Within clinical treatment settings around the globe, Sex addiction and Sexual compulsivity are growing health issues.  Often, it is the wounded and betrayed partner or spouse that is the first to seek support and effective assistance and treatment. Fortunately, there have been recent and  significant changes  toward utilizing a trauma perspective in treating the traumatic impact of sex addiction upon the partner or spouse.  This is very different than just utilizing the Co-Dependency model.

Sabrina has trained with APSATS ( Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists) to more effectively support her partner clients.  Integrating the APSATS Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model into her practice has helped to bring about more comprehensive healing and recovery for the people she serves.  This model, part of Sabrina’s Trauma Informed Care treatment framework, acknowledges and responds to the traumatic stress found in partners affected by sex addiction.

In a relationship, Infidelity and/or Sex addiction can be a traumatic blow to the relational bond when trust is broken and betrayal occurs. This relationship injury is often felt as a traumatic experience for the betrayed partner. I am passionate about working with those seeking to make conscious changes in their lives and working with those effected by Relational Trauma, Infidelity, and Sex Addiction. I treat the partner trauma related to these experiences, and I work with sex and love addicts who are very motivated to recover and heal.

Through Trauma Informed Care, including traditional and non-traditional treatment modalities, Sabrina has helped many partners recover from the traumatic event of discovering their partners sex addiction. In fact, Sabrina’s own personal experience and journey of recovery as a partner has lead to a very passionate stance: “Recovery is not only possible but  people will often experience Post Traumatic Growth as a result. In that conscious growth, people will often find themselves transformed in incredible ways. I am still often awed by that transformation.”

PTSD In Partners Of Sex Addicts

Combat veterans aren’t the only people to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Research by Dr. Barbara Steffens, author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal, shows a high instance of PTSD in the partners of sex addicts.

PTSD begins with a traumatizing event, often exacerbated by additional trauma.

The initial trauma for partners of sex addicts is often the day they discover they are living with a sex addict… a stranger who has affairs, or illicit sex, or is pornography obsessed, who has a secret life outside their relationship. The trauma is repeated as they learn the ways their partner has and will lie and cheat to continue the addiction.

These repeated episodes of relational betrayal bring about a host of responses. Trauma response or symptoms consistent with PTSD are common among those presented with a significant life-altering event, including relational trauma. Partners of sex addicts can begin to question what is real or who/what to trust, and their whole existence can be threatened. Previously, there was generally just one accepted form of support for partners: The Codependency model which views the partner as carrying an illness into a relationship from which she must recover. Today, we utilize trauma theory which views the partner as someone who had a bad thing happen to her. Trauma theory also posits that the survivor can find healthy ways to cope and adapt to the trauma exposure. Both models promote recovery and growth and can be used effectively together where applicable.  However, the trauma model acknowledges the significant destructive event of disclosure of repeated infidelities and betrayals and conceptualizes the reaction as typical and an expected response to an extreme stressor, given the danger s/he perceives.

Remember: You did not cause it, you cannot control it and you cannot cure it. 

If you have been affected by someone else’s sexual behavior, you can find help for yourself, whether or not that person seeks recovery from sexual addiction. These questions, as adapted from 12 Step Programs for partners of sex addicts, are designed to help you consider whether you could benefit from some guidance and support of your own.

1. Have you felt hurt or embarrassed by someone’s sexual conduct?
2. Have you secretly searched for clues about someone’s sexual behavior?
3. Have you lied about or covered up another person’s sexual conduct?
4. Have you had money problems because of someone’s sexual behavior?
5. Have you felt betrayed or abandoned by someone you loved and trusted?
6. Are you afraid to upset the sexaholic for fear that he or she will leave you?
7. Have you tried to control somebody’s sexual thoughts or behavior by doing things like throwing away pornography, dressing suggestively, or being sexual with them in order to keep them from being sexual with others?
8. Have you used sex to try to keep peace in a relationship?
9. Have you tried to convince yourself that someone else’s sexual thoughts and behavior shouldn’t bother you?
10. Have you felt that sex plays an all-consuming role in your relationship?
11. Have you doubted your attractiveness, your emotions, and your sanity?
12. Have you felt responsible for the sexual behavior of another person?
13. Have you felt angry and/or stupid for not knowing about someone’s sexual acting out behavior?
14. Have you engaged in uncomfortable, unwanted, or physically dangerous sexual behavior?
15. Have you ever thought about or attempted suicide because of someone’s sexual behavior?
16. Has your preoccupation with someone’s sexual thoughts and behavior affected your relationships with your children, your co-workers, and/or other friends or family members?
17. Have you neglected your physical and/or emotional health while in a relationship?
18. Have you helped someone get out of jail or other legal trouble, or feared legal action as a result of his or her sexual behavior?
19. Have you blamed other people, such as friends or sexual partners, society in general, his/her job, religion, or birth family for someone’s sexual behavior?
20. Have you felt confused about what is true when talking with someone about his or her sexual thoughts or behavior?
21. Have you avoided painful emotions by using drugs, alcohol, or food or by being too busy?
22. Have you ever felt that someone was inappropriately attracted to you or your children?
23. Have you felt alone or too ashamed to ask for help?

If you can answer “yes” to some of these questions, you may benefit from the support available to partners of people with a sex addiction. Please feel free to schedule a free phone consultation

Remember: You did not cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it. 


Relationship Counseling, Therapy, Personal Growth & Wellness