13th Stepping – Not Just a Women’s Issue Anymore

Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best Kept Secret, appears this coming Tuesday on the Katie Couric Show along with Monica Richardson whose portrayal of 13th Stepping in AA occupies a prominent chapter in the book.

Historically, of course, “13th Stepping” is the legacy of Bill W., AA founder and sexual predator. Traditionally, it’s been viewed as the sexual exploitation of vulnerable “newbie” women by old established male Steppers. That practice, of course, hasn’t changed.

What has changed is that the victims are no longer exclusively women, nor are the perpetrators necessarily men.

Additionally, the exploitation has evolved from the primarily sexual to include the financial, emotional, and/or psychological degradation of vulnerable individuals seeking help in what they innocently assumed was a benign environment and association.

They couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Something else that hasn’t changed in 75 years is AA’s response¬† when the victims complain:

“They aren’t victims,” the organization declares, “they’re volunteers!”

As we noted a few weeks ago, the majority of AA’s “successful” members are emotionally immature individuals who are easily led and manipulated. That’s why AA works for them.

But the next biggest contingent are the con artists and predators drawn to the easy pickings that vulnerable “newbies” and clueless long-timers offer.

Yes, there are seriously conscientious members as well – those like Ms. Richardson who’ve invested decades in attempting to get AA to clean up. But it’s never going to happen.

In our metaphor of AA, the sheep are preyed on by a huge number of wolves, and too few shepherds are available to make any significant dent in the depredations.

The answer?

If you’re going to explore AA, do it very, very carefully.

Better yet – seek more benign assistance. It is available and it’s not only far less risky, it’s far more effective. Take a look at:


What is a “support group”?

When we think of “support groups” we usually think about a group of people who share a similar affliction, or are going through a similar process, and who come together to make the process of growth and healing less isolating, easier, faster, and more effective.

Note that neither AA nor Alanon meet the stated criteria. At best, their purpose is to tell you it’s okay to never grow, heal, or fix the problem. At worst, they actively work to prevent you from healing, growing, and moving beyond the problem.

The alternatives? Find your support by joining organizations that support active involvement in your life and interests. Consider:

or any of a thousand other organizations and activities available that provide social and recreation opportunities that have nothing to do with alcohol.

There are countless opportunities to end isolation, loneliness, and boredom through companies like REI, educational options like community colleges and adult schools, and various special interest organizations.

Remember, even the most independent of us are influenced by those people and activities we associate with. Invest your time, energy, and attention so that they reflect the life you want to live.

Prefer to stay stuck? AA and Alanon will help you to accomplish that “goal” too.

No, we’re sorry, but you’re not powerless, and either way, it is your choice.