My Turn to Debunk the Review about 13 Stepping

I offer no amends to this… I HATE THIS ARTICLE!

I confess, I don’t know who Danielle Stewart is.  Nor do I know much about rehabreviews.com.  However, this author and website has chosen to draw even more attention to filmmaker, and former AA member, Monica Richardson’s documentary:  The 13th Step. (Thank YOU!)

“Everyone loves a good whistle-blowing story,” the writer strongly begins.  She then compares the topic of controversy in AA to Scientology.  The latter is formally recognized as a religion of some capacity; the latter vehemently denies it is “spiritual not religious.”  On one hand, Scientologists have faith in spaceships and AA members have faith God helped create their program to relieve them from alcoholism (but not cure them) one day at a time.  Don’t believe me? Click the highlighted links to learn more.

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You know what?  I agree:  Hundreds if not more have cited praise for AA for making their lives better.  You know what also?  Hundreds if not more have cited worsened conditions, more drinking, and even know others who died AFTER attending 12 Step meetings.  Sure, we can say “they weren’t working a good program,” or “didn’t give of themselves absolutely,” which is AA-Speak for “AA is perfect and it must be their fault for failing.” Get this readers, Ms. Stewart immediately takes a dig at Richardson saying she is a “former “(and apparently now drinking) AA member of 35 years.  Seems Stewart has no respect for those with more time in the program- wink-wink nudge-nudge.  Ok let me make amends I stole that “wink-wink nudge-nudge” from the author.  She applied the old wink and nudge to the term “13 Stepping” claiming rightly it’s when older AA members hit on new members.

Hey Stewart!  There’s nothing cutesy-wutesy about 13 Stepping!  Everywhere else 13 Stepping is called “sexual harassment.”  You might have heard of sexual harassment.  For one, it’s illegal.  For two, because AA does welcome rehab patients, vulnerable people seeking help, and even minors, there is nothing funny or cute about “13 Stepping.”  Only in the ultra spiritual AA would sexual harassment not only be permitted (as in, not banned outright) but also given a nickname because it is so prevalent.  Perhaps Monica Richardson’s film will serve as the official warning that sexual harassment not only regularly happens in AA— it’s to be expected!

Oh, and Monica drinks.  Guess what?  The majority of Americans who sought help for drinking problems DO drink and they do not fall for the “progressive deadly disease” theory.  I say theory because most people I’ve known have matured out of drinking problems, or they are, as Stewart says, happily recovered in AA.  But who knows if they would have quit anyway, without AA, because most people naturally mature out of addiction.

Half Measures Availed Us Nothing?  Of course not!  We (those who made a solemn vow to follow the directions of AA) often looked at the meetings, the people, the culture of the rooms and asked “Why is 13 Stepping brushed under the rug?”  If we were to grow along spiritual lines, the “next right thing” was to initiate some important changes like having a rule against sexual harassment.  Why?  Because AA started the AA-Connection between rehab and prison referrals and unlike rehabs and prisons, AA has no ethics or codes against sexual misconduct!  This should be the WTF moment for anyone in AA (or outside of AA).

So Stewart:  You claim Richardson attempts to defame AA when actually, AA defamed itself.  Talking heads?  AA co-founder Bill Wilson actually addressed the US Congress in 1969, and on the record admitted AA members were employed by non-AA addictions fields but they would speak to Congress only as citizens and not as AA members.  In short:  AA’s legacy for fudging the truth is legendary.  How about Half Truths Availed Us Nothing?

The nonsensical thing is, AA’s troubles are basically of its own making.  When Marty Mann teamed up with E.M. Jellinek, a quasi-legitimate Yale researcher, to produce (by magic?) scientific proof Alcoholics Anonymous worked… Let me cut to the chase.  Jellinek threw out any evidence to the contrary and later refuted his own findings.  George Vaillant, a former Class A (non-alcoholic) trustee and prominent researcher discovered of ALL available treatments AA had the highest death rate.  Forget about 13 Stepping, AA can actually kill.  But maybe, just maybe, being sexually harassed does not help?

Hello, Stewart?  Are you listening?  Sexually harassing, imposing against one’s will sexual favors, or otherwise sexually assaulting, abusing, or raping someone is not “DATING”!!!  Dating is a consensual endeavor which, YES, I agree, one should avoid when starting a recovery program.  However, there is NO RULE in AA against dating OR sexual harassment.  Did I mention, minors attend AA so 13 Stepping includes child molestation issues too.  (So you still want to defend 13 Stepping? Yeah, I don’t think so.)

Ms. Stewart:  The sexual misconduct in AA is EVERYTHING to do with AA.  You write, “Contrary to what some might assume, AA has no agreements with any judicial system.”  Why do you write such outright lies?  Can you make amends to me for having to read that?  Here is the official AA stance on cooperating with courts:

“In some areas, courts furnish cooperating A.A. groups with sealed, stamped envelopes addressed to the court. In general, the secretary of the group announces that anybody needing an envelope may get it after the meeting. The newcomer takes the envelope, privately writes his or her name and/or return address on it, and mails it.”  (From Cooperating with the Courts, D.W.I. and Similar Programs.)

I understand fully that AA has these 12 Traditions that supposedly everyone follows, but remember, Ms. Stewart, AA has NO RULES.  This means, no matter what the traditions say, they are not laws or rules anyone in AA has to follow.

We stand at a turning point, Ms. Stewart.  Richardson is complaining that a large organization with unique, distinct, ties to even larger organizations (rehabs and courts) has broken several US laws and created a monopoly where their non-profit is largely (90%) the ONLY option given to addictions patients.  Stewart, you claim AA doesn’t have a Board of Directors— correct–instead it has a Board of Trustees which DOES make any and all decisions in finality about the AA program.  AA is just a fellowship, not rehab, you might say… Their tax records prove otherwise.  AA is filed claiming to “provide services to AA groups and to coordinate the AA program of rehabilitating alcoholics throughout the world.”

Yet, I understand personally that trying to contact AA for answers yields silence or opposition to one’s opinions or questions.  Yet, many happy AA members don’t seem to mind that the organization they represent has no comment if a member is raped or murdered.

I admire— truly admire— how you, Stewart, overtly misinformed readers that AA has no board making decisions, but instead (correctly) said AAWS did not have answers.  Weirdly enough, AA has all the answers if someone wants help from AA but none of the answers if someone has problems with AA.  Seriously, where is the complaint department?

If no one should be forced to attend AA, why does AA print guidelines stating, and I quote:  “When sending offenders to A.A., one judge tells them about the Fellowship and hands each one a small card showing information about meetings, plus suggestions for behavior at A.A. meetings including being on time, staying for the entire meeting, not being disruptive, etc. When a judge is willing to do this, it helps to prevent offenders arriving late, interrupting to demand signed attendance cards, and otherwise disturbing the meeting.”

I can’t find one list, one suggestion, that other programs exist like SMART, SOS, LifeRing, HAMS, Moderation Management, or others.  Not one!  Yet, all those other programs have rules against sexual harassment.  The largest program, AA, does not.  I am a former AA member also, and I could no longer represent these “sins” AA commits as a member.  I could not back up AA’s lack of caring what their members thought, or what they wanted, when things actually did go wrong.  So I left AA, to take care of myself, but also to work outside the rooms to correct injustices.

If someone does defend 13 Stepping, or AA’s lack of addressing this serious issue, and then also claims they are not brainwashed… they probably ARE brainwashed.

You also write:  ” There were women in the film who came forward and talked about the traumatic sexual assaults they endured as a result of relationships they formed in AA. These women were strong and brave and what happened to them is horrible and deeply disturbing.”  Yet, not so disturbing enough that, Ms. Stewart, you MINIMIZE their hurt by saying AA “has worked so well for so many years.”  A number of women— who you paid $16.50 for to watch reveal their agony and devastation— came forward that AA not only didn’t work it nearly destroyed their lives.  Yet, you are not brainwashed.  You, I assume, think you are recovered.

Sorry, but if you think AA operates in the same capacity as a “bus, going to the bar or online dating” then you MUST HAVE FORGOTTEN or it COMPLETELY SLIPPED YOUR MIND Alcoholics Anonymous is a place people got to LOOKING FOR HELP!!!  Not, as I would put it, to get hurt in the process.

I like this quote, really I do, when you say, “people can’t get sober unless they are ready.”  Let me add to that— People can’t get sober if those saying they are there to help a.) sexually harass them or b.) tell them it was their fault they were sexually harassed.  If you, or anyone else, can say AA is like anywhere else ONE MORE TIME then I will suggest people get sober on buses and in gas stations and in grocery stores— because what difference would it make!  Obviously, AA is no more helpful for alcoholism than a dating site!  So, next time a drunk calls me up, I’ll send them to Match.com.

Damn it, my sideways anger!  You ramble on about AA not endorsing financing or lending AA’s name to anything— Cheerio, you are right.  Others financed AA, and AA’s name is on no one’s rehab.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t connected.  So… LET’S CLEAR THINGS UP (read my above links) AA IS CONNECTED WITH REHABS.  Yes, it is, anything else is a lie.  As you call him, “Famed AA debunker Dr. Lance Dodes,” is right.  Let’s just leave it at that.  Shall we?  Oh… yeah… AA started rehabs, did I mention that?

Well, let me finish with AA does HAVE OPINIONS on Outside Issues.  The Big Book talks about religion and moon landings and electricity… and wives… where do the outside issues end and where do they begin?  I’ve no idea.  If you can send me one alcoholic who became alcoholic without outside issues affecting them, then bring it on.  Monica… grand standing at AAWS head quarters… how could she?  No one showed up!

Oh, and by the way, if you WERE following AA traditions and steps, and word of mouth, then putting down Monica Richardson was “taking someone else’s inventory.”  A no-no in AA.  By no means a rule, because AA has no rules, but still… not dating and sexually assaulting others are not rules in AA either.  I sadly can’t uphold AA’s silence on this.  I can’t stand up for it.  I hate sexual harassment.  I love sex, but I hate violence.  I hate shady people who wait in AA meetings for sick, vulnerable people in desperate times who are looking for help and are hurt.

If you point fingers at Richardson’s film, The 13th Step, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you.  Your article flopped on many levels, for one, it LIED.  It spread lies.  You did not quote sources that backed up some opinions that to some readers may have been mistaken as FACT.  This is what I would call deceit.  If an organization can save lives and not give a damn about sexual predators, then great, that’s weird, but great.  However, you leave out that these sexual predators have harmed others.  And minors.

The fact that you, Ms. Stewart, felt the need to bash Richardson, her film, and mock those harmed by sexual crimes, shows you are — indeed — brainwashed.  Resentments?  The only resentments I read are those in AA who are mad anyone is exposing AA for their wrongs.  How about, when you are wrong, promptly admit it?  When will Alcoholics Anonymous practice what it preaches?  Until those in AA admit that AA has problems and they should be fixed and work on them… Alcoholics Anonymous is a toxic, unsafe place to recover.

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18 thoughts on “My Turn to Debunk the Review about 13 Stepping

  1. Awesome Juliet! This is a well written attention grasping piece that I found completely truthful. Hitting all of the fine points and countering them, this is one of the best rebuttal’s to pro steppism article that I have read!

    • Thanks Avo… I might have missed a few points but wish not to revisit the crime scene. But one I do remember is her mocking Monica for not being a doctor, yet, insisting everyone go to AA where— yes— wait for it— you will ask for someone who’s not a doctor to be your sponsor. Remember, AA’s preeminent doctor was Dr. Silkworth, whose opinion of AA is roughly 75 some years old. Carl Jung, as amazing as he is, was not an addictions expert. He gave AA a thumbs up, perhaps, to make Bill Wilson shut up? We may never know. I feel AA has used the Carl Jung name and also William James as name-dropping. James, in my strong opinion, would have said AA was religious. Herbert Spencer’s famed quote, if it can even be attributed to him, is supposed to back up our contempt. We investigated, didn’t we?

    • Thank you. I was very angered/saddened by the author’s lies. I hope they weren’t intentional and I do hope she takes the time to properly research her remarks next time.

  2. This is an excellent article and example of the lies spreads, how they coerce people and I really appreciate that you took the time to link to pertinent information to the truth! let’s face it AA is an out dated Pseudo Christian Fascist Death Cult and the Whistle NEEDS to be BLOWN kudos to Monica Richardson for producing and directing The 13th Step so courageously and exposing the truth AA and it’s belief system have no place in modern medicine and society!

    • Thanks Luis 🙂 And I was hoping this rebuttal stopped some of the lies from spreading. I appreciate Monica Richardson’s continued success with her film, which she worked tirelessly on and her efforts are being recognized. Those who reject 12 Step coercion are not taking the “easier softer way.” We are the ones being bullied, shamed, disgraced… for what? For rejecting abuse and bullying and cult dogma? Every time we save another person from their “coma” in AA/NA we are succeeding. We are waking them up.

  3. Good article Juliet. What AA doesn’t tell people is their ‘non alcoholic’ trustees are not bound by the ‘rule’ of attraction not promotion either, which is how they get around it. A quick read of their financial statements and annual reports prepared for filing with the UK’s charity commission make very interesting reading. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/Members/Document-Library# Go to the finance tab, then click annual reports. Busy little beavers.

    Like you I find this idea that 13th stepping is nudge, nudge, wink, wink, ‘dating’ to be wholly abhorrent. There is no defence for it and it is also the reason I left AA – well that and the fact that I am not and never have been an ‘alcoholic’ despite their protestations to the contrary. Also their highly loaded use of the word ‘drinking’ – which has long since parted company with what it actually means in the real world – is a cult-speak AA word which means ‘not sober’ – ie a fall from Grace, diseased, insane, irrational. It was a low, mean, cheap shot used all the time to discredit people who have left AA.

    The good news is the majority of people who will see the film and read reviews, won’t have this ridiculous bias, and AA members are merely talking to themselves on that point.

    It also seems that ‘well, you can’t have been a real alcoholic, what on earth were you doing in AA?’ is their rebuttal in these situations. But nobody, for one second, ever said that to me when I expressed doubt in AA – instead I was told I had ‘stopped in time’ (indeed I was shown the page that prefaces the collection of stories in the back of the big book of the same title, it is regularly read at young people’s AA meetings) and told I was ‘in denial’ or I was angrily told to ‘fuck off, go and do some more research, and come back when you’ve had enough’ – sufficiently frightened, I didn’t of course. Well not until many years later when I couldn’t take it anymore.

    The page They Stopped in Time in the Big Book reads:

    “Among today’s incoming A.A. members, many have never reached the advanced stages of alcoholism, though given time all might have. Most of these fortunate ones have had little or no acquaintance with delirium, with hospitals, asylums, and jails. Some were drinking heavily, and there had been occasional serious episodes. But with many, drinking had been little more than a sometimes uncontrollable nuisance. Seldom had any of these lost either health, business, family, or friends.

    Why do men and women like these join A.A.?

    The seventeen who now tell their experiences answer that question. They saw that they had become actual or potential alcoholics, even though no serious harm had yet been done. They realized that repeated lack of drinking control, when they really wanted control, was the fatal symptom that spelled problem drinking. This, plus mounting emotional disturbances, convinced them that compulsive alcoholism already had them; that complete ruin would be only a question of time.

    Seeing this danger, they came to A.A. They realized that in the end alcoholism could be as mortal as cancer; certainly no sane man would wait for a malignant growth to become fatal before seeking help.

    Therefore, these seventeen A.A.’s, and hundreds of thousands like them, have been saved years of infinite suffering. They sum it up something like this: “We didn’t wait to hit bottom because, thank God, we could see the bottom. Actually, the bottom came up and hit us. That sold us on Alcoholics Anonymous.””

    Their claims that AA is only for ‘real alcoholics’ is disingenous, and they know it. It’s heads they win and tails you lose.

    Well done, keep going.

    • Thank you for pointing out how AA gets people in the so-called “early” stages of their “disease,” and then how AA members laugh at them for thinking — after they left AA — they weren’t even alcoholics anyhow. There’s a comeback for everything in the AA literature and it’s schizo-effective making. How many contradictions can there be?

      • I know, in London where I started out in AA, there is a HUGE population of young people. That reading I posted is usually read at most of them. There’s also a bit in the book somewhere, about the ‘four types’ of heavy drinkers, I think it’s in ‘The Family afterward’ – the chapter that nobody reads! But many if they read that, would not qualify for AA membership in the first place.

        It is crazy making. Not being a ‘real’ alcoholic is the insult after you have left.

        I have nothing against abstinence, or mutual support, or even a community of people coming together to tackle a ‘common problem’ but it’s the sanctimoniousness that I really have a problem with. It’s such a complex problem that there should be more room for doubt and questioning, not this ‘here’s £20 now f**k off and come back when you’ve had enough’ – seen that a lot!

    • Monica I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work. And whenever there is an article slamming the truth— and your documentary speaks the complete truth— I will answer to them whenever I can. You are most welcome and THANK YOU for making this film happen— and scaring AA members into hating the truth. They can’t handle the truth. Let’s hope the lives you save speak out also. This is a group effort.

  4. Juliet I love how you went through each statement in Stewarts article and came back with either an affirmation that what she stated was true, or with sound rebuttal points. What Stewart wrote is very deceiving, especially to those not well informed about Alcoholics Anonymous. You tore apart her lies and presented the facts for your readers exceptionally well.
    Yet I can’t help think that those with a stake in 12-steps, those whose lives are AA centric will continue to behave as always denying, rationalizing, or ignoring these facts even when they are clearly spelled out and on the proverbial wall for all to see. And they will probably have more Billsh*t and other lies to say about the 13th Step, the film. However the chain reaction of events that we have all worked towards setting into motion, is about to become very evident, much to our delight.
    I don’t think anyone can guarantee a specific outcome, but one thing is for sure. AA is going to be exposed for what it is, put in the spotlight, for the world to see. And time will tell whether or not Alcoholics Anonymous is 1. Going to start acting responsibly and abide by the laws of a non-profit, 2. Will be able to survive how this exposure will likely affect there reputation in both the local communities, and professional communities, and 3. How they will stand up to multiple lawsuits. Whatever happens I think that a major paradigm shift towards science-based methods is going to bring the relief so many desperately want, relief they cannot find in AA, and as a result many lives will be saved as opposed to damaged further.

  5. Thanks Jason, and it’s scary how right you are. I tried to find a good therapist out where I live, and it’s a step pushing agency. Perhaps I will write about it. I want AA to abide by the law or shrink down to size or disappear. Crimes are not funny. Their cognitive dissonance is alarming. There is something wrong when excuses are made for rape, suicide, and murder.

  6. Does anyone have some good questions to ask a therapist to weed out 12 step therapists? i know this should seem obvious, just thought some might have a little more experience with this that I have at this point. Juliet and Monica i am so thankful for all the work that you do to get the truth out in the public and to continue to support the truth.

    • I am in that situation myself actually. And thanks, I think Momica and others writing and taking action are amazing. Back to your question, simply bring up your primary issues. If you are looking for help on drinking, just ask if they’ve heard of SMART. Be informed if they say no, because they are lying. Lol. Go get a new therapist if after say 4 sessions they brush off your needs by pushing the steps. It might frustrate you, but put yourself first. Don’t expect the counselor to change, often they are bound by protocol and merely going down a checklist to get you to do what they want.

  7. Finally Free- Yes….ask them .. what do you think of AA? Watch their faces. Then ask them if then are in AA. Watch their faces. Say they must tell you as it is a conflict of interest. Ask for referrals from Andrew Tatarsky and call Emily Cavell in Los Angeles. Great non 12 step therapist for addiction.

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