Victims of betrayal deserve to be heard, empowered, and supported as they process trauma and find safety.
Too often, they are ignored, dismissed, and blamed and the porn use is minimized and rationalized by those who should be supporting them.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, wrote Trauma Mama, Husband Drama, to empower victims of porn users. Virginia, BTR’s social media director, joins Anne to discuss how Trauma Mama, Husband Drama validates and helps women.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Explains Betrayal Trauma
Anne knows this and wanted to help women give a name to the phenomenon of mental, physical, and emotional symptoms that women suffer when their partners choose to abuse them through betrayal.
Using Trauma Mama, Husband Drama to understand and give a voice to the emotions that they are experiencing may be helpful to victims of betrayal trauma.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Validates The Severity of Pornography Use
The issue of porn use as abuse is very complex. It’s not something that you can just explain. When you explain it the first time, most people roll their eyes and shake their heads and they’re like, ‘No, this is not abuse. Porn use is not abusive.’ Then maybe they think about it and they come back. In fact, all of us went through that same thing.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Tragically, both porn users and their enablers minimize the reality of the insidious and abusive nature of pornography. Many women in trauma simply don’t have the energy to try to explain to their abusers why pornography is so destructive.
Women can use Trauma Mama, Husband Drama to explain it for them.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Uses Illustration Where Words Aren’t Enough
Victims of betrayal know that the devastation of betrayal can surpass any attempt at verbal description. When words are too hard, illustrations can help victims process pain.
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to illustrate some of these concepts visually. One of the pictures is of dad and it’s this vortex of abuse where sometimes he’s sweet and sometimes he’s on a rampage. We were trying to figure out how to do that and it was a difficult concept. A friend of mine said, ‘What about a tornado?’ so we did a tornado.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Further, by making it a picture book, Anne made it easier for women in trauma to understand its contents and more accessible to clergy, family, and friends who might be less inclined to read a lengthy book about abuse, rather than a concise picture book.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Empowers Victims of Betrayal
At BTR, we will never stop finding new ways to help victims of betrayal find safety and healing.
We know that women need a safe space to process their trauma, share their stories, ask questions, and make connections with other victims who get it. The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in multiple time zones, offering victims the validation, support, and compassion they need. Join today.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Join the BTR.ORG Group Sessions
Today, I have BTR’s Social Media Director, Virginia, on the podcast. She’s amazing and has become one of my best friends, and I’m so grateful for her. Before I introduce her, BTR.ORG Group Sessions are an amazing place for you to talk with and get help from amazing coaches.
When you join BTR.ORG Group Sessions, you can usually get into a session within hours. It’s an amazing community to be a part of to get support on a daily basis.
Now, let’s get to my conversation with Virginia.
Virginia: Hi, Anne. Thanks for having me.
What is Trauma Mama, Husband Drama About?
Anne: We’re going to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama.
We’re going to talk about that. Virginia, what did you think when you received the book?
Virginia: When I first saw the cover, it was beautiful. I just looked through the pages of the book and the illustrations were beautiful. Of course, I read the title, Trauma Mama Husband Drama, and I kind of chuckled to myself because I’ve read the Llama Mama Pajama, or whatever that book is, to my son a million times. I just liked the simplicity of the text, but also just the accuracy of everything.
I felt like it portrayed exactly how I felt and my experience going through betrayal trauma. I felt like it was a very clear explanation for what it feels like to be in that situation, as the wife of a sex addict.
A Book That Explains Betrayal Trauma In a Revolutionary Way
Anne: If women get on Facebook or get on Instagram or Twitter or any other social media platform, they are either interacting with you or they are interacting with me. You and I have both come across thousands of women and their stories. When it comes to this broad overview of the general women’s experience or the general victim’s experience, would you also say that the book shows the patterns that we see in our daily interactions with these thousands of women?
Virginia: Absolutely. I think, because we do interact with so many women every day and I feel like I get to hear the stories of women with so many different backgrounds and different experiences, I do see the themes are very similar and there is so much overlap even though the stories themselves can be so different. I felt like this book really captured that theme. I know that women with different experiences will still be able to relate to the same theme of this book.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Is A Short, Inviting Read
Anne: I’ve been thinking about giving a book to clergy. I gave Why Does He Do That? to my ecclesiastical leader and I’m pretty sure he did not read it. It’s this huge chunky book, and when my book comes out, Defining Sexual Coercion in the Age of Internet Porn, it’s going to be like that. It’s going to be this big chunky non-fiction book that you can slap down on someone’s desk.
This book is so different because it’s immediately inviting. You want to open it up and look at the pages. I’m thinking that women purchasing multiple copies for their clergy or therapist and maybe one for their local library, how do you think a book like this, in its simplicity, and actually showing or illustrating the emotions is going to make a difference?
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama: Clear & Concise
Virginia: I definitely think that it is going to make a difference. First of all, just being able to physically hand someone a book that they can sit down and read fairly quickly and, as you said, see the visual story happening, along with the text, it’s simple. I think having a tool that’s simple and direct is going to make it easier to share with our clergy, our friends, and our family. It’s going to make it more likely that they’re actually going to read the book and then be able to understand what we’re going through.
Many People Choose Denial When Confronted With Abuse
Anne: Yeah, because the issue of this type of abuse is very complex. It’s not something that you can just explain. Also, when you explain it the first time, most people are like, “No.” They kind of roll their eyes and shake their heads and they’re like, “No, this is not abuse. Porn use is not abusive.”
Then maybe they think about it and then maybe they come back. In fact, all of us went through that same thing where we were like, “No, he’s a good guy. He just has this porn problem. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I think this book enables people to suspend their disbelief long enough to let it sink in a little bit more than confronting them in a conversation might. I’m not sure, I’m hoping that that might be the result.
Infographics Help Women Find Safety Through Abuse Education
The other thing that this book includes is a bunch of infographics at the end about why it’s abusive. It visually illustrates this type of abuse. There’s one infographic specifically on sexual coercion and what that means. There are infographics on the four pillars of abuse and the abuse cycle.
Virginia: Yeah, I agree. It’s a tool they can pick up and read and then put down and think about, and then go back and look at the infographics and think about them some more, then put it down and pick it back up. It’s an ongoing process because, like you said, we all go through that phase of thinking, “Well, it’s not actually abuse. There’s no physical abuse happening here, so it must not be abuse.”
Women Deserve Helpful Resources About Trauma & Abuse
Then, when you break it down, when you really look at the core of what’s happening and then it starts to shift and you start to realize, “Oh, this is abuse. This is an abusive behavior and I am being abused.” It’s just a great tool.
Anne: It is. I didn’t intend for it to be a children’s book. I intended it to be a picture book for adults to help teach this complex issue. It’s been out at my house and my kids love it and they think it’s amazing, only because I’m the author of it and I’ve had the storyboard out and different versions of it. As the iterations progressed toward being finished it was just out and about and my kids really genuinely love it. They love looking at the pictures.
For women who are wondering if this is a book for kids or teenagers, what are your thoughts about that? For me, this is my job. This is what I do all the time, and my kids are familiar with this because I am talking about it all the time so, for me, is it appropriate for my kids? I think yes, but what do you think about it?
The Effects of Trauma Can Be Far-Reaching
Virginia: I definitely think it depends on the situation and I think each parent needs to decide if it’s appropriate for their child, specifically, because every situation is going to be different. I do think that there’s value in talking about our experiences with our kids.
Every person and every situation is different, so the amount of detail that is shared may be different from one person to another, but I do think our kids are in tune with what’s going on. They know that something is not right when we are going through betrayal trauma and when we’re going through abuse.
They can sense that something is off, even at a very young age, so I do think that there is value in acknowledging that and, maybe, sharing some of the experience with them so they can make sense of what’s going on.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama is Child-Appropriate
Anne: If someone is going to share it with their children, the cool thing about it is that it’s appropriate. There are no graphic pictures. There is no graphic language. Everything is very kid-friendly, I would say. There is nothing explicit in it. Is it appropriate for children? Absolutely.
Is it a book for children? I don’t know. Parents will have to get it. They’ll have to look at it, ponder it, and decide for themselves if they think that it will be good for them.
I think kids will really like it regardless. If they picked it up, I think they’d think, “Oh, these pictures are pretty,” and there is nothing inappropriate.
Ask The Author
Virginia: Now that we’re talking about this, I’m realizing that you typically interview authors and leaders in the industry and I’m just thinking, “Wait a minute, we’re sitting in the wrong seats. Maybe we need to turn things around and I need to be interviewing you and asking you questions about the book.” What do you think?
Virginia: I just have questions that come to mind, from my experience. What was it like for you to write this book?
Anne: Well, it was hard, at first, because I wanted to include everything. The first versions of it were really, really long. They were too long. I wanted to share every single scenario that could ever happen.
In the beginning, there were lots more illustrations and lots more words, so trying to pare that down so there weren’t any redundancies or duplications was hard because I wanted to include everything.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Offers Beautiful, Poignant Illustrations
The other thing that was difficult about it was the amazing illustrator. One of the reasons I chose Cristalwolf as the illustrator is because I sent out one page to several different illustrators and some of them sent back pictures that actually had pornography on them, like someone was looking at an iPad and the iPad had pornography on it. I didn’t want anything like that. I didn’t want it to be explicit. I really wanted it to be very friendly and feel really wholesome.
When Cristalwolf sent hers back, I was like, “Oh, she gets it.” She didn’t include anything like that. It was really clear. But then, as we created the storyboard and went through, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to illustrate some of these concepts visually.
Using Art to Express Trauma
Like, one of the pictures is of dad—so there’s Trauma Mama and then there’s dad, and it’s this vortex of abuse where sometimes he’s sweet and sometimes he’s on a rampage. We were trying to figure out how to do that and it was a difficult concept. A friend of mine said, “What about a tornado?” so we did a tornado.
It was a lot more involved. How does an illustrator explain these concepts through art? She did an amazing job, but I would say every single one of the illustrations went through multiple iterations. The words on every single page also went through multiple iterations.
It Is Possible To Heal From Trauma
I started writing it in the fall of 2018, so it’s been a long process and I’ve been working on it actively since then and I’m really pleased with the result. I didn’t want to write a crappy book. I just didn’t. I wanted it to be really good and help people immediately.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Was Written to Help Women
I thought, “If this isn’t clear, it’s not going to be helpful,” because the main problem with this issue and this type of abuse is that it’s so difficult to understand what is happening.
Virginia: I think you achieved that goal. I can’t stop looking at the pictures. The pictures are just so pretty to look at but it’s so validating to read, and it just hits home. It feels so accurate. You did a really good job. You did great.
What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Deals With Boundaries
Also, getting the emotions right. The fear and the anxiety and the worry. There’s also a section where she sets boundaries and how that feels, the visual metaphor of what that feels like. Kind of a practice in what I was feeling too. I am so logical usually.
I knew I was feeling, throughout this whole experience, that I’ve had anxiety, fear, and worry but then having to actually illustrate—not that I drew the pictures, I didn’t—but to consult with the illustrator about what I wanted that to look like. It was really interesting. It was really a process for me to process my own emotions and how I felt about it and my journey through, let’s call it the anxiety.
I think that’s hard for everyone. I think the process of writing this book was the same process that we all go through. We’re trying to figure out what’s happening and then trying to communicate that to someone else. I’d say the hardest part about the book parallels the hardest part about the experience, which is that. It’s difficult, even when you know what’s going on, communicating it to someone else is a challenge.
Victims of Betrayal & Abuse May Have Difficulty Putting Their Experience In Words
Virginia: That makes sense, and the nice thing is, now that we have the book, it helps all the women who are having a hard time communicating their experience to other people and what it’s like. Now they have this great tool that they can order and give to someone and say, “This is how I’m feeling. Please read this book.” You’re helping other women going through that same experience that you went through.
A lot of the women we interact with, daily, are just discovering this addiction, or many of them have been in it for many years, but a lot of them are just now learning that they’re not crazy and that there is something called betrayal trauma.
They are just now learning some of the language and they’re just realizing that there are other people who are experiencing this and that there is help and hope ahead. I think this book gives them language, just the simple language to narrate their story.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Helps Women Identify What They Are Experiencing
When you read something that describes your experience and you’re like, “That’s what I’m feeling.” I remember the first time that I heard the term betrayal trauma and I read a brief description of it and I thought, “Wait, this is exactly what I am feeling. This must be what I have or what I am going through.” I just remember feeling like this wave of relief that there was a term for it. There are other people who feel this way. There is hope.
That’s one thing that the book describes is the pain of betrayal trauma and the pain of people not believing you, but then it does more than just that because it takes it to the next level of saying, “That happens, but look what happens as she sets boundaries and as she establishes safety in her life.”
Trauma Mama Husband Drama Is A Great Book To Explain The Impacts Of Sexual Addiction
For the women in our community who are going through this, I think that can give them a lot of hope. Number one, it gives them validation that what they are going through is real and that they are not crazy and that there are other women who experience it. I think, number two, it reminds them that this isn’t the end. They get to decide what their future looks like. They get to establish safety in their life that they desire and that they want.
Anne: We can see, from a lot of the messages that we see, the panic and the fear and the anxiety in the stories they tell. We welcome those messages, because we know how it feels. We’ve been through it. Then, as they become more healed and as they have the language for it, it’s easier to talk about and easier to identify. Would you agree?
Virginia: I definitely agree, and I do want to reiterate that. That every message that we get, it’s like I almost want to say a little prayer for every single message or comment that I see or when someone clicks “Like.” You can just tell that someone understands what you’re talking about or is seeking help.
Interact With BTR: Send a Message
I am really grateful that someone is willing to share something so personal and so private and so precious. To trust me and to trust BTR with that, I really value that, and I really appreciate that. I take that very seriously. Every message we get, we want it. We are so grateful that you’re willing to be vulnerable to share with us, so thank you for all of your messages.
What are your hopes for the future of this book? You’ve kind of talked a little bit about it, but what do you envision for the future of this book? Where do you see it going and what do you hope that it brings to the world?
BTR Advocates For Women’s Safety
Anne: The hope for this book is the same thing as the hope for BTR. The hope of our mission is to ensure that every woman in the world has the ability to identify psychological and emotional abuse and sexual coercion, and also create safety when they’re experiencing it.
We do that through several mediums at BTR. Virginia does it awesomely through social media daily. We do it on the podcast. We do it through Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, where victims can come speak with coaches and other women who are going through it. There are lots of different ways that we do this, this is just another way to educate people about this type of abuse.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Helps Women Understand Psychological Abuse
Until every single woman in the world and every single man and every single person genuinely understands sexual coercion, they understand a woman who thinks her relationship is free of porn and accepts that if she’s not aware of her husband’s porn use, that’s a consent issue. It’s a sexual coercion issue.
That they understand that the gaslighting and the manipulating, and all that stuff, is emotional and psychological abuse. People need to understand that, and I think that once that understanding is there, then we can start making real forward progress for the safety of women and children and homes and families.
It’s also the only hope for the abusive man, to recognize that his behavior is abusive and be able to change that behavior in order to be a safe person.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Exists To Help Women Find Peace
The goal of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, the goal of Trauma Mama Husband Drama is world peace. Dare I sound like a beauty queen contestant? But, genuinely speaking, the end goal is world peace. It is peace in homes, peace within individuals, and to be able to have safe, peaceful, genuinely happy, whole, healthy relationships with their spouses, children, and with themselves.
That’s what I love about BTR. Yeah, we talk about dark things all the time but what are we genuinely working toward? It’s a world of peace.
Virginia: Yeah, we want happy peaceful families and a happy peaceful world. I love that, thanks.
Help Women Find Trauma Mama, Husband Drama
Similar to that, when we’re talking about women being able to find this book, the more reviews that this book gets, the more visible it is in the Amazon algorithm. When you receive the book, as a verified purchaser, please go to Amazon and review it. Give it a 5-Star review and talk about what you liked about it, that will help other women find the book because when you search for things on Amazon, the things that are the most popular or the things that have the most reviews, they tend to be toward the top of the list. Please help us get this book at the top of the list.
So many people, when they’re looking for things about marriage, communication or marriage issues, or relationship things they get stupid stuff that has not helped us and has led us down the wrong path, like The 5 Love Languages. I’m not saying it’s stupid, necessarily, I’m just saying so many women are like, “Well, if this is his love language then I’m going to do this,” and that did not help them when it came to abuse.
Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Helps Women Understand Sexual Coercion
Rather than finding books that don’t really hit the abuse head-on, I would really like for women to find a book like this right off the bat. When they’re looking for communication books, I would love for them to see this and consider that porn may be a factor and that they may be experiencing emotional abuse.
It breaks my heart when I talk to women and they say, “Yeah, I got a divorce. It just wasn’t working. I don’t know why, it’s just really sad.” I’d say, “Well, did he use porn?” They’re like, “Well, yeah, but I don’t know if that was the cause.”
I’m thinking you don’t have to have any guilt for your part in your marriage problems if your spouse is using porn. Period. End of story. It is a marker of abuse. We know that it is a marker for abuse and I just want every person to know that.
BTR Is Specifically For Betrayed & Abused Women
Now, we know that there are many women out there who also use pornography. I want to say to the women using porn that your porn use hurts your relationship too. Betrayal Trauma Recovery is specifically for women who don’t use porn and are married to men who use porn.
That is our specific audience, but I do want to say that I have a lot of compassion for anybody, anyone who does not use porn, who does not want porn in their marriage and has a spouse, male or female, who is using porn. That is a painful experience and I do want to acknowledge that.
We get a lot of messages from men who have been betrayed or men whose wife is using porn and they say, “Why don’t you have services for us?” That’s because this is our specific audience. Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there because I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Regardless of your gender, if you use porn, you are going to hurt people.
Share Trauma Mama, Husband Drama With Clergy, Family, and Friends
I want to give it to my family members and my church leader, to the people who I meet and are going through something similar, to the people I meet and I have a passing thought that they might be going through something like this. I just want to share it with everyone.
When you were talking, I thought back to when I first discovered the pornography use and the emotional abuse that was happening in my marriage and I thought back to how I didn’t know what to do. I had nothing; no tools. I wish I had had someone to hand me this book and say, “Just read this.” It would have been a game-changer from the very beginning, and I could have avoided years of so much emotional pain. I’m really glad that you wrote this book, thank you so much.
Anne: Thank you. You’ve been awesome. Really quick before we conclude today, do you want to do a quick recap of how we met each other?
BTR Supports Victims of Betrayal & Abuse
Virginia: I would love to. Gosh, I can remember this vividly. I was sitting on my phone and I was looking for resources for women whose husband were using porn, and I just had this thought that maybe there is a podcast about betrayal trauma. I looked in my podcasting app and I searched betrayal trauma and there was nothing. I was like, “Oh, bummer, okay.”
Then I was sitting later one night and thinking about it again and so I searched again. I think it was only like a week later, and what’s weird was it was in May. I think it was in May four years ago. That’s crazy. I searched it again and then the podcast popped up and I got so excited. I was like, “Oh, I have to listen to this.” I started listening and I just remember feeling like, “She gets it! Oh, my gosh!”
“I’m Not Alone!” BTR Offers Community Support to Victims
You referenced some of the same resources I had been looking for at the time. It was like this moment of, “I’m not alone!” Then, as I started to listen to the podcast more and more, I listened to every single episode.
Then in a support group that I was attending at the time, someone from that group had sent out a message saying, “Hey, I have a friend who started this podcast and she’s looking for some volunteers to help get the word out.” I was like, “Wait a minute, this is the podcast that I’m listening to. I definitely want to help because I love it and I care about it and this is the experience that I am going through.”
Trauma Can Be Difficult To Explain To Others–Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Can Help
I think she sent you my contact information and you called me, but I got too nervous to answer the phone because I was like oh, but what if it’s her. Then I heard your voicemail and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to call her back.”
I called you back and I just remember hearing your voice and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, this is the voice, this is Anon,” because at that time you went by Anon. I was like, “This is Anon from the podcast.” I felt a little bit like a fangirl, at the time. That’s how we met and that’s where it all started four years ago.
Anne: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy, and now you’re like, “Oh it’s just Anne, whatever. She’s just a normal person like everybody else.”
BTR Aims to Change The World: Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Is One Step Forward
Virginia: Normal, but also like creating great things.
Anne: Trying, right. Attempting to change the world. I think that’s one thing that I love about myself and that I hate about myself. It’s that I’m crazy enough to think that we really can do this. We really can change the world.
It’s going to take a lot of time and it’s going to take a lot of effort and it’s going to take a whole army of us to educate everybody about this. Also, they’re going to think we’re crazy at first but we have to keep going. We can’t let that stop us. We can’t let their eye rolls and, “Well, who is she and what does she know?” stop us from moving forward.
All Women Deserve Empowerment & Safety
It’s people like you, Virginia, and the rest of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery team and our amazing coaches that have enabled BTR to grow the way that it has. I feel like people have come out of the woodwork to help.
Women who really get it and who felt called to this work to provide this type of education to the world because they don’t want any other women to go through it. They also think, “Man, if I would’ve had the BTR Checklist” or “If I would’ve had this book or podcast at the very beginning, it would have saved me from years and years of pain and chaos,” which is why I started it too.
BTR Is Women-Led and Women-Run: We Support Each Other
That’s the other cool thing about BTR, is that it’s a team of women who have been through it, who understand it, who are all dedicated to eliminating suffering and stopping the suffering and trying to prevent any further suffering from happening to any other women.
Virginia: Yeah, I love that. I love the visual of just that we’re an army and we are a team, because that is definitely true.
Anne: Awesome. Remember that Trauma Mama, Husband Drama is a resource for you and all victims of betrayal and abuse.
Until next week, stay safe out there.