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Therapist Says Not to Tell Anyone Her Husband Cheated

ninaDear Chump Lady,

Do you think chumps should tell their family and friends that the reason they are separated from their spouse is because he/she cheated?

My marriage counselor (MC)’s advice was that the reason for the separation was not anyone else’s business and said that by telling the truth (i.e. their spouse cheated) the betrayed spouse was portraying themselves as a victim. My MC’s advice was to say the separation was a mutual decision.

My spouse has moved in with the OW and is living far enough away that my family and friends have little chance of contact with him. We have no children. What’s your advice?

Blinkered

Dear Blinkered,

My advice is to replace your lousy marriage counselor with a good divorce attorney.

Your husband left and lives far away with the other woman. You have no kids. What exactly does your marriage counselor hope to “save” here?

Let me guess, the MC is peddling the notion that you can single-handedly save this if you don’t make any Wrong Moves, like, for example, speaking the truth about why you are separated.

Presumably telling people this separation is a “mutual decision” instead of an abandonment is supposed to preserve your dignity and keep your friends and family stuck in neutral should you reconcile. Gee, we’d hate for them to have to base their opinions of your husband on the truth. Which is “no one’s business.” The important thing to remember is Not to Portray Yourself As a Victim!

This baffles me. If you got pistol-whipped by a mugger and had a black eye are you supposed to go around and tell everyone you ran into a door by “mutual decision”? Hey, you wouldn’t want anyone to think you were a Victim of Crime.

Being a victim just means that someone did something to you against your will. You were harmed and had no choice in the matter. See the definition:

vic·tim
ˈviktəm/
noun
  1. a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
    synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty;

I don’t think your husband cheated on you with your consent, did he? You were duped, right? You’re a victim of infidelity. Stating the facts of what happened to you is not Playing the Victim — you ARE a victim. You got chumped.

Now listen, Blinkered, this infidelity shit does NOT define you. If you acted with faithfulness and integrity in your marriage, you have NOTHING to be ashamed of! So you got played. Okay, it happens. What you do with chumpdom is entirely up to you. There’s a big spectrum of reactions between emotionally vomiting all over everyone’s shoes and taking this to your grave. And hell, emotionally vomiting when you’ve been shocked and traumatized is pretty freaking normal. If a drunk driver ran over your grandmother and you collapsed in grief, would your counselor tell you to “stop playing the victim”? Fuck no. You’re grieving a loss.

You asked for my advice — so here it is — if you want to get past being a victim, start taking your power back. Divorce this asshole. He walked out. He lives with her. There is nothing here to save. If he’s living with her and throwing you lines about “needing time”? He’s eating cake at your expense. Collect all the financial information and see a legal professional immediately.

You want to stay a victim? Remain in “marriage” counseling alone. (Is that like one hand clapping in a forest or something?)

Seriously, nothing says “I can’t move on” more than trying to “save” a marriage all by yourself. You’re dancing with that corpse and ignoring the stench. And your MC is only too happy to keep taking your money and signing you up for more ballroom lessons.

Walk away from this. Like this brilliant Nina Simone quote — “You have to learn to GET UP FROM THE TABLE.” Fold your napkin, push your chair back, and leave. This guy has no love for you.

Next, tell whoever you goddamn want to what happened. You can keep it brief, you can come up with a line like “I didn’t like his girlfriend,” but you are not obliged to keep his secrets. His abandonment is NO reflection on you. And wearing the shame is acting like it IS. So fuck that. Hold your head up and file.

This ran before.

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  • Amen! I hope you keep re-running this one so every chump in this position gets the message loud and clear….Fuck the lousy MC’s out there and speak your truth.

  • My mediator and x’s attorney have demanded me not to tell anyone what he did (slept with a hooker in my home and his medical office). The mediator asked if I’d told anyone. I said yes, my family, friends. He looked angry. I was a mess, crying, shaking. It’s now written into the mediation agreement to not speak about it. I’m suffering from PTSD and expected to not confide in anyone? Just ignore it happened.

      • Better yet, get the toughest divorce lawyer you can find.
        If your financial security is at stake, do NOT mediate with a cheater.
        They can manipulate you and the mediator.

        There are some great posts about mediation vs. divorce lawyer that you need to read immediately

        • Yes! Never mediate with a cheater. Best divorce attorney will save you money and immeasurable grief! Do not cheap out on this!

    • There is a lot of misogyny out there

      If you have told your family and friends then the important people already know he is a douchebag

      These guys are rotten to the core

      • Yes they are, and it makes no difference if they started out that way or became that way over time. They don’t turn back, they just don’t.

        If they say they are turning back, most likely they are buying time to do real damage.

      • I agree. I work in this industry and have NEVER seen a court order saying the wronged party can’t talk about the affair. The only thing I’ve seen is lines about not disparaging the other parent to the children (which works both ways).
        Your mediator is dodgey, and if they looked at you ANGRILY?! My first guess would be they’re a cheater themselves.

    • Faithful Rage do YOU have an attorney and what does she/he have to say about this? Whose interest is being protected here? Is the mediator on mates rates? If you were not getting any support it seems to me you were coerced into signing agreeing to something while you were in no fit state to do so. Bullies protecting a slutty scumbag and his ‘professional?’status

      • Yes, a $500/hr attorney. I paid her in excess of $60k. I was told by my attorney my x would pay my legal fees due to income disparity (I have none). I have to sell the family home, have no income stream, will have to rent a room from a friend come August. I was also not awarded a car. So yeah, so much for my life. All assets are frozen by x, which he was supposed to unfreeze May 11. Nothing yet. I can barely function. Packing up my family home after 19 years (30 year marriage). I was also forced to drop an order of protection—doesn’t look good for a physician to have that out there. I had told my attorney I had read negative reviews about the mediator and she got snippy with me. Turns out the reviews were right.

        • If he doesn’t unfreeze the assets, he is in violation of the contract that you agreed to, stipulating that you not go to the licensing board. Contact him and threaten to make a report if he does not do it. Have your lawyer send the communication.
          You need to go on the offensive here. You have given him all of the power in this situation. I know you are hurting and it’s hard, but you have to fight back.

        • Faithful Rage, I too was screwed over by my first attorney and spent close to $80k with her and she then withdrew right before finishing the divorce! She kept pushing mediation but was terrible with it when we mediated for custody. I ended up reporting her to the State Bar. My ex was laughing at me and witholding funds. It was a real shit show.

          I got a new attorney through multiple recommendations. I was out of money but she still helped me — I was getting money as soon as I could sell my house. Working with my new attorney was so much better. We did mediate in the end, but my attorney found an excellent mediator to finish this.

          If you are feeling shut down by your attorney and steered badly, you need a different one. It sucks so bad. It’s so scary. You will get through this. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

        • I don’t know…sounds as if you not only have/had a shitty mediator but your attorney is also shit for the birds as well. Renting a room from a friend? You are being financially abused. Outrageous.

          • Totally agree with KB22.

            I fired my first divorce attorney, refused to pay their $20K outstanding balance because they screwed up my case, got a tough, brilliant lawyer a d forever grateful for the amazing settlement I got.

            Putting you in a room rental because you don’t currently (or ever) have an income is a HUGE red flag of a terrible lawyer.

            Just because they’re expensive doesn’t mean they are good!

        • Gosh, FR, do you live in a small town? Like, do the mediator, your lawyer and the doctor-ex all know each other? Sounds like your lawyer might be friends with the mediator and/or your ex paying legal fees informs her choices. You need a lawyer with no personal stake in pleasing these other “professionals.”

          • “You need a lawyer with no personal stake in pleasing these other “professionals.””

            Absolutely, I went to another city to hire a lawyer so that there would be no chance of a friend situation of my ex. In our city, many of the lawyers dealt with police officers all the time.

    • I got a bee mediator when we were almost done for reasons like this. I wish now I had GOTTEN UP FROM THE TABLE, waaaaaaaaay earlier, the first time any re-traumatizing BS about the marriage ending came out of his mouth.

      The new mediator, a Super Lawyer woman with a background in corporate law (we own a business) is doing a brilliant job.

      I would NOT agree to a condition like that. You were soul-raped by your betrothed and a cohort, and he says you can’t talk about it? Your body’s reaction, which is ACCURATE, tells me you got raped again.

      WALK.

        • I thought you were alluding to a bee’s behavior, like they’d tend to you for a few seconds then fly off somewhere else😂✌️

    • If he is a physician who screwed someone in his office, he could lose his career and his license to practice (in fact it’s very likely.) I would NOT protect his ass, and make a complaint to the licensing board in his state. Make him eat his own shit sandwich.

      • Oh I had to sign that I didn’t make a complaint to the medical board—apparently several complaints have been made. I don’t know by who, but x assumes it was me. I’m also supposed to magically make those complaints go away. How? I didn’t make them.

        • Girl- that’s awful. I’m so sorry. You didn’t have to sign that. They are clearly all about protecting his career, at your expense.
          I’m glad others have complained. AP’s get VERY vindictive when their TWU WUV doesn’t go as planned, so I’m sure his days are numbered.

          • Just FYI

            My ex is a doctor and NO, he cannot lose his license for screwing an employee. And it hardly damaged his career. Most of his partners were supportive of infidelity since most of them did the same thing.

            You have to allege financial malfeasance for a legal complaint and other than felonies, usually only medical malpractice or fraud will cost them their medical license.

            NOTE that it may not be in the spouse’s interest to harm the cheater’s career however, what with income disparity.

            But I cannot stand lawyers who practice in this area of law – and suck. Mine did.

            Next to doing criminal law poorly, legal malpractice in divorce law is among the worst ways to compound the wrongs against victims.

            • Among other disgusting behaviors, surgeon ex screwed the wife of his critically ill patient. He got fired and just rolled on to the next $600k job in a different state. My attorney advised me that my truth is my truth and I can tell the story to whomever I want. But if I reported him to his next employer or a licensing board he could sue me for harming his ability to earn an income. And he has the deep pockets to out litigate me on any matter. I refused to sign a confidentiality agreement without him paying me a hefty sum which he wouldn’t so the matter was dropped.

              • It was right that he got fired, that goes beyond what is ethical.

                But, yeah these folks just move around.

            • Yeah. As tempting as it is, I would think twice about doing anything to hurt the cheater’s ability to make $$ if you’re in a position to receive alimony and if the alimony is a percentage of his/her income.

              • I’m in this position and OW’s Chump agreed to keep things quiet at least professionally unless Cheaters were uncooperative in D. I need support and he doesn’t want to have to pay support.

                It has worked out so far, as other Chump just told OW “His wife called me and I know everything,” and she quit fighting and gave him what he asked for (50/50 custody). We’ll see this summer if that works for me!

        • That’s so horrible Faithful Rage. Maybe some of those family and friends you told can help support you now (mentally/emotionally). If he tries to screw you out of payment, then maybe you can tell the board, and show them that clause for proof.

      • I vote for letting him earn an absolute ton without interference, and getting a lawyer who will get you a generous percentage of that.

    • This reminds me of those women who had to sign a non-disclaimer agreement in order to get paid for sexual harassment. Same situation with being victimized by a family member. Think about the number of women who might have been spared if the first one could tell. You have rights, dammit! Being able to tell the truth is an basic right. Hot under the collar here.
      Get a bulldog and go after this piece of shit.

    • Faithful— oh HELL no!!!!!

      You don’t have to agree to a confidentiality clause whereby you agree to keep the facts of XH’s sexual conduct and lies secret.

      (I’m an attorney, but obviously not your attorney— talk to yours).

    • The thing about medical offices and hospital call rooms is this: the buildings are swarmed with security cameras and somewhere in the bowels of the hospital is a room lined with monitor screens and a 24/7 crew of security guards who do nothing but sit and watch who goes where…my fuckwit’s OW was nicknamed “Ronda the Honda” by the security crew because everyone’s junk had been in her trunk…the attorney doesn’t want you to tell? I’m telling you the whole world knew about it before you had a clue. It’s all on film and all on file. Trust me on this.

      • Lol, I love this. Rhonda the Honda.

        And so true. Even without security cameras, lots of folks know except for the chump, then when we find out we are supposed to stay quiet. No, thanks anyway.

    • FR, I am so sorry this happened to you and I hope you will get a new mediator. The fact that the mediator asked that question is awful.

      That being said, to the extent that you can compartmentalize the awful reality of what happened from the divorce proceedings, the better. Look at it as a legal proceeding and keep the emotions out of it as much as possible. My attorney told me this from the start and insisted that I have a good therapist (I already did). There was a lot of power in matter-of-factly answering the discovery question, “do you have any bank accounts or safe deposit boxes” and my answer was “yes, my therapist told me to put the DVD evidence of the affair in a safe deposit box”. Keep the tears in therapy and with friends and play it smart with the legal proceedings. Hang in there and best of luck!

    • Fuck that! You can tell whoever you want. I sang from the rooftops what my ex did and it was way worse. After being lied to and gaslighted for years I desperately needed the truth. I needed to control the narrative because he was going around telling everyone that I had communication issues and we mutually decided to split. He still tells people that plus that he left our business out of respect for me- not the truth which was he was fired for bullying and theft of service. He was fired about a week sfter DDay. His bullying of me and others simply stopped working and his life imploded. I can’t fucking believe that chumps get told to be silent about their abuse. I did not follow this advice at all- I tell everyone that I want to. If I had kept it to myself I really think I would have died from trauma. Being gaslighted is being a victim of an egregious crime. Why are we supposed to stay quiet and obedient about it? That extends the abuse in my opinion.

    • Agreed, NEVER do mediation. Ever. It never pays. Never.

      What does your agreement say? That they’ll throw you in jail if you tell someone what the Cheater says? If so, go back to court and get that shit removed.

      Otherwise, just ignore it and move on. Tell who you need to tell for YOUR mental health.

      My agreement also says Dracula will pay child support, half of extracurricular activities and he doesn’t do that shit and his ass isn’t in jail.

    • If you are expected to keep silent about something, then mediate it into $$$. I signed a non-disclosure about 3 specific events and got him to keep his hands off my pension and most of my savings.

  • What do you accomplish with a marriage counselor? You pay for their kids college funding.

    This field is rife with morons. Your marriage isn’t broken. He is.

    Snake oil salesman sell hopium. Not much else.

  • I remember asking two women (my sister-in-law and a best friend) not to tell their husbands the details of the affair. Initially, it was a reflexive move – an awareness that it would damage my ex’s image and he would never reconcile. Maybe it was also protecting evidence in a future divorce. Maybe it was shame.

    But I told my therapist and three marriage counselors, my family and my lawyer. I finally told his family because he wasn’t even telling them we separated.

    Infidelity is both common and horrific.

    • I think if both people are totally committed to repairing the marriage, it’s better not to tell everyone- family and friends don’t go through the therapy with you, and they will be angry/hold grudges that will hinder the recovery.
      If the cheater doesn’t make every effort to reconcile, then I think it doesn’t matter who knows what.

      • If a cheater is totally committed to repairing the marriage that includes admitting what they’ve done and accepting the consequences. That doesn’t include forcing the victimized spouse into silence and isolating her/him.

      • “I think if both people are totally committed to repairing the marriage”

        Which describes approximately 0.1% of situations where there’s infidelity, no matter what bullshit the fw tries to get you to believe.

        I vote tell. If the fw gets angry or acts like he/she is the victim, that shows you exactly how unremorseful and uncommitted to repair he/she is. I can’t think of a better way to test the level of remorse, actually. Unrepentant fws might agree to a post-nup, thinking they can fool the chump and won’t get caught next time. But unrepentant fws are not going to react well to being outed.

    • I was the one to tell my existing family about the separation and his cheating. None of which I planned to do. We agreed to divorce and he asked me not to tell his mom why… she was visiting when I found absolute evidence he was cheating again. I said okay, knowing it would’ve the next week miserable.

      I came downstairs after I stopped crying and she confronted me about how I am such a bad mother that he is leaving because I always make him be the bad guy. (I don’t. He was barely around the kids.) I finally snapped and told her.

      TWO MONTHS later, his cousin called me to chat and asked how Ex was doing. I couldn’t believe she didn’t know yet. She talks to her mom like everyday and her mom talks to Ex’s mom everyday. I told her and she asked what had happened. I suggested she talk to Ex because he is her family and I didn’t know how he was spinning things. She called him and he said “I give up.” So she called me back because she was worried. I tried to leave that part out, but she guessed and I gave some details at that point.

      The divorce is final as of two weeks ago, but I don’t think any of them know. And probably won’t until I tell them.

  • When I spoke at mediation about the infidelity during a long marriage, a mediation that was like a second trauma, this was the comment from the ex: ‘ this isn’t the forum’. Trending pompous, smug face. Even in the UK where we are are supposed to overlook almost every act of dishonest behaviour because it starts at the top, and ‘everyone does it’, my mouth fell open in astonishment. I waited, patiently, for the mediator to step in. He didn’t. The only time he intervened was following the proposal from this 60 year old woman (then), that he should keep his enormous pension, on which I would make no claim because I was earning more than him, in return for me keeping the house and taking on the £200k mortgage. The mediator said ‘but where is X supposed to live?’ My response ‘that’s his problem, he chose and caused this, not me’. I ended up having to pay him over £100k to buy him out, this apology for a man who was 6 years younger than me and had gone back to his ex gf from school to play Romeo and Juliet. But he was ‘single’. Of course he wasn’t. It was worth the payment and the huge responsibility to get rid of him quickly. When asked for feedback on the mediator, I declined to play ball, saying that my experience of mediation was entirely negative. Which it was.

    I tell people what happened. I do not spare him or the OW. I am a victim who has fought back like the warrior I am. I wear my scars with pride.

    • You go!!!
      I am completely baffled by these stories. I thought we lived in civilized countries.

    • Did you at least get 50% of his pension … that is what UK law states and you are entitled to … works both ways, my ex got 50% even though she chose to walk and live with the OM.

      • No sadly, it was cancelled out by his half share of the house. I ended up with 57% of the assets to his 43%. It’s ok because I’m earning well, though working very hard for it, and the house value is now £100k more than it was a year ago. If I had to sell I could buy a great place mortgage free, which gives me comfort. And he’s still living in his tiny, luxury rented flat, paying nearly as much in rent as my mortgage, but hey ho at least he’s got a gym and a pool 😆. He told me that with much glee after we separated but before I knew about the affair, which he has never admitted. What a child!

  • I just made this point recently about the meaning of the word “victim”.

    It doesn’t mean I am helpless. It means I have been tricked, swindled. It means I have experienced an adverse event or circumstance. I am on the receiving end of a crime.

    It’s popular these days to decry the term, as if in using it you are automatically rolling over, playing dead, and succumbing to what happened to you and are casting a Harry Potter spell rendering yourself helpless. No. You’re merely describing your role in a situation, which is appropriate and actually empowering.
    Not saying I’m a victim seems like more denial to me.

    I am a victim. Truth. Now what?

    Fight back. Kick ass and take names. Come out swinging. Declare war. Go for the jugular. They didn’t hesitate to essentially tie you to a chair and beat the emotional shit out of you.

    • I stopped seeing my therapist after she told me that I shouldn’t seek out a support group because she was concerned that I would learn to identify as a victim and get stuck in a story. I was in a lot of pain and had told her how isolated I was feeling, even from friends and family. I needed connection and validation, and I was brainstorming potential solutions. I’d recently talked to another chump and had discovered validation and understanding that I couldn’t get anywhere else to another woman. I didn’t have to defend or explain myself. It was a relief! Soon after, I found CL – though I still haven’t managed to connect with any other openly chumpy (and enlightened) folks in the flesh.

      I was ambivalent and had been for awhile about this. CL’s recent and unapologetic use of the term ‘victimization’ to refer to cheaters as perpetrators and chumps as victims, and your points here, VH, make a lot of sense to me. Thanks.

  • Acronym for VICTIM:

    Very adverse
    Incident
    Caused
    Trauma and
    Injuries to
    Me

    It’s just using the correct term and telling the truth.

  • My therapist told me “you are no longer his secret keeper.” (like CL said!!) And I shared with whomever I wanted to. It took away the shame! I was no longer ashamed and feeling like what he did was a reflection on me.

    Like Blinkered, FW walked out on me and moved in with OW (only I have a child in the mix). I filed under adultery within 2 weeks (ok in my state)… and didn’t even have a therapist yet. I figured – “well, he already MOVED IN with her. He told me he had no interest in counseling or trying… he had TWUE WUV!” Okey dokey.

    So even in my despair and trauma… my brain trumped my heart and I filed straight away. I had to protect myself and my son… he was draining our finances and I had to save myself as quickly as possible. It was still a sh*tshow and I made bad decisions with attorneys along the way… but I got out. Hallelujah

    And if anyone asked what happened, it was easy to answer that “he left my son and me for his coworker. Super creepy. I had no idea. He just moved right in with her and her 2 boys.”
    If anyone tried to blame me for “not taking care of him,” I’d laugh and say simply, “do I look like I don’t enjoy sex? I love it. He wouldn’t. He is one creepy dude.” That usually shut them up.

    • I like you, Michelle. An honest woman with guts!

      When my ex got into my face on DDay night and screamed “yes, I love her AND I DON’T LOVE YOU” my immediate response was “How do we divvy up the assets?” It is not as if he had been treating me well, doing his share of farm work or contributing financially to our union. I think that clear headed assessment of the situation saved me a lot of pain and emotional turmoil in the long run. I also never considered keeping his secrets. I wanted people to know he was the cheater and I the innocent party. It is only just.

      I used the money that would have gone to MC and IC for an eye lift and botox. Much better use in my case. And it sounds as if I got better support from my esthetician than many of you get from your counselors!

      • “it sounds as if I got better support from my esthetician than many of you get from your counselors!”

        Right? I am thankful I couldn’t afford counseling. I did go to a counseling group for six weeks that concentrated on moving ahead and getting stronger, and that was helpful; but sounds like many of these counselors are bat shit crazy.

      • Discarded Wife,
        That’s EXACTLY what FW said to me too:
        “yes, I love her AND I DON’T LOVE YOU”

        Even though I was quick to file, I went into shock. I was traumatized. It was still unexpected and it took therapy to work it out. I think marriage counseling for cheaters is useless, but I do believe in individual therapy. It helped me manage and understand what was happening with a narcissist. When FW’s mask came off, it was like I was in Oz and he was the wormy guy behind the curtain pretending to be the Wizard. I didn’t want to be in the colorful freaky world with flying monkeys. I felt like someone ripped me from my normal family and stuck me on the Jerry Springer Show. Therapy helped a lot.

        Now don’t get me started in coparenting coordination (I’m a hard NO on that crap. FWs that like to mindfuck you, don’t make healthy coparents and use the kids and “coparenting coordination” to further their idiotic games)

    • That is a satisfying story to read, MichelleShocked. If I didn’t know better than to think that any form of being chumped is better or worse than another, I’d say I wish mine had been honest about what was going on and just moved out. Instead, I returned from a trip and was greeted to flowers, money, homemade soup, an apology, a love letter, and a need for “time and space.” I was confused and destroyed, but I had no inkling that another woman was involved (or that several had been, for several years!).

      My ex was so sneaky for so long. Reading today, I thought of a time during the first wreckonciliation that came later that summer, after dday. I was sitting across from FW at a restaurant, and because of some recent breaches of trust, I asked if he was in any way in contact with OW any more – because it was a dealbreaker and I wanted out if so. He glared and hushed me – as if anyone was listening or cared – and I walked out because I was so disgusted and fed up with his angry, controlling entitlement. He had to stay and pay. I blocked his phone and didn’t respond or want to. I felt so strong. Switch flipped!

      Well, he love bombed me all weekend. I fell for it (still relatively new to the post-discovery games). Continued MC, wreckonciliation, for a few months of BS and shit sandwiches until I discovered… he sure was still in contact. VERY much so, not just the occasional texts I had feared. And he had dared to threaten me with his angry stare for asking. Switch flipped, again! NC for months, and then… I was Hoovered one final time. Now the switch has truly flipped. No hesitation there. You just know.

      • Bread & roses, it’s all perspective really. FW was NOT forthright. He was sneaking around and I figured it out after a few months. I’m the one that confronted him and just happened to catch him just as they were planning him leaving me anyway. It did make it easier to file when he moved right in with her and never looked back. But it was a hard pill to swallow that he never tried to get back with me once. He never sent flowers or begged forgiveness. He was a leech that detached from one host and latched on to another. I was nothing to him anymore. So it all sucks. It’s all traumatizing. All FWs can fuck off for the abuse they do to others. They are all assholes.

        I’m glad you’re free of your FW now. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through.

        • Thanks and right back at you, MS. I’m shocked and disgusted every day by the abuses I read about here.

  • A good screening question for therapists, lawyers, and mediators is, “Is cheating abuse?”. My goal is to never contract with anyone who answers, “no”.

    • I agree with you NoMoreNarcs and it really is such a frustration when cheating is not unanimously viewed as what it fully is, abuse. The games with that have got to be called out. This isn’t something to be cowering in the corner with shame over by the victims of such crimes and then told to sign documents to keep quiet on the whole toxic tsunami event, like it’s some mutual fault and would just be better if it were kept hush hush for everyone’s sake and pushed under a rug. And these are professionals giving that kind of advice to people? My God, that’s frightening and tragic at the same time. How can ppl give advice on topics they so obviously have no handle at all on?
      Hell to the no with that I say! Shout it from the damn rooftops people! Do not let anyone deny your truth. You were abused by someone you deeply loved and trusted. There is nothing okay with that, nothing at all.
      Why does Dante label the lowest possible ninth circle of hell to betrayal? Because that’s where it belongs and that’s how reprehensible an act it is. No one has any right to silence Blinkered from exposing the truth to others. Until the next person has their soul crushed and then on down the line from there? I deeply see it as our chummily obligation to help those coming after us in any way possible. Our eyes were open but we were unable to see what was fully happening to us, if by speaking up about this we can help someone else see, hard to even imagine not wanting that ability. Don’t we all wish we could have seen the damage that was being inflicted on us and our children through days, years and decades?! We need to crack it wide open and call out the truth and bring it fully into the light of day. Remaining silent on this is not an option. It’s too important to bury anywhere.

      • Agree!

        I was a bit surprised that some well-meaning friends reacted to news of the infidelity (I was a sharer!) by saying, “I won’t tell anyone.” That took me aback because it implied that I had reason to feel shame.

        Of course, I told them that I don’t mind at all if they tell people because I have no desire to protect the cheater.

    • Same. I’m trying desperately to find a new therapist, but they’re in short supply due to the pandemic. Still, I’m sticking to my standards – and your question is a big one for me, too! I also immediately pass on anyone who is a couples counselor.

  • Tell everyone if you want to. You get to share your story. Silence in the face of abuse protects the abuser.

    My marriage counseling sessions left me with so much PTSD. Those counselors can be horrible.

    I sent a holiday card out that explained the divorce and named the OW to his extended family and friends. No regrets. Anyone who thought I was crazy isn’t someone I want in my life anyways. I feel at peace knowing the truth is out there. I don’t protect abusive men.

  • Six years since Dday and I have learned that people say a lot of stupid things…even therapists. I actually left a therapist that stated that I should have been basically over it by then as she had suggested three years prior to Dday that “he MAY be cheating”. When I explained that it wasn’t until three years later that I found out about the cheating, it did not seem to matter to her. I then decided that therapy which makes me feel worse is not worth it. Some of them cannot comprehend the impact of betrayal.

    • “Some of them cannot comprehend the impact of betrayal.”

      The ones who can’t empathize, which is their job, should find another line of work.

      • What was so upsetting to me -with all three therapist that I tried… Is that they refused to judge the cheater.
        I made him sound like an awesome husband who cheated and discarded me for married OW. Not one of them thought to point out that maybe he wasn’t so awesome after all.
        They let me go on a about all my flaws blah blah blah. I’m still hesitant to try a fourth.
        When the last one told me that there are plenty of reasons why people cheat and sometimes it’s hormones… I was done!

        • I’m sorry. That really sucks, Zip.

          It would be great to have a master list of decent therapists who know that infidelity is abuse and don’t spew such nonsense as “hormones made him do it” while making the victim feel complicit in their own abuse.

          It’s no wonder you’re jittery about making yourself vulnerable with a fourth therapist.

  • In the end, this is each person’s story to tell. Personally, I stick with the raw and unvarnished truth because:
    (1) That’s what works for me; I speak the truth in other areas of my life, so why should this be any different?
    (2) It’s no longer my job to protect and defend someone who didn’t protect and defend me or our marriage, and if it looks bad for him, that is not my problem; I couldn’t care less about image management.
    (3) What matters most at this point is MY integrity, MY healing, MY peace, and MY next steps, and I can’t effectively get there if I’m continually lying about what happened or omitting material facts.

  • Fully agree (when don’t I) with CL… get up from the table and walk away and speak your truth as you see fit.

    What I will offer is that when kiddos are involved, you may choose to add a layer of how speaking your truth will (or won’t) cause them embarrassment or pain (especially if they are on social media). My son was in third grade and I told him that Daddy got a girlfriend while we were on vacation and married people shouldn’t do that. It was enough for him to understand and age appropriate. As time has marched on, he gets more age appropriate details when he asks.

    My family and inner circle were always embarrassed by my willingness to call Mr. Sparkles a whore in general conversation with them, out of earshot of kids… but to me, that one word summed it all up and I didn’t need to pontificate further. He didn’t just cheat on me… he cheated on our whole family… he cheated on the women before and the women after me (and in more ways that just sexual)… so I feel the moniker was efficient 🙂

    Rock on Chump Nation… you can do this.

  • My oldest daughter, who at the time of DD was 22, has very high functioning autism. When I gave her psychiatrist the heads up that things might get a little rocky for her because my husband and I would be getting divorced due to his cheating, she said, “you’re not going to tell her, are you?”. I stated that of course I would tell her. I would tell her if he had robbed a bank, if he had stabbed someone, etc. Was it painful for me to tell both of my daughters and for them to hear? Yes, but I haven’t regretted it for one minute. I told them the facts and besides a few snarky comments, have not bashed their dad. But I’ve secretly loved watching them discover who he really is, though I’m saddened that he is fact the only Dad they get to have.

  • Just want to say there are good therapists out there. When I first found out, had hopium and made him book with a Christian counselor who specialized with men with porn addiction (yes, that too). At that point, I knew my ex could lie well and I was watching actions and not listening to the words. Followed him to work one night and he was parked right beside the ho worker’s truck. Told him the next morning I was filing. He said since I was filing, he didn’t need to go back to counseling. I still went and the therapist told me to immediantly put the bank accounts in my name (I was the major bread winner) so he could not empty the account. This was easily done since my ex whore had left to go to his parents’ funeral (yes, he was screwing the ho worker while both of his parents were dying which is so disturbed on a whole different level!) That move saved me thousands and gave me the upper hand through the divorce proceeding. Continued with the therapist for about another year until I could function again. I will be forever greatful to him.

  • There is a difference between playing the victim and being one. When we get chumped we are victims and there is no shame in that. When we tell people what happened the cheaters play the victim. The shame is in pretending to be a victim when you are actually the perpetrator of the crime. Let them wear that shame.

  • I have no regrets telling everyone. He wanted it kept secret and I did while I was recovering from surgery. When I did let it out, his was ticked and everyone he lied to actually got disgusted with him. That said, there’s always blowback. Lots of “I knew he was no good. We never liked him and now we know why. We pitied you.” and then they start looking at you and why you were with him so long. And how you were a part of his false front. And the pity parties. And the backstabbers that take pleasure in the pain of others, Or the ones who avoid you because divorce cooties, Oh and how lucky to be rid of him and have your life blown to bit. And then it’s non stop opinions about your marriage and family.Everybody’s a critic on your life choices. Or his old buddies that come to hit on you because you’re getting your half. Until finally they move on to someone else, So, I say just tell who you need to tell (family and close friends) for your sake. Don’t have to keep it a secret, the for sale sign usually helps them figure it out

    • Trudy I feel your pain from here. Thanks for your honesty, I so needed that today. Wish I could ease your suffering but seems like you have learned much. Grateful .

  • I read the question and immediately thought, “Fuck that shit.”

    It was nice of CL to give a more thorough answer before pretty much stating the same. lol

    The whole dancing with a corpse image… anyone else think of Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane” video? I really expected to see a gif. 🤣 💃🏼🧟‍♂️

  • In my experience, “therapists” frequently ado FAR more harm than good, especially in this realm. I have a lot of acquaintances in this field (I’m been in a 12th step recovery program 30+ years and there are a lot of alcoholic – addict therapists) and all of them have their own very serious mental health and character issues— almost every one has a history of cheating. Obviously anecdotal, but something to consider.

    Before a chump even considers “therapy,” make sure the therapist unequivocally agrees that cheating is on par with other forms of domestic violence AND works only with chumps (the bad character of cheaters cannot be changed by any therapist and if therapists take $$ from cheaters it’s a complete conflict of interest in my opinion.)

    Instead of wasting $ on MC, spend that on the divorce attorney, getting some additional career training, building a prudent reserve, a year of massage, a yoga studio or gym membership, a new car, a trip to a beach or wellness spa, tickets to Broadway shows, née bedding…… ANYTHING!

  • “I didn’t like his girlfriend!” That’s what I told people. Or “well I guess we were in an open marriage and he forgot to tell me.” Tells the truth and also people will mind their own business after that.

  • As someone who came from a family where secrets were kept, to the detriment of everyone, secrets do damage to people. The only questions are:

    1. Who needs to know the whole story? Your family of origin, for sure, even if it turns out that they are no help to you, because unless you are estranged from them, you will be living with the lie of omission for the rest of your life. And that’s no way to live. If your family is prone to be helpful, or will 100% have your back, you are not allowing them to fully support you if you don’t tell the story. Your highly qualified individual therapist.
    2. Who has earned the right to hear the whole story? Your closest, trustworthy friends, those who are kind, honest and understand reciprocity.
    3. Who need an age-appropriate version? Kids in school, up through college. Once they are full grown, they can decide whether they want to know more details.
    4. Who needs legal notification? Your HR department at work needs to know you are divorcing and he is out of the picture.
    5. Who needs to executive summary version? Maybe your primary care physician or your OB-Gyn if you are a woman. You should be tested for STDs.

    And don’t be afraid to cry on the bus or break down in front of the plumber and share too much. You can always apologize and it’s OK not to have it all together.

    My beef with marriage counseling is simple. The marriage is not more important than the suffering person in the marriage. The cheater is not suffering from anything but too much CAKE. The chump is blindsided, horrified, terrified, emotionally crushed, devastated. Take care of yourself first. Get yourself some support from an expert who understands how people process betrayal and trauma. In my case, my individual therapist made one of her very rare direct pronouncements: You can never go back. Once you are clear about your own healing, and you can assess your spouse’s level of honesty and engagement without vast amount of hopium, then you can decided if marriage counseling makes sense and what YOUR goals are for that counseling. That will help you choose someone who isn’t a charlatan. If you do marriage counseling because you are desperate to save the marriage, chances are you will be played by both the cheater (who already has what he wants) and the counselor, who may sincerely believe that the goal should always be to save the marriage, even if it damages the chump.

    • “ And don’t be afraid to cry on the bus or break down in front of the plumber and share too much. You can always apologize and it’s OK not to have it all together.”

      I ended up sobbing on the phone with an insurance salesman when trying to get a new quote for auto/rental. He was so ridiculously kind to me and told me about his own divorce and how he’s now happily remarried and his kids are happy. He also told me my STBX sounded like an idiot.

      • Yeah, I found strangers were kinder than some members my own family. They were angry that I was dumping the fw and upsetting their lives, incredibly enough. Cheater used to do their taxes and other favors. So it inconvenienced them.
        My relationship with them has never been the same after that. I can’t trust them, and my mom died before we got past it, so I never got resolution on that, plus missed a lot of time I would have otherwise had with her. Yet another casualty of cheating. The worst part is that if cheaters knew beforehand what would happen, how far reaching the trauma would be, they’d still do it.

        • OHFFS, yes, family of origin (FOO) are not always as chumpy as we are. FOO might not like to be inconvenienced. FOO might be entitled. Maybe that is exactly why we ended up with a fuckwit, and we did not see the red flags. Our FOO raised us thinking that is a normal behaviour from loved ones. I knew my father was rather entitled, but I am currently reconsidering a lot of family relationships. I was a chump at home, at work, at my parents’ home… Even to the cat (probably part-siamese, but still 😳)

      • Limbo Cumpian, same thing happened to me only with different business person. He turned out to me one of the most kind, thoughtful, helpful people I had during this mess. Also neighbor’s who lived across the street who I did not even know because they lived here only occasionally, they are very well known in the sports world. They were so above and beyond kind it makes me cry to this day to think how wonderful they were to me. God bless these people who see, know and act. I will try my best to be them for someone else along the way.

      • Same thing happened to me only with different business person. He turned out to me one of the most kind, thoughtful, helpful people I had during this mess. Also neighbor’s who lived across the street who I did not even know because they lived here only occasionally, they are very well known in the sports world. They were so above and beyond kind it makes me cry to this day to think how wonderful they were to me. God bless these people who see, know and act. I will try my best to be them for someone else along the way.

    • “The chump is blindsided, horrified, terrified, emotionally crushed, devastated. ”

      I would add financially devastated to that. Of course not all, but most are. Even if you are ok financially together divorce devastates that. Even worse, marital funds were almost always used which means the victim was forced to pay the abuser(s) to abuse them.

    • I have told you all my story.. 65 years old, 37 year marriage, 2nd D-day after promises of never cheating again and 10+ years of an AFF account, serial cheating, and bisexuality (that I knew nothing about). What is breaking my heart, is I have also told you on several occasions that I am done, out the door, but I am having the hardest time pulling that trigger; telling my adult kids and forever changing our family time together..crazy, I know!

      Thank you so much, LAJ, for this response. I am hanging on to the words, “the marriage is not more important than the suffering person in the marriage.” I am hoping for the strength to finally leave!

      • Line up your financial ducks and go for it. If money is an issue, think of how you can cushion the financial blow of ending the marriage. If you own a home, you may be able to cash out enough to get a condo or even buy a duplex where rental fees help pay the mortgage. There is going to be a way.

        It’s not crazy to want to hang on to those “family times.” But the price of those family days every year is 365 days of living a lie and living with someone you don’t respect.

        I’m 69 years old. I don’t have that many years left to waste on anyone who doesn’t care about me. Neither do you.

      • Kathy. Ouch. Ouch and a half. My heart hurts for you. Please give yourself grace that you haven’t left yet. You’ve been abused by deception and betrayal for years and years. That’s exhausting on an existential level. You’ll find the strength, but in the meantime, be gentle with yourself. Rest. Stare at clouds. It’s okay. It will be ok. We believe in you. You matter. You survived the abuse and you will thrive in its absence.

        • Thank you, both, for these kind words of advice! It has been 8 months since 2nd D-day, hopefully leaving next week.

    • You focus on a primary issue, in my opinion, who needs to know? Emotional statements cannot always be contained, but telling everyone who is in the vicinity all the sordid details is not really a good idea. I don’t believe you should keep it a secret, but what you tell, and to whom, should be age appropriate and relationship appropriate. You might get more compassion from strangers in a support group than some of your family. You might be endangering the ability of the cheater to provide child support if he/she loses employment. You might be harming your negotiation ability for a divorce settlement by spreading details to those who really don’t benefit you in any way by knowing. It is sad that you have to be the sane parent, or sane person in a court procedure for an issue you did not create, but it is also reality.

      Some people just love hearing about other people’s misery. I try not to give these nosy nellies anything to snack on. I always think about the Blanche Dubois character in a Streetcar Named Desire, depending on the kindness of strangers might not work out well for you.

  • One of the greatest revelations to me post-divorce is that I really don’t have to care what other people think. I mean, I do think we should be kind and considerate of others, etc. But the details of how I live my own life–those are my decision. If I want four cats (and I do), I’m getting four cats. If I want to paint my kitchen orange (and I do), I paint it orange. As long as I’m caring for my cats and enjoying my kitchen, what’s it to them? The same with telling people the reason for my divorce. If someone wants to keep it quiet and private, that’s fine. If they want to post a sign on their door saying, “Cheater-free at last,” then that’s their business. I’m done living my life to please someone else.
    The freedom of divorce is the freedom not to care anymore what a cheating asshole thinks I should do… or what any of his flying monkeys think I should do… or what society in general thinks I should think about it. I worked hard to get out of those shackles. I’m not going to sit in the prison cell after I finally broke through the bars.

  • I agree with CL completely! Speak the truth! There is way too much gaslighting and lying in the world as it is. You can help others by showing them how common cheating is. Your marriage counselor is completely wrong. I hid the truth about my husband for months after DDay. Hiding my pain almost killed me. But I have a warning for you: some people you tell might say untrue things, such as “you must have known your marriage was not working”. People who haven’t been cheated on don’t get it.

    • Exactly this. I think that chumps should be selective about who they tell so long as it is for their own sake and not the FW’s. There were people I chose not to tell because I didn’t want to be the center of gossip. I am incredibly pissed that my own mother chose to tell some relatives of mine that I didn’t want to find out because then I was hearing from cousins that have always had a one-sided competitive relationship with me. Also, telling the FW’s friends or family can lead to increased acrimony in divorce negotiations. And yes, it’s grossly unfair that they don’t give the same consideration and we once again have to be the better, more composed person. Best to wait until the ink is dry if you want to go the tell-all route.

      • I agree that it’s good to know that you might not always get the response you thought you would get.
        It’s definitely not our shame and it’s not our secret. But sometimes people can show a lack of empathy or just make little comments that turn the knife.
        One of my oldest friends stated that she believed in love at first sight… I interpreted that as cutting my fuckwit some slack for having dumped me for the OW one day to the next.
        With another person I mentioned how it wouldn’t last -there was a 15 year age difference… she went on to mention the relationships she knew of that worked well with a 15 year age difference. Ugh

        What I learned from this is that it’s not received like physical abuse… in that people know that it’s wrong, they don’t blame the victim and they know that it’s traumatizing. They also wouldn’t be Switzerland friends or buy into sad sausage stories. People don’t expect somebody who was physically abused to just snap to it and get on with things right away.
        I say tell whoever you want but don’t assume you’ll always get appropriate responses.
        I feel more comfortable telling people now because I’m not as much of an open wound and I’m not as attached to what people might say.

        • Even if one did believe in love at first sight, which of course is unadulterated bull shit; the proper response would be to say to Zip or Susie, Zip or Susie, I fell in love at first sight today, today and I will be filing for a divorce. Not sneaking, lying, screwing, stealing marital funds, devaluing Zip and Susie and then blaming them, because of course it was Zip/Susie’s fault that I fell in love today.

          • I love that. Yes, if someone is so sure it’s love at first sight then work out all the details then and there. Throw it all to the wind and bet everything on this supposed connection from the gods. Don’t test it out, lead a double life – all the while devaluing your spouse/only to drop them in the end and blame them for everything.
            What false victims they are… They’re even a victim because they couldn’t control cupids arrow.

  • I know it’s probably been said previously, but to order you not to talk about being abused is further abuse and more trauma.

    If you consider beforehand what you say and do, and imagine what would happen if it were on the front page, and you wouldn’t like it?

    Don’t do it or say it!

    I taught my daughter that what she thinks is her business, but her actions and words toward other people become the business of those people affected.

    Yes, I taught her that. Not him.

  • I told lots of people. Anyone who’d listen, in fact.

    But the first person I told was Sparkledick’s wife. Sent her some screen caps.

  • So I guess that your MC thinks that marriage (weddings) are no one else’s business then? How nice that you have not only the narc isolating you (by keeping their shady secrets), but your MC, too!

    • Right?

      Fw told ow all my faults, I mean he had to as he had to keep the pussy flowing. She of course I am sure told all her skanky buds, but I should have kept quiet. Yeah, no thanks.

      I don’t think I would have done well in MC, maybe it is a good thing it never happened.

  • This attitude boils my blood. The jerk actually said to me shortly after Dday that I was “playing the victim.”
    He had the gall to be stunned when I replied that in fact I was the victim, of con man who wasted my life with his lies, and that in a just world he would do prison time for it.
    He had never even considered that his actions were victimizing me. That’s how they protect themselves from the knowledge that they are trash- they just don’t think about it.

    I sure hope Blinkered fired that unethical counselor and divorced the cheater. How infuriating!

    • 👍

      Yes, the bastard lied to me, screamed at me, gas lighted me, spent money on a whore while I scrimped and saved, worked my ass off working a full time job, doing his volunteer work, and doing his laundry, cleaning the house, (whi8le he bitched that I didn’t do a good enough job) cooking for him while he spent all his spare time screwing the whore(s).

      I was a victim. He absolutely should have done prison time for using my life for his benefit for years.

    • There’s being the victim and then there’s playing the victim. The chumps are of course the victims but then usually the FWs play the victim. My AHole had the audacity to tell me he was in an unwinnable situation after d-day. If he broke up with the ho-worker then work would be awkward. If he divorced me then he’d miss the kids and feel like he was disappointing his parents. I was in the position of divorcing him and also losing time with the children, the majority of family income, my life as I knew it or I could just keep being cheated on, but that’s neither here nor there /s.

      And of course there were marital funds being used in the affair and not being able to make informed decisions when having unprotected sex with my sexual partner of the past 20 years and making career decisions that increased flexibility for raising kids that reduced my income. I was conned.

  • I told anyone who asked, I didn’t want a wife with a girlfriend. It took a few moments before people got it, but they figured it out without me having to say she was a cheating asshole.

  • For me, it depends. I’m some time past the final court order and at long last finished closeout a few months ago (thank you ex for dragging that out too).

    Generally I give the elevator speech — He left the state in 20xx, and we’ve been divorced since 20xx. Then I talk about what I and our young adults are doing and ask about the person doing the asking.

    Sometimes I give more, but it’s not automatic. My divorce was a bit of a scandal in certain circles, so there were of course questions that I answered honestly.

    I’m not hiding anything, but it may or may not be something I want to discuss. My choice!

  • It’s like that Carrie Underwood song says ” I could have saved a little trouble for the next girl.” When people do shit and keep their shiny reputation it just makes it easier to do it again. I say Blast that fucker!

  • I needed to share. After he lied for so many years, I wanted to let the sun in and proclaim the truth.

    Also, I wanted to get my narrative out there because I knew my sad sack of a covert-narc husband would spew some false-equivalency shit. I imagined it would go like this, “Yes, I was unfaithful, but Spinach wasn’t perfect either.” I sometimes didn’t react well to his shitty behavior. (This chump has to remind herself that getting angry is a perfectly good reaction). I bought the wrong ratio of caf to decaf coffee, etc…This is his spiel.

    With this BS, he continues to abuse me. That’s why I have to remain NC with him and with 99% of the people who come in contact with him. #selfpreservation

  • Right on, CL! The only people who “play victim” are victimizers. Actual victims aren’t playing at anything.

    I didn’t always understand this. I remember that, after being stalked and assaulted by an older psycho coworker with status in my industry, a teacher/mentor in her sixties and old family friend preemptively told me not to “play victim.”

    Great idea! So I prosecuted the bastard. The difference between a survivor and a victim is silence, right? But apparently, that’s not what she meant. What my former mentor/family friend meant was STFU and protect the perp, keep the crime secret.

    I shortly found out that the stalker literally tracked down and called up everyone I knew in order to sway, intimidate and bribe them to his side, and this teacher accepted MET Gala tickets from him. I think she felt washed up since retiring and was thrilled to get the attention from someone statusy. She had a price. After this, she started calling my parents repeatedly trying to tell them that I had behaved “unfairly” to stalker-douche. My mother told her off and my whole family ghosted her.

    He had to plead NOLO and only got a slap on the wrist, but has a searchable record for assault and battery, false imprisonment and terrorist threat. After his conviction, it was he who finally STFU and stopped spinning his bs victim/offender reversals because it would only unearth the fact he’d been– whoops– convicted. Consequently, I had less of a need to defend myself and didn’t feel compelled to talk about it as much after the injuries healed and a period of PTSD therapy. Everyone had already heard the news and his former flying monkeys and people who betrayed me looked at the ground and scuttled away in random encounters with me or my allies.

    He still played victim but fewer bought it. After educating myself about victimology and social and therapeutic victim-blaming, I realized that the term “victim”– as CL points out– is merely a neutral identifier meaning one was subjected to a victimizer or victimizing force. The term says zero about the person on the receiving end– not their socio-emotional background, level of self-esteem, education, character, nada– and everything about the victimizer. It has been made into a dirty word by the bullies of the world and is a dead giveaway of a collective DARVO mentality.

    The thing that makes this more difficult in situations of emotional battering like chronic gaslighting, betrayal, unconsented exposure to STDs and financial abuse (aka, the usual cheating scenario) is the lack of visible injuries. The abuser’s DARVO attempts are more potent because you have less “evidence” with which to defend yourself from their spin or bystanders’ victim-blaming knee-jerk tendencies. It can be crushing. It’s a terrible situation in which the actual victim may have to “play” how they combat the bad press by neither saying too much or too little, Broken ribs and going through the criminal prosecution process were far easier than the chump experience in many ways. But even if you have to think and act on two levels to get through the “it was only emotional battering” experience, there’s a tax on the abuser for forcing you into the situation where, in the middle of recovering from something so devastating, you have to also be very canny and strategize in order not to be further damaged by bystander blame. It *still* says everything about the abuser and nothing about the victim.

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