. I just want to, first of all do a trigger warning with, also, a notice that I think the more healed we get, the more we can realize that this is for me, rather than worry about what our husband’s thinking, or doing, or how it’s affecting someone else.

Courtney: On my website, the message that I try to convey for my business, and on my Instagram (@brafittingsbycourt) is that our society thinks of bras as sexual. On my Instagram, I really try to show that they’re not just sexual. I really try to embrace that bras are more of a necessity, and that they’re not just, primarily, for other people’s gratification. I really try to convey that, showing how bras can really help us to feel more confident.

Anne: That’s what I really appreciated. Rather than having it be for someone else’s gratification.

Courtney: Thank you.

Self Care Is For YOU

Anne: If anyone is doing it right, Courtney is. I immediately came home and told my mom, “You have got to go do this.” Cool thing about it is knowing that I am enough, and that whatever size I am is enough, and that I don’t have to be anything else to be lovable, to be cherished, and that I can find a bra that fits me where I’m at.

I don’t have to be different in order to fit in the perfect bra, rather than the other way around. Like going bra shopping, and thinking, “Ugh, because I am damaged, and I am not perfect, I’m never going to be able to find the bra that fits, because bras only fit perfect women.”

Courtney: Many of my clients live outside of Utah, so if you need help, or if you want my help, I offer online bra consultations. You can do it from the comfort of your home, especially if you’re going through a traumatic experiences in your life, and you’re like, “I don’t have the time and energy to go and drive, and go somewhere.” This is a good way to get help.

I also have a bra-fitting guide. I’ve printed these beautiful pdf sheets that walk you through the steps on how to find your size, how to identify your breast shape, the bras I recommend for each breast shape, and then I have a trouble-shooting guide.

Then I actually have visuals of how bras should and shouldn’t fit. If you need help, and you want to do a more DIY approach, I would do the bra-fitting guide. There are some other options if you want help, but don’t live in Utah.

Anne: We’re taking our bodies back, women. As I progress my recovery, I’m just excited. I’m excited that I can do these things that are fun, and not be so triggered by them, where I was before. If you are still in that triggered stage, we love you, and just don’t do this right now.

Courtney: Yep, and I’ll be there.

When Your Trauma Gets In The Way Of Self Care

Anne: I’m no longer going to let my stance against pornography get in the way of my own self-care.

Courtney: I feel like a lot of women just get to the point and they’re like, “Enough. I’ve had enough of wearing bras that don’t fit. I’ve had enough of feeling this way. I want a change.” That’s when you know you’re ready, is when you’ve had enough.

Anne: Yeah, it is. Courtney, you’re awesome. Again, you can find information about where to donate your used bras, whether you live in Utah, or elsewhere, on btr.org. Find this post, and you’ll find all of the links that you need.

Courtney: I’m also on Facebook too. I have a private Facebook page that’s just for women, so if you feel safer joining me there, my Facebook group is Bosom Friends by Bra Fittings by Court. You can go there, and you can post questions about bras, and, like I said, it’s a safe environment where all women can come together, and share their love for bras, or hate of bras that don’t fit.

Anne: I love that. A Merry Christmas Season to all of you. Thanks, Court, for being on the podcast today. If you want to join our support groups, please go to btr.org. Right now, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club has six sessions per week, one every weekday with two on Tuesdays. It’s the best support for these crazy holiday times where you don’t know when an abuse episode’s going to happen, or you don’t know when, maybe another disclosure will happen.

The holidays are very difficult for a lot of women in trauma. Make sure that you have the support that you need during this holiday season by going to btr.org, and click on Schedule and Join to join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Club. As always, if this podcast is helpful to you, please comment below. Each of your comments helps women who are isolated find us, and helps women understand that they’re not alone.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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