Todd Olson, a licensed clinical social worker and program director of LifeStar Network is among the DMC partners helping us to answer questions people are grappling with in regards to pornography
The new website, Out In the Light.com, launched just this week is already helping to connect women to critical resources, and answer some of their frequently asked questions about Pornography addiction.
Answers to Commonly asked questions:
Why would my husband hide this from me?
Most men hide their sexual addiction from their wives out of embarrassment, deep shame, and fear that disclosure will lead to divorce and the loss of the family. They can become so deeply entrenched in feelings of despair and self-loathing that they are unable to imagine disclosing their addictive secret to their partner. They get caught in the addictive trap of believing that it is something that they must resolve on their own.
How do I deal with this if I discover it is an issue in my home of relationship?
The betrayed spouse does not know where to turn and will often struggle alone. The spouse’s identity, security and stability are destroyed. This type of trauma shatters the internal world of the spouse of an addict.
All aspects of her life are affected. Her ability to function with employment, household duties, and parenting is disrupted. Her sense of herself is altered. Often her spirituality is impacted. The experience is very traumatic. And her responses to this type of wound typically fall in the category of a “trauma response.” A trauma response can be defined as an emotional response to a perceived threat.”
It is difficult to know how to react after discovering that there has been a history of pornography in the home. Because of the addict’s deep seated shame and distorted core beliefs about themselves they will usually deny the problem at first. They may be in denial about their problem; they will most likely get defensive, turn the tables and focus on the imperfections of their spouse, play victim and act like they will never be enough, they will shut down and withdraw. These are not good responses for a wife. It is exactly opposite of searching for the safety the wife needs at this time.
I recommend that the wife get some support from a professional or their religious leader. The husband will most likely need some professional help if they have been struggling with this problem for a long time.
How do I deal with feelings of anxiety, fear, and loss of trust?
Those on the receiving end of addiction are dealing with the harsh reality of an attachment being violated. The security and safety of the emotional needs are lost or gone. Much of the relationship feels false, like a fraud. If the addict, has been a safe place for the partner in the past, after learning of the addictive behaviors she is left feeling vulnerable and disoriented. She will naturally ask, “Who can I trust? Who will be there for me now?”
It is important for the spouse to know that her response is normal. She needs to get some help and be educated what she is dealing with. Being around other women that with the same problem will help; like a support group or a therapy group that is specific about this problem. She will need the support. She shouldn’t have to do this alone.
What if I cannot be supportive of my partner right now?
That is OK. The person struggling needs to be in charge of their own recovery and the spouse needs to start on their own journey of healing. It is important for both husband and wife to get help. Seek out professionals that know about addictive behavior, grief and loss work, and trauma work. People do heal and recovery is possible. It takes time and hard work, especially in the first year, but with guided help the addict and spouse can experience healing and freedom.
You can get your questions answered by Todd and others on the Out in the Light board at www.outinthelight.com go to the “Ask the Experts” section. You can always submit an e-mail as well. The Deseret News will also be tackling frequently asked questions as part of its special series running this week.