My research of Sex Addiction takes me on many paths, from tawdry, much too explicit, blog sites to the rehashed sensationalism of the news media and the lengthy tomes of scientific research journals. 

In my quest for knowledge I have seen a troubling trend, especially within the scientific community. That trend is the labeling of those involved with a Sex Addict, or any addict for that matter, as a co-addict. Because counselors and Sex Addiction treatment centers look toward the scientific community for guidance  I expect to soon see the term co-addict routinely used to indicate someone who is in a relationship with a Sex Addict.

Fortunately the term has not reached the dictionary–yet, but it’s sister term, ‘co-dependent’, has a place of honor in Websters. We can thank Melody Beattie, the new guru of 12 step groups for women such as COSA and S-Anon, for the term co-dependency, which is the root of the co-addict phrase.  Beattie has written several books on co-dependency, offering us volumes of advice on how to overcome this affliction.

Now anyone who embraces the philosophy of COSA or S-Anon would say that I am just in denial about not being a co-addict, and that given enough time I will eventually see the errors of my thinking and prostrate myself before a higher power and beg for forgiveness and enlightenment. Sounds like brainwashing to me.

I attended a few COSA meetings and was both appalled and angered by the tenets of their 12 steps. You can find them listed in one of my previous posts by clicking here. I’m afraid that I do not have any compulsive sexual behaviors to admit that I am powerless over (step 1), nor do I need to turn my will over to god ( I am a humanist). I have not committed any wrongs (step 5) nor do I have any defects of character that I need god to remove (step 6). And, I certainly haven’t harmed anyone and don’t feel any need to make amends (step 8).

My only crime was falling in love with and being deceived by a Sex Addict. That does not make me a co-addict!

There is no doubt that being in a relationship with a Sex Addict causes a person to change. These changes are merely methods of coping with a difficult situation. And, over time trying to make an abnormal relationship normal will take it’s toll on our personalities. Rather than labeling us co-addicts I would like to see professionals treat us for our trauma rather than pointing the not so subtle finger of guilt toward us by calling us a ‘co’ partner in crime.

An interesting phenomenon that occurs with someone involved in an abusive relationship (I have no doubt that Sex Addicts are abusers–read my post on that here) is called the Stockholm Syndrome. Here is a great link to an article that describes how it works: Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.

The article lists situations where this syndrome may occur, such as:

  • Abused Children
  • Battered/Abused Women
  • Prisoners of War
  • Cult Members
  • Incest Victims
  • Criminal Hostage Situations
  • Concentration Camp Prisoners
  • Controlling/Intimidating Relationships

The article states, “In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation.”

I realize that treatment for Sex Addiction is in it’s infancy and help for the spouses and partners of Sex Addicts is even more obscure. But, labeling a victim of trauma with a term that implicates participation, endorsement or support of the Sex Addict’s behaviors is not conducive to anyone’s recovery.

Once you label me, you negate me. ~ Soren Kierkegaard