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Betrayed Partners

Partners who have discovered affairs, compulsive use of pornography, or other disturbing sexual behavior

Discovering that your partner has been sexual outside of your relationship is painful, even devastating. But what if this behavior continues, even after you've threatened, pleaded, yelled, changed your body, your hair, your sexual behavior, did more, tried to be more, begged, understood, and forgave? Even after your partner promised he or she would never be unfaithful again? It is easy to feel confused about this kind of sexual behavior. It goes beyond one affair or a bad habit. It seems like your partner can't or won't stop, no matter what you do.

Those in a relationship where these behaviors have occurred often feel lost. They don't know where to turn. And they feel like their life will never be the same again. In fact, research shows that people who've experienced this kind of infidelity may actually suffer from trauma. They may begin to have symptoms similar to those with PTSD. Partners of recovering addicts know that even when the addict seems to be getting better, the partner may be feeling worse. Even if the addict gets into recovery and stops acting out behaviors, the partner may continue experiencing symptoms of trauma.

At the Trauma and Addiction Recovery Center, we are specially trained and experienced in helping partners who've been betrayed by a loved one's sexual behavior. You are not alone anymore! Contact us and start your recovery journey today.

Take the assessment below to get started.

Have You Been Affected by a Partner's Sexual Betrayal?

Are you wondering if your partner's sexual behavior has negatively affected you? Answer these questions to see how your answers compare with partners of sex or pornography addicts.

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What is Betrayal Trauma

Sexual Infidelity Causes Symptoms of Trauma for the Spouse or Partner

When we choose to partner with a special other, we are choosing to do more than just move in together or share our lives with the other person. We are literally beginning a process of changing to adapt to our partner. We allow ourselves to attach to the other person in a way we aren't with anyone else. Our partner becomes the most important person in our lives. Not just because we say so. Our biology agrees. Our biochemical makeup begins to change, adapting to this other person so that we can be intimate, we can trust, and we can co-exist together in a way that works. Our brains and our hearts believe that we are safe. Attachment carries an expectation that our partner has our backs and will be there for us, through thick or thin. No matter how stressful the day gets, at the end of it we can relax into that sense that we are home because of our significant other.

When that sense of safety, belonging, and trust gets disrupted by sexual infidelity, that rupture is traumatic. Our primary attachment relationships are one of the most important ways we create safety for ourselves in this world. With sexual betrayal, that source of safety has now become a source of immense pain and fear. Research shows that partners who've experienced unfaithfulness in their primary relationships may begin to have symptoms consistent with PTSD. This is even more true when the betrayal occurs over and over again. That is what is called Betrayal Trauma.

Partners may experience any or all of the following trauma symptoms: 

  • Nightmares or upsetting dreams
  • Questioning your attractiveness, intelligence, or worth
  • Physical symptoms (panic, racing heart, trembling, fatigue)
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the betrayal
  • Thinking if you were better at ______ your partner wouldn't have cheated
  • Using substances to numb your feelings
  • Difficulty with task completion
  • Obsessive thoughts about the betrayal
  • Engaging in your own affair in retribution or to numb the pain
  • Staying busy to not thinking about it
  • Intrusive thoughts about the infidelity
  • Can't rest or sleep
  • Having a hard time keeping up with daily chores that used to be easy
  • Avoiding emotional or sexual closeness with your partner
  • Feeling depressed and/or anxious
  • Unable to feel safe
  • Needing to investigate or try to find evidence of partner's acting out
  • Feeling irritable or rageful
  • Having anger outbursts at partner or others
  • Isolating from others
  • Unable to eat or overeating because of your feelings
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to function at work
  • Trying to make sense out of the behaviors by attempting to get all the details

If you are experiencing any of these, please reach out today. We can help. You do not have to walk through this alone. Many others have been where you are and are finding healing and recovery.

TARC offers the Healing Way - Phoenix Program partners who've been betrayed by someone's sexual acting out. See below for more information. We also offer individual, group, and couple therapy for betrayed partners. If you are unsure what service is best for you, contact us today to schedule an assessment by a specially trained therapist to help you decide next steps.

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"As long as you keep secrets... you are fundamentally at war with yourself. The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.”

- Besel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score

Healing Way Programs

Treatment for Sex and Pornography Addiction and Betrayal Trauma