Teen Girl Addicted to Sex Has 200 Partners Before Seeking Help

Posted on August 3rd, 2013

Angie grew up in a close-knit Italian neighborhood just outside Chicago. Her working class family, which was always laughing, was bold and big. Angie had seven siblings – four of them stepsiblings. Her stepfather drank his spiced rum and played poker with his buddies every Wednesday night, which was a fun night because her mother cooked her best and biggest meal of the week. The wives and girlfriends came down the block and joined them, and the older kids got to have a glass of wine (although they usually snuck more). Angie’s mom had declared that since they could have the wine at church, she didn’t see why they couldn’t have one glass on Wednesday night too. It was a celebration.

Angie’s mom loved each of her children well and her stepdad was strict but loyal. The older kids helped the younger kids and everyone knew their role. Until Angie turned 12, everything had seemed to flow in a predictable order. Then her stepdad’s father died and the family business, a car repair shop, had to close. Her family lost its way.

Her parents were suddenly drinking more and fighting too much. Angie and the other older kids began to stay away from home as much as possible; they didn’t want to be in the way as much as they couldn’t stand the sound of the yelling. Their mother no longer had time for them, and Angie was, for the first time, thinking about her biological father. He’d been sent to prison for something he’d done when Angie was 3. Her mother would never tell her what it had been, and swore she never would. He had never answered any of Angie’s letters.

Still just 12, Angie too began drinking and she started to experiment with pot. Then someone offered her cocaine and she didn’t hesitate. Other drugs came in rapid succession and after she tried one, she’d move on to the next; she simply wanted to know what they felt like. By 13, she had lost her virginity to a 19-year-old-boy who was visiting Chicago from California, and staying only for a week. This was the experience she realized she’d actually been craving – such intense moments of undivided attention, the feeling that she was totally desirable, wanted, in fact, needed. She hadn’t articulated this yet, of course. She just knew that she really liked this new thing, sex, and that she was just getting started.

By 16, Angie had slept with 57 people, some of them grown men, many of them drug addicts. She kept a diary in which she recounted the details of each sexual experience she had as well as a tally of the number of people with whom she’d had sex. Her mother, a devout Catholic, found the diary and sent Angie to live with her very strict grandmother. This, however, caused Angie to feel rejected and more alone; she refused to submit to her grandmother’s rules. She moved out on her own at age 16.

Angie continued her goal of having sex as often as possible. It was a high for her; it made her feel good about herself. A night in which she set out to have sex with someone and didn’t was a bad night. A week of no sex was unthinkable. She met men in bars and elevators; restaurants and hotel lobbies. She found any reason to make coy conversation. She acquired dozens of lovers whom she insisted learn her ways; she was a no-relationship kind of girl. No mushy stuff. If they started to get too close, she ended it. By 26, Angie had had sex with over 200 men.

She had always wondered why she had never gotten pregnant; most of the sex she had was not protected. Then she learned that she had acquired chlamydia, probably when she was still very young, and the infection had caused damage to her reproductive health. She had also acquired several other sexually transmitted infections including the human papillomavirus (HPV), which had led to pre-cancer cells on her cervix. She needed a procedure.

What brought Angie to the doctor finally was the fact that she had been warned that if she took another “unwarranted two-hour lunch” or was found in the office lobby talking to a client about “non-business concerns,” she would be fired. She had had been doing anything she could in order to meet her sex addiction needs, and even work was not off limits. So Angie had finally scheduled a gynecological exam for the first time because she feared she’d soon be losing her health insurance – she’d always been too frightened (and in denial) about her health to go. This was her wake-up call.

Can This Really Be True for Women?

Angie’s story is surprising, perhaps even shocking, but it’s far more common than most people think. We imagine the college “frat guy” as the lone stereotype of someone who records bed post notches for each woman he has sex with, as though the more notches he scores, the more self-esteem and social economy he gets to claim. But there are women who experience something that is at least in some ways similar, although living in a culture that still has work to do in the area of women’s issues, we tell them they should be ashamed of their sexuality.

Of course, when sexual behavior, whether in women or men, becomes compulsive and causes individuals to feel out of control; to be unable to sustain relationships they long to be able to keep; to continue to put their jobs at risk or even be fired due to those compulsive and risk-taking behaviors, it is then that it can safely be said there is a problem. And this problem is not the list of dysfunctions just outlined – those are actually its symptoms. The problem is the source, the cause of the symptoms that must be rooted out in order for a person to heal.

Woman Scar, Women Heal

Recovery is the work of learning to be still, going within in order to locate this root cause and finding ways to heal the cause, to learn compassion for oneself, and to find new ways of thinking and behaving when the urge to act in those old hurtful patterns arise. We don’t do this alone, of course. Or at least we don’t have to.

Angie’s health and livelihood had become alarm points in her life, and her relationships with family members had all but vanished. She was essentially only a child when her addictive problems began, though it is not useful to see her as either a victim or a villain. This kind of strict categorization is too limiting; the truth is far more complex. The lessons of compulsive sex, and there had been lessons (though hard won), became more and more clear to Angie as she sought to heal. It’s never an easy thing to do, to come back from addiction, and one never makes it unscathed. But our scars might just be there to remind us of our strength. Angie no longer feels ashamed, and her only regret is her time away from her family and the sad reality that she will never give birth. This won’t stop her future plans, however. She is still healing, in more ways than one.

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