How to keep yourself safe in AA

I know that I sound like someone who drank the recovery cool aid when I say that AA saved my life. But girls like me from Sunnyslope, Arizona generally have babies young, get addicted to something awful and can expect regularly scheduled beatings from their live in boyfriend.

Girls like me don’t get sober, marry someone nice, have a couple of kids and get to spend peaceful weekends on the Cape.  AA is what changed the course of my life.

However, I was distressed to read this essay on The Fix about sexual predators in the meetings. I spent the weekend thinking about how to keep yourself safe in the halls if you are getting sober.

First, there are some suggestions in AA that address this problem. You will hear,

Women stick with the Women, Men stick with the Men.

Also, No relationships in the first year.

Once you take the drink away from the alcoholic, your thinking becomes muddled. Your brain will feel like mush for a good year or so. What seemed like a sober fairy tale your first year might look very different to you once you get some time under your belt. It is taboo to date a newcomer in the halls. Anyone who does it isn’t taking your sobriety seriously. If they care about you, they will wait until you are more stable.

Second, be especially on guard at big open speaker meetings. Anyone can go to an open speaker meeting. Some of the people there aren’t even alcoholics, and they might be there to prey on instable kids who are trying to get their life together. Also, the courts order people to go to AA for all sorts of reasons. Those people do not want to be there, and they flock to open speaker meetings.

But be particularly weary at young people’s meetings. I think that if you are young and getting sober, it is really important to find other people you can hang with. I definitely encourage you to go young people’s meetings. But be vigilant especially of people who are over thirty. Think about it, they aren’t young. What are they doing there?

Closed meetings are generally safer. You can also find Women’s Meetings and Men’s Meetings. Great recovery happens in those groups. Make sure that you are rounding out your meeting schedule with smaller groups.

Third, get a sponsor who is the same sex as you are.

Finally, AA is full of whacked people. Digest that reality. Everyone there is a drunk or an addict. Addiction is a spiritual disease, and the people in meetings are spiritually sick. I think when a newcomer first gets sober it is easy to believe that AA is a safe place filled with wonderful friends.

There are many, many wonderful people in AA. You will make a lot of friends. But it is a complete mistake to not recognize that just because a person is sober doesn’t mean that they are not dangerous.

Think of it like this. When you were drinking, you wouldn’t go into a bar or a party and automatically assume that you were safe. You would probably go with friends that you trusted, and you would check in with them from time to time. You’d watch your drink, and you wouldn’t go home with anybody (unless you were so inebriated you lost your common sense).

Those people at the bar are the exact same people in the church basements at the meetings. Don’t assume that someone is safe just because they are sober. That is true even if they have a lot of sober time. An alcoholic rapist who gets sober is still a rapist.

Use your alcoholic skills to sniff out the people you can trust and stick with them. Keep your bullshit meter on, not off.

4 thoughts on “How to keep yourself safe in AA

  1. @mommy on the floor- Nice looking blog for sure!

    Interesting blog too.

    I would agree you sound like you are still drinking the kool aid, but I did too for over 3 decades and yet I finally saw AA for the dangerous place it has become.

    What you are doing is very good and important for people who still like AA and want to go there. SO I commend you on making this blog. If you want I can give you the pamphlet we created when I was still in AA and holding Make AA Safer Workshops.

    Take care and keep up the good work and advice. People will hear you and respect you too.

    this is the first blog I created in January 2010. http://www.stop13stepinaa.wordpress.com

    • Mommy on the floor- I just ran across your blog and am glad to see that you are aware of what a dangerous place Alcoholics Anonymous can be. It great that you are pointing out some of the factual sick stuff that is continually going on in meeting . But please be careful of another very very dangerous Fact that is engraned into the members of AA through the 12 steps … You are taught that you are POWERLESS ! This is self- destructive and the longer one stays in this AA program , the chance of every having a healthy life is doomed! You may feel like some of those people are your friends _ but trust me on this by trying they are not. If you doubt what I’m saying , try this __ speak up to one or a few of them at a meeting or even your homegroup meeting about your concerns about the disturbing things that are going on in the rooms. Suggest that something should be done to stop courts from mandating violent criminals , sexual predators and rapists into Alcoholics Anonymous…. They reaction WILL NOT BE ‘FRIENDLY’ . Invite them to your blog page.
      I truly wish you the best ! There are many good people their , but unfortunately they are Programmed / brainwashed now. They have lost the meaning of friendship , exchanged its value to a judgemental Savior . They don’t want to friend you _ they either want to Save you ( because it gives them a feeling of power) because they feel powerless .

  2. Thanks for the article I enjoyed it. As a member of aa I was appalled to learn of the various behavior of certain members and also the misconceptions surrounding the program. In my area I have never seen a male sponsoring a woman. Also the god thing has never been forced down my throat. My friend is five years sober and an atheist through and through. Also, I have learned while I am powerless I can tap into a power greater than myself, which lies within myself. So its really just semantics. Also, my first sponsor told me to get off my antidepressant. I asked around in aa and learned that was bullshit and he didn’t know what he was talking about. If we’re going to abolish every institution where sexual abuse occurs then we should start with the military then schools then churches then grocery stores thn etc u get my point. But we do have a responsibility to address the problem. That’s why I contacted stop13stepinaa for info more info on how to hold a wkshp (even though they probably think I’m a Jesus-freak predatory zombie).

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