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“Ideally, partners get their own therapy,” says Hall.
“The problem is that all the assumptions made by well-meaning friends about sex addiction are also shared by many therapists who are untrained in this area.
Joy Rosendale, a sex-addiction therapist specialising in partner work, instigated the first one in the UK back in 2005, following her own experiences.
“Although there is usually huge reluctance for partners to seek help, let alone come into a group, because of the privacy and shame, something happens in these groups that liberates these women – and I say women because in my experience, it is usually women who access them,” says Rosendale, who still runs the group at the Marylebone Centre, London.
Second, the partner has to feel stable again, as well as understanding the addiction and working out what they want the relationship to look like in the future.
Third, the couple works together on the renegotiation of the boundaries in the relationship.” While some sex addicts move on, other partners must recognise that they’ll be living with someone in recovery for the rest of their life, says Hall.
“It could involve sex with a partner, but it may also mean activities such as viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting prostitutes or using sex chat lines,” it explains, claiming that while for most people such habits don’t cause problems, sex addicts are unable to control these urges and actions.
Causes can of course be more complex, while for some – a fast-growing number, according to Hall – it’s simply opportunity-induced.
Once they understand the nature of the addictive drive, sometimes they’re able to move into self-care.” Rosendale’s anecdotal research reveals that a third of those partners seeking help decide to stay in the relationship, while a further third leave and the final third “remain stuck”.
Nobody is suggesting partners should stay, she stresses. But even then, they need support with rebuilding trust and reclaiming their sexuality.” Rachel agrees.
“Much as my husband tried to stop his behaviours by understanding the nature of sex addiction, he wasn’t willing to delve into the cause.
“One confident businesswoman recently told me that the discovery that her husband is a sex addict turned her into a ‘screaming banshee – I’ve become a stranger to myself’,” Hall tells me.
Hall believes these partners need help of their own – hence her book, which is essentially a self-help guide, covering three broad areas: understanding sex addiction and why it hurts partners so much; repairing the damage it has caused to the partner; and finally, helping the partner to work out whether the relationship can survive and, either way, how to move forward.