Is Sex Addiction An Excuse For Abuse?
Anne, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, and Coach Laura, Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist for Betrayal Trauma Recovery, talk about sex addiction as an excuse for abusive behavior and the options women have for staying safe.
Sex Addiction Could Be A Reason, But Not An Excuse
Some argue that calling it a sex addiction is just an excuse for an addict’s abusive behavior, and sex addiction isn’t real. For more information on sex addiction and the science behind it, please read here.
If sex addiction is just an excuse, then this would imply that either sex addiction is real, or that people who engage in sexual behaviors outside their primary relationships are using it as an excuse.
Coach Laura believes that both can be true, “It’s not a good excuse. It’s a reason, but not an excuse.”
Coach Laura compares it to an alcoholic.
“Sex addiction no more justifies the addict’s behavior than alcoholism justifies crashing your vehicle head on into another, destroying the lives inside.” -Coach Laura, BTR Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist
Unfortunately, there are individuals who claim, and truly believe, that they “can’t help it” BECAUSE they’re “an addict.” Any addict who says this is trying to avoid responsibility for his behaviors.
Sex addiction may explain why a husband is abusive, but it does not excuse their abusive behavior from continuing.
Coach Laura offers wives of addicts an empowering message, “You can accept that there is such a thing as sex addiction without accepting sex addiction as something to tolerate.”
Sex Addicts Are Responsible For Their Choices And To Change
Addicts who believe they can’t help it may have tried to give it up and failed, but they either haven’t asked for help or found the right help, or they didn’t want to put in the work.
“Yes, an addiction is going to make quitting harder, but it does not make it impossible. Do not accept it. Addicts, like all of us, are 100% responsible for their choices, actions, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Only he can change them. He is responsible for living a mature life, despite what happened in his past.” -Coach Laura, BTR Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist
Whether their husband chooses to change or to continue his abusive behaviors and acting out, women also have choices.
Divorce From A Sex Addict Isn’t The Only Option
One thing a woman can do is to have a clear understanding of her values and her boundaries, including a plan of action for when her boundaries are violated.
Once these are established and she reaches a safe place, she can weigh her own healing and relationship options.
There are several healthy options for women who are in a relationship with an addict.
If her husband does not choose recovery, she can:
- Stay married and work on her own healing
- Seek separation and, if necessary, divorce
- Seek divorce
If her husband does choose recovery, she can:
- Stay married and work on her own healing
- Seek temporary separation, work on her own healing and work on the marriage (at the appropriate time)
- Seek divorce
All these options should be done while maintaining healthy boundaries. For more information on boundaries, please read here.
Most women want their marriage to remain intact, but they also want to make sure they, and their children, are going to be safe. These decisions should only be made after long, thoughtful, even prayerful, consideration.
Recovery is a long process. The rewiring of the brain took years to develop into what it has become, so it will take a long time for an addict’s brain to heal itself. For more information on signs that he’s changing, please read here.
Women sometimes don’t want to wait that long, and that’s okay.
Coach Laura points out, “Someone might ask why someone would stay in a relationship and let the addict stay as he is. There are some women that—because of age, education, or financial position—truly do not feel they have the option to leave, and do not want to fight this battle.”
She continues, “Some women can stay and make the best of their situation. Others would have a very difficult time with this, and they might choose, if they have the means, to separate or divorce.”
One thing Coach Laura has noted in her work with wives is that most have chosen to stay, at least for a while, and work on their marriage. Sometimes their husband gets into recovery, and sometimes he doesn’t.
In nearly every woman she has ever worked with, Coach Laura has identified a common characteristic among all of them.
“What I find are strong women who learn to intentionally live out their values. Women who develop and enforce healthy boundaries to protect those boundaries. Women who learn to navigate the very muddy waters of healing with or without their husband.” -Coach Laura, BTR Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist
Sex Addicts Aren’t The Only Ones Who Need Help
Whether a woman chooses to stay in the relationship or not, she should find help from someone who understands abuse and betrayal trauma to help her on the path to healing.
This support could come in many different forms, such as friends, family, in-person support groups, online support, in-person therapy sessions, etc.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery offers Individual and Group Sessions with Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialists, like Coach Laura, to help women navigate the complicated, and sometimes difficult, journey ahead of them.
Some women may think, “He’s the one with the problem, why do I need help?”
Coach Laura compares this to someone who’s been injured in a car accident.
“If you're in a car accident, and it's not your fault, you can shake your fist and get angry and yell that it's not your fault, but that's not going to make you heal.” -Coach Laura, BTR Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist
“It’s very unfair,” she continues, “that when we are hurt physically or emotionally, the person who hurt us can’t heal us, especially when they are ill-equipped to cope with their own problems.” For more information on why women should seek help, please read here.
It takes a lot of strength for a woman to pick herself up from a situation that she didn’t cause, didn’t contribute to and, oftentimes, didn’t even know about, and go get herself help.
The proper help will provide validation and a way for you to properly process what you’ve been through, as well as help you decide what YOU need for YOUR healing.
You Didn’t Cause His Sex Addiction, But You Can Change Your Situation
When Coach Laura first meets with women, they may be crying, cursing, lost, or completely overwhelmed.
These are women who have careers, children, friends, a life. When betrayal happens, these things all seem to be stuck in limbo, and they just want to get back to them.
Coach Laura wants them to know, from day one, three things.
3 Things To Remember About Sex Addiction
- You did not cause this
- You have the strength it takes to get through this
- You are not alone in the battle
Women who are faced with this usually don’t want to keep living in trauma, they don’t want to keep living in limbo.
With help, things can change.
Coach Laura says, “I want to encourage any woman who is in this position to really take stock of what’s happening in her life and make the decision for herself. Ask yourself: Do I want to stay this way? Do I want to change it for me?”
If you want change, it must come from you, there is no guarantee that anyone else will do it for you.
It isn’t fun or easy, as Coach Laura notes, “This process, as grueling as it is, and as angry, sad and frustrated we are in the beginning, will end well, if we choose to make it so. It may not end how we hope it does, but we can get through it and thrive.”
One thing she has noticed is that women who make it through recognize this trial for what it has given them.
“I can honestly say that 100% of the women I have worked with have come out stronger, better, happier and more empowered. Most aren’t grateful for the experience, and, I would venture to guess that none of them would want to go through it again, but, because of this trial, they are stronger and living a more intentional life.” -Coach Laura, BTR Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist
Whether sex addiction is just an excuse for abuse, or it really is an addiction, abuse is never acceptable and never excused. For more information on signs of abuse, please read here.
If you are in an abusive relationship, there is help and hope. Please see the Betrayal Trauma Recovery printable checklist for 9 Steps to Heal from Betrayal Trauma here, to get started.