Are sex addicts abusive?

Going outside a committed relationship for sexual gratification is a form of relational abuse, which generally creates betrayal trauma. However, not all sex addicts are abusive in other ways. While secrecy, betrayal of wedding vows, and risk of passing STD’s to one’s partner are all a form of abuse, they are not the kinds of a abuse that is categorized as domestic violence. Nonetheless, sex addicts’ behaviors sometimes include domestic abuse, especially emotional and psychological abuse.

A desire for power and control are at the heart of abuse, and when one has a sexual secret that he or she withholds from one’s life partner, it often requires a lot of power and control to keep the secret.

Our clients often talk about how their husbands keep them ignorant about family finances, often spending tens—and even hundreds of thousands—of dollars of household income or savings on prostitutes, etc.; or they have secret electronic devices; or refuse to disclose where they are going, or where they have been, for hours, and sometimes days.

And of course, sex addicts must frequently lie to keep their secret. These are forms of gaslighting, along with deflecting, blame-shifting, put-downs and threats. And gaslighting is emotional and psychological abuse. And occasionally, a sex addict will use physical force to control his wife or children, or to maintain his secret life. While not all these things are classified domestic abuse, many are. And the harder it becomes to keep his secret, the more likely an addict will devolve to outright abuse.

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