Recovery Workshop Assessing Voyeurism, Exhibitionism and Stalking What is it? Voyeuring For the purpose of this workshop, voyeuring will be considered the act of seeking sexual/romantic stimulation by watching others engaged in a variety of sexually arousing states (e.g. undressing, showering, erotic dancing, sexual activity). Though voyeuristic scenarios can be mutually arranged, the targets are most commonly not aware of the person watching them. When this is the case, such behavior is usually classified as a second-tier sexual addiction as legal charges can be filed should the voyeur be caught. That does not mean that it is necessarily more or less severe that an addiction that involves only masturbation or pornography, however. Additionally, voyeuring tends to be a more male-dominated activity. Voyeurs have numerous fantasies involving their immediate targets (or potential targets) — ranging anywhere from romantic love to violent sexual acts. They often spend many hours in search of a target, and frequently engage in high-tech surveillance (e.g. binoculars, mini-cams, telescopes, night vision goggles). To the voyeur, much of the stimulation is created in the ritualistic fantasies that come while waiting. Similar to a gambler, it is the possibilities of what he/she may see that generate the beginning of the mind-altering experience. Voyeuring is frequently linked to pornography. Exhibitionism For the purpose of this workshop, exhibitionism will be considered the act of exposing one's genitalia to others for the purpose of one's own sexual arousal. Though exhibitionistic scenarios can be mutually arranged, the most commonly associated behaviors involve the "accidental" or deliberate act of displaying genitalia in an effort to shock, surprise or arouse an unsuspecting target. When this is the case, such behavior is usually classified as a second-tier sexual addiction as legal charges can be filed should the exhibitionist be caught. Exhibitionists often have accompanying fantasies that involve the reactions of their victims that range from victims having an overwhelming urge to engage in sexual activity with them, to absolute shock and disgust (though believing that they secretly liked what they saw). In a bizarre twist on reality, the great majority of exhibitionists often believe that their victims actually get aroused at the site of their genitals. Exhibitionism is frequently linked to both Pornography and Voyeuring. Stalking (Romantic) Previously introduced as Romantic Delusions, the stalking being referred to here involves a romantic involvement where the stalker is seeking information and/or an emotional connection with the target. Such stalking occurs when an individual begins fantasizing about the possible development of a romantic relationship with a particular person and becomes obsessed in the pursuit of this person. The original attraction and associated fantasies become what the individual now considers "reality". He/she believes that the person targeted is indeed, the true love of his/her life, and the only goal is to create a situation where that love can be reciprocated. Most often, such patterns tend to be found in individuals who suffer from social anxiety, low self-esteem and/or intense fear of rejection. Frequently, these individuals display a long history of perfectionistic, obsessive relationships dominated by jealousy and criticalness. Early in the relationship, partners can often feel emotionally overwhelmed, and the developing relationship can become an enormous drain on their energy and time. If, however, they too suffer from low self-esteem, this attention can be quite intoxicating and leave them with the intoxicating feeling of being "swept off their feet". Maintaining relationships for the romantic stalker is quite difficult, as they tend to have a low threshold for behaviors that fall outside of their idealistic image of "the perfect partner". To the romantic stalker, the focus on this one target allows them to escape from their own stressful reality. Their life is metaphorically condensed into the pursuit of getting this one person to accept them/love them. Achieving this, they believe, will help to balance their entire life — past, present and future. Stalking involving force, threat, coercion or violence in the attempt to exerting power and control over an individual is not considered a behavior associated with the sex/love addictions. Common Patterns Associated with Voyeuring, Exhibitionism and Romantic Stalking: I. Voyeuring masturbating in front of a mirror peering into a stranger's window in hopes of catching them involved in sexual activity using binoculars/telescope to survey sexual activity in a motel/hotel/apartment complex setting up secret video surveillance of a public rest room, dormitory shower, apartment sneaking into a neighbor's home to watch them undress watching your partner having sex with others (with or without their knowledge) going to a strip club to watch women undress looking at hidden cameras available on the Internet (e.g. "Voyeur-cams") hiding in a closet to watch a family member come out of the shower climbing a tree to see into the backyard of a neighbor skinny-dipping II. Exhibitionism "flashing" strangers from outside the window of their home taking pictures of your genitalia and placing them in an area where they will be found (e.g. a mailbox, school yard, windshield) calling a stranger to your car for directions (or to give them a ride), then masturbating when the stranger arrives calling attention to yourself to a stranger (or group of strangers), then pulling down your pants riding your bicycle through a public park with your genitals "accidentally" exposed on a first date, walking out of the bathroom nude in hopes that it will put your date "in the mood" opening your blinds so that passersby may become aroused by "accidentally" seeing you getting dressed lying out by the pool with an easily detectable erection purposefully erecting your nipples before entering a public place erotic dancing for personal satisfaction, rather than financial gain having your partner hide in a closet while you engage in sexual behavior with another having your genitals "accidentally" become exposed while sleeping, gardening or other everyday activities raising your skirt/spreading your legs under the table of a restaurant so that others can see your panties/genitals (women) nude sunbathing, skinny dipping, hiking when there is a remote chance/desire (or greater) of being seen by a stranger III. Romantic Stalking Watching the news and a human-interest story comes up involving a woman whom you fall "instantly in love" with. Rather than approaching her, you spend your time following her without her knowledge, photographing her, her family, her friends. You develop a "relationship" with this woman, even though you have yet to meet her. Walking down the street, you pass by a man who smiles at you in a very genuine and sincere way. This smile triggers fantasies about finally finding the perfect man and so you secretly follow him to see where he works. The next day, you follow him home from work. Then you park outside his apartment to see what he does on the weekends. Hiring a private detective, searching the Internet or engaging in other types of information gathering without the target's knowledge A male works closely with a female coworker on a project and becomes intrigued with them. He believes that she might be "the one" and so he begins secretly searching her computer/e-mail; going through her purse when she is away from the desk; smelling her jacket, her chair; licking the toilet seat after she finishes using the co-ed rest room; masturbating with items that he has stolen from her desk. Extreme fear of rejection leads to fantastic displays of hyper-romanticism [e.g. the writing of intensely intimate and passionate love-letters to relative (or complete) strangers in an attempt to overwhelm them with emotion — as well as to decrease the opportunity for immediate rejection; sending poems, flowers, gifts "anonymously"] extreme fear of rejection leads to extreme measures in efforts to alleviate that fear. This is usually accomplished through information gathering (e.g. searching through the target's trash, breaking into their apartment, stealing their mail, following them without their knowledge). unrequited advances often lead to rage in the person exhibiting the romantic delusions for "not being understood" and for "not being given a chance". This rage often lasts until a new target is found. Elements Frequently Associated with: Voyeuring Sensory (visual) Fantasy Suspense Accomplishment Exhibitionism Power Fantasy Suspense Accomplishment Romantic Stalking Fantasy (in selecting target; developing plans for "sweeping them off their feet") Power (in gathering information to plan/pursue the relationship) Accomplishment (when target actively engages in the relationship) Other Elements Commonly Found in a Ritualistic Chain where Voyeuring, Exhibitionism and/or Romantic Stalking are the Primary Behavior: Voyeuring Sensory (in relation to masturbation) Danger Orgasm (while fantasizing/viewing the target) Exhibitionism Sensory Danger (when attempts are made to shock, disgust the unwitting target) Orgasm (while fantasizing about/actively viewing the target) Romantic Stalking Danger Suspense Frequent Cues/Triggers Often Associated With: Voyeuring Pornography [artificial images (photos, tapes) not having enough of an effect] Opportunity (come upon a voyeuristic situation by accident) Infatuation/attraction to someone Increased stress Poor social skills Loneliness/isolation Time accountability Exhibitionism Past experience with sexual trauma Extreme skewing of sexual boundaries Extremely poor relationship/intimacy skills Increased stress Romantic Stalking Poor social comfort zone (intense shyness) Social situations/public places Media [television/movies (falling in love with an actor/actress through watching an interview, movie); songs (falling in love with a singer because of they way he/she sang a song), Internet (chat rooms, sites with personal stories), newspaper stories with a personal touch, etc.] Capability of achieving "instant intimacy" in relationships Extreme depression/stress Poor relationship/intimacy skills (though can often come across as extremely intimate, passionate in the early parts of the relationship) Boundaries Frequently Violated By: Voyeuring Autonomy [especially in relation to safety (victim) and prison (voyeur)] Safety (both the victims' and the voyeurs') Self-respect Order (in relation to the enormous amount of time that is often associated with this behavior) Integrity (when behavior is discovered) Identity (when comprehending the nature of your actions outside of the feelings they produce) Social acceptance (behavior frequently leads to further social isolation and secrecy) Exhibitionism Autonomy [especially in relation to safety (victim) and prison (voyeur)] Safety (both the victims' and the voyeurs') Self-respect Intimacy Identity (when comprehending the nature of your actions outside of the feelings they produce) Integrity (when behavior is discovered) Social acceptance (behavior frequently leads to further social isolation and secrecy) Romantic Stalking Autonomy [especially in relation to safety (victim) and prison (voyeur)] Safety [especially the victims' (when stalking is discovered)] Integrity (when behavior is discovered) Social Acceptance (when target of stalking affects your remaining social circle — work, family) Order (as the obsession with a particular person grows, much is sacrificed in terms of career, social relationships, etc.) If you have experienced similar behaviors as described above (or have experienced additional behaviors that were not mentioned, but fall under the category of voyeuring, exhibitionism or romantic stalking, please include them in the exercise below. My History with Voyeuring, Exhibitionism and Stalking First Name and Last Initial: E-mail address: Describe your history involving each of these three behaviors. If one or more does not apply to you, there is no need to mention it. Think for a few minutes, then list all of your most common triggers for this type of behavior: List any concerns, unusual circumstances that you currently have regarding this behavior. For instance, any bizarre rituals that you perform, dangerous objects that you use, frequency issues, etc.