The following post was originally published on Huffington Post. It has been reposted with permission.

Our mission as an organization is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of pornography using science, research, and personal accounts.

We live in a world where if a partner has a problem with porn being in the relationship, they’re labeled as jealous, controlling, or uptight. But given the massive amounts of research that shows how deeply porn can harm relationships, it’s becoming clear that those feelings are backed by fact.

Part of this awareness campaign is also shining a light on how porn not only hurts those who consume it, but those they love. The negative effects of porn don’t stop when the browser window closes or the video ends, they can spread to the consumer’s relationships and negatively impact their partner in ways they couldn’t have anticipated.

While the following post is directed specifically to females with male partners, we emphasize that any partner in any type of relationship can feel hurt or betrayed by porn’s presence. The point of this post is not to shame porn consumers (male or female), but simply shine a light on the fact that porn isn’t only a personal issue—it’s one that goes far beyond just the consumer.

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Partners Of Sex Addicts – What They Want You To Know

By Catherine Etherington, a Certified Professional Life Coach specializing in betrayal recovery for women

As a life and recovery coach working with betrayed women, particularly those in relationships with porn or sex addicts, I am keenly aware that this is an issue which is both overlooked for the majority and misunderstood in many ways. I know that there are many, many women out there who have these issues but don’t know where to turn for help, who feel like they can’t tell, out of fear of exposing their partners or being judged as inadequate partners. If that’s you, this article is for you…

RelatedTrauma & Betrayal: The Science Behind Why A Partner’s Porn Habit Is Hurtful

I personally interact with hundreds of women on a regular basis who have lived, and are living, through the shattering discovery that their partners and husbands have a secret sexual life. I am committed to giving them a voice so I asked them what they would tell you if they had the chance. Below is a summary of the major points they wanted you to know.

It’s okay to not be okay with this

First things first! The first words they want you to hear are words of support and validation. Whatever you are feeling about your husband’s indiscretions is normal and legitimate. IT IS OKAY for you to object to the presence of porn or chat rooms or prostitutes and hook-ups in your marriage or relationship! You have a right to this! You are not a prude and you do not NEED to loosen up! YOU get to choose what is acceptable to you in your relationship!

It hurts a lot!

Discovering that you have been betrayed, especially when there is some kind of sex addiction in the mix, has been likened to feeling physically abused, beaten up, raped or hit by a truck by many women. The feeling that everything you knew has been a lie and that you can trust nothing about your life is like living in an alternate reality where everything looks the same but nothing FEELS the same! It could also hurt for a long time, this is a hard journey, whatever the outcome. But there are things you can do to make this road easier for yourself and they are detailed below.

Get help!

You will need support through this. One thing I know for sure is that women working through this do better when they have support. Many women greatly benefit from working with a coach or counselor and find group support a major source of validation and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. There are a number of ways you can get this support, through online forums and groups, in group coaching or therapy. Whatever it is, make sure you find it! You do not need to do this alone! I can link you in to free online support groups if you contact me.

You did not cause this and you cannot make him stop

This is a tough one for many women facing this issue. Somehow we take this problem and make it ours. ‘If only I was better in bed’, ‘If only I had been a bit kinkier’, ‘Maybe if I wasn’t overweight’ etc etc. Please, please hear me when I tell you that this is NOT about you. For starters, most men with this issue bring it into the relationship with them and were engaged in some form of sexually secretive or compulsive behavior before beginning a relationship with you. In fact many believe that being in a stable relationship will ‘cure’ them—it doesn’t, any more than it would cure any other addiction.

RelatedTrue Story: I Became His Porn Star To Try And Save Our Relationship

If you were the most amazing lover, with the most amazing body, the greatest sense of humor and the most money in the world, he would still do what he does because this is about HIM, not you. This is about him medicating whatever pain he is hiding from, this is about a brain wired to respond to certain stimuli as a result of (often) years of addictive behavior. You cannot love it out of him. It’s true that love and support are helpful for addicts when trying to recover but they are by no means a guarantee of his success. No more than you caused it can you make it go away, no matter how much you want that to be true. And because it’s not your fault, you have nothing to be ashamed of!

This is real, and it’s happening now

There is a reason Fight the New Drug has chosen that name for their organization. More and more, neuroscience is confirming that porn has a neurological impact on the brain similar to that observed in drug addicts and alcoholics. Porn and sex addiction is not a problem of the future, it is a problem of the NOW as the first generation raised on PornHub and the like are discovering for the first time what the long-term effects of regular porn usage are. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is dramatically on the increase as more and more men find that they are no longer able to perform in a normal, relational sexual setting, having wired their brains to respond only to certain types of images.

RelatedPIED 101: The Science Behind Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

All sorts of long-term effects are being reported with equally alarming consequences. Don’t take my word for it, a quick internet search will reveal what I am saying.

So, this is a real problem, happening to real people, affecting real relationships and families all over the world. It is more common than we think and more prevalent than we know. You are NOT alone and the women I have spoken to want you to know that!

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Get Help – For Partners

If your partner is struggling with porn, you are not alone—know that there is hope, and there is help. As you navigate this difficult situation, there are supportive communities and resources available to you. Below, we’ve got a non-exhaustive list of several resources for those experiencing betrayal trauma. Because this isn’t a complete resource list, feel free to look for more betrayal trauma resources that are catered to your specific needs and/or location. Note that while both men and women can experience betrayal trauma, some of the resources are gender-specific. Please also note that while some of the resources below are religiously affiliated, Fight the New Drug is not.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Recover

Bloom

Addo Recovery

Get Involved

Porn isn’t just personal, it can hurt both the partner and the consumer. SHARE this post and raise awareness that there is hope for anyone—both those struggling, and their partners.

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