Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma Model (SAITM)
With its founding in 2009, ISH has sought to evolve the field’s understanding of sex addiction through the use of its innovative treatment model that recognizes Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma (SAIT), with a vision to usher in a critical paradigm shift in the treatment of sex addiction and sexual compulsivity. (Minwalla, O., 2011)
The Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma Model (SAITM) (Minwalla, O., 2011; Jason, S. and Minwalla, 2009) involves the dismantling of the co-sex addiction model as a conceptual model or clinical methodology applied to partners or spouses impacted by sex addiction-compulsivity. The SAITM asserts that the use of co-sex addiction as the primary treatment modality for a traumatized and victimized partner is a misdiagnosis, is a form of gender-based violence and is clinically contra-indicated (Steffens, B., Jason, J., & Minwalla, O., 2009).
The sex addiction-induced trauma model is a clinical treatment model that integrates specific treatment and clinical management of sex addiction-induced trauma into a systemic and relational model that includes the other people and relationships impacted by sex addiction.
The SAIT Model recognizes that sex addiction disorders do not only involve sexual behaviors, but also often associated features and patterns of relational perpetration, emotional and covert abuse (Jason, S., 2008), psychological manipulation and torture, attachment injury and violations, and traumatic impacts on children and the family system (Minwalla, O., 2011 ; Jason, S. and Minwalla, 2008). Sex addiction spectrum disorders are often forms of domestic abuse and oppression. The model asserts the importance of clinical treatment for these dynamics and the people impacted by these dynamics (Minwalla, O., 2012).
Ultimately, the SAIT Model aims to expand treatment beyond helping the sex addict gain sexual sobriety alone, but to include an informed clinical paradigm and methodology to help partners, couples, children, families and society impacted by compartmentalized, deceptive patterns of sexual-relational entitlement and acting out over human rights (Minwalla, O., 2012 ; Minwalla, O., 2012).
What exactly is Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma?
Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma is a psychological term to describe the clinically significant post-trauma symptoms caused by the direct impact of sex addiction on self and others (Minwalla, O., 2011 ; Minwalla, O., 2012 ; Jason, S. and Minwalla, O., 2008; Steffens, B. and Means, M., 2009). Sex addiction-induced trauma describes both the traumatic impacts and the traumatic symptoms that result from the direct impact of the sex addiction and it’s associated chronic patterns of sexual acting out, relational perpetration, emotional and covert abuse, psychological manipulation and torture, and the reality of a deceptive compartmentalization. The clinical complexities and the degree and extent of psychological destabilization, ego fragmentation, relational and social ruptures, and post-traumatic stress symptomology are often profound among partners impacted by sex addiction patterns (Minwalla, O., 2012).
Sex addiction-induced trauma is particularly acute around discoveries (finding out about sexual acting out, deception and relational violations), disclosures (being told about sexual acting out, deception and relational violations) and around the continued traumatic incidents that result from the presence of sexual addiction in an intimate relationship and family system. Partners often present with a set of symptoms related to post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), complex post-traumatic-stress disorder (C-PTSD) and rape trauma syndrome (RTS), including psycho-biological alterations, re-experiencing of the trauma, social and emotional constriction, constant triggering and reactivity, significant anxiety, emotional arousal and labiality, hyper-vigilance, dissociative symptoms, and sexual trauma symptoms similar to sexual rape (Minwalla, O., 2006 ; Minwalla, O., 2012)
A critical injury of SAIT is foundational reality-ego fragmentation that impacts ego functionality, the ego’s ability to perceive and adapt, thus compromising foundational psychological stability. Furthermore, there are often intense relational ruptures and destabilizing attachment injuries, which impact core dynamics of human dependencies, security and basic human reliance (Minwalla, O., 2011).
Sex addiction-induced trauma is a highly specific type of trauma that involves nuanced symptoms that can sometimes include fear and panic of potential sexual disease and contamination, social repercussions, fear of child safety, terror and panic about the potential of child molestation, severe gender wounding, social isolation, social misrepresentation, financial loss and domestic embezzlement, collusion in violation, embarrassment, complex humiliation and profound shame (Minwalla, O., 2012).
Due to the normative societal psychology of gender-based violence, the sex addiction field remains dominated by the “co-sex addiction model” and is yet to even term a specific name for sex addiction-induced trauma, or even recognize or legitimize it’s existence.
Persons impacted by this type of trauma deserve clinical treatment and the lack of provision is a form of gender-based violence and a violation of human rights. Despite cultural, institutional and professional confusion, resistance, and denial, SAIT symptoms are actually natural and expected human responses to profound impacts and are normal human reactions rooted in human survival and biology.
“Naming the syndrome of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, represents an essential step toward granting those who have endured prolonged exploitation, a measure of the recognition they deserve. It is an attempt to find a language that is at once faithful to the traditions of accurate psychological observation and to the moral demands of traumatized people.” (Herman, J., 1997, p. 122)
Herman, J. (2nd ed. 1997). Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. Basic Books.
Minwalla, O. (2015, March, 31). ‘Sexual Sobriety’ Leaves Victims Untreated. The National Psychologist. from
Jason, S. & Minwalla, O. (2008, September). Sexual Trauma Model: Partner’s Reaction, Addict’s Reaction. Presentation at The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health National Conference, Boston, Massachusetts.
Minwalla, O. (2012, July, 23). Partners of Sex Addicts Need Treatment for Trauma. The National Psychologist. from http://nationalpsychologist.com/2012/07/partners-of-sex-addicts-need-treatment-for-trauma
Minwalla, O. (2011). A New Generation of Sex Addiction Treatment: The Sex Addiction-Induced Trauma Model for the Treatment of Sex Addicts, Partners and the Couple. Presented at The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health National Conference, San Diego, California.
Steffens, B. & Means, M. (2009). Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal. New Horizon Press.