Four Stages of SA Behaviors
Often people are confused about the different stages of sexual addiction. People tend to believe that one inappropriate sexual behavior is just as inappropriate as another. This generalizing of behaviors tends to put people who are just starting to develop an addiction with those who are deep into their sexual addiction and who have severely damaged their "heart" (identity, purpose, significance, sense of belonging, values, security, theology and how they process pain and reward). In addition, sexual addiction tends to go through phases of development and becomes more inappropriate each time the person is unable to break free from their cycle. The shame of being unable to break from their cycles and rituals only further enslaves the person while strengthening the addiction. This is similar to struggling while stuck in quicksand or encoiled by a large snake. The more one struggles the worse the situation becomes. Trying to break free by oneself is nearly impossible. This is why getting help from a Christian counselor who specializes in sexual addiction and being part of a sexual addiction accountability group that separates people according to their sexual behaviors is so important.
The separating of addicts according to their sexual behaviors is essential for one's recovery. It is unwise for a stage #1 client to be put with a group of people who are struggling with stage 2, 3 or 4 sexual behaviors and vice versa. The stage #1 client will often get a 'education' from those in other stages that will only develop and increase their sexual knowledge and behaviors . While those in other stages will tend to shut down because of the shame factor and/or will try to 'fly under the radar' if they are put in a lower number accountability group. Assessing a person's sexual behaviors (i.e. sexual behaviors done within the last 5 years) is critical to helping a person be put in the right accountability group. Once in the right group the client has an opportunity to be with other sexual addicts who know and understand their struggles and can share with them the tools and insights they have learned in breaking the cycles unique to their addiction.
* Once a person meets or exceeds the criteria for a sexual addiction (see criteria listed below) then their sexual behaviors often fall into one or more of the following four stages. The addict should be put in an accountability group that reflects the highest stage number (i.e. Stage # 1 > 4) of their sexual behaviors and which causes the most distress to the person and their family. It is essential that the addict be 1000% truthful in this assessment order to derive the greatest benefit from their accountability group and in their recovery. (Note: If a person has a sexual behavior that was acted upon in a one time event, that was not 'normal' in light of their history, then this should be discussed with their therapist or group leader before being put in a accountability group. Sometimes these events need to be discussed in their context so that they are clearly understood. Addicts and therapist need to be aware that there is a tendency to minimize these events unless clearly understood.)
Stages of Sexual Addiction Defined
Stage #1 Inappropriate sexual behaviors where there is no contact or interaction with a living person. Sexual Behaviors involving one or more of the following… compulsive masturbation, sexual magazines/ books / TV / Video / DVD / Internet / downloading pornography, sexual and/or occultic role-playing games and/or "adult" bookstores.
Stage #2 Sexual behaviors that have a verbal, visual and/or physical contact with a living person. Sexual Behaviors involving one or more of the following… sexual chat rooms, phone sex, live Internet sex shows, strip & lingerie clubs, prostitution, one night stands, affairs, multiple sexual relationships.
Stage #3 Sexual behaviors that intentionally cross boundaries and are often predatory in nature. Sexual Behaviors involving one or more of the following… voyeurism, exhibitionism, nudism, frottage, 'shock' sexual acts (sexual phone calls, masturbating in public places etc.), the taking clothes of the opposite sex. Stage #3 also includes the targeting, grooming and taking advantage of adult sexual victims.
Stage #4 Sexual behaviors that are often either … harmful to oneself or others, and/or contrary to heterosexual relationships, and/or predatory in nature, and/or is highly illegal, and/or unusual/bizarre. Sexual Behaviors involving one or more of the following… multiple sexual experiences needed daily, sex with total random strangers (i.e. anonymous sex), risky sex (i.e. with known STD/AIDS carriers), threesome, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, grooming and/or having sex with family members, grooming and/or having sex with infants, children or minors, sex with animals, dead people, occultic sex, sex that involves the torturing of animals, BDSM, the use of drugs or weapons to obtain sex, or sex that involves trafficking, torturing and/or the murder of people.
1) Oddly enough, S.A. is not totally about 'sex'. SA is about shame, denial, lies, control, thinking errors and medication. It’s also about heart issues (Matt. 5:28; 15:19; Eph. 4:17-19)… identity, purpose, values, significance, morals, personal theology, a sense of belonging and how a person handles pain and reward in their life. Often S.A. is about medicating something from the past - trauma, abuse, abandonment, pain, lies, and/or family issues. Sometimes a person is unable to identify what they have been medicating on their own. This is often because the issue is firmly embedded in a person's family system and there is a family history of inappropriate transgenerational sexual behaviors.
2) S.A. is similar to eating foods. We all have basic hungers and appetites. However, some foods can harm or you kill you. Therefore, it is essential to eat that which is healthy for you. Similarly, by nature we all have basic sexual desires and needs. However, sex outside of marriage can be very damaging and has the potential to kill your most valued relationships, while destroying your life. On the other hand, sex between a husband and wife can be very positive and healthy as they learn to develop an intimate / growing / nurturing relationship.
3) Although, stopping obsessive sexual thoughts and compulsive sexual behaviors is a top priority. The primary focus of SA recovery is to rebuild and develop a life based on truth, trust and integrity which is reflected in a person's heart, thoughts, feelings, choices, behaviors and relationships - before the Living GOD, spouse, family and the world.
Ross Gunn III
Skyview Counseling LLC
Office / Cell: (360) 991-7700
Mailing Address: Skyview Counseling LLC c/o Ross Gunn III
PO Box 532605 Kihei HI 96753-9998
June 2, 2012
Four Stages of SA Behaviors