My husband is a sex addict. Do I need to worry if he might sexually abuse our children?
As a CSAT, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, working primarily with Partners, in the early stages of their recovery, I regularly get asked by my Partner clients if the children are in danger from their father who is a sex addict. This question is asked from a place of recent trauma, intense fear, and complete mistrust of the husband/addict, who is also the person who the Partner loves/loved and trusted very deeply. Likely, before finding out about sexual infidelities and addiction invading the relationship, the thought of her husband abusing children was never a concern. In my experience, this is a fair question in a therapeutic setting, so the client can learn more about what sex addiction is, and in turn, what is sex-offending behavior. So, it is very important to know that only approximately 10% of sex addicts are also sex offenders.
As a Partner of a sex addict, if you have kids with your husband, there need not be any immediate fears of him abusing your kids, or any other children for that matter, as sex addiction and sex offending are two very different behaviors. Because someone is a sex offender does not necessarily mean that he/she would ever offend with children. Sex offending with children is a very specific type of sexual deviance. An example of this is a person who takes videos through a computer camera and watches women may not necessarily be interested in watching children through the same computer camera.
Sex addiction includes compulsive sexual behaviors that cannot be controlled or stopped even when there are known negative consequences. Like other addictions, it also originates in looking to experience a ‘numbing out’ purpose and eventually, there is a tolerance of those effects. Often times, sex addiction is not illegal, but instead, very harmful to the addict, the addict’s loved ones, other relationships, and possibly even employment. Some common examples of sex addiction behaviors are watching excessive amounts of pornography, using Apps to find anonymous sex partners, going to massage parlors, paying for sex, multiple affairs, etc. For the majority of typical male sex addicts, sex addiction behaviors remain in the legal zone.
However, if one were to view child porn or pay for sex with minors, then this would move into sex offending behaviors that are illegal. So for the Partner whose husband has paid for sex with a minor, or exhibited other child specific behaviors, it would be valid for this particular Partner to seriously consider the safety of her children. However, even viewing child porn does not necessarily imply the person viewing will abuse children him/herself. There is a leap from viewing to doing, so again the basic rule of thumb is for Partners to know the differences between sex addiction and sex offending, and not allow fear to prevent us from living in reality and eventually finding peace.
As a Partner of a sex addict, you can still learn the tools necessary to feel peace on your own, regardless if your husband has found recovery or not. You can find your own recovery from the life-changing effects of sex addiction, and if you choose, you will be a different and even better you.
It is especially important to work with a CSAT when moving through this healing process. CSAT’s are specifically trained to understand sex addiction and how it affects addict, partner, and family, and CSAT’s can guide the recovery process and provide the support needed to move forward.