Sex addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult.

[TW: sexual assault and addiction]

Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, among dozens of other powerful men, are being exposed for  sexually harassing and abusing people. Each have left a trail of victims and tears.

Survivors of their violence have come forward and risked either their careers, a peaceful life, their privacy, or all three to speak up. It takes courage for a survivor of sexual violence, whether they’re victims of famous people or not, to speak their experiences. To name and challenge your abuser is to upend your life and risk any semblance of peace you may have.

For the first time, powerful men are being held accountable for their actions. Harvey Weinstein has been stripped of his positions and some of his power; Kevin Spacey has lost roles and House of Cards may go on without him. They’ve lost their shine across the globe. Further, they may even get criminally charged for their actions. To be expected, though, they’ve tried to trigger their own redemption arcs. In their effort to make themselves look like hapless victims, what they’ve done is try to hide behind the very real issue of sexual addiction.

Sexual addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult. In fact, research has shown that the brains of the sexually addicted when exposed to sexual stimuli, were seen to “light up” in the same way that the brains of drug addicts lit up when they used drugs, despite no chemicals being used in the study. But what these men have done is turned it into a justification for sexual abuse and violence, when previously it had been stigmatized as a joke among men and a “daddy issue” amongst women.

Related: STOP STIGMATIZING HOW WE RECOVER FROM DRUG ADDICTION

The stigmas shared between people of all genders with sexual addictions can be boiled down to the false narrative that they have a lack of willpower and reduces it to a laughing matter. But the stigmas of sexual addiction vary between people of different genders and people of different sexual orientations.

Heterosexual men who have sexual addictions are either seen as players (if their addictions involve other people) or as losers (if their addictions involve masturbation). Cisgender women who have sexual addictions are simply seen as whores. Queer people who have sexual addictions are seen as immoral and queer sexual life is seen as a bastion of immorality.

While trans people and our experiences of sexual addictions, much like our experience of drug addictions, haven’t reached the forefront of society, if society did see that we suffered from this addiction, they would surely use that as a means of validating their transphobic stereotypes of us.

What is the reality of sexual addiction, though? The reality is that many people who suffer from sexual addictions also have suffered abuse. We’ve either suffered sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse or neglect. In fact, sexual abuse in particular has been shown to create the ground for sexual addictions to grow. For men like Weinstein to use sexual addiction, an addiction that is unmistakably tied to trauma, is to re-traumatize survivors of sexual violence.

When I found out that Weinstein, and later Spacey, were using sexual addiction as their means of creating their own “redemption arcs”, all I wanted to do was cry and throw things. I am a survivor of both childhood sexual abuse and adult rape and I also suffer from sexual addiction, and have suffered from it since I was a child. A woman, in her 20s, took me into a bathroom and sexually abused me there.

Related: HARVEY WEINSTEIN, ABUSERS, AND THE PRICE OF SILENCE

From then on, I had been addicted to masturbation and later to hentai (drawn porn). I masturbate 8-10 times a day or more, many times doing it and being completely unaware that I have been doing it until mid-action. That’s what sexual addiction is for many of us. It’s not just having sex or masturbating too much. It’s falling into the actions robotically and being unable to stop ourselves, it’s being beholden to our sexual desires in a way that others aren’t. It’s a difficult, and emotionally draining addiction (as all addictions are).

To people unfamiliar with sexual abuse and sexual addiction, it may seem counterintuitive that a person who was sexually abused would then go on to be sexually addicted, but that’s not really the case when it’s seriously examined. Many survivors – sexual addicts or not – end up having their sex lives revolve around their trauma whether they are knowledgeable of it or not. For those of us who are sexually addicted, that is how our trauma has affected our sex lives.

What needs to be understood is that while there very well may be sex addicts who engage in sexual violence towards people, many of us don’t. And many of us have had sexual violence done to us. I urge people to think of the survivors who have struggled with sexual addiction when they mock it or when they view it as something that’s fake. And I’d like everyone to understand what Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have done by turning sexual addiction into their PR tool. They have victimized other people, people who have had sexual violence done to us by others.

If you struggle with sexual addiction and are reading this article, know that there are resources available to help:

For heterosexuals who suffer from sexual addictions, there’s the 12 Step group Sexaholics Anonymous. That group is not queer-friendly and regards our attractions as part of sexual addiction, however. There’s also Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Sexual Recovery Anonymous. These are queer-friendly and affirming. There’s also a 12 Step group created by queer people with queer people in mind called Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. For those uninterested in the 12 Step groups, there’s SMART Recovery.

 

 

Featured image:  Film producer Harvey Weinstein enters his Tribeca office on September 01, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

 

Comments