Betrayal Pain: Your Voice

It’s been said by the leading trauma researchers that being able to do something about what we’re going through can determine whether something becomes traumatic or not.

I agree. But I think it can start with the voice.

I think it can start with whether we’re ‘allowed’ to use our voices after a threatening event.

Think about it.

If a child encounters something that feels completely unsafe, and can scream and shout to bring attention to the situation, and if adults listen, that’s the first step.

Then if the child is allowed to have a say in how to stop whatever is making him feel unsafe–and how to keep it from happening again– then I believe he will be less likely to develop symptoms of trauma.

In that case, the experience actually becomes something that helps the child build trust in his own voice and in the community, because he learns he can speak, he can be heard, and others are willing to help him.

If this happens every time the child encounters an unsafe situation, he will grow up strong, instead of harmed—with a strong community of support.

It’s the same with betrayal.

If we can speak out about the betrayal and our voice is heard, then when we’re ‘allowed’ to have a say in a plan that helps us feel safe going forward—without shame, blame, impatience and pressure—then it doesn’t develop into a traumatic experience. It can actually strengthen us and help us know we’re part of a deeply loving community.

But when we aren’t able to have a say in a plan going forward, if we aren’t even heard in the first place… if we are instead misunderstood to the point of being further harmed, then the feelings of not being safe will continue.

And if it happens often enough or long enough it can develop into traumatization/PTSD, which will only increase the pain we feel and make it more difficult to heal.

In 20+ years of looking at this issue, I’ve seen an unfortunate pattern.

Whereas the best-case scenario after betrayal is where a woman is heard, what I’ve seen is that things are usually fine up until the very moment she starts using her voice. At that point, I’ve seen many husbands turn their backs on the wives. (I’ve even seen families, friends, churches, and therapists do the same, but that’s for another time.)

Instead of it being a season of growth for all involved, it can become a season of silencing her using any method possible: labels, Scripture, intimidation, untruths, and on rare occasions physical abuse.

And that only delays her healing.

Whether you haven’t found your voice yet or use yours all the time, remain aware that it can get worse before it gets better depending on the person you’re talking to.

If you feel repeatedly misunderstood, keep looking for someone who will understand.

But if you aren’t used to using your voice, please know there are several things that usually need to be in place first, so be careful about coming down hard on yourself. It’s normal to be timid around intimidating people, but keep praying, keep working at it, and keep looking for understanding people to surround yourself with.

And also remember to listen to your inner voice—and that small, still voice—and one day you may find that speaking up becomes much more natural to you.

Feel free to write in the comments section about a time where you used your voice. What was the result?

If enough participate, I may share this part of my story in the comments too.

Comments 7

  1. Post

    Okay, my history with not having a voice is this:

    I grew up fairly quiet, so I was used to being unheard.

    This carried into my marriage, and while my husband always respected me in the bedroom, he used his own voice to shut me up on many occasions.

    Those years were difficult!

    I felt like I didn’t deserve to have a say, and it shook me to the core to think I wasn’t allowed to give input on the direction of our marriage… and my life.

    The thing was, when I finally found my voice, his only grew louder. I only thought I had seen the extent of his angry outbursts, but after I starting standing up for myself, he grew even more irate.

    But the worst confrontations began fading after a couple years, as I continued working on my communication methods, continued surrounding myself with people who supported me… and kept realizing I deserved better treatment.

  2. When my therapist, who was CSAT trained, used the word “co-dependent,” I asked her why she was using it when I was experiencing trauma. She said the symptoms were the same. I told her I was NOT co-dependent and I wanted help dealing with my trauma! (I left her after 4 months.)

    After telling my primary care physician (who also treated my husband) about what had been going on, he talked about how I was going to have to put it in the past and look to the future. Then he said, now, what did you do or not do that caused your husband to look elsewhere? I told him emphatically and loudly that I was in no way responsible for my husband’s sin! He backed off & started talking about deep breathing and meditation.

    1. Post

      I am so glad you stood up for yourself with that counselor… and that you moved on when you saw it wasn’t a good match.

      Also that you used your voice with your physician. (My jaw dropped when I read what he said to you.) Glad you knew about trauma and had your voice in those moments!!!

  3. I am still learning to use my voice. I always thought of myself as a strong person who shared my thoughts well. But, I discovered that in certain areas of life I would not use my voice. As I learned to find my voice and had support and encouragement from the community around me (I’m blessed to have godly pastors who walk with women in support and wisdom in these places), as well as your help for over a year, walking with my therapist and a community of women, at first it felt awful! It felt “wrong.” It felt “unbiblical.” But, as I walked and read and prayed I saw that my perspective was wrong, not the gospel. As I found my voice, at first it created anger in the person who was smooshing my voice. Then they seemed to “calm down,” but ultimately still trying to stop my voice in more subtle ways. Finally, I was strong enough to not just speak but to act (also my voice). I am growing in this place and I still struggle with certain people in this area and I am seeing that often it is because I am more afraid of what people think than what God thinks, sadly. But I am growing! And having a community of love and support is key to the growth.

    1. Post

      Hello again, friend.

      I saw the same thing in myself: found my voice in many areas, but completely lost it in others. Mine was lost in the face of people who liked to rule by intimidation. The support you have in your community is important in finding your voice in the areas you’re talking about : ) I’m so glad you have such a strong support system.

      And I love how you equate action with using your voice!

  4. In the past,Anytime I wanted to open a conversation it was always misconstrued. My partner always found something wrong with it, and my feelings were unheard. Going forward after disclosure, two years now,I use my voice a little more now, with thoughts that this is what I see happening in our relationship, and this is based on my reality. He has said that I am in the wrong and blames me for everything that happened in the past, that’s why he went in the direction that he went with his addiction. I’m sure this has to do with him not being able to see his own reality and not owning his faults with Healthy shame. He sees a psychotherapist, his 12 step group, and he has a group of men from church that he gets together with that has nothing to do with his past addiction. He feels that that is enough. I can’t even get him to look at Jay‘s, your husband’s blogs. By asking him to look in other areas for healing, he thinks I am comparing him to Jay and the other men in Jay’s care. We tried check-in‘s, he doesn’t like them. He doesn’t like hard conversations. But I do, I require them. But he has been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder. I’m losing my mind over here. I am always the one to open the conversation, and I don’t think I’m using my voice effectively.

    1. Post

      Hello Teter,

      Your story makes my insides turn, partly because it’s so common, partly becuase it’s so similar to what happened in my own relationship. With a guy who is that resistant, one option is to continue with your own healing and pray that God will get to him through various means… including comments from God through your voice.

      I had a habit of trying to rehearse what I was going to say, but when I gave up and gave it over to God, consciously asking Him to use my voice if need be, I was surprised at how many times things would fly out of my mouth before I even knew what I was saying. Not hurtful or demeaning things, but things I felt were from God, because they stopped him in his tracks.

      There was a relief realizing God was helping us that way.

      Until our husbands come out of the fog, though, it can be very difficult! (Praying for you!)

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