Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Myth of a "Safe Place"

I shouldn't try to write this post when I have only 10 minutes, but I am going to anyway. I am sort of piggy-backing on what Pammie wrote this morning. I have written about this before and I likely will again.

The other night I was checking some stuff on the internet and found an entire website devoted to claims of sexual abuse in our fellowship. And hundreds of comments from people who have suffered at our hands. Truly, I am not minimizing the hurt. I have been hurt myself. I understand.

But what I don't understand is the perpetuation of the myth that somehow an AA meeting ought to be a "safe place." We are a self-governed bunch of drunks! We are in various stages of recovery - and non-recovery.

Just like when you walk into a bar, you don't go home with any stranger or loan money to a derelict sitting in the corner - you use judgment. I understand that a newcomers judgment may not be great and that is why we should not carry on with this crap that AA is a "safe place."

I have been hurt by AA members. I want to say "Well, of course I did!" If you hang around anywhere for long enough, you will get hurt by somebody. If you hang around a bunch of alcoholics, I think the chances are better than average that you will experience some unseemly behavior.

I think this whole thing spun out of control when judges started sentencing people to AA. It is my OPINION that we should have never let this happen. When someone is sentenced to AA, it is logical for them to assume that AA is some form of governmental help. And therefore ought to be facilitated, ruled and perhaps licensed. But it isn't.

It is a bunch of drunks who have found a way to stay sober. We are not all sober. We are not all sane. You will hear some crazy stuff in AA meetings and you will be able to find people who want to use and abuse you.

If you are truly done drinking and really want help, you can find it. There are people in AA (like me) who are truly sober and trying to live by spiritual principles every single day of their lives. Are they perfect? No. But are they trying their hardest? Yes. Will they help you if you ask them? Yes.

But you really do have to use some judgment.

Good! I did write this in 10 minutes. And now I will go to work. A woman, sober by the Grace of God, living a sober and sane life. Me and hundreds of thousands of people just like me are sitting in your local AA meeting, willing to help. You just have to look and ask.


Lou said...

MC, I can validate your post. My son even says the court ordered people in AA have ruined it--and HE was one of them!!!

AnyEdge said...

I don't have a problem with the courts trying to order people to AA. We have no authority over them. I have a problem with _us_ playing ball. I will not sign slips. We shouldn't participate. We don't have any control over how or why someone shows up at meetings. But they can only be a member of AA if they have a desire to stop drinking. And no signed sheet of paper has anything to do with that.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...


dAAve said...


Well said my dear!


ScottF said...

great post MC... It's a mircale (and I am not exaggerating) that we've stayed sober together in AA as long as we have, given the makeup of our fellowship. It is only by God's Grace that the fellpwship has grown and helped as many people as it has.

AA "ought" to be a safe place, but there are many sick people who attend meetings or they wouldn't need to be there in the first place. I'm grateful for the Traditions... The Steps save us from our disease. The Traditions (when followed) save us (the fellowship of AA from ourselves.

ScottF said...

oh... and as for the court slip deal... I don't mind attesting to the fact that I saw a person at a meeting if it's something that will help them prove they are doing something about their situation.
Yes, it's abused and taken advantage of horribly. But I know MANY people who came to AA by the order of a judge who stayed, got sober and are productive, grateful members of AA and society.
Thankfully, each group has the ability (and responsibility) to decide whether or not they wish to sign court slips. That's part of the beauty of our simple program.

Kim A. said...

Well put, MC. I am so glad to see your blog back up and running. ::pun very intended :-D:: I was not born with the "common sense" gene so I know the consequences of not stopping and thinking. The closer I stay to my HP the better I do. Welcome back.


Anonymous said...

I heard someone say 'AA isn't the Jaycees'. It's not a great place to 'network' and find a lover. There is no QA and many of the people in it are very disturbed. It's obviously sensible to proceed with caution.

Sober Julie said...

Well said, we cannot control people, places or things...even in AA.

Syd said...

I know that in the meetings I attend, we say that we are sick people getting well. None of us comes in at the top of our game or because we are doing so great. Many good points in your post. Thanks, MC.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Pammie said...

To feel welcome somewhere is the perfect set up for people who never felt welcome anywhere.