As a Partner of a lifelong sex addict…yes, it’s a thing…I am learning about the deviant world of the compulsive addiction that takes over a life, but more than that, I am learning firsthand that the most devastating damage is not to the addict…but to the loved one who has been betrayed. Just as sex addiction is real, so is betrayal trauma, sexual trauma induced PTSD, severe attachment disorder anxiety, and a multitude of other mental and physical ailments. What I have learned is that the 12 step model which places blame, responsibility, even accountability on the BETRAYED PARTNER, is not an appropriate therapy for full recovery. Dr. Omar Minwalla likes this anonymous quote, “Blame the rapist for the rape, not the victim.” Sexual Betrayal is NOT about sex. It is about the addict’s utter inability to deny himself (or herself) the temporary escape that sex affords one in a selfish attempt to self-medicate personal pain. Yes, it is selfish. It is self-serving, it is disgusting as to the levels one will sink to feed the addiction. Above all else, it feeds the character flaw that all addicts, of all kinds have in common. Deceit. A sex addict becomes a master of all that is dishonest, unworthy, deceptive, secretive, underhanded, illegal, immoral and disloyal. Worse…they learn at their core to justify it and live with it. All the while, putting on a public face for home and family, co-workers and friends, church goers and neighbors. When their complete lie of a life becomes known, the shock alone is traumatic. The seedy, degenerate details, the length of time, the number and extent of the acting out episodes…all of that adds to the trauma. The addict? Well, if he chooses recovery, he has a wealth of resources. Therapists, self-help books, group therapy, support hot-lines, addiction groups….Everyone from social workers to clergy to other recovering addicts want to comfort and coddle the poor addict because the last thing he (or she) needs is more shame! That singular emotion is reserved for the Partner. This addiction is not the same as any other. It is personal, intimate and unspeakably painful. It touches the very heart (literally) and soul of a marriage. It destroys all trust and security in the relationship. In short: it IS shameful. And it is not the Partner’s fault. No more than the rape is the victim’s fault. Blame the addict for their addiction, not the Partner.