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.

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.



Visits: 9

11 Responses

  1. Hi Diane,

    Thank you so much for this. I have always loved you and your writing and the way you convey your message so articulately. Although I’m sure many women were unfortunately traumatized or triggered I wasn’t so much— just phenomenally pissed off, (well… duhhhh…) but THAT was what Jeff was trying to do, wasn’t it? I too thought that he could’ve sent his message to JoAnn, privately since it appeared to be addressed to her, but no. He made it sound like they are buddy, buddy and inferring that JoAnn is endorsing them and I don’t know if she is or isn’t, but the last I heard, she was not and based on what you just wrote, it sounds like not. He was obviously TRYING to incite the response he got so he could shit all over whoever dared to call him out on his crap. It was unnervingly predictable, but I can take it. I’ve gotten a lot stronger, Diane in the last two years.

    This man is nowhere NEAR a recovered sex addict, nor does he have any acceptably recognized credentials The problem arises when they expect the rest of the rational world to buy into their delusions of grandeur and so-called “recovery.” Its a complete and utter sham. Back two years ago, I researched them extensively after things started getting very weird on SOS. Ella has only been doing this a very short time. At best, she shows exceedingly poor judgment, however, I would be remiss not to warn people about them. Jeff as we can see from his writing right here is a massive gaslighter, but I’m afraid that Ella is too and in some ways even worse as she jumped on the “trauma model” theory, instead of the co-dependent model. And in doing so, we breathed a sigh of relief; she gained our trust. We think, “oh, wonderful, she gets it!” And all of that is fine and that’s where it needed to end. But THEN she comes on SOS and private messages several women with the intent of getting them to sign up for one of their very expensive intensives. Seriously? I can’t think of anything more disgusting than their obvious preying on exceedingly vulnerable women on here who are latching onto some small thread of hope that they can reclaim their husbands. Would Barbara Steffens do such a thing? No way! She’s the real deal and a class act, all the way! But Ella not only tries to solicit business, she foists that personality disordered cretin on us with the claims that he can “help” us. Really? He doesn’t help in any way, shape or form; he triggers us with his put downs and his religious gobbledygook which makes a mockery out of fine ministers like yourself and people of genuine faith who walk the talk. He is a fake and a fraud. It is obvious that he has less than ZERO respect for all women. The most dangerous aspect, IMO, is that these two truly believe that Jeff is recovered and all healthy now and that they have the expertise and knowledge to “help” those in dire need of answers. (when there are none)and can provide a therapeutic (and expensive) “jump start” if you will. The thought of this, makes my skin crawl. That is why I think it best to warn people away from them. But that of course, is only my opinion, but as I said, its based on a lot of research and I came up with bubkas on these two, especially Jeff. The only reason I would even say anything is because he had the temerity to show his ugly self here again and as you said, unannounced, unwelcome and most inappropriately for this forum.

    Thank you again for this lovely letter, Diane! It is greatly appreciated! I miss you, more than you will ever know…big virtual (((hugs)))

    ps: congratulations on your e-book! I’m going to get it!

  2. I am astonished at the complete lack of sensitivity from a man claiming to be in a “helping” field. I don’t know if it was a momentary lapse or intentional. Either way there is no excuse. Women that come to a support group for help with a sex addict are traumatized beyond words. The very last thing in the world that they need is some man ( any man) start some BS that has nothing to do with the topic. Ella should certainly know better. Jeff is a sex addict so I cannot fathom (and don’t want to) what was going through his head.

    Thank you Diane for addressing this situation. These sites are supposed to be a safe haven. The poor woman asking for help probably never knew what hit her.

    Jeff, if you are reading this : Shame on you. Yes, I said the S word, shame. I know it flies in the face of all the good old boys’ addict support network but SHAME is not a bad word. You should really try it.

  3. I wasn’t sure if I would post a comment or not, but I finally decided it was the right thing to do. I certainly don’t want to fuel the fire, nor do I want to risk triggering anyone, so I will do my best to speak the truth in love.
    Quick background: Discovery 4/11, one year of “marriage counseling” that was a joke, changed therapists 6/12, full disclosure 7/12, separated 6/13, soon to be divorced after 23 years, one grown son in the military and one child still at home, I have been a stay at home for 16 years.
    I say all that so you’ll know that I understand the trauma…I live with it everyday of my life. My husband chose his own “recovery” path, not the one we agreed on at our intensive,(violating my boundaries and our marriage contract) & I’m afraid his way will lead him right back to his addiction….that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. I love my husband very much, but he left me with no other choice.
    So, what does all that have to do with Jeff? My husband and I did our intensive with Ella and Jeff, so as I’m reading all this I can’t help but think “on my gosh, that’s not Jeff at all.” I read and re-read his comment trying to be objective, but that’s so hard when you know the person who said it. The SOS mafia comment…yes…that was a poor use of words and highly offensive…My son puts his life at risk everyday fighting the mafia, I know it was a horrible analogy. However…knowing Jeff personally, I believe his explanation.
    I want to make it clear, that my reason for writing this is not primarily to defend Jeff. I also want to hopefully restore some hope to the ladies who have been triggered by all of this. There really are guys the “get it,” who do the hard work of recovery, and who humbly respect the damage they caused and truly do love and support their wives….Jeff is one of those guys. He isn’t perfect, but he is authentic and vulnerable and that is courageous. I could go on forever telling you everything that I learned from Ella, but since this is about Jeff, I’ll focus on that. One of the reasons I chose Jeff and Ella is because he is an addict in recovery, my thought…who better to help me know and understand the reality of what I’m up against…from both ends of the spectrum….for me it was a win win. If I had to guess…the reason Jeff was even on “here” is because he really is an advocate for wives…more than any other man I have ever met, besides Doug Wiess. Jeff’s disposition is soft spoken, calm, patient, gentle and he is a good listener.
    Jeff and Ella did everything they could to make sure the entire process was as easy on me as possible. He was very tough on my husband, and would never allow him to gas light or blame me. It was the first time in my life (long history of abuse) that I really believed there was someone looking out for me and for my husband….it was the first time I felt validated, that I wasn’t crazy and that I wasn’t alone in all is in this big mess.
    I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I knew I had to say something, even if it was risky for me to do so…it was the right thing to do. I hope that everyone touched by this situation will find healing. My guess is Jeff will be very mindful of everything he says going forward…believe it or not,he and Ella are fighting for us ladies, and I believe this confrontation will make that fight even stronger. I think Jeff will make a message from the mess, and use this as a tool to help others like us. I hope it will remind him to be mindful of the fact that not all wives automatically believe his authenticity…I know for myself personally…..right or wrong….I automatically question the integrity of men. I hope it won’t always be that way, but that’s how it is right now.
    I hope you can all see that I’m going WAY out on a limb by saying that I believe Jeff is the real deal….because like most of you I don’t trust men.
    Thanks for hearing me out. Please be gentle with any rebukes…I’m having a really hard time with my divorce and I don’t want to deal with any more rejection.

    Much love to you all…because you are worthy of it!

    I didn’t proof read this because I was in a huge hurry. Please overlook my grammar:-)

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I understand your story of discovery, and trying many different ways to find a future with your partner, and then coming to a place where you have to choose to honour your basic needs as a human being in relationship. My nightmare began at marriage year 29, and I finally divorced three years later after realizing I was the only one in the situation who would advocate for or honour my basic needs, and that they were not going to met. It’s very hard. The sorrow lasts a very long time.

      That’s why I feel so sad for Jeff’s wife, who has demonstrated her commitment to both the cause of good partner support, and her own relationship with a sex addict. Thank you for confirming the incongruity of the Jeff you met at your intensive and the Jeff you met here. I don’t think it helps to go back into the swamp and make excuses or diminish what he did. What he did, he did without provocation, with malice and insult, and a profound boundary violation on a website for women partners of sex addicts. He could have contacted JoAnn to insult her directly, but he wanted an audience, a vulnerable audience, in order to achieve his goals. That is why I urged him to get help immediately.

      It is a very sad situation. Perhaps when he’s in an intensive, has already processed a credit card number, and has authority over those attending, you get “recovered Jeff”. The problem that is not addressed in treatment of sex addicts is the elaborate nature of their capacity for a con, the narcissism, and the possible connections to PD’s. These are the kinds of treatment deficits than can generate a “recovered sex addict” and a “not-so-recovered sex addict”, depending on the context. In this case Jeff’s need to take control over this site, insult and tell the owner what she had to do, insult and name call those who disagree with him, gaslight those who responded, and his need for public audience for all of it, are very disturbing. His heavily qualified half “apology” is a classic instance of apologizing for something that doesn’t actually matter, and refusing to take responsibility for he actually did. All of these things are classic text book sex addict behaviours.

      It IS truly sad. And no, you don’t offend anyone by being caught in the struggle to make sense of the incongruity. Most of us are very familiar with “the limb” and have been out on it many times ourselves! Just to be clear, though, I’m not one of the “most of you” who don’t trust men. I am now in a loving relationship of mutuality and it’s a very healing thing, not to mention full of joy and laughter. I never imagined loving anyone else, or wanting to be close again, but I learned that sometimes the unexpected can be something wonderful. I also have grown sons who have taught me so much about the male capacity for love. And I work productively with lots of men in my career. I am glad to be able to tell you that while we need to be careful with ourselves always, it is possible to have good relationships with men, even after discovering your partner was a sex addict. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Things are still raw. It will come.

      No one here is rejecting you. You had a right to say what you wanted to say. And I am happy to say again, that I really AM sad about the facts of this situation. I’m truly sad for Jeff, for his wife, for the women who were triggered into silence and those who spoke in spite of being called SOS mafia and gaslighted, and for those like you, who have enough betrayals already in your life and want to rebuild with positive experiences of other human being, and in particular, men.

      For me, the days of giving these guys a “pass” are over. We are not here to be targets, marks, or cover to serve their tragic broken selves. There is no redemptive value in that. None. That is also why I broadened the whole question to be about needing a moratorium on “recovered” sex addicts being candidates any certification in the program areas involving sex addiction.

      I pray only good things for you, Kathy. Thank you for sharing your own tough journey with us all.

    2. I’m sorry about your situation. Mine was similar but my H did the hard work -his way- but it worked. Three years after D Day he is committed, attentive, not arrogant, sweet and an open book. I still have flashbacks…his double life went on for 8-10 years, his relationships were hookups but he did go out and slept with many many women. Even as I say it is difficult. When I found out he had stopped the behavior 5 months prior and hadn’t met anyone for 7 months….that’s maybe the only reason I gave him this one chance…he stopped because he wanted to and not because I found out. I know what I will do if he ever cheats on me, in any way. I rather be alone, live in a smaller place, but able to “breathe, live and value myself, my kids, my friends”….than with someone like that.
      For now we are moving forward, he is trying hard to be the man I married, is a good father and provider, I hope with all my heart that he continues to grow as a human being and that my flashbacks will finally stop one day. You did the right thing, unless your H accepts and relents his power to the reality of the situation and what is asked of him, he won’t change, he is still resisting change and in reality he is just making you (and him) believe he has changed…but he hasn’t. Finally, there is no “recovered” sex addict. Once an addict always an addict. This is their lifelong battle and sadly, their spouses too. The should be called “recovering” sex addicts forever, since this is the amount of time they will spend recovering. Every day. Their hole is so deep and so dark, that it never fully heals.

  4. I am so glad that Diane— always the voice of reason spoke up and I just want to reiterate that I feel exactly as she does and agree with her on all counts. She truly does always say it best! <3 This above all else is a support site and I would never ever rebuke anything another traumatized woman had to say, who's desperately trying to navigate all of this.

    Thank you Kathy, for sharing your painful story. I'm so sorry that this has been the river of shit, you've been presented with, but also grateful that you understood when it was time to jump ship and save yourself. That takes a tremendous amount of courage. My primary purpose in being here is to support women who find themselves at this tenuous precipice and who are desperately trying to understand the incomprehensible. But I also know when I'm being gaslighted and conned. (steep learning curve) and if I see that on here… I absolutely will not stand for it! It is not only unwelcome, but highly inappropriate on this forum.

    my best, Kim

  5. Sex addicts are sick people. There is something wrong with them. When I was in therapy and I told the therapist I wanted him to feel exactly as I felt she said something that really put things in perspective: I would have to create dozens of online profiles and accounts, pictures, communicate with dozens of people at a time, create a fictional story about myself, my address, my job, my family, my marriage, arrange for places to meet, have sex with strangers who probably wouldn’t want to see me a second time, for a period of 8 years all the time lying to my family and friends, and with the anxiety of Being found out at any moment. And “maybe” he would feel the same when he found out by himself….would I be willing to do THAT???? NO WAY. NO F….WAY!

  6. I don’t think that the sex addict is ever cured, but anyway I don’t deserve to be in a relationship with one. Mine chose me for my caring loyal and trusting personality and took full advantage.
    I was married for 26 years while he apparently slept with his boss, his secretaries, the nannies, several best friends of mine, parents from my daughters school business associates and kept up a secret life of kinky sex clubs and constant trolling. He suggested we go to a councelor – she showed up for the appointment with whip marks on the backs of her legs. I overheard some of the mothers from my daughters school talking about seeing his picture with a partner online at a kinky s and m establishment. Through most of the marriage I refused to believe these things about him and I believed the lies he told me when I confronted him.
    I don’t think the fact that I was deceived and married the wrong person means that I have a problem. He was and probably still is extremely good at lying and being manipulative and charming. Although I am traumatized by the experience I still refuse to believe that most people are sick like he is. Thankfully I am divorced but sadly I can never get back the years I spent living with a liar.

    1. Mine has been cheating for over four years before I found out. We have been to therapists and so on plus he’s an avid church goer and Christian but nothing stops him. Here I am five years later after 16 years of marriage and it’s still happening and I still haven’t left him since I found out five years ago. I told myself he had stopped until recently saw a chat he had and he confessed to still being a sex addict.

      We have four young kids together and I’ve been a stay at home mom for all these years so I don’t have s dollar to my name. I want to leave him so badly but I’m a new immigrant with no relatives here so where do I go? Who’s going to put up a woman with 4 kids?

      I hate him so much and he refused to leave saying how much he loves his family.

      I now have high blood pressure from dealing with all this . What do I do? How do I get him out? What do I tell the kids? I can’t do this anymore. It’s consuming my life.

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