Dr. Barbara Steffens is one of the pioneers of betrayal trauma recovery research. In her keynote presentation, Dr. Steffens discusses much of the research she’s done on the betrayed partner of a sexual addict.
The 2019 S.A. Lifeline Conference was held this year at the Salt Lake Community College on Saturday, September 21st.
Some of the highlights of her presentation include:
– Partner Trauma: Seeking safety in an unsafe situation
– Partners for Sex-Addicts: learn about the historical foundation of the research
– Development of trauma-informed perspective
“The partner of a sex addict has responses that serve as reactions to a stressor that is traumatic in nature, in predictable emotional, behavioral, and physiological ways as her mind and body attempt to survive and adapt to a dangerous situation. She seeks what she cannot find: safety in an unsafe situation.” – Steffens, 2005 (The Effects of Disclosure on Wives of Sexual Addicts)
What does this mean?
– Partners of sex addicts experience trauma symptoms in direct response to discovery of hidden, secret behaviors and deception.
– Relational trauma is the WORST type of trauma.
– Partners of sex addicts experience on-going symptoms of betrayal trauma long after the initial discovery or disclosure.
– Partners of sex addicts are not automatically “codependent” based solely on being in relationship with someone with sexual addiction or compulsion.
– Many partners of sex addicts also experience these other sources of trauma/threat in their relationship with the sex addict:
– Sexual Trauma
– Emotional/Psychological Abuse
– Spiritual/Existential Abuse & Trauma
What are solutions, or “First Aid for Partners of Sex Addicts?”
– Be in community
– Don’t hold the secrets
– Honor the trauma and grief
– Don’t rush to make long term decisions
– Ask yourself, “What do I need to feel safe?” and then act on that response
– Establish boundaries, honor your values
– Use 12 Step Groups or other support networks to help you heal and to help you grow
This is a summary of some of the topics Dr. Barbara Steffens covered at the 2019 S.A. Lifeline Conference in Sandy, Utah.
About Dr. Barbara Steffens
– Founding President, APSATS 2012-2019
– Assistant Professor, Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Liberty University Online, Core Faculty)
– 2018 Carnes Award Recipient, SASH
– Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Supervising Counselor, OH
– Board Certified Coach (BCC)
– Certified Clinical Partner Specialist & Certified Partner Coach (APSATS)
– Author of “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope & Heal (Steffens & Means, 2009)