Impact on Partners
In the field of sex and porn addiction we often talk about discovery and disclosure. Discovery occurs when a partner discovers inappropriate behavior on the part of his or her partner. This may occur by checking a partner's history on their computer or electronic device, or discovering behaviors that are of a sexual nature. Disclosure refers to the partner disclosing the fact they have been involved in some behavior that is hurtful to the relationship.
Regardless the means by which a partner becomes aware of inappropriate behavior, it is deeply hurtful and is seen as betrayal. Much has been written about the impact of discovery/disclosure on the partner so a complete description of that impact is impossible here. Note the Books & Blogs section below.
The older way of thinking about the impact of discovery is to see the partner as enabling the offensive behavior in some way. Thankfully, we have moved beyond that way of looking at the impact on the partner. We now realize the symptoms of such a discovery are actually nearly identical to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and many other physical, mental, and emotional reactions are normal. The trauma approach to understanding the partner's experience does not pass blame to the partner, nor does it deny the reality of the pain the partner experiences. Perhaps most importantly, it places responsibility where it belongs, on the offending individual. Thankfully, effective treatment options are available to partners.
Support is essential. Possible consequences of the partner not seeking his or her own treatment include:
- Becoming stuck in one's trauma and being unable to trust, love, or enjoy life.
- The demise of the relationship. Just as we believe healing is possible for the person struggling with addictive behavior(s), we also believe healing is possible for the partner. You do not have to remain stuck in your trauma and pain!
Individual treatment focuses on the personal pain of discovery. Common goals include:
- Recognizing the impact of discovery of sexual betrayal is genuine trauma,
- Taking the first steps to establish safety by creating support and setting boundaries for self-protection,
- Learning coping skills to manage the emotional aftermath,
- Gaining understanding regarding the nature of sex addiction -- "I am not responsible for creating the addiction, therefore I cannot be responsible for fixing it."
- Making empowered choices congruent with personal values.
If you have experienced the pain of discovery or disclosure please call our office to discuss treatment options. We can help.
Rebecca Miller's Office
We provide a safe comfortable environment for you to process what has happened and to explore your options for finding peace.
Our Treatment Options
At Counseling Alliance our treatment for partners includes individual and group options as well as our JUMPSTART TO HEALING (TM). Certified Sex Addiction Therapists have received specialized training in the impact upon the partner and how to help that partner recover a sense of normality in life. As life shattering as discovery may be, it need not define the rest of your life. Recovery and healing is possible.
Discover more in the External Links below.
Below you will find helpful information about the impact of discovery on partners, as well as national options for treatment.
Vicki Tidwell Palmer. Vicki Tidwell Palmer is a therapist and author of Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts. Her website has helpful information and treatment options for partners. Her online courses are a great supplement to individual and group treatment options offered by Counseling Alliance therapists.
Bethesda Workshops in Nashville TN. Find help here for many issues related to sex and porn addiction, as well as the impact of trauma. Bethesda Workshops are offered for partners on a regular basis. There is good information here about the impact of discovery on partners. Check it out.
https://addorecovery.com/ has two locations in Utah and one in Las Vegas. This site has many well produced videos and articles with very helpful information. Time spent on their website is a good investment.
A House Interrupted: A First Person Perspective. Corcoran, Maurita (2011). Arizona: Gentle Path Press.
Back from Betrayal: Recovering from His Affairs. Schneider, J. (1988). California: Harper & Row
Deceived: Facing Sexual Betrayal, Lies, and Secrets. Black, Claudia(2009). Minnesota: Hazelden.
Disclosing Secrets: When, to Whom and How Much to Reveal. Corely, D. & Schneider, J. (2002).
Facing Heartbreak: Steps for Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts. Carnes, S., Lee, M., Rodriguez, A., (2012). Arizona: Gentle Path Press.
Carnes, S., Lee, M., Rodriguez, A., (2012). Arizona: Gentle Path Press.
For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual & Financial Betrayal in Relationships. Debra Kaplan.
Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction.
Black, C., Tripodi, C. (2012). Nevada: Central Recovery Press.
Living With a Sex Addict: The Basics from Crisis to Recovery. Linda Hatch
Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts. Carnes, Stefanie (2008). Arizona: Gentle Path Press.
Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5 -step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts. Tidwell, Palmer, V. (2016). Central Recovery Press.
Open Hearts: Renewing Relationships with Recovery, Romance, and Reality. Dr. Patrick Carnes, Debra Laaser, and Mark Laaser
Surviving Disclosure: A Partner’s Guide for Healing the Betrayal of Intimate Trust. Schneider, J., Corley, D. (2012) Recovery Resources Press.
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse : How Partner s Can Cope and Heal. Steffens, B., Means, M. (2009) New Jersey: New Horizon Press.
Hope After Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage. Wilson, Meg (2007). Monarch Books.
Partner's Healing & Empowerment Online Community. https://vickitidwellpalmer.com/forum
12 Step Resources
• COSA 12-Step Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts
• S-Anon 12-Step Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts
Workshops / Intensives
Bethesda Workshops – Nashville “Healing for Partners” 4 day workshop. (Note: this program has a Christian orientation)
Gentle Path – Hattiesburg, MS. – “Mending a Shattered Heart” (5 days)
Articles / Blogs
3 Biggest Mistakes Betrayed Partners Make When Creating Boundaries. https://vickitidwellpalmer.com/3-biggest-mistakes-betrayed-partners-make-creating-boundaries/
Disclosure. Formal Therapeutic Disclosure. https://vickitidwellpalmer.com/formal-therapeutic-disclosure/
Gaslighting. You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting. https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/