In My Opinion, Where Do We Go From Here?
Over the last ten years I’ve been pulling back the curtain on the strange and ongoing train wreck of treatment options for compulsive-abusive sexual relationship disordered men and their wives and families. In my opinion there is no evidence-based publishable research available to back up what was being marketed (I searched and searched and am still searching after ten years.) Religious-based versions soon sprang up around it and are now closely allied to it. “Believers” already enrolled in faith-based organizations may be seamlessly transferred into affiliated treatment programs that are easily shrink-wrapped in the religious propositions of the day. Once there, the theories and methods go unchallenged by women who are desperate, traumatized and already conforming to their religious community’s direction and authority.
As long as the compulsive-abusive sexual relational disordered man is reinstated as some version of the spiritual and authoritative head of the household, success is declared. The women and children are there to do what they are told. Meanwhile his true core values that actually run the show are never named or unseated. And in describing that situation I am reminded of a New Testament professor from seminary days (now in Glory) who used to say in his thick Irish accent “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus…vaguely in our minds.”
Even so, I am aware that some women are ready to give all of the things that stick in my craw “a pass” just to spackle up the relationship, save the lifestyle, and prove she’s a good and godly wife and mother. Without basic and appropriate trauma care women are quickly drafted as supportive players to his recovery and children are for the most part, just disappeared altogether from any platform of assessment, care and protection.
Bloggers like me are painted as “shaming” women who are bravely “saving” their marriages and “championing” the family. I get it. It’s a strong alliance between desperate women, religion, and an unsubstantiated treatment industry that emerges once the payment goes through. It’s stronger than common sense and the moral compass that would ask what honors the value of her life and her children’s lives. It’s really tough to challenge any of it, religious or otherwise, even when you are asking the critical questions of care based on real information about our experiences.
So, where do we go from here?
There’s nothing vague about the topics I’ve tackled on my site. I’ve been clear about identifying and correctly naming our lived experiences, the issues we need addressed and the insanities of the treatment we may have received along the way. Nothing I’ve discussed is trivial or selfish. I’ve provided clear thinking, rational questions and critical analysis all based on honoring the sacred value of the lives of women and children as an equal priority to the man who has harmed them.
But I am left wondering sometimes If the entire treatment industry (not just the openly churchy versions of it) from start to finish really is just one big religious movement with nothing underneath it but a version of slick charismatic leadership, some lucky timing with the full bloom of misogyny and the internet, and women so beaten down by their own socialization into it and financial slavery to it that they cannot save themselves or their children from it.
I want to know when the professional community of therapists, counselors and coaches from every field (who surely must have brushed up against this “make it up as we go along” industry) will see how it discredits their profession. When will they say, “Enough is enough?” When will they demand an accounting for what the industry’s various expressions of “treatment” are based upon, whether they can demonstrate any results to justify taking people’s money and trust, and call practitioners to an integrity of theory, research, practice, and self-regulation? In most profession there are policies, continual retraining requirements, accreditation standards for where you study, what you study, and what letters you can put behind your name. There are standards for professional ethics and a supervision structure for oversight and discipline. No one can just make stuff up and starting selling it to desperate people without any research to justify the theory or proposed outcomes of treatment. And you certainly can’t then set up schools to train people in unsubstantiated or researched practices and make money off that, too!
Requiring that kind of accounting would be good for everyone. Things can only improve for everyone when “movements” are required to justify their theories, therapeutic claims, practices and training programs. The compulsive-abusive sexual relational disordered men would then be correctly and competently assessed for real treatment and their wives/partners and children/stepchildren will be given the tri-phasic trauma care they need. The latter would include appropriate counselling to ensure their safety and ongoing protection from further harm. I and others have been saying enough is enough for nearly a decade. When will the therapeutic and coaching community stand up and say it?
Any collateral damage of current practices undermines every decent, counseling and coaching professional everywhere. I affirm that within this treatment industry are good people who truly want to practice with real skills, rational theory, and under the ongoing discipline of credible research done that meets professional standard protocols and provides a reason to believe in the work they are doing. I have a hunch there are people in current practice who are also disturbed by the number of “sex addicts turned therapist” whose codependent relationship with the model ensures they will resist it being challenged, critiqued, or subjected to normal scrutiny. How can such a situation be appropriately regulated when so many “recovered sex addicts” have a stake in everything remaining exactly as it is to validate their own recovery myth and also pay their mortgage?
When will the therapeutic and coaching community stand up and say, “Enough is enough?”. It’s time to back up theories, models, programs and practices with something that makes sense, gets positive results and protects and heals the ones he harmed the most. Yes, he harmed women and children. He harmed them. When it appears that the design does everything to keep his victims available and serving his “recovery” at the expense of their safety and wellbeing, shouldn’t that make everyone sick to the core of their being?
So, where do we go from here? We go forward. We retell our truth. We advocate for women and children. We put the correct names of what we have experienced and what we recognize in the behaviors of others. We ask the questions that deserve answers. We start at the beginning, again, until therapists and coaches are as sick to the core of their being as we are.
P.S. RETREATS!!! Led by Tania Rochelle, licensed counsellor and EMDR practitioner, you will receive trauma-informed care, real understanding, and connect with other women like you. Go to https://www.sweetwaterretreats.org/ for more information. Also, read the blogs there, and hear about the first retreat!