Partners of Sex Addicts: PTSD – Sex Addiction Induced Trauma


Partners of Sex Addicts: Sex Addiction Induced Trauma

McKinney Counseling & Recovery specializes in individual, couples and group therapy for partners of sex addicts and intimacy anorexics in the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and surrounding areas.

I recently came across an article in The National Psychologist by Dr. Omar Minwalla. Dr. Minwalla is a psychologist, clinical sexologist and clinical director of The Institute for Sexual Health (ISH), a treatment center in Los Angeles that specializes in rehabilitation and psychotherapy for sex and porn addiction. Importantly, ISH focuses on the healing needs of the addict as well as the spouse, and is one of the few sex addiction treatment programs that conducts research on the traumatic impact of sex addiction on the addict’s partner.

According to Dr. Minwalla, partners of sex addicts often experience Sex Addiction Induced Trauma (SAI-T). SAI-T is a specific type of  trauma that results from the direct impact of sex addiction, including the impact of the sex addict’s chronic pattern of sexual acting out, relational disturbance, emotional abuse, deception, betrayal, manipulation and compartmentalization.

According to Dr. Minwalla, partners of sex addicts often present to treatment with symptoms similar to rape trauma syndrome (RTS) and complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (C-PTSD). This includes a re-experiencing of the trauma, social and emotional constriction, frequent triggering and physiological and emotional reactivity, anxiety, emotional arousal and hyper-vigilance. Some partners experience fears of exposure to sexually transmitted disease or concerns for the safety of their children. Social isolation, shame, and disruption in the ability to trust their spouse, self, or others is common.  Psychological pain for partners of sex addicts is particularly intense upon new discovery of sexual acting out, deceit, or relationship betrayals.

Dr. Minwalla indicates that the traditional field of sex addiction treatment often ignores the partner’s trauma symptoms. In fact, few professionals are familiar with Sex Addiction Induced Trauma and, therefore, remain largely unresponsive to addressing the healing needs of the partner.

The co-addiction and codependency model of treatment that is frequently used by sex addiction treatment specialists is described as “inadequate, clinically contra-indicated and wrought with ethical and moral challenges.” In fact, Dr. Minwalla describes traditional therapy models that focus solely on co-addiction, while ignoring trauma, as potentially harmful and re-traumatizing .

As a psychologist who specializes in helping partners of sex addicts recover from sex addiction induced trauma, I wholeheartedly applaud Dr. Minwalla’s efforts and look forward to the day when the sex addiction treatment community heeds his call for  ”compassionate and responsible action” for partners of sex addicts.

Dr. Janice Caudill, founder and Clinical Director of McKinney Counseling & Recovery, is a psychologist who specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex and love addiction, intimacy anorexia and intimacy deprivation, and relational trauma. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville and Dallas areas.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, does not create a client-therapist relationship, and is not a substitute for care by a trained professional. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors, omissions, losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

May 30th, 2011. Transition.


I am psychologically enmeshed, and I have been involved with an entire family of narcissists.  I am sure that there is a lesson in all of this, which will make itself known to me.

I lost my father when I was 19 and perhaps never quite recovered from the loss, because since, I have sought out the “security” of this loss through unhealthy relationships with addicted and psychologically disturbed individuals.  They have sucked the life out of me, and now I am about to be free though I am dreading what’s on the other “side” — the “light” more than anything, and it’s as though I have forgotten what “life” tastes like.

I cannot believe that it has been 3 years that I have been involved with Erin.  I also cannot believe that I allowed two other relationships to waste and take over (control) of my life prior to that.  I have not been happy since 2006 and have sort of been in this downward spiral of attracting nutcases.

I guess I need to be alone and grieve the many important losses — ie, my father, in my life before this destructive pattern continues.  I have hope for myself, but it doesn’t change the fact that I feel virtually numb right now I am so much in shock.  I am so lonely and sad… I feel in many ways on some level like I deserved to be treated this way, but I know that no one deserves it, and I didn’t cause it.  I am sure I played a role and enabled at points, but I was not aware of it, and it still doesn’t make abuse on someone else’s part right.

I am not even going to ask for the support of anyone right now because of the tremendous guilt I feel right now.  I feel, like usual, like this was my fault even though I know it wasn’t.  It is hard to believe that someone can love you when they treat you in such a way.  Erin would often say one thing and do another, and the things that she would say to me, ie: “Go fuck yourself,” “Go to hell,” “I will go and ‘fuck’ whoever I want,” etc. were beyond my comprehension.

I have made a very honest attempt to be honest, and I have changed and grown up a lot, and the truth is, I have just found myself in a very bad habit of destructive relationships, and I truly believe all of these — this pattern, to be linked to the unresolved grievance of my father.

I am hurting.