I got married at 26. I thought I knew everything. At the time, I was unable to see how insecure and emotionally needy I was.

Seven months after getting married I was admitted to a club that I think is every woman’s worst nightmare; discovering your husband is addicted to pornography.

Looking back I see how naive I was, how badly I wanted to “be married.” I realize how many blarring red flags there were and I how I should’ve have asked very direct questions.

I was blindsided and felt as the rug had been pulled out from under me. I felt completely numb as I tried to even begin to wonder what my next steps were as a wife and a woman.

Sexual addiction is a growing epidemic in our culture today. And while the science behind pornography addiction continues to grow, it is still normalized in the culture. Worse yet, it is barely addressed or spoken about in the Church.  

I remember when I began to learn the nature of my former husband’s sexual addictive behaviors, I felt unsupported by the Church. I had no idea where to turn to find counselors, books to read, recovery groups for wives, etc.

I wanted the Church to speak up and speak out for a painful reality myself and many other women have lived or still are living.

I wanted the Church to speak up and speak out for a painful reality myself and many other women have lived or still are living.

Sexual addictive behaviors are destructive to healthy relationships in marriage. It utterly destroys healthy sexual intimacy and how men view and treat women. It plays off of lies and deception, and those will destroy the critical foundation of trust in a strong marriage.

When a woman learns this painful reality in a relationship with her boyfriend or husband, she has to make choices. Sometimes that choice is to stay in the relationship, do the hard healing work, and God willing see restoration. But sometimes it doesn’t play out that way. Sometimes the only choice is to leave, and that is okay too.

In my own situation, that was what I had to do.

It has now been just over two years since my divorce and a year and half since I received a declaration of nullity (annulment). I have done a lot of intensive counseling and healing work. And as I continue on that journey, there is a growing desire and passion in my heart to support women who were in the same situation I was.

I am starting to write, speak, and share my experience. A friend and I have started a workshop in our diocese called “Whispered in the Dark.” It is offered to men/women who find themselves in a serious relationship with another person who is sexually addicted. We connect people with local trained CSAT (certified sex addiction therapists) counselors, relevant presentations, and resources to learn more. It is amazing to see how God is opening doors for this ministry in our local community.

I never want another Catholic woman to feel as alone, lost, or frustrated what to do next as I once did.

I never want another Catholic woman to feel as alone, lost, or frustrated what to do next as I once did.

For the workshop, one of my jobs was to create a resource list for people first of all to educate themselves on sexual addiction. And the second, was to offer resources to women whose dating and married relationships are gravely impacted by this.

I want to get this information into the hands of as many men and women as possible. All of the books and workbooks I recommend I have personally read and worked through in my own recovery journey.

Even if you are not in a relationship with a man addicted to pornography, I would highly encourage you to read through several titles. The reality is even if it doesn’t affect your relationship with a man, I guarantee there is a woman in your life who is facing this. And she desperately needs someone safe to talk about it with.

Knowing your children will grow up in a hyper-sexualized culture is another reason to educate yourself. Because the scary reality is that the majority of men view pornography regularly today.

The following are some of the best things I have come across:

Books

Understanding Sexual Addiction

Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction by Dr. Patrick Carnes

Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction by Dr. Patrick Carnes

The Pornography Trap by Ralph H. Earle, Jr. and Mark R. Laaser

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William M. Struthers

The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography by Matt Fradd

For the Partner

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts by Stefanie Carnes (workbook)

What Can I Do About Me? Healing from the Trauma of My Husband’s Pornography and Sexual Addiction by Rhyll Anne Croshaw

Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts by Vicki Tidwell Palmer

Mending a Shattered Heart: A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts by Stefanie Carnes

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse by Barabra Steffens and Marsha Means

Shattered Vows by Debra Laaser

Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction by CLaudia Black

For the Addict

Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual & Relationship Recovery by Dr. Patrick Carnes (workbook)

Contrary to Love: Helping the Sex Addict by Dr. Patrick Carnes

In the Shadows of the Net by Dr. Patrick Carnes

Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction by Mark R. Laaser

Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity by Dr. Doug Weiss

For Children

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson

Counseling/Therapy

Dr. Doug Weiss (Intensives and Phone groups)

Heart to Heart Counseling Center

Colorado Springs, CO 80918

(719) 278-3788

www.drdougweiss.com

Bethseda Workshops (intensives and healing workshops)

1035 Acorn Dr. Nashville, TN 37210

info@bethesdaworkshops.org

(615) 467-5612

Dr. Milton Magness

Sexual Addiction Intensives

https://www.hopeandfreedom.com

Recovery Groups

Sexacholics Anonymous www.sa.org

Sex Addicts Anonymous www.saa.org

Recovering Couples Anonymous www.recovering-couples.org

Websites

Dr. Doug Weiss http://drdougweiss.com

Peter Kleponis http://www.peterkleponis.com/

For teens and young adults http://theporneffect.com/ and  http://fightthenewdrug.org/

L.I.F.E. Ministries www.freedomeveryday.org

(800) 408-LIFE

My House Initiative www.loveisfaithful.com

(913) 647-0387

Accountability Service

Covenant Eyes http://www.covenanteyes.com/

Safe Eyes www.internetsafety.com

Patty Breen

Patty Breen has been working in lay ministry for over ten years and writes online for various publications including Verily, Blessed is She, and Catholic Match. A Midwestern girl from the Mitten state, Patty finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, Ignatian spirituality, and writing. Having gone through a divorce as a young Catholic, Patty has a heart for speaking to and supporting divorced Catholics and women dealing with sexual addiction in their dating relationships. She is passionate about messy conversations at the intersection of faith, culture, and ministry.

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