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Anne Bercht, author
"My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing That Happened to Me"

 
Support Groups for Betrayed Spouses

Beyond Affairs Network - BAN
Support Group for Recovering from a Spouse's Extramarital Affair

The following is based on information provided by BAN's founder Peggy Vaughan.

Question: Are there support groups to help people recovering from affairs?

Answer: Yes! There is BAN.

What is BAN? | What is the purpose of BAN? | Benefits of BAN | What is the goal of BAN? | History of BAN | Future of BAN | Words from Anne | Additional Information | Testimonials from BAN Members

What is BAN?

BAN is a network of local support groups for people who are dealing with the devastating emotional impact of their spouses’ extramarital affairs. It is an all-volunteer, free, grass-roots organization and only exists in cities where someone has volunteered to serve as the local coordinator.

BAN is for women and men, whether still married or divorced, seeking support in recovering from their spouse’s affair. BAN is NOT for counselors (unless personally dealing with their spouse's affair). BAN is NOT open to members of the media.

BAN is NOT for those who have had affairs themselves.

Also...please note that BAN is ONLY for meetings, NOT just email contact.
Disclaimer: BAN is not a replacement for counseling or other professional help.

As of June, 2005, BAN chapters are in 36 cities in 28 states in the U.S. and 18 cities in 9 countries outside the U.S. A current list of cities is available on founder Peggy Vaughan’s website: www.dearpeggy.com

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What is the purpose of BAN?

The purpose of BAN is to provide an opportunity for people who are dealing with a partner's affair to come together for strength, insight, and mutual support. It is best suited for individuals who are seeking to gain more information, understanding and perspective about the issue of affairs in order to make more informed personal decisions.

BAN is both a place to safely share the painful emotions that interfere with recovery and a place to gain strength and perspective, aimed at thinking more clearly and acting more effectively, in order to recover from this experience.

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Benefits of BAN

One of the most powerful benefits of support groups is their ability to break through the sense of isolation that many people feel who are dealing with a spouse’s affair. You see other people at different stages of recovery and can get a perspective that isn't possible when dealing with it alone. And more importantly, you can get the support you need to get on top of your life and feel like a whole person again.

BAN is not a substitute for professional help. But even with good counseling, support groups can play an important part in the healing process.

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What is the goal of BAN?

Each BAN member will determine for themselves just what they’re seeking from the group at any particular time and use the group to reinforce their own effort. This does not mean it is a selfish pursuit just for your own good. “Helping others" does more to "help yourself" than almost anything you can do.

The ultimate goal of BAN is to help people reach a point where they no longer need it. While this process takes time and can't be rushed, it’s important that BAN serve to actually "move the process along."

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History of BAN

In 1980, when Peggy Vaughan went public with her personal experience in dealing with her husband’s affairs, she received such an overwhelming response that she first established BAN as a way to maintain contact with everyone. She also put them in touch with each other for mutual support. All the early contact was through regular mail or telephone.

Through the years she continued to put people in touch with others who wrote. Then in 1996 (when she began the www.dearpeggy.com website) she used it to coordinate the contact among BAN members. In 2000, the first organized Local BAN Chapters for face-to-face meetings began, each with a local volunteer Coordinator.

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Future of BAN

“After 25 years, BAN is set to continue indefinitely, with the goal for it to grow to the point where it will be as common and available as Al-Anon and so many other support groups. As each Coordinator feels a need to move on, they try to identify someone in the group to take over the role of Coordinator. And I have already established my own successor so that BAN will continue in the same vein.

"Anne Bercht, who is currently a Local BAN Coordinator in Canada, has followed in a path very similar to my own in that she has “gone public” with a book about her experience, a website, and her husband’s support and involvement. So she has agreed to work with me to insure a smooth transition to the point a couple of years from now where she will move the BAN listings to her website and take over my role. “

– Peggy Vaughan, At the Smart Marriages Conference in Dallas, Texas, June 2005.

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Words from Anne

How I wished I’d found BAN when I first discovered my husband’s affair. At the time I could barely make it through one hour at a time. I longed to talk with others who could understand what I was going through, and I wondered if there was anyone. I could only afford counseling on a biweekly basis, and waiting those long 2 weeks until my next appointment seemed unbearable.

The first time I found the www.dearpeggy.com website in 2003, I had a strong feeling I would somehow, like Peggy, also make a career of helping others survive infidelity. I wondered if I could somehow get Peggy’s attention. I wondered if she would have time to answer an email from a nobody in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She answered alright … and at that time I had no idea where that first email would lead.

As Peggy has said being an expert in infidelity is not a career one chooses, it’s a career that chooses you. I am awed by the responsibility, and honored. I am passionate about helping others recover from the pain of affairs, and with vigilence and compassion intend to continue the work which has begun.

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Additional Information

Please visit www.dearpeggy.com - the “Home of Beyond Affairs Network – BAN” where you will find:

BAN Support Group Overview
The Backstory of BAN
The Need for BAN
BAN Guidelines
Coordinator Information and Sign-up Form
List of Cities with BAN Chapters
Info if there is no BAN group in your City


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Testimonials from BAN Members

I felt lost, alone and afraid. Finding BAN was my lifeline. I was no longer alone in my pain. I found healing.

Finding people through BAN helped me realize that the feelings of despair and the pain I was experiencing were shared by many others. The knowledge that I was not alone in that dark place helped me on my journey back to life.

Thank you so much for the meeting tonight. It makes me stronger to be around people who understand what I am experiencing. Thanks for your encouragement, the books and information and most of all for your friendship.

BAN helps to change scattered destructive thoughts into focused thinking as one struggles to accept and understand the normal healing phases after affairs. Betrayed spouses are finally breaking the “Code of Secrecy,” talking about the trauma associated with affairs

I am so appreciative such a group was started and I feel fortunate to have dialogue with others who have experienced the same pain.

I can come here and share and even if ya'll think I'm nuts (you won't be the only ones) at least here a group understands part of my struggle.

I only wish that such a group had existed here many years ago; it would have saved me years of pain and anguish.

As I look back on our meeting, I realize that not one of us said, "Do you know what I mean?" We all knew. What a relief, knowing that someone understands—really understands.

I never would have dreamed that the day would come when I would need a support group to help me through the aftermath of an affair.

I find the interaction more helpful than just simply reading a book.

One man drives two hours each way and has never missed a meeting. He had talked to no one for four years before BAN. (From a Coordinator)

Needing a group like BAN and without one in my town, Peggy encouraged me to start a group. Now, comes this outpouring of people in need of a group like BAN. (From a Coordinator)

One of the first amazing things to me is how international this group is... I felt so alone in my small little city ...and then suddenly with e-mails from Maui and Memphis...South Africa and Australia...I felt part of something bigger and safer in an interesting way." (From a Coordinator’s perspective)

Can’t tell you how grateful I am to have you and your group at our church. (From the coordinator of support activities at our host location)

Before joining BAN I felt very alone in this battle; I felt beat up, let down, worthless, ashamed, embarrassed and stupid. I was completely discouraged with life. I could not see a future being possible for me. BAN gave me a ticket or a pass to go on with life. It gave me hope that I could survive and that my marriage could survive, if we both worked at it. BAN gives the victim a way to reach out for help without being judged or ashamed. I will never be able to express in words the gift of hope that BAN has given me!

BAN gives me a sense of self worth when I can use my crazy unfortunate circumstances in life to comfort that new person who has just found out about their spouse’s infidelity and encourage them that they can make it. My heart breaks in sympathy for what the new person feels, but if I would have had BAN when my husband’s infidelity first came out, I KNOW that I would be a much different person. (Note from Peggy: This shows how BAN members not only receive help, but give it to others. In fact, sometimes "helping others" does more to "help yourself" than almost anything you can do.)

I came to the meeting broken and in despair. I met women with similar casualties and suddenly my aloneness disappeared. However, the most monumental help for me was that I stopped divorce procedure because I realized something very important. I realized, as our group got larger and larger, that even if I left my husband of many years, chances were that another man I might meet would probably be an adulterer. Just look at all these women!! Their husbands and exes would be out there for me to meet, yuk, what a thought! I realized it's better to work out my situations with the father of my children, with a man that I had a very long history, than risking a repeat with someone new. Society and human beings being what they are today, a similar encounter is a huge possibility.

I remember the feeling inside me when I first read about BAN, what it was about and that there was a support group in the place I lived. Not only had my husband left me, but he had betrayed me and the pain, hurt and sadness was in reality, unbearable. I was so anxious to be able to attend a BAN support group. Knowing you are not alone and you are not insane and it is okay to feel what you are feeling really does give you permission to grieve your loss. In all this confusion to know that all you are experiencing is "normal" is such a relief! It is amazing that we all have different stories, yet the common denominator is we all feel the same pain and are able to talk openly knowing each and everyone of us understands exactly what the other is going through. Having a man in the group is inspiring as you learn that they have all the same feelings and emotions, but are not as able to express them quite the same as a woman. BAN, for me, has been a major support, as well as informative and comforting. There is so much care and concern for each of us by the others in the group because we have all been there or are still there. BAN is a safe place and you can cry and even laugh and it feels okay. We truly do receive help for ourselves as well as give help to others.

I left the BAN meeting with so much going thru my mind. I did so much process and pondering that night. It gave me a little more sense of peace than when I first entered that first meeting. I was actually in the presence of others who knew exactly how I felt. I felt no shame or embarrassment when sharing my story. I was with people who knew all the emotions that have been stirring in my heart, body and soul. This is the comfort of the BAN Group. I am thankful to have found BAN and others who take the time to offer me the support I need at this time.

For many long, lonely years I kept the secret of my pain. A chance reading of an article about BAN in our local newspaper brought me to a meeting. Finding BAN, talking and sharing with others, marked the beginning of my healing. My pain was out of the closet and into the light. One of the most helpful aspects of BAN was listening to others' stories. It helped me to see that the pain and shame I felt were not unusual. Being in a group like this helped me to sort through the myths and misconceptions about adultery. It has been a wonderful sharing and learning experience. I do not think I could have come so far without this group experience.

I find it hard to talk about what happened with most people. I have VERY few people I can share this with. My parents and a few close friends know what happened and I am grateful for their support. Although for me the comfort is greater when the person has experienced the same or similar shock and betrayal, like the others in BAN. I never thought I would try to work through a situation like this. I always thought that I would leave a marriage if my husband had an affair. Those were all thoughts before I even met my husband because after meeting him I never thought he would have an affair. Yet here I am giving it every ounce of my being trying to build up this marriage.

©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

If you would like to share a success story, helpful insight or comment on this article we welcome your remarks. Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne info@passionatelife.ca .

(Due to the large volume of emails we receive, we cannot answer all emails, but we care about every person who contacts us and will do our best to respond personally to you.)

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