It is well-established that trauma plays a role in cyber infidelity. The role of trauma is very different, however, for the partner than for the person who engaged in infidelity.
Trauma of the partner/spouse
The partner or spouse affected by cyber infidelity may experience an acute stress reaction. Initial symptoms following discovery of infidelity may include: recurring and distressing dreams, flashbacks, and/or memories related to the traumatic event, intense/prolonged psychological distress or somatic reactions to internal or external traumatic triggers, a persistent inability to experience positive emotions such as happiness, loving feelings, or satisfaction, the avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, feelings, or external reminders of things and places closely associated to the traumatic event, and sleep disturbances, hypervigilance, difficulties with concentration, easy to startle, and irritability/anger/aggression. Should these symptoms persist over time, they can develop into full-blown post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additional symptoms may include depression, anxiety or panic, excessive drinking or drug abuse, and even suicidal thoughts.
It is important that the partner seek and find emotional support. This can be challenging as family and friends with the best of intentions may be judgmental and filled with well intended advice that actually doesn’t help. Sometimes the anger that friends and family may feel toward the unfaithful partner may interfere with their ability to be truly supportive. This is where professional help may be important. Reaching out and contacting a psychologist trained and experienced in dealing with issues of cyber infidelity and out of control sexual behaviors can help. In addition to providing non-judgemental emotional support, a psychologist is trained to identify and address the complicated psychological issues relevant to understanding and overcoming the impact of trauma resulting from cyber infidelity. The right professional help can make all the difference and facilitate emotional recovery.