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Responding to the Unseen Victim of Sexual Exploitation: The Betrayed Spouse

A talk by Dr. Barbara Steffens, Ph.D., LPCC (USA)
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor; Board Certified Coach; Assistant Professor, Safe Passages Counseling & Coaching; Liberty University

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About this talk

When someone sexually exploits others, compulsively utilizes pornography, or engages in other forms of deceptive sexual behavior, there is usually a spouse or other loved one who experiences great stress and, in many cases, trauma in response. Rather than being willing participants or someone who condones or ignores these behaviors, most loved ones do not know and are blindsided by the discovery of behaviors of someone they love. These unseen victims experience extreme stress, trauma-related symptoms, isolation, and misunderstanding. Some also experience direct abuse and exploitation within the relationship. Care providers/advocates are often not trained in how to assist this population. As a result, these victims report harm as a result of their help-seeking attempts and do not receive the care they need.

This presentation will focus on the support needs of this special population of betrayed loved ones after sexual deception.

Takeaway Ideas

Spouses of those who exploit women and/or minors have been deceived, betrayed, exploited, and traumatized by the sexual behaviors of their loved one. They generally did not know, did not and could not consent, and are not "co-dependent", but rather are victimized by the person they trusted the most. They need and deserve recognition and services of support and care.

Response, care, and support for this population needs to be trauma-informed and must recognize the victimization these people have experienced.

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Dr. Barbara Steffens, Ph.D., LPCC (USA)

I am a professional counselor, educator, advocate, and internationally recognized expert in how to help the sexually betrayed spouse.

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