Last week we all suffered from an inappropriate comment from Jeff Hutchinson whose bio states that he is a ‘Professional Life Coach and Certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Specialist (CPSAS). He is also Certified in the Treatment and Diagnosis of Sexual Addiction through the American Association of Christian Counselors.’ 

I find even that bio troubling as only medical doctors are certified to make a diagnosis, and, Sex Addiction is not a valid disease.

For some unknown reason Jeff jumped in and hijacked a story and used the comment section to attack me and my websites.

Diane Strickland, author of our newest eBook in the Married To A Sex Addict Survival Series, ‘Spirituality: Resources and Roadblocks To Recovery For Partners’ has some thoughts on how Jeff’s comments affected us all. Here are her words. ~ JoAnn

Ambush! Deconstructing A Sex Addict’s Onsite Behavior

Diane Strickland, M.A., M.Div.

line in the sand

Something awful happened here this week. It left many women traumatized, confused, hurt, angry, and some couldn’t even speak they were so upset.  I think we need to debrief a little and talk about being ambushed here and what we might learn from it.

First facts. The ambush was without provocation or warning. It was deliberately done publicly even though the site’s creator and owner can be contacted directly by clicking on that readily available button. The attacker admitted he had talked with her in the past, but on this day he went public.

The post (see Jeff’s original substantial post below) was insulting, made sweeping inaccurate generalizations, and name-called those who are members of the Sisterhood of Support’s private site that this site’s creator also established. He gaslighted people and presented himself as a caring and maligned victim. He also arrogantly told the site’s creator what she had to do, based on what he believes as someone working in the area of sex addiction. He also used female partners of sex addicts as his excuse for having permission to say all these things, because he is supposedly acting in their best interests and we aren’t.

Here is Jeff’s first comment. You can read his comment and the replies from our readers by clicking here.

Joann,
I have no doubt you will block this post as you do with most things posted that you disagree with. My hope is you will read it first and trust in the intent of my heart. We have known each other for a while and certainly had our differences in the past. I have to admit you have done a lot with your passion and I applaud you for turning a mess into a message and being a beacon of hope to others. The only thing is, I don’t see the hope. Is there no hope for the wives if sex addicts? You claim that only 5% of sex addicts will ever recover (when was this study done?). I doubt you fully believe that. I have seen women reach out on your website(s) only to be told in a very condescending way that they are naive and that addicts don’t change. This is so damaging to wives who choose to remain married. You have a tremendous influence and women who are hurting look to you for support. I wish you could give the ones that choose to stay a little more encouragement instead of berating and bullying them. Generalizing to this extent is reckless and manipulative. You have to decide wether you believe sexual addiction exists or if its a convenient excuse evil men of bad moral character use to justify their actions when they are caught acting out. If you believe it is an addiction I suggest you do the proper diligence to educate yourself and your readers. If you deny it then I suggest you change the name of your website. I would love to discuss this with you further in a one on one setting without being attacked by the SOS mafia. People are hurting and spouses are not benefiting by staying in a perpetual state of anger so much so that it consumes every facet of their lives. Wives need to be validated and husbands need to accept ownership, stop all acting out, support their spouse, and much more. If they do these things they can live a good life in recovery and the marriage can survive. I have trouble seeing anything but anger on your site(s) and as we both know anger is a secondary emotion. Let’s get to a place where we can teach addicts to provide the safety and security to allow wives to feel safe enough to be vulnerable. let’s talk about the hurt a deep betrayal and have both parties engage in productive conversation in order to begin healing Otherwise I fear you are only setting these women up for a lifetime of failed relationships regardless of if they choose stay or leave the marriage. Thank you for your heart.

It was classic sex addict behaviour, from his unwarranted ambush on a site created for the women traumatized by sex addicts to the abusive content of his message, and the gaslighting of some who challenged him.

In the years the site has been up, we’ve seen it all before. What made this so traumatizing was that many of us know he is supposed to be a recovered sex addict, who acquired life coach certification and pastoral certification in the area of sex addiction treating men sex addicts and doing couples intensives with his wife, a clinically certified therapist. Many of us also know who she is, and while we may not agree with her marketing techniques or some of her perspectives on sex addiction, we have also known her to be a strong advocate for partner trauma care who has written well on the subject, challenged existing models verbally and in her own practice, and like us, had her heart broken by the love of her life.

I have a deep compassion for this woman who is intelligent and gifted and motivated to make a positive difference for women who have been traumatized by partner sex addiction. The crucial area for me in disagreement has always been around marketing a “recovered” sex addict as an appropriate resource to set before traumatized women.

As a 25 year pastoral minister, I would never suggest to a survivor of childhood sex abuse, for example, that he or she talk to or submit in counseling or coaching to a “recovered” sex abuser of children. I wouldn’t suggest a victim of domestic violence meet or talk with a “recovered” wife beater, either. The potential for re-traumatizing the person has to be obvious. Such a meeting would require specific healing purpose, the request of the women, much preparation, careful structure, and constant monitoring by professionals ready to stop it the moment he began to manipulate or gaslight her.

Similarly I would never put a “recovered” sex addict in front of women traumatized in their own lives by a sex addict and recommend they talk to him or go to couple intensive with him as a leader. That some women will “lose it” and exhibit symptoms of trauma is a likely outcome that doesn’t help anyone.

PTSD in action is what has happened here on this site when he ambushed us all and treated us just like a sex addict does. Some women went ballistic. Others couldn’t speak. Still others tried to express themselves without losing it altogether.  Some went into full PTSD episodes that lasted days. It was a PTSD ambush opportunity and he took it, and took it deliberately instead of contacting JoAnn directly about his issue with her.

It had happened before, as well, when some did as they were invited and contacted a so-called recovered sex addict on his blog and asked questions and expressed their opinions. It wasn’t safe to do so and a few were triggered into PTSD symptoms. Then the height of the gaslighting was to be judged and dismissed as “angry women” by the so called recovered sex addict and sometimes his spouse, as well.

People who set traumatized women up for re-traumatization, and then use those symptoms to shame them are not helping any of us who are working very hard (and often doing it on our own nickel) to improve the landscape of care for partners.

But at least in Jeff’s case he self-discloses about his sex addiction. There are some therapists who disempower women partners at the start of a therapeutic journey by never telling them they are or “were” sex addicts. For women to discover this later is yet another betrayal, another man hiding their secret life and depriving her of the opportunity to choose for herself if that is a safe venture in therapy or not.

Sisters, this isn’t a reflection of character deficiency in us. It is the reality of PTSD and a result of the poor judgment of those who otherwise might be good therapists, and those sex addicts who by seeking a counseling or coaching authority prematurely have pushed themselves beyond their capacity for maintaining sobriety in ALL their behaviours towards women.  It is, in a nutshell, sad for absolutely everyone involved.

Nevertheless there are accountability issues here because professionals who take your money and expect you to recognize their authority are involved. I sincerely hope Jeff will step back from his practice to therapeutically address the intractable conflict between who he says he is and what he actually did to all of us.  I hope his wife will be upheld by people who love her and can support her as she faces the truth of what was revealed here. I don’t have to agree with her on anything to offer that sincere prayer.

As for the suggestion we do not offer women hope, I say, we invite women to seek  hope that is not defined or interpreted by the limits or potential or dictates of a sex addict. Her hope is found in the sanctity of her own life as a gift from the source of her life, first, and in her dependent children’s lives. She is responsible for her hope as the sex addict is responsible for his. If he doesn’t have any, I do believe that we can hope on behalf of others for while, but not forever. At some point people must take responsibility for their hope, and prove its truth. It is not the woman’s responsibility to take all the risks so that the sex addict doesn’t have to. That’s not hope.

Hope is bigger than the sources of our greatest fears. And I understand that sex addicts and their partners have great fears. That’s why I wrote a whole section on hope in my ebook on spirituality for partners of sex addicts. Having hope for a relationship depends on many factors, and I won’t repeat myself here.  It is profoundly hurtful and dangerous to do as Jeff has done–accuse us of being without hope. Many of us who have sat at the edge of ending our lives wake up every morning and choose hope. Every. Single. Morning. The realization that the men we loved without condition have no capacity to receive and return that love should not be a hammer used to beat us up. We have paid for that experience already. What Jeff is doing is just heaping abuse upon abuse, suggesting that our relationship failed because something was lacking in us. It isn’t. This is the sex addict script coming at us with letters of therapeutic license behind the name.

Whatever women can do, they do. In the last four years I haven’t encountered any women who weren’t doing anything and everything to have a chance of saving their relationship with a sex addict. In the face of this recent ambush, we take a moment to honour them and their commitment and hope. May their lives continue to be transformed for good by the Light that shines in the darkness. May they continue to choose hope every morning.

In these early days of trying to create healing opportunities for sex addicts and their partners, it is proving unhelpful when “not-so-recovered” sex addicts are certified and given permission to wreak havoc on women who do nothing more than disagree with them. It’s text book case study stuff. And it’s time that professional certifying and licensing bodies put a moratorium on candidates who are “recovered” sex addicts. We have enough to deal with in finding help. We don’t to be ambushed in our own backyard, again.