Every group member has their own story to tell and their views are not the opinions of SAA as a whole. In our meetings we encourage people to “listen for the similarities rather than the differences”. The stories that follow are written by current group members with several years of sobriety. Although the writers' names have been changed, they are in our own words and from our authentic experience. We trust that they will bring you hope and inspiration.
Andy's Story - Sexually Sober since May 2000
I worked the Twelve Steps seven years before I came to SAA. I admitted my powerlessness over alcohol, had a spiritual experience and was given back my life. Three years later I was at college in my hometown in England and discovered pornographic cartoons on the internet. On a number of occasions I spent hours looking at these cartoons on the university computers; the more unusual and abusive the better. A year later I moved to London and lived in a shared apartment where there was a computer in the front room. Despite its non-private location, I stayed up on a number of work nights for hours on end, searching for and looking at pornography.
My use of the internet became more compulsive when I moved to the U.S., where I had my own apartment and laptop and where hardcore porn of many types was easily available. I also discovered the internet newsgroups where S&M and cross-dressing material was easily available, and the "cybersex" chat rooms and sex shops. I would stay up entire nights, browsing through print and internet porn and engaging in cybersex. I also experimented with self-abusive masturbation, such as auto-asphyxiation. I was ashamed when I went into work to think of the pictures I had been looking at and the things I had been doing, but at the same time I looked forward to just locking myself in my room and living in my fantasy world.
I was still going to meetings for my alcoholism and trying to work the Twelve Steps, but knew that I was going backwards spiritually, physically and emotionally. I hoped that by praying and working my programme my Higher Power would reduce my lust, which I considered as a defect of character, or at least make me ready to have it removed. But my acting out was getting worse rather than better, and I became alarmed that the porn I was browsing was getting more and more extreme. At the start of each week I would promise myself that I would control myself more, but by the end of the week I had inevitably let myself down.
Eventually my sponsor said that I was so out of control that I had to get outside help, either from therapy or a fellowship like Sex Addicts Anonymous. By this time I had moved back to England. I ordered all the SAA literature from the website and most of the tapes. I realised that I needed to admit I was as powerless over pornography and the internet sex scene as I was over alcohol.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to another sex addict who was seeking recovery. I shared the literature with him and we started an SAA group. Soon, a third and fourth member came along. It is through my home group that I do my steps and service. This provides a foundation for my sexual sobriety. Since the day I admitted my powerlessness and unmanageability, and put my problem in the hands of my Higher Power, I have remained sexually sober. This was well over nine years ago.
My use of hardcore pornography was utterly compulsive. On my own, I could not imagine ever being able to resist it. However, by admitting that I would never be able to resist, and using the steps, I have found it easy not to act out. It has not been a struggle. It is amazing to be protected from such an intense compulsion. It demonstrates the power of this programme.
My image of women changed as I stayed sexually sober and I began to date and feel part of the normal world of men and women. I stopped feeling isolated from the world of families and relationships. I was no longer disgusted with myself for what I was looking at on the internet, and no longer felt too ashamed to be part of the normal sexual world. Eventually I met a woman and we began a committed relationship that continually teaches me more about myself. I am able to grow spiritually again, grow sexually, and grow as the partner of another person. I am happier and more stable than I have ever been.
Brian's story - Sexually sober since December 2006
My name is Brian and I’m a sex addict.
In my early 30’s I developed an uncontrollable obsession with internet porn. I’d always been preoccupied with sex and tended to "mentally undress" people, but as my problem developed I found myself spending many hours online, looking at material that was more and more against my own values and previously would have repelled me. At the same time I started using ‘phone sex lines and soon found myself wasting hours at a time and hundreds of pounds on calls I couldn’t afford to make that left me feeling helpless and full of shame. I fantasised more and more about paying for sex and about casual sexual encounters with strangers, eventually experimenting with both of these. Despite a series of dangerous, humiliating and shameful experiences, I couldn’t get the ideas out of my head. Even when I wasn’t actually doing any of these things the constant images and thoughts of sex that filled my head left me incapable of dealing with life or other people.
Eventually, things came to a head. My life fell apart and I found myself attending a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous in Plymouth after visiting the SAA website. For the first time in my life I met people who understood how I had felt. More to the point, they had a solution in the 12 Steps of Sex Addicts Anonymous. I asked a group member to become my sponsor and guide me as I worked through the steps in the same way as he had. From the day that I became entirely willing to follow his experience, I began to move away from the strange and distorted world of sex addiction and towards a new freedom and happiness.
I can see now that my sexual compulsions were far more than a “bad habit” a “strong sex drive” or just extreme selfishness – I was helplessly in the grip of a progressive condition. Following the example of those I met in SAA I have been able to recover from sex addiction – I no longer live in fear of my next thought or action. What’s more, I have the chance to lead a normal life: I came to SAA at a point where I honestly thought I could never be happy again, but my life today is richer than I had ever thought possible.
If you are a sex addict of my description, then I hope you find hope in a simple statement from my own experience: I simply cannot remember the last time I felt compelled to lie to another human being. The very worst and most shameful of my experiences have become my greatest assets when I can use them to help others. Admitting that I had a problem I couldn’t solve on my own has opened the door to a new life.