Excerpt from Dr. Kevin Skinner, Clinical Director, LMFT, CSAT-S • Jul 19, 2018
In 2005, I wrote an assessment. This was one of the first assessments, if not the very first, that looked at trauma that stemmed from a spouse’s sexual behaviors. Since that time 10 years ago, thousands of people have completed our assessment.
The results have been stunning—and alarming. After poring through the data, it has become clear to me that thousands of women and men are suffering deeply due to their partner’s sexual behaviors outside of their relationship. Here are some categories, questions and results from our research:
Fear and Questions of Safety
I feel violated due to my partner’s sexual behaviors.
About half the time (9.65%)
More often than not (25.05%)
Relive the Event/Experience
When my partner tries to get close to me or we are sexually intimate, I cannot help but question whether my partner is thinking about me or things he/she has done.
About half the time (15.96%)
More often than not (27.05%)
I avoid sexual contact with my partner since discovering his/her behavior.
About half the time (23.32%)
More often than not (23.77%)
Negative Self Evaluation and Mood
I feel like my partner acts out because I am not good enough.
About half the time (23.22%)
More often than not (23.22%)
Emotional Arousal (e.g. Anger, Irritability)
After discovering my partner’s sexual behaviors, I find that I am increasingly angry in response to my partner.
About half the time (23.13%)
More often than not (34.58%)
Duration of the Disturbance
How long have you been experiencing the symptoms described in this assessment (e.g. recurrent thoughts, feeling anxious, being afraid)?
Less than one month (3.77%)
2-3 months (4.95%)
4-6 months (5.42%)
7-12 months (10.85%)
More than one year but less than two (16.51%)
More than two years but less than five (25.47%)
More than five years (33.02%)
Distress or Impairment in Social, Occupational, or Other Important Areas of Functioning)
It has become difficult for me to fulfill important roles (that of employee, parent, etc.) since discovering my partner’s sexual behaviors.
About half the time (30.35%)
More often than not (21.88%)
In reviewing the data above with many other responses, it became clear to me that the PTSD criteria model was a legitimate way to look at responses to infidelity and other sexual behaviors outside the marital bond. Betrayal trauma due to a partner’s sexual behaviors is common, and the symptoms are real. And, If left untreated, this condition can trigger additional mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.