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“Our fellowship is open to women and men, regardless of age, race, religion, ethnic background, marital status, or occupation. We welcome members of any sexual identity or orientation, whether they are gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, or transgender.”
— Sex Addicts Anonymous, p. 1-2
Many of us first come to Sex Addicts Anonymous feeling deeply isolated and ashamed of our behaviors and past actions. We may believe that no one can understand us or relate to the things we had done or been through. Discovering that we are not alone is a liberating experience for us. It is a great comfort and relief to know that a fellowship of recovering sex addicts exists and that we have somewhere to turn to help us recover. Our diversity is governed by the notion that we meet as equals: sex addicts helping one another achieve sexual sobriety and to practice a new way of life.
Diversity of Meetings
Meetings are the heart of our fellowship. They give us a chance to talk about our lives and addiction with other people who have had similar experiences. Attending our first SAA meeting is a crucial step in moving away from isolation into fellowship, and ultimately into recovery. For many of us, our first meeting was a freeing experience.
An SAA meeting consists of two or more individuals who, using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of SAA, share their experience, strength, and hope on recovery from sex addiction. We are equals: one sex addict helping another. We all contribute to making our meetings places that foster our recovery.
As a fellowship, Sex Addicts Anonymous is open to anyone of any gender with the desire to stop addictive sexual behavior. Some groups, however, are free to make an autonomous decision to gear their meetings toward a specific group within the fellowship. For example, there are meetings for men, women, LGBT individuals, sexual anorexics, professionals, and those who have committed acts that either have been or could be considered illegal. Such meetings are meant to allow those of us who attend them to speak more freely, to give us the opportunity to meet with others who may understand us better, or to better protect our anonymity. These kinds of meetings have proven to be valuable. Our experience suggests, however, that we gain much by also attending meetings that are as open and diverse as possible.
Because of the sensitive nature of sexual addiction, many of our groups are “closed,” meaning that only those with a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior may attend. Anyone else interested in finding out about SAA may attend “open” meetings. Many groups suggest that newcomers attend at least six meetings before deciding if the program is right for them. Meetings should take a priority in our lives. If we don’t feel comfortable at a particular meeting, we can try another.
Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin
Sex Addicts Anonymous has face-to-face meetings in countries around the world. These meetings are held in the language decided upon by the group’s group conscience. Members without access to these meetings are able to call in via phone or Internet. No matter where you are, where you come from, or what you look like, you are welcome in our meetings.
Intimacy and Sexual Avoidance (ISA)
We acted out in many different ways. Sometimes we had trouble with one unwanted behavior, sometimes with many. Some of us struggled with excessive fear or avoidance of sex. Some of us jumped between compulsive sexual behavior to compulsive sexual avoidance, as if we were merely changing deck chairs on the Titanic. Members who struggle with this problem — sexual avoidance and anorexia — have a place in our program.
Our diversity includes members across genders, including women, men, and those who do not identify as either. Our fellowship is open to all, regardless of age, race, religion, ethnic background, marital status, or occupation.
For many members, their addiction has directly or indirectly led to their imprisonment. Prisoners often do not have access to SAA meetings, so they rely on other members involved in the Prisoner Outreach Committee to guide them through the Twelve Steps. There are also special meetings for those on parole or who have to register as sex offenders.
SAA offers a spiritual solution to our addiction, without requiring adherence to any specific set of beliefs or practices. Over time, we establish a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, each of us coming to an understanding of a Higher Power that is personal for us. Although the steps use the word “God” to indicate this Power, SAA is not affiliated with any religion, creed, or dogma. SAA members hold a wide variety of religious beliefs. Members can have any religious belief or no belief at all. All sex addicts seeking recovery are welcome. The path is wide enough for everyone who wishes to walk it.