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How To Help Someone Betrayed By Pornography

Uncategorized Jul 22, 2019

May 22, 2010

If you know someone who has been betrayed by a partner’s pornography use, you’ve probably wondered how to best help them through this relational trauma.  In my years of counseling injured partners, I’ve heard quite a range of comments and advice passed along by concerned family members, church leaders, and even counselors.

It’s helpful to recognize that the injured partner is really grieving a loss of what they knew to be real.  They are grieving the loss of predictability and safety.  And, most of all, they are grieving the injury to the delicate attachment bond between them and their partner.  This isn’t something that is going to heal after a couple of supportive conversations.  Instead, it’s going to require what Dorothy Becvar calls “the ministry of presence” from those who want to assist.

Being present with someone isn’t easy for most of us.  We usually want to say something – do something – anything to stop the pain!

Since the broken bond creates unspeakable panic and loneliness, the most helpful thing someone can do is stay close to the injured partner.  That presence and connection helps soothe the fear of being alone and disconnected.

Consider the following thought from Henri Nouwen:

“Being with a friend in great pain is not easy.  It makes us uncomfortable.  We do not know what to do or what to say, and we worry about how to respond to what we hear.  Our temptation is to say things that come more out of our own fear than out of our care for the person in pain.  Sometimes we say things like “Well, you’re doing a lot better than yesterday,” or “You will soon be your old self again,” or “I’m sure you will get over this.”  But often we know that what we’re saying is not true, and our friends know it too.  We do not have to play games with each other.  We can simply say: “I am your friend, I am happy to be with you.”  We can say that in words or with touch or with loving silence.  Sometimes it is good to say:  “You don’t have to talk.  I am here with you, thinking of you, praying for you, loving you.”

It’s easy for our own pain and discomfort to get in the way. When this happens, the individual who is hurting often feels overlooked. Instead, trust that your care, concern, and presence will help your friend or loved one experience a secure base. When we have a secure base, we can make hard decisions and face difficult challenges with more courage.


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