Oxford House Is Not Safe For Women With PTSD (And May Not Be Safe for Women Without It) Part 1
From predatory men in the chapters to women housemates with personality disorders, if you are living with a history of trauma, you will be moving into an environment that will make your life get about 100 times worse.
Sure, it’s better than the streets, and maybe it’s better than being with an abusive partner, but is this the standard you want to use to measure your recovery?
“At least I’m not shooting dope in the streets, so it can’t be all that bad?”
Wow. Way to keep the bar low. You really expect nothing from your life, do you? Do you let other people treat you as bad as you treat yourself?
And this is where no oversight and no background checks and no screening for personality disorders and no outside psychological assistance makes Oxford House a potentially dangerous environment for its most vulnerable members.
Do you think they care?
They really and truly do not. They focus on opening new houses and preaching their self-created statistics, and all the while, people are dying in their houses. Women are harassed and sexually assaulted in their houses. Blamed for their own abuse. The dead blamed for their own demise. Blamed for not taking their recovery seriously.
Told to leave the house during the day to “find a job.”
Not properly evaluated by a mental health professional before being left to their own devices and tossed into the hands of a pack of drunks and dopeheads who claim to have an 80% success rate that they made up out of thin air.
If you’re a woman dealing with PTSD, diagnosed or not, the first threat you will need to be aware of in Oxford House is the following:
As I mentioned in a previous post, there are no background checks. Potential members are asked if they are sex offenders, but it is very easy to lie, and no one will verify the information. There are a few questions about domestic violence history and criminal charges, but again, no one follows up on any of this information provided to verify that it is true.
There are also no questionnaires for their attitudes towards women and no in-depth interviews to assess their expectations for their recovery, especially as they pertain to dating in recovery and interacting with the opposite sex.
Members are required to attend chapter meetings, which is an occasion where all members of all houses in a chapter meet together and discuss the goings on in the chapter and where each house stands financially. As you can imagine, this can turn into an environment where an attractive new woman is gawked at, flirted with, and sometimes even harassed by the men of Oxford House.
For women who are interested in such attention, it does them no good for this sort of behavior to interfere with the purpose of them being in OH in the first place. The attention may be flattering, but often women who are new to recovery haven’t learned appropriate boundaries, and they will often exchange one addiction for another, e.g., the crackpipe for the skin flute. Sure they stop drinking and/or drugging, but they can’t focus on their recovery because they are surrounded by droves of men who will shove it into whatever opening they can find on any willing partner.
Do you think this behavior is frowned upon by Oxford House at all? Of course not. The members in “leadership” positions are often dating each other, so a new member who isn’t interested in male attention and doesn’t want to mix with the opposite sex because of previous trauma is still forced to attend these chapter meetings.
I do understand that policing fully-grown adults is rather absurd, but when you look at the fact that women often start drinking too much after being raped, and others become alcoholics or addicts after being sexually abused by boys and men while they were children, mixed environments can be fraught, and when you’re dealing with people who have shown that they lack life skills and good judgment already, is it really wise to leave them to their urges and whims with no supervision?
I’m gonna say no.
Although there are no co-ed houses, there are sometimes men’s houses on the same street as women’s houses. Often members can enter each other’s houses without knocking, and sometimes the men will know the door codes to the women’s door locks. So if you are someone who thinks that moving into a women’s house will mean that you will be away from getting propositioned, groped, catcalled, harassed, or creeped out in general, you should prepare yourself to be alarmed at the amount of junkie dick that will be thrown at you.
And don’t expect anyone to care or to have any sympathy.
I have my own personal experience with sexual assault in Oxford House, and when I told the chapter chairman about it, he laughed it off, called me crazy and told me to stop acting like such a “psycho.” He also said that I should be “glad that men still want me” because most women my age look a lot older and “not so fine.”
I was able to fight off my attacker before he did too much damage, but it was still a traumatic experience. My attacker then proceeded to accuse me of wanting him sexually and being jealous that he was going out with someone. He then told everyone in the chapter who knew me that he and I had sex, and that I was jealous and crazy. Who do you think they believed?
What do you think Oxford House did?
If you said “not a damned thing,” you’d be right.
To be continued…