Betrayed women may feel like they are not capable of deeply trusting another person ever again. Some decide to withhold trust simply because the thought of another betrayal is too painful to bear.
Dr. Debi Silber joins Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast to discuss post-betrayal syndrome and offer victims of betrayal hope to begin the process of rebuilding the ability to trust again. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
Will I Ever Trust Again? The First Step
When trust has been shattered with an intimate partner, women can begin the process of rebuilding their ability to trust safe people (not abusers) by starting back at the basics. Dr. Silber suggests choosing something as simple as the sunrise – women can decide to “trust” in something consistent and simple.
Some other ideas may include:
- Trusting that the night will end
- Trusting that the weekend will come
- Trusting that the seasons will change
- Trusting that water will come out of your faucet
- Trusting that the mail will come
Learning To Trust Again: Trust Yourself
The second phase of re-learning trust is trusting your own intuition.
Abused and betrayed women often temporarily lose touch with their own inner voice and may forget what it feels like to have gut instincts. However, with practice and compassion, victims can tune back in to their own intuition and rebuild trust with themselves.
When women begin trusting themselves, they are well on the way to rebuilding their ability to trust others in healthy ways.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Is Here For You
Healthy, safe support is pivotal for victims of abuse and betrayal.
The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone. BTRG offers validation, support, and a powerful community of women who understand. Join today and begin your journey to healing as you share your story, your trauma, and your pain with women who have gone through similar experiences.
Remember, you are not alone.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
I have Debi Silber on the episode again today. It’s a continuation of our conversation last week so if you didn’t listen last week, start there and then join us here.
Thank you to those of you who have rated the podcast. Here’s a five-star review we received: This is one of the best podcasts if you are dealing with any kind of emotional or psychological abuse and coercive control. Although it focuses on the abuse of pornography use, and even though that wasn’t my specific issue, so many episodes have helped me so much. Abuse is abuse and getting clarity on what is happening is critical. The focus on safety first, is a key theme and so important.
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Okay, now to my conversation with Debi and we’re starting with talking about how we transcribe all these things as I said before, and how in the last episode, some people may have forgotten to write down the stages so that they could go and get it there and then join us here. So I start by talking about that.
BTR Podcast Transcriptions Are A Great Resource For You
Anne: We transcribe every single one of these episodes, so if you’re listening in the car and you didn’t have an opportunity to write these stages down, don’t worry, you can see the transcription right under the article. The whole thing will be transcribed for you there. Having those stages as a roadmap is so helpful for women.
Dr. Debi: Oh, and that’s why you know also the study proved that when we’re experiencing betrayal, we need support the most but we’re the least likely to seek it because of all the shame and embarrassment and that’s why I wrote Trust Again. I was like, you know what, if they don’t want to go out anywhere, they can have all of the stages with all the experiential activities moving them from one stage to the next, right at their fingertips. It’s all in there.
Anne: There’s self-shame and then there’s also this external shame, like, just get over it. What’s wrong with you, why are you not doing this, you know? There are also external expectations from people who don’t understand these stages.
“The Wrong Support Does More Harm Than Good”
Dr. Debi: Exactly, they don’t get it and the wrong support does more harm than good. It’s so upsetting because first of all what we’re all in a club we never wanted to be in. We didn’t want to be members of this club, and people who haven’t experienced this, everybody is speaking through their lens – you know they want you better, they want you happy, they want this behind you, for their sake, so they know you’re okay, and they can sort of check that box.
But this is individual and healing takes time and what I see the most is it takes a willingness because if you are unwilling, and you have every right to hang on to your story for dear life, you can. That could be your story and you have your story.
Anne: I would even say if you’re hanging on to his abusive behaviors for dear life. Like you’re not setting a boundary, you’re not willing to face that and make some huge changes. You can, but you’re going to get hurt still.
“So Strong, So Healthy, So Healed”
Dr. Debi: Yeah, that’s it, and I would never tell somebody what they need to do. I can just share what worked for me, what works for members of my community, and what the study proved.
Anne: Me too, we’re very pro-victim around here, but at the same time I always want to tell women, you cannot heal the wound if you’re continually getting wounds. If someone’s hitting you on the head you can put a bandage on your head but if they keep hitting you on the head, it’s not going to heal.
Dr. Debi: Yeah, and I’ll tell you I look at it as I don’t even see it as that we’re victims because I don’t know if there’s anyone stronger than someone who is completely healed from betrayal. I mean when they are in that place of post betrayal transformation, which is a unique state that is when they are in that fifth stage, they are so strong, so healthy, so healed, and that’s when they can look back and say, you know, while this actually was my biggest crisis, it was also my greatest gift.
What Is A “Shero”
Anne: I do use the word victim to help women hit home. Like, they need to do something about this. Move away from the abuse because he’s not going to change, but my favorite term is Shero. She has to be her own hero and pull herself out of this, and I really like that term. Let’s talk about post betrayal syndrome, and how do we know if we have it?
Dr. Debi: Yeah, this was one of the three discoveries, and what we realized was that there is this collection this physical, mental, and emotional collection of symptoms so common to betrayal. I read you some of the statistics from the post betrayal syndrome quiz, but I’ll tell you I see it show up in these areas of life. I mean, this is how you know that there’s an unhealed betrayal and you’re struggling with aspects of post betrayal syndrome. For example, I’ll see it in relationships in two ways.
Post-Betrayal Syndrome Explained
Let’s say someone keeps having repeat betrayals, let’s say it’s different partners, the partners keep changing but it’s the same thing. Or let’s say they go from friend to friend to friend, the same thing keeps happening, boss to boss to boss. Co-worker to co-worker to co-worker with the same thing and they say, is it me? Yes, it’s you. And it’s you because you have yet to learn the profound lesson you were meant to learn that you are lovable, worthy, deserving, whatever that is. Boundaries need to be, you know, remade or whatever that is. So, I know if someone is having repeat betrayals, that’s an unhealed betrayal.
The second way is it’s that person who puts that big wall up. They’re like, nope, been there, done that, no one’s getting near me again. Nope. That’s an unhealed betrayal, and they’re looking at it as strength, but what they’re doing is they’re preventing their heart from being hurt again. I get it, but in doing that, they’re also preventing the healing. You know if we can’t have deep close, intimate relationships with friends, with partners, it’s like living half a life. So yes, I understand the reasoning for it but that’s an unhealed betrayal.
“At The Root Of It Is An Unhealed Betrayal”
I see it in health too, where people go to the most well-meaning, amazing health experts, doctors, coaches, healers, therapists to manage a stress-related symptom, illness, condition, disease, and at the root of it is an unhealed betrayal. And I see it at work where, let’s say someone deserves that raise or promotion, but they don’t have the confidence to ask because their confidence was shattered in the betrayal, so they’re bitter or resentful instead and that’s the energy they’re bringing to work with them every day. Where they want to be a team player or collaborate on a project, but they don’t trust you know because the person they trusted the most proved untrustworthy so how can they trust that boss or co-worker. So, we see it in so many different areas of life.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Anne: I’d like to take a break here for a second to talk about my book Trauma Mama Husband Drama. Thank you to those of you who have given it a five-star review on Amazon. Here is one of the ratings we received that’s five stars; she says: I recommend this excellent book. So true. Finally, someone had the courage to show the truth. In a childlike form because no one wants to understand how pornography is so harmful.
It’s true. Nobody wants to admit it, everybody wants to say that he’s such a good guy, who happens to use porn rather than this is an abusive man, and this is actually a really dangerous situation for her. That’s really hard for people to say. If people are having a hard time, this is the perfect book to give to them because it’s such a quick read and it’s a visual explanation of what is happening.
Okay, now back to the conversation.
Women Can Heal From Post-Betrayal Syndrome
I resemble the not wanting to have a relationship. That’s kind of where I’ve been for a while and I’m starting to consider dating again. And I don’t quite know how to go about it but at least I’m considering it. I was thinking the other day, I should say on my podcast, hey, do you guys have any brothers out there? Does anybody want to set me up with their brother or their whoever? I thought that was kind of silly, but I thought, I don’t really know where to go to do this, but the cool thing is, I’m a little bit more open to it than I was before. Where before I’d be like, I never ever want to do that. Now I’m like, oh, it might be nice to watch a movie with somebody, maybe at a movie theater.
The 4-Step Trust Rebuilding Process
Dr. Debi: Right, when they open. How about if I do this, can I teach you my four-step trust rebuilding process? I talked about this in Trust Again, because think about it, I look at trust, like a brick wall. That brick wall could have taken decades to build brick by brick by brick, and in one earth-shattering moment it completely gets, you know, destroyed, and what’s the only way it can be rebuilt. The same way it was put up the first time, brick by brick by brick. And you can look at the brick wall and say, I don’t have the least bit of interest in watching that brick wall get put up again. Right.
But if you do, if you are willing, and let’s say we’re talking about reconciling with somebody, what’s the only way to do it? Well, you have to be, the betrayed has to be, willing to watch that brick wall get put up again, and the betrayer has to be a really good bricklayer, you know. It’s just constant and repetitive opportunities to show that they’re trustworthy.
The First Step To Rebuilding Trust
Here’s the four-step trust rebuilding process because when it’s shattered, it is a monster to rebuild. The first thing we need to do because trust is so foundational, it rocks is to our core, so we have to rebuild the very foundation. So, the first step is you question the basics, like in life, and I’m talking like will the sunrise, you know. And you question it, and you check every morning and what do you know, there it is. And you do that with whatever you choose until you feel like I can count on them, I can trust that.
And then when you truly believe that you’re slowly building a foundation, you can move to stage two, and that’s where you learn to trust. Betrayal shatters trust in yourself, in your judgment, in everything. So, you need to rebuild trust in yourself and in your gut, in your wise inner guide. So, what you need to do is start questioning, like let’s say you know how you get that feeling. Let’s say it’s a really good feeling.
Something feels good, feels right, trust it, or you know when someone’s saying something and like their words are saying one thing, but their face is saying something else. It’s not like a weird Botox thing, it’s like there’s just something off there, you know, trust it, and what you’re doing is you’re trusting your wise inner guide again and in your gut and in your intuition.
Consciously Choose Relationships Where Trust Is Proven Over Time
Anne: Yeah, really quick, I want to hear the rest of your things, but I had just had this thought, so I want to express it. Trust was built, you know, brick by brick by brick, you said that. You know what’s interesting about my situation is that it wasn’t. It wasn’t built. So, I only knew my ex-husband for a little less than five months when I married him. So, for me, now that I’ve educated myself about a lot of stuff and so now it’s more trusting myself than it is someone else because I can look back and say, well I never had any, like, evidence that I should trust him, per se. I just did because he was the same religion as me and we came from similar backgrounds and he checked off all my boxes and so I thought, oh this is it; you know.
Now it’s so different, but I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience of building trust, brick by brick, and it didn’t hit me until you said that because it was just an instant trust with him, and now I know that instant trust thing was not the best plan.
Learning To Trust Yourself Again
Dr. Debi: Well, isn’t that interesting. So going forward now, you can really look and say I’m going to build a rock-solid brick wall first for myself and then if it’s with somebody, I’m making sure that that wall is rock-solid.
Anne: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s what I’m working toward. Like okay, now it’s not so much that I want to get married tomorrow. Now I’m thinking, oh I think maybe just experiencing these little bits of getting to know someone is my next step. Interesting. Okay, what are the other steps?
Dr. Debi: Yeah, the first is building that very foundation again until you feel like there’s a steady, solid, firm foundation that you can stand on. The second is building back your intuition and trusting your gut. The third is trusting in yourself, because it does, betrayal shatters trust in ourselves. So to do this, you give yourself little tasks, you know. I will drink that extra glass of water today and then you do. I will make that phone call and then you do. I will not call my ex and then you don’t. Whatever it is, and what you’re doing is you’re teaching yourself that your word means something, and you’re trustworthy with yourself.
You can almost feel like you have these kinds of invisible bodyguards now because you have that sense of foundation again, you trust in your intuition and your wise inner guide, whatever you want to call it, something bigger than you. God, source, the universe, or whatever it is, and then you trust in your own judgment, and you feel a level of safety and security from that space and it’s from that space and only from that space now you can carefully start to trust in others.
Anne: I like that. Yeah, and I think that’s where I want to start building my trust in myself is just dipping my toe in a little bit to meeting other people and learning to trust myself in that arena before I even think about trusting them. That’s sort of where I’m at. Yeah, that is really insightful. I really appreciate you talking to me about this and then for our listeners to jog our minds and our hearts and our souls a little bit to sort of think about these things in a different way is so helpful.
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Dr. Debi: I would say this, and if you have to say this to yourself 100 billion times until you believe it, it’s worth it. Even though it happened to you, it’s not about you. It’s not. It’s really not about you and someone else’s actions, that’s their lack, that’s their insecurity, it’s their issue. Yes, we were affected by it, but it’s not about us, and we don’t need to personalize it. But we do need to heal, and you have everything in you to not just move past it but to absolutely transform.
So, the quiz is something that a lot of women might be interested in. What is the URL for that quiz?
Dr. Debi: It’s thepbtinstitute.com/quiz.
Anne: Thank you so much for coming on today’s episode Debi.
Dr. Debbi: Thank you so much.
Anne: If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.
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