Reaching Out Support
The stigma and pain of knowing or suspecting that your spouse is suffering from a sexual addiction may prevent you from reaching out to others for support. The individuals that I have worked with often ask questions such as: How do I find a safe person to talk to about my partners sexual addiction? Will they understand the severity of the pain? Are they going to judge me or judge my partner? Am I betraying my partner and potentially my family if I talk about this addiction to others? Why would I need to reach out to anyone at all?
The questions listed above are very natural. The reason why value is often placed on support networks is that many studies show we gain powerful resources for our healing and can be resilient to experiences of shame and isolation if we someone who can help us walk through our pain. Unfortunately many individuals who are in a relationship with a someone with a sex addition dont feel like they can reach out to others for support.
Below are some tips in helping you find a safe person or people that you may be able to connect with. These points are taken from Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens, Ph.D., and Marsha Means, MA.
Guidelines for Seeking Safe People
Safe People Reframe From Judgment
Reviewing previous conversations with an individual can be helpful in determining if they are non-judgmental. Have you heard the person criticize, point out, or make fun of people in some way? If you have this person may not be a safe individual to reach out to. However, if you recall that this person often listens to others with an open heart you may want to consider them a person who you can feel safe sharing with.
Safe People Honor Your Decisions
Individuals who are safe people do not disengage or withdraw support if they do not agree with your decisions. Although they may express concern, their support is not conditional.
Try Testing the Safety of Your Relationship by Revealing a Bit of Personal Information
By giving a little bit of information you can have a better idea on how an individual may respond and how trustworthy they are with your information. Remember, you can share as much or as little about your experience as you would like. It can also be beneficial to reach out to people who are not presently invested in your life or partnership.
Speak With Professionals Who Are Familiar With Sexual Addiction
By researching and interviewing counsellors who may be able to help you can create safety. Not all counselors are trained and aware of the complexities of being impacted by a sex addiction so it is important to be picky, trust your research and your gut.
Benefits of Connection
Brene Brown, Ph,D., highlights the idea of connection and reaching out as a main ingredient to healing. Knowing that sex addiction causes shame for everyone involved, and that the antidote to shame is connection is critical to the recovery process.
One of the most important benefits of reaching out to others is learning that the experiences that makes us feel the most alone are actually universal
Brene Brown, Ph.D., I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isnt)
If you are interested in more information regarding any of the topics discussed please feel free to email me. You can also add your comments below. If you would like more resources regarding connection and recovery I recommend:
Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barbara Steffens, Ph.D., and Marsha Means, MA
I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown, Ph,D., L.M.S.W.