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June 5, 2019

Fighting Sex Addiction in my Late 20s.

 

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At the time of writing, I have been on NoFap for two months.

That is, the practice of avoiding masturbation and pornography. And these two activities are not even the main focus of action in my life—because you see, I’m a recovering sex addict.

My sex addiction revolves around a wide range of self-destructive behaviour: from casual sex, to random encounters with strangers, and even constant intrusive thoughts.

I wasn’t born this way—my hypersexuality developed as a result of sexual abuse in my childhood.

From a scientific point of view, the connection between childhood sexual abuse and hypersexuality (being constantly “on it”) is undeniable. But, others also develop different responses, such as sex avoidance (in the case of avoiding tangible sex contact, often times developing porn addiction), or sex abstinence (being constantly “off it”).

Survivors of sexual abuse often display negative emotions, including (but not limited to) grief, guilt, anger, and low self-esteem.

Hypersexuality can be tied to feelings of unworthiness, where the survivor is taught that their only worth lies within their sexuality and sexual acting. In that case, if a victim does not feel valued, then they would focus on the only area where they feel as if they are getting attention (even if this was distasteful, unpleasant, painful, or downright horrific).

It’s a cry for attention.

Others may actually use sex in order to bring back the feeling of control and power over their own sexuality.

It’s an attempt to “clean up the act.” But, even this can often be tied to and confused with abnormal sex conduct.

I’m often filled with sex thoughts throughout the day (and night). For the past two months, I have been steering away from making new friends, being in crowds, or situations where I could easily get involved into a sexual convenience. It’s not easy, and many times I thought to give up by scrolling through my phone contacts or going for a drink in a bar and meeting my usual one-night-stand.

It’s been two months of crying, drawing, writing, and cold showers.

I cannot say I didn’t develop feelings during sex intercourse, (which has had its pros and cons), but hypersexualism may also lead to dissociation, where events are perceived without emotions.

Sexually, we become robot-like and others are depersonalized objects—and because of this, they may be able to respond sexually, even to the point of orgasm, by “bypassing” desire or arousal and focusing on body parts such as breasts or genitals, rather than on the whole person. In short, it’s like using the other person’s body to masturbate.

Coming out into the open with my addiction wasn’t easy. Also, because I didn’t know I had an addiction: in the “pornified” Western society, it’s difficult to develop a healthy sex life, or even know what that should look like.

Many who were sexually abused as children often battle with eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. To this day, people keep asking me how I went from 211 to 125 pounds—in three months—and without surgery. The truth is that I didn’t really stop my addiction, I just switched from food to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and sex.

When a survivor finally reveals their traumatic past, it is important to make them feel comforted instead of isolated or alone.

In my experience, those who I believed to be friends often dismissed my behaviour as “just normally active.” Some have also used my addiction to get me in bed with them. And some were actually like me, but were never able to admit it.

Many also urged me to be more aware of HIV and other STIs, worrying about the consequences, but not questioning the root cause of my addiction.

Labels discourage our development. It’s not uncommon to be named a pervert, a whore, or a slut—but, the more one keeps hearing those types of labels, the more they become their condition.

Along with judgment, many survivors don’t talk about their trauma, as they may feel it is wrong to expose their perpetrator(s) or feel a taboo around the subject—but there’s a price that comes with that, too.

First, it’s important to remember that sexual abuse is a criminal offense and survivors deserve to talk about and recover from their experiences.

Second, by staying silent we enable the abuser to carry on unpunished, and by doing this we’re keeping others (and ourselves) in danger.

In the words of Dr. Brené Brown: “Every time we share our story, we create a hostile environment for shame. Shame cannot survive being spoken.” This I truly believe.

Finally, to all those who are struggling with any sort of addiction: you are lovable, loving, and loved. 

And to all those who were able to speak up: keep inspiring and helping others to raise their voices and be heard.

Please share this article with others. It could reach someone in need.

author: Alex Lecis

Image: Cristian May / Flickr

Image: elephantjournal / Instagram

Editor: Julie Balsiger

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Blythe Liebgott Aug 5, 2019 5:05am

Yes, thank you for your bravery and for your article.

JANET ARNTZEN Jul 29, 2019 11:21pm

Thank you for writing this. It can be overwhelming to address sex addiction, especially in a society where sex is entertainment and often dehumanized. It can be very confusing when you come from a background of sexual trauma to have a healthy view and experience of sex. I hope more people share their stories of sex addiction. Thanks again for your bravery.

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Alex Lecis

Alex Lecis is an adult survivor of sexual abuse, and recovering sex addict. He lives by the quote: Only by owning our story, speaking our truths, and raising the volume of our voices we are finally liberated and free from the shackles of the past. For press releases and public speaking events, contact Alex here, or follow him on Facebook.