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    Wednesday
    Oct122011

    Partner/Family Impact Statement*

    The Impact Statement is a series of two letters written by a partner or family member to empower your healing from the devastation of sexual addiction.  The letters are usually part of a larger process of Partner/Family Reconciliation, which involves multiple letters written by the addict, (i.e., the Disclosure Letter, the Clarification Letter, and the Empathy Letter).

     

    Part I asks you to describe the ways you were affected by the actions and inactions of the sex addict in your life, and your resulting requests and boundaries. 

     

    Part II takes a deeper look at these issues, inviting empathy, examination of your past and your part of any unhealthy dynamics or cycles, an inventory of changes that have occurred since discovery, forgiveness status, and a commitment to your desired visions for your best future.

     

    *CAUTION:  This process is meant to be undertaken in collaboration with your therapist!  It generally occurs after a formal disclosure has been shared and specific questions have been answered.  Intense feelings and past issues can emerge from these explorations, and proper timing and support is necessary to negotiate the challenges that can emerge from doing deep healing work.

     

    Part I: 

     

    a)                  Description of impact by category

    b)                  Resulting requests and bottom line dealbreakers for going forward

     

    In Part I, section a), you detail the ways you have been affected in the categories below.  Some people prefer to write a chronological narrative, but most list the heading and then a description, or bullet points, of how they felt impacted in each area.  Since the grief of being close to an untreated addict is usually profound, the act of writing and sharing the impact is usually an intense process that requires several drafts.  Your therapist and support network can help you through this task.  The final version is usually shared with your addict partner/family member in the presence of one or both therapists or safe witnesses, and it can take some time to refine the statement so that it adequately captures your experience but is not abusive in its expression of pain or anger.

     

    How has your partner/family member’s sexual addiction affected you in the following areas?

     

    ▪       Emotional

     

    ▪       Mental

     

    ▪       Spiritual/Religious

     

    ▪       Physical

     

    ▪       Sexual

     

    ▪       Financial/Business

     

    ▪       Self-Esteem

     

    ▪       Relationships--Friends, Family, Community

     

    ▪       Reputation

     

    ▪       Job/Career

     

    ▪       Future Goals/Visions

     

    In section b), you list your requests and bottom line dealbreakers. 

     

    Requests:

    Now that you have examined the many ways you have been affected by your partner/family member’s addictive behavior, what requests do you have about ways your partner/family member might begin to rebuild trust in your relationship?  Are you comfortable with their definition of sobriety, or would you like them to make changes or work on certain areas?  Other requests might include requesting couples therapy, starting weekly check-in’s for accountability and mutual support, and/or that your partner/family member attend therapy, a therapy group, 12 step recovery meetings, and work with a sponsor. 

     

    Bottom Line Dealbreakers:

    What are your bottom line dealbreakers?  These are things that if your partner/spouse does or does not do, you will take immediate action, for example sleep separately, ask them to move out/take a therapeutic separation, or file for a legal separation or divorce.  It is important to talk all these options through with an experienced therapist, so that you will feel fully comfortable with your boundaries.  This is not a time to minimize the risk of allowing harmful patterns to continue, nor is it appropriate to bluff or attempt to manipulate or scare a partner/family member.  Addiction thrives in secrecy, and recovery requires directness and honesty to be successful.  This is simply a statement about what you would do if certain things do or don't occur, in order to take care of yourself and honor your limits. Some couples create agreements on these issues in the form of contracts that both parties sign. Other couples complete a formal therapeutic separation protocol while working thorough uncertain, volatile parts of the healing process.

     

     

    Part II:  Empathy, My Past/My Part, How Things Are Different Now, Forgiveness, Future Visions

     

    Part II usually begins after you have delivered your final version of Part I.  It is divided into five parts:

     

    a)      Empathy

    b)      My Past/My Part

    c)      Differences Now

    d)      Forgiveness

    e)      Future Visions

     

    Empathy:

    Here you examine the deeper context of your partner/family member’s sexual addiction.  What underlying problems may have contributed to them beginning and escalating their sexually addictive behaviors?  Your partner/family member’s painful developmental experiences of neglect and/or abuse play a role here.

     

    My Past/My Part:

    Here you look at your own past, and examine how your previous experiences may have contributed to choosing your current partner (this may not apply for an immediate family member).  Is there a personal/family history of addiction/codependence?  Working with a therapist on healing childhood trauma may be essential here.  Look for empathy for yourself and your role in any harmful patterns or cycles that may have developed in your relationship.  Have you had previous relationships with similar patterns?  Outline ways you may have behaved that you regret, or that may have contributed to the difficulties in your relationship. Though the addict is 100% responsible for their behavior, relationship dynamics can influence both addiction and recovery. Look for any destructive cycles and possible new ways to approach conflict, if relevant.

     

    Differences Now:

    This is a section to consider how your relationship has changed since discovery and recovery work started.  Positive and negative changes are outlined here, for both you and your partner/family member.

     

    Forgiveness:

    This is an opportunity to address where you are in forgiving your partner. It may be a yes or no answer, or it may be in process, but this is a time to write about your state of forgiveness for the wrongs your partner committed. If barriers to forgiveness remain, state what those are, and what you might need to experience in order to reach forgiveness.

     

    Future Visions:

    This is a place to create your visions of what you want in your future relationship with this person, if possible, and action steps you will take to contribute to achieving them.  This is a place to correct any harmful actions or inactions on your part, and use the wisdom you’ve learned to bring your best self to the relationship.

     

    Although completing the Impact Statement is an intense process, the rewards of clarity, healing, and solid decision-making are priceless!

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