About the author, Coach Laura

Coach Laura is a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coach, trained by The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS). Her interest in coaching Betrayal Trauma survivors began in the aftermath of her own traumatic betrayal when it became clear that many professionals “just didn’t get it.” Laura is familiar with the physical, emotional, and mental pain the accompanies betrayal trauma and she is passionate about walking this journey alongside others, in hopes that no woman ever again has to walk this path alone.

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Hope After Porn

Parenting the Internet Generation Ebook Cover

Porn use (and even adultery) doesn't always mean that a marriage is over. Get this free e-book to read how four betrayed wives found healing for themselves and for their marriages.

5 thoughts on “5 Steps to Continue Healing from Betrayal Trauma

  1. Wow. That was outstanding. The most helpful part for us was:

    Because boundary changes can be a sign of either progress or trouble, communication is key.

    Existing boundaries are the expectation until new boundaries are communicated.
    Uncommunicated boundary changes cause us to question whether our partners are being honest – until it has been communicated, a boundary change is a boundary violation, and should be treated as such.

    I had never thought about that and have done that very thing (made changes b/c I thought I was ready for stuff but didn’t inform my spouse). Great article. thank you!

  2. Thank you for this article. 5 months ago today my wife discovered my addiction to porn which had existed to some extent or another in my life since first exposure at the age of 8 (I’m 48 now). I display(ed) all of the typical behaviors – denial, deception, gaslighting, defensiveness, blaming, minimizing and on an on the list goes.

    I am in CR and we are in couples counseling. She has her own therapist and I hope to have one soon. I have an accountability partner and am on a waiting list for a specialized sex addiction group locally. I have Covenant Eyes installed on the only device (phone) I use to access the internet (other than work computer which is highly monitored by company I/S dept). I gave up my iPad and MacBook and no longer have access to them. I desperately desire to break free of the patterns of relational dysfunction that have led me to this point.

    I have read volumes learning about sex addiction trying to understand the root causes in my life that have resulted in this sin and the betrayal of my wife’s trust at the most profound level. I am learning that the result of my sin is actual trauma for my wife, not unlike PTSD. I truly desire change and believe I am making strides in that direction. The thought of porn actually disgusts me at this point and I have not viewed it since d-day.

    However I am struggling with the emotional connection with my wife. My patterns of defensiveness intrude constantly and fight against my desire to connect. I have difficulty with messiness and I seem to want to avoid it at all costs. I know this needs to change.

    I can’t help feeling that some boundaries she has implemented are actually barriers to forward progress. I respect the need for her to have space and safety. At the same time I am feeling resentful about some of the things that have been put in place (I.e revocation of online access to bank account and all other investments like 529’s though I have never actually spent money on porn; prohibition on texting my two college aged sons without her being included in a group text format; video camera placed in loft to monitor my movement in upstairs area; gps location tracking on phone at all times while she will not share her location; and no discussion on whether she desires at some point to extend forgiveness or whether she desires to reconcile – note I am not asking for forgiveness or any promise of reconciliation I simply want to understand if her desire is in that direction).

    At the end of the day I’m trying to decipher whether my feelings about her responses are rational or yet another symptom of my broken emotional capabilities and a lack of understanding of how badly I’ve traumatized her.

    This article has given much to reflect upon and I thank you for writing it and for the work you are doing for women betrayed by their husbands.

    If you have any book or article recommendations that might help me I would be grateful.

    • Tim,
      Good morning! I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve only recently become aware of your comment and wanted to give it a thoughtful response.

      First, I want to acknowledge the work you’ve done so far at recovery. It’s wonderful that you’re reaching out for help, in addition to all the other recovery activities you’ve listed.

      You are correct that what your wife is experiencing is trauma. Unfortunately for both of you, trauma doesn’t heal quickly. It takes time, often a year and sometimes more to get through the acute phases. The repercussions can last a lifetime. Your wife’s sense of reality, and therefore her sense of safety has been shattered, and your words will not mean anything to her until they are backed up with consistent and ongoing behaviors that demonstrate not only your commitment to recovery, but your commitment to support her healing, as well. Your wife is probably in the first stage of this healing, which focuses on safety and emotional stabilization for herself. This is both normal and necessary. What feels controlling to you feels like a life-line for her, and where the relationship is concerned, it is. In time, as trust is rebuilt, she will likely let go of some of these things, but that may be a long way off. Five or six months is still very early recovery. How many years was she deceived? I’m not asking to inflict shame, but to help you see from your wife’s perspective.

      It’s also important to understand that only you know how honest you’re being. It’s hard for some in recovery to get this… You may feel you’re being more transparent than ever, and you feel this inwardly as a huge change. But what many don’t realize is that the honest words you use now and the words you used to convince her you were honest when you weren’t are exactly the same. She has no way of knowing the difference, but to see a change of heart (patience, non-defensiveness, etc). She is questioning reality. She is questioning your truthfulness. And in all honesty, she should be. Her emotional safety is at risk. She needs to be the one who decides when she can make herself vulnerable again. You cannot rush this, but you can provide these things to make it safer for her.

      As for reading, by far, the best book you can read to educate yourself about your wife’s experience is Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means. I recommend this to all the partners I work with and to those struggling with addiction who want to understand the trauma. Doug Weiss offers a helpful video called Helping Her Heal. Two books that will help you gain a sense of what it takes to demonstrate true recovery and rebuild trust are Worthy of Her Trust by Jason Martinkus and Stop Sex Addiction by Milton Magness, particularly Magness’s chapter on hallmarks of a healthy recovery.

      Lastly, I understand how difficult this is for both of you. Early recovery, at its best, is just messy. This is the nature of addiction and betrayal trauma. And, if your relationship is to survive, you are in this for the long haul. Humility, patience, empathy, and non-defensiveness are powerful tools in helping your wife heal and learn to trust again. She will and should be looking for these. It’s up to you to provide them. I strongly suggest you work with a certified Sex Addiction therapist (CSAT) and that your wife see a Betrayal Trauma specialist trained by APSATS (the Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists). BTR.org contracts with APSATS trained coaches. I and all of the coaches at BTR, are trained specifically to assist women experiencing this form of trauma.

      I hope this has been helpful. Again I’d like to recognize your wonderful start in recovery and encourage you to continue the hard work that lies ahead. It is a lifelong process, this recovery, but well worth it.

      My direct business email for further information is Laura@BTR.org.

      Best wishes as you move forward and happy holidays!

      Laura Williams

  3. I have lived in denial ofmy husbands love/sex addiction for 20 years, my gut knew it was all happening but because of children and finances i felt my only choice was to stick it out and make the best of a terrible situation. After the latest revelation which occured a year ago, the evidence was concrete this time there was no way he could talk his way out of it this time and more than that there was no way i could just ignore it. He checked into 28 day rehab centre for alcoholism. As i said this was a year ago. Things have been ok but for me keeping up the happy face has become to much to bare and eventually the stop button for me had to be stopped. Im so glad i have found information on the net that so perfectly descibes the betayal trauma i am currently going through and that no im not crazy im just having an normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. My days are filled with fear crying anger and a hurt that is so deep in my soul i fear i will never recover for the rest of my life. My day also is consumed by thinking about tracking his car hacking his email so at least i feel i have some control over what is happening to me. My doctor has been wonderful and i am seeing a psychotherapist so fingers crossed i can start seeing the light but at the moment i feel hopeless. I also spend time trying to look nice and cleaning the house etc to try and stop him doing it again but ultimately i know this is no life for me and is not love. The trust is gone and for me once the glass is broken it will never hold water again. The worst part is his refusal to listen to my pain and anguish and not comfort me when triggers occur is just the invalidation of my feelings. Im reduced to writing it out so i have some release. There is a picture in my day room of myself and not in a vain way i look at a beautiful woman who i feel no longer lives inside me. I know i have to go through this i just wish the person who was suppose to be my soother was not my perpetrator. Thats the saddest line i ve had to write . Thankyou for giving me a space to share this

    • My heart just breaks for you. I think sometimes the betrayal is just beyond repair, and if this is true for you, this is true for you.

      I do think that his inability to listen to your pain is a deeply troubling issue. Dr. John Gottman talks about what builds trust in marriage, and it is exactly this: the willingness to turn toward a partner! When your spouse refuses to do that, it really doesn’t matter how perfect their behavior might be in other areas, the emotional trust is broken and can’t be rebuilt. A person who won’t turn toward their spouse emotionally is not emotionally trustworthy.

      I’m glad you already have a therapist to help you. Good for you! I highly recommend the online resources at Bloom, where there are forums, classes, and other supportive resources that will help you through this time.

      Peace,
      Kay

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