Why are partners of sex addicts treated as trauma victims?
Charlene: The reason they’re treated as trauma victims is because they have undergone an extreme amount of stress in their relationships, usually by the time that they come and seek help. There’s a lot of lying. There’s a lot of deceit that goes on, a lot of betrayal, a lot of flashbacks. They all describe, when I see them, one of the things that they describe are triggers, flashbacks, feelings of terror, anxiety, which are all basically symptoms of PTSD, and anything can trigger them. They could be sitting down watching TV, and all of a sudden, an ad comes on with a beautiful model, and all of a sudden, they remember, “Oh my husband cheated on me. I’m not as pretty as her.”, and immediately it brings them right back to the memories.
There’s also a term called gas lighting that we use a lot in sex addiction, and basically, gas lighting is a type of emotional abuse and it’s when …
Tell me about gas lighting.
Speaker 2: Gas lighting is a term that comes up a lot in sex addiction and it’s when one partner, one party, let’s say the sex addict, really makes the partner believe that they’re crazy, that what they are thinking, seeing, believing, smelling is not there. It’s made up. It’s in their mind, and the partner, even though deep down inside, they know, “My husband’s cheating on me or my husband’s masturbating or my wife is being unfaithful.”, they know that in their core, the partner basically makes them believe that that’s not true, that that’s not true, and not only it’s not true but that they’re crazy for thinking that, and then the individual says, “Well maybe I am crazy. Maybe it’s not true.”, and they really get to a point where they start doubting everything about themselves and they totally lose themselves in that process and that’s why we say it’s like an emotional abuse because it’s tearing them apart. It’s taking, little by little, taking away any sense of themselves that they have.