by Dan Drake
If you have recently discovered your partner’s secret sexual activities you may have thought or said something very similar to this, “He’s the one with the addiction, so why do I need therapy?” You may (very understandably) be feeling angry at the insinuation that you need support in addition to the support your addicted partner is receiving. If he caused the problem, why do YOU need therapy?
We know you may have a mixture of feelings when starting this process of addressing the impact of sex addiction in your relationship. It may feel insulting to you that therapists are encouraging you to get help, as if somehow you are part of the problem. We want you to know that we absolutely know that you didn’t do anything to cause your addicted partner to act out sexually. There’s nothing you did that caused your partner to act out sexually. And YES, your partner is the one with the addiction, and DOES require support to heal from this.
Of course not everyone requires therapy to heal from sex addiction, and not every partner of a sex addict needs to see a therapist. Some are able to heal through the support of their friends, family, or faith community. Yet there are a lot of women and men that do need the support of a specialized treatment team to heal from the traumatic impact of sexual betrayal.
Let’s use an illustration that is commonly given to explain why you may also need support. Let’s say you’re driving home from the store one night and out of nowhere you are rear-ended by a drunk driver. Your car careens as a result of the collision, and your body contorts and sustains injuries. In shock from what just occurred, a bystander quickly calls 911, who dispatches the police and paramedics to the scene. Police and paramedics arrive at the scene, and you are speed to the hospital to address the injuries you have sustained. Following an accident like this, you may require surgery to repair injuries or set bones. You may require further chiropractic support to address the collision, or even therapy to address the trauma of the collision.
When you read that illustration, can you see any parallels with your situation? Like the person driving the car, you were devastated through the disclosure / discovery of your partner’s sexual secrets similar to getting rear-ended in a car crash. You didn’t cause this crash and there’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. Yet, just like in this illustration, you very well may require further work to heal from the mental, emotional, physical, relational, sexual, and/or spiritual injuries you sustained as a result of discovery / disclosure. While it wasn’t your fault, you may still have those wounds that need to be addressed to help you to heal. I know it’s not fair, and I honestly wish there were another way around this. Yet healing from betrayal trauma often requires the support of specialists trained in helping women and men impacted by sex addiction.
Lisa adds: if therapy is not an option for you, please consider joining a face-to-face or online support group or contacting an APSATS-trained coach. Pray for God's leading to find safe, supportive people to journey with you through this most difficult of times.
Dan Drake is a licensed professional counselor, certified sex addiction therapist, certified clinical partner specialist and board member of APSATS. He works out of Banyan Therapy in Los Angeles and is the co-author of Letters from a Sex Addict.
Lisa is currently meeting with some of our sisters in the UK... so a little of her favorite UK music to celebrate: