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June 2, 2022 32 mins

Jenifer learns more about Betrayal Trauma with her coach and expert Kim Gould MSW. Kim explains the ways Betrayal Trauma impacts its victims and how they search for safety. Jen shares Spencer’s jailhouse letters which place a surprising amount of culpability on the women with whom he had affairs. A found text chain drops a bombshell.

Kim Gould, MSW provides her therapeutic coaching services at The Center for Relational Healing in Los Angeles (www.lacrh.com) and Life & Intimacy Coaching practice (kimgouldcoaching.com)

If you would like to reach out to the Betrayal Team, email us at betrayalpod@gmail.com.  

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, Betrayal listeners. This week, we just wanted to quickly
drop a note to our listeners and say thank you.
We've been taking the time to read through all of
your emails that you submitted at betrayalpod at gmail dot
com because so many of you have reached out with
your own stories, questions, and feedback. You plan to release
bonus content with updates and resources, so stay tuned. But first,

(00:22):
here's episode seven. This podcast discusses sexual assault. Please take
care while listening. I was packing up to go and
it was in my office and she surprised me. I
think she said something like, what are you doing going home?
I said, that's too bad, she responded. I was in

(00:42):
shock and surprised by her closeness. Then I remember a kiss.
It was so very consensual. I'm Andrea Gunning and this
is Betrayal Episode seven, Recovery. In the first year after

(01:13):
Spencer's arrest, Jennifer fought hard to move forward and heal,
all the while Spencer was sending letters from jail telling
her how sorry he was. I want to restore our
marriage and I'll do whatever it takes for you to
believe me about that. I promised myself to be real
with you about my true feelings, and that promise also

(01:35):
makes me say that I one hundred percent believe we
can get through this. Jennifer understood she was experiencing trauma.
She sought help from wise, empathetic voices that helped her
find her footing. My name is Kim Gould. I am
a betrayal trauma specialist and coach. It is my deepest
passion to help people heal from trauma and reclaim their lives.

(02:00):
Do this profound work at the Center for Relational Healing
in Los Angeles and then in my own intimacy coaching practice,
I help people take that healing to the next level.
Can I get so emotional when I think about you
and the part that you've played on this journey with me,

(02:21):
And I'm just really really grateful. You know, when all
this happened, I didn't no betrayal trauma was a thing,
and it's a thing, certainly, yes. It is what we
commonly refer to as a shattered worldview. Betrayal trauma basically

(02:44):
takes away everything that you thought you knew to be
true or safe or just in the world. So you're
literally like a little baby trying to and to walk
and talk and make sense of things in a nonsensical

(03:04):
world and what feels like a very dangerous world in
the beginning, especially, I walked around feeling like there was
an elephant standing on my chest. Yeah, it certainly is physiological, emotional, spiritual, cognitive,

(03:25):
and mental. The trio trauma feels like and it does
hijack the person going through it, and it did that
to you at the beginning as well. Physiologically, a large
part of that is because your nervous system has been shot,

(03:46):
there's no place to find safety, and your nervous system
will send you into a hyper vigilant state, and the
body and the brain are sending you into fight or freeze.
So many behaviors come from seeking safety, the being a

(04:10):
detective and checking emails and texts all night long for
hours and hours and not able to sleep. This would
look like so the betrayed partner or the woman is
going crazy. And there are unfortunately times where women have
been misdiagnosed. As an example of this, many women have

(04:33):
been labeled as having a personality disorder when they are
really just adapting to this earth shattering trauma and did
not even have these symptoms before the event, and every
single thing we see a betrayed partner doing is safety
seeking behavior. I relate to that so much, and I
think that's why I'm so consumed by needing to know

(04:56):
who it was that I married, because I I didn't
know him. I didn't know a whole side to him,
and that's so scary. Honestly, my biggest fear coming out
of this and sharing this story with everyone is I
know people are going to ask, how could she not know?
How did you not see any signs? And I just didn't.

(05:22):
Probably at least fifty percent of the betrayed partners I
work with say it's like being with jackal and hide.
These are not people who, for the most part were
mean or on caring to their partners. The majority of
the women that I've worked with similar to you, Jen,

(05:45):
were astounded. I'm surprised, and they were very smart women
and very intelligent, intuitive women. These are not women who
have had their blinders on. What were talking about is
the acting out partners being so unbelievably skilled at gas

(06:09):
lighting and manipulation and such severe compartmentalization in the brain
to be able to go out during the day and
do certain things that are terrible and totally against the
value system of your marriage, and then to come home
and act like he loves you and things are fine.

(06:30):
I trust that Spence was really, really practiced and successful
at that, because you are a very intelligent woman, and
you're not naive, and you didn't see it, and most
betrayed partners don't. You Listen to my conversation with the student,
I dare it was very touching talking with her and

(06:52):
the other two women. That's what this whole journey has
been about. It's really helped me understand the other side
of this person that I thought I really knew. As
the police were leading Spence out the front door of
our house, handcuffed, I yelled out to them, he's a

(07:14):
good person. Even after finding out that he just committed
this awful, awful crime against a young person, I still
needed them to know he was a good person, because
in my head he was somebody completely different. My reality

(07:39):
was shattered and it had not registered. And I'm still
struggling to understand the way he was with me and
the way that I know he behaved and treated many, many,
many other women. You know, I haven't been able to
do any kind of obsessment or diagnosis or anything like

(08:01):
that clinically, But I would guess that there are other
things going on besides addiction, like what it feels to
me like there were splinters of his personality he learned,
you know how he was supposed to be a good,
healthy husband, and maybe there was this other part of

(08:24):
him that he didn't know how to express. In the beginning,
all jen had to make sense of her life, and
all the lies were long confessional letters and apologies from Spencer.
She wasn't falling for it, but that didn't stop him
from attempting to manipulate her from his jail cell. That
first Thanksgiving, he sent her a three page letter on

(08:47):
all the things he was thankful for. I'm thankful for
getting to marry my dream girl. I'm thankful that you
said yes. I'm thankful that one day there's a chance
that you might forgive me. I'm thankful that at some
point I might get a shot at life again. I'm

(09:08):
so very thankful for second chances. I'm thankful that I
will always have hope that my future could possibly have
you in it. Jennifer. I'm thankful for you. There wasn't
going to be reconciliation. The apologies were hollow. She didn't

(09:28):
trust him. How could she. Her eyes were wide open,
and she wanted to see who he really was, wants
and for all. Maybe then she could understand what he
did and why this happened to her. Knowing what I
do about Spencer's behavior now, I feel like there was

(09:48):
this compulsion that he just couldn't control. In another letters
I'm from jail, Spencer theorized that it must have been
his need for attention that caused his problems, long before
he and Jennifer reconnected after college. I remember once getting
a message from a woman saying she was thinking of me.

(10:10):
It was such a rush I had never had that
that became my search. This is all backstory. It's what
I've discovered with so much thinking, meditation, and of course prayer.
You asked me when the cops were coming to get
me if I was a sex act. My answer is
still absolutely no. My problem was at a much more

(10:33):
intimate level, attention seeking, approval seeking. You can look at
sex addiction just like you would with any other addiction, gambling, food, heroin, alcohol.

(11:00):
Somewhere along the line they learned that if I have
this thing, I'm going to have relief from pain, or
it could be the offer sing I'm actually going to
feel a lies for a little while. So it's whether
someone feels too much, feels too a little, and basically
doesn't know how to have healthy coping mechanisms in life.

(11:24):
But really, what makes something an addiction or a compulsive
disorder is that the person keeps doing it again and
again and again, and it is bringing a lot of
harm and dysfunction into their lives and into others, and
they keep doing it and they're not able to stop.
Do you think people with these kind of addictions or

(11:46):
compulsions look for a certain type of person to prey on.
You know, there's a big piece of this, which, in
my opinion, is so deeply connected to our patriarchal society
that teaches us that women are the most value when
they are beautiful and getting attention from men, and they
are trained that way from childhood. And here's, you know,

(12:10):
a charismatic man who is giving them attention, and this
feeds their own need for validation, making them so vulnerable
to glooming and the way they are going about trying
to find worth in this world. Hearing Kim say this,
maybe think of hope. In Jennifer's rent, they said almost
the same thing. I got this text message, well you're beautiful.

(12:36):
Here's an attractive guy telling me I'm pretty. I was
stressed out, didn't feel pretty all the time, because you know,
I had kids hanging off me, breastfeeding. I was greasy,
maybe showered every couple days, maybe washed up with baby wipes.
But then I would always hear, you know, like, you're
so beautiful, You're really really well rounded, You're a great mom.

(12:58):
But he says that he never sought after any of this.
He says it was always the women that were giving
him the eye or letting him know that it was okay,
when in fact, I have so much communication that proves otherwise.

(13:24):
Here is exactly what he wrote about Jennifer's friend, the
one Spencer had sex with at the wine bar. To
my memory, she was staring at me a lot at
the bar. I'm sure I noticed it and try to
dismiss it as just my imagination. I honestly have no
idea how it actually started. I just don't. It's not

(13:45):
really important anyway, It's just not It was important to Jennifer,
and it seems Spencer had amnesia when it came to
how the affairs started, but the women he remembered specific details.
I went into the bathroom and when I came out,
he was there and mentioned, like, you know that we

(14:06):
have this thing together. You know you're feeling is too right?
And then he came in for a kiss, then held
my hand and touched his crotch with my hand on
the outside of his pants. What is is how it continued.
I guess she had to be a willing participate. There

(14:26):
were times when you or her husband were out of town,
or when she might just linger at the bar. I
can't give you details because I can't remember them. When
it was over with her, you can't imagine my relief
that problem in my life was over. I was so happy.

(14:48):
I think one of the biggest blessings of this situation
was that Spence was arrested and has remained locked up.
I haven't had to face him or deal with it
except for in letters. It's truly a blessing because I

(15:10):
can't imagine if that person was around to be able
to lie about the situation. Essentially, I absolutely agree his
absence and removal from your space and from your life.
While so painful, allowed you to hear them more quickly,

(15:30):
and the extreme of his making years make things really
definitive and clear for you. Jennifer took note of how
often he used the word love with other women. It's dune.
She pressed Spencer about that, especially with his colleague in

(15:52):
the Air Force. I really thought that he loved me.
He had me convinced that he did. I mean, he
told me Hope. I know you're really wondering how I
used the word love with her. I don't know how
I ever did or could have. I do not and

(16:13):
never did love her. She's the same as anyone else.
Whenever I did use that word, I can only assume
it was to reciprocate her using it, or to maybe
keep giving me the attention I was still wanting. In
that same letter, Spencer goes on to say anytime spent
with Hope was never romantic, anticipated or anything like that.

(16:35):
Allowing these things to happen was just that, allowing hope.
But I never had a thing that anyone could see
or detect. It was that cheap and meaningless. I imagine
it happened just as with the other one. Dumb looks
that were accepted as attention and some kind of thing
I wanted. After each time I was unfaithful, I felt

(16:57):
disgusting and hurtful to all involve allowing these things to happen.
Almost sounds like his participation was passive. However, each woman
who has spoken has consistently shared that Spencer was clear
about his intentions. And what's said to me is that
in his letters that he writes, he really minimalizes the

(17:24):
situations with the victim. It was consensual. She was looking
at me, she made eyes at me. I find that
there's a lot of denial and what he believes. When
people have built up these lies inside of themselves and

(17:48):
the ways that they operate in the world for so long,
it's hard for them to know what's really true and
what's not. He wrote to Jen about the sexual Saul
victim as a war It is disturbing. I had never
ever looked at her in any inappropriate way, not at all.

(18:08):
I tell you this so that you know how it
all started. In fact, probably for the last ten to
fifteen years, I have not looked at any teen girl
as anything but that a teen girl. I had gotten older.
There were no fantasies. That is one hundred percent true.
In May, I can remember the students starting to stare

(18:29):
at me longer looks more often. She was being very
obvious and it started coming out of nowhere. She also
started coming by at the end of school, asking random
questions for no reason. She then started lingering. At the
end of the club I started to sense something. I

(18:49):
was packing up to go and was in my office
and she surprised me. I think she said something like,
what are you doing and going home? I said, that's
too bad, she responded. I was in shock and surprised
by her closeness. Then I remember a kiss. It was
so very consensual. His account certainly differs from the sexual

(19:15):
assault victim's account on how they first became involved. He
had texted me that he had feelings for me. I
remember feeling I don't know, I guess check it's an understatement.
That was the first time the boundary was crossed, and
he told me that he wanted to talk about it

(19:35):
in person, and I agreed to because I thought maybe
we could talk about it and that would be that.
Spencer continued his account of the story in his letter.
She was very aggressive most of the time. I was
sure it was something she was super familiar with. In
other words, I was never taking some leading role, if

(19:56):
that makes sense. I know it was all my fault
matter how she was. What I remember feeling most was
really confused. It didn't feel right, you know. I expressed
to him that I was a virgin, and I don't
know if I was ready for anything. Spencer pushed for

(20:28):
his court appointed attorney to argue his account of the
victim's complicity in the case. His attorney wisely reminded Spencer
that remorse was his best legal strategy. While reviewing all
of the raw materials for the series, our team made
a shocking discovery. In twenty fifteen, the same year that

(20:49):
he started sending text messages to the sexual soft victim,
Spencer made a hard play or at least one other
student at Kel High School. And yes she was a teenager.
Well she also the pursuer another girl making eyes at him.
Here are some of the messages he sent to that student.
As a warning, these messages may be hard to hear.

(21:14):
You are so out of my league. Busy tonight, come
by the bar. You're the focus of all my erotica.
What about hanging after school? One day? We'd get away
from this place. Well, since we both trust each other,

(21:38):
I'm not worried. I think it'd be fun and totally cool,
no issues, stress or drama. And when he didn't get
the result he wanted, he tried a different tactic her adulthood.
You're incredibly pretty and mature. You are a woman, are
you not? And this? Do you ever think about me?

(22:03):
In the flesh? The text Spencer sent the other student
were wildly inappropriate and upsetting, and while we did not
see evidence that a sexual assault occurred in these text exchanges,
we did share this information with law enforcement. Everybody gets
these kinds of dopamine heads affair on Facebook or Instagram,

(22:24):
and they get a heart or alike, and these things
start to train the nervous system, like oh, I like that.
We want more of those pleasure hormones running through our bodies.
So every time he was texting, every time Spencer was
being marrying and getting a response from these young women,

(22:44):
it was released during those endorphins and the darpermine and
keeping him in the addiction cycle. Another detail that caught
our attention was the way he described a fantasy to
the student what their first kiss would be like. I
keep seeing this image of you and I hanging out

(23:04):
wherever doesn't matter. But then at some point you lean
into me as I'm talking and simply kiss me, almost
like you couldn't wait any longer and couldn't wait for
me to move towards you. It sounded eerily similar to
the way he described the sexual assault victim in his
letter to Jennifer. I was packing up to go and

(23:27):
was in my office and she surprised me. I think
she said something like, what are you doing going home?
I said, that's too bad, she responded. I was in
shock and surprised by her closeness. Then I remember a kiss.
It was so very consensual. His fantasy with the other student,

(23:50):
the one he attempted to seduce, was the same as
his account to Jennifer of what happened with a sexual
assault victim. A young girl simply found him irresistible, but
the reality was quite different. The victim did not initiate
the relationship. There was one last issue in the case,

(24:12):
with which Spencer took great umbrage. I would never, could
never do anything to my accuser that would associate with
the word assault. I will not leave court without the
DA and judge knowing any different, Jen, I have never
thought to force myself on anyone ever. I sure as
hell wasn't going to do that with a student. Clearly,

(24:34):
I was already sleeping around, so there was never a reason,
none for me to treat anyone like she claims i'd
treated her. Here, he argues that with the number of partners,
the availability of women he had, what reason would he
have to be forceful? The victim must be lying. Then

(24:55):
I thought about the words we heard earlier from Hope.
Looking back, I remember for a couple of times were
you know, he would kind of put his hands around
my throat and push down. That kind of caught me
off guard. Hearing that story from her, it's heartwrenching. She

(25:16):
talks about how he was forceful with her at times,
but then in a letter, he says to me, I
would never I just feel like in his brain he
really doesn't see the truth. Again, I haven't been able
to do any kind of assessment or diagnosis, but I

(25:39):
would say that having that control and being able to
manipulate and coerce was part of what fed him. None
of it is about love or kindness, or connection or
even the beauty of sex. It's about wounds and control

(26:04):
and manipulation and trauma to everyone involved, and avoidance of
anything that feels like intimacy. It's been about two and
a half years since I spoke with Spence, and I
really am curious about whether or not he still feels

(26:25):
the same way in those letters that he wrote to me.
If that is all still the case, then that means
very little healing has happened, because those are the beginning
stages of what someone needs to face in order to heal,
and those things are all things that also allow the
addiction cycle to continue. We work with those cognitive distortions

(26:48):
and therapy and coaching when we're trying to help the
sex addicts heal. All those things rationalizing, minimizing, they help
her and not have to look at themselves and take
full accountability for what they've done. He has been manipulating

(27:08):
himself and believing all of his own lives for so
many years that he really can't see the difference probably
between reality and things that he's making up. There's also
this other part of him that feels like he needs
to hold onto that part that you need to hold

(27:30):
onto Jim when the police took him away, he needs
to hold on to some part of that within himself,
and even though he's done all of these things, the
part that he's holding onto so he doesn't disintegrate or
totally fall apart is they were okay with it. It
wasn't as solved. Do you think there's any way that

(27:53):
Spence has healed himself? From my vast clinical experience, it
takes a lot of hard recovery work, coaching and therapy groups,
going through the twelve steps making amends. It's a long journey,

(28:16):
but one of the first steps is being in some
kind of recovery group where it will start to break
down relies and the identity that you've been telling yourself
all along. I do believe greatly in the power of
healing and know people cannot heal from this level of

(28:43):
addiction and other compulsive behaviors without significant therapeutic help from specialists.
True recovery and healing involves so much accountability, empathy, and compassion.

(29:04):
If Spence was deeply remorseful, maybe he would come to
you and say, you know, I'd like to pay back
for the tens of thousands of dollars that you needed
for your coaching and your styrapy it's called making living
a mess. I mean, you wouldn't accept it, and that
would be a drop in the bucket. But I'm just saying,

(29:25):
when someone is truly healing and in recovery, there is
a very big part of them that deeply cares about
the pain and the impact that they brought into other
people's lives, and they do what they can to try
the best to clean that up. I can only work
on myself, which is what I have been doing now

(29:46):
for the last few years. You've gone through one of
the most traumatizing things I've ever heard of. And if
you did that deep work of learning how to heal
yourself every day so that you can come out to
the world and say this happened, this is my story

(30:12):
and affected me and affected other women too. I'm helping
to heal those other women by doing this, and it's
been such an honor to support you and be a
part of your healing. On the next episode of Betrayal,

(30:33):
Jennifer confronts Spencer. In one of the letters that you
wrote me, you said that you never saw it after
it Do you still feel that way? Well, yes, it's
just an opportunity would present itself and then before I
knew it, I was presenting it. I wasn't lucky you
got away with it. I was unlucky that I was

(30:54):
get away with it. It be better for it all
gone the ship the first time, that truth. If you'd
like to reach out to the Betrayal team, email us
at Betrayal Pod at gmail dot com. That's Betrayal Pod
at gmail dot com. Betrayal is a production of Glass Podcasts,

(31:18):
a division of Glass Entertainment Group, in partnership with iHeart Podcasts.
The show was executive produced by Nancy Glass and Jennifer Facon,
hosted and produced by me Andrea Gunning, written and produced
by Carry Hartman, also produced by Ben Fetterman. Our iHeart
team is Ali Perry and Jessica Crinchik. Special thanks to
voice actor Todd Gans. Sound editing and mixing done by

(31:40):
Mount Devechio. Betrayal's theme was composed by Oliver Bain's music
library provided by my Music and For more podcasts from iHeart,
visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you get
your podcasts. Some names have been changed to protect privacy.
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