Disclosure of A Sex Addict
Disclosure is the step in Sex Addiction Recovery where the identified sex addict reads to his/her partner his or her history of acting out behaviors. This might seem a daunting and scary task, but it is crucial in the evolution of the addict’s recovery and the partner’s ability to make a decision whether to stay in relationship or leave. It is also essential in the partner’s healing from the trauma the addiction has caused.
What is crucial for the addict is the revealing of the secrets that are keeping the addiction thriving. There is a palpable weight off the shoulders of an addict when he or she comes clean to his or her partner about these behaviors. Disclosure, however, is counter-indicated if a divorce is imminent.
Disclosure is a well thought out, planned and prepared for event that is guided by the sex addiction therapist. It is optimum that disclosure occur after months of recovery work has been done with both the sex addict and the partner. In other words, both individuals in the couple-ship have completed their own therapy regarding the addiction and the co-sex addiction.
Why does disclosure take place months after both know about the sex addiction? Why not right away? Many times the sex addict,so steeped in denial, does not even remember how many times the acting out occurred or even what is considered acting out. The addict is so out of touch with the feelings that the behaviors have covered up, that a self reflective, empathetic disclosure is near to impossible to produce. Another area to avoid is the “dribble effect” where bits and pieces of the acting out behaviors are dribbled to the partner. This is devastating because it keeps the partner in even more vigilance and anxiety as she or he slowly, tortuously, learns facts.
In my experience as a certified sex addiction therapist, the sex addict in the beginning stages of recovery, doesn’t even hook together their history of early sexual child abuse to the origin of the acting out behaviors. Just this piece alone will help the sex addict and the partner understand the “Why of all addictions are we dealing with sexual addiction?” question.
Disclosure works best when both therapists for both individuals are included in the physical room of the disclosure, along with the sex addict and the partner, so that each individual feels supported. The partner with the the guidance of her or his therapist has completed an organized question sheet of what she or he wants to know, what she or he doesn’t want to know and what are the deal breakers. The sex addict’s therapist will help in the preparation of the disclosure and follow the guide lines of what the partner wants to know. After the disclosure, the partner who has arrived in a separate vehicle, will have a self care plan in place. The sex addict will be instructed to allow the feelings and moods of his partner to just be, not to explain away or justify. This can lasts weeks, months or years. This is part of the consequences of the sex addict’s behaviors.
In more times than not, if disclosure is done properly, a couple can heal the partnership and stay together. The relationship will never be the same. But it will be something new that can grow in love and trust.