Most of the women in the BTR community are comfortable talking about their emotional pain. Betrayal hurts.

Sexual and pelvic pain? That’s a different story. It can be awkward and embarrassing to go into detail about such an intimate part of a woman’s private life.

Connie, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, shares her story on the BTR Podcast. A victim of marital rape for over 11 years, she is recovering from pelvic floor dysfunction, dyspareunia, peudental neuralgia, vulvar dynea, and vulvar vestibulitis. All chronic pelvic pain issues that were caused by the years of sexual abuse in her marriage. Read the full transcript below or tune in to the free BTR podcast to hear Connie’s story of triumph over trauma as she identified the abuse and sought safety for herself and her children.

Sexual Coercion and Marital Rape Are Hard to Spot (Even For Doctors)

We went on our honeymoon and the sexual abuse continued. I started to have this awful pelvic pain. I called my mom and she said, “It’s probably a UTI.”

When we got back to the town where we were going to college, I went to the clinic and they did the cultures to see if it was an infection and everything came back negative.

Connie, member of the BTR community

Many victims of emotional abuse seek a doctor’s help when they begin suffering from pelvic and sexual pain. Is it an infection? Am I sick?

Tragically, when infections have been ruled out, women are often left with no answers and excruciating pain. They may be told that it’s “all in their heads” or that they are just stressed out and need to relax.

Sexual Abuse Causes Sexual Pain

It is a fact that sexual abuses creates sexual pain in victims. When a woman experiences pelvic and sexual pain, she is probably a victim of sexual abuse.

The pain began to get more intense to the point that when we would have sex, I would just sob the whole time, and then when it was over I would just get up and I would run to the bathroom. I would turn on the bathtub and I would just sit in the bathtub and I would just cry.

Connie, member of the BTR community

How Can I Identify Sexual Coercion and Sexual Abuse in My Marriage?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does sex physically hurt?
  • Does he tell you that you “owe him” sexual contact because he has spent money on you, is in a relationship with you, did a favor or housework for you, etc.?
  • Does he give you drugs or alcohol before sexual contact?
  • Does he sulk, get violent, get angry, pout, keep you awake, degrade, belittle, or do anything but kindly accept your “no” when you decline sexual contact?
  • Does he continue sexual contact even after you have changed your mind and said no (even if you initially said yes?)
  • Does he threaten or intimidate you into saying yes? (He will hurt you, get angry or violent, or find another woman if you don’t have sexual contact with him).

What is Consent?

Consent is not:

  • A woman saying no repeatedly
  • A woman saying yes out of fear
  • A woman saying yes after intitially saying no
  • A woman saying yes and then changing her mind partially through the sexual experience
  • A woman saying yes for any other reason, but that she wants to because she feels safe, loved, and connected
  • A woman having sexual contact with her partner when he has not disclosed his sexual history and/or currently or in the past has/is having sexual experiences that she is not privy to.

Consent is:

An “enthusiastic yes!” given by a woman who feels safe, loved, and connected; who wants to enjoy sexual contact with her safe partner, knowing that she can withdraw consent at any time and will be respected, loved, and treated with tender affection to the same extent that she would be if there had been continued sexual contact.

Further, there are no secret sexual experiences that her partner has had/is having that he has not disclosed to her in full prior to the sexual contact.

What Can I Do To Find Relief From Pelvic And Sexual Pain?

  • Set and maintain effective boundaries around safe sexual practices: only have sex with someone that you trust and love after he has proven that he is trustworthy over a substantial period of time. This means no abuse, at all. Period.
  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get tested for STDs and STIs. Tragically, abusive men often lie or withhold the truth about their sexual history and it is wise to rule out infections as the cause of your pelvic and sexual pain.
  • Gently and Patiently Begin a Healing Regiment: Try Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, an at-home pelvic wand for releasing painful trigger points, yoga for the pelvic floor, or acupuncture. There are many holistic and helpful treatments available for women suffering from pelvic and sexual pain.
  • For More Immediate Relief: take a bath and mix one cup of baking soda into the warm water; find a comfortable stretch and take deep belly breaths and you stretch; take a nap; change into loose-fitting clothes rather than constricting and tight pants and underwear; get hydrated and make sure that your bladder isn’t completely full or completely empty; if you have been sitting, try standing or walking; place an icepack or heating pad between your legs.
  • Remember that you’re not alone: pelvic and sexual pain can feel very isolating. At BTR, many women find camaraderie in knowing that they are not the only one suffering from this kind of pain. Join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group and find support as you begin your journey to healing.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I have Connie back on this week’s episode. I had a conversation with her last week. If you did not catch that episode last week, please start there first, then join us here as this is a continuation of that conversation.

“Our Power Lies In Trusting Ourselves While Seeking Safety and Freedom From Abusive Behaviors”

I want to thank those of you who’ve rated Trauma Mama Husband Drama, or who purchased it on Amazon. Here’s one of the reviews from a verified purchase.

It says “Betrayed women pour hours of research into trying to understand their abusive husbands and fix themselves. All these years, I betrayed myself believing I had influence over him and questioning my gut. This book delivers the powerful take-home message that it’s not about her. Others won’t always understand, and our power lies in trusting ourselves while seeking safety and freedom from abusive behaviors. Love the illustration of the woman experiencing positive vibes and serenity from inner-strength and change,” so thank you.

Help Victims Of Emotional Abuse Find BTR

If you haven’t purchased the book yet, please go to our books page, btr.org/books. You’ll see a picture of Trauma Mama Husband Drama there. You can click on it and it will take you directly to Amazon. I appreciate every single one of your ratings.

Every single one helps women who are isolated find it on Amazon. When they find it on Amazon, even if they don’t purchase the book, they find us. They find this podcast, which is absolutely free for all women, so your help getting the word out about this book and about this podcast helps women all over the world stop the chaos and pain that we’ve all experienced. We don’t want anyone else to go through that.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Offers Unlimited Support

If you haven’t joined yet, we would love to see you in a session of Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group today. When you join, you get unlimited support. You also get to talk to women who understand this situation immediately. You don’t have to explain it to them, you don’t have to justify yourself. All they will do is open their arms up with love and validate you, and help you feel support and confidence.

We have multiple groups a day in every single time zone. Go to btr.org, and check out the session schedule. We’d love to see you in a group today.

Okay, now I’m going to continue my conversation with Connie.

Marital Rape: What Does Consent Actually Mean?

Anne: Let’s talk about that pelvic pain and rape. This is a very difficult topic, so we’ll do a trigger warning here, and if you’re not interested in talking about repeated marital rape then you might want to stop listening.

He repeatedly raped you. Maybe start from the beginning.

Connie: Yes, I didn’t realize it was rape until we’d actually separated, and I read the book that I referenced earlier, it’s called Real Rape, Real Pain. They define consent as “an enthusiastic yes.” I realized that I had never given an enthusiastic yes in my entire marriage. Ever. Not once. That was powerful to me.

Abusive Men Feel Entitled To Their Partners’ Bodies

Right after we got married, that first time I was sexually assaulted was just moments after we had been married and we were alone for the first time. My husband groped me and said, “You’re mine now. I can do whatever I want to you.”

He said it playfully, with a smile on his face, but I felt immediate nausea hit me and I thought, “I’m not safe. I’m not okay.” Then another sexual assault happened about an hour after that, and I thought again, “Is this how it’s going to be?”

Sexual Addiction and Pornography Addiction Do Not Excuse Abuse: They Are Abuse

I made excuses for my husband because he’d grown up in a hypersexualized home that devalued women. In his family, there is a lot of sexual addiction within his home. Just all of these excuses that we make that Lundy Bancroft completely says, “No, this is not an excuse at all. They make their own choices.”

Anne: Also, you say sexual addiction, and we know that pornography is addictive, it’s also just abuse.

Connie: Completely. Anybody who is okay with the enslavement and torture of women, because that is what pornography is, is not a good person. I’m tired of people saying these are good men. No, they’re not.

Pornography Is a Human Rights Issue

Anybody who is okay with a woman, a child, being enslaved and tortured, because that is most pornography, is not a good person, I don’t care what anybody has to say about me, I don’t care. You are disgusting if you’re okay with that.

You can become good if you stop, but if you are supporting that industry, you deserve to be completely ashamed of yourself, in my opinion. There is a bottom line there. Yes, absolutely, 100% the most disgusting kind of abuse.

Yes, that’s how he grew up, so it helps to explain why he treated me that way. It does not excuse it.

Pelvic Pain May Be a Sign of Sexual Abuse

We went on our honeymoon and the sexual abuse continued. I started to have this awful pelvic pain. I called my mom and she said, “It’s probably a UTI.”

When we got back to the town where we were going to college, I went to the clinic and they did the cultures to see if it was an infection and everything came back negative. I went back, and they did an exam and the Nurse Practitioner was checking me and she started to laugh.

I was so mortified and said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “Oh, we call this overuse syndrome.” I said, “What’s that?” She said, “You’re having too much sex.” I said, “I can’t stop.” She laughed again and she was like, “Well, you’re going to have to try.”

I called my mom when I was walking back to my apartment and I was just sobbing, and I said, “I don’t know what to do.” My mom said, “Well, how often are you guys being intimate?” I said, “I don’t know, two or three times a day.” My mom said, “Oh, honey, that’s way too much.” I remember thinking, “I’m stuck. I am stuck. There’s nothing I can do.”

Sexual Coercion Is Manipulating A Partner’s Consent

I remember going home and telling him, “Look, I’m hurting. I’m in a lot of pain. I don’t know how we’re going to keep doing this. I don’t know what to do.”

He moped. He ignored me. He gave me the silent treatment. He wouldn’t talk to me, and I realized this is how I get love. This is how I get connection in this marriage.

The pain began to get more intense to the point that when we would have sex, I would just sob the whole time, and then when it was over I would just get up and I would run to the bathroom. I would turn on the bathtub and I would just sit in the bathtub and I would just cry.

Many Abusers Share A “Lack of Empathy”

I remember just sitting in the bathtub and I would try to cry quietly, because it would make him mad that I was crying, but I would cry, and I would just say, “Why is he doing this to me? Why is he doing this to me, over and over again?”

We entered this new phase in the relationship where he said once, “Connie, I don’t like it that you get up and run away. It doesn’t make it fun for me. I want you to stay here until I’m ready for you to get up.” I would have to lie there in his arms in this horrible pain for what felt like a really long time. Then he would say, “Okay, you can get up now.” I would get up and I would sprint to the bathroom and I would just lay there in the bathtub and just cry.

Anne: While you’re crying, he’s just like…

Connie: I don’t know. I mean, he would just lay in the bed and then I would be in the bathroom. I would lock the door and I would just lay there in the bathtub and then I would get up and go to bed and then he would go shower and go to bed.

Sometimes he would try to hug me. Other times though, if I was obviously upset, he would go to the far end of the bed and cold-shoulder me, because I wasn’t happy.

Emotional Abuse Can Be Difficult to Identify

Anne: Instead of trying to figure out why you weren’t happy, or empathize, he didn’t try and do anything to actually help you or stop.

Connie: I know. There were times when he would be raping me, and he would say, “Are you okay?” I would be sobbing, heaving, crying, and he would be asking me if I was okay, but he wouldn’t be stopping. It was so confusing.

I knew he didn’t mean it, and I couldn’t speak because I was crying so hard and it was confusing. It was just weird. The pain became so intense that I started saying, “No.” When I would say no, that’s when the devaluing and the discarding, that we talked about earlier, would come in. He would just roll over to the far side of the bed and just ignore me.

Marital Rapists Often Make Partners Choose Between “Love” (With Coerced Sex) Or Emotional Abandonment

It’s like excruciating pain or be ignored? I know that probably to some listeners they’re like, “Okay, easy choice.” It’s not that easy of a choice.

Anne: All of our listeners understand. They know they don’t want to be abused, but they also don’t want to be ignored. You just want your husband, the person who has made vows to love and take care of you, to cherish you, to care about you. They’re the person that’s supposed to do that. In those moments, that’s what you want more than anything else.

Connie: It is its own form of abuse to be discarded that way. I would feel like, “I have given you everything, and you won’t look at me or talk to me or answer my questions or pray with me or check on the baby with me. Only when I give you exactly what you want, are you happy with me. Otherwise, there is nothing.”

It was a very difficult time and things got complicated. There were times when he would pin me down between his legs and hold me down. There were many times when I said no and pushed him away and he would hold me tight and force it.

Most Victims of Rape “Freeze” Instead of Fleeing or Fighting

I never screamed and scratched and fought and bit, the way that you imagine a rape victim fighting. I felt a lot of shame about that until I learned that the most common response to rape is actually freezing. If you are listening and you are wondering if you’ve been raped but think maybe you weren’t raped because you didn’t fight. Your body can’t sometimes. So often, I would just lay there and cry and cry my heart out. I was being raped because I hadn’t given an enthusiastic yes.

I hadn’t given consent, and he knew that, and he would do it anyways. There were times when I said no. Any time that you say no, and someone does it anyway, you’re being raped.

Find Support To Process Your Experiences With Covert Rape

This is happening, we had five children in the process. There were lots of times when he would do this very covert coercive sexual behavior where he would say, “Let me just start having sex with you, if you don’t like it, we’ll stop.” I would say, “I don’t want to do that.”

He’d say, “Let’s just start. Let’s just start and see if you like it, and then we’ll stop.” I would say, “No, I don’t want to,” and he would just start anyway. I would say, “I don’t like it, let’s stop, please stop,” and he would say, “Connie, we already started, let’s just finish.”

There was nothing I could do at that point. He’s a lot bigger than me, he would be on top of me, so at that point, you don’t want to fight. You don’t want to ignite the sulking or the anger, the punching walls, the freaking out that can happen, so you just freeze.

Sexual Coercion is Threatening To Victims of Emotional Abuse

Anne: It’s also sexual coercion, right. It’s a threat. “If you don’t do this I will sulk, or I will do this.”

We’re going to take a break here to read a review from the podcast. I appreciate every single one of your reviews. They really do help isolated women find us.

Help Women Find BTR By Leaving Reviews

Women are going to podcasts to find information and we don’t want them to get that “You’re codependent,” or “This is your part of the problem,” or “You need to stay on your side of the street,” or something like that. We want them to get the correct information so that they can get to safety as soon as possible, so that they know they’re not crazy. Here’s a review the podcast received on Apple Podcasts.

“You are home. Anne and the amazing BTR coaches, you are the pioneers in the field of domestic abuse and betrayal trauma. After trying marriage and family counseling, two well-known CSATs, 12-step programs, and reading everything I could get my hands on, I was done. Why? Because I wasn’t the problem. I was being abused. BTR saved my life and my children. This is what you are doing, you are saving lives. Thank you.

“To women considering this podcast, if you feel confused, numb, foggy, isolated, if you’re lying to protect your husband or make him sound better than he is to family and friends, you are home.

“It is heart-wrenching to begin to accept that it’s been abuse this whole time, but your BTR coach will stay with you through the whole process as your eyes open and you begin to understand that you were never the problem. You are home my friend.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you deserve to feel this isolation and fog and pain. Soon it will all make sense and you will be able to make boundaries that protect you and your kids. You’ll go to bed without that tight feeling around your heart. You’ll wake up excited to be alive. I promise.

“Thank you, BTR, for walking me through this valley. The podcast has been with me through the darkest days.”

If you are so inclined, please go to Apple Podcasts or your other podcasting apps and write a review. I love reading these and other women love reading them. It also helps isolated women find the podcast, which many women are saying has helped them more than years of therapy. We appreciate every single review. Thank you.

Now back to the conversation.

Love Bombing Looks Like “Repenting” (But the Cycle Starts Over)

Anne: He starts saying that he wants to stop this. When did he finally realize that this was rape, or at least to manipulate you? He admits that it’s rape to manipulate you but not to actually change and he goes about “trying to stop” and actually talking to people about it. What happened with the people around you when this phase happened?

Connie: This is how he would “ win my love” in the cycle. He started saying he wanted to change very early on in the marriage. He would become very emotionally abusive to justify it and then he would reel me back in by saying, “But I’m going to get help. I’m going to change. Next week, I’ll find a program,” or something like that.

Abusers Use “Shame” to Avoid Taking Responsibility For Their Behaviors

We would have this amazing honeymoon period, life would be happy, and then I would start asking questions. I would be like, “Okay, when are you going to start this program? When are you going to start getting help?” Then it would throw him into shame, “Now you’ve made me feel ashamed. Now you’ve made me feel bad. Why can’t we just be happy? Why do you have to drudge up ‘the past’ (which was two weeks ago, ‘the distant past’)?”

Then, to make him feel better, the only thing that would make him feel better was raping me, so then the whole thing starts all over again. This was a constant cycle for 11 years. He never talked to anybody about the marital rape, as far as I know. He talked to a lot of clergy about pornography use early on.

Sobriety Can Be a Powerful Grooming Tool

I think sobriety can be one of the most abusive tools that a man has in his arsenal, because he wasn’t sober from sexual addiction and abuse. There was fantasizing, and I was being used as a tool. We were going around speaking to large groups of people about sexual addiction sobriety and how to be a stellar couple and how to love God in your marriage. Meanwhile, this is happening.

Anne: Isn’t that interesting. I think that speaking about their sobriety and sexual addiction and how broken they were and how amazing they are now is such a manipulative tool that people do not recognize. That is the scariest place to be, where someone is portraying themselves to be healthy and talking to people about how to get healthy, when they are absolutely not healthy themselves.

Connie: I’m so leery of men that talk about themselves. Dr. Omar Minwalla, Lundy Bancroft, two men I trust. Other than that, this probably is profiling me as one of those women who hate men, but I don’t care, the rest of them I’m just like, “Go stuff it. You are so fake.”

Most Abusers Exhibit Narcissistic Traits, Whether Or Not They’ve Been Diagnosed With a Personality Disorder

Because I’ve learned that narcissists love to talk about themselves, and whether or not they’re a diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, all addicts and abusers have narcissistic traits. They love it. They love talking about their redemption story, “I was lost, but now I’m found.” They love it!

Anne: The funny thing is that people think, “Oh, because they’re willing to be open about what happened, that must mean that they really have changed or whatever.” I have found that is, scarily, absolutely not the case. It is not a marker of change.

Be Wary of Abusers Who Tout Their “Success Stories”

Connie: No. In fact, what I’ve seen, I don’t know many men at all who have been in a place of true abuse recovery long enough that I can say this with certainty, but the few men that I have observed, it seems that their recovery is so sacred that they do not want to share it publicly at all. That it is between them and their spouse and maybe their coach or therapist and that’s pretty much it.

Anne: We have had a couple of men speak on the podcast under a few things that I am like, “You have to follow these rules. We will not use your real name, we will not use your picture, and we will ask your wife about how she’s feeling.” Other than that, no, because it’s too dangerous and it’s such a tricky place.

What happened with the people around him? Like, when he starts doing this, “I’m recovered. I’m broken but I’m getting help and because I’m getting help, I’m such a good person. Everybody look at me and tell me I’m a good person because I’m willing to admit this.”

Abusers Who Appear “Sober” Create An Illusion of a “Crazy” Partner

Connie: Yeah, so he becomes this pillar in our community, in our church, in his family. He became this golden child speaking at events, everybody loved him. My life became a living hell though. Everything became worse. He stepped up the emotional abuse, the gaslighting had never been worse, the sexual worse had never been worse. Life got horrible because the more I would try to seek help, the more I was told, “But he is so humble. He’s so amazing.”

I have an email that I forwarded to Coach Joi that I sent to my clergy five years ago. I think it said something along the lines of, “I really need your help. My husband is crazy. Things will be fine, he’ll be kind, he’ll be good with our kids, and then, all of a sudden, he will just switch into this angry psychotic person who is hitting things and screaming at me and lying and freaking out for the smallest, tiniest things and I need you to help me because I don’t know what to do. Please help me.”

Clergy Abuse Is Real: Find Support If You Are A Victim

He never responded. I never got a response, and we went, and we met with him. I remember saying, “I get these feelings inside of me that I should get a divorce, and I don’t know if it’s from God or if it’s just fear.” He said, “Connie, those feelings are never from God. Divorce is never from God.”

This is coming at a time when that was the last time that I feel like I was truly raped by my husband. We were at Disney World. He was holding me down on a hotel bed between his legs. I was saying no over and over again. Our children were asleep in the next bed, and I don’t know what happened. I blacked it out. This was like two weeks after that and my clergy is saying divorce is never from God in my circumstance, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Not All Clergy Are Safe (And Few Are Trained About Relational Abuse)

I was reaching out to who I thought, and at this point in my life, I know now never ask! He works for an accounting firm. He has no idea what to do. He knows nothing. I don’t want to berate myself or anyone else who has gone to clergy because we should go to clergy when we need to feel God’s love. They should be a conduit to that. They should say, “God loves you so much.” Period.

Anne: Or you can go and ask for help but know that, if they give you advice that’s not helpful or if they say something that is wonky, you don’t have to follow it. You can be like, “Wait, this person doesn’t know anything.” You don’t have to say, “Well, because they’re clergy, I have to follow this poor advice to enable abuse and stay in an abusive situation.”

When Seeking Help From Clergy, Bring a Safe Person With You

Some people have really good experiences with clergy. It’s not that common, but some people do. I always recommend that, if you’re going to go for help, which you can and you should, depending on the situation, take someone else with you. Take another woman with you to explain what’s happening, and if there are two of you there, the chances of you being accidentally abused by proxy—because he knows your abuser and he thinks your abuser is a good guy—are a little bit lower. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but don’t go alone. For sure, don’t go alone.

Connie: Yeah, that’s really good advice. I would love to have a good experience with clergy at some point in my life. Thus far, it has not happened for me.

11 Years of Rape and Gaslighting Is The Straw That Breaks the Camels Back

Last February, things just really started spiraling fast. I think that’s similar to your story because I remember you saying that the cycles got closer and closer to where the mask was coming on and off, but this is kind of a funny gaslight.

He had a personal boundary, relating to his pornography addiction, that he did not go to movie theaters because they were very triggering for him, and this was a boundary that he’d had for the last eight or nine years, something that I had nothing to do with. I had stepped out of his pornography addiction early on. I just said, “I cannot have anything to do with this. I don’t want to be involved. I want you to row your own boat on this.”

It was February break, we live in a very cold climate, and I was taking my kids to go see Ralph Breaks the Internet. I’m pretty sure that was the movie we were going to.

He texted me and said, “Where are you guys going?” I later found out that he had been stalking me on Find My Friends, which is a different issue. Anyways, I texted him back and I was like, “Oh, we’re on our way to the movie theater.” He said, “I’m on my way there too, I’ll meet you there.”

We got there and I sent him a text and said, “You’re coming to the movies?” He, literally, hadn’t been inside a movie theater for almost nine years okay, so I was surprised. That’s kind of surprising.

Anne: That’s a legitimate question. Like, oh this is a surprise.

Identifying Gaslighting And Controlling Behavior

Connie: Yeah, and he writes back and he’s like, “Why wouldn’t I be?” I’m like, “Oh, okay gaslight. I’m not crazy.” I wrote back and I’m like, “Well, because that’s your boundary that you don’t go to movie theaters, but I’ll buy you a ticket if you want to come in.” At this point, I’m so used to being gaslit that I’m like whatever I’m not playing your dumb game. He texts back and says, “If you don’t want me to come, I won’t come,” or “I won’t enjoy this memory with you and the kids” or something ridiculously passive aggressive.

Anne: Wow.

Connie: Yeah, so he ends up not coming and that night I say, “You need therapy. We need to fix this. You need help.” At this point, I don’t know that there’s abuse going on. I don’t know, I just think that he has a sex addiction because I don’t know what else to do. I’m like, “It has to be this. You need help.”

He set up an appointment. We have one person, one marriage and family counselor through our church, for a huge geographical area. He starts meeting with this guy who is not a certified sexual addiction therapist, knows nothing, is not qualified.

Anne: I want to hear also, you say that, but then when you have the certified sexual addiction therapist it was also a disaster. I want to remind people that we’ll come back around to that in a minute, but this guy’s not so, okay, keep going.

Many Victims of Abuse Believe Their Husbands Are “Sex Addicts” When Their Husbands Are Actually Abusive Pornography Users

Connie: I emailed him though because he told my husband I want to meet with your wife too. I emailed him and I’m like, “Are you a certified sexual addiction therapist because I probably won’t meet with if you’re not?” At this point, I’m operating on what I understand, which is my husband is a sex addict, and he needs to meet with a person.

I knew very little at this point. At this time, I don’t know it’s abuse, I’ve never heard of BTR, I’ve read Codependent No More, and that’s it. I’ve done my church’s addiction recovery program for myself. I’ve done the 12-Steps for myself, as if I am an addict, okay. This is where I am at in my own recovery.

My husband starts meeting with him and he starts telling my husband that I am controlling. That me, Connie, am a controlling person, that my husband’s needs are not being met, that he needs to start demanding that his needs be met by me. Really, what’s happening is that my husband has issues with his mom and that those mom issues are being taken out on me and that it’s perfectly natural and normal.

Just a bunch of garbage. Just like 90 bucks a session worth of just trash, so the abuse just magnifies tenfold, an hundredfold, and I’m like, “What the heck is going on?” My husband is like, “I want you to come,” so I go to a session.

Anne: Sorry, I know what’s going to happen and I’m bracing myself. Listeners, brace yourself!

Institutional Abuse is Devastating: Get Help If you Are a Victim

Connie: I know, it’s so bad. We’re sitting there talking and I say, “What do I do when I know my husband is lying to me?” He says, “Well, how do you know?” I said, “Because I can feel it in myself.” He says, “Well, you don’t know. There are multiple truths. There is his truth and there is your truth.” I’m like, “Well, what if there’s just THE truth?” He’s like, “Well, there’s never just the truth.”

This was one indicator and I’m like, “Okay, this guy’s an idiot.” That was number one, and number two is that I said, “Okay, this is my other issue. Sometimes my husband says things just to make me go crazy.” He’s like, “Okay, give me an example.”

I said, “My kids will be playing in the road. I have five kids. We live on a cul-de-sac. My kids will be biking in the cul-de-sac, but they love to bike out into the road because they’re kids, and my husband will see that, and he’ll come up to me and start making out with me against my will. I will say no, and he will grab me and force me into his arms and start kissing me and turn my face away from my kids.

“He knows it scares me, he knows I’m afraid of my kids getting hit by a car, but he will do this anyways. I will be like, ‘Stop, stop. I need to watch the kids’ and it makes me crazy. It makes me really angry. I start freaking out. I start getting really mad at my husband.”

CSAT Doesn’t Mean “Safe”

This counselor says, “Don’t you understand how much he wants your affection? Don’t you understand how lucky you are to have a man who wants you to love him the way that your husband does?” And then he’s like, “Look at the way he’s looking at you, it’s so precious. It’s so precious the way he’s looking at you.”

Gag me! Meanwhile, this entire time, my husband is stalking me. He checks for me on Find My Friends daily. When he gets home from work, he picks up my phone and reads every one of my texts, he reads every one of my emails, he checks my phone log. I mean, “precious”? Come on, he’s stalking me. It’s so wrong.

I’m being told that I need to be a better wife. I start meeting with this guy alone, which was dumb, but he told me to, so I did because that’s where I was at that time. He tells me I just need to work on being a better wife. I need to be more loving. I need to be more patient. My husband is going through a lot right now. I just need to let him work through his stuff and try harder to meet his needs.

More Sex Doesn’t Stop Abusive Men From Being Abusive

Our sexual life, at this point, is extremely active. He’s living this amazing life going to the gym every morning for like an hour and a half, he’s late to work every day, because he’s taking his time getting ready, he’s going out to lunch all the time, coming home from work late, sleeping in. His life is awesome.

My sister comes to visit and she sees me outside and I have one baby strapped to my back, I have another one in a stroller that I’m dragging behind me and I’m mowing the lawn, and then I have my three other kids right next to me, all while I’m outside mowing the lawn in the late June heat.

She walks up to me and she’s just like, “This is not okay. This is not okay. This is not how it’s supposed to be.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” She’s like we need to talk. This is right after the incident, the gaslight that broke the camels back, and it’s not going to sound that intense, but this sister that came, that was like the angel of my life who was like, “This is not okay. Your husband’s crazy.”

I was really excited that she was visiting. We’d finished this guestroom in the basement for her. I’d painted it really cute. I was so excited. I’d been telling my husband for weeks like, “I’m so excited for her to come.” He knew how excited I was.

The Second Gaslight That Broke The Camels Back

The weekend before she was coming, we were sitting on the couch, my phone dings and I look down and I have a text and I read it out loud. It’s my husband’s cousin and she’s saying, “Hey, can I come to visit you guys next weekend?” They wanted to come up for this big pageant that happens in our area.

Anne: You’re in upstate New York. For those of you who are familiar with this, this is the Palmyra Pageant, if you know what that is.

Connie: Yeah, the Hill Cumorah Pageant. The words I said were, “Oh darn.” Immediately, I felt the vortex of doom happen. When the shift goes from everything’s fine to abuse mode, and they become hideous. I don’t know if this happens with your husband, but they go from remotely attractive to just suddenly completely unattractive.

I don’t know if your husband’s face changed. Mine would change. His face would change. His whole demeanor would just change to this other person, and I was like, “Okay, what just happened?” He’s like, “Nothing happened,” like all sulky. I’m like, “Are you okay, are you sick, what’s wrong?” He’s like, “Nothing’s wrong.” I’m like, “Okay, I’m not going to ask you any more questions, you can tell me when you’re ready.”

Abusive Men Manipulate To Control And Have “Power Over” Their Partners

He starts pacing the room, and then he’s like, “You just made a decision for our entire family without consulting me on it.” I’m like, “Okay, what decision did I just make?” He’s like, “You told my cousin she couldn’t visit us.” I’m like, “I didn’t tell your cousin a thing. I haven’t texted her back yet.” He’s like, “Well, you said oh darn.” I was like, “Okay, well my sister is already coming that weekend, we don’t have any extra rooms.”

For the next hour, he goes into all these arguments about why we’re not being Christlike by inviting many people into our home at once. If I had asked somebody if I could visit them why we absolutely would want them to say yes, and how I’m not fun like I used to be, and just all these reasons why we should say yes to inviting his cousin to come stay.

Victims of Emotional Abuse Often Experience Spiritual Abuse

I’m like, “Okay, I’ll tell her she can come.” Then he’s like, “No, no, no don’t do that. Don’t tell her she can come.” Then I’m like, “Okay, I won’t tell her she can come.” “No, don’t do that either. Why would you do that? That’s not Christlike, you should tell her she can come.” I’m like, “You text her and you let her know.”

A couple of days go by and I’m like, “Did you decide what you’re going to do? Is she coming or not?” He’s like, “Why would I ever tell her she could come?” I’m like, “Because you wanted her to come. He said, “I never said I wanted her to come.”

Right then, I was just like, “You gaslit me. Move. Get out of the house. Get out. Just go.” The startled look on his face, I wish I had a camera in that moment, because there have been times when I’ve been like you need to leave but it was always with this fear and trembling, but it really was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Women Are Powerful (That Includes YOU)

Angels around me were probably singing the Hallelujah chorus. I was just filled with all this power. I was like, “Get out, just go, I’m done. That was the dumbest gaslight.” I think he was thinking like that was just a little itty-bitty gaslight. You know after everything I’ve done, but I was like, “No, you did. For an hour you’re convincing me you—no, just get out! Move, go.”

Anne: Connie and I are going to continue this conversation next week, so stay tuned for that.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

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