Jace Downey didn’t comprehend she was suffering from sex addiction for many years, until it led her towards considering suicide.
“Addiction is a genetic brain disease,” she says in an interview with Barcroft TV.
“It’s hereditary, passed down through generations. I was born an addict, every addict is born an addict, it’s just whether or not that is going to be triggered into active acting out.
“Sex addiciton is really confusing. It has nothing to do with sex.”
Downey, from Austin, Texas, says it began with ‘fantasy’ and ‘masturbation’ when she was five, which included visualization her favourite cartoon characters having sex.
Pornography also played a huge part in her addiction and later, ‘infidelity’.
She continues: “I didn’t understand boundaries, I had no intimate or emotional connection with sex at all. Later in my addiction it had to be more dangerous, more risky, more painful. For me, sex almost never felt good. I was using my behaviour to not even feel better but to be numb from the pain I was feeling.”
She says she later began to have flashbacks which were ‘vague’ at first, recollecting that her dad had gone through abuse as a child.
As her parents had been divorced throughout her life, Jace says she started going to her father’s house from around the age of four where he ‘would have me watch pornography with him’.
This then progressed into the two of them ‘acting out the scenes’.
“I can remember just staring at the door hoping the light would turn on, that one of my sisters would come. But they never did,” she says.
Jace said her father’s abuse stopped suddenly, with no explanation, causing her confusion.
“All of a sudden, I was not worthy anymore,” she recalls. “I wasn’t special anymore and I am glad, obviously that it stopped. But I would spend the rest of my life trying to be worthy again. And I was taught, at five, that my worth came from what someone could take from my body and I continued thinking that – and believing it.”
In adulthood, Jace had a number of unnatural relationships, with her addiction eventually pushing her to the brink of suicide. Finally, she sought professional help, attending a meeting for addicts.
She decided to stop having sex so she could learn about it, explaining: “I decided I probably shouldn’t put myself back in that situation until I could do it in a healthy way. So I started my project, ‘Suddenly Celibate’, and spent the next couple of years visiting experts in the US and learning more about addiction.”
After a year of not having sex, she met and began dating her partner William, after which she decided to end her celibacy.
“Addiction is a helpless, hopeless, sad and dark world and that’s true,” she reflects. “It’s a place of powerlessness, where your life is chaos all of the time. It’s terrible.”
“But there is a flipside. You’re not doomed to this dismal, scary, chaotic life forever. In going into recovery, going from feeling completely hopeless and alone in the dark, now I live with enthusiasm.”
She now works as a self-development coach and continues to run her website on sex addiction and relationships.