Another thing that I want to talk about today is ritual abuse and how common it is in AA. Ritual abuse is commonly understood as severe abuse that involves sexual, physical, and psychological abuse as well as things like torture that centers around a belief system and cult/quasi cult like group (sometimes including family systems). However, I see ritual abuse as being any form of abuse that is ritualized around a central belief system that happens within a group of people (or even two people). This can include forms of severe abuse like sexual or physical abuse or it can be only psychological or emotional. In my opinion, though, all forms of ritual abuse are severe, even if they are only psychologically based. In Alcoholics Anonymous I believe that pretty much everyone goes through some form of ritual abuse. The whole program of AA as based around it, as are most cults. It can be hard to see this but replace the word ritual with ritualized and it makes more sense. In AA there are all kinds of rituals based around a centralized belief system. In AA, a person comes in they are told to go to a meeting every day or a few times a week, find a home group, find a sponsor, work the steps, do service, and always say yes. Even though this only sounds like suggestions, the way that it is usually presented is pretty coercive and abusive. Being told that you have to do all of these things, including look at your character defects in order to stay sober, is psychological abuse. The truth is that only 5 % of the people who come into AA actually stay sober, and it has been found that it is the social support that one gets in AA, not all of these suggestions, that predicts long term sobriety. So being told that you have to do all of these things to stay sober is just plain incorrect and ritualistic. Also, the phrases that people say, and the fact that people reinforce the abusive Big Books ideas of “We are all selfish”, “Intelligence is bad”, “Anger can lead you to drink”, are all very ritualistic and psychologically abusive. Because AA is a cult, anyone who has gone to AA has been subjected to some form of ritual abuse. It’s pretty awful, and the brainwashing (which is part of ritual abuse) that comes with it is hard to break.
It is still difficult for me to think that I was in a cult, but I was. The fact that there is ritual abuse there solidifies my feelings that it really is a cult… and it is shocking that such a huge cult exists in our world! When will society see what is really going on? Only when we speak up about our own experiences and begin to learn about these kinds of abuses and cults themselves. Then the world may actually be able to recover from the influence of AA and ritual abuse.