BetrayalChurchHealing 3 minutes to read

In the realm of recovery from addiction and sexual betrayal, the journey toward healing is both complex and deeply personal. Dr. Barbara Steffens, a pioneer in the field and the founding president of APSATS (Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists), shares invaluable insights into a partner-sensitive approach to healing. This approach recognizes the unique and individual journeys of both the person struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors and their betrayed partner.

The Evolution of Support for Betrayed Partners

Historically, the focus of recovery has predominantly been on the individual exhibiting addictive behaviors, often leaving their partners in a painful void of neglect. Early models in the field mistakenly labeled partners as co-addicted, suggesting their own unresolved issues led them to their current predicament. This perspective not only diminished the partner’s experience but also inadvertently placed a portion of the blame on them for the actions of their spouse.

APSATS was formed to fill this glaring gap, providing specialized training for clinicians and coaches to offer the much-needed support and understanding to betrayed partners. This shift toward acknowledging and addressing the trauma experienced by partners marked a significant turning point in the field.

The Church’s Role in Healing

Many betrayed partners first turn to their faith communities in search of support and guidance. However, the response they receive can vary widely, largely depending on the church’s familiarity and comfort with addressing such sensitive issues. Unfortunately, some churches, out of a lack of knowledge or a misguided attempt to protect the marriage at all costs, have historically placed undue pressure on the betrayed partner, further exacerbating their trauma.

This is where the importance of education and training cannot be overstated. Churches and faith leaders have the potential to serve as pivotal first responders for those reeling from the shock of betrayal. By understanding the nature of sexual addiction and the profound impact it has on partners, churches can offer a sanctuary of healing and hope.

The Importance of a Trauma-Informed Approach

Recognizing and addressing the trauma experienced by betrayed partners is crucial. Traumatic responses can manifest in various ways, often leaving the individual feeling isolated and misunderstood. A trauma-informed approach ensures that these responses are seen for what they truly are: natural reactions to an extraordinarily painful situation.

This approach also emphasizes the individual journeys of both partners, allowing for the space and understanding needed for each to heal. It’s a departure from the one-size-fits-all mentality and acknowledges that while the goal may be the restoration of the marriage, the path to getting there involves addressing the unique needs and wounds of each individual.

Embracing a New Narrative

The partner-sensitive approach advocated by Dr. Steffens and APSATS is a beacon of hope for many who have felt overlooked and marginalized in their journey toward healing. It serves as a reminder that healing is possible, but it requires a nuanced understanding of the intricate dynamics at play.

Churches and faith communities, equipped with the right knowledge and resources, can play a transformative role in this healing process. By creating safe spaces for open dialogue and support, they can help navigate the complex terrain of recovery from sexual betrayal, ensuring that no one has to walk this difficult path alone.

In the end, the journey of healing from sexual betrayal is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of compassionate, informed support. It’s a journey not just toward the restoration of a marriage but toward the rediscovery of hope, trust, and a deeper sense of connection.

This blog post is based on podcast episode 276, A Partner Sensitive Approach to Healing from Betrayal w/ Dr. Barbara Steffens. Check out the full episode here.

The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.

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Pure Desire Team

This blog post contains content from a recent Pure Desire Podcast episode. To listen to the full episode, use the link provided. Pure Desire is committed to providing information, encouragement, and hope for those on the recovery and healing journey.

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