Ashley Madison: More Betrayal?

This week, I'm interupting my current series examining the Beyond Betrayal/JHJ spiritual crisis survey to discuss this week's Ashley Madison scandal.

On one hand, I rejoice...

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” – Luke 8:17 (NIV)

On The Other Hand

Normally it feels good to be in ranks that are swelling. Not so when we're in the ranks of betrayed wives. Now that the data from the Ashley Madison hack is available fairly publicly on the web, there will be women coming to understand for the first time that their husband is not keeping his vow to “forsake all others.” Rather he has forsaken his wife.

The release of this data raises a lot of questions. In case you haven’t yet gotten access to the data (with my programmer husband it took me less than 15 minutes to find the complete 10GB file the first day), let me run through a few of these with you.

  1. The data may not be completely legitimate – though Ashley Madison is now admitting it’s at least partly so. Other technical sources also feel it is.
  2. False positives are possible: email addresses (it’s easiest to find sites that allow you to check for email addresses) may be faked, with the result that someone else's is used. This goes for names as well.
  3. Not finding anything isn't a guarantee: it's easy enough to get an alternate, secondary email address or even a second credit card. That said, the data package includes a spreadsheet with the last four numbers of a credit card matched with a name (which presumably must be the name on the card). Not as many websites are allowing matching by credit card, however.
  4. Some of the sites (e.g. ashley.cynic.al) that have provided a search mechanism for the data, may not be completely reliable. Or they might be.

Bigger Questions

However beyond the technical questions, there are deeper ones.

  1. Am I ready to know whether my husband’s name/email address/credit card number is part of the data?
  2. If it is there, do I have support lined up to deal with the emotional impact of that information?
  3. Should I ask my husband first what I will find when I look up the information? (Thus giving him a chance to come clean rather than "get caught.")
  4. Have I taken a moment to talk to God about making this search?
  5. Do I believe that God loves me and will always love me: whether I look or don’t look, discover or don’t discover?

Of course, for many of the women who visit Beyond Betrayal regularly, finding our husband’s email address amongst the alleged Ashley Madison data would not be a major surprise. It would be yet one more knife in the back.

Just having the topic of infidelity making press headlines may be yet another painful trigger in your day. Please don’t hesitate to reach out here, or to ministries like Journey to Healing and Joy if you need someone to talk to about your pain. You are certainly not alone, and you don't need to suffer alone.


In the meantime, you may find it helpful to continue listening to the stories of spiritual crisis — and spiritual growth — of Coach Katherine (JHJ) and soon-to-be coach Marcella. See last week's post for the first episode.