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Why Support Groups Will Help You Heal from Betrayal

Last Updated: January 16, 2017

Ella Hutchinson
Ella Hutchinson

Ella Hutchinson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) who is passionate about advocating for partners of sex addicts by helping them to find their voice. She served for three years as a founding board member of the Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS). Today, she proudly serves on the board of directors for the organization, Certified Sex Addiction Specialists-International (CSASI). Ella and her husband, Jeff, work together helping couples whose marriages have been invaded by sexual addiction.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering, while that which promotes a sense of  love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.”
-Dean Ornish

When I discovered my husband was a sex addict, the last thing I wanted was to be around other people. But the pain was so extreme I was willing to do anything to make it stop.

When I was encouraged to join a support group, I decided to try it out even though I didn’t see myself as a “group therapy” person. My first experience wasn’t  good, but I didn’t give up and eventually found a very helpful, coach-led phone group.

two women talking togetherI had many fears about sharing what I was going through with my friends and family. Would they think I caused my husband to seek sexual gratification elsewhere because I wasn’t pretty enough, didn’t have sex with him enough, or wasn’t exciting enough in bed? Would they try to tell me what to do? Would they lose respect for me because I hadn’t left yet? Would they turn on him and think he was evil, a pervert or unforgivable, making things harder for me in the long run if I decided to stay? How would the fact that I “chose” a sex addict reflect on me? Would they think me naïve that I didn’t recognize the problem sooner?

On many occasions, some extra “me time” and time alone with God was just what I needed. But over time I learned that I’d never heal if I isolated myself from people. I felt like I’d die if I kept holding this inside.

So, I chose to open up to a few trustworthy women in my life. They didn’t have to fully understand, they just needed to listen without judgment. But I came to see that fellowship with other wives who had gone through similar situations was critical. Below I briefly describe five of the countless benefits a good support group will provide.

1. Support groups help you discover you are not alone

As I have spent the last six years counseling wives of sex and porn addicts, I have made a fascinating discovery. Without exception, the healing that takes place for women in my support groups happens more quickly and effectively than that which occurs in women seeing me for individual sessions. The feedback I get is overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. It’s what I call the “power of the group.” This shouldn’t have surprised me. After all, it is in line with both science and scripture.

It is difficult to put into words what happens when you put a small group of women with shared beliefs and experiences into an environment with a skilled leader or facilitator who has also been there. But I am blessed to be able to see this happen about twice a year, and I am amazed every time.

2. Support groups create connection

At first, women are overwhelmed by the realization that they finally have a place to share their feelings with people who understand their pain. But at week three or four, I begin to overhear discussions about texts exchanged throughout the week and plans being made to meet for coffee or dinner. It is common for me to hear of women who have met in my support groups to remain in contact long after the group ends.

In his book, Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy, cardiologist Dean Ornish, speaking about the healing power of love and connection, states:  “I am not aware of any other factor in medicine—not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery—that has a greater impact on our quality of life or incidence of illness.”

3. Support groups provide a safe space to share your story

Although I do encourage women to risk opening up to at least one trustworthy person in their current social circle, the truth is that you will have to be careful with your words, at least  at first. There are stereotypes and assumptions to consider. Sadly, some of the fears I listed in my story above are valid. With a good support group, there is no risk. We’re all in the same boat.

In order for community groups, support groups, or therapy groups to be helpful, they must provide a safe space for women to share their stories. This means there must be an environment of love and acceptance. You may have to try out more than one before you find one where you feel comfortable. Unless your gut tells you a particular group is more harmful than helpful, I encourage you to try a group at least three times before deciding if it’s right for you.

I do not personally recommend COSA or S-ANON, two popular 12-step fellowships for partners of sex addicts, because of their refusal to abandon the outdated co-addict model and embrace newer research supporting a trauma-approach to treating partners of sex addicts. However, if you’d like to give them a shot simply as a way of finding other partners to interact with, by all means do so. I understand the meetings vary quite a bit from city to city and state to state.

Celebrate Recovery is another 12-step program that is Christian based. Because of the codependency focus, I don’t think this is the best option for most wives of sex addicts early in the healing process, but again, try it out if you’d like. Everyone’s experience is different. I’m not a fan of the 12-steps in general for partners of sex addicts. (I love them for addicts though.) However, I do like Infidelity Survivors Anonymous (ISA) overall because they work from a trauma perspective.

You can search online for phone or web based groups. I find online forums and discussion boards to be unhelpful and discouraging most of the time. Some churches have their own support groups for wives of sex addicts. Try looking in your area to see what’s available to you.

4. Support groups provide a guided process for healing

My very favorite option, if you have something like this near you, is a therapist-led, closed group that uses a curriculum or approach based on the partner trauma model. These groups are usually short term, anywhere from a few weeks to several months. You join at the start of the group. The same women go through the group together and end together. This is how the most powerful bonding occurs. Usually no one knows each other the first day so everyone starts from the same place. By the end, lasting relationships have been formed.

In closed groups, as well as some open groups, topics are covered each week that help facilitate discussion and aid in healing. In my groups some of these topics are loss, self care, finding physical and emotional safety, boundaries, coping, and forgiveness. Weekly homework to accelerate the healing process is assigned and discussed.

5. Support groups provide accountability

I’m talking about social accountability, defined as “the process of staying answerable to your goals, dreams, and passions.” In a good support group, over time, others will reach out to you if you’re absent to make sure you’re ok. You might share a plan in group to set a certain boundary with your husband. The next week the group members will be eager to hear how it went. When you’re struggling you’ll have people to call or text who will offer a listening ear or encouraging word.

For those in the greater Houston and Katy, TX area, I start a new group about every six months. My next support group will begin January 25, 2016. It is 16 weeks long and limited to no more than seven women. You can click here to learn more.

God created us to be relational beings. We are wired for community. Whether you walk into a group eager to meet others and no longer feel alone, or whether you go in kicking and screaming like I did, push yourself to do this. It just might be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25

  • Comments on: Why Support Groups Will Help You Heal from Betrayal
    1. Adam

      I have read through quite a few of your articles on this website. I have noticed two things that are severely lacking here, or two thoughts if you will.(I scrolled through about 100 pages worth of blogs on my iPhone). Most of what you have to say and offer is aimed at married people. Yes there were several articles that dealt with singles and loneliness but the main thread, if you will, is aimed at couples. You are looking at porn as a problem in and of itself, not a symptom of a problem. As a 28 year old Christian male who is a virgin, I have used porn and masturbation for the majority of my adult life. I do believe in waiting till marriage to have sex, as God tells us. I do not think of myself as an addict, in actuality I have stopped twice in my life, once for 1 year, the other time for 2 years. I wasn’t tempted to go back, I made a conscious decision to do so. Why? Feminism is so pervasive that even finding a girl in church to talk to is a major pain the rear. To this day I have never found a girl that would have been worth the effort it would have took (then having to put up with her would have been another story). I totally get that the unsaved world would fall for the lie of feminism, but the way in which it has snuck into the church is astonishing. That’s point 1. In my case, using porn is because I have truly no other option at this point. I realize that the likelihood of finding a spouse is extremely slim, almost nonexistent. I was 22 years old before I looked at porn and masturbated the first time. I kept myself from it until then. It dawned on me that day that a wife wasn’t going to be. So I decided, what the heck? The two times I stopped myself were when I believed that there would be something better out there(also to prove to myself that I was not an addict). I did it all, prayed more, read more, asked God to take away my sexual urges, nothing helped. Just frustration all the time. The whole thing is just plain sad. I have always wanted to have a family of my own and all that. The two options I have for life(since God cutting me a break and removing such urges from me is apparently a no go) are to either watch porn occasionally and numb the desires to a tolerable point, or live with a constant nagging loneliness and frustration that will never go away. Personally, gonna have to say I choose the first option, lesser of the two evils. You all should totally write some articles about porn being a secondary issue, or atleast research it. Yes for some it may truly be an addiction, but I would bet for many guys such as myself, it is a secondary problem. Sorry for the long post lol.

      • Pete

        Adam, As an addict to porn I would like to respond. First of all notice I wrote….AS AN ADDICT TO PORN, and NOT………AS A PORN ADDICT! The reason this is so important is because WE are the problem/ADDICT, NOT the porn itself! I understand you are in your later 20’s and feel that a wife and family is NOT in the cards for you. STOP RIGHT THERE!!!!!! IT IS ON GOD’S TIME, NOT ADAMS!!!!!! I am almost 50 and didn’t get married until I was 42. I always wanted to, but partying and porn were so much more of a priority. You say that you only use porn for self pleasure rather than WASTING time on communicating with women and getting to know them. Well WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE??? How do you know that God’s plan isn’t for you to be with one of these women and to HELP them with something in their lives? How do you know that THEY aren’t struggling with the SAME issue in their lives? STOP BEING SO SELFISH!!!! You need to be obedient to God’s will and it is not for you to be alone! Also you need to get that thought OUT OF YOUR HEAD that porn for self gratification is OK, because IT’S NOT!! IT WILL CONSUME YOU AND CHANGE YOU RIGHT BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES!!!! I thought I could control it, and it landed me in jail, no wife, no family, no social life, loss of friends, loss of family respect, loss of trust and dignity and SO MUCH MORE! The ONLY gain that porn has brought me in my life…..IS CLOSER TO MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD! I tried for 20-some odd years to do it my way, and NOW I know…….I CAN DO NOTHING IN THIS WORLD WITHOUT GOD, BUT THERE’S NOTHING IN THIS WORLD I CANNOT DO…..WITH GOD! Please take heed of this warning, and live your life IN GOD, before things change you and you find yourself worshipping GOD, but living IN THIS WORLD! Lastly I’ll end by advising you that by you making those choices you stated in your post….you’re making excuses for porn and taking God out of the equation. God loves you brother and so do I!

      • Lisa Eldred

        Hi Adam,

        Have you read More Than Single yet? Half the point of that e-book is about finding joy in singleness, not seeing it as a pain to be numbed by pornography. You might also be interested in reading through the archives of SingleRoots.

        I also am curious about the overall dating ethos you were raised in. In the 1990s, there was a big trend in conservative Christian circles, moving toward courtship. Basically, that can be summarized as “Don’t date unless you’re pretty sure you want to marry that person.” Unfortunately, that seems to have paralyzed young men and women from actually getting to know each other. So when you say you “have never found a girl that would have been worth the effort it would have took,” I have to wonder what criteria you were using to make that decision. Was it that you haven’t met one who you knew you’d want to marry, so it wasn’t worth going out for coffee and conversation in the first place? Or are you judging them by looks alone?

        As one final thought, I should also point out that your continued use of porn may mean that many young women aren’t interested in dating you. We’ve heard too many stories from heartbroken wives who have discovered their husbands’ porn use to ever want to see a young couple in that position (see also the reason for this particular blog post). So I’d strongly encourage you to quit porn and fill your time with other things (furthering your education; volunteering; developing a hobby; etc.). And don’t discount God’s power; you never know whether He’ll bring an eligible young lady into your life.

      • greg

        @ Adam – I hear you and feel/have felt your pain. I think you’re drifting towards a pretty solid point when it comes to the feminazi-ism that runs rampant almost everywhere in the U.S. and that pornography is a symptom rather than a cause. The pain you feel is not simply caused by lack of sexual gratification and while there might be some temporary relief, even sex with the most attractive woman who ever lived wouldn’t scratch that itch.

        From experience and light research I can tell you that your desire/interest in porn and masturbation isn’t caused by your otherwise celibacy and if you were married to a woman wanton with you alone, you would still have interest and energy for it. In fact, you might want it even more because people in sexual relationships masterbate more than when they have no sexual partner.

        But you’re also making excuses for yourself and sometimes life really does have to be excruciating. If one became sexually disabled, does that free their spouse to find that relief elsewhere? Nope.

        I don’t think you’re likely to find your answer in church because the vast majority of pastors I know are primarily intent on budget and making disciples of themselves just as Paul spoke about nearly 2000 years ago. Your faith needs to be in God alone. Do not look to pastors, the church, or society in general to show you the way.

        How does the Bible treat gender and sexuality? It’s a holy thing perhaps no less sensitive than the Holy of Holies was during OT days. We are made in God’s image but not in the same way as woman. IMHO – the desire for sexual union is ingrained in most people because when the two become one, they are an earthly reflection of the more perfect union of God. I think God hates divorce because it is an even more powerful representation of disrespect and hatred than tearing someone’s picture in half would be.

        Women in general, more in the church than anywhere else I’ve been, have been trained to believe that they are head of household and are to tell men how to think and act properly as men and husbands. Men were not made to fit into that role amd the overarching result of trying to fit there to please women ironically is using women for their sexuality only without regard for all the ways they are so amazing and beautiful.

        I *was* married in part because my ex insisted on being in charge and when she lost the ability to control me and dominate the way the world *and the church* taught her she should, she set herself on a path to do absolutely as much damage to me as possible with awareness and support of clergy (remember wolves in sheep’s clothing? The Bible is true, these wolves exist, and they *will* tear you and the image of God to pieces as much as they can without revealing themselves).

        Your problem with pornography isn’t due to a lack of suitable women to marry but because you have a lack of life purpose. Daniel was a manly man wasn’t he? Did you know he was castrated? Job was an extremely righteous and viril man who loved sex but was utterly devoted to his wife. He was extremely gentle, strong, and productive and he did not follow his wife or ever allow her to set his course. HE corrected her and was gente to her. Study him. Study 1st John.

        Your pain is real and it is significant. But while enjoying the pleasures God designed man to enjoy (chief of which is a woman any one of whom has more beauty than any one man can fully explore) my give you cause to praise God, it is the pain of life that makes you righteous, what makes you powerful, what makes you gentle. Even when Adam was a sinless man God said it was not good for him to be alone and anyone who tells you who have such desire otherwise should close their mouths.

        Porn absolutely brings relief, but so does alcohol, so does methamphetamine but maybe excruciating pain is what you need to be who you are and maybe your source of relief is worse than your injury. And you can endure far more than you know as sexless singleness is far less painful and lonely than marriage with lots of sex but no love (personal experience).

        Consider doing the following: take seven days from work and everything else and separate yourself from absolutely everyone. If you can find a desert, go to it and take nothing but water and vitamins. Consume absolutely nothing that has calories in it. Take your Bible and writing material. Consider waiting a couple days until you start to feel the pain of hunger and then dig into Job. Then dig into 1st John. Then whatever else you find in the Bible to read and then ask God to have mercy on you and comfort you and see what happens. Honestly, how much do you have to lose?

        As to the woman who instructed you, she should be silent as should every last woman presuming to instruct man, on manliness no less.

        Pornography is a symptom of you not being manly enough. Ironically, unmanly men love sex without consiquence and have no ability to resist pornography. The irony is that church women have been hugely taught to denigrate rather than respect men and their man in particular but then they are sad with the results.

        Women are to be loved and appreciated and being overwhelmed with awe and reverence for them (not helped by pornography) is right. But do not obey them or follow them no matter how much they want you to.

      • Sorry my friend about that. I bet you that we are in the same league. I’m also going through the same problem and I’m seeking for a help. If you find one out there please help me by sending me too. I’m helpless. I also can’t reach you easily because I’m in Africa/Kenya

      • JB

        Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place for a wife or not willing to put forth the effort to get to know a woman in the first place? Perhaps you don’t know how to talk to women, see them as beneath you, or don’t understand how to build a friendship with them? All that can be achieved with something called practice in real life.What does females having equal rights have to do with any of this? Are you against a woman having equal rights or having a career? Do you feel threatened by a woman who can think for herself and has her own interests? What is it about a woman that you dread putting up with?
        I find this is often a reason why a man chooses porn versus women in real life. It’s much easier to just have that instant gratification than dealing with a living person and having to converse and build intimacy, interest or friendship. Good luck, because that online stuff will never satisfy the true need you have for human connection.

    2. Bev

      I live near Ft Worth TX and am in desperate need of a small closed group to help me with my husbands infidelity and addiction to porn and escorts. Can you please help me with where to look to find a Christian group like what you describe you are starting in Houston area? I have talked with a counselor but she is not available for over a month and another has groups but they are an hour away form me. I really need a group of godly seeking women that know what I am going thru and can help me cope and navigate thru these waters and storms. Having been married over 27 years and not ever knowing the hidden life my Christian husband was living is tough enough but trying to follow Gods desire for my marriage and forgive and honor him and try to trust is very difficult. It’s been 5 months now since I discovered this sin and I just need more help for myself. Please let me know if there is a place I can go online or call in my area to find a group like you lead, not a C Recovery or 12 step program but trama based help. Thank you.

      • Kay Bruner

        Hi Bev. Well, a lot of the groups I know of are 12-step. Celebrate Recovery, S Anon, Al Anon, xxxChurch, Pure Desire. You could look at the CSAT directory and see if any of those counselors in your area might be offering a group for spouses. There are also a number of “Recovery Churches” that offer groups of various types. Again, these might be 12-step. I know that City on a Hill in Ft Worth offers groups. Serenity Church in The Colony is another church I know of that has groups. They are step groups. If you’ve located a trauma group, I would say that a couple hour’s drive once a week might be a good investment of your time. (From a Dallas-dweller.) Blessings, Kay

      • greg

        Bev, your husbands infidelity is not your fault. It is his decision. I am so sad for you but don’t ever let anyone disrespect you for staying in. Never ever debase your husband’s manliness but honor, respect, and submit to absolutely every scrap of it you can find in him. It is not your lack of qualities to appreciate that caused his infidelity but his lack of Biblical manliness. The world has trained you to tear him down but there is no tool on earth more powerful in building him up than you.

        To the prostitutes he isn’t even a person, let alone a man, but simply a loaf of bread. They are tearing his manhood down, do not be like them.

      • Amy

        My Church in San Diego had a group called For Women Only (FWO) and we did the pure desires workbooks. Go to puredesires.org they have a list of groups listed for each state. If you do not see one listed contact Diane Roberts, her contact information should be on the website. There may be one also through Google Groups, Pure Desires.

      • Isaiah54

        I recommend Rejoice Marriage Ministries and Motivated to Love Facebook Group. These have really helped me.

    3. Adam

      Hey Lisa, thanks for the reply! To answer some of your questions, I was raised in the whole dating bad, courting good nonsense. As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house I quickly threw that ideology in the trash where it belongs lol. There was a girl I was very interested in when I was still living at home back when I was 19 or 20, but I knew the absolute nightmare that situation would have been if my parents had gotten involved and forced their “courtship” junk on it, so I just ignored it.
      You did seem to skip over my main point I brought up though. Feminism alone is toxic enough to women’s attitudes, mix that in with a little bit of religion and you have a very nasty combination.
      No, when I say that it is not worth my time, I am not talking about ones looks, but the overall attitude prevalent in church girls, at least at the churches I have gone to (mostly Baptist). It sucks. If I wasn’t a Christian I could easily have a girlfriend and not need porn. I have dated non-Christians (and even Christian ones) that stopped seeing me because I wouldn’t sleep with them. I realized eventually that dating non-Christians was not a good thing, and stopped that but still it seriously can irk one off.
      So I guess where I stand is I need a REASON to stop. I know I should, I know it is wrong. But from my standpoint I really cannot see a better option. I have read those things about using this time to do all these extra things, but to be honest, this particular “habit” if you will, takes up very little time. And look, I totally get that being married would bring a lot of different difficulties into life and all that, but I can honestly say that it would be better than being single. I don’t much care for it. Celibacy and always being alone sucks. I know Jesus is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and is always there, but that doesn’t help sometimes lol.

      • Denise

        Adam, It hurts me to hear of your frustration and pain. I too deal with being frustrated and am in pain very much alone. I do not use porn. I am married to a man that has for 29 years refused me any relationship with him intimately, emotionally or sexually, especially he has never utilized honesty. I was only used when something better wasn’t around. It is been hard to deal with as I am a very strong sexually desiring woman. I crave sex and orgasm almost everyday. I walk around with strong sexual urges just like many men describe. Some claim women aren’t built that way. Wrong. I battle and battle to pure in mind. I easily turn away from good looking men. I have seen websites and yes I have been aroused by seeing them ( coming across pictures is different from looking for them and clicking to view them more and more). It is very easy to stubble on it these days. It would be easy to give and have sexual pleasure quickly and be sexually heightened by the visual content of nudity and sexuality. But! As you stated it is wrong. What makes it wrong? Matt 5:28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt 5:29-30 states that this sends you to hell and the only way to not go there is to irradicate the sin. Run from it, but radically keep away and remove it. There are some videos and articles written here on this site about how to deal with this. Many. It is you putting into practicing and utilizing the tools. Application of God’s word is the key. First you must read it know what it says then apply. Sometimes that is not easy or maybe we have a hard time figuring out how to apply it. It comes to the decision do I want to be pleasing to God? Do I want to be defiled and impure or do I want to be pure? I am not saying that sometimes masterbation isn’t necessary for a release but you don have to defile your eyes your mind with the nakedness of anyone that God has not sanctioned for you to see and enjoy. (You don’t need a picture or a film to successfully masterbate.)He has only sanctioned enjoying visual and other sexual pleasures with that of a wife, a one flesh. It is difficult to deal with this. It can be a huge temptation if you allow it. Sin can control you. You must take the drivers seat and so NO. I will not be that person. I will not allow this to rule me. Take a shower, move your mind to something else. Above all be content. Those are difficult words. The choices are choose to be pure or choose to have a lifestyle that leads to hell and defilement. Love God by offering yourself as a living sacrifice to Him because He first loved you. Give Him what you owe Him. It is only reasonable service to Him. These are not my words But His. Do some research in your Bible and find these statements to be His. Prove it to yourself. Dig in His word it will help if searched with an open heart.
        I agree that feminism has broken much in life. Male minds treating women as things and being a tyrannical Lord demanding and not loving feeds it and I believe gave birth to it. Men were meant to loving lead by example not abuse of power. It is hard for a woman not to follow love respect and honor. Show me a man that loves his wife like Christ loved the church and there will be a loving submissive wife because she can trust him with her emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well being.
        May I suggest to you that you are angry(read your own posts, they speak with anger) and not contentment I know you are lonely and even hurt May I suggest that knowing God’s word is the key to the door to your contentment and purity and spiritual strength. Knowing it then truly applying it. Maybe you set your standards in the wrong arena when trying to find a wife. A young lady that is willing to show you even partial nudity or revealing of her by really tight clothes is not pure in her mind or knows what pure is. Maybe look to the ones you might not consider as not dressing so “pretty or cool or in” as the world sees it. I am not saying trying someone you find ugly, but try looking at the inner beauty of a women. You must look at her with more than your eyes. See the servitude of a young woman. Her attitude. Her chaste behavior. Try looking in a religious body that is not demnominationally based, but just a New Testament Christian based. Not interdenominational that anything goes, but Bible based. I really wanted quote more verse but I have typed so much, but I believe digging inGod’s word for yourself will prove what it says to you for you. Good luck. Pray and seek God and purity. Avoid things that trigger sexual arrousal. Avoid them and stay away. But change your heart with God’s word. A renewing of your mind. Your actions will follow. Much love and care for you are not alone and you face no temptation that is not common to man. There is nothing new under the sun. Use what Gid has given you. You never know what lies ahead. Seek and you will find if you seek God and His salvation with all your heart, soul and mind. Those words have real meaning that requires action from you God already has done His part. He is waiting there for you.

      • Kelly

        Adam. I understand your frustration with feminism, but what feminism really is is a answer to world that gas become so sexually charged that women have no other choice but to defend and protect themselves against ii, it is a problem but if you’re seeking women who are not true women of God if they are feminist they’re living for themselves not for God, you have not found the right Christian woman. As a follower of Jesus I truly believe that men need to stay pure and holy for their wives. I am an example of a Christian marriage whose husband was led astray, it has caused a lot of devastation and a lot of heart ache on my behalf. I have followed God and tried follow His will. But my husband was not following God he was following his own desires, desires that started with pornography and a strict “religious” upbringing that has his perception of who Jesus truly is totally miscued. If you truly want this to stop you need to stop doing what you are doing and focus on God and become a holy man so that you can be a holy husband to your wife and lead her and your family the way God intends. A Christian women will not submit to a Christian man but God in the Christian man, if he is not there fully then she will never submit to you fully. You can’t have evil and God in the same body, pornography and this sexually charged world we live in is a direct result of the devastation and destruction and deception of the deceiver. You have believed his lies and therefore cannot hear God completely. I really hope and pray for the best for you that you find a true Christian woman because if you find one that truly follows Jesus it is such an amazing thing, I’d hate for you to finally find that person and realize after you’re with her that you do have a problem and wind up hurting her the way I’ve been hurt. God Bless you and give you the strength and courage it takes to truly follow Him.

    4. Carol

      I live where there are only small communities in a large area, so have been unable to find any support groups, so feel very isolated. Are there any call-in groups for spouses of porn/sex addicts? My husband belongs to one that has been helpful for him, but I haven’t come across any for spouses. Thanks!

    5. How do i find a support. i am an assistant pastor and i dont know of any in my area.

      • Lisa Eldred

        John, Kay has posted several places to look. To quote her: “Well, a lot of the groups I know of are 12-step. Celebrate Recovery, S Anon, Al Anon, xxxChurch, Pure Desire. You could look at the CSAT directory.

        As a pastor, you might want to consider starting a support group in your church; statistically, over 60% of the men in your church are dealing with porn at least monthly, so there’s almost certainly a market for it. You can read more about that in Fight Porn in Your Church.

        By the way, in case you’re the one personally struggling, you might want to read Internet Pornography: A Ministry Leader’s Handbook to hear from other pastors in that situation.

      • Carol

        John, you sound desperate so am praying for you, as I hope you do for other men in a similar situation as yours & my husband’s, who is a retired pastor. The teleconference group he belongs to & which he has found very helpful (also very affordable) is found at http://www.freedomeveryday.org. If you are married, there is also a group for your spouse, which I just discovered myself, so haven’t checked into yet, but plan to, as well as some of the others that were suggested. Isolation is an enemy for both spouses…

    6. Phil

      Thanks to Kay for the suggestions online – I will be checking them out. was wondering if anyone had any groups/resources for Sydney, Australia?

      • Kay Bruner

        Hi Phil, There’s a group based in Australia–here’s a link to their resource page with support group suggestions.

      • Isaiah54

        Rejoice Marriage Ministries online. Motivated to Love Facebook Group. I hope this helps. I only know of online supports, but these have been more than helpful to me

    7. Gray

      Ella, Sadly I have found that many of these support groups that are led by a therapist/counselor charge $$$. If a woman does not work outside of the home/retired/medical disabled or already paying a therapist & like many families trying to pay the bills , they cant afford to pay ($300/mo) in my area to attend a support group.

      I have decided to try to do something about this for the women I counsel (lay) in my hometown. There are 2 good workbooks…one by Marsha Means & Intimate Treason. Using a workbook is a good idea for a Church that has a woman that wants to start such a group but feels “unqualified” since she’s not a licensed therapist. And sometimes without a workbook using the “sharing” plan one or two women can dominate the conversation, so much so that others don’t get an opportunity to share or leave the group. I pray that Churches will get more involved in having support groups for the wives. If a woman feels God leading her to start such a group she can become a lay counselor & acquire the skills along with allowing God to use her pain to help her fellow sisters-in Christ.

      Also I would like to see more couples that have come thru this be willing to mentor other couples in their Church/community. EVERY marriage is going to face a crisis during their marriage. Most of our Churches have some pre-marital classed & Divorce recovery but NO ONE on staff to help those struggling marriages. Isn’t he message of the Church to keep families together. Sadly we are failing, but with God that can change!

    8. Gray


      Thank you for getting out the information & helping other therapists/counselors understand the “trauma model” instead of the “co-addict” model that has been used for years. While I understand with other addictions often family members do “enable” the addict, but with sexual addiction it is different. I don’t know of one woman that stood @ the altar & thought “yeah I hope we can bring other partners into this marriage to spice it up” or ” its okay if my husband wants to use Porn or strip clubs, maybe go to prostitutes”. Nonsense!! Yet this is exactly the thinking when a wounded wife gets labeled as “co-addict”.

      Thanks again Ella for speaking out. And yes I agree with you some of the support groups you named that you found not helpful, are not! They can cause even more pain for the wife that is already reeling from her husband’s adultery.

      • Ella Hutchinson

        Thank you, Gray! Yes, therapists do charge for their groups. That is because we went to school for a long time and also have bills to pay. For me, this is my passion, but also my job. Please understand that. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. I do offer discounts to clients who need assistance.

        We also offer a different experience than a peer led group that I feel is deeper and more healing, although I am very supportive of peer facilitated groups! In fact, I encourage you to check out the new peer facilitator training that Donna Dixon is doing with A Door of Hope. Her website is http://www.lifeisahead.com. She’s an amazing life coach and person!

    9. Haley

      My journey to healing began about a year ago. However, only when joining a small group led by Ella, did life change really begin to take place. After making a heart wrenching discovery that my husband was addicted to porn, I felt hopeless, abandoned, alone, and traumatized. This was brand new to me, and certainly not something I had expected or anticipated so early on in marriage. I was desperate and looking for answers. That’s when I met Ella. We met several times individually, and she told me about a group that met once a week and the healing she had seen take place through group therapy. Although I was a bit skeptical about it all, I took a leap of faith and am so glad that I did. I began meeting with another group of women once a week as we worked through different topics that affected us all. These included coping methods, detachment, self-care, boundaries, loss, and what the future holds. Ella led these groups faithfully every week, and we were able to check in with updates about our week. We also discussed the lesson that week in our book and how that applied to each of our lives. There is so much healing that took place in that room- both in my life and the lives of other women. Throughout this experience, I have seen such a huge change in my life and my husbands life. God has worked in incredible ways to help heal our hearts and our marriage. The relational healing that has taken place with my small group is something I cherish. It will forever be a part of my story, our story, and I’m so grateful. If anyone is skeptical about group therapy, I challenge you to take a leap. My life, and my marriage, has been forever changed, and I hope that others can experience the same thing.

      • Ella Hutchinson

        Thank you, Haley!

    10. Lori

      Hi Ella,

      I live in California, near the Regan Presidential Library and I’d like to attend a support group for spouses of porn addicts. I’ve been married for 33 years, and a year and a half ago, I discovered that my husband is addicted to porn. I have a therapist I’ve seen for many years due to the grief/ depression from my mother’s death 10 years ago. She suggested that I find a support group but so far I haven’t found one through internet searches. My therapist is the only one beside my husband I’ve talked to about this and feel isolated of the suffering of my husband’s betrayal. Any information you can give me is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

      PS- My husband has been going to counseling for over a year for his addiction to porn. He understands that he must go to therapy for the rest of his life. He is in agreement with my request. He knows that I would leave if he didn’t maintain his counseling. When I found out about his problem, he cried, took responsibility & said he needed help. I’ve had bad days, that I don’t trust him and feel totally disgusted with this disturbing behavior. I married him at age 20. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have married him.

      I hope you can give me some information in my area. Thanks.

      • Chris McKenna

        Hello, Lori, if there’s nothing in person, you might try as a first step an online group, like with Vicki Tiede or Dirty Girls Ministry. They are both amazing. Bloom for Women also has resources for recovering wives.

        I sincerely hope you find the support you’re looking for.

    11. Lori

      Anyone having issues finding a therapist that does not accuse you of being a co-dependent or advise you to just forgive and forget and move on? It is the most painful thing having to deal with the betrayal and being accused of producing shame whenever you feel like talking to your husband about the past. The past is taboo and never to be spoken of with the person you chose to share your life with…

    12. Jessica

      Hello I have recently found a name to attach to why i am so depressed have anxiety low self esteem questioning my sanity it has so much to do with Betrayal trauma. I have caught my husband of 24 years on several occasions from traces of porn on different devices only to be told its not him its old or im crazy oh and I promise not to watch it anymore. He doesnt seem to have the motivation to truly take responsibility confess his secrets or to create ways to make me feel safe from being hurt by him over and over. I live in the South san Diego Tijuana area any churches groups ebooks counseling someone could recommend. Please desperate wife

      • Kay Bruner

        Hey there.

        Here the link to a directory where you can find counseling help in your area. You might also appreciate the online resources at Bloom. Consider your boundaries. Here, here, and here are articles that might help you think that through. Whatever he chooses, you can choose to be healthy and whole.

    13. Maria

      Hello, Glad that I found this site. Is there any group that you can recommend near Brandon area, Tampa Florida?
      When I married my husband, he was into porn but since I am against it he respect my decision and turn away from it. It was just recently when I caught him watching again, the thing is, if I don’t know him well I would have believe him that his totally out from it but for many events I caught him lying right into my face. Last week, while we were on bed I was watching Netflix and though he was sleeping, I found him watching “muted” porn, just next to me. I give up and told him as long as he’ll do it with me, but it didn’t. I asked him that once his aroused he can let go of porn and focus on me, as husband and wife I believe that intimacy is ti be shared by “us” not with his eyes on the screen.

      Today, I thought he was working in his office, I caught him again watching Lesbian Porn and Just masturbated, I have been asking him on a daily basis, and he keep giving a lot of excuses, the thing that I wanted to have a child, I’m 36 years old and his 58, I’m really running of option here. Being his third wife and him as my first husband, I think pornography really gets in our marriage, and probably my dream to become a mother too. We are both Christian (or at least that’s what he wants me to believe that he is), Today- I am having doubts on him again.

      As much as I want to talk about this to our friends, family or even our Pastor- I felt embarrassed. I will remain anonymous for the sake of my marriage but would like to thank everyone in advance.

      • Kay Bruner

        Hi Maria,

        I am so sorry for the pain you’re going through. Let me see if I can hook you up with some resource ideas, and maybe other readers will know of specifics for your area.

        If your husband is open to getting help for himself, the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist network is a great resource for him. He might also benefit from a group like Pure Desire or Sex Addicts Anonymous.

        For yourself, Pure Desire groups are also available for spouses in many places. You will also appreciate the online resources at Bloom for Women. Many churches also offer support groups for spouses as part of a recovery ministry.

        I’d also encourage you to look at some of our resources on boundaries: here, here, and here.

        Whatever he chooses, you can choose to be healthy and whole.

    14. Eleda

      Are there any support groups in the Phoenix Arizona area?

    15. Anonymous

      No support groups in my area at all. There are some online but most have a fee which I have no money so I cannot join these. I.Have.No.One.

      • Kay Bruner

        I know that Bloom for Women does have a paywall, however, I believe it’s less than $20/month. It’s well worth the investment in your wellbeing. They do have a free trial if you’d like to use that option as well.

    16. Regina

      Hello. I am 57 years old and have only been married for 3 years. I’m a Christian, but my husband is not. (don’t ask). Three days ago, I came home from the store and caught a glimpse of a pornographic woman on my husband’s computer. He immediately closed the screen and I didn’t mention it. My husband is the last person on the face of this earth that I would have ever thought would have looked at porn. I used to tell everyone that our marriage was just so easy and smooth. (the joke was on me). Plus, I asked him before we got married if he looked at porn because that was a deal-breaker for me. He assured me that he didn’t. (that was a lie).

      When I saw what was on his screen, I couldn’t even speak. My insides were racing. I felt so many emotions all at once…..anger, hurt, betrayal, embarrassment, worthless, stupid, naive, sick, and alone. But oddly enough, my outside demeanor was numb and silent.

      The next morning he was embarrassed and sad and apologized. I still couldn’t talk to him yet. So the next day, I asked if we could talk. Well, I’m not sure what happened from day 1 to day 3, but now he was defensive instead of remorseful. Because of his reaction, I realized that this was not a new thing, but his porn habit must be deeper and had been going on much much longer than I ever imagined.

      I just want the pain to go away. I want the marriage I thought we had to be the marriage we actually do have.

      I still feel emotionless. I don’t eat, I don’t talk……………..I’m literally just numb. When I promised for better or worse, I never in a million years thought porn would be part of my “worse”. I HATE THIS.

      I also hate that I have no one to share this with. This is a secret sin, I won’t expose my husband0’s sin to my friends or to our family. So, I feel like I have to deal w/ it alone. I mean, I know I’m never truly alone because I have the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter, but you know what I mean.

      I’m so glad I found you all for an outlet and for hope and insight and direction.

      People keep saying what’s wrong? You seem like there’s something on your mind and I have to swallow my words and I can’t share my crisis with those closest to me.

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again…………………I HATE THIS!!!!!!!

      • Moriah Bowman

        Hi Regina,

        I am so sorry that you are going through this trial. Please know that you are not alone. I read stories every day from women who are experiencing similar pain and betrayal. Pornography is truly evil, and it destroys so many marriages. It is my prayer that your marriage is not one that is destroyed, because while it can be devastating, there IS healing and restoration. We actually just published a blog post about 6 marriages that overcame pornography. I’d encourage you to read each of them as a source of hope for you during this difficult time.

        Although you don’t want to share this pain with others, I do think that in time, it is essential that you reach out and ask for help. This doesn’t need to even be a close friend or family member…it can be a church leader, a counselor, or just someone whom you consider to be a mentor. If you aren’t ready to do this yet, pray and ask God to direct you to the right person when you are ready. I have found that even in the most trying times of my life, God has always met me in my despair. He always pulls me out of the pit of darkness, even if it’s not right away. If your husband is not demonstrating a desire to change (and stop watching porn), reaching out for help is even more crucial. You can play a key part in his recovery, but you shouldn’t play the only part. 180 Recovery offers fantastic recovery groups for men in the throes of addiction.

        As you seek to find comfort in Christ, I’d encourage you to check out the resources at Bloom for Women. I am praying for you! Stay strong. Keep clinging to Christ!

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