Written by Carolyn Verity, M.A.
As sexual addiction continues to wreak havoc in marriages, the level of trauma experienced by wives following their husband's disclosure of sexual betrayal is often overlooked. The sordid avalanche of shocking information about their husband's infidelities can be overwhelming to their whole emotional system. The husbands may feel better, their secret is out, and they may feel relieved. Their wives, however, may slide into a sea of shame and many other disturbing feelings. Some of the feelings they have described are feeling numb as though in a daze, detachment or estrangement from others, unable to concentrate at work, outbursts of anger, heightened startle response and difficulty sleeping and eating. These are the same feelings we usually associate with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We are used to recognizing PTSD symptoms following a life threatening crisis, such as a physical or sexual assault, a horrible car accident, a plane crash, war experience, or witnessing a horrific or life threatening event. And now, we are seeing the same symptoms as wives try to come to grips with their husband's use of porn, strip clubs, affairs, one-night stands and/or prostitutes. Some husbands disclose the first few years of marriage and other husbands disclose after 30 plus years of marriage. I have noticed the longer the marriage the more intense the wife's trauma.
The wives also struggle with who to tell, how to tell and what to tell the people closest to them, including their adult children. They usually want to maintain loyalty to their spouse. So, at the time of their deepest pain they are isolated and alone. The good news: help is more available than ever before. More information is available, more therapists are trained in treating sexual addiction, more churches have become involved in offering sexual addiction groups as well as specific groups for women hurt by their husband's disclosure of sexual betrayal. There are also many on-line and phone support groups for wives. And, more research is being done to determine the best treatment model for all aspects of sexual addition. Healing can come from many different forms of treatment; however, dealing with trauma and the resulting symptoms cannot be left untreated. For more information on how to find help and healing with this struggle please call CIFT at 714-558-9266.