Betrayal Trauma – Working with Partners of Sex Addicts

Consultant Therapist and supporter of South Pacific Private, Sharalyn Drayton from ARISE Counselling Solutions has shared with us her recent article on Betrayal Trauma.


Imagine being in a car accident. Out of the blue, someone smashes into you. You didn’t see it coming and you are not to blame yet you are trapped, helpless, not sure who to turn to or what to do next to save yourself. The struggle to make sense of what just happened is overwhelming.

This is pretty much what it feels like for partners of sex addicts when they discover that the person they love and are in a relationship with has been acting out with pornography, sex workers or other people. Unlike a car accident, the event is just the beginning. For the partner of a sex addict, the trauma is increased with each further disclosure around behaviours, finances, people and places, and each new awareness increases the level of confusion, fear, pain and grief.

Partners seek help when they can no longer manage these feelings of pain and the isolation they often lead to. They seek to understand what has happened, for their spouse and for themselves, and how they can survive this. They want to be able to protect and support their family and, if possible, the relationship. Unlike other addictions, sex addiction is personal because it undermines everything that was believed about or contracted to in the relationship. Indeed the very person who should be offering support has become the greatest trigger.

With appropriate support from a therapist who understands the impact of betrayal trauma, which is unique to the partners of sex addicts, healing is possible. Partners can break free of the fog of confusion, fear and denial and, in many cases the relationship can not only be repaired but strengthened as each party learns to take responsibility for themselves and their own recovery.

You can read the full article here: Trauma Betrayal