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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:00 pm 
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We've all seen too much in the news lately about celebrities and the resulting limited discussion about SA. I have done (and my publicist!) everything we can think of to get some information out to the public about the effect of SA on the partner....with no response. I thought we'd certainly get at least a little bit of a bite but even our local newspaper is reluctant to run stories unless a couple dealing with the issue is willing to go public with names etc to tell their story. I will not ask anyone to do that!

Why do you think this is such a difficult topic for people to discuss? What prevents our society from accepting SA as a real issue, or from realizing it is a source of trauma for the partner?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:38 pm 
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People rather joke about sex during their two minute sound bite. Why would anyone care? - It's not like you can identify someone walking down the street and find empathy. For the average person this is all from another world - certainly not in their neighborhood.

Unless you've lived it, it's unimagineable.

There is so much ignorance and judgement about sexual health to begin with - how can any of us actually begin the conversation with someone who is not equipped to understand? So we keep it all inside.... and thank a lot of incredible people for this site.

Until you're living it, its unfathomable that anyone would actually choose to stay with someone who has repeatedly betrayed them at such a base level. From the outside looking in it can be seen as a sign of a partner's pathetic weakness - but I choose to see it as extraordinary strength and love, whether they stay or leave.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:47 pm 
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Everything in our society is sexualized. News, media, all forms of entertainment. I think people have become desentisized to the images and discussions that are out there. Society has become crass and it seems to view sex another form of entertainment as opposed to an expression of love or emotion. There is no privacy with sex anymore thanks to webcams and the internet. People post and sell their own sex tapes and seem perfectly fine with those images being forever shared with the world.

The language we use has changed the perception and meaning of sex. He fucked her, he banged her, he's hittin' that. How can I help explain to my nieces the reality and beauty of "making love" when all they hear is Lada Gaga singing about disco sticks and Rhianna singing "Hey rude boy are you big enough, Hey rude boy can you get it up?"

I hate to say it, but I think it will be an uphill battle for the professionals to get society to take Porn and Sex addiction seriously.

I think society sees these celebrities as people who have been caught cheating, then claim to have a sex addiction in order to gain sympathy and save their reputation. "He's not a cheating bastard...he has a sex addiction." I have to say, I once thought along those lines myself years ago. But then I was thrust into this world and learned everything I could to understand what was happening. Until something affects you personally and has impacted your life somehow most people are just not interested in learning about it.

And lastly, I will say...I think it is also fear. The idea that someone you love could have a problem like this is unimaginable. There are millions of women out there who would sit there and say "that would never happen to me". Well...I bet every women on RN would have said that before their D-Day. The more you delve into the idea of porn and sex addiction and the more you educate yourself on it, the more disturbing and upsetting it can be, for the partner at least.

And I agree with forlife...people can't imagine why the partner would stay after such deception and betrayal. But, even those who chose to leave have to deal with people who had no idea what it took for them to leave and what they were truly dealing with. It's not like you fell out of love, or simply grew apart...it was the decimation of a marriage, and the affects don't go away once you walk out that door, as some people tend to think it should.

I think society has long mastered the art of burying their heads in the sand. However, I am also firm a believer that if something is worth having, it is worth the fight to get it. I think it's a great idea that you are asking these questions because once you know what obsticals are in your way, it's much easier to win the battle. And as someone who has been traumatized by the discovery my husbands porn and sex addiction, I can say that your fight to help us is nothing short of life saving. Providing us with the information, advice, validation, comfort, support and encouragement we needed to survive and keep our sanity in tact.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:56 am 
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To the point about fear~I would also add that there is a fear based denial that we will have to evaluate our own behaviors and attitudes if we start looking at the possibility of sexual addictions. My dad was/is SA (my assessment based on what I have learned from my own experience) and when I went to my mom about my husbands "habit" I got the Boys Club response from her. I was disappointed and hurt but I forgave her (for my benefit) because I recognized the reasoning behind her denial. If she were to sympathize with me, she would then have to acknowledge my behavior as unhealthy. It was much easier to maintain the status quo. Everyone just wants to be okay, to belong and to feel special*. Everyone wants to just get by in life without hassle. If we start calling out behaviors that have been tolerated and accepted for so long (due to cultural attitudes, male dominated society and the woman's movement to pinpoint a few contributing factors) then we are asking people to first admit that they have been "wrong" and then we are asking them to change the foundations upon which they have built their lives. Generally, we are complacent.

*Going back to my comment on wanting to be special~we use our sexuality as a measure of how special we are. We confuse sex with love. We believe that if another person wants us sexually then we must be special. An addict can believe they are so special that they have this gift of their sexuality to share with the world! We place so much importance on sex! This makes it equally difficult to heal from the discovery of the sexual addiction of our partner because we believe it means that we are not as special as we once thought (since they are seeking gratification elsewhere).

Exploitation is another issue. This relates to 12Peace's comment on sexualization in media. Sex sells. This is widely proven and so, because there is so much to sell we seem to be constantly bombarded with sexual content on the television, on the net and on the radio! Marketers exploit the natural chemical response to sex and because it will inevitably take more to trigger the chemical response to the same level of intensity, the content is also escalated and because we become desensitized to it, we tolerate it. What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace (John Wesley).

Exploitation is a problem of "Otherness". We fail to see that we are all one and so we compartmentalize, classify, objectify and otherwise divide ourselves. We fail to see that we are all one in the same. We have lost touch with the truth of our existence and the truth of pure love. We are disconnected. We are self-centered. (Generally speaking and not true of all human beings, but of the general population).

I have to run so I will leave it at that.

These are some great conversations, BTW. Thank you Dr. B for your inquiry.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:30 am 
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Quote:
Why do you think this is such a difficult topic for people to discuss?


In terms of SA, there is a schoolyard 'boys will be boys' mentality. People don't want to start challenging this, because it's uphill work. We'd have to face some ugly truths about ourselves in Western society. It's much easier for everyone to joke about celebrity behaviour than to examine how we're behaving the same way.

It is difficult for people to discuss the use of pornography because masturbation is still taboo - paradoxically, given the widespread acceptance of porn. In terms of male sexuality, it is accepted that men want sex all the time, but when people joke about this, they are envisioning it as with another person. No one makes 'wink-wink, nudge-nudge' jokes at parties about how men just want to masturbate all the time.

Quote:
What prevents our society from accepting SA as a real issue, or from realizing it is a source of trauma for the partner?


In terms of porn, it has been completely normalized. Mainstream music vidoes, ads, photoshoots in normal magazines all 'borrow' from pornography, and no one seems to think anything of it. If you dare to object to this, people immediately say: 'you have no sense of humour'; 'what's the big deal -it's just an ad'; 'you're over-reacting'. The same lines our addicted Hs give us, incidentally. Actually SA is normalized too. I just watched an episode of the number 1 TV American sitcom 'Th Big Bang', which, although it is about physicists, somehow managed to include an episode about 2 friends buying their friend a hooker to cheer him up after a breakup. This was somehow sold as charming, amusing, sweet, and normal. Oh, the delightful comedy of purchasing another human being for sexual pleasure! It is my sincere hope that one day such episodes will be viewed with the same horror / embarrassment we experience now when we come across out-dated shows which include casual racism.

Society doesn't recognize SA as a real issue because society is only as mature as those who run it. Unfortunately, men still have most of the economic power, and so the exploitation and commodification of women continues. Look at world leaders, for example (Clinton, Berlusconi). These guys are so obviously SA.

As modern women, I think partners are often caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, in terms of help and sympathy. Again, I think there's a gendered reason for this. Women still tend to be blamed for everything, particularly in arenas which are viewed as 'feminine' ones, like marriage and parenthood. If a man strays, the first question (sadly, even from professionals) is, 'what did SHE do to cause this?' Too much nonsense still abounds - received notions about 'if she were prettier, younger, thinner, didn't nag, made dinner every night...'

Seeking help as a partner is a trickly business. Wherever you are on the ideological / political spectrum, there is a lot of 'blaming the victim.' The following is a generalization, and I hope I don't cause offense: Broadly, if you have more conservative / religious values, you risk being criticized for thinking about leaving a marriage and can be pressured to stay no matter what. If you are more left-leaning / agnostic, you're told that staying makes you a 'bad feminist' and a doormat, and if you don't leave, you are a fool. Neither of these responses is helpful. Instead of focusing on whether you should stay or leave, counselors should help with the immediate trauma, and help build values, etc., so that women are in a better position to start thinking about those choices.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:15 am 
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I think we will be facing a porn addiction epidemic in the not too distant future. Maybe it's here already. Today's youth can so easily access it on the internet and for many it is their form of sexual education. Parents and adults are sticking their heads in the sand. As the mom of a boy, this is so frightening and something I've tried to address with him. It's just so easy to slide into the behavior. There is also pressure from friends because it has become acceptable in society. No one realizes the affects until you're one of us when its too late.

This is a little off topic - but something that influences public response to the concept of SA and PA.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:52 am 
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I don't think it's off topic Fl. I have 3 boys. i think it is very important to discuss these things with our children, boys or gilrs. I am very open with my boys on what is appropriate and what is not. How to treat a loved one, respect for others and themselves. What I feel is healthy or not. I give them the information I have available. Ultimately it is up to them what they decide but knowledge is power and the more they have the more likely they will make good decisions in life. When we have discussions about alcohol, drugs, whatever, porn and other potentially unhealthy things are included. It's the only way to be with this generation of kids who have this sense of entitlement. And I think those with daughters need to have these discussions as well. Sexual experimentation is opening up to kids at a much younger age than my generation and a lot of behaviors now are much more accepted than when I was growing up. But they don't understand the consequences or long term effects to themselves or to those around them unless we educate them.


Cheryl


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:43 am 
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I agree with most of what's been said here. I think the way sex addiction and the partner are regarded by society is much like how victims of domestic violence are regarded.

As a culture, we've come a long way in understanding domestic violence and the courts are finally catching on. However, society still tends to be quick to blame the victim and criticize her (or him) for staying with her abuser.

Of course, the dynamics are much too complicated for such simple solutions. I agree that no one can truly understand how this is without having been through it.

I think the Tiger Woods' saga did some to help change the perception that the reason a man screws around is his wife is fat and ugly. Obviously, that was not the case with Woods' wife. Perhaps there is that nugget left in people's heads that it's not the wife's fault for not being attractive enough. Although I'm sure some have assumed 'she must not have been giving him enough' ...

How to get the media to listen? They like sexy stuff, but we all know here that sex addiction is anything but sexy. I had high hopes for that Dr. Drew show that was on, but all that did was sensationalize SA. I would love to see Oprah take it on.

How to get people to understand SA a real issue? I don't know, other than for us to tell our stories. In my other life, people knew me as strong and happy and in a great marriage. I have told very few about my experience - I'm careful who I tell it to because of the stigma it may attach to ME. But those few I have told understand a whole lot more about sex addiction than they did before my husband's arrest.



Kind Regards and Sincere thanks for your work,

Patty


Last edited by pattypp on Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:59 am 
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Hi Patty,

It's good to see you again. One thing I want to caution against is that the rules of Recovery Nation still apply here on this Focus Group Forum. I am in the process of posting specific rules to this forum. I apologize for not doing it before but I was ill for the last week. But basically this site's users are anonymous, whether this forum or any other, and any informations or insight that we can help Dr. Steffens work with has to be kept that way. If you or anyone else give the Dr. permission to use your stories it will be done with the understanding that real names will not be used. Your user id's can be used with reference to Recovery Nation.

Thanks,
Cheryl


Last edited by CoachCheryl on Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:35 am 
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oops! I understand and appreciate those rules. Thanks for the reminder. I just edited my post to take out the offer to use my name.

Patty


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:55 am 
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:w:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:34 pm 
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Oh sorry, I just asked a question about this on the other posting. Apparently there are not many resources for the general public's education.

It's hard to believe, but maybe at some point, probably after too much damage has been done, people might recognize it.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:41 am 
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Why do you think this is such a difficult topic for people to discuss? What prevents our society from accepting SA as a real issue, or from realizing it is a source of trauma for the partner?

I think I’d have to agree with the postings here. As a retired teacher, I think much of the difficulty is rooted in ignorance. Education is the way out, but I don’t know how we can get there. In my little fantasy world, tomorrow’s children will be taught of the dangers of porn and sex addictions by their parents, their churches, and in their health and sex education classes.
Many of us here were not educated prior to our discovery. I certainly wasn’t even aware that such addictions existed, nor was my partner. I wonder how many addicts could have avoided their addiction had they known such addictions were possible. Once aware of the addiction most of us reach for the books to help us. Unfortunately much of what has been published is not accurate or reflects our culture’s attitudes.
Given the culture we live in, I think the education solution will be an uphill battle. It will start with us. We partners and addicts are part of an ever growing number of people whose lives have been so destructively changed. As we form support groups, write books, talk to friends and family, engage in research, write letters to the APA and legislators and so on, we will eventually have to be heard.
I have written many letters during this struggle, including to the Surgeon General. I consider this a public health issue. I do not understand at all why these addictions are not being treated as a public health issue. I don’t know of any other addiction that affects millions of people that wouldn’t that wouldn’t be addressed as a public health issue. My best guess is that it isn’t being treated as such because of the reasons others have posted and because of simple ignorance.
Why doesn’t society recognize these addictions as a source of trauma for the partner? Again, I think it’s a lack of education amongst other issues. Since most of the partners are women I do believe that society perceives us in a very patronizing and negative manner. Something must be wrong with these women that they chose these men. Something must be wrong with these women that they didn’t know what was going on. Something must be wrong with these women that they stay in these relationships and try to “work it outâ€Â


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:36 am 
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Bang on the money, dm, no pun intended.

Interesting about your having written to the Surgeon General. I agree about the public health angle. Remember how long the tobacco industry denied that cigarettes were hazardous to health despite clear research evidence to the contrary; now here in my country (Canada) there are very large labels on each pack of cigarettes listing some of the hazards, and cigarette advertising is banned. I wonder if every porn video had a large ugly label on the box stating that "use of this product will rewire the user's brain, may cause addiction, and may result in the inability to sexually and emotionally relate to a live human being" whether that would help at all.

Since much porn consumption is done online, maybe all porn images should have a large legend onscreen at all times: Masturbating to this image may decrease your ability to achieve and/or maintain an erection with a live partner. Please note this image may warp your perceptions of reality for an indefinite period. Yes, real people were harmed in the production of this image and real people will be harmed downstream. Enjoy!

Larger social issues are deeply involved, as you say. Thank you Dr. Steffens, for taking this on!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:00 am 
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Taking on the issues at a political level is a great idea! Additionally, I believe that education begins at home. If a parent is not comfortable talking about healthy sexuality then the child will more than likely inherit a similar relationship to sex and sexuality. Many of us have inherited unhealthy sexual values, either from our families of origin or through acclimation to our partners' values. Either way what is missing is an ingrained education, language and connection to healthy sexual values.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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