It does not matter that many partners knew nothing of the person’s addiction prior to making a commitment. Nor does it matter that the partner may not have seen recognizable signs of the addiction’s existence. The theory holds that partners develop co-addicted traits and characteristics over time due to the fact that they are in relationships with addicts. In Barbara Steffens research, found repeatedly that partners of sex addicts “described disclosure in word pictures filled with violent imagery, I knew they must be experiencing trauma and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have heard women say that disclosure left them “shell shocked,” “violated,” “totally disoriented,” “emotionally raped,” and it was “like being stabbed repeatedly.” Such destructive descriptions generally accompany traumatic events. Most startling was that 70 percent of the women met the symptomatic criteria for PTSD, in response to the disclosure of sexual addiction. In working with hundreds of spouses/partners of sex addicts through the years, we have seen people wounded beyond what words can describe. Many well intentioned friends, family members, therapists and churches inflict harm on spousesof sex addicts through harmful advice. The levels of trauma in partners of sex ddicts are scary.As a spouse, you are not to blame for the choices of the addict. You are profoundly impacted by them. We are wounded in relationships and we heal in relationships. The closer the relationship the more potential harm can be inflicted.At the same time, the closer the relationship, the more potential for life-giving intimacy exists.
I invite you to join me in this controversial discussion. I appreciate your feed back. Are you a co-addict, co-dependant, sicker than your husband?