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.
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.