- Some say behavior is not an addiction
- A quick checkup
- A daily progression - Author shares her fight against sexual addiction in new book (05/23/2001)
- Letters to the Editor - Speaking Out (05/25/2003)
- Web Can Ensnare Victims Quickly (03/07/2003)
- The Agonizing Toll of Sexual Addiction (03/07/2003)
- Sex Addictions Real and Ruinous
- To Forgive or to Shun: A Child-Porn-Convicted Rabbi Tries to Make Amends As Rabbi Sex-Abuse Cases Roil the Jewish Community (03/28/2007)
- How Common is Sex Addiction among Orthodox Jewry? (08/16/2009)
- Co-Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (CO-SLAA) For partners of sex & love addicted people seeking support & recovery from their own addictive patterns with their sex & love addicted partners. (617) 332-1845, P.O. Box 650010, West Newton, MA 02165-0010.
- CyberAA Online support group for people who have become addicted to sex chat & realize the harm this addiction has caused in their lives.
- Cyber Addiction Helpline Egroup at Yahoo. Anyone interested in discussing online cyber addiction, you have come to the right place. We all need some help coping, whether you are the victim or the addict yourself. We are here to discuss and help. Many of us are confused by this addiction, and wonder why it is so wide spread. It is a reality, we need to explore and try and cope with
- Females and Sex Addiction: Myths and Diagnostic Implications Six myths concerning women and sexual addiction are offered as an explanation of why female sexual addiction does not receive as much attention as male addiction. Each myth is challenged and diagnostic implications are discussed. Offers suggestions for a diagnostic instrument that identifies sexual addiction in women as well as men. [PDF Format].
- The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity A non-profit organization dedicated to education and referral services. Offers membership for lay public and professionals specializing in the treatment of addiction, offending behaviors, and trauma. Includes a nationwide listing of affiliated counselors
- Sex, Love, Pornography Addictions Links to various organizations, and information on Sex Addictions.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous Sex Addicts Anonymous, S.A.A., is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so they may overcome their sexual addiction and help others recover from sexual addiction or dependency.
- Do you keep secrets about your sexual or romantic activities from those important to you? Do you lead a double life?
- Have your needs driven you to have sex in places or situations or with people you would not normally choose?
- Do you find yourself looking for sexually arousing articles or scenes in newspapers, magazines, or other media?
- Do you find that romantic or sexual fantasies interfere with your relationships or are preventing you from facing problems?
- Do you frequently want to get away from a sex partner after having sex? Do you frequently feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter?
- Do you feel shame about your body or your sexuality, such that you avoid touching your body or engaging in sexual relationships? Do you fear that you have no sexual feelings, that you are asexual?
- Does each new relationship continue to have the same destructive patterns that prompted you to leave the last relationship?
- Is it taking more variety and frequency of sexual and romantic activities than previously to bring the same levels of excitement and relief?
- Have you ever been arrested or are you in danger of being arrested because of practices of voyeurism, exhibitionism, prostitution, sex with minors, indecent phone calls, etc.?
- Does your pursuit of sex or romantic relationships interfere with your spiritual beliefs or development?
- Do your sexual activities include the risk, threat, or reality of disease, pregnancy, coercion, or violence?
- Has your sexual or romantic behavior ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal?
prayer and Torah study are essential to integrating all the elements of a Jewish addict's soul.
To Forgive or to Shun: A Child-Porn-Convicted Rabbi Tries to Make Amends As Rabbi Sex-Abuse Cases Roil the Jewish Community
Los Angeles Weekly - March 28, 2007
As an Orthodox Jew, Heschel wasn't accustomed to going to confession. Seven years ago, he was a highly respected rabbi at Mount Freedom Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue in Randolph Township, New Jersey. But he was also a lifelong porn addict, and his addiction peaked after he was shown how to use the synagogue's computer. Two weeks before the High Holy Days, the synagogue's computer technician discovered two pictures of child pornography that Heschel had viewed on an adult Web site. By enlarging the images, Heschel had unwittingly downloaded them to his Web browser's temporary-file cache.
"It was 2000," Heschel says, explaining why the synagogue's elders went directly to the FBI. "That was during the height of the lawsuits against the Catholic Church."
Heschel's nine months at Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution, one of which he spent in solitary confinement, were only the beginning of his downward spiral. Seven years after those fateful mouse clicks to illegally download child porn, Heschel has abandoned his last name (Heschel is his middle name) and lives an impoverished life in a tiny Venice apartment, decorated with the pictures of his three children who live on the East Coast. In Los Angeles, his potential employers and landlords usually assume that "registered sex offender" means rapist or child molester. He has been denied jobs and turned down for apartments. One of the most difficult moments came when a Los Angeles synagogue initially told him he was no longer welcome — even as a congregant.
As Los Angeles Archbishop Roger M. Mahony becomes embroiled in new claims that he knew about — and failed to stop — sexual abuse by a California priest, a number of high-profile sex scandals involving rabbis here and elsewhere have created a simmering fear among believers.
"We in the Jewish community are recognizing that we aren't immune from these problems," says Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of The Board of Rabbis of Southern California — one of the area's two main rabbinical bodies, along with the Rabbinical Council of California. "For too many years I've heard Jewish people say this is not our problem, it just affects other faiths and denominations. We're seeing otherwise."
Diamond was horrified, for instance, to see his close colleague Rabbi David Kaye ensnared last year on Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator." (Kaye was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for attempting to seduce an actor who, working with Dateline, posed as a 13-year-old boy.) Around the same time, the principal of one of Los Angeles' most popular Jewish schools, Rabbi Aron Tendler, stepped down amid allegations that he had sexually abused teenage girls. A few months later, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, a popular leader in the Jewish Renewal movement, lost his chair at Los Angeles' Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School after confessingto molesting several of his former female students.
Diamond says all of these episodes left him "very, very pained." He isn't alone. A growing concern about unreported sex abuse — and what to do with offenders when they're caught or come forward — has reshaped alliances within the local Jewish community and created bickering behind closed doors.
So discovered prominent Rabbinical Council member Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein last month, after he hosted a seminar dealing with the growing number of sex-abuse allegations surfacing on Jewish blogs. Adlerstein said he felt torn between the need to listen to victims and his colleagues' concern that the Internet has simply created a venue for l'shon hara, or anonymous slander.
But he found even bringing up the subject at all was tricky. Says Adlerstein, "I immediately got flak from colleagues asking me, 'Why are you talking about the stuff when you know it's going to get distorted?'"
The discussion has led to some positive results. In 2002, when Heschel began speaking about his struggle to overcome porn addiction and re-enter society after prison, he and Diamond helped organize a five-part seminar on the problem of sexual addiction among the clergy. It was the first time in years, says Diamond, that leaders of the historically estranged Board of Rabbis and Rabbinical Council found themselves sitting down at the same table.
Heschel says the discussion was especially needed in the Orthodox community, where the topic is dealt with less openly because of the shame attached to it. To rectify that, Heschel organized a 12-step group for addicted rabbis at the local rehabilitation center Beit T'Shuvah in Culver City, where he voluntarily resided before his sentencing and stint at Fort Dix.
Soon after, the Aleinu Family Resource Center — the primary family-advocacy group for Orthodox Jews — convinced 21 of 26 local Los Angeles yeshivas to agree to guidelines that encourage the reporting of sexual abuse by rabbis. (Council director Deborah Fox declined to identify the nonparticipating yeshivas to the L.A. Weekly, but calls their refusal to sign the guidelines an example of the lingering resistance to addressing the subject of sex abuse.)
Dealing with sex-abuse allegations can be even trickier than preventing the abuse in the first place. Like priests, rabbis suspected of sexual abuse have been shuffled from one temple to another. Unlike priests, however, rabbis cannot be defrocked, which poses a tricky question that Jews must face: how to deal with the fallen.
For its part, Diamond's organization will soon send a team of chaplains to serve Jewish patients at the 1,500-bed Coalinga State Hospital, a recently constructed facility for sexually violent predators. California's first new mental hospital in 50 years focuses not on curing its patients but preventing relapses — a more realistic goal, practitioners say. At the same time, Diamond admits, nonviolent turnaround cases like Heschel's present an equally serious dilemma: After seven years of seeking treatment, telling his story and raising awareness about sex offenses, should Heschel be allowed in the pulpit?
Beit T'Shuvah's founder, Mark Borowitz, doesn't hesitate. He says that the Torah commands believers to forgive those who make a genuine t'shuvah, or repentance, through admitting to their crimes and ensuring the crime will not happen again. In practice, that means rehabilitation programs such as 12-step, through which Borowitz himself, a former convict and author of a best-selling addiction memoir, The Holy Thief, says he found salvation.
But salvation, in a religious sense, is one thing. In a medical sense, it means something else. "We don't say that word in 12-step programs," says Borowitz, when asked if Heschel is "cured." "We say 'recovered.'"
Still, not everyone is comfortable with phrases like "recovered" as applied to child-porn felons like Heschel, and other sex offenders. Vicki Polin, a trained social worker who runs a Jewish version of a sex-offender registry, The Awareness Center, raised the alarm after discovering in December that Heschel had started an Internet-based addiction-counseling service.
"Allowing [Heschel] to provide counseling to others with sex addictions is totally inappropriate," Polin posted on her Web site in December. "To allow him to advertise in Los Angeles Jewish Journal is horrifying."
Heschel is obviously torn about whether to defend himself, reasoning that the community itself must decide if he should be forgiven, or simply resign himself to the unlikelihood that he will find universal acceptance.
"Had I robbed a bank or been guilty of second-degree murder, I would have served my sentence, been on probation, and then been free," says Heschel in a rare moment of frustration. "My reality is that having viewed these images of child pornography, I am considered a sex offender for life."
That is why Heschel offers his services discreetly over the phone, mostly to Orthodox Jews on the East Coast who have also suffered from Internet porn addiction. Heschel says that if his callers weren't allowed to remain anonymous — he knows them only by their client number — most would never come forward at all. Borowitz credits Heschel with bringing nearly two dozen individuals into Beit T'Shuvah's Sex Addicts Anonymous program.
"As with alcohol or drug addiction," Borowitz says, "the best sexual-addiction counselors are those who are in recovery themselves."
Nevertheless, Heschel says he misses having the rabbi's pulpit, and regularly sends out his résumé — without success. "When I send my résumés, it's my curiosity," he says. "Is this group willing to accept someone who has made genuine t'shuvah?"
After much agonizing, the synagogue where he worships decided to do just that, and allowed him to become an elder. For Heschel, it was a moment of bliss.
And what about his recent date over coffee?
"I was surprised at how empathetic she was," Heschel says, turning upbeat. "It turned out to be a five-hour date."
How Common is Sex Addiction among Orthodox Jewry?
Emes Ve-Emmunah (Blog) - August 16, 2009
How many people who read this blog have pornography or sex addictions? I don’t know the answer to that question but statistically there are probably some who do.
People who are addicted to porn range across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy. Whether Modern Orthodox, very Charedi, or Chasidic. Addictions know no religious boundaries. They are a result of a combination of various factors in both nature and nurture in the development of one’s personality.
The way porn addicts act upon their addictions can vary - some acts are more destructive than others - none of them permitted by Halacha. But no matter how religious one is - once triggered the sex drive is so strong it can easily overwhelm the strongest of wills to resist it – no matter how religious one is.
The computer age and the easy availability of Internet porn makes it all too easy to succumb in private where no one will be the wiser. One thing that seems common is that if left unchecked the addiction becomes increasingly destructive – as does any type of addictive behavior. Porn addiction - just like narcotics addiction - can destroy one’s life.
Living in a society where sexual stimuli are all over the place and where standards of decency are constantly being defined down no doubt make this problem a growing one - no matter how sheltered one is. I don’t know what the numbers are. But I’ll bet it is a bigger problem than anyone realizes. How many addicts are there that live dual lives and no one even suspects them? I am reminded of an article in the Jewish Observer by a Charedi principal who had such an addiction and was caught only when he started accessing illegal child pornography sites.
This is not a subject I am comfortable writing about. I am certainly no expert. But Aish.com has an article by a Jewish man that is quite revealing. I am not sure he is religious but I somehow suspect that he is. In any case he was a man who led a dual life - an outward one and a secret one. To the world he was... a successful family man living in a nice Jewish community and happily married. Inside, it was all about lust, focusing on the next "fix."
He allows the reader to enter the mind of a sex addict. He very clearly describes his descent into the world of porn; how he became addicted; the constant need to see and ‘act’ on porn; the need to keep increasing the eroticism of images he sought to maintain his level of pleasure - the lowering of his self esteem, and how it affected his relationship with his wife. He also describes the steps he took to return from the depths of his addiction.
Whether someone has even the slightest problem along these lines or simply wants to get educated about the problem from the perspective of a recovering addict I highly recommend this article. That said this article is not for everyone. Be cautioned. Those who are queasy might want to skip it.