Ashley Madison Hack Draws Betrayed Spouses to Online Support Group

A longstanding online community for spouses betrayed by cheating partners is experiencing a spike in membership following the Ashley Madison hack that has dumped massive amounts of data exposing the email addresses of 36 million people–10,000 with .Gov addresses–seeking extramarital affairs.

Website Surviving Infidelity (SI), which is described as “your safe place to come and share your pain and feeling of isolation upon discovery of betrayal,” features a note to its members: “We are getting media requests to speak with anyone that has been affected by the Ashley Madison data exposure. If you are interested in speaking to the media please contact SI Staff via private message for details.”

As The Daily Beast reports about SI, “Nowhere else will you find a group of people more devastated by Ashley Madison, nor more jubilant about its misfortune.”

SI members are invited to share with others who are also “feeling a loss of hope and shattered dreams and trying to survive the most painful type of betrayal we all have unfortunately come to know.”

According to the site, its moderators are “well into recovery” from infidelity, and “can offer you wonderful advice, friendship and understanding.”

On Sunday, poster “DM213” wrote that she and her husband, married for 18 years and having four young children, had struggled through two of his affairs in their marriage early on, though she believed they managed to make things work and have a family together.

“This Ashley Madison data dump had me curious so I plugged in my husband’s email address,” she continues. “Big mistake. He showed up as having been registered on the site. This prompted me to start searching through his email, something I had never done before.”

The woman writes that while looking through his information, she discovered her husband was seeking out other women through websites even two days before the birth of their son.

“I can’t get over the fact that he was soliciting sex from strangers on the Internet, much less while I was pregnant,” she adds. “He swears he never met up with anyone, and he swears he never reciprocated any messages he received. I just can’t believe him. I feel so disgusted, betrayed and horribly blindsided.”

On Thursday, “HopefulMommy” posted on SI that she found her husband’s email address on Ashley Madison and proceeded to request help from other members with navigating the online data.

As devastated as many are to find their spouses’ information on Ashley Madison, many are congratulating the hackers for revealing those joining the website, whose tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair.”

In July, “webmistress” wrote, “BRAVO to the hackers!! I hope every last cheater is exposed for the dirtbags they are, and I feel bad for the BS’s who are about to get an ugly surprise. It would be nice if this was the last of that shitty website, but I’m sure they’ll return to business as usual soon enough.”

Similarly, “Listeningclosely” wrote, “I am glad the database was hacked.”

“There is never a right time to be honest. It won’t eliminate the hurt and pain, but it will bring a faster path to recovery than waiting for this data to be leaked out,” the poster continues. “And the fact it damages AM’s business model by making people think twice about signing up, well, that’s the best news I can take from this story!”

Poster “WarehouseGuy” had anticipated immediately after the announcement of the Ashley Madison hack that SI would be exploding with thousands of new memberships “sooner than we think.”

Those celebrating the outing of the adultery site can simply sit back and watch what happens next.

As Time reported Sunday, two Canadian legal firms have filed a $578 million class-action lawsuit against Ashley Madison owner Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and also Avid Dating Life over the hack on behalf of Canadian citizens whose personal information was breached. In addition to the data breach itself, the lawsuit claims that, following the hack, the companies charged the website users an additional fee for Ashley Madison to scrub their data, all while their information was left exposed on the site.

Another lawsuit was filed in Missouri in July by an anonymous female plaintiff who said she had paid the $19 fee to have Ashley Madison delete her private data which, in the end, remained with the website.

The Ashley Madison hack was first reported in July by Krebs on Security. A group called The Impact Team demanded that ALM, which also owns the website Established Men, either takes the sites offline permanently or risks the release of “all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.”

On Sunday, state attorney for Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties Jeff Ashton admitted that he signed up for the Ashley Madison website but said he never had an affair as a result, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

“While I indulged my curiosity about the site, it never went beyond that,” Ashton said at a news conference at an Orange County hotel, at which he apologized for his actions. “These were incredibly stupid choices.”

Ashton, however, was quick to add that he broke no laws by using the Ashley Madison website, stating that though he would sometimes visit the site while in his office, he signed onto the website through a public Wi-Fi network on his personal laptop, not his government computer.

“As embarrassed as I am about what I did, I did not commit a crime,” he said.


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