Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

“It changes your perspective to realize that the baseline isn’t a good guy that loses it, but the baseline is an abuser who can put on this act, then that mask falls off. I think being able to differentiate between those two things is really helpful for victims.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Victims of emotional abuse may spend years or even decades trapped in a vortex of confusion, trying to understand the abuse that is happening to them.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Affirms “Safety First”

As soon as victims suspect abuse, they must immediately seek total safety from abusive treatment. This means that they take courageous actions and set boundaries to protect themselves from all abusive behaviors of others.

On the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast, Connie, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, shares her heartbreaking timeline of dating, marrying, and then separating from, a sexually, physically, and emotionally abusive man.

Using her experience as a guide, uncover the three disturbing tactics that your emotionally abusive partner is using to keep you stuck, and begin your journey to healing today.

#1: Emotional Abusers “Love Bomb” Victims To Keep Them Stuck

“The love-bombing would be so intense and so sincere and so… just euphoric.”

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

Love Bombing is a distinct phase in the cycle of narcissistic abuse, and is present in every abusive relationship. It is also known as the “honeymoon phase”.

Love bombing occurs when an abuser creates an illusion of obsessive love for the victim. The sense of belonging, being desired, and being genuinely treasured is deeply moving and powerful for human beings. Abusers use this to their advantage when they love bomb victims.

For Connie, love bombing created a powerful incentive for her to continue to stay in a toxic relationship for over 11 years, until she was able to recognize that love bombing in and of itself is abuse.

What Does Love Bombing Look Like?

How Love-Bombing Typically Presents

  • Putting the victim on a pedestal
  • Constant communication (texting, phone calls, letters, dates, over-nights, trips together)
  • Early, strong commitment (getting engaged, entering into a relationship, getting married, sleeping together soon after meeting or having reunited)
  • Putting down previous partners (“my other girlfriends were never as beautiful as you,” “my ex-wife was psycho,” etc)
  • Buying expensive gifts
  • Entrusting victim with intimate knowledge and secrets
  • Entrusting victim with personal belongings (car, apartment, credit card, etc)
  • Constant, “ultimate” praise (“hottest in the world,” “perfect,” “best,” etc)
  • Intense, passionate, and frequent sexual encounters

#2: The Manufactured Emotional Tether Is Real, And Dangerous

“I would be discarded in this horrible way and I’d be like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to get healthy. I’m going to move on,’ and then he would come back. He’d come back healthier, gentler and more loving, and say things like, ‘Connie, I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to be the man that I know you deserve. I love you so much, you’re so incredible.'”

Connie, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

When emotional abusers discard victims (whether through abandonment, overt and/or covert abuse, sexual coercion, and/or betrayal) but return to the victim as repentant and begin the process of love-bombing, a chemical reaction takes place in their victim’s brain.

In the full transcript below (or listen to the podcast), learn how Connie felt deeply tethered to her abuser. To her, this felt like an inability to function in normal life without his approval and presence.

This is a Manufactured Emotional Tether. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, it is an attempt, by the abuser, to forge an attachment between the victim and himself.

However, intimacy and closeness are impossible when abuse is present, to any degree, in a relationship. What is forged, instead, is a chemical bond similar to Stockholm Syndrome.

The Emotional Abuser Uses the Victim’s Chemical Reaction to Keep Her “Chained” to Him

When women understand that the “closeness” they feel to their abuser after a particularly abusive episode is not intimacy, but a chemical reaction based upon their abuser’s tactics to keep her figuratively chained to him, they are better able to make informed decisions about their safety and health.

#3: Emotional Abusers Seek Power in “Playing the Victim”

“Saying, ‘I’m broken. I need help to change. I’m working through these issues that I’ve had,’ not as a broken person, but as a manipulation tactic, is him playing the victim.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

When an emotionally abusive man successfully paints himself to be the victim, he is able to:

  • Recruit a network of enablers
  • Make his partner, the real victim, look like the perpetrator
  • Confuse his partner (if she doesn’t have support and safety)

How Do Abusive Men “Play Victim”?

In a myraid of ways, abusive men can place themselves in the victim role.

  • Minimize his abusive behavior, then blame it on the victim
  • Admit to the abuse with a martyr-like affect, completely knowing that those listening will think “what a great guy, he’s admitting to this. His wife must be a real beast for not loving him through his ‘challenges.'”
  • Deny the abuse completely and claim that the victim is lying (thus making him the victim of her lies)
  • Claim family of origin/abuse as a child, stress, mental health issues, etc. as the reasons for his abusive behaviors
  • Blame his wife and/or children for his abusiveness (this is usually done with a pouty affect); also called “Don’t Blame Me For Being a Man”
  • Admit to and own the abuse, then sulk about the consequence

Victims of Emotional Abuse Can Escape The Cycle

By becoming aware of the tactics that abusers use, victims can identify abuse. As women become aware of the abuse, they must act quickly to bring themselves and their children to safety.

Effective Boundaries Protect Women and Children From Abuse

Boundaries are not statements, requests, or ultimatums. They are courageous actions that women take to separate themselves from abuse. As women get to safety (at BTR this means becoming someone who is no longer abused by others), they are able to make informed decisions about their relationships.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers support and community to women all over the world. Join today.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I have a member of our community on today’s episode. She’s going to share her story with us.

Trauma Mama, Husband Drama

The idea was to get a lot of reviews, all at once, so that it would work to our benefit with the Amazon algorithm. It kind of worked, and I appreciate all of you who pre-purchased and purchased the book, that was awesome, thank you. It just didn’t work exactly as we’d hoped because the more reviews you have on Amazon, the easier it is for people to find us.

Help Women Find the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast

When it comes to women finding us online, they find us through iTunes, the Apple podcast app. I super appreciate all of you doing reviews there, which makes a huge difference for women being able to find us.

Think about when you were searching for books on Amazon. If they find Trauma Mama Husband Drama on Amazon, they also find this podcast. They can get the correct information from the podcast rather than going to all the therapists that you guys have been to who didn’t understand this type of abuse.

Help Women Find BTR by Leaving a Review

Will you please, if you’ve purchased the book and you haven’t yet, go to Amazon and review it? The more reviews that we can get on Amazon, the more it will enable women to find us. I would love it if when they’re searching for Why Does He Do That? on Amazon, that Trauma Mama comes up as a suggestion in relation to that, or if they’re looking for The Verbally Abusive Relationship, for example, Trauma Mama comes up.

We have had some amazing reviews come back and I’m going to read one to you.

Trauma Mama, Husband Drama Helps Victims Process Emotional Abuse

This is a verified purchase from Amazon: “Where was this book 30 years ago? Trauma Mama is a short poignant book highlighting the trauma many women endure their entire life because they do not realize all the craziness is not their fault. It is written in simplistic poetic cartoon form for the busy hard-working wife who has no time to sit and study while she tries to be supermom and wonder woman without missing a beat. It is the perfect non-intimidating book that can open one’s eyes to subversive behaviors destroying one’s marriage and family. To make it even better there is a resource section at the end of the book to help one understand the destruction, learn to set boundaries, and realize they are not alone. 10-stars.”

Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Validation

I think that it will help give you validation in the form of emotions because it’s a picture book. There is so much emotion packed in the amazing illustrations, but it’s also an amazing book to give to clergy or therapists or friends, or people who don’t understand it, because it is so simple and the infographics at the back are really useful.

Thank you so much again for those of you who have purchased it already. If you haven’t, you can go to our books page btr.org/books and click on that link, it will take you directly to the Amazon page or you can simply search for it on Amazon.

We also super appreciate you posting about this book on social media, tagging it, and helping us get the word out so more women can understand this type of abuse, and they don’t have to go through all the pain and chaos. Hopefully, we can help educate the world about this issue.

We have made some awesome website updates, which have been a long time coming, so if you’re not familiar with our website btr.org, I invite you to go there.

Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group for Support

You can see our Daily Support Group schedule there. We have multiple sessions per day in every single time zone, and when you join you get unlimited live support on the computer through Zoom. We built this long before COVID-19 and we built it for you, specifically, so you don’t have to worry about childcare. You can attend a session in your closet, garage, or even your car. You don’t have to go anywhere, and you don’t have to set an appointment.

Obviously, when an abuse episode happens, a disclosure happens, or when you find out something, you need to talk to someone who understands it immediately. When I say someone who understands it immediately, I don’t mean that you could talk to them “immediately” because it might be a couple of hours until the next session, but what I mean is they understand it immediately. You don’t have to get an appointment with a therapist who you have to explain the situation too.

BTR Coaches Understand Abuse Right Away

Our coaches can actually help you right off the bat. You don’t have to explain it to them. You don’t have to justify yourself. They are there to help you, not you trying to train them on what abuse is, which is the vast majority of what women experience when they try to find a therapist. They often get, “Well, let’s improve your communication” or “What are you doing?” or “What is your part?” or whatever, and that only further traumatizes an abuse victim.

Because we use the abuse model here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, you can get help right away. We’d love to see you in a session today, so go to btr.org and join our support group.

Now for today’s guest.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Encourages Community Members to Share Their Stories

Anne: I have a member of our community on today’s episode. We’re going to call her Connie. She is a survivor and a thriver after 11 years of marital rape and abuse. She has five children, and she loves yoga and the ocean.

Welcome, Connie.

Connie: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

Anne: Let’s start with a brief history of your marriage.

Cluster-B Abuse Follows the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

Connie: I got married when I was 19. I was young. It was a pretty typical Cluster B-type relationship.

Anne: You say Cluster B, can you define that for our listeners?

Connie: Yeah. As far as I understand it, those are the types of personality disorders and whether or not you’re partner is diagnosed with it, you can see if they have those traits and kind of assume that you fall within that range of that kind of abuse. Like narcissistic abuse or borderline personality disorder abuse. Any of those kinds of personality disorders are considered Cluster B, so they all kind of follow the same pattern where there’s idealizing, like love-bombing, the constant communication where they’re texting you day and night, “I love you.”

Love-Bombing Is A Tactic of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

One of those things, too that I noticed—Jackson Mackenzie wrote this amazing book called, Whole Again, it’s so good and I highly recommend it. He talks a lot about coming out of a Cluster B relationship and how to thrive after that. He talks about the constant communication and the putting down of all their previous relationships.

Like saying how disgusting their previous spouse or their previous boyfriend or girlfriend was. Somehow that elevates you for a while, but we’re all pretty smart, so after a while, we’re like, “Wait a minute. If you’re previous spouse or girlfriend was so nasty, then why did you date them?” Just kind of an interesting thing.

Love-Bombing, Devaluation, Discard: The Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse

There was that love-bombing, constantly, and then the devaluing and the discarding, and that started when we were dating.

Anne: Was this in a cycle? It would be this grooming phase and then a devaluing and discarding phase and then another grooming phase? Was it in a cycle?

Love-Bombing is a Form of Grooming

Connie: Yeah, totally a cycle. The love-bombing would be super intense. As soon as I started to become comfortable with it and be really happy, that’s when the devaluing would begin. That’s when he would start to pull away and I would feel like, all of a sudden, I was trying to convince him to stay.

Then the discarding would happen, where he would just go offline and stop talking to me. He actually broke up with me when we were dating. I mean that was complete spiritual abuse when he said, “God told me that we’re not supposed to be together.”

Emotional Abusers Often Use Spiritual Abuse Against Victims

I just remember my roommates saying when he broke up with me, “Something is really wrong with this relationship. Up until yesterday, he was at our apartment constantly, walking you to every class, waiting outside for you between your classes, calling you constantly, and then today he says God says you’re not supposed to be together?”

Of course, I was an emotional mess. No one, no matter how mentally healthy they are, can handle the discard phase in any kind of toxic relationship, whether or not you feel like you’re in a Cluster B relationship. In any toxic relationship, that discard is going to mess you up.

The Discard Stage of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle

Then I would be discarded in this horrible way and I’d be like, “Okay, I’m just going to get healthy. I’m going to move on,” and then he would come back. He’d come back healthier and more loving and gentler and like, “Connie, I’m going to figure this out. I’m going to be the man that I know that you deserve. I love you so much, you’re so incredible.”

The love-bombing would be so intense and so sincere and so just euphoric. I hope that other women can hear this because I don’t ever want anyone to doubt their intuition, but there is a chemical reaction that happens.

The Manufactured Emotional Tether Is a Powerful Tactic of Emotional Abusers

I’ve heard it said that emotional abuse is the most tortuous kind of pain that there is. Torture is human suffering at its worse and there is no relief more powerful than the relief from torture. When someone stops emotionally abusing you, the relief you feel is, literally, the most powerful thing a human being can experience.

For another person to suddenly stop emotionally abusing you and to suddenly love-bomb you, it’s the most powerful bond that can form. It’s more powerful than a mother-child bond. More powerful than a daddy-daughter bond. It is the most powerful chemical bond that can form and also the most toxic.

I hope women don’t berate themselves for this trauma bond that forms. It’s so powerful.

Abuse Isn’t a Nice Guy With an Abusive Mask: It’s an Abusive Guy with a Nice Mask

Anne: It’s also so hard to see when you feel like the situation is that you have a really good guy who loses it sometimes. That’s a different perspective than realizing their baseline is lying and manipulation, harm and abuse, and then the mask falls off. They put this pretty mask on top of all this abuse, then what you see is just the mask falling off every once in a while.

It changes your perspective to realize that the baseline isn’t a good guy that loses it, but the baseline is an abuser who can put on this act, then that mask falls off. I think being able to differentiate between those two things is really helpful for victims.

Be an Advocate: Help Women Find Betrayal Trauma Recovery

I’m going to take a little break here to encourage you to go to our website, find this episode, and comment on it. We love your comments. We want to hear your questions, comments, and we want to hear your experience. You can always share anonymously there, that helps women who find that podcast episode feel validated when they see other women’s experiences.

I also want to let you know that all of the episodes are transcribed and available on our website, so please go find them and comment.

I also want to take a brief moment to thank those of you who have rated this podcast on your podcasting apps, especially Apple podcasts. Every single one of your ratings helps isolated women find us, and it makes a huge difference. I love listening to the reviews. While we take this break, I’m going to read a review to you from our podcast.

This review from a podcast listener is actually from an abusive man.

He says “Amazing resource for both partners. This podcast has been one of the best things for my wife on this journey. By far the best resource out there and it’s only getting better. Not only has it been beneficial for my wife, but it has been beneficial for me. It has given me great insight into what my wife is experiencing and how my actions and abuse affect her. For anyone looking to learn more about sex and porn addiction and how it affects the family, the spouse, and the addict, this podcast is for you.”

I read those and I just so appreciate it. If you haven’t already and you’re so inclined, please go give it a rating today on Apple podcast or your other podcasting apps.

Now back to our interview.

If He Keeps Promising He Will Change, You Are Not Safe

Connie: I remember one of your podcasts where, I can’t remember who it was, but she was so incredible. She said, “Does he have an evil twin or is he the evil twin?” I wrote that down in my journal and I pondered it. I thought, “What that means for me is, does he keep promising he’s going to change or is he a changed person who doesn’t need to keep promising he’s going to change?”

From the time we were dating it was “I’m going to change. I’m going to change,” and just those words “I’m going to change,” that’s a gaslight right there, because that makes me feel like I’m telling him, “You need to change.”

Emotional Abusers Seek Victimhood

I never told him that. I never said that. He would put those words in my mouth like I was saying, “You’re bad, you’re evil, you need to change.” I never even said that. I took him as he was, knowing we were two imperfect people.

That alone puts him in this victim stage.

Anne: “I’m broken. I need help to change. I’m working through these issues that I’ve had.” Not as a broken person, although clearly, but as a manipulation tactic, in that sense.

Love-Bombing Looks Like Putting The Victim on a Pedestal

Connie: Exactly. “I need you because you bring out the best in me. You are the light. I’ve never done so well in school. I stopped looking at pornography when I was with you. You helped me be closer to my family. You’ve helped me have all these better habits.” I mean, when you start hearing those words and phrases, RUN. Just run. It’s so unhealthy.

Anne: It’s a subtle threat.

Connie: Totally. It’s emotional blackmail.

Covert Physical Abuse is Real and Dangerous

Anne: Let’s talk about covert physical abuse for a bit. This is something that you experienced. Can you talk about what covert physical abuse is?

Connie: Yeah, so Coach Joi really helped me with this. It started when we were dating, and I remember my older brother came and spoke to me about this because I showed up at his apartment and I had this rug burn across my face.

My brother was like, “Did he do that to you?” referencing my husband, who was then my boyfriend. 0I was like, “Oh no, it’s nothing like that. We were just playing. We were just having fun.” My brother was really angry, and he was like, “Leave him, get away from him, he’s crazy.”

Victims of Emotional Abuse Deserve Physical Safety

I was like, “Why would you say that he’s just really fun.” He was like, “How did he do that to you?” I was like, “He didn’t do it to me, we were just playing.” What had happened is we had been laughing, we’d been having fun, and he picked me up and he’d thrown me across the floor, wrestling. I’d fallen across the floor and my face had gone across the carpet and I’d gotten this carpet burn on my face.

That wasn’t the first time that something like that had happened, where I’d gotten just some kind of scrape or bump or I’d be walking through the door and he’d close the door on me without realizing that I was standing in the doorway.

Anne: “without realizing it”

Lack of Intention to Treat Others as Human Beings Can Be Physical Abuse

Connie: Right, or opening the car door when I’m standing right there and smacking me in the head with it or grabbing me when I’m not aware and swinging me backward and kissing me and throwing my back out. Just these really rough gestures that are, I don’t want to say violent, it’s hard to find the words. Not maliciously trying to terrorize me, but the lack of intention to treat another human being with the respect that another human body deserves, that lack of intention in itself is abusive.

It took me a very long time to come to terms with that. It took a lot of coaching. It took a lot of work to be able to get past the shame. That’s where I was. I was like, “I allowed myself to be one of those pathetic domestic abuse victims,” but Coach Joi really helped me to understand I never asked for that and it was so covert.

Destroying and Damaging Property Is Physical Abuse

I had said so many times to myself, “Stop punching the wall, just punch me,” because my husband would punch walls all the time. When he was angry, he would punch a wall.

I read in this book, it’s called Real Rape, Real Pain, and I highly recommend it, that when a man punches a wall or punches a washing machine or kicks a fence, what that says is, “This could be you.” The fear that instills in a woman is this way of saying, “I need to respect him more because, the next time, if I don’t act perfectly, that’s going to be me. I’m that washing machine, and he’s being kind by not punching me right now.”

The blackmail that was constantly in our relationship added this element of terror because I have five children. Constantly shielding them from seeing him damage property was also physical abuse, that was difficult to take in too. When men, and women—though I’ve yet to see a woman who does this—punch objects in their own home, that is also considered physical abuse, covert physical abuse.

Abusers Physically Threaten Their Victims When They Damage Property

Anne: Yes, and it’s a physical threat. It’s both of those things. I experienced that as well. I would always say, “I don’t think he would hurt me,” but that threat of “I am violent.” The interesting thing is they don’t choose to break things that they care about. If they had a beloved something and they’re going to punch something, they’re always going to punch the thing that they don’t care about.

Also, the hole in the wall or the broken door or the broken whatever, it stands as a sort of threat as it sits there. It’s like, “See what I did to this, I could do this to anything.” You are not safe in your own home.

Emotional Abusers Don’t “Lose Control”

Connie: Right, and it’s interesting, like Lundy Bancroft talks about how they stopped. At a certain point, they stopped. You know he didn’t break the whole wall down. It wasn’t rage that caused him to punch that wall.

It was a calculated decision, because if it really was rage, because he used to say, “I just lost control.” It’s like, “If you lost control, why didn’t you kill me? Why didn’t you punch me? You decided to punch that wall because you were sending a message.” That’s what I’m not okay with, is men trying to send this message of “I’m angry, so I have to punch something.” That’s ridiculous.

Abuse is A Choice, Every Time

Anne: Well that, and if they say, “I lost it,” if that’s their excuse, then that’s also a threat because, “When I lose it, I could do anything,” right. Because if they’re saying it wasn’t a choice and they have no control over it—they do, but if that is their contingent, if they’re saying that—then who knows what could happen and you’re terrified all the time.

Connie: Right, and you’re walking on eggshells, which in and of itself, is a terrible way to live. They’re finding proof that it gives us autoimmune diseases, it’s given us migraines, it’s giving us constant neuropathy. You read the book In Sickness and In Health and you learn that walking on eggshells is killing people. That, in and of itself, is so abusive.

Sexual Abuse is Also Physical Abuse

I remember, right after we got married, we were driving to my husband’s house in California for Thanksgiving, and as we were driving there he said, “When we get there, I want you to have sex with me in my parent’s hot tub.” I don’t remember what I said, but I just remember thinking, “Please let him forget. Please let him forget this.” We got there, it was nighttime.

I don’t know where his family was, they might have been sleeping or they might have been out of the house, but he said, “Okay, it’s time, let’s go to the hot tube,” and I said, “No.” I stood my ground and I said no, so he punched the wall that divided the kitchen and the living room and this chunk of drywall flew off.

Emotional Abusers Use the “Black Sheep Tactic”

The next day his dad saw it and was super mad at him because they were trying to move across the country, and they wanted to sell the house. I remember another toxic relationship trick that they have up their sleeves is to say, “I’m the black sheep of my family. My family doesn’t love me. I’ve always been the one who’s least-loved by my parents.”

That had been like, “My siblings don’t love me. I feel so alone with my family,” so when his dad had approached us and said, “What happened to the wall? We’re trying to sell this house in California.” It was 2008 when we got married, you know the market had crashed, they were stressed out, so I said, “It’s my fault I made him really mad. I made him really mad. That’s why he punched the wall.”

When Others Don’t Call Abuse What It Is, They Enable Abuse

His dad said, “Okay, well I don’t want to get involved but just make sure you fix it.” I can remember I was making a Velveta cheese appetizer for Thanksgiving as I was watching my husband plaster up this wall, and I remember thinking to myself, “This is weird. There is something weird about this right now.” Then I forgot about it, and it’s taken me 11 years to realize, “What the heck?!? Why didn’t his family say, ‘Whoa, he punched a wall? That’s insanity.’”

Anne: That’s not normal. It’s not like, “I made him mad and he punched a wall.” They should be like, “You, what?!?”

Connie: Yeah, totally. Especially now, because I asked for a separation in September. Once I found BTR, got rid of the CSAT that was slowly killing me.

Anne: A CSAT is a sexual addiction therapist, right?

Victims of Emotional Abuse Can Seek Support From Safe People: Not His People

Connie: Yep, and finally got through the fog. I set my boundaries, figured out that I’m going to survive my life, got the separation that I needed, and immediately, literally within days, his family turned on me. I reached out to them for help.

One of the things I learned is don’t reach out to his people for help, but I always thought they would have my back, and right away it was that I’m “crazy,” that I have borderline personality disorder.

Anne: That you’re trying to ruin your family. Did they say that?

Enablers of Abuse Often Use Spiritual Abuse to Harm Victims

Connie: Yeah, that I’m doing the devil’s work because I’m trying to ruin his family because he actually has his own journey right now and part of his journey is that he has stopped speaking to people that enable his abusive behavior. He’s stopped speaking to his own family, so they say that I’m ruining his family because he is not speaking to them.

Anne: Right. Or he’s finally setting boundaries or something and they’re like, “You’re poisoning him against us.”

Enablers Will Often Lie, Minimize, And “Feed Her To The Wolves” to Justify The Abuser’s Behavior

Connie: Exactly. I’m like, “Really? You knew this.” I know that his dad knows. They sent me a message saying, “We know he has a temper, but you married him, you knew about it.” I’m like okay, and block. I’m like, “We’re done.”

Anne: Their contention was since you consented to the abuse it’s fine, apparently? You’re like and I “consented to marry him,” but I did not consent to abuse.

Connie: Exactly. Without understating the full story, without understanding the truth. It’s really interesting, when I would reach out for help, which I did, to my church leaders, to my own family, and actually to his family, to his dad. I reached out for help back when it was just about pornography addiction, I reached out to his dad.

People said that I just needed to be a “better wife,” all the stuff you’ve all heard. Be a better wife, have more sex, be more patient, use “I” statements, all that stuff. Read about the Four Horsemen or whatever that stupid book says, you know.

Anne: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and then try to avoid it like crazy. You try not to stonewall, you try not to criticize, while he’s still doing it.

Emotionally Abusive Men Appear to be “Perfect” Fathers and Husbands

Connie: Yeah. The funny thing is they hit the jackpot with us because CPTSD makes us the most studious listmakers ever. We are the most amazing wives you could ever ask for because we put this stuff to practice. I do all this stuff, but they still tell me I’m crazy because he’s so awesome. He’s so helpful, he’s so charming, he’s always talking about what an amazing wife he has, because everything in his life is a trophy. He’s a Disneyland dad.

But the second that he turns around and actually starts owning up to the marital rape and the abuse they all say, “Would an abusive man really say he’s abusive? His wife must be controlling him.”

Believe the Victim, Always.

There really is no way for a woman who’s being abused to ever be taken seriously by toxic people. If we go to them for our validation, we are never going to get it, because they’re toxic.

Anne: Yeah, I could not agree more. If there is no way for them to believe the victim. Like, if she speaks, she’s crazy. If she doesn’t speak, she’s crazy. If she goes to therapy, she’s crazy. If she won’t go to therapy, she’s crazy. There’s no out.

Connie: It’s hard, because his family knows how to attack in ways that are extremely hurtful.

Anne: Like, “We just pray that you’ll come to Jesus” kind of stuff? Like, “We’re praying for peace and hope.” Is it spiritual abuse?

Enablers of Abuse Will Often Attack the Victim in Ways That Will Hurt Her Most Deeply

Connie: Well, there is tons of spiritual abuse, yeah, but that stuff doesn’t bother me at all because I know I’m good with God, but personal attacks, like “you’re lazy,” “you’re completely dependent on him,” “no other man would ever want to be with you,” “you’re the luckiest person alive to be married to him.”

When I hear that, I see the rape in my mind and I remember that. This is a fun one. When they would come and visit, he would say, “Connie, you sleep in. I want to be with them, and I know that you’re tired because we’ve had five kids in ten years.” I loved it when I could sleep in.

Emotional Abusers Manipulate Others to See Them as “Perfect” Husbands and Fathers and Their Partners as “Lazy” or “High-Maintenance”

We’d go visit his family or they’d come to visit us and he’d say, “You sleep in. I want to be with them anyway, just me and them time, so you sleep in as long as you want.” Honestly, what mom can sleep in past like 7:30? I’d sleep in like 30 minutes longer and then come join them.

Little did I know that now they’ve mounted this whole thing about how I sleep all day. They’re telling each other and everyone, “Connie sleeps all day, and our son takes care of everything. He works all day, he takes care of all the children, and he takes care of her because she does nothing.”

CPTSD Complicates Healing For Victims of Abuse

It’s this unfit mother campaign, and the frustrating thing is that with CPTSD, you internalize everything. It’s just like, if you have a broken leg, you limp. If you have complex PTSD, you internalize. You just do it until it’s treated, and it takes a long time. You just internalize, so there were a couple of months there where I was like, “I have to wake up at 5 a.m. every day, or else I am proving them right,” so I’m this tired, grumpy person with my brother-in-law sitting on my shoulder all day in my mind saying, “You’re lazy, you’re lazy, you’re lazy.”

It’s just so dumb because I’m also trying to navigate a separation. I’m trying to work through this horrible pelvic pain that I’ve been living with for almost 12 years. I’m trying to parent my children through this wondering, “Is Dad going to be a part of our lives again?” Then I have these ridiculous insults from these people who don’t know me, but that is weighing on me.

Anne: It’s an extension of the abuse, which is unfortunate. People don’t realize that it’s an extension of the abuse. If you are neutral, you side on the side of the abuser.

Next week stay tuned because I’m going to continue my conversation with Connie. We’ll hear more of her story.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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