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© 2013 IITAP, LLC STEPS TO RECOVERY FOR PARTNERS OF SEX ADDICTS Mending a Shattered Heart & Facing Heartbreak.

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Presentation on theme: "© 2013 IITAP, LLC STEPS TO RECOVERY FOR PARTNERS OF SEX ADDICTS Mending a Shattered Heart & Facing Heartbreak."— Presentation transcript:

1 © 2013 IITAP, LLC STEPS TO RECOVERY FOR PARTNERS OF SEX ADDICTS Mending a Shattered Heart & Facing Heartbreak

2 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Common Questions from Partners Will this get better? Is there hope? What is disclosure? How do I structure my boundaries? What do I tell the kids? Should I stay or should I go? What are the 12 steps and what can they do for me? Where do I get help? Is my husband a pedophile? Is my husband gay?

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5 © 2013 IITAP, LLC The Six Stage Model Defined for Partners Stages are fluid and often overlap No specific time periods for each stage Similar to addict stages

6 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Stages of Recovery for the Partner The Developing Stage (Pre-Discovery) Crisis Shock Grief (Ambivalence) Repair Growth


8 © 2013 IITAP, LLC THE DEVELOPING STAGE Prior to learning partners behavior is an addiction Can last months or more commonly years. Partners either knew of the behavior or were completely “in the dark” re: illicit sexual behaviors If a partner knew of behaviors, often would minimize, deny, blame themselves or join in the sexual escapades of the addict

9 © 2013 IITAP, LLC The Developing Stage Believe tall tales. Tolerate, normalize unacceptable behavior from the addict (verbal abuse, dependency, unavailability, mood swings, etc.). Self- doubt (second-guessing, not trusting gut feelings). Seek couples therapy to treat the relationship. Unmanageability.

10 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Crisis Stage Façade of addict has been exposed. Catalytic event that causes partner to confront reality of the addiction Information-seeking at its highest Take action/ making decisions (e.g. sending to treatment, joining a 12-step group, read literature pertaining to sexual addiction, separation, file for divorce, seek information Emotional turmoil

11 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Typical Path of Disclosure Deny everything Disclose what you think you can get away with Disclose a bit more Get confronted as more things come out Disclose all (REPEAT!)

12 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Shock Stage Feelings and emotions occur as a result of the initial discovery/disclosure of the addiction Emotional numbness or avoidance Feeling victimized/ traumatized Suspicious Fear about slips, future Feelings of despair Anger (hostility, self-righteousness, blame, criticism) Ruminating/ Distrust Desire accountability/ disclosure from addict

13 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Shock Stage Continued Partner Disclosure of ALL previously concealed behavior is desired Reasons cited: To make sense of the past To validate their suspicions To gain a sense of control To assess their risk of STD exposure To assess their partner’s relationship commitment

14 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Grief and Ambivalence Grieving losses. Feelings of depression. Ambivalence about the relationship. Increased introspection and focus on the self. Less focus on the addicts behavior.

15 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Repair Stage Introspection. Decision-making stage about the relationship. Deeper insight into possible co-dependency issues. Family of origin themes examined and integrated. Prior losses more fully grieved. Increased strength and coping skills. Boundary setting. Emotional stability.

16 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Growth Stage Decreased feelings of being victimized by the addiction. Focus on issues not directly related to the addiction. Awareness of your role in the dysfunction of the relationship increases. Acknowledgement of gifts the addiction has brought to your life.

17 © 2013 IITAP, LLC STAGE MIX IN RECOVERY 1 2 3 4 5 6 Crisis/Decision ShockGrief Developing 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shock Grief 1 2 3 4 5 6 Grief Repair Growth Developing Crisis/Decision Repair Growth Developing Crisis/Decision Shock Repair Growth 1. Early First Year 2. Third Year 3. Fifth Year

18 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Trauma Survivor or Codependent?

19 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Trauma model for partners Research shows partners experience PTSD symptoms and symptoms of acute stress disorder post disclosure (Steffens and Rennie, 2006) Sexual Trauma Model (Minwalla, Chapter 6 Mending) More practitioners acknowledging partner’s experience as trauma

20 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Trauma Model for Partners “Relational Trauma” triggers a multitude of trauma responses: Emotional Turmoil Fear that manifests as protective behaviors Obsessing about the trauma Avoidance of thinking about or discussing the trauma Intrusive thinking about the addiction or acting out behaviors Sleeplessness/ nightmares

21 © 2013 IITAP, LLC The Level of Trauma is influence by… Amount of deception Length of time of deception Gaslighting/ covert emotional abuse Type of acting out/ offending behavior Exposure to the acting out Public Embarrassment Impact on the children Impact on finances

22 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Developing Therapeutic Alliance with the Partner Validate Trauma Typical “Joining” strategies Allow for narrating of story and pain Emphasize the importance of their own therapeutic process Boundary work Challenge cautiously – do deeper, more introspective work, after initial trauma symptoms have decreased Abandonment, FOO issues, past traumas

23 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Traditional Codependency Model Approximately 50% of partners self-identify as “co- dependent” Many partners will not want to be “labeled”, especially initially. As therapeutic alliance grows may be able to challenge them more Couples nicely with addict’s 12 step work – partner “works their own program”

24 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Characteristics of Co-Addiction/ Co-dependency Denial Preoccupation Enabling Rescuing Taking excessive responsibility Emotional turmoil Efforts to Control Compromise of self Anger Sexual issues

25 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Criticisms Trauma Model Addict is “sick” and partner is “healthy” Does not challenge partner to get out of “victim” stance Does not challenge partner to take responsibility for their own behaviors Codependency Model Developed in Patriarchical Addiction culture Pathologizes family members Traumatizing to partners – when they feel misunderstood

26 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Influence on Partner Sexuality Relational Sexual Difficulties Sexual Aversion Sexual Shame Body Image Issues Sexual Secrets Obligatory Sex Broken Trust to take PSS

27 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Support for Partners Therapy Task Centered Therapy Trauma work Group support (facilitated group therapy) Normalizes Decreases Shame Twelve Step Support Spiritual Support Family/ Couples work when appropriate Bibliotherapy


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31 © 2013 IITAP, LLC The Seven Tasks for Partners 1. Cope with the Trauma of Discovery/Disclosure 2. Manage the Crisis 3. Develop a Plan for Support and Self-Care 4. Understand the Nature of Addiction 5. Deal with the Emotional Aftershock 6. Communicate Effectively about the Addiction 7. Create a Recovery Plan

32 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Task 1: Cope with the trauma of discovery/ disclosure Recognize the Trauma Learn About the Toxic Dance of the Staggered Disclosure Toxic Flow: The STEPS of Staggered Disclosure Identify Lies and Misinformation Identify Level of Trauma Recognize the Difference Between Big (Big T) and Small (Small T) Traumas in your Life Recognize Trauma Symptoms Learn to Tell Your Story of What Happened

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34 Task 2: Manage the crisis Establish Safety Create a Safety Shield Set Non-Negotiable Boundaries Set Healthy Emotional Boundaries Set Healthy Physical and Sexual Boundaries Set Healthy Boundaries for People, Places and Things Develop a Communication Plan

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38 Task 3: Develop a plan for support and self care Establish a Support System Build your Support Network Find a Therapist Learn About Group Therapy Get Involved in a Twelve Step Community Create a Self-Care Plan Find Other Methods of Self-Care Practice a Relaxation Technique Learn to Soothe

39 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Task 4: Understand the nature of addiction Learn key concepts about addiction in general Learn about Sex Addiction Learn about Addiction and the Brain Recognize Current Beliefs About Addiction Understand the Concept of Cross Addiction Understand Criteria for Addictive Illness Learn Risk Factors of Addiction

40 © 2013 IITAP, LLC Task 5: Deal with the emotional aftershock Identify your Emotions Identify your Losses Deal with Grievances Manage your Pain Cope with your Anger Deal with the Shame and Guilt Cope with Feelings of Numbness and Efforts to Distract Deal with Confusion Find Hope

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44 Task 6: Communicate effectively about the addiction Write a Partner Impact Letter Identify Your Communication Style Explore Communication Roles and the Karpman Triangle Create a Communication Toolbox Write a Letter to Sex Addiction Identify Toxic Ineffective Communication Strategies and Coping Behaviors Identify Hot Topics in about Sex Addiction in Your Relationship

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47 Task 7: Create a recovery plan Personal Craziness Index Complete Forgiveness Exercise Complete Forge Ahead Exercise Complete a Sexuality Survey Understand Partner’s Impact on Your Sexuality Create Sexual Affirmations Identify Negative Beliefs About Your Body and Your Sexuality Find Alternative Reactions to Destructive Behaviors

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