The Truth About "Horny Moms" And Sex Addiction

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Meetings are safe places where we members are encouraged to be honest because—as we learn in recovery—"our secrets make us sicker" and "the truth sets us free."

Late last week Gawker ran a story they called "Horny Mom Throws Naked Twister Sex Party for Teen Daughter." The gist of what happened was that a 35 year-old Evans, Geogia woman was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor after providing alcohol and weed for her 16 year-old daughter and the girl's friends. According to Gawker, the story only gets "wilder" from there. "She initially joined in the teens' naked game of Twister," Gawker writes, "but ended up fucking an 18-year-old in the bathroom."

There are a lot of shitty details to this story but, for me, one of the worst parts is that all these shitty details were revealed to the police by the woman's AA sponsor, who told the police "she struggled to keep an expression to portray she was not judging [her sponsee.]" On behalf of your sponsee—someone who came to you in desperation—thanks for not judging!

I've written about my own experiences in recovery for sex addiction, as well as my experiences growing up in a family system affected by my father's sexual compulsivity. Although the term, sex addiction, is a misnomer—a sex addict doesn't become physically addicted to sex the way a person might become dependent on alcohol or drugs—I've written before that sex addiction is real, and not a joke.

In simple terms, sex addiction is a pattern of compulsive sexual behavior that creates unmanageability in a person's life. Like alcoholism, it is progressive and destructive. Sex addiction looks different for different people. One of the first steps in recovery is to identify "bottom line" behaviors, sexual practices the self-identified sex addict recognizes as harmful for them and that he or she no longer wishes to engage in.

Sex addiction treatment is sometimes criticized as being puritanical or prudish, but in my view, sex addiction treatment is sex positive. It's a result of our sex negative culture that when we hear about group sex, or the idea of using toys in front of other people, our minds light up. Hell, just the idea of a "horny mom" makes people tee hee. At best, people are titillated. At worst, some equate anything other than vanilla sex with perversion. But not all non-normative sexual conduct is the result of sex addiction. And, as I learned in recovery, just because something's not normal, doesn't make it wrong. A sex addict's conduct is only "wrong" inasmuch as it's causing the person engaging in the behavior serious problems.

Admitting our conduct, and the pain brought on by that behavior, is the first step to addressing sexual compulsion.

Although I'm no longer in 12 step programs, when I first addressed my alcoholism and sex addiction, 12 step was a part of my recovery. Having a community of people I could be honest with was integral. Having a sponsor really helped. This was someone who could relate, if not to the specific details of my story, then to its broader emotional experience. A sponsor may offer suggestions, and share their own story, but oftentimes, their job is simply to listen. Even though 12 step group members have no legal right of privacy, it's pretty well understood that "who you see here and what you say here, stays here."

You hear crazy shit in meetings—and you leave it in meetings. Meetings are safe places where we members are encouraged to be honest because—as we learn in recovery—"our secrets make us sicker" and "the truth sets us free."

12 step meetings and conversations with sponsors are very different than what happens in the "real world." In the "real world," when we talk about non-normative sexual conduct—including but not limited to sex addiction—there's a risk the unfamiliar will be condemned as wrong. This shouldn't happen in 12 step meetings. In a sex negative culture, there's a rush to protect The Children™—but not all non-normative sexual conduct, including conduct related to sex addiction, is criminal. This woman's sponsor ought to have known better.

Instead of clarifying the facts of sex addiction, and how someone suffering could go about getting help, articles like this one under the "Horny Mom" headline do the opposite. They rattle off a list of sexy exploits, let you know this woman is a mom, post a picture of her mugshot and then cite the charge of "delinquency of a minor" (let me remind you, this woman wasn't convicted of any sex-related crimes). This woman needed help, she was trying to get it, and her community failed her—starting with her snitchy sponsor and ending with a media who treated her story like a dirty joke. Someone in the comments of the Gawker article asked, "How could you tell that story to someone you met four days prior in a church?" but that's exactly how 12 step works—or, at least, that's how it was supposed to.

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