Ashly Leavitt has an associate degree in theatre and music, a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications, and a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. After a 10-year career as an educator, Heavenly Father made it clear that He wanted her to shift to counseling and specialize in betrayal trauma recovery, relationship repair, and divorce recovery. Ashly loves helping those who have experienced betrayal trauma to discover and reconnect with themselves again. As a co-founder of Rejoice! Recovery, she enjoys using her educator and counselor experiences together to create classes on healing and relationships, leading discussions on boundaries, and co-hosting the podcast, Phoenix Forte: Connecting to Healing and Joy After Divorce. You can catch Ashly presenting at conferences and retreats. On Sunday, you’ll find her serving in her all-time-favorite calling as a Relief Society instructor. Ashly has previously served in Primary and Young Women’s Presidencies, but she’s been honored to serve by teaching Relief Society in multiple wards over the last 12 years. However, Ashly’s biggest accomplishment is managing to survive as a single mom of two. During her free time (if such a thing exists) you would find Ashly supporting the local theatre scene, playing board games with friends and family, participating in the Lamb of God Easter production on Temple Square, and laughing with her kids while they dance in the kitchen together.


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2:10 What is betrayal trauma? Why do church leaders need to understand it? 4:10 Ashly explains betrayal trauma and the sub-behaviors that come along with it. Betrayal trauma has lots of side effects on your health. 7:45 A common source of betrayal trauma is sexual infidelity. 9:00 The “hit by a truck” analogy. The importance of focusing on the person that was betrayed or wounded. Too often we focus on fixing the person that is looking at pornography or being unfaithful. 13:15 The other behaviors that normally come with cheating or viewing pornography. There are abuse tactics, such as lying, gaslighting, blaming, and defensiveness. 15:30 What is gaslighting? Making someone question the truth and their own sanity. Making them second guess themselves. A lot of women have their intuition saying that something is off but their husband makes them feel like they are crazy. 18:00 Often the shame spiral keeps people from telling the whole truth. They are scared of what people will think if they share everything that is going on. In cheating scenarios the wife feels something off but the husband says they are fine. 18:50 Bishops should work with the individuals instead of the marriage. Talk to the husband and wife separately so that they can speak their truth and get validation. 19:45 Everybody in the relationship is trying to maintain control. Wives try to control the behaviors and situations to feel safe and stop from getting hurt again. 22:20 The bishop isn’t supposed to be the one healing everyone. Don’t take on roles that aren’t yours. 23:30 What should leaders and couples consider when the betrayal bomb goes off? 25:20 A great question that a bishop can ask is, “How can I help you feel safe?” Prioritize safety and not the emotions of the betrayer. 28:30 The push from the wife to “punish” their husband by taking away the sacrament or membership council. They are trying to fix the problem but it’s not theirs to fix. 31:30 Shame makes people want to hide and not tell anyone so finding a safe place to share and a support group for those in recovery is important. 35:20 What can we do to help the children in these situations? 38:10 The importance of boundaries and the process of forgiveness 44:30 Appropriate disclosure and things leaders should keep in mind 46:00 Leaders want to save families because they are eternal but we need to keep in mind that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Focus on the person and the healing and put a pause on talking about eternal families. 49:00 The prize or end game isn’t to have a healed marriage but a healed person—having a person that feels connected to Christ. Even if the marriage ends in divorce, those healed individuals are still beautiful and miraculous. 51:00 How can bishops find the right help? Therapists need special training in betrayal trauma. Use and use filters to find the right therapist. 54:30 A resource that Ashly recommends is a book called The Choice to Leave Abuse, by Ryan Anderson. 55:30 Many leaders think that their ward is the exception and there aren’t abuse problems or pornography problems. There is so much more than you think. 56:45 Start having more conversations and break the taboo on talking about abuse. 59:30 Ashly’s final encouragement to church leaders

The Leading Saints Podcast is one of the top independent Latter-day Saints podcasts as part of nonprofit Leading Saints’ mission to help Latter-day Saints be better prepared to lead. Learn more and listen to any of the past episodes for free at

Past guests include Emily Belle Freeman, David Butler, Hank Smith, John Bytheway, Reyna and Elena Aburto, Liz Wiseman, Stephen M. R. Covey, Julie Beck, Brad Wilcox, Jody Moore, Tony Overbay, John H. Groberg, Elaine Dalton, Tad R. Callister, Lynn G. Robbins, J. Devn Cornish, Bonnie Oscarson, Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Anthony Sweat, John Hilton III, Barbara Morgan Gardner, Blair Hodges, Whitney Johnson, Ryan Gottfredson, Greg McKeown, Ganel-Lyn Condie, Michael Goodman, Wendy Ulrich, Richard Ostler, and many more in over 700 episodes.

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