Betrayal Trauma: Partners of Sex Addicts Need Help Too

Partners of Sex Addicts | Sex Addiction therapy | Renew Life therapy | Dr. Andre Estephan, LMFT. CSAT | Pasadena & Claremont, CA

broken-trustBeing the partner of someone struggling with sex addiction brings with it a unique set of challenges. Partners of sex addicts are likely to experience strong and difficult emotions, as well as confusion regarding what to do next. If you are someone who is dealing with the trauma of betrayal and the painful discovery of your partner’s secret sexual behavior, it is critical that you find support and help for yourself. Here are some tips for you to consider:

Make Sure You are Safe

Before you can help someone else, you must make sure that you are in a safe and healthy place. If living with your partner isn’t safe for you or your children, then ensuring that you and your kids are safe becomes a priority. Look for resources in your local community, like churches, shelters, and organizations for support.  You may perhaps consult with a therapist or social worker for guidance and safety plan.

Stay Healthy and Take Care of Yourself

A partner’s sexual addiction can seem overwhelming and can overshadow both of your lives. However, it is important to take care of yourself so that you are able to be there for your partner and your family. For example:

  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stay on top of your personal medications.
  • Maintain your daily schedule and routines.
  • Participate in recreational activities that you enjoy.
  • Be present with your children.
  • Attend family and community events instead of isolating.
  • Keep your living area clean and organized.
  • Attend your church or house of worship if that is something that is already part of your life.

Participate in Individual Therapy

See a therapist for yourself in order to have a safe place to express your emotions and process your feelings. It’s important that you recognize the feelings of betrayal, loss of trust, anger, and confusion that come with the knowledge that your partner is has a porn or sex addiction . You may have even rationalized or denied your partner’s behavior to make sense of it all. A therapist can help you navigate these emotions, process your feeling with you, and help you find healing and clarity. It is advisable to find a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) in your area who is specialized in treating sex addiction and works with partners of sex addicts.  A CSAT understands the traumatic nature of the discovery of your partner’s sexual addiction and should be able to help and guide you through this difficult time of your life journey.

Participate in Couples Therapy

If appropriate, participate in couples counseling with your partner. In some situations, however, couples therapy may not be the best step forward during the initial phase of therapy. You would need the guidance of a sex addiction specialist who would help you navigate through this difficult crisis, tailoring treatment to your unique individual and relationship needs.

With a therapist, you can work together to heal your relationship, reestablish trust, and restore emotional connection and intimacy between you.  In therapy, you can discuss your relationship issues in a safe and supportive environment. Your therapist can act as an intermediary to prevent each of you from lashing out or allowing disagreements to escalate. As I mentioned above, it is recommended that you seek help from a sex addition specialist, such as a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), due to the unique challenges of dealing with issues related to a sexual addiction and its painful effect on a relationship.

Seek Out Support with S-Anon or COSA

Just as addicts have support groups to help them through their addictions, there are also groups intended for family members or partners of sex addicts. For those closely associated with sex addicts, the groups S-Anon and COSA are resources to turn to, based on the 12-Step model that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous. Just as sex addicts must go through a process of recovery, so do an addict’s loved ones.

Seeing someone you love struggle with a sex addiction can be an extremely emotional and difficult experience. It may seem like the situation is hopeless and full of despair. As a partner of a sex addict, it is important to take care of yourself, seek treatment, and find support. That way, you and your partner can find the healing that both of you need.

Advice for Christian Partners of Sex Addicts

Knowing that your loved one is struggling with sex addiction can be difficult to bear and create conflicts of faith. Seek out the counsel and support of your pastor or priest. You may also want to consult with a therapist who specializes in Christian Counseling, who can help put things in perspective from both a psychological and spiritual perspective. Remember the wisdom of Romans 5:3-5:

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”


If your loved one is struggling with sex addiction and you find yourself at loss not knowing where to go and what the next step for you is, do hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.  As a certified sex addiction therapist, I will be happy to help.