This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Power of Hope: Posttraumatic Growth in Former Partners of the Sexually Addicted Individuals




Niculaes, Simona

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of this interpretive phenomenological analysis is to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of the transformative changes emerging from lived experience of former partners of the sex addicts. This study informs the phenomenon of personal growth resulting from individual responses to betrayal trauma. Semi-structured open-ended interviews with a purposeful sample of 12 participants generated data that evidencing that such a seismic event - like the betrayal caused by a sex addict- can be an opportunity for a metamorphosis of a partner’s schemas in the following areas: seeing new possibilities, changed relationships, the paradoxical view of being both stronger yet more vulnerable, a greater appreciation for life, and changes in the spiritual and existential domains (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1999). The following themes were identified in the current study: (1) changed perception of sense of self; (2) learning to listen and honor one’s body’s signals, (3) new-found personal strength that allowed for facing fears and taking charge of one’s life, (4) journey from spiritual bypassing to authentic spirituality, (5) changes in relating to others, and (6) existential wrestling that led to shifts in worldview.