McGowdog, one of our readers and AA member has asked a question of Anna, another one of our readers, who shared her experiences in witnessing 13sth stepping during her years in AA. I thought it is important to address this, because there is an answer. I’m not speaking for Anna, as she can obviously handle herself quite well. This is my explanation.

In response to post we made earlier today about some teenage girls who have been raped and used as sex pawns for a group of AA zealots in DC, McGowdog wrote (among other things) this comment:

“…keep your legs closed because I have a philosophy about dating inside of AA; the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

This comment explains a lot about what the mentality is of some – not All – men in AA. My experience shows that most are not this crass and detached from human feelings, and would not openly trivialize rape and 13th stepping. I’m not quite sure which higher power McGowdog uses, but mine would slap me up beside the head with my moral inventory list for expressing such a thing. Since I’m not an AA, I’m not above searching someone else’s moral inventory, and I must admit this comment made me a little bit ill.

After Anna described the 13th stepping that she witnessed in AA, McGowdog asked:

So you went to meetings for “years” where this raping went on?What does that say about you?

So, instead of offering up any sort of remorse, understanding, or criticism of those who did the 13th stepping, McGowdog points the finger at someone offering up criticism of 13th stepping. Truly amazing. And sad.

In answering the question, I want to point to a conversation that took place at the Rick Ross Cult Education Forum. She shared her experience with AA in the initial post, and received some feedback from other women. It is an interesting thread to read, but I wanted to post her original comment, and the last post from a current member of AA, who happens to be a woman who has seen and experienced many of the things that Anna witnessed:

I am writing this to maybe get some validation for my extreme distrust and anger toward Alcoholics Anonymous. I spent two years in this fellowship, and was told that if I did not doubt my own thinking, judgement, intuition, then I would die. Its as simple as that. I was told to embrace the programs belief system in meeting after meeting, over and over – its ‘this way or jails institutions, and death’.

My old self meant nothing: sure, I was a young foolish kid when I came into AA, very arrogant and off beam, but that did not justify the ‘reshaping’ of a new self into AA dogma, night after night, week after week. I trusted the AA message, and all I got was more of the AA message and less of ‘me’. Every negative feeling was attributed to self, and every positive feeling ‘to the program’. I lost interest in my usual hobbies, interests, and friends – as the program continued to kind of take over my mind, pushing the ‘old stuff’ out. And all the time I was trusting, because of the warm sappy faces of the old timers around me giving me the ‘advice’.

AA is not self help – and if it is, it’s the most powerful on earth: it has the power to literally change your inner core. Granted, some may need this: desolate, tragic alcoholics. But not me: I was just a kid. I have always had my wits about me, and it was my wit that saved me in the end – I just one day followed my doubts and was brave enough to get free. However, I feel for others in that program whose self’s are being destroyed and rebuilt in AA’s image. I am very angry. And I don’t even know why. I know it has something to do with betrayel and trust. I trusted AA and I realised that the whole thing was built on one mans (Bill Wilson) lunatic fanaticism.

Did that make sense? Can anyone identify with these feelings after leaving AA?

Here is a thoughtful response from a current AA member:

I am sorry about the horrible experiences that some of the posters in this thread have suffered at the hands of some AA members. I go to AA, but with not much enthuasiam. AA has helped me a lot, but it has to be realized that AA is filled with people who, by definition, are sick. Sick people do sick things. AA is ONLY qualified to deal with alcoholism NOTHING else. I have been 13-stepped, sneered at, head game played by people (usually men) in AA. I have been told that I shouldnt go to therapy, that I should bring all my problems to the tables of AA. ( I did not believe that woman at all, dont worry) I have learned that I should be on my guard in AA, as I would in any other situation.

The program of AA mostly deals with the issues and needs of the alcoholics that seem to be suffering from personallity and charater disorders. I should point out, that I am not a mental health professional, just an informed layperson that has had a lot of contact with the mental health profession. (I am diagnosed as having schizo-affective disorder) AA does not deal much with the issues of the mentally ill alcoholic, which I like to call “self-medicators”.

When I got sober, I ran across a lot of the “sickos” who prey on the newcomer in AA. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it taught me that I should be wary. There are a lot of borderline socipaths in the program, and like I said above, AA mostly deals with their issues and needs. I was lucky to find women that took me under their wing and gave me love until I could love myself. There was very little of the guilt games and shame games that some in this thread have encoundered.

Overall, even though there are some bad feelings I have about AA, it did save my life and it did help me quite a bit

People whose lives have been affected by alcohol are willing to put up with a lot if they believe it is their only path to sobriety. Many stay in AA because they have been conditioned through coercion to stay, and though they see many things that are offensive, and even repulsive, the choice they have been conditioned to believe is “do the steps or die”.

Even if a person chooses to speak up and say something within the group, they are met exactly what McGowdog just confronted Anna with: mockery (…keep your legs closed because I have a philosophy about dating inside of AA; the odds are good, but the goods are odd); and criticism (Why would you stay in AA? What does this say about you?).

In the rooms of AA, this kind of nonsense that McGowdog has spewed here is met with silence because of what I described above. Strong arm tactics work there. They don’t work here. We’ll call you on your bullshit. That, my friend, was bullshit.


Another fun quote from McGowdog:

It’s a rough world out there, Anna. That’s why you need recovered and decent gentlemen like me to keep you safe.