Sexual addictions, pornography, pedophiles, family and friends of sexual addicts, S-Anon
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Thanks for bearing with me as I’m getting hit with year-end activities for my children and me at school. I’m in the middle of cramming, finals, and looking forward to having a Summer break this year!
While the blog articles have tapered during my busy school schedule, the activity behind the scenes continues and I’m grateful for all I have learned in walking with people who are going through challenging and very difficult times. Last night was one such example which I’d like to share.
Last night, I attended an S-Anon meeting. It was my first time going to a 12-step meeting of any kind. I attended at the request of a new friend who, understandably, didn’t want to go to this meeting by herself.
What is S-Anon and for whom is it geared?
S-Anon a 12-step group that meets weekly for family members or friends of people addicted to sex (pornography, relationships, etc).
With any addiction, family and friends become a part of the addict’s system. Family and friends are impacted by their loved one’s addiction. It can affect them personally and in relationships, present and future. Additionally, how they respond to their addicted love one can have ramifications. Is the sex addiction talked about openly? Or is it the elephant in the middle of the room that people know exists, but refuse to talk about.
Would S-Anon be a good fit for me? The sexual addict I know is not in my immediate family.
At first, I was thinking that I really didn’t qualify to be at this meeting since there’s no sex addict in my immediate family and I don’t have close friends addicted to sex (to my knowledge, anyway). But then I realized that my in-law certainly has affected my immediate family. He is a pedophile, and our family has had to make very clear boundaries on visitation rules; for example, he is not allowed in our home, period. We allow time for meals, etc, but my kids are always reminded about safe touching, not being alone with him, etc. So, yes, I would benefit from these meetings, as would my adult children. There is a teen version of S-Anon, so that would be an additional option for my younger kids.
While the sex addict in my family is not in our immediate family, the situation has presented challenging issues for our family. We have had to broach the subject of sex and sex abuse at a very young age and in very clear terms with our children. We have had to grieve the loss of a normal grandparent-grandchild relationship.
I remember the day it struck me that my dreams of leaving our kids with the grandparents for a special weekend or a few days was completely out of the question. My children have had to find other “adopted” grandparents to fill some of those roles; but it will never be the same as most families where grandparents are an integral part of their lives. That’s just one of a number of losses we have faced due to sexual addiction. This is definitely something I could bring up at a future meeting that has affected me. Do I have anger about it? You bet! I wanted my children to have the best childhood possible and that was robbed from them (and me) due to the pedophile.
Another area that I’ve seen an increased amount of discussion is the issue of a husband’s use of porn (including child pornography) and it’s effect on marriages and families. This is a very real and ongoing problem many Christian families face. The sense of betrayal, lack of trust, self-blame, body shaming issues really come to surface for wives of porn addicts. With porn, the marriage bedroom becomes very crowded and complicated. This takes its toll on wives, and the ripple effect on the children can become very apparent. If the sexual addiction interferes with a job and the addict gets fired, obviously this will have severe consequences on the family.
Because sexual addictions are such a secretive sin, children might sense that something is wrong, but not know quite what it is. They might not understand why mom is so depressed. It would be good to explore this topic more and I hope to be able to share personal stories because I know it is a growing issue that is rarely addressed from the pulpit. I wonder how many wives of sex addicts are sitting in the pews each Sunday at church wondering how their church can help them. It’s typically not a topic that pastors address. Where will these wives turn for help?
Over 3 years ago, I posted the first article on wives of pedophiles, Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles. This was written by a SSB reader, Anon3, who shared her experience and offered words of hope to another wife of a pedophile. I wish I had kept track of how many women have found that blog post and responded. Looking back, I would say that on average, one person per week has either comment or sent an e-mail asking for help. Those are just people who land at the blog by doing using search engines. Wives of pedophiles would certainly be welcome at A-Anon meetings.
What are the meetings like?
The meeting we attended was quite small, but it varies at every location. The meeting is structured and begins with reading excerpts from their S-Anon book which establishes the rules, objectives of the meeting, and a focus topic area. There is a time where people are allowed to share and a closing. It is confidential and what is said there, needs to remain there.
What I did find is that it is a safe place to gather, share personal stories, get encouragement and support. So many times when we are dealing with something by ourselves, we take it personally, blame ourselves. When we open up with others and exchange stories, we will see familiar behavioral patterns. This is similar to the familiarity many of us have had with spiritual abuse. We have a common denominator with similar, but not exactly the same experiences. (More questions about meetings.)
I think in time, an S-Anon member can get clarity and understanding why they have responded the way they have: why they may have trust issues, why they may have anger, etc.
Knowing and identifying these patterns will be helpful when learning to make healthier decisions and setting appropriate boundaries with the sexually addicted loved one. This is not an easy process. It takes work, but I have spoken with several people who have said the program has given them great tools.
I sensed that those who were at the meeting last night found confidence, understanding, and a tremendous amount of weight lifted from them as have traveled this journey. Rather than trying to survive, they seemed to be thriving AND have enough energy left to help others along in their journey. That was very encouraging for me to see.
For those who have just found this article via a search engine and who are dealing with a sexual addict, welcome. You are in a difficult place, but you are certainly not alone. You are always welcome to comment here on the blog. I also have a private forum you may ask to join. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). But I also encourage you to seek out a local S-Anon for ongoing support. You definitely do not need to walk this road by yourself. Many have done it before you and would like to offer support.
Here are a few questions from a longer set of questions at the S-Anon website:
- Have you felt hurt or embarrassed by someone’s sexual conduct?
- Have you secretly searched for clues about someone’s sexual behavior?
- Have you lied about or covered up another person’s sexual conduct?
- Have you had money problems because of someone’s sexual behavior?
- Have you felt betrayed or abandoned by someone you loved and trusted?
- Are you afraid to upset the sexaholic for fear that he or she will leave you?
You can see if there is a local S-Anon group in your area here.
Note: Although I used men as addicts in the examples above, women are not exempt from having sexual addictions.