PART TWO: In My Opinion
It’s hard to write about misogyny. No one wants it to be real. No one wants it to be “involved” in what Compulsive-abusive Sexual Relational Disordered men do, or how the sex addiction treatment industry protects them at the expense of wives and partners. But misogyny is a social default setting. We grow up in it. We are shaped by it. We work around it if possible. We have to know what it means and how it behaves, because our lives are actually at stake.
In writing these last few difficult blogs, I received messages from women caught in the very topics I’m discussing. They remind me that nothing I describe is “imagined” and I am not exaggerating. Women tell stories of the diseases he gave them, the criticism he levied at them, how he acted like he was “better” than them, how he humiliated them, and how he lied every single day of their lives together. They are not allowed to raise those topics because he and his treatment team accuse them of shaming him. Women write to me in disbelief. Coming face to face with the reality of misogyny can leave a woman speechless. But not me.
So, here, then, is what I believe about misogyny and how wives and partners of CASRD men experience it:
1. I believe that misogyny (and patriarchal assumptions that reflect it) is a significant agent in the formation of human beings, and that the way women are treated by their compulsive-abusive sexual relational disordered men, the sex addiction treatment industry, friends, family, and faith communities and their leaders regularly reveals those basic misogynist foundations and usually reinforces them. This harms us and often violates basic human rights. Like my readers, I believe women’s rights are human rights. Misogyny does not honor that.
The way we experience this dynamic may include but is not limited to:
When CASRD men disclose their risky sexual and sexualized activities to various kinds of treatment practitioners, it is not a requirement that wives and partners be immediately notified that they need a full panel of STD/STI testing as their life and/or ongoing health is at risk. Only recently has this critical issue even been mentioned at all. In fact, women have been urged and often pressured to resume sexual relationships without being told they may be or are at risk, without testing, without safe sex imperatives, and without the information that some diseases and infections cannot be prevented by safe sex practices. Although the CASRD man may not be honest with anyone about the risks he has taken with her life, treatment practitioners do not err on the side of her safety. This is dangerous to her life and she is treated as the property of the CASRD man, and a tool for his sexual comfort. This is misogyny.
The normalization of porn in the lives of men is revealed in many responses we may hear from others as “All men do it”, “Why don’t you join him”, “Maybe you’ll get some pointers to please him”, “Try making yourself look like the porn women”, “Are you a prude?” “At least he’s not having sex with real people,” Etc. We hear it from therapists, family, friends, and even faith leaders. Few stumble over porn’s objectivization of women, violence, projection of female servitude and compliance to male demands, porn that suggests incest, features child sexual abuse, or relies on human trafficking, drug use, fosters disease and rape culture, etc. The core values that would challenge these things have been set aside by these people, if not by you. That’s how normalizing happens, and normalizing conforms to misogynous goals.
Often, priority is given to the care, feelings and interests of the compulsive-abusive sexual relational disordered man over the woman he has harmed. We can experience this sign of misogyny from families, friends, faith communities and the sex addiction treatment industry. This echoes how women victims of domestic violence were treated if they sought help or protection in days gone by. Misogyny prefers to support him as the more sympathetic character in this story, so people give him support and advocacy while she is shamed, isolated and abandoned, but most importantly, his power to do this to her is not questioned.
He and his treatment group can diminish or ignore the effects of his sexual and sexualized behaviors on your life and the impact on you of the emotional, financial, spiritual, and mental abuse he uses to protect his secret life. They will talk about “infidelity”, “betrayal”, “slips”, etc. instead of the physical harm you have endured and continue to face, the damage to your sense of safety in the world, the battering of self worth, disrespect of your personal agency, the risks you are expected to absorb without question or complaint, the crippling of your financial ability to get away, and saddling you with a host of debilitating trauma symptoms. They take control of the vocabulary used to name, discuss, and “treat” your experience so that its scope, impact, and often criminal aspects are diminished or hidden. This is misogynous.
A comprehensive risk assessment process for wives and partners that articulates the emotional, spiritual, financial, social, psychological and physical risks and consequences for wives and partners is not used with or taught to the women. Her capacity to absorb risks and to what degree is not investigated. So, the most basic questions such as “is it in her safety interests to live apart from him until the risks she cannot absorb can be eliminated or mitigated to a satisfactory level?” is not addressed with her best interests at heart. (BTW Find one such resource here, called Stop Taking All the Risks: https://www.yourstoryissafehere.com/new-index) For example, women usually are urged to stay living with these men for up to a year before considering separation. She is asked to absorb all the risks for his recovery and when she asks questions about those risks, she is often told to stay on her side of the street, to stay committed so that another woman doesn’t reap the benefits, to submit to serve the needs of her husband, to put others before herself, to model Christian values of forgiveness, to give him a fair chance, etc. This is misogynous.
A thorough and competently administered assessment for personality disorders, characteristics and traits by specifically trained, qualified and experienced psychologist or psychiatrist is not standardly administered with CASRDmen (men called sex addicts.) Therefore, a correct diagnosis of his danger to the wife or partner is not a priority and the foundation for understanding the abuses she names is not present. Learning reasonable expectations for recovery (if such expectations are even possible) is also not a priority. This information is crucial for a wife and partner in making informed decisions about the stewardship of her life and the protection of her wellbeing and any minor children. The treatment industry does not appear to see those things as important. Wives and partners are pack mules for his “off-gases” because her life value is considered only in relationship to him and what he needs from her. This is misogynous.
The practice (historical and current) of labelling wives and partners codependent/co-addict/co-sex addict makes women’s identity derivative of a man’s, and in this particular context pathologizes her with his negative character and behaviors. After much protest the treatment industry shies away from doing this but has not censored its practitioners for continuing to do it or require they retrain. The history of this treatment practice and the uncensored continuation of it is a gross indication of how bold misogynist thinking has been about wives and partners. Her own identity is hidden under his so that she is never her own person whose worth, agency, or experience stands alone.
Women’s legitimate anger about her experience regularly is characterized as a problem or character deficit she must overcome if her husband is to recover and her marriage saved. This tactic is a sign of a long-standing misogynist intolerance of this emotion in women, regardless of its rationality based on facts and experience. Soraya Chemaly in Rage Becomes Her writes about the tendency for anger in men to be considered justifiable and understandable. But in women, anger is considered an emotionality that is irrational and dangerous. Treatment groups, practitioners, CASRD men, families, friends and faith communities use tone-policing to reinforce the idea that we never should express our anger. When women are angry, we are taught to absorb that anger into our bodies even though it harms us. This is another way misogyny mutes its victims and harms them at the same time.
Wives and partners have a terrible time trying to find out the truth of their own lives from CASRD men and their treatment group. Disclosures are constructed so that his best interests are protected, not hers. She may be patronized when she asks for specific information about his activities. This is information that she needs to understand her life, know who this man is, and decide whether she can move forward in this relationship or not. Instead of giving it to her, she is told that she is pain shopping, that it isn’t good for her know, that she is trying to shame him, that she will use it against him in court, etc. There is no idea present in the minds of the treatment practitioners or in the model of treatment that honors the notion that she has a right to know what he was/is doing, the Russian roulette he played with her health, the ways in which he humiliated her, the specific lies he told her when she was begging for truth, etc. Her life is not respected in its right to have facts about what has happened so she can decide what it will mean. She is manipulated and patronized, used and put in harm’s way again because misogyny says that’s reasonable, fair, and all she deserves.
I’m going to stop there. Here are a few questions you can ponder about this point of view:
Is misogyny what you want for your daughter? Your niece? The little girl next door?
Do you think misogyny makes a positive contribution to your life?
Describe the signs of misogyny in your experience as a wife or partner of a CASRD man.
Do you think CASRD men who are now a part of the treatment industry have a conflict of interest in treating wives and partners? Why do you think those men think it’s okay?
In your experience, whose needs take priority in the treatment industry?
What has been the most frustrating part of this experience for you?
How do you/would you feel about being called codependent/co-addict/co-sex addict?
Are you afraid to express your anger? With some folks more than others?
Have you been shown how or advised to use risk assessment in decision-making?
Have you experienced tone-policing (the diminishing or silencing of your emotionality)?
Has anyone ever tried to “normalize” porn use In response to concerns that you raise?
Take your time with these questions. Add more. Then listen to this message: You are worth everything. Teach people what you are worth by what you expect from them. This crisis will not be solved by you becoming less.
And to bring this message home this week, I leave you with a song by Canadian folk singer Connie Kaldor that is all about what you are worth, called “Come All You Women.” She wrote it in the style of a sea shanty (which she calls a SHE SHANTY) so that you would remember it and sing it yourself long after she’s done. Here’s the first verse:
Come all you women whose hearts have been broken
Spread rose petals down at your feet
So you will remember that every step forward
Is better than one in retreat.
And here’s the link:
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If that link doesn’t work, try this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeLF9wUQtRk It’s worth it, I promise!
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https://www.sweetwaterretreats.org scroll down the site home page for more info
 This is Dr. Omar Minwalla’s clinically accurate name for men called sex addicts. I abbreviate it to “CASRD man”, which rhymes with “hazard man”