Intimate Partner Abuse: How Does It Impact You?

Intimate Partner Abuse by men called sex addicts is a taboo topic for the treatment industry and religious-based recovery programs and practitioners. Your response to last week’s blog, however, tells me it’s a topic long overdue for attention. Thank you for your feedback and additional items for the list.

Today I’m talking about the impact and consequences from the abuse we have endured. It’s not a pretty list, either, so please take care of yourself as you read it. Pace yourself. Use mindfulness coping strategies, tapping, and self-soothing strategies along the way. And if your symptoms need urgent attention seek professional help or call a crisis helpline for women.


Intimate Partner Abuse: How Does it Impact You?

  1. Spending time and energy trying to anticipate and avoid things that will annoy him

  2. Accepting more parenting and household responsibility to reduce his stress load

  3. Sleep is difficult, disturbed, rare

  4. Deep heartbreak that leaves you unable to participate fully in life

  5. Acquiring ticks and nervous habits when he is present and about which he acts disgusted

  6. Walking on eggshells around him (and sometimes his family)

  7. Additional stress aggravates existing health issues or triggers dormant ones

  8. A sense of a foreshortened future—that means if you are able to think about the future at all, you will not be able to see yourself in it

  9. Enduring the ignorance, non-support and insults of his treatment group for the sake of his possible recovery

  10. Additional stress creates new health issues (gut problems, breast health, headaches, arthritis, grinding/clenching teeth, elevated cortisol, thyroid problems, shingles, eczema, problems swallowing, inflammation problems, hives, acne, weight loss/gain, etc)

  11. Loneliness in the relationship

  12. Can’t seem to get anything done

  13. Unable to manage emotions in public settings for daily errands and tasks.

  14. Some of the strengths you could always count on in yourself are diminished or gone altogether

  15. Losing dependable strengths creates a crisis of identity and generates fear, grief, and shame

  16. Blaming and berating yourself for his behaviors

  17. Little understanding from others who say things like “get over it”, “everyone does porn”, etc.

  18. Cognitive dissonance about the man you loved, and who he actually is

  19. Feeling unattractive and undesirable

  20. Having to create effective questions for polygraph testing or not being allowed to submit questions for his polygraph both cause terrible anxieties and trauma

  21. Depression and despair

  22. Crisis of faith

  23. Handwriting changes that may be so extreme that you don’t recognize your own writing

  24. Freezing response to pressure or stress

  25. Nightmares

  26. Missing bill payments and other personal administrative lapses

  27. Withdrawal from social circle and friendships

  28. Losing keys, cards, phones, wallets, etc.

  29. Spending time, effort and money trying to “fix yourself” when there’s nothing you can do to stop his abuse of you

  30. Hyperventilating

  31. Exhausted from taking on more household and family duties while he “recovers”

  32. Can’t read as much, or at all, or as quickly as you used to

  33. Stop participating in hobbies and other interests

  34. Can’t concentrate as much as you used to, for as long as you used to

  35. Having to find a way to re-enter work force after decades away raising children

  36. Forgetting things

  37. Losing your sense of direction and can’t remember how to get places you know

  38. Out of character and reactive outbursts towards your abuser when he baits you

  39. Numbing, unable to feel your own emotions or respond emotionally to events and people.

  40. Unable to moderate emotional responses and reactions in proportion to the situation

  41. Panic attacks, during the day and/or while sleeping.

  42. Short-tempered

  43. Angry because you have to be the adult in the relationship

  44. Joyless

  45. Feeling stupid about being fooled by him

  46. Beginnings of, or full-on agoraphobia

  47. Poor work performance reviews

  48. Hyperviligant—especially scared of sudden noises or movements

  49. Thoughts of self-harm or suicidality

  50. Thinking about death

  51. Self-doubt

  52. No confidence

  53. Contraction of STD’s or STI’s from your man called a sex addict may leave you feeling ashamed, stupid, or “tainted”

  54. Spurts of defending yourself that generate accusations of you being abusive and irrational

  55. Losing or having to leave your job

  56. Angry because you are expected to be the sheriff and parent to your life partner

  57. Isolation created by trying to avoid rejection at work, faith community, family, friends, neighbours

  58. Vertigo and dizzy spells

  59. Regularly overcome with bouts of deep grief and crying

  60. Shaking

  61. Angry because you can’t trust anything he says anymore

  62. Dealing with STI’s/STD’s testing and treatment, and the life-long impact of these diseases and infections

  63. Dealing with STI/STD threat to unborn and nursing children, and the life-long impact of these diseases and impact

  64. Dispirited

  65. Feeling like you are crazy because he pretends nothing’s wrong

  66. Crippling financial anxiety

  67. Being caught in an endless spiral of trying to understand his cruelty to you

  68. Trauma-induced ADD

  69. Nausea

  70. Speech Terror

  71. When you get up the nerve to name his abuse and the impact on you, he and his practitioners accused you of shaming him and silence you

  72. An almost unbearable grief

  73. Feelings of complete emptiness

  74. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors that focus on control (checking and re-checking, etc.)

  75. Compulsive behaviors that focus on numbing your feelings

  76. Risky behaviors

  77. Constantly second-guessing yourself because he and his treatment group say you over-react

  78. Self-harming

  79. Neglecting personal care and/or hygiene

  80. Dissociative episodes

  81. Over time, realizing the cumulative physical harm as your health deteriorates from absorbing the years/decades of covert abuse

  82. Angry because he is coddled and indulged while you are criticized or ignored

  83. Spending time, money and energy looking for professional support for your relationship problems while he diminishes your concerns and dismisses your ideas

  84. Trying harder to be a “good” wife

  85. While you are sincerely looking for “solutions” for your “relationship” problem, he empties accounts, hides money, incurs joint debt, and protects his financial interests—a second con

  86. Seeking help from spiritual leaders and being told it’s your fault, or that you must forgive him

  87. Risk confiding in friends and family with varying responses—some supportive and some not

  88. Unable to trust others, not just him

  89. Debilitating insecurity

  90. Losing the respect of those he has been manipulating in his proactive damage control efforts

  91. Denying facts, ignoring revealed truth, and operating in a bubble as if nothing’s wrong

  92. Feeling invisible in your life and in the world

  93. As you learn more about the sex addiction treatment industry you realize it is full of male practitioners who are also sex addicts, was created by one, has no credible results to claim, and that you are in more danger, not less

  94. Feeling debased because of the sexual things you agreed to do in an effort to please him

  95. Losing track of conversations and seeming to zone out sometimes in the middle of them

  96. Using religion to deny facts and avoid truth

  97. Adult children blame you, will not tolerate engaging the truth of your experience, take his side and then pretend they are trying to be “Switzerland”

  98. Adult children create rules for you to obey to ensure you are never upset around them, seek their support in any way, or challenge their perspective with the facts, and often use seeing the grandchildren as the leverage for your obedience

  99. Contraction of certain STD’s/STI’s will be permanent afflictions and you maybe be required by law (as well as your core values) to inform future sexual partners of your disease or infection, thereby limiting your chances to go on from this relationship to have an adult relationship should you meet someone for whom you care.

  100. Adult children blame you for your marriage problems

  101. You have to defend yourself against abusive therapists

  102. Having to defend yourself from children, friends, family, faith communities, etc who accuse you of being “unforgiving”

  103. Self-worth dissipates into nothing

  104. Feeling pressure to keep his secret, and internalizing that stress while increasing isolation.

  105. Needing to take prescription drugs like sleep-aids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds just to keep going

  106. Needing other drugs to manage the other health issues that arise (anti-inflammatories, thyroid meds, pain killers, chemo, etc)

  107. Inability to regain a sense of security and manage cumulative PTSD symptoms because of the staggered disclosure reality reinforced by the treatment group expectation that you will believe and accept the disclosure as complete—-which it never is.


As with last week’s list, feel free to let me know what I’ve missed. Then consider:

An Important Question: How many checked items on each of the two lists (last week’s and this week’s) should make the sex addiction treatment industry ensure your safety and healing as their top priority?

The Most Important Question: How many checked items on each of the two lists (last week’s and this week’s) does it take for YOU to make yourself your priority for care, advocacy and protection?

None of this is easy for us. There’s nothing wonderful about grappling with the facts and truth of the relationship in which you are struggling to thrive and, sometimes, to survive. Maybe it’s time to share these checked lists with your therapist and ask when the abuse and its impact on you is considered a priority, instead of being unnamed and hidden under the fog of something called his sex addiction.

Does what’s wrong with him really matter more, if this is what he is doing to you?

 For the record, I have never seen lists like this one (or last week’s) anywhere. Why do you think that is? They took very little time to put together from my work with clients. Our experience has been heavily redacted or silenced all together. I am proud to be the first one I know to list this information and post it to the internet.

As the lists travel to other sites and forums, people attempt to change the subject, suggest the lists are not in reference to men called sex addicts, and declare that men called sex addicts can change (offering no evidence for that because there isn’t any). Some people will say anything to turn the attention elsewhere. Please pay attention to how people try to get you to think about something else.

Still for the record, all the items on both lists came from wives and partners of men diagnosed and being treated for sex addiction by the sex addiction treatment industry. The lists reveal a crisis of intimate partner abuse that is brushed under the rug. Men called sex addicts are destroying women’s lives. Shame on anyone so cowardly as to feed lies to women so they will stay for more of it. This issue is the key issue that the treatment industry will not address.

Now, misogynists are a dime a dozen, and there’s no surprise to find treatment practitioners comfortable in that role since so many of them are sex addicts themselves. But what really makes me ill is that people within my faith tradition are promoting negligent care for wives and partners as a faithful Christian response. This is a repeat of our earliest struggles in intimate partner abuse when women beaten bloody were urged to return to their abusers, submit and make it work while he “tried” to stop. It’s time to stop pretending that luring women into false beliefs about likely outcomes and urging them to stay in abusive relationships with men called sex addicts is anything different than this evil from our past. Women do not have to remain with their abuser in order for the abuser to change. Why is she taking all the risks? The answer is: because he’s not going to treatment if he loses control of her. If she leaves, he stops “treatment”. The industry knows it. We know it. He knows it. Abuse is always about control. The sex addiction treatment industry will use any means it can get away with to ensure the participation of the wife or partner so that their priority client keeps paying.

I believe these two lists should and can change the conversation. At the least it will make clear who takes intimate partner abuse seriously, and who doesn’t.

With you,


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