At BTR, we know that there is no fear or pain equivalent to the trauma that comes from an ex-partner using your children to harm you.
Whether it’s through the family court system, co-parenting, or simply creating chaos out of every-day situations, abusers know that one of the most effective ways to harm a woman is through her children.
When he uses the children to hurt you, you can still seek deliverance and peace. Anne shares her thoughts on the free The BTR.ORG Podcast and in the full transcript below.
When He Uses The Kids To Hurt You In The Courtroom
Abusive men use the courtroom as an opportunity to not only torment victims, but to manipulate court professionals and seek validation. They don’t want parenting time, they want to win. They don’t want a peaceful resolution. They want chaos. They enjoy the fight.
When he uses the kids to hurt you in the courtroom, it is essential that you seek support, practice radical self-compassion and self-care, and live by boundaries.
Family court systems all over the world are broken. Outcomes are completely unpredictable. However, you can determine now to love and accept yourself no matter what happens. You can determine now to surround yourself with people who love you and build you up. You will need support and community as you face your abuser in the courtroom.
When He Uses The Kids To Hurt You, Accept & Embrace Your Own Anger
When He Uses The Kids To Hurt You: Abuse By Proxy
When an abuser harms or manipulates the children in order to harm you, it’s called “abuse by proxy.” This is a severe form of post-separation abuse.
BTR.ORG Group Sessions are here for you with daily, live sessions. Attend a session today and find the community, validation, and support that you need. Talking through the post-separation abuse that you are enduring is a powerful way to seek healing from trauma. We are here for you.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Before we get to today’s episode, BTRG is our daily online support group. We have 21 plus sessions per week for you to choose from. You don’t have to wait for an appointment, you don’t have to leave your home. We are here for you. We’d love to see you in a session today.
For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating on Apple podcasts or other podcasting apps. Thank you so much. Every single rating helps isolated women find us, and if this podcast has helped you, when you rate it, you help another woman find it. So, your ratings make a big difference. We received a five-star review from a man who struggles with an abusive character.
He said: A whole new world. Ever since listening to this podcast, it’s as if a whole new world of awareness has been opened up to me. It has not only helped me realize how severe the abuse was in my marriage with my wife, but I’m also starting to see how widespread this really is in the greater picture. This is more than a marriage issue. It is a severe issue of justice perpetuated by a lack of true leadership or willingness to change for the men in the world. This podcast sheds light on a sinister subject that we tiptoe around.
Thank you to our male listeners. I really appreciate you and am so grateful to those of you who have left a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. Again, every single one of your ratings helps isolated women find us.
BTR Is Inter-Faith & Inter-Paradigm
It’s been a while since it’s just been me talking to you about what’s going on and about what I’m thinking about. I got vaccinated, but I think I have maybe a cold, so I hope I don’t have COVID. I don’t think this is COVID, it feels like a regular cold, but it’s like nowadays if you sneeze or if you cough, then it’s the end of the world. So, sticking around home waiting for my cold to pass. Most of you know that I am religious, that I follow a faith tradition, and that I’m Christian. Specifically, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am grateful for the foundation that provides me with faith and hope in God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.
For you, non-religious listeners out there, atheists or agnostics, you are welcome here. We’re so glad that you’re here and I’m so grateful that you listen and that you’re here and that you are a part of this because this issue affects every woman regardless of her paradigm or her faith or the way that she sees the world. For women of faith, you’re really familiar with the wheat and the tares, and for you women who are not of faith, please indulge me in listening to this, and I would love your help as well.
The Parable of the Wheat & the Tares
I’ve been studying the parable of the wheat and the tares, and I’m wondering if Matthew 13 verse 25 where it says, but while men slept, I wonder sometimes if that means that while the clergy, while the legal system, and basically any man who could stop the abuse but won’t, right. They will not hold the abuser accountable; they won’t believe us, they won’t listen to us. That as these men sleep, that the children of the devil grew and grew until you could see their fruits basically is what this is talking about. And so, a lot of victims of abuse try to justify not setting boundaries with the abuser because he’s “a child of God”, like, well, he’s a child of God and so I’m gonna love him and care about him and God loves him. But in this parable, starting in Matthew 13, it clearly states that there are children of the “wicked one”.
And I’ve really been thinking about the way that the scriptures, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, describe men who are not obeying the commandments. They don’t say, and he didn’t obey the commandments because he felt shame. And so, we wanted to love him and care about him. They don’t say that, they actually call them a word, and the word that they call them is wicked. This is a common term used throughout the scriptures, and part of me is wondering why don’t we use this term anymore? This wicked term, and part of it is the Christian, you know, aversion to passing judgment, but Christ also asks us to decipher between good and evil. That’s part of the reason why we’re here on Earth, and so I think this is an interesting thing to think about.
When They Use The Kids To Hurt You
There are those of us who have set boundaries. We have removed every single thing the abuser can use to hurt us. So essentially, there’s nothing left for them to use to hurt us, except for one thing, our children, and because they’re the dad, they have that in, and they’re able to assert control that way. Every day I hear stories of sheroes, victims of abuse, who are slaughtered regarding custody in the courts. They’re not believed or supported by their churches and every day I hear about how their children, these children of wicked men and righteous mothers, are just dragged through chaos and pain because the wicked have no desire for peace. That’s not their goal. Their goal is to win, or their goal is to prove something. I’m wondering if you would do something with me and if our whole community will do this and for you atheists maybe just hold it like a moment of silence or something that works for you, like offer it up to the universe. Will you pray every morning and night for the next 30 days, that the tares can be gathered and burned? So, talking about that classic parable from Matthew 13, about the wheat and the tares. I know it’s apocalyptic, it sounds really intense.
“Boundaries Are What Separate Us From The Harm”
We’ve also talked so much about boundaries on this podcast. That boundaries are what can separate us from the harm. So, the crazy thing about boundaries, is that you can never stop the harm from happening, right, because the only way that the harm can stop is if that abuser stops being abusive. So, no matter what boundaries you put on there, they can still actually be abusive. So, the only thing you can do is separate yourself from the harm.
You can’t stop the harm, but boundaries are definitely the most important, and basically the only tool in our toolbox to get to safety. Self-sufficiency brings us peace, boundaries bring us as much peace as possible, but even after we have essentially said, get the hence, right, to our abusers (these children of the wicked one) they still have a way to hurt us through our children, and there’s nothing we can do in many cases. We’re not able to command armies like the men in the Scriptures do to protect their families. In the scriptures they like to go to war, and you know all those things that we don’t have that ability, but we do have an army of angels that wants to help us.
“He Will Not Suffer Their Cries Any Longer”
One of my favorite scriptures regarding the wheat and the tares is in the Doctrine and Covenants, and it’s in section 86 verse five, and it says, Behold, verily I say unto you. The angels are crying unto the Lord, day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent for to reap down the fields. Then another scripture in Mormon eight verses 40 through 41 says, yea, why do you build up secret abominations to get gain and cause that the widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord for vengeance upon your heads. Behold the sword of vengeance hangeth over you, and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you. For He will not suffer their cries any longer.
The parable of the wheat and the tares is also, I think, related to Matthew 24:40, where the scriptures say, then shall too be in the field and one shall be taken in the other left. Will you pray with me, morning and night for the next 30 days that the tares in our lives, the children of the wicked one that are fully ripe and have the fruits to prove their wickedness, will be removed from our lives so that we can have peace?
“He Will Come And Save You”
Here’s another scripture in second Nephi 26:3 through 4, it talks about this wheat and the tares, it says in great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish. And they perish because they cast out the righteous women, I’m paraphrasing there, and stone them and slay them. Wherefore the cry of the victims of abuse shall ascend up to God from the ground against them. Verse 4, wherefore all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, for they shall be a stubble. And in Isaiah 35:4 we read, say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not, behold your God will come in vengeance. Even God with a recompense, He will come and save you.
When He Uses The Court System To Hurt You
Personally speaking, you may have heard several podcasts where I said I was going through a really difficult thing, and I didn’t say much about it because it had to do with a custody case regarding my children, which I actually lost. So, I wanted to share with you that I did everything right. I was honest, I was forthright, I said my concerns, and the people involved just did not believe me and I saw the writing on the wall, and I lost, and I settled the case, and as a result of that my children have a much more difficult custody schedule. Something else that came out of that was instead of going through my dad; I know I’ve talked for years about how we’ve communicated through my dad, and I’ve done no contact, it became obvious to me that the court did not like that at all and so I switched from my dad being the mediator to using Our Family Wizard, which is another mediation app.
I don’t have it on my phone so that he can’t ding me or whatever, but I do have it on my computer, and I check it every day. And that’s another way so that I don’t get emails, I don’t get phone calls, I don’t get texts that trigger me so that it’s at least separated from me a little bit, but I still maintain, I would say, a modified no contact where all the contact goes through Our Family Wizard.
“The Court System Is A Mess”
That’s been working really well and had to have a lot of prayers and a lot of coaching to figure out how to do this right, and it’s been a process. So, my custody situation is worse for my children now, things are very hard, and I just recognize that like the court system, the clergy system, the religious system really does not help victims that much. Like we really do have to be our own sheroes. In so many cases, women do get help and that’s great, and if you have physical abuse happening reporting is a good idea, but it can be really unsafe in so many ways and so if you have something criminal to report, I highly recommend that you schedule an individual session with Coach Renee, who can help coach you how to do that with your local authorities.
The outcome, obviously cannot be guaranteed, but to give you the best experience possible, but it’s going to be traumatic regardless. The court system is a mess. The reason why I brought Tina Swithin on, and Wendy Hernandez and I’ve just been doing a ton of study on custody things and really the conclusion I came to is, God is our only hope, or the universe or whatever you believe in. For me it’s God, our only hope for justice is through our Heavenly Father and our heavenly parents and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ve turned my heart to him and realizing that there isn’t anything worldly that can protect me in this instance where I share children with my abuser. The laws are requiring us to maintain contact with the man who harmed us and who is continuing to lie and abuse and do stuff that is untoward, that is harming us and our children, and it’s a tough place to be.
When He Uses Custody To Hurt You
So, after losing this case, Me, Anne, who I don’t know everything. You guys know I don’t know everything, you know I’m just like you and I’m in the process of learning, but I really thought I could figure it out like I follow Tina Swithin’s advice, I followed Wendy Hernandez’s advice, I had a good attorney, and it still didn’t go the way I wanted, and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. So, here’s a couple of things I’ve kind of come to grips with.
One: part of me wonders if the reason why I didn’t win, and the reason why things are harder for my children, is because he’s asked me to podcast here, he’s asked me to talk to you, he’s asked me to start this organization. And I just wonder if perhaps in the past when I said hey, do no contact and you guys were like it’s hard to do no contact the court won’t let me and I was like no you can do it. And now I’m thinking, Man, I never had that experience before, where the court was like no, you can’t do that, and now here I am. So, I want to empathize and apologize if I made it seem easy because for six years my custody situation was fantastic. And then my ex got remarried and with that, he has his new wife to take care of the kids and so, of course, he wanted to take them more because he doesn’t have to take care of them. So, I just was never really faced with these difficult things, and now that I’m here, I want to say, like, my heart goes out to all of us who have been through this and I’m sorry if I made it seem easy before. It’s not, it’s really hard.
“Pray For Deliverance”
Also, for all of us who have done everything right, we’ve done every single thing, we have reported crimes, we have set boundaries, we’ve separated ourselves from the harm, and we’re still not able to actually stop the harm to our children. It is the most excruciating difficult situation and its long term, and it does remind me of the people in the Scriptures who are in bondage. The Israelites, and in the Book of Mormon there are some Nephites who were in bondage, and this bondage thing he just keeps coming to me over and over again. And so, in addition to praying for the tares to be removed from our lives, another thing I want to suggest is that you pray for, rather than praying that your husband will change, or that your family will be safe or something. Might I offer a suggestion to pray for deliverance? In the scriptures, time and time again, people in bondage are praying for deliverance, knowing that God is their only option. The law can’t help them. In the Israelites experience the law was the Egyptians, right. They were in bondage by the law so how are they going to get out? They have no other way, and I think that’s the case with us.
“Deliverance Would Be A Miracle”
The righteous, currently speaking, are in bondage from the wicked in their homes or out of their homes, right, or their ex-husbands. And how do we get delivered? We, in my opinion, need to humble ourselves and let God know that he is our only option. But the courts do not understand this, that therapists don’t understand this, the clergy doesn’t, and we only have one option and that is our Savior leading us out of bondage somehow and delivering us. So, my suggestion is to pray for deliverance, rather than to pray that your husband will change or pray that he’ll get it or pray that he’ll see the light but pray for deliverance. That deliverance can come in two ways. It can come through him actually repenting, which would actually deliver you from abuse because even if you divorce him and he’s still abusive, you’re still not going to be delivered from abuse.
So, there’s one option of deliverance. The second option for deliverance is that he could be removed from your life somehow. And that deliverance would be a miracle. Now, I don’t want to put limits on God. Maybe there are 10 other options that I don’t know about, but there are at least two and I think praying for deliverance is what we need to do and I think we’ve missed the boat when we pray for something else.
When He Uses Family Court To Hurt You
I was praying for, you know the right thing for my custody case or whatever, and things got worse. My custody situation got worse, my child support situation got worse, there was literally nothing in the last case that I went through that got better. Every single thing that I wanted; I did not get. I did not get one thing. It’s interesting because now after that settled, all the things that I thought would happen are happening now, it just goes to show me that his only concern or his only interest was winning, not the best interest of the children which how do you negotiate or how do you do the best thing for your kids if every time you suggest what you think is the best thing, the other person just cares about winning so they just want to contradict everything you do or say. It just doesn’t work. It’s not going to work for kids. In the meantime, while we’re not being delivered, it’s like just enduring abuse. And it’s a really difficult place to be.
New Age Bypass Does Not Help You Heal From Abuse
There is a really popular Instagrammer who was abused for a long time. She doesn’t recognize it as abuse, and now she’s, you know, super positive about her divorce. I mean, it was hard, and she is like I wish him well and now we’re co-parenting together or whatever and never really acknowledged the abuse or what was really happening and is now going on to live her best life. I’ve been really triggered by it actually because I want to live the life that I want to live, but I’m still faced with this oppression from an abuser. I don’t know, I just have so many feelings about it. I have so many feelings about like, if I just think about it differently, will it be different. You know, there’s that like New Age thinking, you know, if you’re grateful and whatever, and then also just seeing the truth. And here’s a comment that kind of is similar to this that we got on the podcast the other day.
By the way, any of these podcast episodes that you listened to, please comment on them. Every single one of your comments helps isolated women find us. I love hearing your feedback, like what you think about the episodes, your experience. If something that I say on an episode or something that one of the guests says is like something that you’ve been through, please go to btr.org, find that episode, and comment. I want to know if this has been your experience too.
Spiritual Bypass Doesn’t Help Either
So, this woman commented, and she said, I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I am with you too. Your words struck a chord, especially the parts about your husband lying, even when you had proof, minimizing the situation and not facing the truth. Not knowing everything is driving me crazy. The scenarios I am now imagining are far worse than any truth could be, and yes, how do we begin to move forward when looking back at our lives is so excruciatingly painful when faced with a cold fact that it was fake, and we were taken for a fool. This woman is commenting to the guest that was on that day. I do hope you’re doing okay in this new painful reality we seem to find ourselves in. I read somewhere that we have three possible choices after betrayal to become bitter, to go mad, or to grow. I wish you love and strength on your path.
This is a great comment and I’m really grateful for it, but one of the things that really struck me was these three possible choices after betrayal, and this Instagrammer that I previously talked about who’s now facing divorce with like resilience and she’s just like pulling her bootstraps up and she’s happy and she’s gonna live her best life and stuff, she’ll say things like that. You know you either become bitter or you go mad, or you grow and so I’m gonna choose to grow. The woman who commented on this, I’m not sure what her status is, but I think that you have these three choices is really a very misogynistic trope. So, I hate to call her out, but when I read that I need to point this out. That this is such a misogynistic trope is that women can’t be bitter or women can’t be angry, or women must grow through this. I just want to relieve every woman on the planet of the concern about being angry. I’m going to put in parentheses bitter. If you were not angry about what happened to you, you would go crazy. Like you would be a robot. I don’t know, something would be wrong with you. Like it is not normal to not be angry in this situation.
Embrace Your Anger
One of my goals is to help women embrace their anger. To get to emotional and psychological safety, so please don’t ever worry about being bitter. The anger will dissolve once you are safe and men generally tell women not to be bitter when the women are justified in their anger, and the abuse hasn’t stopped yet. So generally speaking, when a woman is still angry, right, they’ll be like, well she’s been angry for a long time so now she’s bitter. And I’m like, maybe she’s angry because the abuse hasn’t stopped, because she’s not safe. She hasn’t figured out how to set boundaries, she hasn’t figured out maybe how to separate herself from the harm. But even in my case, I figured out how to separate myself from the harm really well, and it’s still happening. And I have no legal recourse, I have no way of stopping it. So, I think people saying hey, don’t be bitter or bitter women are angry women are crazy women it’s really simply just a manipulation tactic to gaslight women into not taking steps to safety. So, I want to just give everyone permission to be angry, be bitter even, whatever. In this case, there aren’t these three options. It’s not like you become bitter, you go mad, or you grow. Those are not the three options that you have.
Your Safety Is Your Number One Priority
You have one choice, one path, and the path is to get to real true emotional and psychological safety. That is your goal, and if on that path to safety you’re angry, great. If on that path to safety you seem crazy to some people because you move out, and they’re like your husband’s so great, why are you moving out, and you seem crazy. Fine. The goal, the one possible option for you is to get to safety. And my belief is that the safer and safer you feel and the actual distance you put between yourself and the harm, the less angry you will feel over time, and that’s because your anger is a gift from God that will help you take action. And the reason why everybody is afraid of an angry woman is that an angry woman takes action and people do not want women to take action.
So, please just, anger is the best. I love anger right now, I’m excited about it. I’m not saying that we should be angry people or whatever, but I just mean like think about what your anger can do for you. Can it help you get to safety and feel happy and peaceful? That’s the goal right. Anger is not the goal. But what I do mean to say is, think about what spurs you to action and anger is a great resource that we have that, I think God gave us. So many times, in the scriptures it talks about profits or people who are angry with the wickedness of the world and so they took action to bring to pass peace for themselves and their families, and that’s awesome.
Abuse Is A Character
Another thing that we’ve talked about so many times on the podcast is that abuse is a behavior, and I’ve really come to actually kind of evolve in that it is a behavior but if you say just look at their behaviors, there’s also this manipulative kindness that can happen right, and the grooming that can happen. So when they’re grooming, or when they’re doing the manipulative kindness in order to manipulate you, how do you know what it is? There’s one other factor here and it could be that him yelling at you is a sign of his abuse, well, what if you yell at him is a sign of your abuse, or is that a sign of you trying to stand up for yourself or are you trying to take action?
Understanding Exploitative Privilege
I think the better way to think about abuse, rather than it being behavior, is that it’s a character. An abusive character means that even kindness is for an alternate purpose, right. Even kindness has a goal behind it. It’s not to care for that person, it is to manipulate or use them. And so, I think that’s what we’re looking for is, is their character, the character of manipulative kindness or exploitative privilege, or is it genuine care and protection for you?
We know that one of the four pillars of abuse; you can find this infographic in the back of my book Trauma Mama Husband Drama, you can also kind of see those four pillars of abuse floating around on Instagram. On Instagram, we are @betrayaltraumarecovery and our Facebook page is Betrayal Trauma Recovery. One of the four pillars of abuse is entitlement, but I was like this is not a strong enough word, we need a stronger word. So we came up with the word exploitative privilege, which means that they use their privilege as a man to exploit women, right. To say, as a woman, you owe me. You owe me sex; you owe me dinner. You owe me to take care of the kids and I don’t need to, you know. These are the things that I’m entitled to as a man, and I’m going to avail myself of these things. That is exploitative privilege in order to exploit their spouse, which is an abusive behavior.
“People Who Don’t Have An Abusive Character Don’t Want to Exploit Other People”
People who don’t have an abusive character don’t want to exploit other people. It makes them feel uncomfortable, and so they don’t want to do that, but people who do have an exploitative abusive character, will be kind sometimes but it’s because it’s goal-oriented. So, that’s another word that I want you guys to think about. Rather than entitlement, although entitlement can work, and if it works for you great. This other term, exploitive privilege, I think really defines what’s happening more. That is the exploitative privilege that misogyny affords them, and because of that, all of their actions, all of their conversations are through that lens of exploitative privilege. That is always going to be an abusive situation rather than in a relationship with someone who sees you both as equals, both of your needs are equal, both of your responsibilities are equal, where you are an equal partner. Someone who sees you as an actual equal partner, not someone to be used, is not going to be abusive. Their characters not going to be abusive. So, even if in a moment of frustration, they yell because you got a flat tire or something. It’s not the yelling, necessarily, that is the abuse because some of these abusers, never yell, you know. They do everything with a smile on their face and everything they do is just really well-crafted, and it looks good, but it’s the goal, what is the goal.
Pray For Deliverance From Bondage
So, I have just rambled and rambled and rambled on this, but that’s where I am in my life right now. I’m thinking about the wheat and the tares, I’m thinking about deliverance from bondage, and I’m thinking about how anger can help us with that. So, just to sort of wrap up and maybe just summarize. Will you pray with me for the next 30 days that the tares can be removed from our lives, that we can be delivered? And can you also with me consider how anger can help us take action to separate ourselves from the wicked, and how it can help us separate ourselves from those who would do us harm, rather than those who want peace because abusers, their goal is not peace. Their goal is control when our goal is just safety and peace. It really is. I don’t know of any woman who necessarily wants to control things, they just want things to be peaceful.
I appreciate your prayers if any of you have prayed for me if any of you knew the custody thing. Now my only hope is through my savior Jesus Christ that my children and I will be delivered, and that through the grace of God that we can live the peaceful life that I want to live and that is promised to the righteous. And maybe it’s not in this life. I also consider my situation to be much better than like a girl that’s sex trafficking in India or something. So, gratitude definitely has a place, and I am much more peaceful now, in general, than I’ve ever been even though my custody situation is worse and even though my child support situation is worse. I’m grateful. I’m really grateful for what I’ve learned, and I’m hoping, I’m hoping that our faith will fruit moving a mountain, will fruit a miracle.
“Work, Hard Work”
My nine-year-old son lately has been just saying the most interesting things. We’ve been out weeding the garden, for example, and he’ll say, Mom, you know we have a miracle here. And I’ll be like, what are you talking about? And he’s like we have a miracle in this beautiful garden, and do you know what made the miracle happen? And I’m like, no what? And he’s like, weeding. Our weeding made a miracle, and he said the same thing about like grocery shopping. He’s like we went grocery shopping, and that made the miracle of this dinner. And I said, so what makes a miracle? And he said, Mom, work, hard work.
And at this point, we’ve done the work, sisters. So many of us have done so much work. We have worked and worked and worked, and I think, my hope is that through our prayers and our faith we can rest in the Lord and ask Him to deliver us and ask him to remove these tares from our lives and that we can rest. No, I don’t really want us to bring on the Second Coming if you’re a believer in that. That sounds kind of miserable and I’d rather be safely dead than experienced that, but maybe that’s what he’s waiting for, I don’t know.
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Thank you for listening, thank you for being supportive, thank you for being members of this community. Being able to share my own experience, being able to share what I’ve learned, being able to share what I think, and my evolving opinions about things as they evolve over time has been a blessing to me personally, and I’m really grateful to have met all of you wonderful sisters along this journey. So, thank you.
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