Trauma & Sexual Addiction: Why Does Trauma Matter?

Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC

For many individuals struggling with a sexual addiction, trauma is a fact of life.  The majority of sexually addicted clients I see have significant, unresolved trauma in their past.  The research also supports this reality, showing that sexual addicts are very frequently trauma survivors.  Surviving is exactly what they are doing, too.  The wounds are still there, but significant energy is expended to numb or distance oneself from the pain.  Often times, this has been going on for so long, the addicted person really doesn’t connect emotionally with the trauma any longer.  They really “feel” like it’s not a big deal.  However, the evidence manifested by the existence of their addiction is clear.  The trauma was and remains significant.

The addiction becomes the identified “problem” and the trauma is something secondary which doesn’t need to be dealt with.  It is legitimate to point to the addiction and its consequences as a problem, but let’s define this further.

The sexual addict has two problems:

1st– The presenting problem is the addiction itself, which disrupts their ability to function and maintain healthy relationships.  It was the original mechanism through which the individual deal with their wounding. 

2nd–  Is the underlying trauma/wounding, which necessitated the creation of various avoidance mechanisms, including the sexual addiction, to abbreviate or dull the pain.

In a sense, avoidance in the form of addiction is the vehicle used to survive.  Over time, it develops into a problem of its own, often being the red flag which declares the person needs help.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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