Carnes notes that exhibitionists like the "edge" of exposing themselves to people — like any of you who did not request explicit photos and were shocked to receive them. Society thinks of these "Level One" addicts as just weird, nuisance perverts, but it's not just annoying behavior — there is trauma for you, the victim. Being accosted by an exposer can be very damaging and frightening. "Even most exhibitionists carry an image of the face of a person they know they've hurt. Both society and the addict underestimate the danger and the cost of the addiction," says Carnes.
Weiner most likely rationalizes that he can handle his behavior, and that it has no impact on his life. But with sexual addictions, damaging consequences can quickly, if subtly, overtake him. His sexual violations have created few real social consequences for him — as evidenced by his light-hearted jokes about Twitter, and his improbable campaign for mayor of New York City.
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The next level of addiction involves clear violations of cultural norms — and therefore greater excitement and greater risk. If he doesn't get help, we will most likely see an acceleration of sexually addicted behavior, which means more abuse of power, and more victimized devotees. Let's hope he gets help before he comes into greater political power.
At this stage, you — the victims — are paying the toll of blame and pain that comes with sexual addiction. I am deeply sorry you've had to take the brunt of it. But I am so glad to see the five of you are coming together to break free of the shame of secrecy and isolation. I think you are brave and courageous to work together to support each other. If it is any consolation, Weiner will not be free of the shame, pain and isolation until he himself finds the courage to reach out for help as you have.
As for the co-workers, random strangers and mean-spirited commenters who decide to blame you, the victims, for this? Remember they are only shifting their own pain onto you. And you can choose not to accept it. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Take this as an opportunity to gain strength, hope, and self-acceptance, and you'll be teaching other women to do the same.
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Hadley Earabino, TheLoveLifeCoach.com