A Story of a Sex Addict’s Daughter

*Permission was granted by the following individual to share her story. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

 For Jo, her father’s absence in her life was profound.

He wasn’t physically absent. But, he was not present. He was an empty shell and Jo felt a wide divide separating them with no way to cross.

No physical affection, no emotional support, no interest in her day or her life.

Jo felt invisible to her father. Except when he commented on her body in a sexual manner, or talked with her about his sexual encounters with her mother.

Jo didn’t know it then, but her father was a sex addict.

Jo’s parents’ frightening and often violent arguments often woke her in the middle of the night, causing a flood of anxiety, terror and dread. Hateful, violent yelling, name-calling and accusations of betrayal flew through the vacuum of pain, hurt and despair that separated her mother and father.

From the very onset of puberty, Jo believed boys and men looked at her as if she were standing naked. A deep, dark sense of shame lived inside of her, following her everywhere, it’s ugly head surfacing even more when she was in the company of boys and/or men.

Seemingly out of nowhere, an urge emerged within Jo, a strong longing and desire for physical affection and sex with men. Through these sexual encounters with men Jo felt noticed and loved, although she didn’t know this at the time.

Here is an excerpt from a page of Jo’s journal as she began healing:

I live a masquerade – attachments and accomplishments that never penetrate this emptiness. No matter what, it’s always lurking. Temporary relief only to be betrayed by the hollow, fragile sense of me. I’m 30 and I’m still plagued by this pain. My loves come and go – lovers and friends -while I continue to question my worthiness and feel shame for who I am and what I am not.”

During this time she began realizing the fallacy and destructively deceptive belief that sex with a man was the only way to be noticed and loved.

Recognizing her own addiction to alcohol and drugs, Jo turned to AA and found God. She also discovered she wasn’t alone in her life experiences. Slowly, painfully she came to believe that it wasn’t necessary for her to give her body away for someone to care about her.

Her value was much more than this.

As she gradually awoke to the reality that there was so much more to her than her body, a belief that her worth was inherent and not dependent on anything.

Strengths of intelligence, funny, humor, creativity, strength, compassion, courage, sensitivity became more evident to her. Through newly emerging self-care interests of running, nutrition, walking, resting, prayer, she began to value the wholeness of her body, mind and spirit.

Slowly she began experiencing friendships with men, persevering through feelings that each man’s sole interested in her was sexual. She let herself experience these new friendships and to ignore the urge to make it sexual.

Men became more than sex objects; she began to see them in a more balanced view, seeing strengths and weaknesses.

Sadly, Jo’s father died at the age of 62, without recovery. Jo was only 22. She never experienced her father as a whole person – only the shell he portrayed to the world. Years after his death, she learned of the his parents’ own dysfunction and poor decisions and the trauma, neglect and pain he suffered due as a result. Perhaps this pain, kept buried deep inside his shell, drove his addiction and inability to parent her with love.

It became Jo’s hope and prayer that after his death, her father found peace and healing. The possibility that he was somehow instrumental in her healing journey comforted her.

There is help for sex addiction. With the internet, sex and porn addiction is at epidemic levels among men. Today about 20 % of sex addicts are women. Just as with all addiction, it doesn’t just affect the addict. Addiction is a family disease.

Here is the hope – addiction doesn’t need to go on and on wreaking havoc among men’s daughters and wives in its wake.

Fathers, your daughters need you to be present in their lives. If you aren’t present, your children will be negatively affected, just like Jo. Although your children may not be affected in exactly the same way, the struggles will be similar.

There is help. Check out the resources below to get started on a journey of healing:

  1. Click here to take a sex addiction screening test.
  2. Click here to find sex addiction therapy in your area or, if you are in the Raleigh area, call 919.380.1000 to schedule an assessment with myself, Dr. Patti M. Zordich.
  3. Click here to find out if your porn habit is a problem.
  4. Read one of these books:
    Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, by Patrick Carnes.
    Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, by Mark Laaser

You don’t need to do it alone.  Join those who have chosen a path of recovery by reaching out today.

Patti M. Zordich, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist integrating psychology and faith in Cary, NC.  She is passionate about bringing healing to families. You can reach Dr. Zordich at office@trypsych.com or 919-380-1000.

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