Ashley Madison who?

by Theresa Marie Abec, FLT Columnist

So if you have slightly paid attention to the recent news headlines, something has come to surface: sexual secrets. Ashley Madison (a website for married people who want to have sexual affairs) was a recent website that was hijacked and its information leaked. Some were shocked to find out about this “secret” world, and one of the characteristics of sex addiction is sexual secrets.

Not all individuals who have extramarital affairs are addicted to sex, but it certainly brings up the issue of having problems with sexual behaviors. Addiction affects men and women from various socioeconomic, cultural and religious backgrounds; addiction does not discriminate. Sexual addiction progresses over time and sexual behaviors can grow to violate personal morals,  put one in jail, and ruin individual lives and reputations. What happens that we miss what is occurring right in our immediate lives? What can we do to protect ourselves, our marriages, our children and our homes?

One fact that keeps us from seeing the obvious sexual addiction in our immediate lives is denial. For some it is easier to deter than to deal with it straight on, too embarrassed to talk about sex. Additionally, since one in four women have been sexually abused as a little girl, undealt with past trauma affects sexual perceptions negatively which can create disconnect in marriages and relationships. Also, in our American culture sex and sexual images are splashed on media everywhere and we have habituated to some extent. For others, it is such a shock that such things like adult book store hook ups and midnight masturbation over the Internet happen in our homes that we minimize its negative affects on individuals and our culture.

Dishonesty serves a role in addiction. If the addict stops lying then they have to face painful feelings to those they love and to themselves. Lies energize addictive thoughts and behaviors. So  have you noticed some sexual behaviors in you or your spouse but have minimized or brushed them under the rug? Since most sex addicts are into pornography, is that something that continues to go on in your marriage? Or, better yet, have you talked to your adolescents about sex and masturbation?

One of the first steps to sexual health is to talk about sex with your spouse and your kids in an appropriate and open manner, addressing how the objectifying of sex and sexual secrets creates a disconnect in marriages and homes. It takes courage to look at sexual secrets, but remember that these secrets are based on lies that energize addictive thoughts and behaviors; telling the truth reduces shame and starts the road to recovery and healing. Trying to figure out this issue alone without some help from others, literature or professionals can be overwhelming;   you do not have to walk this alone! There is help for the addict and those affected by sexual secrets.

Theresa Marie Abec is a Board Certified Clinical Counselor and welcomes new patients looking for assistance with adults with mental health issues specializing in sex addiction recovery therapy. Currently under direct clinical supervision with Dr. Doug Weiss through the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy (AASAT). To schedule an appointment with Theresa, call Serenity Health & Wellness Center at 419-891-2181.