Dirty John: Betty Broderick

A review from a narcissistic abuse survivor’s standpoint

Beautiful woman shopping
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

The Story

This story is based on the true story of Betty Broderick and you can find more information with a quick google search. You can find this series on Netflix.

Betty and her husband were married while they were both still in college. She works hard to support him through medical school. He decides to go back to school after he has started his medical residency and Betty goes back to work so he can make his dreams come true. They work hard, scrimping and saving to survive, and then he makes it big.

They are living a luxurious lifestyle in southern California and Betty thinks she will live well for the rest of her life. Her husband becomes disillusioned with her and their lifestyle and begins to court a woman at work. As is so common in these stories the family breaks up and a nasty divorce ensues.

As a successful attorney, Betty’s husband knows how to set her up and get everything he wants in their divorce. She is left with the wreckage of her once “picture-perfect” family while her narcissistic ex-husband goes on with life as if nothing happened.

My Thoughts

This show really triggered me! Betty goes off the rails after her husband begins to pull away and then starts divorce proceedings.

He is the narcissist but she looks like the crazy one. I know how hard it is to lose your husband, children, and lifestyle but she does not help herself by reacting to what he does. He is very subtle and she is over the top.

I think in their case narc abuse made her literally insane. She was not able to get help or see another way out of her situation. She did not have the inner strength she needed to change her path.

The way she acted did help me to see the situation from a different perspective. I am afraid that someone who doesn’t have much insight into narcissistic abuse wouldn’t understand her reaction and instead might think she was the narcissist.

It is a cautionary tale about divorce gone wrong. Betty gave her whole life to her marriage and children and couldn’t cope when she lost them.

My Experience

I can relate because I was tempted to seek revenge on the man I was married to when I found out he had been seeing someone else the last year of our marriage. I never did anything but I did talk to others about my secret wish for revenge. My journals would also tell a story of anger for someone I had once loved dearly.

Why didn’t I act on my impulse to make him feel some of the pain I had gone through? I knew him too well and that he would have felt victorious if I had acted out. Instead, I did my best to ignore his antics and carry on with my life.

I had been going to Al-Anon meetings for over a year before I left and had learned the lesson to “focus on yourself” very well. I knew that what he was doing was no longer my business unless he was hurting our children. I knew I had to get my life together so my children would have one stable parent they could look up to.


I would recommend this show to narc abuse survivors with the caution that you need to be well into your recovery before you watch it. It is good to watch when you have made it to the other side so you can see how well you did.

It is also a good show to watch if you want to understand what a friend or loved one may be going through. It will help you see the signs to look for to know who the real aggressor is in a toxic situation.

I think if Betty had had more support and resources to help her understand what was going on there would have been a very different outcome to her story. Her children paid the ultimate price for what happened to her and her ex-husband.

Have you watched this show? What did you think?



I write to help others learn to live free and move forward in their healing journey. . Learningtolivefree.me

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