The first video is a movie on recovery for sex addicts, particularly from a 12-Step perspective. Thanks for Sharing depicts the lives of three men and their significant others as they struggle to remain "sober" and to fully recover from the damaging effects of an out-of-control sexuality. Pedophilia is not depicted in this film, but rather addiction to adult pornography, excessive masturbation and of course sexual acting out. The 12-Step fellowship provides a more functional "family" for the addict as well as support, accountability and tools to use in combating the addiction. Additionally, participants are encouraged to own and feel their emotions rather than numbing them by their "drug" of choice.
I have personally participated in a 12-Step "Anon" group for family members of sex addicts. The fellowship and camaraderie of my group has been an anchor for me during the storms of the past months of recovery. So, I resonated deeply with the depiction of love and support among the group members who learn to share their struggles and victories honestly and receive compassion, acceptance and encouragement as a result.
The second video that has stoked a fire in my core is a short film a church in Alabama created to feature the "apology" and "repentance" of a church member convicted of sexually abusing a child. The video features a pretty, blond-haired young woman sitting on a park bench, smiling broadly as she repeats the apology that she had just presented to the judge in her criminal case moments before. She uses all the right words, however, her affect seems to betray her--she seems way too happy for an individual who has just been sentenced for child sexual abuse crimes. And she glosses over the more painful parts of the story. For an excellent analysis of her "show" from a former prosecutor of child sex abuse crimes, see Boz's Rhymes with Religion blog.
Remorse is easy to fabricate and addicts are quite adept at appearing "repentant" when they need to. But true recovery is harder to identify. All we can go on is their behavior over time so we need to allow the recovering addict a lot of time to demonstrate consistency and steadfastness in their recovery before we highlight them from our pulpit or from a video screen. Individuals who are really recovering will demonstrate these characteristics:
- Their words and behavior will match at all times.
- They will readily enter into full accountability with at least one other individual, preferably with a group of individuals and a therapist.
- They will understand and accept that others will need to verify their recovery from time to time, which may include a polygraph exam and/or full disclosure of all compulsive behavior.
- They will be completely committed to their recovery program for life.
- They will strive to avoid deception in every relationship and situation, revealing a commitment to truth-telling, even when it brings negative consequences.
- They will work at understanding the devastation their actions have created for others.
- They will accept full responsibility for their actions, not minimizing, denying the other's reality, gaslighting, or blaming another for their behavior.
- They accept the reality that they will always be an addict; their choice is whether they will be a recovering addict or an acting-out, offending addict.
- They will work hard to humbly make amends to all they have offended or hurt.
- They will acknowledge that they cannot control their disease without the help of their Higher Power.
- Their lives will be marked by humility, serenity and emotional growth.
- Their lives will consistently reveal a deep commitment to no more compulsive behavior and no more secrets.