You can put yourself back together piece by piece,
differently than you were, but you will be whole and strong.
January 21, 2011, I was introduced to the concept of a PSA. I didn’t have that term yet, but it’s what I became. The next year was a whirlwind, and most of it was trying to get my then-husband the help and support he needed, while I discovered there was very little help and support for me. I was fortunate enough to find Journey to Healing and Joy, an online resource for hurting, betrayed women. It was there I was challenged by my own coach, Marsha Means, to use my gifts, passion, and experience, combine it with some training, and help other women that would follow after me.
As I began to get my feet under me, a new passion grew in my heart – a passion to make the pain I was going through count for something. Something good needed to come out of the hell I’d gone through! And I’ve not looked back! Inspired by my own journey, and the immense need of other women, I poured myself into learning what it takes to heal, and earned a few certifications along the way.
It was then that I discovered a few things: 70% of PSAs meet criteria for PTSD. PSAs are an under-served and poorly served population, often being misdiagnosed (Borderline) or having their trauma symptoms misinterpreted as Codependency. There were few resources out there providing safety, validation, or a roadmap for healing. That. That is why PSAs. That is why I push myself to provide the best support I can – because you’re worth it. You deserve to have safety. You deserve to have your pain and trauma validated. And you most certainly deserve to have someone come along side of you and say, “You can heal. Let me show you how I’m doing it.”
The APSATS Difference
(The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists)
Support for partners of people with problematic sexual behavior is a relatively new field. For a long time, there was really only one model used to “treat” PSAs, the traditional “Sex Addiction” model: being labeled a co-addict or codependent, and told you need to focus on your own “disease” was what you would be confronted with. As more and more partners started being seen by helping professionals, it began to be noticed that trauma was a huge piece of the puzzle. Barb Steffens’ research of Partners of Sex Addicts was a catalyst for things to slowly began shifting to a “Partner Sensitive” approach. This is still where many facilities and helping professionals function from. APSATS was the first ever training and certifying body to operate from a “Partner Centered” model.
This means that as an APSATS certified life coach, you can expect me to operate not just being sensitive to your trauma, but from the viewpoint of your trauma. My focus will be you and empowering you to heal and become whole, whether that’s in the relationship or out of the relationship. I will never blame you for your partner’s behavior, label you as codependent or co-addict, and I will never call you sick simply because you love a “sick” person.
APSATS also developed the Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model, which built on Judith Hermann’s 3 Stage Model for Restoration. (1992, 1997) This model, which states that the very first thing you need is to establish safety and stabilization in your life and relationship, informs everything I do in my practice.
Codependency vs. Trauma
For years, PSAs have been labeled as co-addict or co-dependent, their safety-seeking behaviors misunderstood, mislabeled, and discouraged. This disempowers the partner to have healthy boundaries, not request what she needs for safety, and stunts the healing process.
I have compared Patrick Carnes’ co-addiction characteristics with the symptoms commonly experienced by people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Have you been mislabeled or misunderstood? I hope this free PDF validates your experience, and empowers you to seek the safety you need and deserve.
5 Things to Get You Started
There are many steps to take and tools to use along your healing journey. Here are 5 crucial things to help you start off intentionally, with the priority on how to get you safe, and keep you feeling that way.
1. Build a good support team. Preferably a trauma-informed helping professional, ideally an APSATS trained/certified helping professional. Find a support group for women who are going through the same journey. They are indispensible support for you on this long and often isolating journey.
2. Re-establish safety in your home. You have every right to determine what is and isn’t acceptable
(safety-building) in your home. Porn-blocking software on devices, no-cash policies, regular attendance at
12-Step meetings, seeing a therapist. What do you need to feel safe in your space? I highly suggest using
your support team to help you build these safety boundaries.
3. Decide who to tell and who not to tell. Our first inclination, sometimes, is to let everyone know just what he did! But that might come back to haunt you. You want to only tell safe people — people who will honor your journey, supporting you as you find your way through this messy situation and discover what is true and right for you.
4. Practice good self-care.Give yourself permission to close the door, take a hot shower and have a good cry. Call your friends and have a girls’ night, so they can love on you and remind you there is love to be experienced in this world. Go for a run, hit that punching bag, go to the yoga studio and center yourself — do what physically will help you release the stress. And, for almost everyone, I would say get out in nature. Go for a walk on the beach/in the mountains/by the lake.
5. “There’s not a tiger in the room”.Practice grounding techniques. Start by alerting your body (that has gone into the fight/flight/freeze trauma response) that you are not in mortal danger. It may feel like it, but you are not about to die. Tell yourself, “There’s not a tiger in the room. I’m going to be okay. In this room is…” and name what you see in the room. It may sound silly, but there’s power in bringing your mind and body back into connection, and into the present time and place you are in.
What I Offer
Individual coaching is where I get to give you the focus and priority you deserve. In these sessions, I tap into my natural curiosity and deep empathy to connect with what it is that you need during any given session, whether that be showing you the road to healing from Betrayal Trauma through psycho-education, helping you establish healthy boundaries, providing a safe place for you to share your reality and get validation, or empowering you to discover your values, and how to live more congruently with them when your world has been turned upside down by your partner’s problematic sexual behavior.
Individual coaching sessions start at $100 per session. Scholarships are offered to help clients who cannot
afford my full fee.
When your world gets shattered you don’t know what to do next or even understand what is going on, equipping yourself with information on things like sexual addiction, trauma, or the recovery and healing processes is a beneficial starting point.
But where do you start? If you’re anything like me, the mountain of different resources out there can be overwhelming. You can begin by browsing below to get an idea of resources that may be helpful for you.
For more specialized recommendations on what will be helpful for where you are in your journey , contact me at (512) 718-0239 for a free 30-minute consultation call.
–Barbara Steffens and Marsha Means
–Jason B. Martinkus and Stephen Arterburn
–Jennifer P Schneider M.D. , M. Deborah Corley Ph.D.
–Glennon Doyle Melton
Any book by Brene Brown:
–Dr. Robin Stern
–Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend
–Drs. Henry Cloud
We are not cookie cutters. Our healing timeline is going to be unique. Many things contribute to how quickly or slowly we may move through the healing journey. From the quality of help we get, to how hard our partner is working on their recovery, each piece plays an important part in our putting the pieces of our lives back together (as inter-dependent beings, our partner’s behaviors absolutely affect our feelings of safety and impacts our healing journey.)
While I can’t tell you how long it will take for you to “reach the other side”, according to APSATS, true, sustainable healing does follow a path. The aspects can be grouped into three phases: Phase 1: Safety. Phase 2: Remembering & Mourning. Phase 3: Reconnecting.
Here are the three phases in a little more detail…
Adapted from the APSATS M-PTM Model and Marsha Mean’s “Pathways to Healing Chart”, Journey to Healing and Joy, 2011
Initial Discovery (D-day) and crisis
Find/build a good support system
Create and establish boundaries
Practice good mental/emotional, physical, and spiritual self-care
Psycho-Education around gaslighting
Psycho-Education around grounding techniques and self-soothing
to deal with dissociation, managing emotions and triggers
PHASE 1: SAFETY & STABILIZATION
Trauma treatments from trained helping professionals as needed
(EMDR, Somatic therapy, etc.)
Grief work: acceptance of reality; ability to acknowledge and
grieve losses and the consequences they produced
For some, face and adapt to separation or divorce
Externalize problems by sharing your story
Relational trauma repair
Address on-going safety issues
PHASE 2: REMEMBERING & MOURNING
Develop personal empowerment – regaining your connection with your gut, your truth and your voice
Rebuilding trust – with yourself first, and in the relationship if still together
Beginning/deepening of forgiveness
Vision for future
Move into any Family of Origin work
Relationship & Intimacy building
Integration of trauma into your story
Moving on, helping others