By Lili Bee & Cassie Kingan
Not a week goes by when a partner doesn't e-mail us with requests that we start either a Facebook page that's private, or else create a Forum where members can share their experiences of betrayal trauma with one another. We get asked to begin (or approve of) online PoSA meetings so geographical distances no longer stop PoSAs from meeting and supporting one another. We very well understand the allure and need for that.
While there are other reasons we wholeheartedely recommend PoSAs meet in person rather than online, the single biggest deterrent to us setting up such arrangements is that it becomes very difficult to stay ahead of techology in such a way that members would always be guaranteed their anonymity will be preserved. One only need to see the News and look at the data leaks occurring with increasing frequency across many major networks.
And then, there are the internal "leaks"...
PoSAs are amazingly open and honest on social media and "Private" Facebook Groups. We understand! It may be the first time you have been validated and affirmed by others dealing with PTSD from your betraying mate.
But we want to caution you that nothing you say on social media or Private Facebook Groups is necessarily guaranteed to stay private. Here at PoSARC we have worked with more than a few partners whose mates have used what PoSAs have written or posted on social media in the courtroom, with the children's psychologist, custody evaluators, family members, their own children, co-workers, church members, etc.
We PoSA's may feel some sense of privacy typing away in our own home, posting on our phones, iPads and computers, as if we are in our own little world. But the truth is that anyone with some determination and a bit of savvy can see what you are writing on social media sites as it becomes part of your permanent digital footprint.
Many hurting PoSAs don't realize that their personal lives become part of the public record when they share things on social media. It's rather ironic, since, in trying to help new partners I work with allay guilt over their wanting to sneak onto their husband's phones, computers, etc. to determine if he's still cheating, I often joke that any card-carrying PoSA can get a job working for the CIA by the time her betrayal ordeal is over. Everyone laughs nervously, yet...
How often do we stop to realize the spying we all unfortunately became so good at, may also be happening to us?
At the time of writing your post (even a Private Facebook Group) your betraying mate may be in counseling, going to 12 step meetings, etc. and you may feel some safety staying with him, imagining a rosy future together. But picture, if you will, 2 years from now if he is no longer in recovery or interested in repairing the relational damages-- your social media posts are still in that Private Facebook Group.
While it is disturbing to contemplate, we have seen it happen that someone you may trust today (perhaps a member of what should be your Private Group) screen shots and saves posts and sends them to your mate, even though those actions may have been well-intentioned. Since you yourself might never do that, you may wonder why anyone would.
In the cases we have observed, it is usually because the Private Group Member got hoodwinked into believing the betrayer was somehow the victim (which we know betrayers are all too convincing at portraying). The betrayer conveys a Poor-Me stance in an attempt to get a well-meaning other member of his wife/girlfriend's Group to feel sorry for him and she either lets him into the Group or shows him messages or e-mails. It isn't a common occurrence, thank goodness, but it does happen.
He may attempt to solicit a friend or associate of his wife/girlfriend to help him, claiming to be doing his best but just not being given a chance.
He likely paints a picture of how hard he is working to win back her trust, but now he fears he has been wrongly painted with a black brush by others in the community and all efforts to regain his connection with his wife/girlfriend are falling apart. He just needs a little help....
Or perhaps he uses a thinly veiled threat, such as "Well, since my wife won't talk to me anymore, I have no choice but to freeze all the marital assets now". Or he makes an ambiguous threat that involves custody of their children. A well-meaning associate or fellow Group member of the PoSA may become alarmed for her friend and attempt to intervene, thinking she can help circumvent a terrible outcome.
No...the only terrible outcome will be that the intervening friend will get played by the betrayer and everyone loses. Triangulating is what the character-disordered man does very well and very insidiously-- usually before anyone is even aware of his machinations.
We have also seen the Betrayer become an imposter in the Private Facebook Group watching his wife/girlfriend and what is being said about him. Or putting one of his female relatives up to becoming a Member so she can let him see the exchanges in the otherwise closed Group.
Therefore, we would recommend you never reveal online any steps you intend to take in separating or divorcing your mate. We know of more than one case where a betraying mate was a few steps ahead of his wife the entire time, thwarting all her careful plans to get as peaceful a divorce as possible with an equitable financial and custody arrangement in place.
How did he do it? He managed to install a hidden camera near her computer to record her keying in her password. From there, he used her password to infiltrate an online closed Group she was part of, where he was tracking her every "share" about her planned exit strategy.
We at PoSARC don't want you to find out the hard way that what you say and do on social media – post, repost, tweet, like, comment, friend, follow – can potentially be used to hurt you in a divorce or custody case, or even in your workplace, neighborhood or religious community. This also applies to phone and text records, emails, dating sites and more.
If you or your spouse has filed for divorce, don't assume you can remove any of your social media history without potential legal consequences.
Don't think you can fake "nice" or use PTSD as a reason for your Facebook posts, after the fact. Unfortunately, most of our society doesn't understand or recognize PTSD and trauma caused by the chronic cheater.
It's a mistake to underestimate the power of social media evidence in the courtroom or with those in your personal life. Family, friends, and Judges consider social media and other online evidence just as persuasive as other "concrete" evidence – sometimes more so. A post may be worth a thousand words.
If you are not contemplating divorce or separation, don't panic. NOW is a great time to take down any posts that could be disparaging to your mate. It may not be a bad idea to take down any profiles or sites that you do not need for work purposes.
No matter which circumstance you find yourself in, compassion for yourself is always called for. We know how unfair it is that any of your attempts at reaching out for stability and sanity could ever be used against you.
Therefore, extend yourself much patience, kindness and compassion that you even find yourself in need of support for betrayal trauma at all! We know how crazy-making it can be.
From our experience… when it comes to Social Media including Private Facebook Groups:
Don't share anything you wouldn't want a judge, lawyer or your mate to see. If it's out there, opposing counsel, your mate and/or his friends and family will usually find it.
Live your life as if cameras are following you and taping what you're doing at all times. Social media provides a direct window into your private world; only post positive, truthful thoughts and photos.
Lose the mindset that says, "I don't care what anyone says or thinks about me. I'm tired of protecting his sick lies!"
While that may objectively be your truth today, you don't want to swallow the bitter pill later, of facing lengthy court battles due to your "lifted" online posts being used as evidence of parental alienation, defamation of character or any of the assorted other charges that can be brought against you.
Assume everything you do online can be found and can be used against you.
If you're debating whether or not it's a good idea to share, comment or like something on social media, just don't do it. Really, just don't.
You'll thank us later.
Have you had any experiences where something you've written has been used against you or a friend going through betrayal trauma? Alternatively, have you found a safe, non-traceable way to find kindred others you could connect with?
Please share with our community in the Comments section below. And yes, you may share anonymously. Joining our Commenting Community anonymously is a great way to receive and send support safely.