Horror Stories
True Tales of Misery, Betrayal and Abuse in NA, AA and 12-Step Treatment

Rebecca Fransway
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This book is here courtesy of See Sharp Press and Rebecca Fransway, Ed.

8. Belinda
Raped by Old-Timer Sponsor

When I was 23 I left an abusive marriage and started drinking to ease the pain. I kept this up for ten months. My father is an alcoholic and I didn't want to become one, so I went to an AA meeting.

I was wheeled into a meeting because, due to a disability, I am in a wheelchair. I asked for a ride home after the meeting, since I had cab fare only one way. One of the ladies, although she meant well, sent me home with a known predator/13th stepper, "Drew."

I was vulnerable, lonely, and didn't stand a chance from that moment on. Even though at that time I considered myself a lesbian, I was in bed before I knew what happened. I suffered several months of what I now consider to be sexual abuse from this man.

He also became my sponsor. I know this sounds crazy, but you need to understand the kind of shape I was in. I was barely hanging on to sobriety, and I was totally open to all kinds of beliefs and views. This man was a sober member of AA, and I was a newcomer. Needless to say, I was not thinking straight.

People with many years of sobriety are viewed as AA Gods. They are rarely questioned, and when it comes time for one of them to speak, they are viewed as so spiritually superior that you might hear a pin drop in some meeting halls. Drew had enough time sober to be considered superior. Who would question his judgment? Not me! No one told me of this man's history with newcomers.

I am not simply complaining. I tried hard in AA. I really did. But I was also in awe of Drew, and I had only a few friends. My family supported my ex-husband, so I was cut off from them for many years. Also, Drew saw nothing wrong with sex. He claimed he was removing a roadblock to my sobriety. He said that if I came out as a lesbian in AA, I would be shunned in the God-based AA program.

But eventually, I did gain some strength. When I found out Drew was dating my best friend, I got up the courage to stop having a sexual relationship with him.

But then, on the night I received my one-year chip, he raped me.

For the record, I don't drink now, but the abuse I suffered almost drove me insane. It has been ten years since I've gone to a meeting, and I still have horrific nightmares of the sexual abuse my screaming, No! No! No! I don't want this!

Some AA circles frown on therapy. The day after I had the local battered woman's shelter shortly after I was raped, my therapist asked me about my weekend plans. I said I was going to hit a few meetings and kick back. She responded, Do you want to drink? I said, No. She then wanted to know why I would attend a meeting. I now had to explain that, in my AA indoctrination, I had never been given a choice. Attending meetings was drilled into me. But that weekend I chose to skip a meeting, and I never went back. I am sober to this day, because I found the answers to my pain through therapy, which has done more to relieve me of the need to self-medicate than AA ever did.

I really want people to know that AA is often filled with very sick people. I, too, was sick, but I never preyed on new people.

One of ways AA is similar to cults is the doctrine of 90 meetings in 90 days. I felt that in those 90 days I was torn apart so I might be rebuilt. Really, I was torn apart not just so I could get sober, but so I could be controlled and learn not to think for myself.

You know it is kind of ironic, but had Drew not raped me the night I got my one-year chip, I might never have sought therapy. I guess I really should be grateful.