Married Partners of Sex Addicts could be at risk for PTSD

Married partners of sex addicts could be at risk for PTSD

Being married to, or the partner of someone battling sexually compulsive behavior can be traumatic. No matter what phase of recovery or treatment your partner may be in currently, the entire experience can make you feel devastated. You may have feelings of being like one of the walking wounded. You can feel betrayed, embarrassed or alone. You may question if you could somehow be responsible for the destructive behavior.


The discovery of your partners ‘acting out” is certainly harrowing and could be causing painful feelings and stress in your life that you never experienced before.


Partners of sexually compulsive individuals many times view their lives as being entirely turned upside down. You many have been social in the past but now find yourself totally isolated both emotionally and physically from your friend and close family members. You may become distraught, worried that others are judging you for staying in a relationship with a sex addict. You may question the person you have become in your dealings with the addict, acting more like a parent or constant nag than a loving partner.


Signs that a partner of a sex addict can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now being shown in current research. Symptoms associated with the condition can include nightmares, avoidance of any triggers that might remind the partner of the initial trauma and intrusive thoughts about the discovery.


Research is showing that many partners of sex addicts experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms can include nightmares and intrusive thoughts about the discovery of your partner’s behavior.  The spouse or partner may even be avoiding people who might ask questions that you cannot answer.


Partners, though overwhelmed, can begin the process of healing themselves. By confronting your feelings a healthier person can emerge. A positive way to begin dealing with your issues is to seek out individual or group counseling. Entering counseling will start the road to manage your feelings of anger, confusion and betrayal. You can increase your knowledge and further educate yourself about addiction and the treatments and recovery programs your partner is currently using. Understanding the programs and how your partner is making use of them can help to restore successfully your marriage or relationship.


There are many non-professional self-help groups that you can join. S-ANON and COSA are two organizations that meet all over the country, specifically geared for partners of sexually compulsive individuals. Both are patterned after AL-ANON. Group therapy provides a safe, non-judgmental environment for healing to take place.


Seeking help for yourself is the best gift a married spouse or partner of a sex addict can give themselves. Trust and intimacy may have been temporarily broken, but your ability to recover and regain what has been lost is possible.

Duane is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist, and co-founder of NOVUS Mindful Life Institute, which helps individuals affected by sex addiction. His vision is to provide comprehensive care for individuals struggling with process addictions in the utmost confidential, comprehensive and caring environment to ensure clients feel safe and accepted with anticipation that recovery is possible.

More by Duane Osterlind

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