What is a Sex Addict? I was diagnosed as one in 2014. On this blog, I wrote extensively about the signs of sex addiction and sex addiction symptoms. Today, I share my sex addiction story to encourage you and to help you recognize and understand women addicted to sex.
Sex Addict Definition
First and foremost, a sex addict is a human being with a traumatic past and the present in which this person feels powerless and possessed by sexual temptations.
RELATED: What is Sex Addiction
A sex addict can be either a woman or a man.
There are no educational, demographical, or geographical barriers to sex addiction. It can happen to anyone.
A Sex Addict is a human being who is obsessed with one or more of the following: sex, promiscuity, adultery, sexual fantasy, masturbation, and the pursuit of romance, which results in a pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior, risk-taking and negative life-consequences, inability to stop the behavior, and the feeling of powerlessness.
Many of the signs of sex addiction must be present concurrently to determine if someone is a sex addict. “Many” and “concurrently” are the keywords!
RELATED: Signs of Sex Addiction
Cultural stereotypes often get in the way of recognizing, acknowledging, diagnosing, and healing a sex addict. “Boys being boys” cliché often drives men away from asking for help if their sexual behavior is out of control. And when it comes to women, in my experience, a woman sex addict feels so guilty and ashamed that she’s unlikely to ask for help.
RELATED: Sex Addiction Help
I also personally experienced ignorant people’s objections to my own sex addiction by telling me that all I really needed was love and “it’s just natural.”
Such negligent statements are the barriers that keep a woman sex-addict from reaching out to her community and asking for the urgent support she desperately needs.
Here’s how she feels.
How a Sex Addict Feels
Sex Addict feels condemned because when the problem is shared, it’s common for people to think that the sex addict had premeditated her behavior, however, that is not the case since the behavior is compulsive; the addiction is powerful while the addict is powerless; the addiction is the villain while the addict is the victim.
Sex Addict feels ashamed of her out-of-control behavior because she is a human being with a heart, and she knows that her powerlessness in the face of sexual temptations caused many heartbreaks to innocent people.
Sex Addict feels guilty because she understands that she’s the one who is misbehaving, she knows that she’s the one causing problems, she knows that she’s the source on the drama in her life.
Sex Addict feels remorseful because she doesn’t want to do this anymore, she never intended to hurt anyone to begin with, she is kind of like an observer in her life just watching what she’s done but being powerless to stop her out-of-control sexual acting out, though she experiences genuine regrets about all the suffering she’s caused to others and herself.
Sex Addict feels overwhelmed because she can’t even comprehend how come if she’s the one doing what she’s doing but she doesn’t like and doesn’t approve of what she’s doing, how is it that she still keeps doing it?
Sex Addict feels exhausted because she wants to live a productive life and be a good person, however, she’s in a never-ending war with herself, she’s powerless and her addiction is powerful, she keeps fighting back but she loses every time and she can’t do it anymore.
Sex Addict feels scared because she wants to reach out for help but how can she even begin telling her story, who can possibly understand her struggle without condemning her behavior, and what will be the consequences?
Sex Addict feels hopeless because continuing her out-of-control lifestyle is not an option, yet she can’t tell anyone or ask for help because people will judge her or laugh at her or think that she’s exaggerating or making things up or that she’s simply seeking attention… so, perhaps, suicide is the only way out?
Sex Addiction Statistics
- Sex addicts may consider suicide as the way out of powerlessness
- Between 18 and 24 Million Americans are estimated to be a sex addict
- Among sex addicts, 72% were physically abused, 81% were sexually abused, and 97% were emotionally abused as children
- The annual time spent on the most popular porn website in 2016 equated to 5,245 centuries
- Nearly 80% of sex addicts also have another type of addiction
- An estimated 17% of college students suffer from sex addiction
How To Know If You’re a Sex Addict
- You live a double-life.
You might be cheating and lying about where you are or what you’re doing or how you spend money. If the truth is that you have sexual secrets, which you refuse to share with anyone due to guilt and shame, if you figure out how to spend Easter with two different men (I’ve done that), then you have to lie to everyone constantly just to stay afloat, and you obviously have a huge behavioral and lifestyle issue due to your sexual temptations.
- You exploit people.
You might come across as a good woman. You might be volunteering at a charity and giving motivational speeches to inspire positive social change and all that… Yet, when it comes to sex, you could care less about people and you’re willing to manipulate and exploit them for the sake of satisfying your sexual desires. That’s a clear sign that you need help.
- Your life is a constant drama.
Sex is your number one priority. Everything else is a mess: your career, finances, health, chores, taxes, family, and your headspace of course. You might manage to stay employed, yet, you’re broke. You miss your period, call friends in a panic attack about potentially being pregnant (all the time), and you get tested for STDs as often as your girlfriends go grocery-shopping (because you disregard condoms in the moment of sexual pursuits). If that’s you, seek help right away.
- You’re preoccupied with sex all the time.
You can’t concentrate on work, hobbies, self-care, or even a meaningful conversation with a neighbor, because no matter what, you find yourself drowning in your sexual fantasies. When you aren’t fantasizing about sex, you’re planning your next sexual affair: shopping for the best hotel, the sexiest lingerie and heels to go with it, as well as the best sex toys and the newest lube on the market. If you aren’t planning your next sex affair or shopping for sex toys, it’s only because you’re actually having sex. After that, guilt and shame attack you, and you escape them straight into your sexual fantasies. This vicious cycle can only be broken with help, so if that’s your life, ask for help right now.
- You pursue sex no matter the consequences.
You’re out of control. You miss work. You lie to friends. You don’t pay your bills. You compromise your wellbeing. You don’t take care of yourself. You’re not pursuing your dreams and goals. You’re betraying the trust of people who rely on you. You dismiss your own conscience and silence it in order to follow your sexual temptations. Eventually, you lose yourself to this pervasive disease and you find yourself trapped in your own web of misery. You know the pain you’re suffering from is self-imposed, so your hatred and condemnation are addressed to yourself, and, eventually, you may not want to be anymore. I read many stories of suicide as the result of sex addiction, simply because eventually self-hatred is just too much to bear. The consequences of sex addiction are serious. If that’s your life, don’t suffer alone in silence. You need help.
- Your appetite for sex and orgasms is unfulfilled.
My mother was the one who instructed me to pursue multiple orgasms with many men, and from my early teen years, I followed her instructions. Eventually, I needed more toys, more times, more extremes, more role-play, more dress-ups, and more often. There was just never enough, eventually, to satisfy my desires. There were days and nights spent having sex with little to no break, in hotels where everything else was taken care of by the service staff, yet, no sex, no toys, no pleasure was enough, and I was left with an even bigger hole to fill, desiring more and more sex.
- You masturbate all the time everywhere.
This one is painful… because it began when I was very little. I was masturbating in elementary school on a chair using a little orange jacket, folded under my butt… Pornography was my mom’s way of educating me about life and relationships and preparing me for womanhood. So, masturbation was my go-to escape place growing up. If you do it in the morning, on your lunch break, in the car, in the shower, in bed before you go to sleep, in your sleep, and even right after having sex, you’re a sex addict and you need real help right away.
- You watch porn constantly.
You can’t help it. You need the stimulation of your brain and body, and porn is helpful. You watch porn but then you feel awful. However, you can’t stop because you’re powerless.
- You feel powerless.
You can’t stop acting out, though you genuinely do want to stop. You try but you also fail at it. One day, you come to the end of yourself and realize: “I am powerless.” Talk to someone you trust who can help you with this.
- You condemn and resent yourself.
You know you’re hurting people and destroying yourself. You lost your sanity and dignity. You can’t count on yourself. You don’t trust yourself. You despise yourself. You hate yourself. You condemn and resent yourself. Get help for sex addiction because it won’t get better on its own. You’re not just feeling powerless. You are actually powerless. Sex addiction is powerful.
Sex Addict Quiz
Here’s a quick questionnaire to test the possibility of you being a sex addict. Remember: I am not a therapist, I have no mental health training, I share my personal experiences only, and this information is what I discovered for myself from my own sex addiction journey.
Sex Addiction Quiz
- Is my mind constantly preoccupied with sexual ideation?
- Do I typically feel guilty and ashamed after sex?
- Has my sexual behavior ever caused problems?
- Did my sexual behavior ever hurt people?
- Do I ever hide my sexual activities from others due to shame?
- Do I ever feel that my sexual desire controls me?
- Have I been neglecting my life because of my sexual pursuits?
- Do I use sex to escape from my reality or avoid dealing with life?
- Do my sexual pursuits cause drama in my life?
- Do I watch porn and masturbate regularly?
RELATED: Sex Addicts Anonymous
If you answered truthfully, and the majority of your answers are “yes,” you might be a sex addict and need to see a sex addiction therapist to be properly diagnosed and provided with appropriate help.
You need to see a trained mental health professional in order to receive an actual diagnosis for any of the behavioral issues you might be dealing with.
“Sex Addict” Diagnosis
Sex addiction can be diagnosed using both DSM-5 as “other specified sexual dysfunction” (DSM-5) and the “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” (ICD-10) criteria as “other sexual dysfunction not due to a substance or known physiological condition”.
I was diagnosed by a sex addiction therapist.
Beware that such a diagnosis may leave you feeling hopeless and disgusted with yourself. I felt that way. In fact, I felt devastated. I withdrew, isolated, and felt like an outcast BUT from the other side where I am today, I am encouraging you and cheering you on: face it and deal with it.
Your addiction is not the end of the world. You can conquer it. You can free yourself from it. You are not your addiction.
A proper diagnosis is your first step to freedom from sex addiction. There’s hope and there’s help. Seek both.
In order for a sexual addiction to qualify as a mental health disorder, an individual must experience repeated sexual fantasies, behaviors, and urges that last upwards of six months, and are not due to factors, such as medication, another medical condition, substance abuse, or manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder.”The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA
If the information here describes your lifestyle, I encourage you to seek professional help. If you’re a sex addict, you need support right now.
My Story as a Sex Addict
I was born into a family of adulterous alcoholics and raised by a single mom who hated and abused me. She taught me that I was worthless and a mistake. My mom got me addicted to porn when I was only a child.
RELATED: Narcissistic Mother
Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain.
It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms.
Here’s how it can happen to me.
Sex as a Survival Requirement
Before I explain how sex became my survival requirement, I want you to know that it took decades to discover this breakthrough, but once I did, this profound realization changed everything.
Everything about my addiction and survival is summarized in the two pictures below. Read carefully.
Anna (me as a little girl) needed her mom’s attention and approval to survive.
Anna’s mom loved talking about sex.
Talking about sex led to the only real bonding Anna ever experienced with her mom.
Anna wanted to bond with her mom and, to survive, Anna needed her mom’s approval and affection.
Anna was instructed by her mom to go have many sexual encounters with as many men as possible and report back to mom on all the details of those sexual experiences.
Anna followed those instructions and felt loved and accepted when her mom would take the time to hear about her sex-adventures over a cup of hot black Russian tea at a small kitchen table, talking face-to-face and bonding.
That’s my story.
RELATED: My Story of Sex Addiction Recovery
My feel-good hormones came from bonding with my mom over her obsessive sex-related questioning, attention, and approval of me.
Over time, here’s what else fed my sex addiction.
The midbrain, which is the section of the brain handling the body’s reward system and survival instincts, sometimes gets confused. Here’s how.
As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine – the “feel-good” chemical in the brain – the process triggers the feeling of pleasure.
When using sex to escape stress, anxiety, life problems, or relational issues, the midbrain may mistake the feeling of pleasure from sex, which is used to escape big issues, as being central to survival.
Sex Addiction as an Identity Problem
For me personally, sex addiction was also an identity problem.
In the video below, I share the intimate details of my journey and how my sexual addiction came about as I was growing up.
I also reveal what happened in 2014.
This 7.5-minute speech was delivered at Rising Phoenix Toastmasters on August 24th, 2019 when I was invited to be a guest speaker there.
Sex Addict "Identity" Speech Transcript
"I hate you and I just want you dead!"
These were the words of my mother said looking me straight in the eye. She called me a miscarriage because I didn’t have a father. She tried to abort me, but wasn’t able to. She abused me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.
When I tried to commit suicide at 11 and 12, she laughed and encouraged me to try again. But I never did, because at 12 years old, God begun calling my name.
My mother taught me that the purpose of my life was to be a mother and a wife. She did everything she could to stop me from being creative, drawing, painting, writing, sewing, knitting, and instead, she persuaded me that I was worthless, stupid, ugly, and not good for anything but sex.
I was diagnosed with sexual addiction in 2014.
It was the year I gave my life to Christ and was baptized in front of 3,000 people at Buckhead Church.
I wrote this poem about my journey.
When I was five years old, my mama told me
That I was born to be a mother and a wife.
I was taught how to make men want me
And that sex was the best key to my best life.
When at six years old I strived to study,
Mama told me that instead I needed men,
That their focus of attention was my body
And I’d better master sex to live in zen.
When at 15, graduating with high honors,
I left school to go to college and to work,
Mama told me that my wasteful life her bothers,
That my oddity and fancy were a quirk.
When at 19, graduating with high honors,
After college, I went on to Busines School,
Mama told me I was crazy and went bonkers,
She was hateful, she was violent, she was cruel.
At 24 I graduated with high honors
From two good schools with two degrees in law and business.
I mastered also sex and men to meet my mothers
Expectations and demands for my life’s richness.
I got married to Prince Charming and left Russia.
And I strived to be a mother and a wife.
Domestic Violence was my marriage daily crushing.
I had to run away to save my life.
When police took me away to homeless shelter,
I was crushed, I was confused, I was in pain.
In a foreign country I life entered.
To survive, I had to daily use my brain.
Within 18 months, I learned the language
And I passed the Academic English Test.
As an immigrant, I had a disadvantage,
So I went to school to prove my best.
MBA from GSU was good decision,
Only mama was still living in my head.
She continued my identity collision:
To be mother, to be wife, or stay unwed?
Mama’s voice remained the strongest, so I married.
He was doctor. I was student. We had kids.
Her ideas of myself I always carried:
I’m for men and I’m for sex. Mom’s voice mine beats.
When I got my MBA and started working,
That second marriage quickly also got dissolved.
As I was hustling a lot and money earning,
My identity and purpose both evolved.
But Mama’s voice was surely ever-lasting:
You’re for men, you are for sex, you must be wife.
In confusion and in pain my purpose wasting,
I went on to live a very furtive life.
Slept around, drank like crazy, I was sinking.
My identity collision was a burden.
To avoid my pain and life, I was just drinking,
Who I was and whose I was, I was uncertain.
It was April, it was dark, and I was crying.
There was carpet, there were stars, and I was kneeling.
I was praying - to surrender I was trying.
And that night I did experience deep healing.
I asked Jesus: change my mind and my head’s voices.
I asked Him to lead my life, to guide my journey.
Ever since my soul is healed and it rejoices.
Mom’s and mine beliefs on life no longer tourney.
Jesus taught me that I am, in fact, a royal.
Child of God, I am, in fact, King’s Princess.
Ever since, to Him I’m being loyal.
Trusting Him, I am becoming fearless.
Mom’s beliefs and my beliefs no longer matter.
Jesus tells me my life’s purpose and desire.
Single life for me, He says, is better.
His commands today my life inspire.
4/27/19 © Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
Today, I live a single, celibate life that’s filled with creativity and joy
I have a question for YOU today:
Who has ever defined your identity?
What gave that person the power to define YOU?
To think that they know your potential and future is insanity.
Every day you’re growing, changing, evolving, and becoming new.
No one can define you. Ever.
Except one person on earth. You.
Commit to exploring who you are. Forever.
Allow your SELF to be different from what anyone ever knew.
© Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
My recovery as a sex addict has everything to do with Jesus, not therapy or 12 steps. I just fall on my knees and prayed, I gave my life to Christ, and God changed everything: my identity, lifestyle, beliefs, and behavior.
Sex Addiction as a Generational Inheritance
Some studies have found a higher frequency of addictive sexual behavior in people from dysfunctional families.
I am certainly from a very dysfunctional family. You?
A sex addict is typically a survivor of childhood abuse.
I was abused as a child. Were you?
Many people recovering from sexual addiction report some type of addiction among family members.
My family was addicted to sex and alcohol. What about your family?
RELATED: Sex Addiction Types
Sex addiction can occur alongside another addiction. For me, sex and alcohol were best friends from a very young age.
Sex and alcohol were my go-to solutions to problems.
Sex and alcohol helped me survive by protecting me from feeling anything at all about all the abuse, rejection, manipulation, trauma, assault, humiliation, confusion, and violence I endured growing up.
Sex addiction was used by my brain to protect me.
Then, I needed to protect myself from sexual addiction.
I had to overcome it and heal.
Many resources helped me.
Sex Addiction Resources
- Sex Addicts Anonymous®
- Sexaholics Anonymous
- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- Find a Free Biblical Counselor
- The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health
- Relativity at Elements Behavioral Health
- Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction book
- The White Book of SA
- “Addicted” film
- “Thanks for Sharing” film
Bible Verses for a Sex Addict
Overcoming sex addiction is a process and not an event. Healing takes time.
God is the source of healing from sex addiction.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.1 John 4:15
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:9
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children.1 John 3:1
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13
Sex addiction is powerful but God is more powerful.
Don’t try sex addiction recovery alone.
Face your addiction to sex together with God.
Approach your recovery through Christ.
Jesus is the healer of all wounds.
God can make you new.
This article answered the question “What is a Sex Addict?” We analyzed what causes a human being to become a sex addict.
I explained how a sex addict might feel and shared with you my experience of being a woman addicted to sex.
Addiction to sex is the result of trauma, and I explained my trauma so that, perhaps, it can help you figure out what’s going on with you.
Sex is not a need, it’s a sacred miracle invented by God for a man and a woman to experience deep physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy in the context of a marriage. Sexual sin is unique because the one who’s hurt the most by it is the one who is sinning sexually.
I hurt myself, and I’m rebuilding trust with myself. I abused my body by acting out sexually, and I’m nurturing my body to heal it. I was confused about my identity and thought that sex was love and that I was made for sex, but I now know that I was made by God to glorify Him and that He is the one who loves me. God is the giver of identity.
Everything that helped me on my journey is captured in the book of my 52 devotionals that are based on what God says, not what culture says about who we are. If you want to find out what God says about you, download my free book called #52Devotionals now.
Sharing your story as a sex addict is courageous and very difficult. It’s also painful. At the same time, it’s healing. Most importantly, if we share our stories, we can raise sex addiction awareness and give a struggling sex addict next door a chance to feel hope.
No one sex addict is alone. The reality is that it’s a common problem, and there is help. So, there’s a community out there. There’s hope!
Talking about sex addiction and sharing our stories can help us spread hope, offer help, and alleviate suicide amon women who suffer from sex addiction and feel hopeless.
I shared my story to give God all the glory. My desire is to help encourage and empower YOU. God comforted me, and I want to comfort you and let you know that you are not alone on your journey.
If this article helped you, share it with a woman who needs this information right now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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