The following answers to questions posed by international members, are the opinions of the writers - experienced, sober members of SA. They are certainly not the final word on any subject but may help local SA communities in forming their own group consciences. Everybody and every service body in SA has the right to be wrong, so please take what you like and leave the rest.
Allocation of sharing time at meetings
Q. You have suggested that we reserve the bulk of the air time at our meetings for those who have more than 30 days of sobriety. Two members of our group consider this to be divisive and therefore against the spirit of the 1st Tradition. Please comment.
A. Those who say that this policy is divisive may have a case but not a strong one. Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the sexaholic who still suffers (Tradition 5). The message is that there is a solution to lust addiction, that we have had a spiritual awakening as a result of working the 12 Steps and that we are no longer relapsing into acting out. This message cannot be given by newcomers or relapsers but is given strongly by the longer-sober members. A meeting which delivers a strong message of recovery, is united around sobriety (as opposed to acting out) and contributes to the unity of SA as a whole, on which our individual and collective futures depend. A meeting which gives equal air time to sober and non-sober participants is operating like a therapy group, which the SA meeting format specifically says we are not. The message of a meeting which says "some of us have sobriety and some of us have not" is intrinsically disunited and thus contrary to Traditions 2 & 5. In arguing for this change in your group, you will be directly confronting the disease within your newcomers and relapsers. It will be a hard fight but in many ways, the harder the better. If your long-sober members stick to their guns and see it through, I believe you will all benefit and, after any rebels have left, will end up with a very strong, united and effective group, Unity is in the service of truth (sobriety). Insobriety is the great divider. Unity can never be attained by giving substantial airtime to the unsober.
Reading materials in meetings
Q. I was going to suggest at our meeting that we read a book called "Addictive Thinking" by Dr J Twersky. A member said that he thought that the only materials allowed to be read were SA or AA approved materials. I was led to understand that each meeting is autonomous and is allowed to read anything they like provided the focus is on sobriety.
A. "Any two or three sexaholics gathered together for [SA] sobriety may call themselves an SA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation" (Tradition 12 long form). "With respect to its own affairs, each SA group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience" (Tradition 4 long form). This means that your group can study the Beano during meetings, if that's what the group conscience decides. However, if having finished reading the Beano, some members wish to study the New Testament, the potential for disunity becomes yet more obvious. The experience of the fellowship suggests that sticking to conference approved SA literature is the best way to ensure group unity (Tradition 1).
Maximum individual contributions
Q. AA's Twelve Traditions Illustrated says :"We put a limit $2000 on the amount members may leave to AA in their wills or contribute annually (...)". Do we have a similar rule in SA?
A. Yes; the maximum contribution a member may make to the fellowship in one year may not exceed 4.5% of SA's prior year's gross revenues. Remember that we cannot accept a contribution from someone who is not a member.
Q. How should we count the votes during Intergroup or group conscience voting? What do you do with abstain votes (where somebody is neither "for" nor "against" a motion). If there was 10 voters, 3 voted "yes", 1 voted "no" and 6 abstained, is that a 75% "for" vote (3/(3+1)*100%) or only a 30% "for" vote?
A. Abstentions are disregarded in counting the vote and, if you wish, in working out the percentage. Here is what Roberts Rules have to say about the matter: "When a quorum  is present, a majority vote, that is a majority of the votes cast, ignoring blanks, is sufficient for the adoption of any motion that is in order, except those mentioned in 48, which require a two-thirds vote". The Bye Laws of SA, which deal with voting at the General Delegate Assembly say: "The presence of a majority of the members of the Assembly shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The vote of a majority of the Delegates present at a meeting at which a quorum shall be present shall be the act of the Assembly, unless the vote of a greater number shall be required by the charter, these Bylaws, or the laws of the State of Tennessee".
Expenses for intergroup officers
Q. What about travel expenses for Intergroup officers (e.g Secretary, Treasurer) who are not group delegates (GSRs) and therefore cannot ask their group for costs refunding. Should they travel by their own cost or maybe they can ask Intergroup for refunding of costs?
A. The Intergroup Officers are entitled to reclaim their expenses from Intergroup funds. They should be encouraged to do so, as your Intergroup needs to be "fully self-supporting". If IG Officers do not reclaim their expenses, then the IG may be living in unreality.
Sobriety requirements for service work
Q. A member who helps our public information committee had lost his sobriety. He's not an official committee member but attends most of our meetings and helps us a lot. Do you think we should continue working with him or wait until he gets more sobriety time?
A. He probably needs to concentrate on Step One right now but maybe you could hold a group conscience to decide.
Q. What's your opinion about setting a 'xx time in SA' criterion for service duties (e.g. 1 year in SA and 6 months sobriety for being a group's secretary)?
A. I have not heard of "time in SA" being set as a criterion for service. Sobriety time is however a normal requirement, at all levels of service. At group level, a few positions have no sobriety requirement, the rest do. At Intergroup and beyond, all official positions have sobriety requirements.
Q. What do you suggest we should do when there's a tie in a group's conscience vote?
A. I would say that a tie means that the matter being discussed not yet ready for resolution. A useful saying is, "If in doubt, leave it out". i.e. Don't change anything - it's a no. This may be a good reason for the group's chairman never to vote except when making a casting vote, to resolve such a tie.
Q. What is a casting vote?
A. It is the vote used by the chairman of a meeting to resolve a tie one way or the other. Some chairmen only ever vote in order to break a tie. Some might vote normally but then be allowed an extra "casting" vote whenever there is a tie. I have only ever seen the first of these options in use.
Reference for a prisoner
Q. One of our members has been imprisoned and is asking for a character reference so that his case can be reviewed. Is there an SA stance on this? I am quite OK about writing the letter, as he has been very dedicated to his program and a pillar in keeping our meeting open at times when there were only two of us, but am slightly concerned about my anonymity.
A. SA is unlikely to have a stance on an outside issue like this but I will enquire. Your anonymity is your own personal possession and no one can instruct you to give it away. However, I very much doubt that any harm would come to you from providing this reference. In fact, I would anticipate the opposite. HP has not rescued us from the storm in mid-ocean, in order to kick us to death on the beach. I expect that, if you were the one "inside", you would hope that some kind soul might do such a work of mercy for you.
Intergroup Treasurer's Report
Q. As Intergroup Treasurer, I am supposed to make a financial report for the last quarter. What should it look like? Should I present all transactions or just say how much money we currently have? Should I make a document with all transactions and give it to every GSR who wants to see it?
A. Here is what the SA Service Manual says about your role:
"A treasurer collects donations from the groups and pays any bills the Intergroup may have. Bills may include web site and phone bills as well as printing costs for directories and various flyers. The treasurer maintains a record of all transactions and accounts for all monies on a monthly basis. The treasurer presents this report to the Intergroup for its approval at each meeting."
The Intergroup Officers and GSRs need enough information for them to be able to clearly understand the financial situation of the Intergroup and make sensible decisions about spending money and retaining reserves. In my time as Intergroup Treasurer, I used various presentations including a detailed account of all revenue and expenditure and a balance sheet showing all assets and liabilities. Perhaps, on reflection, one of the most useful presentations would be a source and application of funds statement. Where have our revenues come from and where are they going to? The IG needs to be clear about what it can afford to pass on to Region/SAICO and what it needs to retain in order to meet its liabilities and any possible contingencies. GSRs do need to see their own group contributions being recorded in the IG accounts but the exact format is up to you. Handing a copy to each GSR gives them something which they can take back to show to their group.
Definition of marriage
Q. We have difficulties with the term "marriage" in Poland.
1. In Polish the word "marriage" (małżeństwo) has two basic meanings:
i. Legal marriage (in Polish: małżeństwo cywilne)
ii. Ecclesiastical wedlock being result of Sacrament of Matrimony (in Polish: małżeństwo kościelne).
Both meanings are alive in Poland and it would be hard to find someone claiming that ecclesiastical wedlock isn't a marriage. In fact obligatory legal marriage has only existed in Poland since 1946. Even today, some Poles ignore the legal marriage requirement and simply live in ecclesiastical wedlock. Some Polish people call the legal marriage only "registration" (a little scornfully). I suppose that majority of Polish people consider ecclesiastical wedlock the only true marriage.
2. The White Book says: "Marriage is a sanctifying force both in our lives and the children's as well." (page 154-155). A similar statement is found in "Recovery Continues". But a legal marriage isn't any sanctifying force. I know that these statements are only the personal opinion of an SA member (Roy K) but it isn't an accident that such personal statements are in our literature.
3. As far as I know, Roy's Letter to Homosexuals, giving the meaning of marriage as "legal, traditional and heterosexual", isn't SA approved literature and so isn't binding for us.
We Catholics are 95% majority in Polish SA. One of us claims that making sexual sobriety in ecclesiastical wedlock conditional on a requirement of legal marriage doesn't comply with canon law. Please comment on this and indicate any references in SA literature.
A. You will probably never find a full and satisfactory answer to this question in any SA approved literature. However, SA has no opinion on outside issues and would therefore be unlikely to take a stand on the differences between małżeństwo kościelne and małżeństwo cywilne. My suggestion would be to accept that either małżeństwo kościelne or małżeństwo cywilne qualify as valid marriages for the purposes of SA's sobriety definition.
Q. I hear people around me talking about changing the sobriety definition. Until now it was quite obvious that an addict lost his sobriety only by acting out to orgasm. I think it is going to confuse many people, including me, if we are going to reset the sobriety by watching pornography for example. I find it difficult to agree with that. The question is what do you say?
A. The SA sobriety definition won't change. The tricky question is what constitutes "sex with self"? For me, any deliberate stimulation of myself sexually, by thought, word, deed or omission, would be sex with self. I am probably unable to look at pornography without becoming aroused. So for me to create a state of arousal by looking at pornography would be indulging my lust - the exact opposite of progressive victory over lust. I am clear that I could not deliberately look at pornography and call myself sober. I would have zero sobriety to share with others if I had just spent minutes or hours looking at porn. The longer we are in the programme the more progress we make towards victory over lust but I would never want a sexaholic to think that some kind of technical sobriety was going to solve his/her lust problem. I prefer to set the bar high from the outset and then add further bottom lines, as and when they become necessary. I have not yet met an SA oldtimer who believes that he/she is sober as long as they don't "go all the way".
Another member adds: How visual looking should determine a slip can be debated, but certainly sustaining it would at least be crossing a boundary and in discussion with one's sponsor, one's sobriety date might or might not be re-set.
Sharing at meetings
Q. I am writing to ask for your opinion on withholding from a not sober (zero days abstinence) member of a meeting, his right to give testimony. I suggested this at the end of yesterday’s meeting and we have a week to mull it over before voting.If you think that my suggestion was right please share with me your reasons. From where I stand it is an important tradition of the other 12 step fellowships, such as AA & NA, that a member who is not sober has nothing to share except his presence and ability to listen.
A. The focus of our meetings should always be on recovery. Someone who has no recovery has little useful to contribute. The St Theresa's meeting in Chicago makes the closing minutes of each meeting open for anyone to share. The London Saturday meeting recommends that those who "have acted out today are best served by listening". The Bournemouth Sunday meeting requests that the first two people to share have 30 days sobriety or more. So, in all cases, restrictions are placed on non-sober members sharing. I favour setting the bar high, as this helps to develop the culture of sobriety which is so essential for the health of groups and individuals.
Q. SA in [Country] is not a formal organization or foundation (so far), so we can't have any special bank account for it. I'm going to have all money on my own account. What should I do when the treasurer from some SA group gives me cash? Should I give him some kind of receipt? (So far I only note on a page date and amount of money I was given). What should I do when when I give cash someone within SA? Should he give a signature when receiving the money? In above situations, should some other SA member be present to write down how much money has been transferred?
A. In the UK, we opened what's called a Treasurer's Bank Account. We could do this without having to register as a Charity or becoming a Corporation. If there is anything similar in [Country] you should use this, rather than mixing up your private and SA affairs. Do you have Post Office savings accounts?
At the very least you should use a personal bank account which is dedicated for SA purposes only. This will allow you to show the bank statement to the IG officers when making your quarterly reports.
It is best practice to give receipts whenever you receive cash and obtain receipts whenever pay out cash. Of course all transactions should be recorded in you account book. I have often seen two people counting up the money at 12 Step gatherings. I have done the job of Treasurer for many years and must admit that I have broken every rule above, at some time or other, except the one about writing every transaction in the account book. We do the best we can and I'm sure you will too.
Q. We've been approached by a Singapore newspaper wishing to "interview a member of SA about the difficulties of overcoming the addiction as well as what makes a sex addict as opposed to someone who is just promiscuous". What advice do you have?
A. In SA there seems to be a general bias in favour of not granting interviews to the press. Their interests (selling newspapers) and ours (staying sober by carrying the message) are not easily reconciled. In the UK, we have had a policy of politely and promptly replying, "With regret, we never give interviews to the press. However we are keen that those who are suffering from sexual addiction hear about SA's solution to this problem and contact us via our web site at www.sauk.org". Whenever this policy was departed from, things seemed to go wrong. I would certainly suggest that you bring the reporter's e-mail to your group and consult the group conscience. If there is a decision in favour of granting an interview (which I am not recommending), then I suggest you use the media interview anonymity contract linked here. None of us speak for SA and we have no opinion on outside issues (like "what makes a sex addict as opposed to someone who is just promiscuous."). All I know is that I am a lust addict and I have found a solution to my lust addiction. If others want to know about that solution, I am very willing to tell them.
Q. Our group in Brussels has a whole bunch of SA-CD's brought from 2 conventions to lend to its members - and it is has proven to be a terrific tool for many of us. Do you think we could copy them to supply our Leuven group also with this collection to support its members?
A. Honesty is indispensable for recovery. We need to employ good means to good ends, so we observe the law. We are also self-supporting through our own contributions. These are the principles - now call a group conscience!
Q. Some fellows in [Country] strongly favour saying the "Our Father" prayer in our meetings. Others oppose the idea, claiming this is not a twelve step prayer. What is the SA experience? Should it be left to group conscience?
A. If you go to an SA International Convention, you will notice that the meetings often close with the 3rd Step prayer. The basic meeting format in the White Book uses the Our Father prayer. In my home group we invite someone "to close the meeting with the Lord's prayer or a programme prayer of your choice". The Our Father prayer is chosen about 60% of the time. I'm aware that many members carry massive resentments about their religious upbringings, which need to be worked through. It is not my business to enable resenters to stay sick. Trust the group conscience. Ask the longer sober members what they want to see happen but pay careful attention to minority opinion too.
Q. SA in [Country] are planning to hold a convention in March. Are we free to announce it with leaflets of our own make or should we follow certain rules adopted by SA in such situations?
A. Just go ahead and announce it in your own way. I will send you a flier advertising a similar national convention, just to give you some ideas but just keep it simple. Please check with SAICO about the use of the SA logo. I don't think they are at all possessive about it but there may be a few courtesies to observe.
Q. Are groups free to publish and circulate (within SA) their own newspapers (i.e. papers individually published by each SA group)?
A. Yes, this has always happened in SA. It is always good to state that such material is "the personal ES&H of individual members and not SA Conference approved literature".
Q. What do the letters ES&H stand for?
A. Experience, strength and hope. What we share, when we share.
Q. Can SA in [Country] decide to make their own country-wide bulletin or newspaper like the Essay? If so what conditions (apart from the obvious ones like supporting the sobriety definition and the 12-step path rather than anything else) must be met for such a newspaper to fall in line with SA standards?
A: I see no reason why you can't do this. We had something similar in the UK at one point. You might however consider just translating Essay into Polish and circulating that. This is what happens in Peru, where they translate Essay into Spanish.
Q. Some of our fellows plan to organise a step workshop. What conditions must be met for the workshop to be an SA workshop. Should it be conducted in the way similar to what you did in [Country] some months ago? What is the fellowship's experience with such activities?
A. There is nothing to stop you or your group or your Intergroup from running a step workshop. "We are autonomous except in matters affecting SA as a whole". There is no standard model, as far as I am aware, but if you want it to be related to SA then I would suggest that you start and end it in with some of the usual SA prayers and readings. My own experience suggests that it is best to invite sober SA members who fully support SA's sobriety definition, before considering anyone else. Depending on what steps are to be worked, you may want to stipulate that attendees have already worked the previous steps with their sponsor. It’s best if members to get their sponsors agreement to their attendance. You are welcome to use the format that I used with you in [Country], although this remains undocumented at present. The workshop is very scalable - I have since used it with groups of up to 90 in other countries. Simultaneous translation into one or two other languages, also works well.
Roy K's Grave
Q. Where is Roy's grave?
A. The address is Oakwood Memorial Park, 22601 Lassen Street, Chatsworth, California, CA 91311, USA. Opening hours: 08:30 - 17.00. Directions: Go through the front gate of the Park and follow the path straight until you see the historic church on the right. Walk directly up to the top of the hill from the church steps. His grave is in the Willows section, lot 139. The grave is just to the right of the brick wall.
Please Note: The family respectfully asks that visitors not attempt to contact Iris or request to see Roy's workplace. She is not able to receive visitors, and his workplace is being archived.
Q. The Polish SA fellowship would like to register domain anonimowiseksoholicy.pl (which is The Polish name for sexaholics anonymous). I have a question - maybe you know, how it was solved in other countries, to register local domain? We are thinking about registering it on a false id, but this could be against rules from 12 steps and 12 traditions. Also this solution can lead to problem with the ownership of domain. Registering it ,using one of our member's name is impossible due to anonymity. Could you give us some advice, or maybe you someone in SAICO, who have some knowledge about it. We are thinking also about a possibility to register it on SAICO name.
A. Some domain registrars now have an option to make your WHOIS information private. The registrar knows your real name and address, but it's not available to the general public. This typically costs more, but may be worth it. Here in Denver, the WHOIS data is the name of the current webmaster but with the mailing address of the Intergroup (we have a post office box for Intergroup-related business). If you decide to register it with the SAICO name and mailing address, then I recommend you first contact the SA Central Office and discuss it with Kay. I'm assuming that your WHOIS contact email address will -not- be firstname.lastname@example.org but instead be something that goes directly to one of your members (e.g., a gmail or Yahoo account). Alternatively, we can give you an sa.org email address and just have it forward to the appropriate person.
Translating & publishing SA literature
Q. We are translating an SA leaflet in [Country]. How does it work, when the translation is finished?
A. When the translation is finished, send a .PDF copy to SAICO email@example.com, who will pass it on to the Chair of the Translations Committee (TC). The TC will have a native [Language] speaker review it. Once the TC’s reviewer okays it, the translation is approved and can be printed and distributed.
Q. Does SAICO also provide a printing service, so we can order the leaflets directly from SAICO?
A. SAICO does not print it. You should have it printed locally (which is also much cheaper).
Q. We have now a dutch translation of the WB which is being used in our groups. The translations is a "work in progress" and was made by someone who is no longer in the fellowship. Does SAICO know about this translation? Is it authorized?
A. It is not authorized. To be authorized, it needs to be sent to us for a review and approval.
Q. For the new translation that we are working on at the moment, what are the procedures or demands for this translation? Is there a tool or instruction text for this, besides the things you have already explained to me?
A. Please use this translation request form. One copy for SAICO publication and one for SA Literature. After you have translated it, you need to send it to us for review and approval. The purpose of the approval is to make sure that the translation is faithful to the text and, for the White Book, faithful to the sobriety definition.
Q. If we sent it to SAICO for authorization, how long can this take?
A. From a week to three weeks.
Q. Are there costs that SAICO will charge? Do we have to pay for the rights if we publish it in [Country]?
A. My understanding is that if you publish it in [Country], there is no charge. Germany currently publishes the White Book in German and does not pay (as far as I know). I am not certain about this, but I will check with SAICO and SA Literature and let you know.
Q. Does SAICO also print for us? (I think it is more practical if we find a publisher in [Country]).
A. Publish it in [Country]. It is more practical and should be cheaper.
Q. What does SAICO say about reading unauthorized texts in SA meetings?
A. Unauthorized texts should not be used, but using your translation in progress would be OK. It is a good way to get member review and comment on the translation.
You may well have a much better answer to one or more of these questions.
If so, please contact us.