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Survivors of Incest Anonymous (SIA) is a twelve-step fellowship for recovery from consequences of childhood sexual abuse. SIA was founded during 1982 in Baltimore, Maryland by women who believed their experience in other twelve-step fellowships (Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Al-Anon) could assist in recovery from sexual trauma.[1] In SIA incest is defined broadly as any sexual behavior imposed on one person by a member of his or her immediate or extended family. The extended family, in this definition, includes but is not limited to: grandparents, uncles, aunts, in-laws, cousins, family friends, and stepparents. The abuse may include verbal and physical behaviors; penetration is not necessary for meeting SIA's definition on incest.[2]


In 1987 SIA merged with Sexual Abuse Anonymous headquartered in Long Beach, California.[3] In 1989 SIA merged with Sex Abuse Anonymous, a fellowship headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota.[1]


In addition to open, mixed gender meetings, SIA designates many meetings as "women only" or "men only." Most SIA groups are not open to those perpetrators of sexual abuse. Meetings that allow perpetrators state this clearly at the beginning of the meeting, and will not allow those who are currently perpetrating sexual abuse to attend.[1]


False memories

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus mentioned SIA as an example in an article cautioning professionals to be aware of the potential that illusory memories and false beliefs can be created through environmental cues, some of which could occur at SIA meetings. Loftus expressed concern that SIA members were not required to have memories of sexual abuse before attending SIA meetings. Loftus had specifically found that most survivors of sexual abuse do not repress memories of the trauma, and that true memories of sexual abuse are rarely recovered later in life.[3] SIA members have recounted times where being at a SIA would "trigger" a memory of abuse (a kind of "flashback").[4]


Sociologist Norman Denzin argued that groups such as SIA have a "glossing" effect that causes members to use the same language and framework to describe their experiences thereby having a detrimental homogenizing effect. Sociologist Nancy A. Naples saw the structure of twelve-step fellowships as being antithetical to social change as such groups discourage members from collective political engagement. Author Louise Armstrong saw groups such as SIA as promoting revictimization, explaining that in such groups members are deemed sinful and the fault of their sin and task of redemption are both on their shoulders. Armstrong suggested survivor-generated feminists advocacy organizations challenging the dominant discourse on sexual abuse as a viable alternative.[5]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Salmon, Richard F. (1995). "Therapist's Guide to 12-Step Meetings for Sexual Dependencies". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 2 (3): 193–213. doi:10.1080/10720169508400081.
  2. Brady, Maureen (1991). Daybreak: Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse. Hazelden. ISBN 0894867598.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Loftus, Elizabeth F (1993). "The Reality of Repressed Memories". American Psychologist 48 (5): 518–537. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.48.5.518. PMID 8507050.
  4. Pendergrast, Mark (1996). Victims of Memory (Second ed.). Upper Access Books. ISBN 0942679180.
  5. Naples, Nancy A (1 June 2003). "Deconstruting and Locating Survivor Discourse: Dynamics of Narrative, Empowerment, and Resistance for Survivors fo Childhood Sexual Abuse". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28 (4): 1151–1185. doi:10.1086/368323.

External links

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