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When the WS is into Prostitutes and/or Anonymous Encounters
There is a need for this particular topic to be addressed in a reference thread in JFO. Time and time again, more newbies under these circumstances come to this site looking for support, and all the advice appears to not really fit their situation and they begin to wonder if they really belong here. I want to provide the info needed to understand that they do, and all the advice is valid, but needs slightly different interpretation to be helpful.
The initial posting will be in five parts. Please feel free to contribute additional info and I welcome your feedback to make it better and more complete.
DISCLAIMER: I just wanted to clarify I don't think when your WS is into prostitutes/anonymous encounters that it is a worse pain than any other infidelity or that it is vastly different from the infidelity all of us experience at SI. But when you have JFO, and you come to SI in the beginning, it seems like it is. And in addition, there are unique specific issues that need to be addressed when you have been betrayed by someone who has used prostitutes or had anonymous encounters. This thread will explain why.
PART ONE: Introduction
So you just got blindsided with this new discovery about your WS, and usually it appears the vast majority of posts at any given time on SI are about dealing with WS with APs and thus the advice is geared toward that. How the "fog" is about the WS being in "lurve" with the AP, how NC is so important, how exposing the affair is important if they refuse NC for example. To someone who just found out their spouse was into prostitutes/anonymous encounters, it would appear none of this applies. Their WS is not in "lurve" with any of their ďpartnersĒ. The idea that they would write a NC letter to them is laughable. Often exposure of the activities is not possible because it could get them fired, or in some cases (law enforcement, lawyer, etc.) could have them lose their license. So the critically wounded BS with this history that comes here wonders how they fit in at SI and how it can help.
The truth is almost all WS follow the same handbook and walk the same path in becoming broken, going astray, and dealing with being found out. The effects on the BS are all devastating, regardless of the situation. The only difference is certain situations require a slightly different application of the advice here, and a WS into prostitutes and/or anonymous encounters is only one of them. For example, NC. No, they don't write a NC letter to their hookers. But they agree to never call them, email them, visit websites that solicit them, go to places where they will be present (bachelor parties, vegas trips, etc). They may be cut off from the cash so they can't make expenditures that can't be tracked. Etc. In addition to the usual advice, like they give up their secret phones, secret email accounts, and volunteer full transparency on phone records, online usage, and maybe even allow themselves to be GPS tracked to prove they are where they say they are.
So just because initially it appears you have no place here, and the advice appears to not really apply to you doesn't mean that it is so. The principles are the same, the applications are just different. Post your specific questions on your own threads, and the many of us with the same issues that have BTDT can help you. And just because someone else's WS had a different kind of infidelity does not mean they can't help you. Some of the best advice I have gotten here for my particular situation were from people whose WS couldn't even bear to look at a hooker. You belong here, and you can get the support you need here.
PART TWO: What You Should Know Before You Do Anything
Here's my two cents. This is what I have gleaned from SI and other BSs that had WS that used prostitutes and/or anonymous encounters:
As I stated, the "fog", TT, 180 etc. you read on here does apply, but in a slightly different way. It is very very hard to see the difference when you JFO. I know that it seems totally different right now, but after you have had some proper healing under your belt, it will make more sense later. Keep this in mind as you wade through everything as you heal.
IME and from what I have heard from others with a WS with a history of prostitutes and/or anonymous encounters, almost NEVER does the WS fess up to the real body count upfront. It is always at least double. Mine was more than 10x the amount. Yes, you could say gaslighting and TT is the same for all WS, but the consequences and aftermath of many escorts/anonymous encounters is different than finding out the EA was a PA, the PA was a LTA, there were 10 ONS instead of 2. It is not necessarily a worse pain, just different and requires different processing. What is important to understand now is, you donít know the whole story and it is likely worse than you know.
IME and from what I have heard from others with similar experience, the WS always blames the BS. Goes to great lengths to do so, even if they don't appear to blame the BS at all. It is all part of the gaslighting, which while common with most WS, is often more advanced when prostitutes or anonymous partners are involved. This crazy acting, blaming the BS is to take the focus off on you finding out the body count (and other actions) is way worse than you know. And to hope you will be so busy doubting yourself or needing to know the "full" story that you won't actually take action against them. Again, same stuff all WS do, but in this case they are trying to keep you from knowing about the much greater increased chance of STDs, hiding the missing money that was spent on illegal activities, arrest reports, etc. The shame and consequences from the truth getting out is different, and may have further reaching effects, KWIM?
IME and from what I have heard from others with similar experience, garden variety IC (for either of you) and MC is usually not helpful in this case, and in fact it can make it infinitely worse for the BS. You as the BS need at the very least a trauma specialist and/or an infidelity specialist for IC, and honestly at least an evaluation by someone certified or at least educated in sex addiction would be best. MC is not really advisable at this point. The WS has to be *extremely* broken to consider going to prostitutes or anonymous encounters repeatedly, the risk for disease, personal safety, and trouble with the law is much higher than someone that has an affair or affairs/multiple ONS. Not that WS with other infidelity issues arenít capable of being as broken or worse - just that because multiple prostitutes/anonymous encounters are involved, the level of brokenness is already pretty high. That brokenness has to be addressed before any real MC can begin.
I highly recommend reading all the books in the first post of the Spouses of of Sex Addicts thread in I Can Relate forum. Even if your WS is not a sex addict, the consequences and effects on you are the same and these resources will provide the insight you are not getting in the books you have read so far.
Whatever you do, don't think any of it is your fault. This I can promise you is not true.
PART THREE: Adjusting the SI Advice Accordingly:
Here are some terms you will see that may need some adjustment in their application:
THE FOG: Often this is described as the WS being in a fantasy land regarding their relationship with the AP. In this case, the fog is the mental state they have achieved to allow themselves to be able to cheat with prostitutes and/or anonymous encounters. It is the self-serving, justifying, blameshifting, lying to themselves and others, compartmentalization, etc. mental environment they have created to be able to do these things.
NO CONTACT: Obviously a letter is not appropriate here. What is appropriate is shutting down all means of communication (secret phone, regular phone, email accounts, website accounts, etc.) used for infidelity. Commitment to not going to places where this activity occurs (adult bookstores, strip clubs, houses of prostitiution, Vegas-type places, Bachelor or Bachelorette parties, etc.). Not hanging out with people that would support or promote these kinds of activities (AKA not friends of the M).
TRANSPARENCY: BS has access to all phone and text logs, email accounts, internet histories, monetary transactions. Complete and total financial disclosure (which you should verify with a credit report or other financial forensic research). In addition, WS may be asked to not do cash transactions that canít be verified for the comfort of the BS. The WS may be asked to have their whereabouts confirmed by GPS, phone call/phone picture check-ins for the comfort of the BS. The WS should not see this as a punishment but a consequence of their actions, and as an opportunity to establish trustworthiness again.
TRICKLE TRUTH: I am going to say I have NEVER EVER heard of anyone busted with a history of prostitutes or anonymous encounters has EVER come 100% clean upon initial confrontation. The TT with this variety of WS is always present and usually pretty bad. Until you can confirm with a polygraph, always assume there is more you donít know.
GASLIGHTING: For the WS to allow themselves to get into a mental state to allow this kind of infidelity to happen, and do the work to conceal their tracks, already puts them in the advanced category of gaslighters. It simply could not have occurred without significant gaslighting. The problem is they are so good at it, you donít know you were being gaslighted and will feel like you never were. It will take a lot of time and therapy to show you how wrong that is. Be gentle with yourself and accept that you have been gaslighted even if you donít see it now, and let the healing unfold naturally.
EAT/DRINK/REST/EXERCISE: This is the same for all BS. Donít take this lightly - make sure all four are incorporated into your life right now, and continue to be. You need to be in the best physical condition you can be to battle these demons.
The 180: This part also requires no real adjustments, it is all the same for all BS. However, it does require additional components you need to address. You have to take medical and legal precautions that may not otherwise be required. These will be explained in Part Four.
PART FOUR: Issues specific to those betrayed by someone with prostitutes and anonymous encounters.
First, you need to get tested for STDs. The FULL panel, not just the stuff you would get at a regular OB checkup or Planned Parenthood visit. You will need to tell your doctor or whoever is doing the tests that you have been sexually active with a partner with prostitute and/or anonymous encounter experience so they understand you need additional testing. This is an extremely awful experience, but they need to know so they can give you every test available. A starter list includes HIV, Syphilis, both Herpes (which you will likely have one strain because most people do), Gonorrhea, and HPV. To do all these tests require blood, urine, and swab so if you have not had all three, you have not had all these tests. In addition, if you are female, you should also consider any bacterial vaginosis tests, bacterial STDs (including ureaplasma, mycoplasma genitalium, trichomonas, gardnerella, mobiluncus mulieris, and mobiluncus curtisi), yeast tests (c. tropicalis, c. krusei, c. dubliniensus, c. glabrata, c. parapsilosis, c. albicans.) that are available to females.
Second, you need to get full bloodwork done and a regular physical. Chances are much greater your body is deficient in something and it will get worse with the trauma you are currently dealing with. You may also want to talk to your doc about meds for anxiety, depression, or sleep either temporarily or longer term. While these are good ideas for everyone suffering from infidelity, due to the nature of physiological and psychological impact of this particular situation, it is almost guaranteed you need some sort of medical assistance right now.
Third, you need to find an IC for you ASAP. You have been severely traumatized and your journey has just begun. You need professional support to help you through what you will be going through the next few years no matter how it plays out. You need a trauma or infidelity specialist, or someone trained in sex addiction and how it impacts spouses. Even if your WS is not a sex addict the impact on you is the same and requires the same treatment. This is critical, as having a spouse that did this to you is isolating enough, and even with the best family and friends to support you, they are not qualified to help you heal the way you need to. And I have have mentioned before, put MC on the back burner until you both have had more healing under your belt unless communication is so strained it is impossible.
Fourth, you need to see a lawyer to discuss your options. Not only just to understand what they are as far as separation, divorce, spousal or child support, custody and visitation, dividing assets or businesses, etc but also to protect YOU from any legal fallout from the activities of the WS. Even if you think you would never consider D, you need to know what the options are and what would happen if WS files first or is arrested for something related to the infidelity. The WS may rather D than have to address what they have been busted with, and you deserve to be prepared for that. Also, you need to understand what is legal and advantageous to collect as evidence as far as the activity is concerned. You donít want to collect anything in way that is against the law, and you donít want records of illegal activity on public record unless it is necessary. It is best you have this discussion with the lawyer BEFORE WS finds out you consulted one. The choice to tell them you have consulted a L afterward is yours, but donít give them a chance to fill you with doubt before you have consulted one - even if WS appears to be fully cooperative. This is in your best interest.
Fifth, you need to do a full financial discovery of all records. With prostitutes, there is always a money trail. With anonymous encounters, there may be as well in the form of memberships, hotel costs, gifts, etc. There may be a money trail of ED drugs or illicit drugs, because people that are willing to use prostitutes or have anonymous encounters have a lower threshold for this. Get a credit report from all three agencies. Get credit card records, bank statements, etc going back 12 months and look them line by line. Get the W2 and tax records and make sure all income is accounted for. You will be required by your L to do this anyway if you decide to S, D, or do a post-nup. And honestly this is the best evidence of what has really happened you will likely get, and is the only evidence that is always helpful in the event S, D, or post-nup. In addition, you are at increased risk for extreme financial infidelity, and you are entitled to know as that is a dealbreaker for many regardless of sexual infidelity.
Sixth, donít get obsessed with having to know the WHOLE story. It is unlikely you will ever know the full story, the full body count, etc. Instead you need to decide what are your dealbreakers, what you need to feel safe, and what you need to stay in the M if you want to. It is very easy to get sucked into the espionage of collecting more and more evidence, but if it is not conducive to your healing it will only traumatize you further. It doesnít really matter if the body count was 1, 100, or 1,000 or what the activities were - it is all wrong and bad and completely unacceptable without your consent - unless a certain number or activity that is a dealbreaker for YOU. Aside from the financial aspects, it is unlikely any evidence you collect will benefit you legally and will only set back your healing. Do not put yourself in the position that the need to collect evidence has compromised the ability address the things you need to do to heal.
[This message edited by hathnofury at 2:37 PM, September 9th (Monday)]
PART FIVE: You are not alone
It may not seem like there are a lot of us that can identify with your story, but I promise there are. Lots and lots of us, men and women alike.
Initially you will be completely overwhelmed and devastated. That is normal. You may feel isolated because you donít feel like you can share details with those in your life. Thatís normal too. This is a good, safe place to share with others.
I highly encourage you to share what you are going through, as much as you feel comfortable. You will get a lot of support here, and lots of ideas to think about for what to do. You may feel silly at first, but I promise every response you get will provide insight, and often things you may have not otherwise considered. That being said, I would suggest you not share the things you post and learn here on SI with your WS until serious long-term healing has taken place for both of you. You are at more risk that the info will be used against you than average.
As you heal, you will see that the betrayal is not as different from the others here who are dealing with other varieties of betrayal as it seems right now, while you are freshly and critically wounded. The shame, which you will find is not yours to bear, will lift. You will see that input from others in different circumstances are just as valid and helpful than those in the same circumstances.
Good luck, and welcome to the best club you never wanted to join.
Awesome. Thank you for this.
This is great! Thank you so much for putting this together.
thank you, for being so organized, supportive & insightful. I feel this is a unique, shameful type of infidelity and I have no one IRL to share this with. I feel like I JFO because of new info. 2 weeks ago. I'm devastated & starting all over. But, subtract infidelity, and our relationship is the best it ever has been, a lot of love & passion, so I am hopeful. I gain so much strength from the strong people who have traveled this path before me. So, again, thank you.
What a thoughtful and informative post ((hathnofury)).
Read a few profiles, including mine, and you will see a wide spectrum of the infidelity experience.
I want to say it yet again: It feels shameful, but it is not your shame. And while you may not want to tell your story in real life, here it is safe and no one will judge you.
Fantastic post hathnofury. However, I believe part 4 needs to come first. IMO, getting STD tested and seeing a lawyer needs to happen immediately upon discovery.
Nice post, Hath! I would add that joining a support group of some kind is helpful, COSA or S-Anon. Chances are pretty high that someone using prostitutes and/or anonymous encounters is a sex addict. The in person support is priceless. As is reading, books were so helpful for me. The list on the first page of the thread you mentioned, is a great resource.
Also, as you mentioned most ICs are not equipped to handle this, CSATs or an AASAT are the only ones trained in this kind of thing.
Thank you for this! It's very helpful for BS's dealing with this particular type of betrayal.
Thank you Hath.
When I JFO I scoured this site for any information that related to my special hell but, found only comments from a couple of other newbies. We didn't know until weeks later about the sex addiction & that's when someone directed me to the I Can Relate form. It has been my life line!
You are right on so many levels. I read in all the forums everyday & can see a common thread regardless of what the circumstances are. Thanks for putting this together. I know there will be many who will benefit from your condensed "Paying Cheaters Handbook"!
Fantastic post hathnofury. However, I believe part 4 needs to come first. IMO, getting STD tested and seeing a lawyer needs to happen immediately upon discovery.
I tend to agree, and almost wrote it that way. But then I remembered how overwhelming it is when you JFO, and that maybe one needs to process some other things first before seeking medical or legal counsel so one can get ALL the questions one needs answered the first time around. Also, some STDs/infections take up to 30 days to show up on a test. So while in theory they'd show up on the 6 month follow-up tests (which I forgot to put in the original posts that 6 month follow-up tests are necessary, and every year thereafter if you continue to have sex with your WS), that is too long to go without addressing a recent infection of any kind.
But then I remembered how overwhelming it is when you JFO, and that maybe one needs to process some other things first before seeking medical or legal counsel so one can get ALL the questions one needs answered the first time around.True, but I can not tell you how shocked and dismayed I was when I finally saw a lawyer maybe a month after D-day and found out that in my (fault) state, the BS only has 90 days from the date of discovery to file for D on the grounds of adultery. If one waits longer than 90 days the courts consider it 'condoning' the adultery.
The clock starts ticking at D-day in my state. I don't know how it works in other states, but I believe it is imperative that one find out ASAP.
But, I do believe you have written a fabulous, thoughtful, and helpful post. Thank you so much for the time and effort that went into it!
My first H had more prostitutes than he can remember. I came to this site because of what my current H did, which had nothing to do with that lifestyle.
the WS always blames the BS.
My XH never once blamed me for this.
Third, you need to find an IC for you ASAP. You have been severely traumatized and your journey has just begun.Counseling is not for everyone, no matter what they may have gone through. Some of us find our own ways to cope and deal with such trauma. I have gone to a few counselors in my life, but they were not more useful than a good friend to talk to. (And some were not useful at all).
I do like the advice to get checked for STDs and seek advice from a lawyer.
I think it is great you are letting those whose WS was into prostitutes know they are not alone. I can't imagine how it might have been if I had any such resources back in the early '90s. But for me, I did what I needed to do, and I would most certainly make the same decision if I could do it all over again, and that is D him.
[This message edited by Bobbi_sue at 8:14 AM, July 24th (Wednesday)]
Pain, I had no idea that such potential legal ramifications existed in some states. That is very good to know.
Bobbie Sue, I would have said the same thing about my SAWH when I JFO, and probably would have still said it if I had left and D him right away and not gone to IC. Like I said, so many of the WS into this are the very best at blameshifting and gaslighting to the point you would never suspect it without it being explained to you by a qualified professional. Not saying that is your case, but I am willing to say they are more likely a higher percentage of people in that case than yours and everyone owes it to themselves to find out which case applies to them. And IME, in going to support groups IRL, I can always pick out the ones that are in therapy and which ones are not, and almost always the ones in (good, applicable) therapy are progressing much faster than the ones that aren't. Again, of course not 100% but everyone deserves to leave no stone unturned in exploring what is best for their healing.
Bobbie Sue brings up an excellent point, absolutely true that bad or ineffective IC is more damaging than no IC, so please be sure you have the right IC for you and not just whoever takes your insurance. In my case, the right IC, the right group therapy, and the right support groups (including SI) helped me heal light years ahead of what I would have been able to do on my own.