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As a young girl, Sonora Hope's nightmares were almost always the same: She watched helplessly as a giant monster came into her city and began devouring person after person, house after house. If she became sexual with the beast, it let her live. The dreams were painfully reflective of Hope's waking life, which was filled with abuse and warped ideas about sex, thanks to a physically abusive mother, a sexually abusive stepfather, and a teenage female babysitter who molested Hope when she was 5.This early sexualization propelled Hope (her online name) into "sex play" with other kids and promoted an unhealthy obsession with sex, pornography and the power that women in pornography seemed to wield. "I was overweight and the idea of being a beautiful woman that men wanted to be with so much was a really intoxicating idea to me." It was so intoxicating that during high school and college Hope found herself in a series of problematic relationships, only later realizing just how far she went to gain attention and affection, even if it was warped and violent.
And secondly, when these women do become entrenched in an addiction, it's difficult to push aside something that society, as a whole, has already embraced. "(Women feel like), 'Everywhere I turn there's more of this that I find compelling and seductive, and I want it because it changes the way that I feel.' " And that's the underlying motive for any addiction, Cato said."When women aren't talking about their own struggles, then women don't talk about it.Silence keeps women silent." It's not that sexual-related problems among women are new, says Robin Cato, executive director of SASH, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sexual health and overcoming problematic sexual behaviors.Yet trying to find recovery is difficult, because unlike drugs or alcohol, society holds men and women to a different standard when it comes to sexual issues."With men, the double standard is, the more sex the better; they're more virile," Cato says, "But with a woman, she's a tramp.