58 thoughts on “Sex Addiction-Induced Perpetration (SAIP) Goes Undiagnosed and Untreated (Guest Blog)

  • February 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Thank you so much for this contribution. What really resonated with me is that the spouses of Sex Addicts are treated unfairly. We are traumatized and emotionally abused and should not be blamed or shamed which is generally what happens. I attended S-Anon for 3.5 years and I’ve read upwards of 25 books all of which gave me mixed messages of: this isn’t your fault, but doesn’t matter because we’re going to blame you anyways. Because you were with an SA ..even if you didn’t know about his parallel life, you’re sick..a co-addict, you’re damaged and will never attract a ‘normal’ guy. I went through the 12 steps and had to repent and admit my faults and made amends. But I really didn’t do anything. I never knew about my husbands sex addiction and didn’t help him do the things he did so I don’t understand what the ‘experts’ think my crimes were. This is one of the first pieces I’ve read that makes sense to me, and I’ve been looking for a long time. Thank you so much.

  • February 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    This will surely resonate with partners of sex addicts, but it ignores the reality of family structure and family systems as elucidated by Bowen, Haley, Minuchin, et. al. No person in a family is an island.

  • February 25, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    While this author makes some good points, it gets lost in his overall hysterical characterization of sex addicts as rapists and perpetrators. It’s hard to take someone seriously when you say this is “violence” and “torture” and comparing partners of sex addicts to rape victims. And why stop with sex addicts? Wouldn’t this also apply, then, to alcoholics, pill addicts, heroine addicts and every other kind of addiction? Why draw the line with sex addiction? I’m not saying partners aren’t profoundly hurt by the actions of their cheating counterparts, but come on, the person cheated, they didn’t beat or rape anyone (unless they actually did – which is actually not part of sex addiction). To make that comparison belittles actual domestic violence and rape survivors. We’ve all been lied to at some point by someone – and sometimes it’s from the very people closest and sometimes it’s in service of a protecting an addiction. and yes it hurts. I’m in recovery and haven’t met a recovered partner yet that at some point in their recovery didn’t realize they brought *something* to the table; and that’s not to say they’re responsible for the choices of others because they’re not. Maybe you don’t look at that immediately in early recovery because to do that invalidates the pain these people are going through, but I guarantee it’s there. We ALL have a part in the relationships in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. I really hope the treatment community doesn’t buy into the hysteria of calling sex addicts perpetrators and committing violence against partners – unless of course they actually ARE. it panders to fear and anger about sex addiction and perpetuates/fuels myths that sex addicts are rapists, child molesters and domestic violence perpetrators. To me this author sounds like he has an ax to grind with sex addicts and putting them all into the “perp” box. Sorry but I just can’t buy into that one-size-fits-all idea that demonizes addicts.

    • February 25, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Mike — “like.”

      • February 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

        Great comments everybody. I sure hope I and my colleagues who do this work don’t blame or traumatize our clients. Actually I’d like to get out of the whole good/bad approach of who is the perpetrator, who is the victim and who is rescuing the victim from the perpetrator.

    • March 3, 2014 at 7:02 am

      My SA husband DID rape me. He used me sexually and objectified me many, many times.
      The lying to cover up acting out is one of the hardest parts to take from my intimate partner/husband who I trusted and made myself completely vulnerable to (to be truly emotionally intimate.)
      Domestic violence isn’t just in the form of physical abuse, it can be emotional abuse. That can be the hardest to take and identify because there are no apparent bruises. Emotional abuse wears down the spouse so that they feel they have no worth. The SA uses this to control their spouse, to perpetuate their addiction.
      I know many other women who have had these same experiences with SA spouses.

    • August 26, 2014 at 5:14 am

      @ Mike, that’s what it feels like

    • March 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      You have a very narrow definition of violence, and I can tell by what you write that you have not experienced this. I’m glad.

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Dr. Minwalla? Apropos what follows about the ‘SA-Induced Trauma Model’ that you posit, the fact is that there are actually female sex addicts too! And what the heck is this ‘masculinity pathology?’ thing you mention? I just Googled the term, and there’s nothing on it except a few references back to you. And how in the world does it apply to female SAs?

    “According to the SA-Induced Trauma Model, sex addiction-compulsivity disorders are defined as, “a complex system of sexual, personality, and masculinity pathology, which may include the maintenance of a deceptive, compartmentalized sexual-relational reality, sexual-relational acting out behaviors, and other patterns of perpetration, abuse and violation that causes serious PTSD and C-PTSD (SAIT) in victims, all which requires a clinical management and treatment paradigm (SAITM)” (Minwalla, O., 2011).”

    • March 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I did not read the patriarchy you mentioned above in the quote you chose, maybe I missed it. It’s too bad there is so much blame placed that hearing what is being said falls on deaf ears. There is therapy needed for both the injured person and the person who caused the injury. Really treatment should be constructed for both. What is patriarchy is the acknowledgment of the damage in the person causing the injury. The need to be sympathetic, understanding, and find forgiveness for this person. I wish, Anonymous that you could hear what Omar Minwalla is addressing: this lack of sympathy, empathy, forgiveness for self and “perp” infused blame, as well as understanding of the damage caused.

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you, thank you for this essay. I discovered five days ago that my husband of 13 years (and partner for twenty) has been leading a triple life via sexting and clandestine make out sessions with two of his employees. I was in the dark, and NOT because I’m a ‘co-addict.’ Far from it; I’m a successful, independent career woman who has a healthy, happy social and professional life. I travel, run distance races, volunteer…. And we had a nice sex life and a very affectionate, laughter-filled relationship.

    This isn’t the first time he’d had issues with emotional infidelity. We’d done couples and individual therapy after I had breast cancer four years ago; it was a trying time for both of us and it soon surfaced (via a third party) that my husband had a sext affair with a co-worker. He got caught and I threatened to divorce him if he didn’t do therapy. He did, but he never stopped ‘seeing’ this woman. And, to make matters worse, he added a second liaison, this time with a twenty-three year old less than half his age. It’s been going on for 4 years, and neither ‘project’ knew about the other. He averaged eight thousand messages per month to these women, along with romantic lunches and make out sessions. Now I realize he’s behaving like an addict.

    This alternate reality only surfaced when my husband received a series of threatening messages accusing him of adultery. At first, I believed him when he said they were from a disgruntled former employee… But something wasn’t quite right, and the story soon fell completely apart. He now says he need inpatient treatment for a sex addiction. I’m sure he’d still be playing the charade, had not this angel of mercy sent him and his paramours a few texts warning that all covers were about to be blown.

    He is going for help and is obviously disturbed. He swears he’s sick, sad, devastated, sorry, out of control…. Well, great. You know what I need? I need someone to tell me that I was not crazy, stupid, blind or willfully ignorant. I had no signs. Seriously. None. Neither did my sister, her husband, his brother nor our best friends. Everyone is floored, except for a few of his employees who saw something was going on, but hadn’t gotten enough courage to call and tell me. I was manipulated, deceived, tricked and violated. I loved and trusted this man and really thought he was my best friend. People used to tell me that our marriage was inspiring because after 20 years, we were so obviously still in love. I feel like I just stepped out of The Matrix. It’s devastating.

    So thank you for validating my innocence. Being called a ‘co addict’ is like getting another kick in the gut. This isn’t my fault… He’s a 49 year old man and this *his* work, not mine. My mistake was trusting that I was blessed with a loving, affectionate, dedicated husband.

    • March 22, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      I can’t see that it was a mistake to trust. I just wonder if you were getting your needs met. Or perhaps your needs will change.

      • March 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        Very good question. I’ve thought a lot about this. I think I was meeting my *own* needs rather than expecting anything from my husband. No question, he’s got the narcissism of an addict and I am quite good at taking care of myself. Probably all the enabling he needed.

        Hmmph. Guess THAT’S over, eh?

        Of course, there’s a silver lining – I’m good at taking care of myself!

        Love this blog, so full of good information. Thank you for responding, nice to feel ‘heard.’

      • January 26, 2015 at 9:22 pm

        the story of Laura is nearly 1:1 is identical to mine. I have a career, not too painful to look at, am self-sufficient, yada-yada…
        And yet…in December 2014 my husband and I have arrived to the discovery of him leading a double-life with a middle-aged unemployed very average woman living off government and her ex’s support, which I presume has discontinued….ready for this?…for the past 3 years! Did I know? Nope. Did I suspect? Sometimes based on his past. However, not long before my birthday I got an anonymous letter from someone with time on their hands who was describing his “love shack” in a nasty looking part of town. Surprise!

        You have asked about my needs met. Mine weren’t but until December I attributed it to his age, his constant moaning about how tired he was, the pressures of the job…we are both in the same boat. I guess I have settled. So, now we are working through it. He seems to be genuine in his attempt to “clean” his act, our relationship was loving before.
        Now, the more time passes the darker the shadow of this experience gets; we have a spat every week and are steadily moving downhill. It definitely looks like both of us will have to start with a clean slate (for him at the age of 60).
        I am wondering if Laura’s marriage has survived?

    • March 24, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Laura, so sorry for your recent discovery. Your story mirrors mine. I was independent too, meeting my own needs for 18 years. Thought we had a good marriage. But in retrospect can see there were many holes and cover-ups that have become apparent in light of discovering a year ago that my husband is a sex addict.
      Glad you are focusing of self-care – so important during this traumatic journey.
      I highly recommend a couple of books:
      “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Barbara Steffens & Marsha Means
      “Stop Sex Addiction” by Milton Magness
      There are also many websites dedicated to supporting partners of sex addicts, one being:
      Hope these recommendations help you. There are many of us out there on this same journey.

  • March 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Minwalla, for helping to finally properly frame the sex addiction (SA) discussion. And let me state at the onset my sincere wishes for recovery for any/all spouses or partners of this insidious problem.
    Although our stories are a bit different, I could mirror Laura’s commentary and analysis on being the spouse of a sex addict. Laura, you are not crazy, stupid, blind or willfully ignorant. I believe you are an unwitting victim of covert sexual-relational violence.
    My husband and I entered marriage counseling in the early 1980s after a credit card company called our home regarding items on a past-due invoice and I discovered that he had visited three different massage parlors. He insisted he did not have sex there, only watched others. This discovery came at a time when I had a two- and four-year-old at home, and was babysitting for neighborhood children to supplement my husband’s small salary. Back then, there was no Internet, and no mention of sex addiction; our counselor helped us understand and acknowledge our roles within the relationship and gave us some tools to better communicate in order to reestablish trust and intimacy. I blamed myself at that time, thinking I was somehow inadequate, and worked hard at keeping things very much alive in the bedroom. We spent four years in counseling rebuilding our relationship. I believed our marriage became stronger and we were both grateful to be able to stay together, love each other, and maintain a happy, growing family. As part of our counseling process, my husband agreed to close his individual bank accounts and credit cards and we established joint financial accounts. As the years passed, we enjoyed a loving relationship and there were no additional checks or charges to anonymous-sounding entities such as “concierge services” or “amalgamated consulting,” so I stopped monitoring his spending. It felt good to trust again and be close to my husband.
    Fast-forward to early August 2013 when I caught my husband again, this time having anonymous sex with other men. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Like you, Laura, no one in my life, including my grown children, my sisters, my husband’s family or his few friends, could believe this was possible.
    Seeking marriage counseling immediately, the timing of this discovery could not have been worse. Our now-adult children had long planned a 40th wedding anniversary for us in the coming weeks and the invitations had been sent; our marriage counselor asked us to commit to six months of therapy, and we agreed. He also encouraged us to go forward with the anniversary party, telling us there were still many elements of our marriage worth celebrating. We agreed.
    I learned a lot about SA in a short amount of time, and a lot about behaviors I had been previously clueless about, such as pathological lying… “It only happened once, I became afraid and ran away; I only got involved a few months ago, all other times I only hooked up on chat lines. I never paid for sex; I don’t have any fetishes, etc.” Phone and credit card records, which I would never have thought the need to review otherwise, told a different story. I stopped looking after confirming more than two years’ history. I was floored at level of dedicated and systematic energy, effort, planning and cover-up that had been going into a second life that had been purposefully kept secret from me and everyone else.
    To Dr. Minwalla’s point, our marriage counselor quickly diagnosed my husband with impulse-control disorder; and began our therapy with direction solely to my husband to 1) join Sex Addicts Anonymous and find a sponsor, and 2) provide truthful transparency. This meant collecting and documenting all pertinent information about his acting out behavior, and then sharing that “report” with me in a clinical setting. He told my husband that to share bits and pieces would be akin to “hitting your wife in the face with a bat.” My husband’s response was to perpetrate (I use this term purposefully) staggered disclosure (a classic behavior of SAs), volunteering additional, devastating information about his behavior in a casual, “oh, by the way” sort of manner. In spite of my protests, he did this in the car on the way to church, just before leaving for a business trip, just before the children arrived for a visit, etc. This behavior was, at its least, manipulative and injurious; at most it was tantamount to torture.
    Another of my husband’s powerful yet classic SA responses: dull/flat affect – it’s apparent that my husband is unable to truly “feel” his feelings, and I know he faces a lifetime of recovery for his many difficult and painful issues, but I found his lack of emotion or remorse painful and offensive. Who was this man? I was married to two different people.
    Thanks to educational efforts similar those undertaken by “SA spouse,” however, I realized that this lack of emotion was the hallmark of my husband’s compartmentalization of his sexual-relational reality and acting out behaviors. Looking back at this, he perfected compartmentalization to an art. At our 40th wedding anniversary gathering, he made a point of telling many of the 50 people in attendance his views on how to maintain a long, healthy, happy marriage.
    The morning after the party, (and ahead of our planned “tranparency” meeting) my husband was compelled to more staggered disclosure, telling me that he had been acting out during our entire marriage, including during the four years we spent in marriage counseling back in the 80s. No apologies. Our divorce was final early last month.
    The short- and long-term effects of sex addiction-induced perpetration cannot be minimized. I had to be tested for STDs including the AIDS virus (thankfully negative), and my adult children have all entered counseling. I sought help through my employer’s employee assistance program and am currently under the care of a certified sex addiction therapist who deals with spouses/partners/victims (I’m told this is a growing cottage industry). My initial diagnosis (C-PTSD) has been replaced with situational adult ADD. I am convinced that developing ADD contributed to my being terminated from my position, which occurred the day following my divorce and has added yet another stressful element to this entire episode.
    That all said, I am focused on survival and self-care. I am grateful to get the help I need and I am committed to moving forward and growing. It’s never too late to have hope for a better future! I encourage all of you in any sort of similar situation to seek out a mental health professional who has specific experience in this area and employs the best and most appropriate treatment model. Seek out someone to talk to, join a support network, take care of yourself first and then focus on helping the family cope.

  • May 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you Dr. Minwalla for FINALLY recognizing and ARTICULATING this unbelievably painful and devastating problem. Like Betty and Laura above, I am an educated, competent, attractive, emotionally astute woman with good friends, a profession that I love, and many life interests. My partner of 12 years spent our entire relationship (I now know) lying to me about his rampant flirting, emotional affairs, and titilating encounters with women at work, his purposeful sexual objectification of women everywhere, all day long for “sexual hits” (which involved active lusting and fantasizing), his clandestine contacts via email, phone, and text with select women to get a little sexualized narcissistic supply, his use of porn, and his secret unprotected casual sexual encounters with women during times of relationship hiatus — some of who were acquaintances of ours. Even though he (says he) has not committed some of the more egregious sexual acting out behaviors, it has been the long-term, repeated, and pervasive LYING and MANIPULATION by this beautiful man I loved that was hands-down the most systematically destructive thing that has ever happened to me. He was very loving, supportive, and compassionate, professed to be spiritual and a champion of “The Feminine”, and we had a great sex life. How on earth could this be happening? Once discovery happened, the lies, parsing words, minimizing, justifying, redirecting, cluelessness, and trickle-down disclosure continued until I thought I was going crazy. Who was this man? My entire history of our relationship now has to be re-written and digested for what it really was, not what he portrayed it to be. My reality is shattered. My sense of my own intuition (one of my strengths, I thought), my ability to know what is really going on in my world, my trust in other people’s word — all of this has been shattered, and more. I am hypervigilant, can’t concentrate, am easily startled, my sleep patterns are disrupted, sometimes can’t complete a sentence. I am obsessed with whether or not he is lying to me. I have been diagnosed with C-PTSD because of this. I hope and pray I can get my life back. SA Treatment Centers MUST step up now and address this as a problem in and of itself — as emotional and relational violence perpetrated by SAs on their partners — an issue that IN AND OF ITSELF needs confrontation and treatment. SAs need to take as much responsibility for healing and stopping this as they do for their sexual behaviors! Please keep going with this Dr. Minwalla.
    Thank you so much.
    ~ noni

  • June 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Thank you Dr Minwalla. Your treatment saved my sanity and, eventually, my marriage. I was beyond hurt, violated and confused with a SA husband who needed clinical as well as 12 step commitment. That’s just a fact. I needed to face my reality and reclaim my respect and health. Over 2 years my husband and I worked very hard and eventually got to a new place of sobriety and honesty. One day at time. But it would not have happened without clinical intervention and facing the reality of his betrayal and disrespect. Partners of SA need to know there are treatment options that include and care for us.

  • August 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Thank you, Dr. Minwalla, for recognizing and speaking out about the experience of so many partners. I was in a relationship with a sex addict for 24 years, although I only became aware of it as a “porn addiction” after 17 years and finally, the full truth was exposed at 22 years. Throughout that experience, I was traumatized by the treatment providers who minimized the impact on me and told me I had “control issues”, etc. Meanwhile my husband was going to orgies and seeing prostitutes the entire time while faking recovery. Too often during the treatment of sex addicts, the treatment professionals and the sex addict collude to shut out and silence partners. Women in my support group cite this pattern over and over again. It is time for the sex addiction treatment industry to wake up to the emotional abuse and victimization that is occurring and to listen- really listen- to our experience. I was sexually and emotionally abused. I contracted a potentially deadly disease. My husband engaged in illegal activities and was in contact with convicted child molesters and other local criminals. My family has been devastated. My 13 year old son stumbled across inappropriate “information” on his father’s computer (this is how I learned the extent of my husband’s sex addiction) and is now struggling in his own sexual development and suffers from PTSD as does my daughter and I. This isn’t “hysteria” (thank you for a great example of gaslighting and minimizing, Mike), this is the truth.

  • August 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

    P.S. You cannot truly help sex addicts OR partners until you actually understand what is going on. It is not accurate to say that partners who telling the truth about their experience or treatment professionals who take them seriously are demonizing addicts. Many of us bent over backwards trying to help our sex-addicted partners. When we try to speak out truth, we are too often accused of being too-emotional, over-reacting, blaming, critical, demonizing, etc. This serves to help no one- not the addict, not the partner, not the family.

  • August 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Partners/wives have been treated as adjuncts to the addicts’ recovery. We’ve been labeled “co” whatever and told that we’re as sick as our husbands. We’ve been advised to “stay for a year” without making a decision about the marriage.

    No one would advise a woman whose husband beats her to “stay for a year” while he gets treatment. I’ve survived domestic abuse and rape, and what I suffered at the hands of my SA was far more traumatizing and life altering for me. I trusted him, I adored him, I had no clue he was a monster in a man suit. When I met him, I was whole and sane and happy. I dated him for three years before we married. I thought I KNEW him. He was a great dad, home by dinner every night. He coached the teams. He was Employee of the Year.

    I wasn’t CODEPENDENT. I am a mother and a teacher and a writer and a counselor. When I stumbled into his secret life, my entire world unraveled. My home, my memories, my history–everything was stained. It felt like he’d hijacked ten years of my life. The lies, the gas lighting–everything came to light. I was afraid, angry, shattered. The first therapist he went to told him I was Borderline–DURING THEIR FIRST MEETING, having never laid eyes on me–She believed everything THE ADDICT told her. When I finally DID meet her, she was wearing six-inch spiked-heeled black leather boots and a low-cut blouse–working with SEX ADDICTS. Are you kidding me?

    The next therapist was, himself, a recovering sex addict. If I so much as hinted at my anger, he became like a deer in headlights. I was accused of shaming my husband whenever I expressed my utter sadness. And he kept asking me what I was doing to help repair the marriage! I didn’t break it. I was broken. It was all I could do to repair ME. This same therapist told me the trauma model creates “empowered victims.” Way to put me in my place!

    The NEXT counselor stared at my feet (I was wearing sandals) and pandered to me the entire first session and completely ignored my husband. He, too, was a recovering sex addict. Totally creeped me out.

    I felt so hopeful when I found out about APSATS. And I went to their very first training. Spent a couple of thousand dollars to fly to Dallas and attend. I heard things such as, “I think the wife should commit to staying with the sex addict for a year before the addict does a formal disclosure. Otherwise, she might just use the information against him in a divorce or child custody case.” AS IF the woman doesn’t have a RIGHT to the truth in order to MAKE decisions for herself and her children.

    At that same training, I heard phrases like “Wives must learn to hold their tongues.” Seriously. Then, when I brought up the question of whether CSATs who are themselves recovering SA’s should have to disclose that fact to partners, I was accused of “bashing” CSATs and shut down. I simply wanted to TALK about whether that was a good idea.

    Great harm IS being done to partners. Meanwhile, the SAs aren’t getting proper treatment. A sober sex addict is STILL SICK, unless his underlying issues are being addressed. He needs to be held accountable for the abuse and treated for his inability to connect and his lack of empathy. He needs to learn to GIVE instead of TAKE, needs to learn humility. He needs to learn to value women and girls as human beings. There’s MUCH work to be done.

    Minwalla is the ONLY one I’ve seen who gets it. Thank god for him.

  • August 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    I would like to join in the big ‘Thank You’ to Dr. Minwalla for recognizing the trauma that Partners experience when faced with Discovery.

    When will the counseling community understand that Partners should be a priority? Why is the Sex Addict, the person who has caused untold harm to his Partner and family, given a free pass to not suffer the consequences of his actions?

    Yes, he is disordered, and yes he needs help, but, just like any other adult who makes bad choices, he also must face the consequences of his behaviors.

    And, one of those consequences is the anger of his Partner. Anger is a healthy reaction to betrayal, especially by the one person we depend upon to protect the safety and security of our family. The only way we can get over our anger is by having it acknowledged rather than squelched so the Sex Addict will not feel shame.

    Shame and remorse are part of the emotions that Sex Addicts should feel. It’s the pain of those emotions that just might stop them from engaging in these behaviors. Instead they are allowed to bury and deny their uncomfortable feelings while everyone coddles them and excuses their behaviors by calling it an addiction.

    These impulsive and compulsive sexual behaviors are a symptom; a trait of a much larger, underlying condition, and until those underlying conditions are addressed and treated properly there will never, ever be any true ‘recovery’.

    My goal is to give Partners Priority.

    In any other trauma situation we contain the threat in order to prevent more damage and we give priority to the victims. Giving first priority to the threat (the Sex Addict) and throwing the victims under the bus by calling us co addicts, telling us to go to 12 step meetings, to own our part of the problem, to give them at least a year before making any decisions, to offer complete trust that has not been earned and expecting us to stuff our very normal reactions and emotions sounds like something right out of a torture manual rather than a treatment model.

    We will not stand for this type of professional abuse any more. ~ JoAnn Russell


  • August 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    There is nothing ‘hysterical’ about the effect that finding out your partner of decades has had a secret sordid life has on the partners. It’s been three years since I found out, and I’ve become ill since that time, and afraid to leave my house for any period of time.

    Many therapists do a great dis-service to partners by not properly educating themselves about this, and by making false assumptions and minimizations. They would be wise to pay attention to Dr. Omar Minwalla, who at this time is one of a few who do understand the specific type of trauma that is caused by this.

    And Linda, trying to avoid the ‘victim/perpetrator’ aspect of this is helping to perpetuate the incredible isolation and disorientation that partners of SAs already suffer. My hope is that you..and many other therapists.. will eventually see the error in this.

  • August 20, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I agree with so much of what has been said. Mike, you just don’t get it. Linda, there are real victims in life and it’s important that those victims receive treatment and that their voices are heard. There are also real perpetrators. Anger is a healthy emotion, as is sadness, as is despair. People treating partners of sex addicts need to ramp up their game and learn how to be present with strong doses of these emotions. It won’t do to set the partner down. That just drives emotion inside resulting in psychosomatic illness. This is interpersonal relational trauma. It is a breach of trust. It is one person lying repeatedly, over and over again, to the person who trusts them most. Treatment centers have been too slow to pick up the ball on this.

  • August 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Dr. Minwalla provides a cogent analysis of a treatment failure within the community of sex addiction therapy. It is not surprising to find some feeling they need to attack him, calling him “hysterical”. I hope he feels in that one word that he has, in fact, come alongside his clients in a moment of solidarity. I’m sorry, but you are one of us, Dr. Minwalla—hysterical! It’s the standard misogynist “go to” when women ask for their experience and symptoms to be understood and taken seriously as if they might actually be human beings.

    The resistance to recognize real victims has a long and defended history in human society, particularly when victims are women and children who have endured injustice and mistreatment at the hands of men. We are “hysterical”. We “over react”. We “brought it on ourselves”. We were “defective” etc. etc etc. Nothing new here in those who can’t bear the truth of Dr. Minwalla’s observations. Nothing new at all. I have worked for 25 years with these victims and can assure you that the need to blame the victims is alive and well, and acting out in licensed therapists, particularly CSAT’s. Change is coming, but it’s slow.

    Perhaps this is related to the rather embarrassing lack of any statistical research that supports the current treatment paradigm as effective. It must be very very hard on these therapists to know this fact, and still have nothing else to offer their clients. It brings to mind the Silencing Response among caregivers/therapists that Dr. Baranowsky of the Traumatology Institute has posited as a critical category for understanding manifestations of compassion fatigue (including burnout). Such therapists facing so little success may well be employing SR with the women partners in order to create a scapegoat/defocus for their own practice to continue. Wouldn’t it be great if they wondered why they NEEDED to believe that all these women partners are co-somethings?

    The additional failure here is of course that these men, who are also human beings, do not receive the kind of help they need in order to overcome some or all of their challenges. Therapists know, for example, that sexually compulsive behaviours are a classic indicator of many personality disorders, but most therapists are not qualified to make those assessments themselves, so they don’t happen. These men do not receive any treatment regimen from a qualified medical practitioner because they are never assessed. Such an assessment would clearly reveal their needs as beyond the CSAT and most other therapists. It’s not just about losing one client, it’s about perpetuating inadequate therapeutic assessment in a professional milieu of denial. It’s not about defending men, either. It’s about colluding with a flawed treatment model that actually isn’t serving anybody, unless my wonderings about therapists with compassion fatigue and burn out isn’t true at all. If it isn’t true then it seems to serve the egoic, financial and psychological neediness of that group. But I just refuse to believe that they have all lost their humanity too.

    But that’s the thing about misogyny. Nobody wins.

    Thank you Dr. Minwalla. I know you aren’t perfect, and your work isn’t either. But you are the one holding the light in the darkness, so you will have to take the heat. But, I have a feeling more of us are stepping into that light, and will begin to take turns. Meanwhile, there are more people than you imagine waiting to engage your theories and analysis. Don’t stop. TAke a breath, yes. Look after yourself. Even take a break. But don’t stop. Suddenly, quite suddenly, the tide will turn. YOu will likely be holding forth on your normally contentious theories and no one will post and call you hysterical.

    They will be so busy rewriting all their websites.

  • August 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Thank You to Dr. Minwalla for truly getting it right!
    I too have been traumatized by csats who have given advice to my husband, after hearing one side of a story. And they believe the addict, the one who is a pathological liar. It is a huge disservice to the spouse of a sex addict to not educate her of the underlying personality disorders that usually accompany the addiction.
    Sex addicts are Narcissists in some form.

    It is a shame that so many professionals in this field choose to stay close-minded to new research that is available to them.
    And what a sex addict does to his wife and children is not just abuse, it’s torture.
    Thanks to Dr. Minwalla for giving “us” the wives a voice !

  • August 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Thank you Dr. Minwalla for being a sane voice in this sea of crazy. Please know that you have supporters. We may not be as powerful and wealthy as the Carnes’ minions but we are passionate and vocal.

    I’m sorry Linda but there are good/bad people. That’s basically how life works. A husband that has lied for years, put his family’s financial health, physical health and emotional health in jeopardy for the sake of sex is a perpetrator. Your industry does traumatized the partner. I don’t see why educated professionals cannot see a way to help the “sex addict” without destroying the partner in the process.

    A road to recovery that is paved with the pain of it’s victims is not ever a viable road. It is a foundation built upon the vulnerable souls of our mothers, sisters and daughters. They are not co addicts. They are people. They are people that lived their lives with the basic premiss that their husband was who he portrayed himself to be. Their only crime is trusting the man that vowed to love them.

    CSATS have set up a criteria for co addicts that defies any logic. Every piece of advice given to partners is contradicted by the next piece of advice. You have set these women up to fail. Shame on all of you that are smart enough to know better.

  • August 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Context in addiction is a huge factor. The huge majority of soldiers returning from Vietnam who were able to kick their heroin addictions without treatment of any kind is proof. Go look up those studies. It is hard to reconcile that context is often a huge factor in sex addiction as well, but if sex addiction is an addiction, and all addictions work the same, then context is going to matter. That includes relationship context.

    • August 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      That is a valid point. I do not believe that sex is an addiction at all.

      But let’s play devil’s advocate with your hypothesis. Sex is an addiction. It is contextual as is any addiction. The soldiers managed to kick heroin because they got out of Vietnam. So the sex addict can get away from sex addiction by getting out of their marriage. Seems pretty simple to me. IF this is your conclusion (that the marriage is toxic) then why on earth would CSATS ask the wives to stay in the marriage for a year? Why aren’t the sex addicts urged to leave immediately? How do you explain that the sex addict was a sex addict before he ever met his wife? Once he is rid if the contextual relationship toxicity then why should he continue to see a CSAT or attend meetings? Wife gone.. No addiction? Why all the insipid literature saying “this is not personal. You didn’t cause this. There was nothing you could do to change it. You can’t cure it.. Etc”?

      Again I ask you to look at the difference in meetings (12 step) for an SA and COSA (for a partner). Dear Bob can do no wrong. He gets all sympathy because his wife is angry. He can talk for days about it. On the flip side is the partner who isn’t allowed to bring up her husband at all. Maybe there is a reason these relationships are toxic….. To the partner that is hoodwinked into believing her cheater is special because he is an “addict”.

      • August 21, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        Bev and TPG-
        Just for the record: I would never tell anyone to stay or not stay in a marriage on any such general basis. Also I think that you are not taking into account the fact that addicts very often pick partners (unconsciously) who will best allow them to be in their addiction and/or set them up to act out and avoid intimacy. The partner is completely unaware of this, of course. Recovery leads to better relationships more than the other way around. My 2 cents.

      • August 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

        Et voila! Dr. Hatch, that’s just it. If addicts pick their spouses unconsciously so they can act out, then the spouses must also unconsciously pick addicts so that they can be “victimized” but say they have no idea of what is going on. And both those things bring us right back to context again.

        Bev, here’s the thing: those soldiers were addicted to heroin when they were in Vietnam. They would have all the classic indicators of addiction, including physical withdrawal symptoms. Yet when they came back to America, their addiction went away. I happen to agree with you that for the vast majority of “sex addicts” who are in relationships, the best thing they could do for their addiction is to get out of it. Same thing for their partners.

  • August 21, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I would also address “Mike” that is an addict in recovery (above). He states ” I’m in recovery and haven’t met a recovered partner yet that at some point in their recovery didn’t realize they brought *something* to the table; ..”

    Well of course every partner brings something to the table. I doubt that the “addict” lives in a vacuum. The partner may be the most horrible wife ever. She may be everything bad that you can mention. So…. Why did you marry her and pledge fidelity? Who’s actually codependent in this picture? Why didn’t you just get a divorce?

    The partner finds themselves in a marriage where the “addict” fakes enough humanness to get by. The partner is her true self. The “addict” KNOWS his spouse. That is how he’s able to navigate the whole double life. She’s been honest the whole marriage.

    Mike, whatever your partner “brought to the table”, it wasn’t spending family money on orgasms. She didn’t cheat. She may be codependent because she ‘s still with you but she didn’t bring anything to the table that warrants you “acting out”. If you’re still of the opinion that your wife did anything to excuse your behavior then you are certainly not in any type of recovery.

    It’s strange that in SA meetings that the “addict” is allowed to complain about their wife but in COSA meetings it is absolutely not allowed in any way to complain about your sex addict husband.

    SA Meeting: ” I’ve been sober for 6 months and my wife of 20 years is still angry”
    Response. : “we are so sorry Bob. That’s your wife’s issue. She needs to stay on her side of the street..”

    COSA Meeting: “My husband relapsed and he’s stopped going to therapy.”
    Response. : ” We don’t talk about what our partners are doing. What is your part in this?”

    Notice any discrepancies ?

  • August 22, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Linda, in response to your last post above, I beg to differ that ‘sex addicts’ unconsciously choose partners who will enable them in some form or another to continue their addiction. I was with my partner for 12 years before he began his addiction with porn, prostitutes, Craigslist girlfriends, masseuses, etc.etc.,in the last decade of our relationship. All unbeknownst to me until three years ago.

    This persistent need that so many therapists seem to have.. to somehow include the partner in the SA’s ‘addiction’.. is simply mind-boggling. At best, it implies ignorance of the reality, and at worst, a type of insidious misogyny.

  • August 22, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Linda, re your comment above
    I think addicts very consciously pick partners who best “allow them their addiction”

    They pick strong, healthy, capable, trusting women who are capable of love and who take responsibility for their lives. These women manage homes and careers, home educate their kids, lead companies, and are still able to be present and available for their husbands. We are sexual, vital attractive women with talents and capabilities that would astound you. We are not codependent.

    However These women become afraid of everything, suspicious and exhibit codependent behaviours precisely because their extincts to good healthy living are being torn apart by the crazy behaviour of the addict. Put the most spectacular human being in a home with an active addict for 10 years as a control study to find out what happens?

    In the SOS support group I’ve been fortunate enough to find through joAnn Russell I have maybe in nearly 4 years met 3 women that I would class as codependent – and they don’t last long around the rest of us who are all those things above.

    I just have to say that hearing Dr Minwalla speak out what has happened to me gives me hope. Keep going Dr M.This is why Lighthouse runs Kings table, emmanuel

    I just want to add that as therapists you know that addicts lie and manipulate. Why would they immediately on first contact with you start telling the absolute truth? What makes you do special?

  • August 22, 2014 at 8:52 am

    And there it is, Linda, another example of exactly what is wrong with the old treatment model and attitudes. The idea that the addicts pick partners “who will best allow them to be in their addiction and/or set them up to act out and avoid intimacy,” followed by that condescending “unbeknownst to them, of course.”

    Every once in a while, I meet a partner who is codependent. I meet partners who are diabetic, who have breast cancer, who have MS, who suffer from post-partem depression, who roller skate, who like the color blue. All of those qualities are incidental. But I’ve never met a partner who wasn’t traumatized.

    From what I’ve seen, if these men have a knack for picking anything in a partner, it’s honesty. They pick honest, authentic women who can believe in fidelity because they, themselves, are faithful. We are women who don’t automatically go to “He’s cheating” when he doesn’t answer his phone. We’re women who trust that “the meeting ran late” because our own meetings run late sometimes and we get it.

    Jo is right about everything she said above. These men pick women who make them look good, women who–by their very presence–reinforce the addicts’ masquerades as good husbands/fathers/citizens.

    These men are smart about that. I’ve got to hand it to them.

  • August 22, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I have been a therapist for 30 years. I developed and managed a very successful treatment program in the addictions field for Partners of alcoholics. That was 15 years ago. More recently,, I have found myself as a client at a sex addiction treatment center.. What I have noticed is that sex addiction treatment professionals have followed suit with the other addiction treatment professionals in that they subscribe to the co-addict model for SA partners. It stands to reason, right, that partners of addicts are all the same? Maybe it’s time we question this assumption. The main thing that I have heard from CSAT treatment professionals about SA partners is that all partners bring “something” to the table of sex addiction in the relationship. This reductionist and simplistic thinking boils down to something like this: the partner was somehow already sick, codependent, or damaged or she wouldn’t have picked a sex addict. This is a supposition that truly bears re-examination. I think that the grain of truth in this statement – that all partners bring something to the table – has been overblown and seized upon by CSATs and skewed in the direction of victim blaming. It is, of course, true that “all partners bring something to the table in a relationship”. But this is true for every relationship! We all haul our past along with us into relationships because our past lives inside of us. Everyone is dysfunctional in some way or another. Everyone. There may well be many more partners NOT living with sex addicts that are intimacy challenged. As a therapist for 30 years, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of people in my office, both in intimate relationships and single, who were intimacy challenged, or damaged by life in some other way, but they were not living with sex addicts. We are all intimacy challenged in some way or another because we all have suffered some form of attachment rupture in our childhood that wasn’t repaired well enough.. It seems that sex addiction professionals seize upon this fact in people who also happen to be partners of sex addicts and use it to bludgeon, label, and blame them, when in fact they should be helping them recover from one of the most horrific and insidious traumas they have ever experienced, or will likely ever experience, in their lives? What is behind this pervasive victim blaming that our culture is so obsessed with and why have sex addiction treatment professionals jumped on the bandwagon and swallowed it hook, line, and sinker when it comes to SA partners?.

    • August 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      I could not agree more. How a professional applies the same rules for alcohol treatment to chronic sexual behavior is beyond me. If I had lived with an alcoholic for 20 years then I suppose al -anon would be beneficial. Even if I claimed to have never known he was an alcoholic then I can still see where I would need as much help as he did.

      My husband came home every night. He was with the family every weekend. Our bills were paid and we had savings. He never missed work and was very successful. He was around for every holiday and every vacation. He coached the kids’basketball teams. He went to church. We had sex. How in the world was I supposed to make the leap to “he’s a sex addict”? He wasn’t perfect and neither was I but I had no idea he was seeing prostitutes during the workday. Why would that even occur to me?

      So, after “DDay” I went to the internet and low and behold there was Patrick Carnes telling me I was as sick as my husband. That’s not a good thing to hear while you are trying to understand what the heck sex addiction even is , reeling from the shock that your husband has been cheating and addicted to porn since before you met, trying to keep it together so the kids won’t be upset, wondering what to tell them while daddy is away at an intensive, scrambling to cover the cost of it all……

      No thank you, I don’t want or need anyone to have me “make amends” or be “powerless” or discuss what I “brought to the table”. What I needed was someone to tell me that I was going to be okay, that my husband was sick, that I could keep it together for my family, that of course I was angry and hurt and shocked and scared… Thank goodness for SOS and Lili from PoSARC and Omar Minwalla. If not for them then my kids would be without a mother. They may never have the father that they deserve but they sure don’t need their mother chanting COSA mantras.

      I needed support. I won’t take the blame for a grown man having intercourse with prostitutes all the while lying to my face. I can’t change the fact that psychopaths lie and lie well. I can tell you that I certainly wasn’t the only one fooled.

      Sex and alcohol are not the same.

  • August 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Bravo, Noni. Wonderfully said.

  • August 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Noni, your professional and personal observations and wonderings are valuable. Thank you for adding them to the discussion.

    Simply on a rational level it is a disturbing element of this professional cohort (CSATs) that they seem content to perpetuate unsubstantiated assumptions that you challenge, even in the face of a significant void of credible and publishable research about the model and its assumptions that they are using on people.

    Indeed, when I hope to learn why these base level questions are not important to this group, they simply ignore these facts and the questions arising from them. It certainly makes it difficult to have a real conversation about these important issues. As the therapist (Tania, I think) observed in her legitimate question about appropriate disclosure by “recovered” SA CSAT to their clients, there is a troubling refusal to engage basic questions of self-regulation within that cohort.

    I have to admit an element of incredulity at the denial and protectionist stance this group takes. For me it is the only consistent indicator of potential codependence in the whole arena of practice. These CSATs sometimes appear to be codependent with the model, so that their eyes glaze over when you ask for research data to support the kind of results people might see if they use it, and they quickly trivialize a partner’s concern that she is being ask to trust some therapist with the same problem as her husband.

    I don’t know who else here works with victims of trauma besides Noni and Tania, but I would NEVER expect a survivor of domestic abuse or sexual abuse to go to a therapist who was a “recovered” wife beater, child molestor, or voyeur, for example. Would you? But this refusal to share information with the partner that may be critical for her own empowerment from the victim experience is profoundly unprofessional, and in my opinion, lacks core integrity necessary in a therapeutic relationship of trust.

    The travesty of these men who were broken by such things as covert incest in their childhood, for example, never being properly assessed and treated by someone qualified to handle clients with borderline personality disorders (again, an example) is a glaring gap. Imagine someone carrying that wound within a well-entrenched disorder being sent to a 12 step program and expected to succeed in it. They, like their partners, are set up to fail as pointed out by another post here (Bev? I think).

    There’s clearly a wealth of knowledge, experience, questions, that for now is simply diminished, ignored, or denied in this whole area of therapeutic practice. Dr Steffen’s seminal research and Dr. Minwalla’s courageous analysis needs the company of our additional work. Happily, the partners of SA’s include women from all walks of life, gifted in many ways, and qualified to engage these questions at a sophisticated level of rational discourse informed by actual experiences. While they know they were once victims, they are no longer victims.

    And that may well be the scariest thing for the current treatment industry.

    • August 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      You’re right, Diane, that the many partners of sex addicts who are waking up to the rampant abuses Dr. Minwalla writes about here, are a force to be reckoned with….more so every day. The recovery world has good reason to worry. Their days of easy pigeonholing of partners and cookie-cutter approaches for addicts with often severe underlying pathologies that aren’t being diagnosed are coming to an end. Can anyone say “malpractice”?

      In my work with partners, I often have the strong conviction that when more of us band together to demand change in the addiction recovery community, we will get it! Why? Just follow the money……We already know that 90 + percent of sex addicts ONLY get into treatment when confronted with their significant other’s ultimatum to get help- or else. Without us insisting they do it, very few would.

      And so the Sex Addiction Recovery Industrial Complex roll up their sleeves to take the marital financial assets we hand over to them, all the while shoving us into a corner to be quiet and “make nice” with the addict, lest he act out again. Lest we sabotage his recovery with our codependence/co-addiction (read: demands for safety).

      When PoSAs (partners of sex addicts) start to fully come to terms with the amount of money WE are pouring into the pockets of that industry, we will not ask politely anymore to be heard and considered, we will not attempt to ‘share’ in S-Anon or CoSA only to be shut down and told to stay on our side of the street, we will not spend our time anymore complaining that nothing is changing. No, we will forge the pathway to new treatment centers like Dr. Minwalla’s or those who follow the SAITM model.

      And enough of us can boycott what is on offer now, including books, rehabs, therapists, and centers that refuse to take a relational, humane and fair approach to a disease that destroys wives/partners and families.

      It can really be that simple. We do it through our blogs, participation in groups, and in dropping out of therapies that don’t support us and only perpetuate the abuse. We do it by saying no to being warehoused into 12-step groups where we’re told to “keep the focus on yourself”.

      In the meantime, grassroots change IS happening. Free support group meetings for partners (using the trauma model) do exist and we do focus on exposing the gaslighting and all the other machinations of the sex-addicted mind.
      Never will you be told in one of these support groups to “stay on your side of the street”. Or to “keep the focus on yourself!”….

      These support groups are multiplying fast: This week Jackson, MS started their own support group meeting, & next week will see three more cities with meetings starting:
      Santa Barbara, California
      Troy, Michigan
      Pasadena, California
      In a few weeks, England will have it’s first meeting starting up in Nottingham.

      In total there are now twenty cities with their own meetings for partners, based on the trauma model.

      And Joanne Russell runs SOS, an online support system for partners.

      We are out here, we have strong voices, and we are the ones allocating the funds for treatment. If we, the partners, take our marbles and go home, there will BE no Sex Addiction Recovery Industrial Complex. We need to remember that when we start to feel disempowered.

      Keep up the important work, Dr. Minwalla– and everyone else involved in moving the partner’s voices to the front and center.

      Lili Bee
      Founder, PoSARC.com
      Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center

      • August 22, 2014 at 9:41 pm

        Amen. Nuff said.

      • August 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        Excellent points Lilli. Boycotting has historically been a very powerful wake up call to those who will not listen to reason.

        Another point to ponder is that Partners are necessary to the success of these programs in our role as a scapegoat.

        Failing any substantive results or statistics the sex addiction treatment community must have a reason for their lack of success. Hence, the very convenient Partner.

        As long as the Partners can be convinced (brainwashed) that the lack of success in our sex addict spouse’s recovery program is somehow our fault we will continue to :

        1. Stay in the relationship because we are convinced that there is hope.

        2. Continue working on ourselves by going to meetings we do not need.

        3. Try even harder to make the relationship work by ‘staying on our side of the street’, stuffing our emotions, having sex with them even though we may not want to (and in doing so puts us at risk STD’s and emotional trauma) and basically becoming a ‘Stepford’ wife.

        4. Never, ever check up on his activities in order to verify that what he says is the truth. (Maybe our society should also do away with Parole Officers for released criminals and drug tests for drug addicts in treatment?)

        4. Deplete our financial resources by utilizing other ineffective and expensive treatments to help our husband’s recovery such as expensive intensives, long stays at treatment centers and frequent, ongoing counseling sessions.

        5. And, we promise to keep spending the money for the ‘Hopium’.

        Not only are we subjected to the trauma of ineffective treatment models, we are also blatantly being used.

        JoAnn Russell


  • August 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you Dr Minwalla for boldly standing against the tide!! You treated my SA husband, unsuccessfully, he relapsed after only 18 months of sobriety into an even darker place of lies ,manipulation and willful deception. He claims that you were too “confrontational” during his treatment and therefore he never entered into recovery. He also claims that I am holding him back from recovering by remaining in our marriage.

    I have recently come to understand and witness his pathological lying, and it is truly frightening. He passed a lie detector test during the time he was in treatment with you and doing the Disclosure. He is a very good liar. His sexual compulsivity began long before my relationship with him, I do believe that much of the disclosure is true. He is a severely ill individual who is not receiving the proper care now despite going to SAA meetings 2x /week and treatment 1x /week with a CSAT. His current therapist is being “snowed” and lied too but does not consult with me to verify his reports. This is terribly disappointing. I fear for his future and the future of any other woman he encounters,objectifies and lies too.

  • August 23, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Me? Still too damage to be very articulate. I have been struggling to recover from SA and treatment abuses.

    It all caught up with me and I went from a success in my field, enjoying home and family to someone I don’t recognize. My ability to function has been lowered. I paid money for this???????

    Lawsuits? Civil suits? The legal system via divorce and family court isn’t of much use.

    I lost my ability to work. It’s called disability people. I brought upon myself?Unknowingly? Really?

    Actually I was lied to. Deceived. Betrayed. Exposed to STDs. Then sent to COSA to sit and shut up about it. Lawsuit anyone?

    I am tired. I am sick and tired. I am shattered.

    Dr. Minwalla…….thank you.

  • August 23, 2014 at 10:43 am

    A huge thank-you to all who have posted here; I certainly can relate to almost everything shared.
    This is such a multi-faceted, complex issue; in most sex addiction circumstances, there are commonalities and differences between presenting couples based on other addictions, relationship history, etc.
    About the advice to choose or not choose a certain type of therapist or a certain type of support group: if I can add another suggestion, aside from the many commonalities inherent in the sex addict’s behavior, remember that each partner/spouse has their own unique history with these commonalities. The same is true of CSATs—regardless of their disciplines; many establish their own theories based on experience with patients, their education, etc. And believe it or not, not all CSATs hold firm to Dr. Carnes’ theories. My counselor happens to be a CSAT, but is also very interested in Dr. Minwalla’s efforts and therefore has a multi-disciplined approach (she does not believe in [co-dependent] labels or stereotypes, and puts the partner/spouse first).
    The same is true for support groups—before I moved to the country, I attended several COSA meetings; and each was an anger-fest, with more negativity than I could endure. So for some partners (like me), Al-Anon became an acceptable alternative because 1) there is not a COSA meeting within 50 miles and 2) my personal preference is to join a group that takes a positive approach to life in general. Contrary to popular opinion, in Al-Anon, I am not labeled a codependent, by the way.
    The point is this: get as much education as you can, but take action for your own health/recovery as quickly as you can. The type of help you receive is an individual choice.
    Sex addiction is a growing and insidious problem for addicts and their partners worldwide, as evidenced by the number of posts here and the level of energy/frustration/anger being expressed. I am relieved to see that there are grass roots efforts under way.

  • August 24, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Linda, thank you and Dr. Minwalla for finally giving a voice to victims of this insidious form of – yes – domestic violence. None of these insightful posts from partners fit the so-called “co-dependent” profile, neither do I. I have myself used the analogy of being emotionally raped, except that it was a gang rape. I felt emotionally raped not only by my husband, but by the system, and by the treatment I endured in therapy. I had no idea of his addiction, yet I was blamed, shamed, invalidated, and told to forgive him. My trauma was dismissed. I walked away from this “treatment” when I discovered that our female (recovering addict) therapist was emotionally colluding with my husband, then lied to me. One of my children was diagnosed with serious “event-related anxiety”, directly due to the addict-behavior related disruption in our home and damage to my parental bond during this traumatic time. This is serious stuff, and I have no doubt traumatized and emotionally outcast partners have been driven to suicide. Therefore, I would hardly call Dr. Minwalla’s article hysterical. I played no “part” in my husband’s secret addiction, didn’t invite it, didn’t want it. I found the traditional treatment model to be dated, cultish (you’re either with us or against us mentality), and sexist, and that it allows addicts to remain in a comfortable place of denial and blame, where “perpetrator” is a dirty word, and “victim” is synonymous with co-dependence. It’s a lazy model, based on ignorance, and traumatizes whole families, while leaving the addict’s own trauma poorly addressed. I believe this is in no small part due to the fact that it’s almost impossible to find a therapist (or a book that’s been written on the topic) who is not a “recovering” addict. It’s so heartening to see from the posts here that I was not alone, and very much hope that the longstanding fox-in-the-henhouse opinion-based model, designed and monopolized by addicts, will soon be replaced by an intelligent model, based on clinical research.

    • August 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Absolutely, AnnaMarie.. It *is* a lazy approach, using a cookie-cutter approach that seems based on little more than psychobabble or whatever the trend du jour may be.

      Without trailblazers like Dr. Minwalla and Barbara Steffens, I really don’t know what I would have done. On the advice of the initial websites I found in the early days after discovery, I went to a COSA meeting. Once. Didn’t go back. No offense intended for those for whom COSA has been helpful, but for me it was a very strange and surreal experience. I was struck by how beaten down the women there seemed to be. It felt like a strange sort of obedience class, but I had no idea what I was supposed to be obeying. I only knew that the bottom had fallen out of my world and the solutions and programs offered made no sense.

      But I feel hopeful that this is changing, thanks to professionals like Dr. Minwalla who actually get it.

  • August 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Feeling continued deep thanks for not only Dr. Minwalla, but the brave woman who have posted here.

    We have been severely abused by not only our “soul mates” but our “professional healers”. Does betrayal get much deeper than this?

    I learned than staying married was wise. That you keep trying.

    I brought to the “table” (context) that the bond between parent and child should be supported and one should think very carefully about divorce.

    My contribution was that I was kind, giving, loving, forgiving, helpful.

    After deep reflection of “my part” this is what I have learned.

    In COSA meeting and then doing my step work, I used to sit and ponder “my inventory” of harms caused.

    All I could come up with was my angry interactions due to betrayal. I was sent to anger a management because ai broke a $50 tape player. I went because I was always interested in doing the “right thing”.

    For months, I sat with male convicted offenders, and cried through it all. I sat silently and wept.

    Our therapist was OK with this. The SA got a pass.

    SA was taught not to be accountable for his behavior. Bummer. Big bad for me.

    The old treatment model will stop or at least,be well impeded by myself and my peers. You see, now that I am so damaged, I have lots of spare time to tell my story.

    I have been supported by JoAnn Russell who gave me and my peers a safe place to “journal” (research). I will not be shamed into believing that I was anything other that set up to be continiuusly abused,by SA and he was empowere by the very system I paid to help us.

    Game. Over. I will not be silenced or blamed or deceived anymore.

  • August 25, 2014 at 1:40 am

    One can trace the origin of the absurd practice of telling partners to “stay on their side of the street” back to its beginning in the AA program. If one digs a little deeper into the life of one of the AA founders, Bill Wilson, a little known fact emerges that might cast light on this whole practice. Bill Wilson was very likely a SEX ADDICT, and acted out in such a big way that the term “13th stepping” was coined to describe his hook ups with much younger women at AA meetings under the guise of “helping the newcomer”! See http://www.alternatives-for-alcoholism.com/bill-wilson.html for a version of this story. Yes, Bill W. was married, but he was also actively engaged in unchecked, compulsive sexual behavior while “recovering” from alcoholism. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why he may have wanted his wife to “keep her nose out of his recovery” and “stay on her side of the street”! It’s odd, isn’t it, that such an absurd practice exists with such a serious, high octane problem and that treatment programs have blindly followed suit without question?!

    • August 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Yes! And Patrick Carnes is a sex addict. How convenient for the good doctor to come up with an ADDICTION to cover up his philandering. Got to hand it to him though, he’s laughing all the way to the bank. The guy is crafty that’s for sure. He has a cash cow and he’s raking in the money as long as partners stay asleep….

      I actually should thank Patrick Carnes and the APSAT Convention. There is a YouTube video of a female CSAT introducing Patrick Carnes as the featured speaker. She practically salivated over him and then ended her speech with a letter from a sex addict ( she said was her patient). The letter read exactly the same as everyone has heard from any SA and he ended it with ..”and no one will stand in the way of my recovery, not even my wife…” The room broke out into applause. That was my “AHA” moment. Once again the wife was the bad guy. I knew right then that these people were not going to help me. And they for sure weren’t going to help my husband. The SA was treated as the underdog ( read conquering hero) …. Where else do you get to cheat on your wife, spend family money on prostitutes, and ruin your kids and be applauded? Nice gig if he can keep it going.

      • August 26, 2014 at 11:43 am

        I wanted to correct my above post. The YouTube video was not at an APSAT Convention. It was 2013 Carnes Lecture at SASH. Sorry!

    • August 26, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Great point, Noni, about Bill Wilson, the originator of AA, probably being a sex addict.
      One of the criteria for addiction is: the inability to stop using a behavior or substance despite negative consequences.
      So, can we conclude that the infamous 13-stepper was a sex addict then?

      I would bet the bank that his wife, Lois Wison’s upset over his frequent, extramarital sexual conquests were, YES, a negative consequence for him.
      Yet, did he stop his philandering?
      As far as we can tell, he quit alcohol and then, to use 12-step parlance, “switched seats on the Titanic” of his alcohol addiction by compulsively philandering.

      Proof needed? His estate granted his MISTRESS (and her estate, in perpetuity) 10% of all the proceeds of sales of The Big Book, with his wife granted the remaining percentage.

      There’s a lesson here for all of us Partners of Sex Addicts: Don’t be that wife, lovingly sitting home and patiently waiting for him to change, being quiet so as not to disturb the “fragile, recovering…” alcohol and sex addict!

    • September 5, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Good point. I was shocked to discover that in 4 years of “therapy”, I hadn’t been told about Wilson’s sexual compulsivity, the “13th step” that reportedly originated with him, or given the option to bow out of his prescribed, sexist, non-clinically based “recovery” program. His is a well kept secret. On digging deeper, I discovered in one biography that he had written the chapter “To Wives” HIMSELF!! Even though his own wife had requested she write it. The more you dig, the worse it gets. I guess that’s why, in AA, “honesty” always comes with the prefix “rigorous”, otherwise it doesn’t count. Go figure. It’s outrageous.

      Having been completely traumatized by my “therapist” myself, and by the system, I highly recommend finding a sex-addiction therapist with boundaries (not easy). Your therapist, particularly if she’s female, should not think it’s ok to socialize with her male clients, or collude against the spouse. A therapist with boundaries would not ride down in the elevator with her male sex addict client, let alone attend social functions. Ask questions, advocate for your needs (nobody else will), stick to your principles in an unprincipled world, and avoid recovering, unattached (particularly female), addict therapists.

      And find a therapist who actually has some clinical background in trauma.

  • August 27, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    These responses are inspiring and Dr. Minwalla and the trauma model are our only hope for our daughters and women in generations to come. We’ve been on the front lines, ladies, along with Dr. Minwalla, fighting the good fight and it will happen. Our husbands perpetrate their daily abuses upon us, often without us even being aware of what’s really happening, and that abuse paradoxically binds us closer to them, makes it more difficult to see clearly and to escape it. We end up being someone we don’t even recognize. That didn’t make me codependent, it made me what I was, a victim of chronic abuse. And then one day we wake up, something happens and we wake up and we can see that we’re in a fog and there must be a way out….and we reach out for help, and then one therapist after another takes their turn at our ongoing abuse. And at first, we don’t recognize it, we don’t expect it, we think they know what they’re doing, after all, they’re the professionals, they’ve seen this before. And then one day we wake up from that, and we realize that they are just taking over and adding to the job of our SA and personality disordered husbands with their blame and their “you’re 50 % of the problem” or “are you saying your husband is abusive? This man doesn’t have an abusive bone in his body,” or astonishingly believing much, maybe most, of what our agenda driven , manipulative, lying SA and personality disordered spouses say about us WITHOUT EVER ASKING WHAT OUR TRUTH IS. Who does that? What kind of responsible therapist abuses the spouse on their own, or worse, allows the SA to enlist their help in the abuse. The abuse I endured from my SA was terrible, as all of these women can attest to from their own experiences. The abuse I endured when I reached out for help was so much worse. My fog didn’t start to clear until I found a group of women who believed me and supported me every single time I needed belief and support. Every. Single. Time. My husband saw Dr. Minwalla for a year and he didn’t choose recovery, he chose the “I’m fine, my wife has problems, she needs personality testing, too, if she has PTSD, it’s from her childhood, not me, I’m so much better than I used to be, if I “see explicit material ” every once in a while, and don’t tell her or my recovery people about that, it’s ok, it’s much better than it used to be, I don’t know why she doesn’t feel safe, that’s her work to do” approach ……instead of doing his own work. I met Dr. Minwalla and once i knew that he got it, that he understood without judgement or blame….it made a big difference to me, in letting go of the marriage, or whatever that was. Dr. Minwalla and his work are a gift to all of us. Thank you.

  • August 27, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I have an axe to grind about the sex addict choosing a partner that allows them to stay in their addiction which is really just a back door approach to keep blaming the partner. The partner “allows”- give me a break. No, the partner trusted him because she herself is an honest person and does not have a clue that her husband is out screwing whores on his lunch hour or is going to an orgy instead of going to see a patient while on call.

    Then when the addiction is discovered and the addict enters treatment (usually at the INSISTENCE of that partner that’s “allowing” it), any concerns the partner has about her husband are because she is “critical and controlling” and she needs to “work” on her own “issues”. No one dares to question whether or not the addict is actually in recovery or faking it.

    When it finally is discovered that the addict was indeed faking it, now all the concerns the partner had are conveniently forgotten and it is suggested that she was in denial about the addict’s behavior.

    And do you know when things get really bad? Just try to divorce an addict. Then no one can claim that you are tolerating it, right? No, then the addict starts telling everyone that he is only an addict because of all the abuse in his marriage.

    I’m pretty tired of continually being the scapegoat. No matter what the scenario, somehow the addict and CSATs keep blaming partners. Sex addicts also fool their friends, extended family, and business partners- do they get the same scrutiny as to “their part” in the addiction? Why they were targets of his duplicity? Give me a break.

  • August 28, 2014 at 12:30 am

    I would like to add something to Teri’s comment above. Besides being a partner of a sex addict, I am also a professional, licensed psychotherapist. I have been working in the field for 30 years. I conceptualized, developed, and directed a very successful treatment program for family members of alcoholics. I have successfully counseled many couples with all kinds of difficulties — some with addictions, some with just garden variety communication issues, and everything in between. My primary area of focus though has been individual psychotherapy. I’ve worked with people who suffered from grief, trauma, PTSD, childhood abuse, identity confusion – you name it. What I can say after all this experience is that EVERYONE has issues. Everyone. There’s nothing different that I have seen about partners of sex addicts that differentiates them from everyone else. Nothing that makes them stand out as somehow more damaged or more vulnerable, or seem as though they were magnets for abuse, trauma, maltreatment, or victimization. Additionally, I have seen zero research to back up the claims that partners of sex addicts are somehow functionally or psychologically different than others who are not partnered with sex addicts. If someone has research that demonstrates something different, let them present it now.

    Once a partner has lived with a sex addict for any length of time, whether she knew what was going on or not, the very fabric of her soul is shredded and she will appear quite damaged, because she IS. That is the deadly, insidious nature of sex addiction induced perpetration. It is life-threatening because it strikes at the heart, body, and soul of love and twists what is good into devastation.


    • September 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Thank you, Noni. I needed to hear someone finally say that there is something inside all of us that is damaged. It’s how we use that damage to, hopefully, survive and learn. I am currently trying to heal from years of lying and deception and am just now coming to the realization that I have been traumatized and need more help than the SA himself!

  • January 21, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve been dealing with my husband’s sex addiction for 18 years. Only figured out it was a sex addiction 8 years ago, in spite of the counselors we’ve seen. I’ve been in a codependent model recovery program since then. We’ve been going to counselors and therapists for 18 years, 5 different ones during that time. Now we are in counseling again after the latest relapse. I just discovered the “new” trauma model and I’m so relieved. I feel like I’ve been walking across the desert for years and just found an oasis. Now I need to find a therapist that can help me maneuver through this latest trauma. Wish me luck! Thank you, Dr. Minwalla


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