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Indeed, you can find a whole load of stuff you don’t desire, but get hooked nonetheless,” she says.
Traditionally, most partners of sex addicts have been treated as co-dependents, says Hall.
“He’d always go to bed later than me and often made excuses when I brought it up,” explains the 41-year-old.
“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.
“The presumption is that the partner knew at some level what was going on and was ‘enabling’ it, which is frankly an insult.
The reality for most partners I see is that they experience phenomenal shock.” The damage to self-esteem, she continues, isn’t just about the sexualised behaviour, such as visits to prostitutes that partners never knew about.
I was 18 years old and had only one sexual partner.
I was dizzy with questions, and I couldn't talk to anyone about what I was going through.
“The problem is that all the assumptions made by well-meaning friends about sex addiction are also shared by many therapists who are untrained in this area.
Some relationship therapists work with the partner’s pain by treating it as an infidelity, for example, but it’s so much more than that – and sometimes it isn’t even that at all, with some people not actually having sex elsewhere, but using porn instead.” No wonder Hall’s therapeutic practice, which recognises the uniqueness of the partner’s pain, has gone from strength to strength.
The NHS has a website page dedicated to sex addiction.