MC talked about how it's easier to fall into behavior when others around you are doing the same thing. Also talked about how when you engage in behavior over time the guilt gets less and less...
They do it because they can, they like it and they feel entitled to it.
Neither of these comments are consistent with an addiction model. There is a wealth of research that shows that processing addictions (like sex, and gambling) have the same effect on the brain that chemical addictions do. If opioid addicts could just stop, we wouldn't have a crisis in our country. This doesn't excuse their behavior, they are still responsible for the consequences, but they are sick people, not evil people. And if the guilt became less and less then they wouldn't feel such shame and self-loathing when they act out.
Skeetermooch is correct that SAs very seldom reveal the entire story up front. In fact, my trauma therapist believes it takes 90 days of sobriety (which includes no masturbation, no porn) before they can even begin to remember all their acting out, because they compartimentalize it so much. If you work with a trauma specialist and your H works with a CSAT, you will likely do a full theraputic disclosure with polygraph that will help you understand his full acting out behavior and how he hid it from you. It also then allows you to move forward working on your marriage from a level playing field without the swirl of lies around you.
(It's also supposed to be less traumatic and less likely to cause PTSD to get the information in that format.)
There are online questionnaires that your H can take to help him identify is he is a sex addict, but basically, sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment.
Patrick Carnes is the leading researcher on SA. He write:
"Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their
self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and
risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.
Sex addicts come from all walks of life - they may be ministers, physicians,
homemakers, factory workers, salespersons, secretaries, clerks, accountants,
therapists, dentists, politicians, or executives, to name just a few examples. Most were
abused as children - sexually, physically, and/or emotionally. The majority grew up in
families in which addiction already flourished, including alcoholism, compulsive
eating, and compulsive gambling. Most grapple with other addictions as well, but
they find sex addiction the most difficult to stop.
Much hope nevertheless exists for these addicts and their families. Sex addicts have shown an ability to transform a life of self-destruction into a life of self-care, a life in chaos and despair into one of confidence and peace."
- Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.
Author of Out of the Shadows
My therapist recommended a book called "TINSA: A Neurological Approach to the Treatment of Sex Addiction" by Michael Barta. It's short and easy to read and really provides an overview of sexual addiction that will help answer a lot of your questions. I really recommend it.
My SAWH had repressed his childhood sexual abuse and was three weeks into an intensive inpatient rehab program when he recalled it. I suspect that his inability to face it is what caused him to lie to therapists he saw over the decades and as a result he never told them about his actual behavior. He'd just gripe about work stress..
Know that your questions and feelings are perfectly normal. Your world has been turned upside down and whatever caused him to do it, it happened and now you deal with the trauma he inflicted on you. (My personal feeling is that a general 12-step meeting won't be of any value. You need a place where you can feel 100 percent safe and not judged and where the women around you just get what you are going through and can offer love and support)
The first thing is good boundaries to help you stay safe. (Try the book "Moving Beyond Betrayal" by Vicky Tidwell Palmer. Also, google good grounding exercises, so you can calm yourself when you're triggered.
[This message edited by BlackRaven at 2:53 PM, February 14th (Sunday)]