What’s Happening at the WSO

ROH boxes

The WSO recently managed the reprint and arrival of over 8,000 Reflections of Hope. Though it’s the same edition as previous reprints, the Literature Committee made minor copy edits to fix a few grammatical errors and due to printing on different paper, the book is now 20% more compact than before.

Did you know? Since publication in 2008, the WSO has sold almost 22,000 copies of Reflections of Hope!

 

Responding to the Fall Special Appeal

Your direct contributions to the World Service Office pave the way for those who are yet to come and help fulfill S-Anon’s primary purpose – to help families and friends of sexaholics.

Please consider making a contribution to the WSO and share the Special Appeal letter with your group.

Contributions can be made via www.sanon.org, paypal.me/sanonwso, or by mail at S-Anon WSO, P.O. Box 17294, Nashville, TN, 37217.

Regional Trustee and Area Delegate Map

Regional Trustees and Area Delegates represent S-Anon groups by providing a voice to the Board of Trustees and World Service Conference, serve as a point of contact for service related questions, and are available to share their applicable understanding of the S-Anon Twelve Traditions and Concepts to the groups they serve.

A map has recently been created and published on the S-Anon Member Site of all the Regional Trustee and Area Delegate positions that are both filled and vacant. This regionally color-coded map helps to visualize the organization of the S-Anon service structure and quickly identify your representative’s contact information.

Handling Meeting Challenges

Many S-Anon groups which find it challenging to meet face-to-face due to various factors are considering a temporary or permanent change in their meeting format from face-to-face to a virtual voice and/or video meeting. This has created lots of questions, decisions, and stress as groups try to find ways to continue to hold their meetings.

The following information, including questions from members and related excerpts drawn from the S-Anon/S-Ateen Service Manual (SSSM), may provide information to help you and your local group determine the best way to meet the needs of your members. The SSSM guidelines are based on the experience, strength, and hope of S-Anon members within the fellowship and can be found on the S-Anon Member Site at member.sanon.org. Note that S-Anon does not offer advice or recommendations on what your group should do.

The following topics address the most common questions and concerns that groups have shared with the World Service Office (WSO) since March 2020 and include results collected from an S-Anon group survey that the Regional Trustees facilitated in July.  Participation in this survey was greatly appreciated.

Topics:

  • How Can Our Group Make Decisions?
  • Where and How Can We Meet?
  • How Do We Address Meeting Safety and Anonymity during the Meetings?
  • Who Can Attend Our Meetings?
  • How Do We Handle Finances, 7th Tradition Contributions, and Literature Distribution?
  • How Can We Attract and Help Newcomers?

How Can Our Group Make Decisions?

Each S-Anon group is autonomous and has the ability to make decisions itself using the tool of a group conscience and the guidance of Traditions Two and Four. The most common way a group makes decisions is by a group conscience. Tradition Two explains the benefits of the Group Conscience as a spiritual tool and the SSSM has a section called “Group Decision Making” in Part 1.

Tradition Four is the guide for autonomy at the group level. Groups can make decisions about many things as long as those decisions do not have an effect on the local S-Anon community, other S-Anon groups or S-Anon as a whole. See the S-Anon writings on the Traditions found on the S-Anon website, www.sanon.org.

Each S-Anon group can use a group conscience, and the help of a Higher Power, to determine how to offer meetings for the common welfare of the group as a whole. Each S-Anon group determines when and how often a group conscience will be held. Many groups hold a monthly business and/or group conscience meeting to discuss matters of importance to the group. Often these meetings occur following the regularly scheduled S-Anon meeting.

Questions to consider:

  • How will we let our members know that there will be a group conscience? (Some groups announce an upcoming group conscience for 3 meetings prior to the actual group conscience.)
  • Will our group conscience follow the regular S-Anon meeting or be a special meeting?
  • How often do we want to hold a group conscience (to address other issues as they arise)?

SSSM Reference: Part 1: How S-Anon and S-Ateen Groups Work, Group Making Decisions

Where and How Can We Meet?

Many groups are having to decide on the logistics of holding their meetings, especially since in-person options may be limited, or the meeting room owner may have new restrictions and/or undue financial requirements. S-Anon has no opinion on where or how a group meets since that is a decision made by an autonomous local group.

Many groups have begun to use audio or video conferencing services, some of which are free and some which charge a monthly fee. Again, S-Anon does not endorse any specific electronic methods. In addition, some groups are considering a hybrid-type meeting, where some people meet in person and others attend that meeting either by phone or videoconferencing. All these methods are examples of the possibilities local groups may use. S-Anon is not suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach. Each local group, through a group conscience, will need to decide what works in the best interest of the group as a whole.

If a face-to-face meeting has lost its location and the group chooses not to relocate, is unable to find another location, or chooses to not create a virtual meeting, the group needs to let the WSO know that the group is no longer gathering so they do not refer inquirers to a defunct group. For S-Anon members whose group has closed, current phone and virtual S-Anon meetings can be found at [email protected]

Whatever decision is made regarding when and how a local group will meet, please contact the WSO to provide an update on the group’s information and meeting arrangements. The form can be found here.

Questions to consider:

  • What kind of meeting does our group want to have? Online, phone, videoconferencing, hybrid?
  • Will this be a temporary or permanent decision?
  • Is there a member willing to bring and set up their own equipment for a hybrid format?
  • Is there adequate cell and Internet service at the meeting location for a hybrid meeting to work?
  • Will the group need permission to use the facility WIFI and will there be an additional fee?
  • Will an adjustment to the meeting format need to be made to accommodate those in attendance electronically?
  • How can members attending electronically contribute to the 7th Tradition collection?
  • How often does our group want to revisit how and where to meet?
  • If face-to-face is permitted, how will our group handle any financial matters or restrictions that may be required by the facility or county?
  • How will our group cover the expenses for audio or videoconferencing, if they apply?
  • How does the group want to have their meeting information listed on the WSO website? Group name and time with generic group contact information, and/or also meeting access information?

SSSM Reference: Part 1: How S-Anon & S-Ateen Groups Work, Where Groups/Meetings are Held

How Do We Address Safety and Anonymity during the Meetings?

As stated in Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd edition, p. 43, “The principle of anonymity operates at several different levels. First, anonymity protects us as individuals, our fellowship as a whole, and our sexaholic family members or friends from public exposure and gossip.” However, phone meetings and videoconferencing present an entirely new set of potential challenges for safeguarding anonymity.

For safety in electronic meetings, it is important to keep in mind that anonymity includes much more than just seeing someone’s face. Anonymity also means that all our other identities and affiliations need to remain outside the meeting discussion. Members need to be mindful not to share last names and other identifying information when creating an electronic identity. This includes having an email address that contains a last name, a job title, etc.

In general, no matter the meeting type, there is a level of trust that S-Anon groups operate within when it comes to member anonymity. Members are reminded that who you see, what you hear, stays within the group.

Currently S-Anon has no service literature that addresses these issues, so each local group needs to consider how to protect anonymity in these environments. Many groups are customizing the S-Anon Meeting Format found in the SSSM and in Working the S-Anon Program to include a statement on anonymity and the guidelines created by the group to ensure member anonymity. The S-Anon Meeting Format can be downloaded for customization here on the S-Anon Member Site.

Questions to consider:

  • How do we inform our members about protecting their anonymity while using technology? Possible issues: should all members wear headphones? Be in a room at home separate from others? Turn on/off the video feature for videoconferencing? Disguise their name or phone number as it may appear on a videoconferencing screen? Should the recording feature be turned off for the video conference?
  • How do we prevent non-members from crashing an electronic meeting?
  • How do we share meeting information while safeguarding member anonymity?
  • If the group uses technology for virtual meetings, are there ways to protect access using a password?
  • What procedure will the group use if a non-S-Anon member joins a virtual meeting?
  • Will the local group require that a new member contact an established member to get the meeting information (rather than publishing the specifics on the S-Anon website)?
  • If the local group decides to return to face-to-face meetings, will there be additional physical safety requirements mandated by the facility, the county or the group conscience?

SSSM Reference: Part 1: How S-Anon & S-Ateen Groups Work, Anonymity

Who Can Attend Our Meetings?

S-Anon’s Tradition Three states “The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of sexaholism in a relative or friend.” Meetings, whether in-person or virtual, are a vital element of the S-Anon program, allowing members to share their experience, strength, and hope to solve common problems.  Our primary purpose is to help families of sexaholics.  This includes participation by S-Ateen members (ages 12 to 19), who are part of the S-Anon International Family Groups.  (For more information about S-Ateen participation, see the SSSM Appendix D Section titled, “Questions About Requirement for Membership.“)

S-Anon meetings have traditionally taken place face-to-face. However, technology makes it possible for those outside of a geographic area to participate in meetings. This may present issues related to Tradition Three for a local group if they want to limit attendance only to people in their geographical area or in another manner.

Each local group has the autonomy to determine if they will limit attendance to those in geographic proximity to the local meeting. Limiting attendance to only certain qualified S-Anon members may mean that WSO’s designation of the group will be changed from that of a regular S-Anon Group to that of a Special Meeting. (This difference in designation is more thoroughly described in the SSSM section titled: “Group/Meeting Types.”) If a virtual meeting is a short-term solution to adapt to temporarily not being able to meet face-to-face, and members intend to revert to a face-to-face meeting as soon as is reasonable, no action will be taken by the WSO to re-designate the meeting. If a group decides to permanently relocate to meet virtually and limit attendance to those in geographical proximity to the original face-to-face meeting, then the group might become a Special Meeting – meaning that it is not open to anyone who wants to attend. There are, however, other considerations a group in this situation can take into account before being designated a Special Meeting.

The S-Anon website displays meeting information in two different groupings: geographical (USA & Canada and International) and electronic (Phone & Virtual). Each group can choose to be listed either geographically under the group’s country and city or as an electronic meeting (or both). Each meeting by group conscience chooses what and how much information to post on the S-Anon website. Some meetings list a generic phone number or email for inquirers to contact in order to get meeting attendance specifics; others list the meeting attendance specifics directly on the website.

If a local group meets virtually and wishes to not attract members from outside their general area, they may choose to be listed only in the geographic grouping, and to list a generic phone number or email for inquirers to contact in order to get meeting attendance specifics. A group that chooses to be listed only geographically will tend to attract only those who are looking for meetings in that specific area, though to honor Tradition Three they will still welcome all inquirers who qualify for S-Anon. This meeting would only be considered a Special Meeting if they actively turned away anyone interested in attending because they did not meet a proximity criterion.

Questions to consider:

  • How does the group want to have their meeting information listed on the WSO website? Group name and time with generic group contact information, and/or also meeting access information?
  • How do we handle those who want to attend but would not normally participate if meetings were in person, while still honoring Tradition Three?

SSSM Reference: Part 1: How S-Anon & S-Ateen Groups Work, Group/Meeting Types

How Do We Handle Finances, 7th Tradition Contributions, and Literature Distribution?

Collecting contributions for the 7th Tradition and distributing literature is much easier during in-person meetings. The use of technology has added an extra layer of complexity to both of these items for phone and virtual meetings. Some groups have found ways of using technology to collect 7th Tradition contributions; others encourage individual members to contribute directly to the WSO on behalf of the meeting using the Group ID. Many groups have found innovative ways to distribute literature. These are decisions that a local group will need to discuss during a group conscience.

What about Liability Insurance? The WSO has received reports that some groups’ meeting locations will now require liability insurance before the space can be used again. In the event that a meeting space requires liability insurance, we encourage the group to investigate with local insurance agents regarding coverage availability.

There have been inquiries for S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc. to provide liability insurance for groups. Doing so would not be in accordance with S-Anon’s Twelve Traditions.

Tradition Four: “Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or S-Anon or SA as a whole.”

Tradition Six: “Our Family Groups ought never endorse or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim…”

The primary purpose of the S-Anon WSO is to support our groups in matters of S-Anon recovery – providing information to members and groups, publishing and distributing literature, and otherwise carrying the message. Liability insurance is an outside issue which does not affect S-Anon as a whole and falls under decisions that groups make under their own autonomy when they choose where and when to hold meetings, and how to pay for meeting expenses.

Questions to consider:

  • How does the local group want to collect 7th Tradition monies? Are electronic options viable? How will the Special Appeals be handled? Individually or as a group?
  • Does every group member know what the group’s ID # is?
  • How will contributions be made to the Intergroup, if there is one?
  • Will the group distribute literature? Will each individual have to buy their own literature?

SSSM Reference: Part 1: How S-Anon & S-Ateen Groups Work, Group Finances

How Do We Attract and Welcome Newcomers?

It’s hard enough for a newcomer to attend an S-Anon meeting in person for the first time. Attending a phone or virtual meeting, without prior personal contact might be challenging. So, it is vitally important that local groups find ways to make this first contact easier for the newcomer.

There are many free resources for newcomers on the homepage of the S-Anon website. In addition, the Welcome Packet is available there for download and contains much of the same information found in the Newcomer Booklet, available for purchase through the S-Anon store.

Here are what some groups are doing to welcome newcomers:

  • A current member contacting the newcomer prior to their first meeting to share their story and to explain how meetings work:
  • The Serenity Prayer, standard meeting format and readings, topics for discussion, member sharing, 7th Tradition donation
  • Tools of the program: Twelve Steps, sponsorship, phone list, Conference Approved Literature (CAL) and how to find it
  • Meeting safety: anonymity/confidentiality, no crosstalk, appropriate sharing (focusing on self, no explicit details, no mention of specific religions, occupations, therapy, non-CAL)
  • Holding a newcomer session after the regular S-Anon meeting, and covering the above information
  • Recommending during the meeting that a newcomer attend 6 meetings to decide if S-Anon is for them
  • Providing a phone list via email after the meeting, and asking if they would like to be included
  • Asking the newcomer if they would like to be added to the group’s communications
  • Having an established member contact the newcomer a few days after the meeting to check in
  • Providing a hard copy of the Newcomer’s Booklet by postal mail, at a drop off point or in person
  • Pointing the newcomer to the S-Anon website, suggesting they watch the video, sign up for the blog, download the welcome packet.

Reference: Working the S-Anon Program, pg.107 – 111, Contacting Inquirers &, Sharing Experience Strength and Hope with Newcomers

October 2020 Special Appeal

The Special Appeal is a triannual request from the S-Anon World Service Office for 7th Tradition donations. Please share this appeal with your group and consider making a contribution today!

Dear S-Anon Members,

Finding the S-Anon Fellowship was a spiritual experience for me. Before my crisis with sexaholism, I thought I was living my life selflessly, loving and caring for my family and friends.

But, as I began to work the Twelve Steps, with the help of my Higher Power and sponsor, my eyes were opened to new truths about my attitudes. My “loving and caring” were actually directives to others about how to do, say, and live life in ways that I thought would bring them happiness—a good life. These constant directions kept the focus on them and robbed me of the ability to look at myself. I was so busy “helping” others that my kind heart became hardened. If they would only do things my way, we could all be happy. My husband and children developed their own skills to cope with their demanding wife and mother. My pain and resentment were building walls even though everything seemed fine. The S-Anon Program helped me to tear down those walls.

My fellow S-Anon members loved and supported me, as I was learning to practice these principles in every area of my life. When I struggle with my old attitudes, you are here to remind me to use all the tools of our Program, especially the Three A’s, (Awareness, Acceptance and Action). You strengthen my trust in my Higher Power’s love, as reflected in your kindness and acceptance of me—then and now—and I am grateful for all of you.
When I came into S-Anon, I thought I had nothing left to give, but over time, I realized I could show my “loving and caring” in a healthy way, paying it forward by being of service to our Program, and by making regular donations to the S-Anon World Service Office (WSO).

The crisis of sexaholism isn’t the only challenge many members in our Fellowship are facing this year, and my sincere hope is that you all are finding the same love and support I have experienced in this program. As you too consider paying it forward, please know that your direct contributions to the WSO pave the way for those who are yet to come and help fulfill S-Anon’s primary purpose – to help families and friends of sexaholics.

Please consider contributing today either online at www.sanon.org, paypal.me/sanonwso, or via mail to S-Anon WSO, P.O. Box 17294, Nashville, TN, 37217.

Your contributions are greatly appreciated,

Vickie M.
Southeast Regional Trustee

2020 World Service Conference

In April 2020, the World Service Conference (WSC) members convened virtually to discuss and vote on a motion to postpone the July 2020 WSC until July 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, considering no motions were scheduled to be brought to the July 2020 WSC, the motion to postpone was approved and in lieu of this annual meeting, a summary packet of reports from the Board of Trustees (BOT) and General Delegate Assembly would be compiled along with the BOT Slate and the recently updated Bylaws of S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc.

S-Ateen Service: How to Keep What You’ve Been Given

The S-Ateen fellowship is supported by dedicated Group Sponsors who serve at International Conventions, regional recovery events, in local groups and online meetings. The S-Ateen Online Community hosts virtual weekly meetings, and Spanish speakers attend a virtual meeting that serves S-Ateen members from around the globe. Without certified Group Sponsors, there would be no S-Ateen.

At the January International Convention, 5 Group Sponsors and 10 S-Ateen members were in attendance. While Group Sponsors serve out of a commitment to young people seeking recovery, they too benefit tremendously from S-Ateen.

“My teenage years, and even my parenting years, are so far behind me they’re hard to see, even in the rearview mirror. But spending time in meetings with the teens who attended the convention in Tennessee brought those years back to me with crystal clarity — the secrets, the walking on eggshells, the sexualized environment…. Sharing what it was like for me so long ago helped me to feel more compassion for my teenage self and do my small part to relieve the pain of a teenager who might feel completely alone with the problem. The pain of this disease knows no age boundaries, but we can share both the pain and the solution with teens. What a joy to know that a seed may have been planted that could help someone either right now, or later in life!”

We’re excited to report the start of a new S-Ateen group in Fresno, California that meets virtually every week and will transition to a local venue once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“Initially I told myself, ‘I can help support the teens during their weekly calls and meetings at conventions.’ I NEVER expected that one day I’d be hosting my first video call! I had no training on the virtual meeting platform until 15 minutes before the meeting. With the loving help of another Group Sponsor and the S-Ateen members, I learned all I needed to know that night. I thoroughly enjoy being with the teens and have gained so much confidence in myself just by volunteering!”

For Group Sponsors, the spiritual principle of receiving more than we give is clearly evident in the S-Ateen fellowship.

Sharing from “the S-Ateen point of view” has given me the opportunity to look back at my childhood years. With the help of my Higher Power, I learned to accept that I am powerless over the actions or lack of actions by my parents. My service work as an S-Ateen Group Sponsor has given my recovery journey a huge boost. I am grateful.

If you would like to start a local S-Ateen group or serve as an S-Ateen Group Sponsor, please contact the WSO.

Board of Trustees: Roll Call

Did you know that S-Anon International Family Groups, Inc. is guided by a volunteer Board of Trustees?

As a non-profit, S-Anon is required, by law, to maintain a Board of Trustees (BOT) but the function of this group is more than just to check a box for the Internal Revenue Service. The BOT is responsible for making administrative, legal, and financial decisions for the fellowship of S-Anon and performs some of the following functions:

  • Serves as guardian of S-Anon’s Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service
  • Provides guidance in matters of policy
  • Serves as custodian and guarantor of good management of the WSO
  • Monitors and supports the accomplishment of strategic goals of BOT Committees
  • Approves the annual budget and maintains prudent reserves

The work of the BOT does not stop there though! All in all, the BOT ensures the security of S-Anon’s future for the benefit of the common welfare and for those who are yet to come.

We’d like to introduce you to some of the wonderful, dedicated members who are currently serving on the BOT:

Mercedes S., Board of Trustees Chair, [email protected]
Greta B., Board of Trustees Secretary, [email protected]
Dawnielle A., Board of Trustees Treasurer, [email protected]
Lindsay W., World Service Office Executive Director, [email protected]
Julie S., Literature Committee Chair, [email protected]
Kathleen S., Policy & Service Communications Committee Chair, [email protected]
Allie H., S-Ateen Committee Chair, [email protected]
Robin A., Public Information & Outreach Committee Chair, [email protected]
Jeanne H., World Service Conference Committee Chair, [email protected]
Pam M., Southwest Regional Trustee, [email protected]
Pam S., Midwest Regional Trustee, [email protected]
Vickie M., Southeast Regional Trustee, [email protected]

We are looking to add more members to our roster! Could this be the year that you step up to service as a member of the Board of Trustees?

According to the BOT Bylaws, the BOT is intended to be composed of 20 S-Anon members but only 12 positions are currently represented. Below are the current vacant BOT positions:

Board of Trustees Co-Chair
International Convention Committee Chair
Archives Committee Chair
Western Canada Regional Trustee
West Regional Trustee
Northeast Regional Trustee
Northwest Regional Trustee
Eastern Central Regional Trustee (Election in process)

Over the years, some have shared that a tipping point in deciding to serve within the S-Anon fellowship started with the realization that “someone” must have written our literature or answered the newcomer’s phone calls and from there, came to a humbling understanding that the goal of carrying the message of recovery is entirely dependent on an organized structure. How else would we ensure that S-Anon will continue to be available for the years to come?

Would you like to know more information about the responsibilities, requirements, and qualifications to serve in a Trustee position?

Transitioning Back to Face-to-Face Meetings

During this historical time, we are aware that there is no precedence for groups to safely transition back to face-to-face meetings. We’ve compiled a list of suggested resources and considerations as groups prepare how, if, or when to reopen in-person meetings. What works for one group may not work for another and each group is encouraged to rely on the spiritual principles found in the Traditions and Concepts of Service, and on appropriate health advisors to help guide conversations and make informed group decisions.

Read Conference Approved Literature and Service Literature

Utilize the S-Anon Service Structure and Group Sponsors

As members and groups navigate the study and application of the Traditions and Concepts of Service, and work through group issues, there are trusted servants available to share experience, strength, and hope along the way. Though each group is autonomous, connecting with other members and groups can prove to be a valuable resource during this time.

Groups and Intergroups may want to consider creating a Re-Opening Ad Hoc Committee tasked with developing suggested guidelines as a resource.

  • Contact your Area Delegate or Regional Trustee: Your Area Delegate or Regional Trustee may be available to meet with your group and offer insight on questions or concerns.
  • Ask the WSO for a Group Sponsor: If you are not represented by an Area Delegate or Regional Trustee, email the WSO at [email protected] to ask for a Group Sponsor.

Reopening Considerations

S-Anon groups meet in a variety of locations – libraries, hospitals, churches, etc. – across North America and in many countries. Transitioning back to regular in-person meetings may bring new challenges for one group that another may not need to address. As groups consider their options, here are some suggested questions to help prompt discussions:

  • What are the current local or state regulations for gatherings?
  • Is our meeting space allowing gatherings to take place? Are there any new regulations required by the meeting space?
  • For the safety of attendees, do we need to consider restructuring how we collect the 7th Tradition, share meeting readings, hold hands at the close of the meeting, arrange seats, etc.?
  • How will our group handle conflict if a member of the group is unwilling to adhere to the decisions of the Group Conscience?

 

The June 2020 Special Appeal: Supporting the WSO

If you’ve been attending S-Anon for some time now, you may have heard someone in your meeting mention the Special Appeal. The Special Appeal, a tri-annual request for financial contributions, plays an integral role in supporting the work of the S-Anon World Service Office. The financial boost from these donations goes directly to support the day-to-day operations of the WSO but considering many groups have changed the way they are able to collect 7th Tradition contributions, we are keenly aware how this may affect the WSO long term.

This new normal has challenged us all to adapt in many ways, and we hope that individuals, groups, and intergroups can find creative ways to practice the 7th Tradition during this time. We’re here with some suggestions to help spread the word about this appeal:

  • Copy/Paste this brief message to your group contact list via email or text message, or in the chat function of your virtual meeting space:

The S-Anon World Service Office Special Appeal has arrived! Read the letter at member.sanon.org/juneappeal and contribute via PayPal at paypal.me/sanonwso or on the S-Anon website sanon.org/donate. Thank you for your contribution!

  • Read the letter to your groups for three consecutive meetings and “pass the group’s virtual basket” or ask members to contribute directly to the WSO.
  • Is your group’s donation collection on hold for the time being? We’ve got you covered! Share the direct links for contributing directly to the WSO via paypal.me/sanonwso or sanon.org/donate.
  • Forward the Special Appeal email to your groups and ask your intergroup to help spread the message as well.

Thank you for going above and beyond to ensure the WSO continues to be financially supported by the fellowship and thank you for spreading the word about this Special Appeal.