“So when he sat me down one day to tell me he was a sex addict, I actually laughed – although I soon stopped when he disclosed night upon night of watching pornography for hours on end and numerous short-lived affairs.
Rosendale starts each 12-week support group by educating the women about sex addiction.
“One of the points of this group is to depersonalise it.
Nobody is suggesting partners should stay, she stresses. But even then, they need support with rebuilding trust and reclaiming their sexuality.” Rachel agrees.
“Much as my husband tried to stop his behaviours by understanding the nature of sex addiction, he wasn’t willing to delve into the cause.
Traditionally, most partners of sex addicts have been treated as co-dependents, says Hall.
“The presumption is that the partner knew at some level what was going on and was ‘enabling’ it, which is frankly an insult.
Joy Rosendale, a sex-addiction therapist specialising in partner work, instigated the first one in the UK back in 2005, following her own experiences.
“Although there is usually huge reluctance for partners to seek help, let alone come into a group, because of the privacy and shame, something happens in these groups that liberates these women – and I say women because in my experience, it is usually women who access them,” says Rosendale, who still runs the group at the Marylebone Centre, London.
To be fair on Rachel’s friends, there is some debate about whether the term sex addiction is scientifically accurate, but the field of addiction is changing fast and emphasis is shifting from the substance to the psychological symptoms of addiction.