What They Say When They Think No One’s Looking
Over on the community pages, allyb directed us to a thread on SoberRecovery, which I want to highlight here on the front page. AA members take great exception to it when we highlight instances of abuse among AA members, because, they say, all groups are autonomous, and no single member can represent or speak for AA as a whole. Of course, AA — as an organization — does not provide any oversight, and is not accountable at all for what happens in meetings, either. This is a nice, tidy little buck-passing loop they’ve arranged for themselves.
And we don’t buy it. If AA doesn’t exist as a responsible entity, then what actually happens in AA and among members is AA. If it seems that we are picking on individual members, that’s because we are. These people are AA. You can deny responsibility on the technicality that’s built into the traditions, but we place the responsibility squarely where it belongs — on AA’s members.
The thread allyb exposed begins with a post from Sugardaddy, whose ex-girlfriend is a new AA member. He is very concerned because she is being aggressively 13th-Stepped in the meetings she attends. After outlining the specific behavior she has encountered, which is reprehensible, he says, “She is SCARED,” and follows up with a couple of questions:
1) Does AA offer female only meetings? If not, is it possible to start one? Remember, we reside in a small town (less than 10,000)
2) Who can she write/email to and address these problems?
I understand that some of these attendees have to be there. Unlike my gf, they may not want to be there, but the courts order them. Therefore, she is amongst scum in my opinion (wife beaters, abusive fathers, etc). This is a very serious situation. My gf needs to get well and is trying. What steps can we take.
I offered to go to her last meeting, but I would not have been there in time after work.
The responses are shocking. The AA member’s first inclination is to protect the program, and to question Sugardaddy’s girlfriend’s integrity:
Do you have any proof that what she is saying is true?
Perhaps she just does not want to go to the meetings or stop drinking.
Proof? Because, of course, when the person you love tells you something, you should always demand proof, and assume the worst motivations.
Something does not sound right. Alcoholics are masterful liars. What was going on in your relationship before she went to AA for the third time?
She’s a liar! If she’s an alcoholic, then she is also a liar. But of course, this judgment applies only to her — not to the roomful of alcoholics in her AA meeting. Again, the first thing Sugardaddy should do is to question his girlfriend’s honesty — not the AA group. Perhaps Sugardaddy should stop wondering what’s wrong with AA and start wondering what’s wrong with his girlfriend.
Have you verified these stories???
Well, all Sugardaddy has to do is google “13th Step” and he’ll get all the verification he needs to know that this is not outside the norm.
Sugardaddy responds to some of these questions by asserting that 1. his girlfriend is attending AA of her own free will, meaning that she has chosen, and 2. she has never lied to him before about her drinking, but admits that she is a “terrible liar.” I guess they’ve put a bug in his ear. (He also says that she spoke to her preacher, who told her that Satan is holding her back).
Something smells funny here. Sounds like a bunch of good reasons not to go to meetings! hmm.
Editing to add: When I was done drinking and using, nothing could stop me from pursuing recovery, getting sober, and staying that way.
Are you in a program of your own? Sounds like you’re involving yourself a TAD much in her recovery, which is simply her own journey.
Out of curiousity.. why the emphasis on her going to these meetings on her own free will.???
If she really wanted to recover, she wouldn’t let aggressive sexual harassment stop her. She obviously doesn’t want to stop drinking. Besides, why don’t you butt out? Your girlfriend’s fear of sexual predation is none of your beezwax.
sugardaddy, I know you likely are looking for more concrete information on how to solve this problem for your girlfriend but honestly, this sounds like something SHE needs to handle herself. If she is not interested in this person, it is a simple matter for her to tell him, “I am not interested in you, please stop calling me, approaching me and talking to me.” She IS a grown woman, isn’t she? If she is a teenager, perhaps I can understand she might need some advice on how to handle this (such as she has sought from her minister) but still, she needs to handle this herself. If she feels she is in danger, she can call 911/the police.
I advise you to take a big step backwards, out of this situation. Have you gone to Al-Anon?
When you go to an AA meeting, you should have 911 on speed dial, I guess. This response is particularly disgusting — outrageous. It minimizes the abuse (well, if this were really serious, she’d call the cops, now, wouldn’t she?). It insults her capacity as an adult — because if she were competent, she’d handle it. Of course, men who don’t understand that showing up at a woman’s place of employment is unacceptable, who don’t understand that this behavior is creepy and intimidating, are not the types to simply accept a straightforward rejection. Healthy people in relationships do not “back off,” and send each other to handle intimidation and sexual harassment alone — you don’t send anyone off to handle it alone. Did Andrew Dice Clay ghostwrite Al-Anon?
Does she often feel highly attractive to men? The scenarios she is describing sound…like men are swooning over her right and left. Do you find that believable?
I’ve been going to meeting for 2 years and I sure wish someone would invite me to the Bahamas. Hasn’t happened yet. All they want me to do is make coffee.
For one thing, it is discouraged in almost all AA groups I know of that men and women associate as sponsors/sponsees and it is not encouraged that men offer women their phone number in fellowship.
Lets get down to earth here: when you described her as being amongst scum: wife beaters and what not….is that a fair assumption? I know that in the US there are a lot of court ordered AA members, but, most of them are not there for wife beating or abuse.I can’t think of anyone who got sent to AA for wife beating. They are just garden variety drunks, like me.
Hey, maybe she’s just a delusional bimbo, didja ever think of that? By the way, I wish some weirdo would scare the crap out of me! I’d appreciate it. Anyway, we don’t encourage this, so it doesn’t happen. I’ve never seen it. Never seen any wifebeaters in AA either, and I’d know if I saw one.
Speaking of delusional:
You’re not a therapist, addiction counselor, or psychiatrist, best to leave the helping to the professionals.
The responses go on for a couple more pages, and a few people chimed in to protest the advice. This is what AA members do to each other when they think no one’s looking.