"Safe Haven"

I have been making reference in the comments to an opinion piece in the August issue of Grapevine, which is titled: “Safe Haven, Keeping the rooms free of predation: Whose responsibility is it?” and I think it’s about time I actually put it up here. It’s not available online, and it’s rather long, so I’ll transcribe some of it.

It begins:

How safe is your AA meeting? Have you ever personally not felt safe? Have you ever had someone give you a hug and walked away with an uncomfortable feeling?

I ask these questions because I view with concern the sexual predation that I’ve seen in AA meetings. I have seen it happen in all gender relationships, but my personal experience is as a woman being preyed upon by men.

I know what many of you are thinking, “Well, that’s an outside issue,” but I disagree. How can it be an outside issue if it affects my safety in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous?

She goes on to make a parallel to the Catholic Church’s sexual scandals and cover-ups, and offers her experience as a newcomer 22 years ago, saying “Imagine my surprise when what I found was much of the same barroom behavior I had just left. I was groped, received obscene phone calls, stalked, and was nearly date-raped by a member of the fellowship.”

And she points out that calling this behavior “Thirteenth Stepping” tends to play down the actual predatory nature of it, making it sound like part of the program; and she concludes:

Much of the discussion has been changing over the last decade. AA is seeing younger memebers enter its rooms, and turning a blind eye to wyat is happeneing to a miinor is very different in the eyes of the law. Like it or not, and inividual with knowledge of the behavior could be held criminally liabel.

We owe it to our members to make sure the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous are safe for everyone who enter. That means talking about this topic in our group conscience and with each other. It means leaving barroom behavior behind and treating the newcomers like they truly are the most important people in the room.

I was interested to see what the backlash to this article would be. We’ve had some women here denying that sexual predation is a problem in AA. Generally, any discussion if this is met with one of two responses. The first is, of course, that this doesn’t happen. The second is that if it does, it’s your own fault – to which I respond: If you have the presence of mind, self-esteem, self-control, and self-will to set your own boundaries, and are responsible for doing so, then why does that not also apply to your sobriety?

My latest issue of Grapevine is lost somewhere in a pile of papers, and I have yet to even take of the black plastic wrapping (thanks a lot of that discreet packaging, Grapevine. Now my mailman thinks I’m getting porn), so I don’t know if there are any responses to this piece. But, I did find one blogger’s response, in which she calls “Safe Haven” tedious.

She laments the fact that some people are jerks, but the crux of her response to the piece is this:

I found the article tedious, with all the hypothetical questions and conjecture.  And somehow the idea of an AA meeting being a “Safe Haven” has never really made sense to me.  Maybe in a perfect world, if there weren’t other alcoholics in various stages of recovery, it would be safe.  But as it is, with sick people trying to get well, and sorry, but BAD people trying to get good, an AA meeting is not likely to be a safe haven.

And

Women in AA are often seen as commodities.  It is a shame.  It is sad.  For all concerned.

But if you are to stay sober, it is best not to get mired in the “injustice” of it all.  It is best to just move on.  And I don’t care to speculate about “what if it happened to this person or that person? They would surely get drunk!”  If a person wants to stay sober, they will find a way to do that no matter what.  If a person is looking for an excuse to get drunk, any thing will do.

Of course, you have to wonder what purpose the AA program serves in supporting one’s sobriety if the only thing that makes it work is what you “will.” Further, not getting “mired in the injustice of it all,” (tedious as injustice might be) so that you can get yours, is pretty lowdown – especially considering AA’s youth recruitment drive.

This AA member can acknowledge that “women in AA are seen as commodities,” which is a big deal, and finds this a sad shame for all. But she finds it more important to just “move on” in order to focus on her “selfish program.” (I wonder if you can use that excuse to skip the 9th step.)

The plain fact is that AA is rife with predators and members who attend, on their own recognizance (well, on the advice of their lawyers), seeking to mitigate their sentencing — for all manner of crimes. The court looks favorably upon people who begin “treatment” before the judge orders them to treatment.  These people have no interest beyond their own self-interest, which, as the above blogger points out, is par for the course, anyway.

It is true, that whatever group of people you choose to involve yourself in will have its share of assholes, predators, etc.  But, it is not true that this is the same as “real life.” In real life, there are policies in the workplace against sexual harassment; sexual harassment is not allowed in schools; people get fired for making sexual advances on their subordinates, both in the workplace and in academic environments.

If AA encourages “denial,” and “enabling” in regard to its members’ relationship to each other and to the fellowship as a whole, then how can it claim any credibility in addressing these issues as they pertain to addiction?

24 Responses to '"Safe Haven"'

  1. sherwoode says:

    I found AA to be a cesspool of sexual and financial exploitation.It is a very sexist institution.The rooms are full of criminals,thieves,sexual predators,narcissist and crazies.If you have a drinking problem and need help go to a professional who does not shove AA down your throat and then move on with your life.

    • freedom girl says:

      Do you think we could start another fellowship that was free like AA. Im starting to wonder …maybe. Rehab has gotten rediculously expensive and it's success rate is worse then AA so I agree with all the stuff about aa not being safe. I am completely attacking this problem at a grass roots level in Los Angeles.
      I have started my own blog stop13stepinaa also lets make aa safe from predators now. There is a group of us and we are growing quickly. Especially cause there are lots of young folks coming in and becoming General Service Reps. Im not willing to completely walk away cause Im not willing to leave those young ones vulnerable to the sick Predators waiting to pounce on them. It makes me sick. WE are trying to change things. But if I find I can not I might start something new. Something better!

  2. Chiara says:

    The idea that this appears in the Grapevine has little value to AA. I've found member's do not want to deal with anything outside of the, "program," if that. When I was involved in AA there was full on complaints about lack of interest either in service or the Grapevine.

    AA meetings in prisons are simply a place for, "cons," to practice their game, (financial or sexual abuse of others) within the meetings. Meetings in Salem, Oregon, Las Vegas, Nevada, are both good examples.

    And how does this information not make it's way back to the judicial system?

    Rabbi Neulander found his hit man in the rooms of AA in NJ. Jenoff, the hit man, murdered Neulander's wife.

    Mid-Town Groups, Pacific Group, Stairway Clubs, Alano Clubs all have a reputation for abuse.

    Charlotte Kasl and Jean Kirkpatrick could not bear the patriarchy that is AA, both leaving and creating better alternatives.

    If I were to be amazed, and I am. Why are there no personal lawsuits against AA members and the medical professionals who send clients to AA?

  3. H says:

    Well, it is the 'old boys will be boys' syndrome. or, 'men are only out for one thing' syndrome. And, that is putting a sugar coating on it. I am, of course, being derisory. excuses are endemic.
    AA is a dumping ground. Every sort is there. AA is fully aware of it; ignorance is impossible.

    Lawsuits: nothing will be done unless and until AA is held accuntable in a court of law. AA should face judgments which put it into receivership. I advocate lawsuits.

    The Police are well aware of Alano Clubs.

    • maliagirl says:

      Narcotics Anonymous addressed this issue 6 years ago. They asked Secretaries to make announcements.

      They addressed it from the top ( Their General Service) down to the groups. I don't go to NA so I dont know if it helped , but NA took the position if they turned a blind eye, then they were also responsible!!!

      IF NA can do it….

      I think AA better get their trip together.

    • freedom girl says:

      so lets get Erin Brockavich and ask her for help.
      Lets starta serious grass roots list of names and emails . I am organizing such a thing. I am fed up and Im sick of it.

      WE are going to have a workshop in Los Angeles to address it

  4. AndyM says:

    AA is full of sad tossers who can't pull a woman out in the real world. It's actually a bit more abject than bar culture in that respect. For some it's a misery-loves-company lonely hearts club, for some a predator's hunting ground. It doesn't take many of the latter to make aa a very unsafe place, especially when aa is so constituted (deliberately?) as to avoid accountability for abuse of its members.

  5. AndyM says:

    Well, perhaps not quite full. There were always some people who were actually there to try to stay off the drink, but it became quite commonplace to hear people say in meetings "not everybody here is an alcoholic". This begs the question:
    what could be the agendas of those attending meetings (anonymously) under false pretences?
    AA already knows the answer to that question, but it's only answer to the question is to dodge it. Evasion of accountability is aa's get-out clause. I'm surprised that it continues to get away with this "it's nothing to do with us, every group is autonymous" dodge when other agencies which exist to help the vulnerable adhere to a clear policy of accountability and a clear procedure for identifying and reporting abuse.

  6. sherwoode says:

    How could the meetings be safe?The courts have been dumping criminals into the 12 step programs for years.The rooms were already filled with crazies and opportunist and now hard core criminals.NO place to send those you love.

    • speedy0314 says:

      s,

      the "safe place" canard is one of those mantra's that's drummed into you the minute you walk into your first meeting. it's also the first shoe to drop once something even relatively 'unsafe' takes place at a meeting or as a result of one's 'AA involvement'.

      "what was your part in it?" is the glass-eyed, time-worn response of every good, mushy-headed sponsor.

      gee, i don't know … maybe it was actually trusting that whole "safe place" line of bulls**t that got fed to me at every meeting?

      it brings to mind for me another old AA saw: "we're all here because we're not all there."

      safe place, my ass.

      speedy

    • maliagirl says:

      so true!
      but where else does one go to get help with Alcoholism?
      I think we should fight back internally.

      Clean up AA. Get those fucking Sex Predators out!

    • maliagirl says:

      I think its gotten so bad with Predators in AA that some of them come and they are not even alcoholics!

      They go to where there are pretty young women.

      And there are so many big Strong Womens adn Mens meetings that the coed meetings are watered down. And new people can be taken advantage of with sex and yes money!

  7. joedrywall says:

    I just finished reading the Safe Haven article in the grapevine. I think it was a really good article and a topic that desperately needs to be discussed within the rooms of AA. I know that my group suggests that men sponsor men and women sponsor women, and it is also suggested that nobody make any major changes within the first year.
    It is terribly unfortunate that this type of behaviour goes on anywhere really, and it sort of displays the cult within a cult temperment, at least with regard to The Midtown group. However, I am not overly familiar with how much 13 stepping and sexual predation that goes on with the fellowship as a whole, and we cant judge every AA group by the actions of some groups, no more than can we judge the church of later saints by the actions of the polygamists LDS in the state of Texas.
    AA is actually a Haven for crazies, this is well known and if the general public dont understand this then they should wake up to the fact. However, right now it is a necessary evil-if evil is the appropriate term, because many folks do need help with their alcohol and with their spirituality.
    Take Care

  8. sharron says:

    a guy i knew and liked elderly with grandchlidren
    and not a preditor
    who has been in AA to try keep off booze
    he relapsed and dont want to go back-
    He felt sorry for a man in AA who had no where to live-
    he let the man stop at his home-
    he found out the man was a child molester-
    he got rid of the man and also relapsed-
    the guy i knew and liked had been molested by
    a man when he was a child-
    i understand why he relapsed and dont want to go back
    those rooms are full of preditors

  9. anonymous says:

    AA is predictable. Nothing you say to anyone else is really secret. AA is not a safe place to share, I pitty the fool who bears his soul and confesses in a 5th step. The guy you tell it to owns you.

    I hear over and over how people get bilked out of their money from AA's. Bad business, loans, etc.

    I personaly know too many guys that pick up on the new girls, bone them, and then never call them again. Some of these guys boink hookers wihout a rubber on their spare time.

    I think AA is only good if you know what the dangers are before you go.

    I know lots of stoners and drunks that have gone to AA for years just to bum a few bucks off some sucker sponsor type person.

    In 13 years I've only known 2 people to drink and die. Only one of them OD'd, he needed booze and pills to do the job, it took 3 months. The other hung himself while coming down from crack. I think he died because someone told him to get a job.

    I've seen a few girls go to AA, find a husband, and then stop.

    I've seen every oldtimer be pious (even athiests), self rightious, knowledgeable, controling, mean, and gossipy.

    I'll tell you what AA is really good for is networking.

    Other than that, if you are too sick to fuck and have nowhere else to go, buying the brainwash programming can help in the short term with physical sobriety till you can think on your feet.

    Thats what I did.

  10. anonymous says:

    Oh yea, and fuck hugging in AA. I hate being hugged by horny old perfumed broads, long haired sausage peddlers, and queer old men.

  11. sharron says:

    i found there are a lot of similarities in this article
    pretaining to things that happen to me in AA-
    and also think that men are at risk of the same or similar things-
    I have highlighted with a star those things that happen to me-in AA.
    Women and Cults: A Lawyer’s Perspective

    Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq.
    Abstract
    Often the problems facing women in or recovering from a cult involvement are gender specific, yet they are not likely to be recognized as such. *(Societal expectations cause women to have particular vulnerabilities to cult recruitment, to be more susceptible to abuse within the cult, and to experience certain difficulties in recovery from the cult experience. *)Those working with cult victims need to develop a greater sensitivity to these issues when addressing women’s needs for preventive education, legal counsel, family support, and other forms of victim assistance.

    When I first became involved with the cult problem some years ago,(* people were oriented toward distinguishing the cult leaders, who were viewed as somewhat mystical charismatic figures, from the victims, who were lumped together without any differentiation. *)There was a generalized belief about the stereotypical cult member: he or she was thought to be a college‑aged, (*idealistic, troubled person who was seeking, looking for answers. *)It came as a great surprise to people when they learned that cults recruited the elderly, and that cults were recruiting among minorities and in high schools. Specific characteristics, such as sex, were also being ignored. No one considered whether or not there was a gender differentiation in a person’s vulnerability to cults and cult recruitment, and, particularly, whether women were more susceptible to recruitment. Recent research, however, has consistently produced samples that are 60% to 70% female (Chambers, Langone, Dole, & Grice, 1994).

    In our work with former cult members, we have found that victims’ complaints cluster in a certain manner. Many people describe their experience of having been involved in a cult as (*“spiritual rape.” *)A professor of philosophy at a college in New York described her experience as the (*“theft of her identity and persona” *)(Rosenthal, 1995). Others have spoken specifically about (*physical problems, emotional problems, and lingering problems concerning self‑esteem and self‑image.*)

    Society certainly has not come as far as it might in perceiving and responding to those harms that are gender specific. Instead, we are still at an earlier stage, in which we (*regard people who have suffered these injuries as somehow being the cause of them: we believe that cult members became “victims” because of their own gullibility, susceptibility, and lack of self‑will. *)Society’s perspective on cults, victims’ rights, and education is analogous to its perceptions about rape and rape victims a generation ago.

    I regard the problems associated with cults as essentially (*abuse of a power relationship.*) If you look at it in that manner, without regard to religion or the content of the specific doctrine, you will find that abuse of power is a common element in all kinds of cult situations–whether the group be a political cult,(* a lifestyle cult, a self‑improvement cult, or a religiously‑oriented group. *)Therefore, it is necessary to recognize the relevance of differences among cult recruits. It appears to me that women are especially susceptible, and especially victimized, and need a special, differentiated protection. Now what does this mean?

    I couldn’t possibly cover all the aspects of this thesis. I will, however, propose some provocative issues, and leave them, to some extent, unresolved, because we cannot fully resolve them at this time. I’d like to make an initial, opening inquiry, to address something that has never been raised before from this perspective. I am asking you to share in the construction of this inquiry, and to help move toward resolution of some of these questions and issues.

    First, I believe women are more susceptible to cult recruitment because cults offer them(* security (i didnt drink savely they said it would keep me off booze*)and answers in a world where we paint women’s roles in a conflicted, inconsistent manner. Our culture makes demands on women that heighten their insecurity, that pull them in different directions, and that provide no fixed images, levels of achievement, or values by which they can measure themselves. To the degree that cults pose an attractive offer of (*security to people who are conflicted–about career, (*i was unemployable for life on entering aa-they made it sound like i could get well and return to work *)the future, (*They said i would get a wonderfull life )(*They told me as a drunk druggie i was ugly and if i acted out on defects i was ugly thse things had to go i had to change myself everything in order to become lovely and loveable )self‑image, *)or (*personal goals i wanted to be a btter person they said i was no good as i was i wanted to learn to drive and work and become more educated wanted a good relationship and travel find good friends *)–cults become especially compelling for women. This effect is heightened in situations where women move from highly protected, (*restricted environments-i was in a domestic violent relationship where i was being controlled *) to more open, undefined ones. We find this situation, for example, when looking at women who emerge from a Third World culture and arrive in an American urban university setting. (*i was not in my own homeland had moved had no family or long term friends around me other than my children*)(*Suddenly, they see open to them choices and possible roles never before available: not only things that they could only have dreamed about before, but also things they have no idea how to handle. *)In such circumstances women are particularly vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.

    Similar vulnerabilities exist for women who come from protected, rural, isolated families and move into an urban atmosphere. When we recently interviewed a number of people who were recruited into the New York Church of Christ while they were in a university environment, we found a significant number of female recruits who had emerged from very restricted rural backgrounds. One of these recruits was a Vietnamese woman who had settled with her family in the Midwest and then came to attend a college in New York. Within a matter of weeks she was recruited into the New York Church of Christ. It was the first time she had been in an environment (*where she could establish social relationships with a group of seemingly genuine, clean‑cut Christian men. She had no concept of self‑protection or of the possibility that these men were not interested in her solely for herself, but merely as a potential recruit, after which they would drop all contact.*)

    A similar situation occurred in the case of a young woman who was upwardly mobile, moving from an environment in which her family insisted that she achieve, but provided no model of their own achievement as a guide. The young*( woman unqualifiedly sought opportunities for achievement, *)and became involved in an urban cultic group.

    Because of these special vulnerabilities, we find, not surprisingly, that a significant number of cultic groups tailor their message specifically to appeal to women. For example, a significant number of Eastern groups in the New York metropolitan area seek to promote a (*particular body type, diet, and appearance. *)(*I was told in AA that my looks were not good enough-on looking at old phots taken around the time just prior to going to AA-my appearnce was actually pretty good for my age and life style*)(*I became very stressed while in AA -my appearnce got worse not better-also very deprssed-this showed on me while in AA and was also critasied-i was to pretend to be happy*)Groups link their appeal to body‑image concerns via Eastern meditation techniques or a guru’s inspiration, but the message that is sold is essentially one of shape, health, and appearanceCa pitch that is specifically directed toward and appealing to women.

    Several groups tailor their appeal to idealism. (*They reach out for the healthy, nurturing spirit, and promise to involve recruits in noble projects, *)such as the elimination of world hunger. The ideal of reaching out, of a(* helping idealism, *)(*even as a drinker drug user i was and still am a helpfull person i like to help others *)is more responsive to a woman’s needs and approach than to a man’s. (*Diet, likewise, is offered as a part of some groups’ regimen, a regimen that also often includes manipulation of guilt and enhancement of dependency.*)

    The second aspect of women’s specific vulnerability to cults is found within the groups themselves. First, women are(* utilized as recruiters. *)Here we see cults*( using sexual and social manipulation as a recruitment device.-i have saw that done in NA*) For years the Children of God sent out female recruiters to do what they described as “flirty fishing”–actually, simply sexual prostitution. Women within the group were used as sexual objects, exploited for their potential to attract new members.*)

    *(Apart from the use and abuse of women as recruiters,*) there is also the issue of the general treatment of women within the group. What happens to them that is different from what happens to male members? First, the groups generally (with some exceptions) (*insist on a greater degree of submission for the female members. (*i dont know if thats true of AA or not but they certainly insisted on a great deal of submission from me*)(*Women are fitted into a role that is more reflective of their status a generation or two ago than in the contemporary scene. *)I found this to be the case in a group in New Jersey. A group of about 10 or 12 women, (*all of whom were among the highest academic graduates of the Seven Sisters schools, were required to spend their lives doing housekeeping chores and playing no other role in the world, despite their education. The desire to use any of their acquired skills was not permitted. The leader’s psychological manipulations had caused them to regress to a childlike, dependent, and submissive role. *)(* when i tyred to do any further education i was told i would relapse-and pressure was put on me contnually in meetings-i got some further education in spite of them-and now have many qualifications-when i went to work for mental health in NA i was continually being put under pressure told not to work to leave told i would relapse told i was chaseing money shuned in homegroup. that along with pressure from a discrimanating boss and other things going on in my life-i started to have panic attacks and NA sponsor told me to walk out my job-i did then couldnt get back on benifts for months and no help from anyone_later in AA was told i could keep a cleaning job i had since in it i was allowed use of land phone and that would be usefull to keep in contact with sponsor-then little later told to leave it and offered job cleaning one of AA;s houses which i refused*)When I asked them why and how they accepted that kind of regression, their answer was that it was(* so much more comfortable, so much less threatening to accept that role, to simply give up all of their individuality, than to challenge their leader. *)i did challange but this brought condmation on my head within AA*)In this particular situation, not only had the women been manipulated into (*giving up asserting themselves, -told it was arguing told it was wrong told it was anger and that would get me drunk told it was defective told it wasnt doing the programme told i was full of resentments hatered told i had to learn to take the puches on the chin and so on and so forth-*)but also they had given up their (* I was no longer Shaz name i had been called all my life by family friends but now Sharron the alcoholic/addict *)names and identities, and had been(* induced to become interchangeable people without any particular identity of any kind.*)began to copy others around me take on thier id

    Within certain cultic groups we find that the (*leader exercises sexual domination and control over the members. Often in such groups, each female member is purportedly afforded a “special” relationship with the leader, and of course that “special” relationship is one that must be held confidential, kept secret from every other member of the group–that is, until the women find that they all have had the same “special” relationship with the leader. This involves, again, a tragic elimination of the individual personality and a gender‑specific abuse of sexual power.*)_i was lucky not to be so vunrable that i fell for the preditors demands-but many of them tried both those in recovery old timers and also relapsers-i was sexaully assualted by an old timer-and also had sexually labusive phone calls from another old timer*)

    In many cultic groups we find a familial problem that involves abuse between generations. Children are abused by parents, and sexual abuse by leaders is prevalent. Incest is not unheard of, sometimes occurring as part of a ritual bonding relationship. Again in such groups the women are likely to suffer from particular problems that are more exacerbated than men’s experiences.

    Third, we must consider issues that relate specifically to women in their emergence from groups. Sexual issues and sexual abuse have different implications and different aftereffects from some of the other experiences typically found in cults. If a man becomes involved in a group whose sexual mores are very liberal and unstructured, he might come out and say, AI slept with 12 women.” The woman who comes out of the same group and says AI slept with twelve men” will experience a tremendous difference in her social adjustment afterwards.

    Consequently, we must draw a distinction between men’s and women’s experiences as they try to resume conventional roles in society. I know one woman who was involved in a New Age group that engaged extensively in liberal sexual practices. She is now in a top-level senior executive position. She lives in fear that somehow her employer will find out that she engaged in this cult activity, and that such knowledge will destroy her professional status. This is a peculiar kind of problem that women risk when they leave cults.

    Women also disproportionately bear the onerous results of matrimonial and(* family arrangements that were made within the cult by the group’s leaders. *) (*they tried there utmost best to get me to get rid of my family my father sister and children that would also have ment my grandchildren *)These arrangements tend to fracture after one of the parties in the family leaves the cult. Within the cult, often women are assigned childbearing and child-rearing roles. This situation may produce no immediate problem of conflict so long as both marriage partners are in the cult, and no particular abusive behavior is involved. However, when a woman(* leaves the cult without her partner, she must contend with dissolving a marriage and looking after the welfare of her children. *)(* i had no partners in AA and none for 8 years-however have found at times when i leave male members who said they were friends have came to my home and intamadated me into going back to AA_i had to disolve what they call friendships tho i never really saw those men as good friends myself and didnt have any grienf inside about haveing to disolve those so called friendships was gald to*)She now finds herself in a painfully divided situation in which the partner remaining in the cult wants to assert control over the children and(* characterizes the departing woman as untrustworthy, a devil, and deserving of humiliation. *)(*the AA friends *)More painful still, often the group’s doctrine demands that the children be alienated from the departing spouse. These strains are left as residual problems for the woman to cope with alone, even as she struggles with her own psychological fragility.

    One former member of a Bible-based group whom I have heard about relates(* how her life fell apart when the group decided that she could not continue to attend any fellowship meetings unless she became more submissive to her husband and to the group. According to group doctrine, she was simply not being obedient and respectful enough. *)(*shunned unssuported got at unless i did there bidding*)She said, AI think the real reason was that I was going back to college and (*thinking for myself.” *)The group’s leader concluded that (*she was a possessed person, *)(* i was told satan was inside me *)that she had homosexual tendencies because she had stopped shaving her armpits, that she was in league with the(* devil *)and, therefore, that she was an (*unfit mother. *)In the process of leaving the group, the woman became involved in a very ugly divorce and custody case with her husband, who had remained a member.

    Often the cultic group asserts that the (*husband -friends sponsors *)of the departing wife and children is no longer obligated to support them, since (in the cult’s view) they have become heretics, or devil‑possessed beings. *)The woman is thus deprived of essential financial protection and is often left to fight a battle without resources, where the opponents are, in effect, not her husband, but the group and all its resources. For example, I know of one group which provides every spouse of a departing member with counsel at no cost. The group has argued uniformly, in hundreds of custody cases, that the departing spouse has(* sexually abused the children -some of them accused me of this-my children wanted to go in to AA and have it out with them tell them i wasnt the bad mother person they made me out to be but i didnt want my kids going anywhere near them incase they harmed them*)and therefore should not receive custody of the children. Such an accusation is a terrible burden for the ex‑member. Furthermore, courts have thus far refused to recognize that this argument reflects a uniform tactic and does not necessarily reflect individuals’ particular situation.

    Ex‑members face humiliation while going through the process of emergence and recovery from cults. Though society has begun to realize that it is not appropriate (*to blame the victim of a rape,-they did in AA they balmed me for haveing been raped)* a similar reevaluation has not occurred in the case of the cult victim. As a result women are reluctant to come forward as cult victims. They do not want to acknowledge their experience publicly because they fear they (*will be accused of being gullible, trusting, or foolish.-i have been accused of these thing -but i talk out about AA despite this*)

    Also they fear the adverse publicity,(* because cults strike back. -well AA certainly do *) Cultic groups often have deep pockets, and if (*one accuses a cult leader of criminal or sexually abusive conduct, one can be threatened with a slander suit. -wasnt threatned with a slander suit but was shunned got at intamadated and so on and so forth- same old same old.*)The cult will not hesitate to finance such a lawsuit, since they see it as a means of keeping other members from defecting. Thus, ex‑members may have to fight a powerful adversary without commensurate resources. (*There is really no protection for ex‑members. If they want to go on with the rest of their lives, if they don’t want accusations about their alleged behavior flaunted in Macy’s window, they have a real problem. There is no assurance of confidentiality for the person trying to leave a cultic group. *)Often cults(* extract confessional material from members during their time in the group, -4th step-and use this information against former members who try to assert their individual rights.-has been used against me at times by some sponsors while i went to AA-so far hasnt happend while out of AA -but then isnt that just another YET! waiting to happen!*)

    Finally, those coming out of the cults struggle to regain a positive self‑image, a capacity to trust again, and a productive role in society. Here again, it is more difficult for a woman to rehabilitate her self‑image. Whether abuse has taken place within a familial setting, with a trusted guru, or in the context of the group, rebuilding social and intimate relationships after abuse is more difficult for women because of the cultural constraints placed on them.

    In conclusion, with respect to women and cults, the issues center around the problem of respect for the individual. The fact that women are vulnerable, that some of them are seekers, really reflects the situation of every individual. But we must recognize that women experience peculiar exacerbations of the issue which require special care and special consideration. Certainly it is a subject that has not received adequate examination or adequate concern. I would hope that this discussion would represent the beginning of speaking out. It’s a long road, but we’re beginning the examination of these important issues, and I’d like to enlist your concern, your cooperation, and your help to see how we can make an effective and appropriate response to them.

    References
    Chambers, W., Langone, M.D., Dole, A.A., & Grice, J.W. (1994). The Group Psychological Abuse Scale: A measure of the varieties of cultic abuse. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(1), 88B117.

    Rosenthal, A. (1995). Conversions. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    Acknowledgments
    This article was originally a presentation given by Herbert Rosedale on October 25, 1995, at a session focusing on “Violence Towards Women” at The New School for Social Research in New York City. This session was part of a New School series entitled “Women and the Law.”

    Reprinted from: Cultic Studies Journal Volume 12, Number 2 1995

    _

    • we are fighting back about all of this
      We have a voice. We are raising awareness and confronting any Predator we see.

      Good people in AA are sick & tired of all that you are share here.

      There is alot of truth here. But more needs to be done. AA WS needs to take a stand. Criminal Behavior is against the law even in AA. AA's are not above the law!
      IF someone really put a gun to your please email me and tell us your story. WE can add it to the other horror stories we are collecting.

  12. Skye says:

    I have to say I had a few experiences that were VERY questionable, but the one that took the cake was taking a sponsee through a fifth step. She shared she was afraid to go back to meetings because she had shown up very drunk for a meeting, shared that she needed a safe ride home and was taken home by an "old timer" and fucked.

    Months later, he sat on sex and dating panels at our young people's conference. His friends knew what he was doing and never called him out. People nodded when he spoke in meetings and told him he was so insightful. And he was full of shit.

    I'm now about 9 months into AA "deprogramming" and have completely flipped my life. Lost friends, new social scene, new habits – It's shitty, but I'm finally being genuine. I can love myself, question what people tell me, and know that I never was an alcoholic.

    Thanks for posting.

  13. We are having a workshop regarding Predators in AA of all kinds.

    So many people are sick and tired of this crap.

    April 3 in Los Angeles. For more info go to
    makeaasafer@gmail.com

    this was discussed recently at PRAASA an AA service forum and 130 people from the Pacific Region are on board to address this internal problem. Enough!!!

    I think its time has come for another type of sober support group.

  14. violet says:

    i REMEMBER that article, i think.  was this the article that talks about a thirteen year old getting raped–or maybe the rape was statutory? i brought this article up at a meeting and got –guesssss what??!!!__ shot down.  ohh, the reasons to leave aa, the reasons to leave aa.  in desperation, i went to a meeting like three days ago.  i felt nervous.  and i remembered why aa was so creepy t me.  the predators. i am not even young anymore at thirty-six and i felt on guard. program equals dry well.

  15. JR Harris says:

    The August 2009 AA Grapevine article entitled “Safe Haven, Keeping the rooms free of predation: Whose responsibility is it?” was perhaps the first and only attempt at making the rooms and fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous safer from sexual, financial and Spiritual predators. The article was written by someone named M. P., does anyone know what happened to this journalist?

Leave a Reply