The Sexual Addiction Treatment and Training Institute (SATTI)
One Patchin Place, New York, New York 10011  •  (212) 366 -1490 / (646) 306 - 6056

Help and Support for the Family

Reactions to the Experience of Betrayal by One's Partner

• Turning a blind eye to the addict’s behavior  

• Tolerating the addict’s absence from family life  

• Denying, rationalizing, and minimizing the addict's behavior

• Blaming oneself for the couple’s sexual and emotional problems  

• Engaging in futile efforts to control the partner’s addiction:  

• Snooping and spying 

• Interrogating him or her 

• Arguing and raging

• Policing how the addict spends time and money  

• Trying to meet the sex addict's sexual needs even if do not match one's own needs or values

• Fearful of saying no to the addict

• Trying to please the addict at all costs 

• Confusion, anxiety, depression

• Feelings of shame and


• Fears of abandonment

Recovery Resources for the Codependent

Individual Therapy

Group Therapy for Spouses and Partners

Psychodrama Groups

Couples and Marital Therapy

Family Therapy

Weekend Workshops

Art Therapy

The Family:  Even Before They Know . . .  

When there is an active sexual addiction in a family, the effects can be devastating, not just for the partners of the sex addict but also for their children.  It can compromise and threaten the essence of the family, its stability, reputation, financial security, and health.  All family members suffer the loss of the addict’s time and attention as the addiction progresses, all must cope with the emotional confusion that the sex addict’s secret life brings into the home.


The absence of genuine intimacy and the addict’s growing lack of interest stir unconscious concerns within the family about their worthiness.   Without really knowing why, partners–especially those for whom codependency is an issue–may start to experience fears of abandonment.  Shame-producing attempts to “investigate” or control the addict may become the codependent’s way of coping with these fears. Many spouses come to us after years of feeling that they were crazy, or that their spouse’s lack of interest in them sexually was their fault, or that the lack of intimacy was a norm that they must learn to live with.

It seems inevitable that when the sex addiction is finally revealed, strong feelings of  betrayal, sadness, anger, and fear will surface.  Can the family recover from this overwhelming experience? An essential first step is for them to come to understand that:  

•  Sexual addiction is a disease, not a matter of self-indulgence, moral weakness, hedonism, or even choice.  Sex addiction isn’t “done at” someone else or because of someone else. Sex addiction is not the partner's fault.  

•  Sex addiction is an unasked-for disease, with explicable roots in childhood that produce a pattern of behavior that causes pain for the addict as well as for the family.

•  Is there treatment that will help the sex addict’s partner, particularly the codependent partner, deal with his or her situation?  Yes, there is.  At SATTI, we believe that for treatment to be both supportive and effective, the therapeutic focus must initially be on encouraging the partner to own and express the feelings of betrayal, anger, and mistrust that the presence of the newly revealed sexual addiction has caused.  Over time, as the partner is supported in working through these feelings, the need to blame the sex addict for all of the family’s difficulties–or to shame oneself for failing to solve all of these difficulties–eventually diminishes.  Instead, the codependent significant other  becomes freed up to begin his or her own recovery process.  Developing a healthy focus on oneself can then become the centerpiece of therapy.  

• Couples therapy is also essential if the family unit is going to have the chance–and the choice–to remain intact.  The couple needs support to work toward a future in which intimacy will be possible.  Over time, if both partners are willing to do their their individual and joint recovery work, a new basis for trust can be established.  

• The goal of longer-term treatment is to help the codependent significant other explore the issues in his or her history that may have played a part in having been willing to tolerate the longstanding deprivation and distance in the relationship.  

Codependency Recovery  

Codependency has often been portrayed in the popular media as if it were just a trivial, trendy problem.  The reality is quite different.  Sexual codependency, for example, is a major contributor to the spread of AIDS among women.  Some codependent women are so in need of their partners’ approval that they are unable to protect themselves by insisting upon safe sex.  Fearful of losing the other person, they give up their basic right to say no to their partners’ sexual demands. 

Within the family and in the workplace, codependency also plays a unacknowledged but damaging and depriving role. The codependent’s inability to say no, to disagree openly, to risk people’s anger often distorts important relationships.  Hidden resentments, confusion as to 

what he or she really feels, and a sense of inauthenticity are the price that is paid as the codependent focuses on others in an attempt to please them. 

Codependents are often unconsciously ambivalent about the sex addict’s recovery process.  While they of course want their partners to recover, many also fear they will be abandoned if that happens.  The codependent eventually becomes so focused on the partner’s addiction that there is little emotional energy available for the self. 

For many women,  codependency recovery  represents a rebirth.  As they learn to shift the focus from the addict to themselves, let go of the need to control others, and begin the journey inward to discover their own needs and feelings, a true sense of self, so long denied, begins to emerge.  Freedom is no longer equated with loss, and intimacy, once a terrifying prospect, becomes both possible and desirable. 

We offer a range of treatment resources to help the codependent, the couple, and the family throughout their healing journey. Group therapy and the modality of psychodrama are especially suited to this process of self-discovery and empowerment.  Psychodramatic groups, lively, flexible, and creative, in many ways embody the very qualities that so often emerge for the recovering codependent.  

For evaluation, consultation, or training, please call 
(212) 366-1490 or email us your questions at 
Since 1992.  Confidentiality and discretion assured.