Infidelity is Abuse

EXCERPT: Infidelity:  Not a Pretty Picture by Kay Rutherford, PhD, LPC, NCC, RN

Infidelity is a patriarchal way of controlling women. My work with infideled clients is very sad and thus, I share what I have professionally and personally learned: the basic premises of infidelity, the resultant trauma symptoms, infidelity’s abusive patterns, the societal acceptance of infidelity, and suggestions for counselors who work with infideled clients. My research is substantiated with interviews, an extensive bibliography selection, a trip to SubSaharan Africa and the results of a recent Women Studies class. In each section I compare the patriarchal control of women in America with that of SubSaharan Africa and the growing AIDS problems. As I tell my clients…there is almost always more to the story and it is usually not a pretty picture…

Infidelity Is Abuse

Infidelity is abuse because the characteristics of the unfaithful are like those of a batterer and the symptoms of the victim are like those of the battered. Sitting in on battered women’s groups, I heard the same things-women wanting to go back, full of anger and rage, saying they’d rather be beaten than wonder where their partner was sleeping at night.

The infidel has a sense of narcissistic entitlement exhibiting a pattern of behaviors that encompass more than just “the incident.” The damage he causes-to partner/s, children, family-never seems to hit home for him. He continues to blame her, something, or someone. He feels his actions are not his fault. He uses phrases that absolve him of responsibility and portrays innocence, “I’m holding her but loving you,” “She came on to me,” or “I need to have my needs met.” In actuality, it is all about him. He can only go to his own hurt, not others’. Some feel that infidelity is caused by sexual compulsion…

I recently heard a police psychologist refer to a client’s sexual addiction as self-soothing behaviors-a definite euphemism for dangerous acts which expose victims to much physical, psychological, emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse. “Chronic infidelity is abuse,” therapist Bancroft (2002) reminds us (I say any infidelity is abuse), and “twenty-five percent of abusive men cheat on their partners.”

Jennifer and Burt Schneider (1991) say the sexually addicted person  numbs out with sex, blames his partner when she is not sexually satisfied, and his bedroom is usually “a nightmare” for he will not let her sleep until his needs are satisfied. Bancroft disagrees with the label sexual addiction and tells us, “Infidelity is not sexual addiction or compulsion, it is sexual abuse.” [READ MORE]


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