Using the Understanding Pornography Manual: Understanding the Basics

You may be aware that SA Lifeline Foundation recently published the updated Understanding Pornography & Betrayal Trauma Manual.  This publication is one of SA Lifeline’s proudest accomplishments.

The manual includes clear guidance from top experts in the field, and straight-forward explanations that bring clarity to complicated issues.  It is also unique in that it offers counsel from a diversity of perspectives: top qualified sexual addiction therapists, scientists who have spent years devoting their research to the subject, spiritual leaders who have offered guidance, and individuals who are working recovery and understand from their own experience what it takes to recover.

This manual can serve as an invaluable resource for families, individuals, and anyone who finds themselves in a position working with those who are struggling with sexual behaviors or betrayal trauma.

Once a month, we would like to share a short excerpt from the manual here on our Women’s Blog and open it up for discussion.  We hope you will find this helpful for your own information as well as another resource to educate others in your life who may need help understanding your situation.

From Section 1:  Understanding the Basics

What is Pornography/Sexual Addiction?

Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and actions.  Over time, the user usually has to escalate his or her sexual acting out, as well as addict behavior, to achieve the same results or “high.” Like other addictions, its negative impact on the user and on their family increases as the disorder progresses.

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior…despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, a person with sexual addiction will continue to engage in certain sexual behaviors despite potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships, or even arrest.

Lust is the force behind sexual addiction: our healthy sexual feelings or our normal human sex drive are taken over by lust.  Lust has become an addiction.

What is Betrayal Trauma?

Many scholars have noted that those who have been betrayed by their spouse’s pornography use experience symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that includes feelings of powerlessness, intrusive thoughts and memories, and efforts to avoid the triggers associated with the traumatic stressor.  Like war-torn soldiers, such people live in near constant fear that something may remind them of the painful memories associated with the betrayal.  So they often become hyper-vigilant, checking computer histories and cell phones, or obsessing over ways they can stop their spouse’s pornography use.

The stress associated with discovering a pornography addiction can also produce for the spouse sleepless nights, food issues (both overeating and under eating), traumatic flashbacks, crying spells, and feelings of hopelessness.  And the physical exhaustion related to these stressors can cause a once perfectly healthy person to begin under-functioning in their many roles. (The Effect of Pornography on the Spouse of an Addict, Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT)

Understanding Pornography & Betrayal Trauma, p. 1

Why We Use the term “Pornography or Sexual Addiction”

…The term pornography or sexual addiction should not be construed as a label to shame or demean, nor should it conjure up thoughts of deviant, predatory or illegal behaviors.  It also acknowledges the growing scientific evidence behind such behavioral addictions and what is required to be in recovery.

This term correctly identifies a chronic brain disease, one that is emotionally destructive, physically intoxicating, and involves compulsive physical, mental and emotional sexual “acting out” behaviors.

We do no favor by avoiding using the term addiction when behaviors show otherwise.  Well meaning efforts to be gentle or diminish shame and embarrassment, or thinking such a term “overstates the problem” underestimate the destructive power of this disease and enable those who suffer.  Without properly identifying the problem, the “problem” of sexual addiction cannot be properly treated.

As with substance addictions, those who are sexually addicted, with few exceptions, will be unable to stop behavior merely by self-knowledge or gritty willpower.  Applying the term addict may be a blessing, and actuates the pain outlined in this manual of intervention for recovery and healing.

Every individual is a child of God and should be valued as such.  God will help those who honestly seek Him in their personal efforts to be in recovery.  True recovery and healing is possible and is not rare.

Understanding Pornography & Betrayal Trauma, p.4

The Recovery Puzzle includes:

  • A willing heart
  •  Complete honesty
  •  Persistent work
  •  The passage of time
  •  Emotional and physical safety(healthy Boundaries).

The heart of long-term recovery is found through:

  • Working with a Qualified Therapist
  • Dedication to Working the 12 Steps on an Ongoing Basis
  •  Spiritual Guidance from God
  • Continuing Education to understand addiction and trauma.

Understanding Pornography & Betrayal Trauma, p.14



4 thoughts on “Using the Understanding Pornography Manual: Understanding the Basics”

  1. I really like how it states that “we do no favor by avoiding the term ‘addiction’ when behaviors show otherwise.” This is in line with what I’ve learned and experienced in my own family.

    I think calling it addiction can help the addict to seek help when they’re ready.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jennifer. I totally agree. Without understanding addiction it was like trying to fix the sink with the wrong set of tools…frustrating and pointless! Understanding what I am dealing with has opened the door to actually remedy the situation.

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