S-Anon International Family Groups

The S-Ateen Problem

Like other addictions, sexaholism affects the whole family. As S-Ateen members, we are seeking recovery from our own progressive illness.

The S-Ateen Problem

S-Ateen members have much in common with the friends and relatives of other addicted people. Most of us lived with or are living in families with secrets, and we have believed that it was our responsibility to keep those secrets, no matter how destructive. We were not taught to think about our own needs and take positive action to meet them. We chose friends who could not or would not love and support us in a healthy way. We lived life from the standpoint of victims and perceived any personal criticism as a threat. For most of us, anger, fear, loneliness and depression were nearly constant. We acquired some unhealthy beliefs about ourselves very early in our lives - that we were not worthwhile and lovable, that we were able to control other people's behavior, and that sex was the most important sign of love, affection and self-worth.

We may have also felt the shame of thinking we were responsible for the sexaholic behavior of a parent, family member or friend. Many of us felt responsible for the happiness and safety of our parents or our siblings as well. Our self-esteem dropped to low levels, and we doubted our worth, our emotions, and at times even our sanity. We have felt betrayed by those we loved the most. Some of us were sexually abused or knew that other family members were being abused. Others witnessed sexual behavior or participated in sexual behavior that made us ashamed of ourselves. Sometimes we were placed in physical danger. In some cases a parent or other family member shared inappropriate information with us in ways that made us feel uncomfortable. Many of us were ashamed of what was happening in the family, but we often did not ask for help, did not know where to find help, or were not believed if we did share about the problem.

Some of us, knowing we could not leave the situation, minimized the importance of the sexaholic behavior or denied it until we felt emotionally numb. Others kept the family secrets because we feared retaliation, hurting other family members, or causing a crisis by talking about the problem. Many of us focused on the behavior of the sexaholic or other family members to the point of obsession and tried every known method to control or escape from their behavior. Some of us misused drugs, alcohol, or food, and others kept so busy with activities that we did not have time to feel our emotions. We often neglected our health, jobs, schoolwork and our friendships. No matter how we tried to struggle against it, deny it or minimize its effects, the failure of our efforts to cope with sexaholism brought us to the point of despair. This is what we mean when we say in the First Step, "our lives had become unmanageable."


This page was last modified on 2/9/16.