Betrayal
Trauma
Recovery

My Porn-Addict Husband Won’t Stop

by | Abuse Literacy, Self-Care

When men use pornography, their families suffer. They see the pain and chaos they cause and yet, women are lamenting again and again, “My porn addict husband won’t stop.”

12 Step programs, Rehabilitation Centers, sex addiction therapy, counseling with clergy… and they may seem free of it for weeks, months, maybe even a full year. Wives begin to hope that things will be okay. They make plans for the future. They begin to “settle in”. 

And then their husbands go right back to porn.

Does Addiction Treatment Work For Pornography Use?

Why doesn’t addiction treatment seem to work for men who identify as “pornography addicts?”

On the BTR Podcast, Amy Kate, a member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community shares her heartbreaking experiences. She gave her second husband every opportunity to change. His emotionally abusive behaviors broke through the dam after Amy Kate discovered his affair. She gave him more time to change. Bu tin the end Amy Kate was forced to reconcile that the man she thought she married was not safe and wasn’t going to choose to change.

So why, after all of the time and sacrifices she made to delay her divorce and put him through rehab, did he go right back to his abusive behaviors? For Amy Kate’s full story, read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast.

This Story is Our Story

Amy Kate’s experience is unique to her, but many betrayed wives have been through similar scenarios. It is essential for women to know that they cannot cause, cure, or control their husband’s pornography use. 

He uses porn because he wants to. It has nothing to do with you. You are enough. You are precious. You deserve love and respect.

The Heart of The Problem: Not Just Addiction

Tragically, most therapists and clergy never label the problem for what it is: abuse.

Abusers will continue trying to treat the pornography usage, but the root of their decisions is not addiction, it is abusive thinking. That is why addiction programs do not stop men from returning to their sexual acting-out and relationally abusive behaviors.

Pornography Use Is Never a “Stand-Alone” Issue

He was still lying to me, he was angry, he was blaming me for stuff, we were having circular conversations that were making me feel insane. I did not know my reality. Is what he just said true? Am I going crazy?

Amy Kate, member of the Betrayal Trauma Recovery community

When pornography use and other sexual acting-out behaviors are identified as the sole issue, abusers are enabled to keep abusing. Women and children are further endangered.

Pornography use in and of itself is abusive. But additionally, it is never a stand-alone issue. 

Abusive Behaviors That Accompany Pornography Use

Common abusive behaviors that pornography users will exhibit are:

  • Gaslighting
  • Chronic lying and manipulation
  • Intimidation and threats
  • Sexual coercion
  • Marital rape
  • Covert physical abuse
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Emotional abandonment
  • Passive-aggressive communication as a tactic to control
  • Financial control
  • Spiritual abuse

This is My Situation! What Do I Do?

At BTR, we understand how devastating it is when addiction treatment programs don’t work for your partner. It is sickeningly frustrating when he won’t change.

He’s been given an incomplete diagnosis. He’s an abuser. He can only change if his abusive thinking and behavior is addressed and changed.

At BTR, your safety comes first. You can set and maintain boundaries that separate yourself and your children from abusive behaviors. This is the first step to healing and will help you to begin to feel peace again.

What Are Boundaries & How Do I Set Them?

Boundaries are not statements, ultimatums, or requests. Boundaries are actions that you take. They help you live a healthy life, safe from others’ choices. 

You don’t have to tell anyone your boundaries. Your abuser doesn’t have to “agree” for your boundaries to be valid.

You can set these boundaries around your partner’s pornography use:

  • No pornographic material in the house
  • Physical separation until your partner has addressed the abuse 
  • Refusal to engage in sexual contact 
  • Refusal to allow him to use family computers/tablets/phones

You can set these boundaries for your own healing:

  • Daily self-care 
  • Daily positive affirmations
  • Resting & eating when you need to
  • Getting a full check-up from your OB-GYN 
  • Joining the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group
  • Sharing your story with a safe person
  • Giving yourself permission to separate or divorce if that will bring you safety

BTR Supports Abuse Victims

You need support. Victims find peace and healing when they have a safe place to process trauma. You don’t have to do this alone. You may have questions, feelings, experiences, and emotions that you need to express.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group offers community, validation, and support to women all over the world. BTRG meets multiple times every day in every single time zone. Now you can get support when you need it. Receive the support you deserve when you join today. 

The free Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast is a tremendous resource for betrayed women. Tune in to hear stories from other women who understand what you’re going through. 

Remember, you are not alone. 

Full Transcript:

Today we have Amy Kate, an advocate for partners of those with sexual addictions and a survivor of two marriages that ended as a result of abuse. She has six awesome kids and is trained through The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS), as well as the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT).

She is a fierce warrior determined to point women to freedom and healing found at the feet of Jesus. She is also a customer service representative for Covenant Eyes.

Anne: We are going to talk about your personal story. We know that you went through two marriages due to sex addiction. Let’s focus on the second marriage and what happened there. Can you tell us what your life was like before D-day in your second marriage?

Abusers Seem Kind & Gentle

Amy: I was divorced from my first husband who was a porn addict and I met this guy who was everything that I never imagined existed. He was soft, sweet, and feminine, but not in a weird way. He was just a super, awesome guy.

I was not a Christian at the time, and neither was he. We dated for a couple of years and then we bought a house together and we went to church where we both were saved. When we got saved, we got convicted for living together so we got married.

I already had six children from my first marriage, and he was a very good stepdad. My children were rather young. It was a pretty normal life. I had the kind of relationship that my friends were jealous of because my husband was always home, he would do chores, he didn’t leave his underwear on the floor!

“He Looked Like A Model Man”

He looked like a model man. Life was good. I had all kinds of health problems but despite this, he was just good.

In 2010, after a couple of major surgeries and a foreclosure on my house, we moved, and everything began to change in the relationship. He was very different, and I couldn’t figure out why. Of course, I thought it was me or my kids. It couldn’t possibly have been him.

I started to create my own world outside of him. I had been a stay-at-home mom, which I loved, but I opened a photography studio. We were a pretty normal couple.

Emotionally Abusive Men Lie

We didn’t go to church, which was unfortunate. I kept trying to get him to try new churches, but he was resistant. As time progressed, he got more and more distant. I began to see more anger and our sex life pretty much disappeared.

One day, September 20, 2012, I was on his computer—I had all his passwords and he had all mine because we didn’t have anything to hide, right?—I looked at his history even though I’m not sure why—he swore he never watched porn and I believed him.

I saw a bunch of meet-up groups in his history and all the profiles he’d looked at were female. I thought this was really weird, but I brushed it off thinking he was looking for a tech meet-up group because he is a tech guy.

“My Husband’s Having An Affair”

As I kept looking and seeing the female profiles, it was literally like a lightbulb went off and out loud, to myself, said, “My husband’s having an affair.” But I couldn’t see anything so I ended up combing through his computer to find something and I couldn’t find anything.

Then I went upstairs and got his phone and I began to look through it. I didn’t find anything until I found the Google Voice app. At this point, I took the phone downstairs and I promptly read two years’ worth of texts from his affair partner. That was my first D-day.

As I am telling this, I can still feel the emotion I felt when reading the texts from her. At first, I thought it was just virtual, but it wasn’t. By the end of the texting I realized that they had met in person.

“D-Day”

Anne: For our listeners, maybe some of you are not familiar with the term “D-day” which I have used a lot on the podcast. It means “discovery day.” The day the addiction was discovered, the day you discovered your husband was lying to you, that he had a secret life.

In my case, my worst D-day was when my husband was arrested for domestic violence and I realized the behaviors I had been experiencing for the last seven years were emotional abuse and physical intimidation.

That day, when everything came to a halt. That is what we refer to as D-day. We would love to hear about your D-day and experience. Share your story in the comments below.

Amy: If I can piggy-back on the telling your story part. I think this is one of the most healing things a spouse can do is to tell her story. The more you tell your story, the more healing that happens. This is what I have experienced as well as the women I have worked with. Telling your story is super hard but there is so much healing in sharing. Please tell your stories.

Betrayal Trauma Can Feel Impossible To Manage

I confronted my husband and he tried minimizing and lying. Then I decided to relapse myself. I am a recovering drug addict and in my kitchen cabinet was some tequila. One of my clients had flown me down to Florida to shoot their wedding and they’d had personalized tequila as party favors.

This day I grabbed it and my own relapse began and did not end for quite a while. I wanted to kick him out, but I was too busy yelling at him, so I didn’t kick him out.

Then I tried to get to the whys and of course, it was all me—everything that I was doing wrong. I went into the “I have to be a perfect wife” because I drove my husband to an affair. It lasted a little while—longer than it should have—then my relapse got worse, and he was still doing things that I didn’t know he was doing yet.

Victims Can’t Control The Abuser

I led the “recovery” by handing him books and finding him therapists and trying to teach him how to help me. The entire time everything was getting worse for us.

There were more fights. He was getting borderline violent. He didn’t actually hit me, but he would trap me in rooms when I wanted to leave a discussion, or he would try to force his way into rooms if I didn’t want to have a discussion then and there. The behaviors really escalated.

After about 15 months of this chaos and, unfortunately, I did my own sexual acting out. I thought it was revenge and that it would make me feel better. All it did was make me feel worse. To this day, it still breaks my heart that I did that.

Betrayal Trauma & PTSD

Fifteen months later, nothing was better. Everything was worse. I clearly had PTSD at this point. The symptoms were there. I was a twitching mess, so I kicked him out.

Two days later, the floodgates opened, and I found out about all the porn, the men, the prostitutes and everything else that goes along with sex addiction. For 15 months I thought it was just an affair. Then everything else came out. When he did all of the admitting, he was really broken.

You could see he was legitimately broken. Because I have so much history around recovering from addiction, I know that change is possible. I let him come home because now I had an answer. This is why we haven’t been able to heal—because of addiction. Now we could fix the addiction. I tried to control his recovery because he still wasn’t doing it.

“The Power of Recovery”

Anne: Were you still active in your addiction at this time?

Amy: Yes. Because I wasn’t fully committed, I would have bouts of sobriety and then I would relapse again. I was still active. Apparently, this is my response to a D-day—it was my response. I don’t do this anymore.

Anne: You’re having ups and downs with your own recovery during this time and then you get the bombshell of finding out that he has been looking at porn, that he has been with other men, he’s been visiting prostitutes. Where were you then?

Amy: I was a weird mix of terrified, shocked but hopeful. Again, I believe in the power of recovery. I know that an addict can change. I know it because I changed, and I know a ton of addicts that have changed. Actually, some of the addicts I know who have changed are some of the most authentic people you will meet. I know that change is possible, but I was terrified.

Porn Users Harm Wives

Anne: I feel the same way. Even with what I have been through, my ex-husband is not in recovery, but I have been praying every day that Christ will revive him—literally bring him back from the dead.

I watch him and I want so badly for our family to be together even though he is my ex-husband now and even though I hold a no contact boundary because of his lack of emotional health, I still want our family to be together.

I am with you there! I absolutely believe that addicts can change. This is really what breaks your heart, and also what gives you hope! As you were hoping for him to change, what were you doing?

Betrayal Trauma Is Not Codependence

Amy: I did my research, but it was the wrong research. I ended up in the female co-sex addict codependent books and didn’t find the right path to healing for a long time.

I was slowly starting to recover me because I had lost me at this point. I was unrecognizable. Within a couple months of him moving back home after the second time he confessed, that is when the PTSD got insanely bad. Nothing changed when he came home.

All the behaviors that come along with addiction were there—he was still lying to me, he was angry, he was blaming me for stuff, we were having circular conversations that were making me feel insane. I did not know my reality. Is what he just said true? Am I going crazy?

Abused Women Feel Unsafe

I really wrestled with that one for a long time. Then I got some form of agoraphobia. I was so triggered whenever I left my bedroom that I basically lived in my room for a year.

I remember there was a period for a couple of weeks where just going to the bathroom was traumatic, which sounds dramatic, but it really was. I would put my hoodie on and put my hood over my head—for some reason this made me feel safer.

I would then, literally, run to the bathroom like there was this monster in the house going to get me and then run back. My bedroom was like my cocoon. It was the only place I felt safe.

I missed a lot of my life for almost a year in this place. During this, my husband was acting out and claiming his sobriety from the rooftops and that “she’s just crazy.”

Establish A “Safe Space”

Later, I found out—just after the divorce so not long ago—that his therapist had suggested to him multiple times that I needed mental help because he was afraid for my own safety. My ex-husband chose not to address it with me. He didn’t even acknowledge it despite a trained therapist saying, “Your wife needs help.”

Anne: Was he sleeping in the bedroom with you at the time?

Amy: After he moved home, he was in the bedroom for a very short time and then he was on the couch.

Anne: Okay, so he was not in the bedroom with you and so you felt like you had a little bit of a safe place.

Amy: Yes. It was my cocoon. We were in a chaotic cycle where the behaviors progressed, and he pushed me. Once he grabbed my arm because he was arguing and I said we needed to stop the conversation, and he tried to force me to talk to him—he did it so hard that my arms bruised.

Covert Physical Abuse

I didn’t realize this was physical abuse. This thought never crossed my mind. One time he pushed me into my car. He began to get mean with the kids. Everything was escalating and my children were really suffering because mom’s locked in her bedroom and Dad’s gone crazy. It was a really, really rough time period.

Then the depression really kicked in. I stopped eating. I literally did not care about anything. I have a brain condition that gives me migraines. I was on meds for it and I did a bunch of research on how many I would need to take to commit suicide. I counted them out and went out to my car to take them all.

This part is a little hard because I have kids I love, and I was so depressed that they didn’t even matter. As a mom, this is really, really hard to admit but this is how low things got. I should explain that I have no family and my ex had isolated me from my church and from my friends and I was, literally, alone.

Share Your Story With A Safe Person

I was sitting in my car with this bottle—I hadn’t been to church in a couple of years—and all of the sudden I kept hearing, “Call Robin.” She is a woman from my old church. Robin and I were never close. I knew her and I liked her but it’s not like we were good friends. But I kept feeling this, “Call Robin. Call Robin. Call Robin.”

I was like, “I don’t want to call Robin. I’m done with life. I can’t do this anymore.” Somehow, I summoned up the nerve to call Robin and I went over to her house and I vomited my entire story onto her. This is the first time I had ever told my entire story. She had no advice. She just listened.

“Live Free”

By the end of it, I got angry. Suddenly, I asked her for a Sharpie. She was looking at me like I had three heads, but she got the Sharpie, and, on my wrists, I wrote, “Live free.” That day, I decided I was done and that I was not going to end my life because he couldn’t fix his. This is really when recovery started for me.

Anne: Wow. You have a really powerful story and I really appreciate your candor in sharing this with us today. I am really sorry for all of your pain. I can hear it in your voice. So many of our listeners have felt similar feelings to what you felt. When you decided to recover yourself, what were your first steps?

Amy: The first thing I did was go back to church. I knew that I was so far in a pit that I could not get out of it by myself. I began to read my Bible all the time and I stopped to listening to secular music and surrounded myself with the word of God.

Victims Begin Healing When They Begin Sharing

I actually sought out people for the first time. I started telling my story to anyone that would listen because I needed help. I was so desperate that I didn’t care if you were a rock.

If you could help me, I was going to tell you my story because during all of this, I found out that one of my six children was struggling with pornography. It was really bad.

I began going back to church. I found a couple of different websites that had me doing exercises on visualizing what I wanted my life to be, what my values are. I learned the word “boundary.” I had never heard it. I started reading books and piece by piece, I started getting better.

Then I found a Facebook support group, and this is where things began to take off because people understood, and I wasn’t crazy. I needed people to tell me I wasn’t crazy because I wasn’t sure. Now I call them my tribe. It’s what it felt like—a tribe, people who had my back.

Victims Need Support

Anne: It’s so fantastic that you were able to find a support group. Now that you had this support, what happened next?

Amy: I figured out what boundaries were and I made them. He faked it for a little while; he was good at faking. Things were not changing, so I kicked him out and I filed for divorce. I felt like I had no other options.

Somewhere in there I got the job at Covenant Eyes which also significantly helped my healing. We were a month away from divorce when I heard about a program called Teen Challenge, designed for drug addicts. It’s a year-long, live-in program.

Porn Addicts Harm Families

I felt led to tell my husband at the time that I would stop the divorce and see who he was if he would commit to go to Teen Challenge. At first, when I felt like this is what I was supposed to do, I told God no. God and I argued about this a lot because I was done and did not want to do this anymore. But I listened and resentfully submitted.

Anne: I totally get it! I have had so many moments like this where I did the surrender process, but I did not want to.

Amy: It was like, “I know you want me to do this. I don’t want to do this, but I will obey anyway because I trust you.” I offered it to him, mostly because I didn’t think he would say yes, but he did.

He went away for a year. He quit his job. He lived in the program for a year. He got better for a couple of months and then relapsed in Teen Challenge—or so he told me.

Porn Addicts Lie. A Lot.

Now he says he didn’t relapse. He has changed the story so many times I do not know the truth, but either way, he was not getting better. He graduated Teen Challenge and seemed better but not good. I was still very afraid of a relapse. There were still a lot of red flags to me.

He moved in with our pastor for a while so I could see how he could handle life on the outside. My landlord in the house we lived in gave us 30-days’ notice because he was selling the house. I had to find a new rental that would accept my brood of children and animals, while I’m working full-time and still dealing with trauma, so I let him move home to help me.

Abusive Behaviors & Porn Use

We got the new house and it spiraled very, very quickly over the summer. He went from a fairly soft, sweet guy back to the old bad behaviors of physically threatening me, the anger, the lying. Then I caught him with porn, and I kicked him out.

Anne: I can’t imagine what you are feeling—actually I sort of can—so you send him away for a year; you’re doing what God asked you to do, you have faith in God. He has been through the program and he moves back home, and it all falls apart again. Right? I’m imagining you were completely devastated at this point.

Amy: I began to go back into PTSD land, where I’d lived with all of the PTSD symptoms. What made me make the decision to kick him out was the agoraphobia came back again. At this point, I had regained my life. I was an active mom.

You Deserve Safety

I was who I was—fun, light, doing things outside in the world, I could handle football games for my son, I was me again. Then this relapse began and I said, “No. I’m not going there again.”

I gave him a two-week warning and, literally, nothing happened. He made no steps towards fixing his relapse. I gave him two-weeks’ notice and kicked him out.

Anne: How are you feeling about God at this point?

Amy: Oh, I’m angry.

Anne: I would be too! I’m thinking God’s told you to send him to this year thing, you’ve been doing life alone, he comes back and he basically hasn’t changed at all. It’s like, “God, why? Why didn’t you have me end this a year ago?” We’ve all been through this thought process before.

Relapse Is Not Recovery

Amy: I just went through a year of basically hell while he was in rehab and he isn’t out even two months and relapses. What am I missing here? Something isn’t adding up. Yes, I was angry. I felt betrayed by God.

Anne: I can imagine. What did you do to repair your relationship with God?

Amy: I had to tackle a couple of big triggers: music. I love worship music, but all my worship music reminded me of my husband, so I stopped listening to this. One song talks about taking back what the enemy has stolen.

For the longest time this song resonated with me and my husband. We were going to take back our marriage. I decided to flip this song around. It wasn’t about my marriage anymore. It was about what the enemy stole from me.

Faith Can Help Victims Find Peace

One of those things was my faith in God. He didn’t get to have that. He got my marriage, but he doesn’t get to have my faith. He doesn’t get to take the pieces of me that I like.

Basically, I declared war on Satan, so I tackled every trigger I had around it. Honestly, I yelled at God a lot. I yelled at him some more and more. Every time I did it, I felt like He was saying, “I understand, but I’ve got this.” I kicked my husband out and he moved 900 miles away.

In this process, I met a BTR coach. Between the coach and learning what I learned in my trauma training, it was like everything flipped and made sense. Just in that short period of time, I’ve done more healing than I’d done in the two years before that.

Porn Addicts Harm Their Children

We got divorced and it was final, and I offered reconciliation. If it required repentance and recovery, this has not happened. He has abandoned the kids and has no contact with them at all. Right now, this is the hardest part watching my teenage girls going through this abandonment.

Anne: Yes. My ex moved from a city he was living in temporarily back to the city where we lived. He told his friends that he was so excited to move back so he could spend more time with his kids and then from the day he moved back, he did not see the kids for 4 weeks.

I know this is not completely abandoning them, but it is so interesting that these men do not realize the impact their decisions are having on other people.

You Are Not Alone

I’m so sorry for your children. It stinks but it is so good to know that so many other women understand and are walking this path with us and that we do have support from them. We have amazing professionals like our BTR coaches  who help walk us through. We do have God. We are not alone in this journey even when we feel like we are.

Amy Kate will be with us again next week, talking about demystifying the behaviors of sex addicts, a theme she has learned being trained by APSATS and also in her training with the American Association of Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). I look forward to talking about his aspect of how to understand these behaviors if they do not make any sense.

Support the BTR Podcast

If this podcast was helpful, please rate it on iTunes. We are also on SoundCloud. Every rating increases our visibility with women who are isolated and need our help.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please consider making a monthly recurring donation.

Thank you, Amy Kate. I will see you next week.

If you need support, consider joining Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group.

Stay safe out there!

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1 Comment

  1. Liz

    How can I get my husband to love me?

    Reply

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