In recent months, the news media has been filled with unending stories of various politicians and celebrities being accused of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assault. It seems like every day another person in the entertainment industry has been brought down because of revelations of behaviors from their past.
Some of these public figures have announced they are going into treatment. Harvey Weinstein has stated he is going into treatment for sexual addiction. Kevin Spacey has announced he is taking time to seek evaluation and treatment. While getting help is likely a good idea for these men, it brings up many questions and concerns.
Many have voiced concern that announcing sex addiction as the problem allows those that have caused harm to others to get a pass – avoid any consequences for what is in fact perpetrating behaviors of sexual offending. Others feel confused on what the difference is between sex addiction and these other bad behaviors being described in the news. Sometimes people in recovery from sex addiction feel shamed or fear that if people knew what they were working on, they would be classified in the same category as Harvey Weinstein or the rest. Partners have described feeling anxiety or another wave of shame as these stories come to the fore. Family members, coworkers, and friends may start talking about these stories in the news with contempt for the one being accused. Comments may be thrown out implicating sex addiction as a false disorder or a way to hide from just being sick. It raises questions from many sides.
In consideration of these questions and concerns, this month I am providing links to some good resources for information on these topics. Here are a few good articles from two well known experts in our field.
Stefanie Carnes, PhD, CSAT-S, is the president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals and is a senior fellow for Meadows Behavioral Healthcare where she works with sexually addicted clients and their families.
Sex Addiction: A New Diagnosis for an Old Behavior: Is Sex Addiction Treatment a Way to Escape the Consequences of Sexual Misbehavior or to Heal?
Stefanie offers a clear explanation of the very distinct differences between sexual offending and sexual addiction. She says, “I think it is important to state that sex rehab, whether it’s for addiction, offending, or both, is not a spa,” a great description of the reality of entering treatment at one of these facilities.
Rob Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S is a digital-age intimacy and relationships expert specializing in infidelity and addictions—in particular sex, porn, and love addiction. He is the author of several highly regarded books, including “Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating,” and “Sex Addiction 101 and is the Senior Vice President of National Clinical Development for Elements Behavioral Health. Rob is a contributor to Huffington Post and here are some articles he’s written pertinent to this relevant topic:
Sexual Harassment Is a Form of Sexual Offending
A look at the issue of consent, and the imbalance of power, and “with so much to lose…what was he thinking”?
Harvey Weinstein: Addict, Offender, Target of Displaced Anger?
Weiss looks at our anger at these issues and what may be underlying the discomfort,
“…some of our anger is about bigger picture issues – anger at men in power who don’t respect women, and anger at men who don’t take responsibility for the harm[s] they cause.”
I hope these resources will help you as you think about and sort through all that is unfolding right now in the news.
Written by: Cheryl Schenck, LPC, CSAT