Couples Therapy and Abuse with Annette Oltmans

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Annette Oltmans returns to the show this week for an important conversation about going to couples therapy with an abuser. We discuss what therapy with an abuser can look like, when it works, when it doesn’t work, and share strategies to protect yourself throughout.

Annette is one of the very few people whose abusive husband did change after going to therapy - separately and together. She also shares what her experience was like and offers insight into what is required to heal.

Annette’s personal experiences of prolonged emotional abuse in marriage and her extensive journey of recovery including comprehensive field research into the topics of Original Abuse and Double Abuse® ignited her passion for founding The M3ND Project in 2016.

Show Highlights

  • Signs to look out for during therapy that it's not working and/or that it’s dangerous to continue (9:24)
  • Abuse victims need to experience therapeutic alignment that is on their side - that kind of support is not going to happen in couples therapy (13:20)
  • The motivations and tactics of an abuser who agrees to go to couples therapy (31:03)
  • If you are in a cycle of abuse, go to therapy, and nothing is changing - what do you do? (36:39)
  • How to know therapy is working if you and your spouse decide to explore therapy separately (46:01)
  • The victim should have a voice in the therapeutic process (47:55)
  • It’s a long journey for an abuser to do the work to change - they won’t be changed within two months (51:55)
  • A boundary without a consequence is just a complaint - the hard part is holding the boundary (54:57)

Learn more about Annette Oltmans:

Annette Oltmans is a philanthropist and passionate human rights advocate. Annette’s personal experiences of prolonged emotional abuse in marriage and her extensive journey of recovery including comprehensive field research into the topics of Original Abuse and Double Abuse® ignited her passion to founding The M3ND Project in 2016. While seeking the help of professionals and responders, she experienced Double Abuse® in the form of spiritual and institutional abuse. These harmful encounters compelled Annette in her relentless pursuit for solutions that involved interviews with hundreds of victims and survivors. She uncovered common threads that cause victims prolonged states of confusion as well as what ultimately led them towards healing. Her journey also involved interviews with hundreds of faith-based leaders and therapists which led her to discover that most are untrained and ill-equipped to identify and help victims of emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse. In working to prevent and remediate such harm, Annette developed protocoled models that are now being taught and implemented with therapists, churches and professional organizations across the United States. She consulted with esteemed experts in abuse, trauma, and healing to ensure the materials align with the highest professional standards. Annette also serves on the Board of Pepperdine University’s Boone Center for the Family and is a Board of Trustee member of Northrise University in Zambia. Her writing on these topics of abuse, domestic violence, and bullying has been published in the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), Teen Vogue, and numerous other publications. Annette is also a contributing author in the newly released book, "Created to Thrive: Cultivating Abuse-Free Safe Communities".

Resources & Links:

Links and information may also be found at:

Get on the list to be notified about Group Coaching!The M3nd Project WebsiteTools and Resources from The M3ND ProjectThe M3ND Project on FacebookThe M3ND Project on Instagram The M3nd Project on YouTubeThe M3nd Project on Twitter Abuser. Narcissist. Sociopath. with Annette Oltmans Covert Emotional Abuse with Annette Oltmans The Marriage Recovery Center


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