A good online betrayal trauma therapist is invaluable in your journey from the initial shock and anger of discovering your husband’s sex addiction to the final destination where peace and joy are found.
Five Things a Good Betrayal Trauma Therapist Won’t Tell You
1. Your husband’s sexual betrayal is no big deal. You just need to relax.
Betrayal trauma is a deeply distressing experience that can leave lasting emotional scars on those who have suffered from it. Despite the severity of its impact, there are instances where some therapists may downplay the significance of a partner’s excessive porn consumption or secret sex life, suggesting that it is not a major concern for the betrayed individual. This dismissive attitude is not only harmful but also perpetuates the notion that such behaviors are acceptable and should not be addressed.
The effects of betrayal trauma can be far-reaching, impacting not only the mental well-being of the betrayed partner but also their physical health. The emotional distress caused by such acts of betrayal can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, and even symptoms of PTSD. By trivializing the issue, therapists are inadvertently contributing to the normalization of betrayal and dismissing the very real pain experienced by those who have been betrayed.
Moreover, when therapists dismiss the seriousness of a partner’s excessive porn consumption or secret sex life, they are essentially condoning these behaviors and undermining the betrayed partner’s feelings of hurt and betrayal. This can lead to further emotional harm and hinder the healing process for the individual, as they may begin to doubt the validity of their own emotions and experiences.
It is crucial for therapists and other mental health professionals to recognize and validate the feelings of those who have experienced betrayal trauma. By doing so, they can help facilitate the healing process and provide the necessary support for individuals to rebuild trust in their relationships. This may involve individual therapy, couples counseling, or other forms of professional intervention to address the underlying issues that have led to the betrayal.
In addition to professional help, it is important for those who have experienced betrayal trauma to engage in self-care and establish boundaries with their partner. This may involve ending the relationship if necessary or setting clear expectations for behavior moving forward. By taking these steps, individuals can protect themselves from further harm and begin to heal from the emotional wounds inflicted by betrayal.
2. You’re at fault for your husband’s sexual behavior.
“I see a serious problem when people who have suffered abuse and are experiencing trauma are told that they actually have a progressive illness and are convinced that it is their illness that is causing their symptoms, rather than the abuse that is causing their symptoms.”
Dr. Omar Minwalla
The traditional sex addiction model, which labels victims of betrayal as co-addicts or codependents, has been widely criticized for its harmful effects on victims. Dr. Omar Minwalla, a champion for victims of betrayal, argues that betrayed partners are not co-addicts or codependent, but rather trauma survivors. By mislabeling victims as codependents, the traditional sex addiction model minimizes the effects of betrayal trauma and perpetuates victim-blaming.
One major issue with the traditional sex addiction model is that it misdiagnoses victims of abuse as having a progressive illness called codependency. This misdiagnosis leads to the belief that the victim’s symptoms are caused by their own illness, rather than the abuse they have suffered. In reality, the trauma experienced by victims of betrayal is a direct result of the abuse they have endured.
Another issue with the traditional sex addiction model is that it blames victims for their own abuse. By labeling victims as codependents, the model assigns a covert layer of blame to the victim, perpetuating the harmful notion that they are somehow responsible for their partner’s abusive behavior. This victim-blaming not only re-traumatizes the victim but also prevents them from receiving the proper support and validation they need to heal.
Dr. Minwalla argues that the trauma experienced by victims of betrayal is not caused by addiction, but rather by abuse. By correctly labeling victims as trauma survivors, the responsibility for the abusive behavior is placed squarely on the perpetrator, rather than the victim. This shift in perspective helps to hold abusers accountable for their actions and provides victims with the support and understanding they need to heal.
Dr. Robert Weiss uses a new term “prodependency”. This aligns better with the Karuna approach based in attachment theory. Prodependence and codependence are two contrasting perspectives on the relationship dynamics between an addict and their loved ones. Codependence suggests that individuals who partner with addicts are often victims of childhood trauma, recreating past relationships and perpetuating dysfunction in their adult lives. This perspective views these individuals as inherently flawed and in need of healing from their own past traumas.
On the other hand, prodependence offers a more compassionate and empowering view of these relationships. This attachment-based theory posits that loved ones of addicts are simply trying to maintain a connection with a struggling individual, despite facing incredibly challenging circumstances. Instead of focusing on past trauma, prodependence acknowledges the courage and resilience of these individuals in their attempts to support their addicted partners.
In contrast to the blame and shame associated with codependence, prodependence offers recognition, hope, and guidance for healing. By shifting the focus from past traumas to the present attachment, prodependence fosters a more empathetic and supportive environment for both the addict and their loved ones, ultimately promoting healthier relationships and more effective recovery efforts.
3. You have to divorce
Betrayal trauma is an all-too-common occurrence in relationships, leaving partners questioning whether they should stay or go. But the decision to stay in a marriage after a partner’s infidelity or excessive porn use does not make one a martyr or a fool. Each situation is unique, and the possibility of recovery should not be dismissed.
Navigating the treacherous waters of deception and betrayal is undoubtedly challenging. However, the journey towards healing and recovery can be a transformative experience for both the betrayer and the betrayed. It demands courage, commitment, and an unwavering willingness to do the necessary work.
Recovery from betrayal trauma begins with a mutual establishment of boundaries and a recovery plan for each individual, the couple, and the family. If the cheating spouse is willing to do whatever it takes to repair the relationship, then staying in the marriage is not only an option but a testament to the power of love and resilience. However, if the perpetrator is unwilling to commit to change, then staying in the marriage may not be the best choice.
There are countless examples of couples who have successfully navigated the path to recovery after betrayal trauma. Through therapeutic separation or intensive counseling, these couples have managed to rebuild trust, establish healthy boundaries, and create new, stronger bonds. This is not to say that the journey is easy or linear, but it is possible.
The key to recovery lies in the willingness of both partners to actively engage in the healing process. This often involves seeking individual counseling, as well as marriage counseling with a separate therapist. This approach allows for clear boundaries and ensures that each partner feels supported and understood.
While betrayal trauma is undeniably painful and challenging, it does not have to signal the end of a marriage. With the right support, commitment, and dedication to change, recovery is possible. It is crucial to remember that staying in a marriage after infidelity is not a sign of weakness or shame; rather, it is a testament to the power of love, resilience, and the belief in the sanctity of marriage.
4. You have to stay
The very worst advice you can get from a counselor is that you have to stay. You may have a religious belief that’s against divorce. But no religion would encourage you stay in a marriage where you are being abused. It is important to recognize that abuse comes in many forms, and not just physical or sexual abuse. Ongoing infidelity without a serious commitment to recovery is a form of abuse.
By removing oneself from a situation of betrayal trauma, such as emotional affairs or sex addiction, one can seek healing and live a full life without continuously retriggering the trauma of infidelity. This also allows for the opportunity to teach children how to break the patterns of relational trauma in the family.
When considering whether to walk away after infidelity, it is essential to examine the signs of a broken marriage. Cheating is a wake-up call that requires action, either to divorce or to stay together after infidelity. Ignoring the situation may lead to further complications and emotional turmoil.
If a partner is offensive, defensive, or ignorant about their infidelity, these are red flags indicating irresponsibility and unwillingness to change the status quo in the relationship. It is important to establish clear communication and determine whether the partner’s behavior is manipulative or stems from genuine resentment and grief. If the partner continues to blame or manipulate, deciding to divorce after infidelity may be the healthiest choice.
Additionally, if a partner displays contempt or disrespect towards one’s values or remains in contact with a past affair partner, these are signs that the relationship may be beyond repair. Ensuring that the partner takes steps to cease contact with their former lover is crucial in rebuilding trust. If this is not possible, divorce may be the healthiest choice for a betrayed partner.
You should start with a therapeutic separation. If the partner refuses to get help or repeatedly falls into the same behaviors, it may be healthiest to make the separation permanent through divorce.
5. You have no part in your recovery
You are not responsible for your partner’s infidelity or sex addiction. The biggest work that needs to happen for your marriage to survive is for your husband to change his behaviors and make repair efforts to earn your forgiveness and trust. That said, you have a significant role in your recovery, the possibility of your marriage to recover, and even in your husband’s recovery.
Your recovery. You are suffering from trauma. You are responsible for your own recovery. Through individual recovery work with a therapist, you can heal from your attachment wounds and trauma symptoms.
Your relationship recovery. The best practice for betrayal trauma and sex addiction recovery is for the couple to immediately get into couples counseling. Traditional marriage therapy is not advised. The Karuna approach utilizes the Early Couples Recovery model along with the best of the Terry Real RLT Therapy and the Gottman method. We take sides. It’s not a time for the husband to complain about the wife’s anger. Of course she’s angry. It’s a time for the betrayed partner to listen, validate, and empathize. His counseling is likely focusing on his emotion regulation management and trauma healing and maybe not be focused on learning empathy in his relationship. This is what we focus on.
His recovery. Why does a cheater cheat? Because he can. Sometimes it’s that simple. A partner setting boundaries might be the first time he learns he can’t behave this way anymore. A good betrayal trauma therapist will help you determine what’s a boundary based in control (bad) vs a boundary based in keeping you safe (good). Participating in couples recovery is very beneficial for the CBSD (compulsive sexual behavior disorder) client. Because of his trauma and attachment wounds, it may be very difficult for him to have empathy for you. Building this empathy will help him control his addiction. Participating with your husband in early couples recovery work is very helpful.
Why Online Betrayal Trauma Counseling?
In today’s fast-paced digital age, online betrayal trauma counseling emerges as a beacon of hope and accessibility for many. One of the primary advantages is convenience; individuals can access professional guidance from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need for potentially stressful commutes or scheduling conflicts. This mode of therapy also offers heightened privacy, ensuring that individuals can openly discuss their feelings without fear of being spotted in a therapist’s waiting room or having to explain their whereabouts. Furthermore, online platforms expand your range of choices. Rather than being limited to therapists in one’s immediate vicinity, individuals can select from a broader pool of specialists, ensuring they find the right fit for their unique needs. The digital space can also provide a sense of detachment, allowing some individuals to express themselves more freely, facilitating a more genuine therapeutic experience. Lastly, for those in remote locations or living in areas with limited resources, online counseling breaks down geographical barriers, making quality betrayal trauma treatment accessible to all. In a nutshell, online betrayal trauma counseling amalgamates the efficacy of traditional therapy with the convenience, privacy, and accessibility of modern technology.
Julie Terry is the co-founder of Karuna Healing, counseling and coaching services for sex addiction and betrayal trauma recovery. Julie’s trainings include APSATS, EMDR, and IFS. She has personal experience of recovery from betrayal trauma. Julie provides hope and healing for individuals and couples with therapy (within the state of Utah) and coaching (outside Utah and all over the world).