btr.org - Betrayal Trauma Recovery is an online, daily support group for victims of emotional & psychological abuse and sexual coercion. Join a live session today. For women experiencing pain, chaos, and isolation due to their husband’s abuse: lying, gaslighting, manipulation, porn use, cheating, infidelity, emotional abuse, and narcissistic abuse. Codependency or labeling a woman as codependent is a form of victim blaming. Pornography addiction / sex addiction are a domestic abuse issue. Narcissistic abuse is not a communication issue. We help women who are in a relationship, separated, or divorced navigate to recover and heal by establishing safety through boundaries. If you suspect your husband is a narcissist, a pornography addict, or emotionally abusive, this podcast is for you. Every woman on our team has experienced abuse and betrayal trauma first hand. For past podcasts visit our website: btr.org
How Can Feminism Help Me Heal From Betrayal Trauma?
Does the word "feminist" make you uncomfortable?
Feminism isn't hating men or demanding special treatment: feminism is simply the belief that women are equal to men and should be treated like human beings.
Misogyny and entitlement to women and their bodies is at the core of pornography, betrayal, and relational abuse.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, meets with Tracy, a member of the BTR community. Tracy shares her powerful experiences and captivating research on feminism and trauma to empower women to find safety and healing. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
What Is Feminism, Really?
Understanding and living the truths of feminism, helps women to reclaim their right as equals who can and should be treated with respect at all times. Anne describes feminism:
Betrayal Trauma Recovery is a women’s empowerment organization, and to me, the word 'feminist' simply means that women have equal rights, that women are seen as human.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
How Does Misogyny Harm Women?
Culturally, feminists and feminism are frowned upon and even feared by many. Why? Because feminism simply isn't understood.
The harm that misogyny causes to women and children is real and devastating; when women are not treated as equal human beings, they are victimized by men through violence, betrayal, sexual abuse and coercion, and emotional abuse.
What Does Misogyny Look Like?
In today's society, misogyny doesn't necessarily mean that women aren't allowed to vote, or are forced to wear certain clothing (though this is a sad reality in some parts of the world). Instead, misogyny rears its ugly head in the victimization of women, and the appalling aftermath:
Women are not believed. Women are not taken seriously when they experience this extreme victimhood, they are blamed for it. There is no ability for women to find justice; if we talk about [the betrayal and abuse], they say we shouldn’t talk about it in that way. If we complain about it, they say we’re complaining about it too much. If we stay silent about it, they say we were in denial. Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Pornography Use, Sexual Coercion, Emotional Abuse: Misogyny
When women can effectively understand the truths of feminism, they are more clearly able to understand that pornography, sexual coercion, and other forms of abuse are anti-woman and are literally keeping women oppressed.
Anne explains that sexual betrayal, coercion, and other forms of relational abuse are an indicator of men's entitlement to and objectification of, women:
Men feel entitled to be able to use women’s bodies how they choose to and they don’t really have to answer to any other women for their sexual misbehavior or their compulsive sexual acts.
Post-Traumatic Growth: Will I Ever Be Okay Again?
One of the most devastating aspects of betrayal trauma, are the terrifying, heart-breaking, and ever-persistent torrents of emotions that make many victims ask, "Will I ever be okay again?"
When women are betrayed and emotionally abused by their partners, they experience a deep, soul-disrupting trauma that can make life feel very bleak for a period of time. However, with healthy practices, victims can, over time, experience Post-Traumatic Growth.
Tracy, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to empower women to take the steps to begin their journey to Post-Traumatic Growth. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
What Is Post-Traumatic Growth?
After finding safety from betrayal and abuse, women can experience a powerful change within themselves that leads them to a strong sense of self that propels them to keep making healthy decisions.
Tracy explains what her Post-Traumatic Growth feels like:
It’s a genuine self-compassion. It’s loving ourselves enough to set boundaries. It’s allowing ourselves the time and the patience to move through the hard painful work of healing and coming out the other side with a new appreciation for life, healthier relationships with others, an optimistic view of new possibilities in life. We feel stronger, we feel changed. Tracy, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
I Feel Stuck In Trauma: How Can I Experience Post-Traumatic Growth?
Many victims who feel "stuck" in their trauma are still being abused, though it may not be easy to identify the abusive behaviors. Some women feel that something is "off" in their marriage, but don't have evidence or proof to support their gut instinct. Others may believe that their partner is in recovery, but there is still underlying covert abuse present.
Tragically, these victims often blame themselves, believing that they are just "choosing not to forgive" or so traumatized that no matter how safe their partner is, they will never heal.
Most of the time, if you feel "stuck" in your trauma, you are not safe.
You’re currently in the worst-case scenario (which is an abusive relationship) and nothing is going to feel good. There is nothing that is going to feel peaceful. There is nothing that’s going to feel right when it comes to an abusive situation. Every effort you make to work towards safety is going to feel like, "ugh, I don’t really want to do this," because you don’t want to set that boundary. You don’t want to make your way to safety because that’s not the ideal situation. The ideal situation is a non-abusive situation, and that’s not the situation that you’re in.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Safety Is Essential For Post-Traumatic Growth
The bedrock foundation for Post-Traumatic Growth is safety. At BTR, we believe that every woman deserves to live a life of emotional, sexual, spiritual, physical, and mental safety. By setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries, women can begin their journey to safety.
What Is “New Age Bypass” & Why Is It Harmful?
When victims of betrayal and abuse are told things like, "You decide whether or not you are a victim" or "What's done is done," they are experiencing New Age Bypass. New Age Bypass, a form of victim-blaming, is harmful to betrayed and abused women.
Tracy, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast, empowering victims of abuse and betrayal to identify and reject New Age Bypass techniques.
Read the full transcript below and listen to the BTR podcast for more.
What Is New Age Bypass?
We’re talking about the common self-help situation where faulty and harmful beliefs include: "If you just think about it differently, then it will change the situation," "You don’t have to set boundaries, you don’t have to do anything different, you just need to think about it differently, then your reality will shift."Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
When victims of betrayal and abuse are counseled to "bypass" the realities of trauma and healing, and instead achieve a quick and arbitrary end-goal of "putting the past behind" them, they are experiencing New Age Bypass.
What Does New Age Bypass Look Like?
If you've been told the following phrases, you are likely a victim of New Age Bypass.
* "We create our own reality."* "Nobody can hurt you without your consent."* "Everything happens for a reason."* "I wonder why you created this experience."* "It’s just karma."* "There are no accidents."* "There are no victims."* "There are no mistakes."* "Don’t look back."* "What’s done is done."* "Don’t be a victim."* "Your feelings are an illusion."* "Be strong."
Why Is New Age Bypass Harmful to Victims of Betrayal and Abuse?
One of the reasons that New Age Bypass is so harmful is because it is a covert form of victim-blaming. Each of the above phrases carries with it the implication that victims are choosing to be victimized, hurt, and traumatized. By encouraging victims to "move on" and "be strong," New Age Bypassers are invalidating the severity of the victim's trauma.
Victim-blaming is very dangerous for trauma healing because it will actually keep victims stuck. It will actually make it more difficult for them to heal and find safety.Tracy, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community
When victims are blamed and shamed for how another person treated them, they are re-traumatized.
Victims deserve the safe space to process trauma, grieve, and share their experiences - all while being validated by supportive people. New Age Bypass often seeks to shame victims into avoiding the difficult work of recovery by shoving reality under the rug.
How Can I Protect Myself From New Age Bypass?
New Age Bypass is difficult to identify because it is cloaked in "I'm just trying to help you." Whether it's in a self-help book, 12-Step group meeting, therapy session, or conversation with a friend or family member, victims of betrayal and abuse can learn to identify and reject New Age Bypass.
Here are some of the ways that victims can protect themselves from New Age Bypass:
3 Tips To Protect You From Clergy Sexual Misconduct
Clergy sexual misconduct is rampant, hidden, and destructive to victims. When women are abused or mistreated by clergy, they may experience severe trauma, loss of faith, and other devastating consequences.
Protect yourself from clergy sexual misconduct by reading the 3 tips that Dave Gemmel gives to listeners on this episode of the free BTR podcast. Dave Gemmel is the associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association, and a fierce advocate for victims of abuse.
Tune in to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
Protect Yourself From Clergy Sexual Misconduct By Bringing A "Safe" Friend
Many women in faith-communities seek counsel and help from clergy regarding their partners' infidelity and abusive behavior.
To protect themselves from both clergy sexual misconduct and receiving damaging counsel, Anne advises women to take a safe person with them every time they meet with clergy.
If you’re going into clergy to report your husband’s abuse, whether it’s his porn use, sexual coercion, or any type of emotional or psychological abuse, always take another woman with you who understands abuse.Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Protect Yourself From Clergy Sexual Misconduct By Having Boundaries For Communication
Dave Gemmel, expert on Clergy Sexual Misconduct, urges women to hold clergy accountable by setting boundaries for communicating.
Keep messaging professional.Dave Gemmel, associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association
Whether you communicate with your clergy over text messages, emails, phone calls, letters, video messaging, or face-to-face communication, you can practice safe communication.
Here are some ways to keep messaging professional and safe:
* Always use group messaging to text clergy * Use speaker phone and have another person in the room when having phone conversations with clergy* Try to meet in a public place, with a supportive friend, when meeting face-to-face with clergy* If you are meeting in a pastor's office, make sure the door is open and bring along a safe friend
Clergy Is For Spiritual Support, NOT Marriage Counseling
Most pastors and other religious leaders are not trained in therapy, counseling, abuse, or trauma. Because of that, it is essential that congregants do not use clergy as a marriage counselor or a mental health therapist. Victims can seek spiritual support from clergy if they feel it is necessary to their healing.
Even Dave Gemmel, who has taken courses in marriage/family counseling does not offer marital or family counseling to parishioners:
Don’t go to your pastor for marital counseling. Honestly, I have my doctorate and I do not consider I have enough education to do marriage counseling or family counseling. I’ve had two courses in it, maybe three, and if I begin to start practicing that I am practicing outside of my knowledge-base and I am bound to be giving some stupid advice. I’d rather not do that.Dave Gemmel, associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Clergy Sexual Misconduct
The Truth About Clergy Sexual Misconduct
Victims of betrayal and emotional abuse may look to their faith-communities for support. When clergy engage in inappropriate sexual behavior toward congregants, sacred trust is shattered and victims are left feeling confused, devastated, and, often, ashamed.
Dave Gemmel, Associate Director of the NAD Ministerial Association, joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to discuss clergy sexual misconduct and how it can be prevented. With many years of pastoral experience, Dave understands the trauma that women experience when they experience secondary trauma at the hand of clergy.
Listen to the free BTR podcast or read the full transcript below for more.
What Is Clergy Sexual Misconduct?
[Clergy sexual misconduct] is a betrayal of sacred trust and can be on a continuum of sexual or gender-directed behaviors, either a lay or clergy person with a ministerial relationship, whether they’re paid or unpaid.Dave Gemmel. Associate Director of the NAD Ministerial Association
Congregants seek spiritual guidance, compassion, and leadership from clergy. When pastors, bishops, and other spiritual leaders use their position of authority to destroy a congregant's trust through sexual misconduct, that sacred role is diminished and victims may experience severe trauma which often includes a crisis of faith.
What Does Clergy Sexual Misconduct Look Like?
Dave enumerates some of the ways that clergy can violate trust and commit sexual misconduct:
* abuse* adult sexual abuse* harassment* rape* sexual assault* sexualized verbal comments or visuals* unwanted touches and advances* use of sexualized materials including pornography* stalking* sexual abuse of youth or those without mental capacity to consent* misuse of the pastoral/ministerial position* Can include criminal behaviors that are against the law in some nations, states, and communities.
I Had An Affair With My Pastor, Was It Actually Clergy Sexual Misconduct?
As Dave explains, pastors have spiritual authority that makes it impossible for an "asymmetrical relationship" between himself and a congregant.
Any sexualized relationship between a pastor and a congregant, I believe, is clergy sexual misconduct and cannot be considered mutual consent.Dave Gemmel. Associate Director of the NAD Ministerial Association
Because of the lack of "considered mutual consent," a sexual relationship with a pastor or bishop is not an affair but is, in fact, sexual abuse. Women who have experienced this form of abuse may blame themselves, but abuse is never the victim's fault.
Understanding How Clergy Sexual Misconduct Happens
The reality is there are some sexual predators who’ve managed to become clergy. That number, although it’s not large, because they are sexual predators, can make huge impacts. Predators use whatever tools they can, and spiritual power is a very strong power and, if they can use that to gain their way, they’ll do whatever they can to achieve their goal.Dave Gemmel, Associate Director of the NAD Ministerial Association
When clergy take advantage of their position of power, congregants may feel disloyal or unworthy if they report the sexual misconduct. Further, congregants, especially abused women, a href="https://www.btr.org/betrayal-trauma-definition/" title="Do I Have Betrayal Trauma?
Dating After Betrayal: 3 Tips For Protecting Yourself From Porn Users
Many victims of emotional abuse and betrayal worry that, if they choose to date again, they will enter another abusive relationship. Often, women asked their abusive partner early on if he was a pornography user, and their prospective partner lied.
This betrayal can leave victims unsure of their own ability to decipher the safe, honest, and monogamous men from abusive men who lie.
Jessica Skybar, anti-pornography activist from Culture Reframed, continues her conversation with Anne on the free BTR Podcast. Jessica gives 3 tips to help women who are preparing to date protect themselves from porn users.
Tune in to the BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
Tip #1: Set Dealbreakers: Non-Negotiable Boundaries Before You Begin Dating
My boundary in the relationship is set because I’m really black and white about it. It’s a dealbreaker for me. Jessica Skybar, Culture Reframed
Before entering or re-entering the world of dating, women can be empowered and protected by holding immovable non-negotiable boundaries, also known as "dealbreakers".
These dealbreakers may look like this:
* Because I want my potential partner to only have sexual experiences with me, I do not date men who m********e.* I do not date men who use pornography, ever.* I do not date men who don't know exactly how they feel about the pornography industry because I know how despicable it is.* I do not date men who pressure me to have sexual contact with them before I am ready.
Tip #2: Watch for Red Flags (When He Debates Your Boundaries)
I don’t mind having the conversation if the tone of the conversation is one of inquiry and listening and learning and wanting to be a better person. If it’s a debate, I usually shut that down.Jessica Skybar, Culture Reframed
Jessica shares that while she has had relationships with some men who have "debated" her anti-pornography stance, she didn't commit until they were completely on-board with her non-negotiables in a self-actualized manner, rather than simply conforming to her boundaries and secretly resenting her.
Women can be empowered by identifying a red flag: If he is debating your personal beliefs, he does not have united sexual core values and may not be the person that you want to be in a relationship with.
Tip #3: Does He Honor Your Safety Requests?
Men who are sexually healthy are willing to make sacrifices for your relational comfort. It is a promising indicator of a safe man if you are able to communicate your needs and desires without fear. Equally promising is his safe, loving, and consistent response to your safety requests.
If he doesn’t have a problem, an addiction, if he’s sexually healthy and sexually functional he would happily give up watching certain TV shows. I just feel like it’s not a big sacrifice to make your partner feel like, “You’re the one and you're safe with me.”Jessica Skybar, Culture Reframed
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal and Emo...
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This Saved Me
I cannot thank you enough! On a whim I listened to the very first episode after reluctantly doing so because I thought the title didn’t fit my situation very well. But...After listening to her first episode, I was introduced to the author Londy Bancroft and realized that most of our marital struggles we’ve been having for 13 years was because he has an abusive mindset. I told my husband this and of course he disagreed, but over some time he came around and realized he does have an abusive mindset and is completely changing himself for the better every day. All of this is because I listened to your very first episode! It is extremely changing my life for the better! Your episodes have been so helpful! Thank you so so much for taking the time to share your story with us!
This is a wonderful source for women to gain courage and understanding in a cycle of chaos.
This is excellent
This allows space for both religious and non religious women. I am not religious but used to be. I left religion after leaving my abusive ex who was very religious and controlling. This is the first time in my life that I’ve really felt validated that the porn use of his was betrayal toward me. In the religious sect- I felt that it was I suppose... but somehow it was still my fault... I didn’t pray enough or sleep with him enough, etc.
He pretended to be someone completely different to me and everyone else but behind my back was viewing porn, googling “maximum penalty for rape”, lying, drinking excessively and driving in our only vehicle, visiting other women at their jobs, and talking to them online.
I left him 5 years ago but have been some focused on getting on my feet- I mostly ignored this gaping wound. I have no trust toward men. My main goal is trust toward myself (validating myself) and I believe I will eventually be able to stand firm in this foundation of myself and then branch out.
Thanks for helping me and I look forward to also being an amazing advocate for other women one day, too.