How and Why I Started The Sisterhood Of Support
Some of you may wonder how and why I started the Sisterhood Of Support. My name is JoAnn Russell, RN, BSN, MS and I am the founder and developer of the Married To A Sex Addict and Sisterhood Of Support websites.
I am a woman, a mother, grandmother and a retired Registered Nurse with a Master of Science Degree. I am also a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner.
I bring almost two decades of experience in crisis counseling in Community Domestic Abuse programs and Home Care and Hospice to support the women who visit my sites. As both a Partner and a trauma survivor myself I offer a unique support system based on my own experiences and enhanced by the tens of thousands of stories from the Partners who have shared their stories on my websites. Because of my medical background I also bring a vast amount of scientific research. My two decades of experience as a journalist and web developer have allowed me to bring a unique blend of factual information, support and insight to Partners of sex addicts.
How It All Started
In 2004 I started a small blog about my discovery that my husband had a secret and very dark sexual life. I had no one to talk with and I felt isolated, traumatized and hopeless. Most counselors labeled me ‘co-dependent’, sent me to 12 Step ‘co’ meetings where everyone just couldn’t understand why I refused to accept some of the responsibility for my husband’s behaviors that had nothing to do with me and had been going on for most of his adult life.
As I researched this thing that was called sex addiction one glaring issue revealed itself. The sex addicts had all sorts of support groups, articles, books, specialized counselors and programs to help them. These people, whose behaviors harmed themselves and their families in dreadful ways were not being held accountable for their actions.
Instead they were coddled, enabled and protected from any criticism, questioning or perfectly understandable anger from their partners. The partners were chastised for their anger, directed not to question the sex addict as it might shame them, and encouraged to engage in sexual intimacy…without warning them of the dangers of STDs. They were told after a very short period of time that they should quit dwelling on the past, ‘get over it’ and give the relationship their complete trust, even though that trust had not been earned.
My blog became my outlet for my confusion and frustrations. I intended to write a book but I quickly realized that my internet presence would have a larger impact against what I knew was an injustice that blamed victims for their trauma. A system that mis-labeled disordered behaviors and traits as a diagnosis and then treated it with nothing more than expensive snake oil and smoke screens.
As the website grew and matured, and changed names a few times, the comments from women poured in at an amazing rate.
By 2011 my website marriedtoasexaddict.com was bursting at the seams. Tens of thousands of women visited the site each month and were asking for a private place to discuss their experiences. They needed a place away from the prying eyes of the public and their families. A place where they could feel safe sharing the most intimate details of their ordeals with others who understood.
In February of 2011 The Sisterhood Of Support was Launched
Today the Sisterhood has members from all over the world; women who come together to share their pain, ask questions, gain from the experiences of others and form bonds and friendships that last for years. Over twenty thousand topics have been written by these women in the forums and the comments top a quarter of a million.
My passion is to continue to provide support for partners of sex addicts by offering a safe place for them to share their experiences, to provide resources that will make their journey a little easier and to offer honest information and scientific research with verifiable conclusions about the abusive behaviors that are commonly called sex addiction.