Do I Need To Attend 12 Step To Heal From Betrayal Trauma?

If you're experiencing the consequences of your man's sexual addiction, such as abandonment, financial difficulties, fear, anxiety, insomnia, depression, despair, hopelessness, etc. Betrayal Trauma Recovery professionals will hold your hand on the path to emotional and physical safety. 

Material from this post is taken from the S-Anon Blue Book, Copyright by S-Anon International Family Groups, P.O. Box 17294, Nashville, TN  37217, (615) 833-3152; reprinted with permission.

The Serenity Prayer Helps Feel Peace When Trauma Is Triggered Through Betrayal

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.

Taking as He did this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.

Trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to His will
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. 

What Are SAL 12 Step Betrayal Trauma Meetings?

SAL 12 Step is a fellowship of women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover.

SALifeline (Sexaholics Anonymous Lifeline) uses the S-Anon blue book for our meetings and for our study. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of sexaholism in a relative or friend. SAL is not associated with any religion, political party, or any other organization. Our primary purpose is to recover from the effects upon us of another person’s sexaholism and to help families and friends of sexaholics. If you are wondering if something like SAL will work for you, here is a checklist to consider:

S-Anon Checklist To Determine If You Need To Attend a Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group

*reprinted from S-Anon 12 Steps with permission.

  • Have you often felt hurt, ashamed, or embarrassed by someone else’s sexual conduct? 
  • Are you afraid to upset the sexaholic for fear that he will leave you?
  • Have you sometimes found yourself searching for clues about someone's sexual behavior? 
  • Have you ever fantasized, obsessed, or worried about someone else’s sexual problems?
  • Have you ever made threats to others or promises to yourself like, “If this happens again I’ll leave” that you didn’t carry out?
  • Have you ever tried to control somebody else’s sexual thoughts or behavior by doing things like throwing away pornography, dressing suggestively, or being sexual with them in order to keep them from being sexual with others?
  • Has your involvement with another person or their sexual behavior ever affected your relationship with your children, your co-workers, or other friends and family members?
  • Have you often lied to others or made excuses to yourself about another person’s sexual conduct?
  • Have you had money problems because of someone else’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you engaged in sexual behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable or ashamed or is physically dangerous, fearing that if you don’t the sexaholic will leave you?
  • Have you ever felt confused and unable to separate what is true from what is not true when talking to the sexaholic?
  • Have you ever thought about or attempted suicide because of someone else’s sexual behavior?
  • Have you often used sex to have peace in the family or to smooth over problems?
  • Does sex (for example thinking about it, doing it, talking about it, or worrying about it) play an all consuming roll in your relationship?
  • Have you ever felt abandoned emotionally because of your partner’s use of pornography or masturbation?
  • Have you ever helped someone get out of jail or other legal trouble as a result of his/her sexual behavior or feared that this kind of thing could happen?
  • Have you often thought that the sexaholic’s behavior was caused by other people such as friends, or sexual partners, by society in general, by his/her job, religion or birth family?
  • Have you ever suspected that someone was inappropriately sexually interested in any of your children?
  • Do you feel alone in your problem?

How Do I Know If SAL 12 Step Is Right For Me In Healing From Betrayal Trauma?

If you can answer yes to even some of these questions you may find help in our free online or in-person betrayal trauma recovery groups.   

For me, I replaced the sexual words with the word "anger" to also help me determine if a betrayal trauma recovery group would work for me. In addition to my husband's abusive behaviors, he also had a pornography and masturbation addiction. 

  • Have I often felt hurt, ashamed, or embarrassed by someone else’s anger, or am I afraid to upset my husband for fear that he would leave me? The answer is yes. 
  • Have I sometimes found myself searching for clues about why someone is angry? Have I ever made threats? Yeah. When the abuse episodes would happen, I would just be like, “I cannot take this anymore. I can’t take this.” 
  • Have I ever tried to control someone else’s anger? 
  • Have I often lied to others or made excuses to myself about another person’s anger? Yes. I have. 
  • Have I felt confused and unable to separate what is true and what is not true when talking with someone who is angry? Yes. 
  • ave you ever felt abandoned emotionally because of your husband’s anger?
  • Have you often thought that your angry husband’s behavior was caused by other people such as friends or you or by society in general or by his job or religion or by his birth family?

I did use sex sometimes to smooth over problems or to have peace in the family. I didn’t ever feel emotionally connected during sex and so I told my husband that I would not initiate sex anymore, but that he was free to initiate. He only attempted to initiate sex twice in a six month period, and both times seemed totally inappropriate because there was no emotional connection.   

The S-Anon Blue Book

The S-Anon Blue Book is a book that shares the collective experience of women who have been betrayed by sex addicts. “It offers hope for recovery to people whose lives have been or are being affected by sexaholism of a spouse, parent, child, or other relative, even a friend or acquaintance” (S-Anon, xvii). 

I also use the same principles to heal from emotional abuse and physical intimidation. 

“We have found that by applying the spiritual principles of the 12- steps to our lives we are able to be happy and productive whether or not the sexaholic chooses recovery.” Or whether or not the abuser chooses recovery. “The joy we have found in our new way of life makes us want to share the experiences that have made our recovery possible . . . While the various tools of the program and the fellowship itself support our recovery, we have found that a study of these steps from a S-Anon (http://w.btr.org/2gpnzlc) perspective while aiming to incorporate the principles into our lives is essential for recovering from the destructive effects of sexaholism” (S-Anon, xvii).

The S-Anon blue book includes personal stories and suggestions, based on the experience of other women in trauma, and how they put the principles of the 12 Steps into practice. With each step “there is a description, in general terms, of the devastating impact of the disease of sexaholism and the impact it had on women’s lives and a recounts the events and realizations that led to a new way of approaching the problem and the solution” (S-Anon, xvii). 

Stories are included for each Step. “Most of us have found it very helpful to become aware of how others in S-Anon applied the principles of the steps to their lives. These stories are intended to be a sampling of S-Anon experiences. There are as many stories as there are S-Anon members, and these examples are by no means exhaustive.” (S-Anon, page xvii) And that is why I started the podcast so that you can hear more stories of SAL members who are working the steps with a sponsor. 

“Having found that we all have some inner resistance to letting go of unproductive attitudes and behavior, we have included a section called Practicing These Steps. These sections briefly describe some of the ways we have come face to face with our resistance to change and offer ideas that have helped many of us work through our own impediments to recovery.  We also present some questions suitable for individual writing, discussion with a program sponsor or friend, or discussion within the group itself. Again, the examples in the S-Anon Blue Book are only examples of some issues we have addressed in the course of our recovery and the issues addressed in the questions are not intended to be a complete list of all the possible issues or emotions that may arise when an individual member approaches a particular step” (S-Anon, xviii). 

You will not find anything in the Blue Book based on a specific religion, although working the 12 Steps is a spiritual process. “The designation “God” does not refer to a particular being, concept, or force, but only to “God” as each of us understands that term” (S-Anon, xviii). 

I am a Christian and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Betrayal Trauma Recovery is not intended to push that. I only say that because I’ll often be sharing my own experiences from my own point of view. Other BTR volunteers also share from their own religious point of view.

“If the sexaholic behaviors mentioned in the S-Anon Blue Book seem in any way vague or nonspecific, let us reassure you that we are not avoiding the reality of any individual experience. No matter what manifestation of sexaholism you may have encountered in a relative or friend--be it compulsive use of pornography or masturbation, fantasy, sexual violence, affairs with women or men, sex with children inside or outside the family, sex with animals, with prostitutes or other strangers, telephone sex or other use of electronic media, withholding sex--it could be any of these things. We assure you that you are not alone” (S-Anon, xix).

Talking with other free recovery group members “you will find others who have lived with these same types of sexaholic behavior and have experienced similar feelings or reactions to sexaholism.” 

"We consider sexaholic behaviors to be symptoms of a disease--unacceptable actions taken by sick people who are powerless over lust” (S-Anon, xix). "Many of us have overcome powerful feelings of shame or guilt that arose out of being so closely connected to this “shameful” disease. We have come to understand and accept that we are not responsible for the actions of others and that those burdens of shame and guilt are not rightfully ours to carry. Our solution depends on keeping focused on our own personal path of recovery and allowing the sexaholic to do the same” (S-Anon, xix).

The Right To Be Safe From Abuse That Often Coincides With Pornography Use & Infidelity

One thing to consider here and it's very important, and this is the situation that I was in is that “everyone has the right to be safe from harm no matter what the circumstance is. Sexual contact with others can expose the sexaholic to diseases that are incurable and even fatal; in some cases these diseases can be passed on to the sexaholic’s wife and even to children through pregnancy. Sometimes wives of sexaholics are coerced into participating in unwanted sexual activities and such activities may even be a part of a pattern of domestic violence that includes physical abuse” (S-Anon, xix) 

Protecting Yourself From Sexual Abuse Due To Pornography Use

Women "who find themselves in a sexual situation or a life situation that felt unsafe or even life threatening report that it was sometimes necessary to make tough choices to protect themselves and their children. The experiences of those who face these situations and are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases or violence suggest that those in similar circumstances consider taking some or the following actions: ask a doctor for tests for sexually transmitted diseases and follow the doctor’s advice on self-protection in the future. Remember that a negative test does not prevent a person from contracting a sexually transmitted disease from sexual contact after the test is done. Limit or abstain from sexual contact with the sexaholic for as long as necessary to maintain personal safety and recovery" (S-Anon, xx).

I would add here - as long as necessary to maintain emotional safety as well. 

“Arrange with a friend, relative, or neighbor for a safe haven to go to on short notice. Obtain the phone number of an agency that can provide immediate assistance and a safe place to go to. Leave money and an extra set of car keys in a place where they are readily available, and if necessary, call the police for protection” (S-Anon, xx). In my case when I was physically attacked, I went to the InstaCare and the doctor called the police and they came and arrested my husband.

“Many members, even those who have been active in other 12-Step programs, have found that placing the focus on themselves in SAL recovery can sometimes lead to a crisis in relationships or the surfacing of some painful personal issues. While we believe SAL is invaluable and consistently helpful over time, many in our fellowship have also sought the assistance of professional helpers like therapists, clergy, and doctors to help handle crisis situations or deal in depth with personal issues. S-Anon does not claim to be all things to all people, and we are grateful for the specialized help available from others. The S-Anon program offers a way of living based on the 12-Steps that is applicable in all life situations, as well as the support of people who know first-hand what the newcomer is going through because we have been there too. This is the healing power of S-Anon. You are not alone. Recovery is possible. We invite you to join our common cause” (S-Anon, xx).

SAL Betrayal Trauma Recovery Groups Are Free For Any Woman Who Has Been Cheated On In Any Way Or Experienced Abuse

Just a recap, SAL stands for Sexaholics Anonymous Lifeline, frequently called SALifeline. Our meetings are for women only. We do not have men in our meetings. Many of us have been abused by men or have been betrayed by men and so having a man in our meetings is very uncomfortable. SAL meetings enable me to feel safe and grow. We start and end meetings with prayers from the heart, and our meetings are interfaith.

I've frequently quoted the introduction to the S-Anon blue book, pages xv-xx. I hope that helps you in your journey of discovering if this program would work for you. I’m working the steps, working the program, and I’m grateful for your friendship and fellowship. 

When you attend SAL, you will also be able to find a sponsor to guide you as you work the steps. In addition to finding a free sponsor, we encourage you to also receive therapy or coaching from an APSATS (Association of Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma Specialists) certified therapist or coach.