Sexual behavior can raise questions about an individual's reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to protect classified information when it: involves a criminal offense, indicates a personality or emotional disorder, reflects lack of judgment or discretion, or it causes an individual to be vulnerable to undue influence, exploitation, or duress. No adverse inference concerning the standards in this guideline may be made solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.
Most scientific research and past espionage cases show that the connection between sexual behavior and personnel security is far more complex than the simple notion that "normal" sex is acceptable and "nonconforming" sexual practices are a security risk.1 Self-control, social maturity, strength of character, and overall psychological adjustment are more important security indicators than the specific sexual practices in which people engage. Sexual orientation or preference may not be used as a basis for disqualification in adjudicating eligibility for security clearance.
A common error in thinking about sexuality is to reason that "since I'm normal, most other normal people must think and behave more or less the way I do." Actually, "normal" human sexual behavior is far more diverse than most people realize, and many seemingly unusual behaviors have little or no relationship to security. What is considered normal in one realm of society may be distinctly abnormal in another.
Normality and abnormality, or deviance, are not appropriate criteria for determining the security relevance of sexual behavior. Many sexual fetishes may not be common, but they are harmless unless carried to an extreme. There is no "normal" amount of frequency of sexual activity. Celibacy is unusual but is not by itself a concern to security clearance adjudicators. On the other hand, "normal" heterosexual relations can be a security problem if pursued in a compulsive or irresponsible manner, and any sexual conduct may be cause for concern if it is part of a pattern of emotional maladjustment.
To protect employee rights to privacy and civil liberties, adjudication of sexual behavior needs to be based on demonstrable security concerns, not on commonly accepted myths or the personal moral values of individual adjudicators. Case-by-case judgment is more appropriate than automatic disqualification for any particular variety of sexual behavior.
The relationship between sex and spying has a long and colorful history. During the Cold War, communist intelligence services maintained a stable of attractive, female "swallows" used in efforts to seduce male Western officials and visitors. There are many cases of Americans in Moscow and other Eastern European capitals being approached by local intelligence services as a result of sexual affairs or indiscretions. 2
Some Americans were successfully recruited in this manner. For example, an Army Sergeant assigned to the American Embassy in Moscow had a one-night-stand with a Soviet woman. Several weeks later, he was told that she was pregnant and that, as the father of a Soviet national, he would not receive an exit permit to leave the country unless he cooperated. He did cooperate, and continued to cooperate after his return to the United States. 3
The noteworthy point is that these individuals were engaging in normal rather than nonconforming or deviant sexual practices. Inability or unwillingness to control their sexual desires or emotional needs led to poor judgment (such as promiscuity in Moscow). Their sexual behavior exposed them to assessment and eventually pressure and recruitment by a hostile intelligence service.
Also during the Cold War, the East German Intelligence Service had a large and highly successful program of sending male agents to West Germany as "refugees" with a mission to seduce, assess, and when appropriate, recruit West German secretaries employed in sensitive positions. 4
Such techniques certainly did not end with the Cold War. Americans living and traveling abroad are still frequent targets of the local security and intelligence services, and the exploitation of sexual attraction or sexual needs continues to be a favored modus operandi.
Any sexual relationship with a foreign national while traveling or stationed abroad in a country that conducts intelligence operations against the United States should be of interest to adjudicators. Foreign security and intelligence services have many resources available when working on their home turf. They can monitor and, to some extent, control the environment in which an American lives and works. Sexual interests are one of the things that many foreign intelligence and security services try to identify and exploit. An American is at a disadvantage, because he or she is in unfamiliar territory.
Any American government official, scientist, business traveler, or tourist with access to useful information can become the target of a foreign intelligence or security service at any time in many different countries. When an individual is being targeted, sexual lures are one of the standard tools of the trade, and they are very effective as the physical intimacy of sex may lead to personal intimacy. The bedroom is an ideal location to learn of an individual's longing to be rich, resentment of a boss, or other exploitable weaknesses.
The most common target is an American male, but women are not overlooked. For example, Sharon Scranage, a CIA secretary at the American Embassy in Accra, Ghana, was recruited by Ghanaian Intelligence as a result of her amorous relationship with a Ghanaian national. 5
Sex Tourism: Sex tourism is said to have become the third largest sector of illegal trade after drugs and arms trafficking, and it is easily exploited by foreign intelligence services for the identification and assessment of American targets. Information on "sex travel" is widely available on the Internet. Tours for men provide a variety of sexual companions or allow selection of a single companion to accompany one throughout the tour. Russia and the former Soviet states, the Far East and Latin America are favored destinations for such tours. Other tours provide partners for a specific type of sex. For example, pedophiles travel in organized groups to the Philippines, Thailand, India, Costa Rica and other countries where child trafficking rings provide minors for sex. Participation in a child sex tour is against U.S. law, and will, under nearly all circumstances, be disqualifying.
Mail-Order Brides: "Mail-order brides" from Russia, China and other countries provide a mechanism for those countries to place foreign agents in the United States. An Internet search for "mail-order bride" reveals numerous opportunities in this area. A number of American citizens who have been processed for security clearances or reinvestigated for a security clearance have obtained foreign wives in this manner. Because of the risk that a wife provided by a foreign marriage or "dating" service may be a foreign agent, marriage to one of these women from a higher-risk country is often disqualifying for a security clearance.
Extract from the Guideline
(a) sexual behavior of a criminal nature, whether or not the individual has been prosecuted;
(b) a pattern of compulsive, self-destructive, or high risk sexual behavior that the person is unable to stop or that may be symptomatic of a personality disorder;
(c) sexual behavior that causes an individual to be vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or duress;
(d) sexual behavior of a public nature and/or that reflects lack of discretion or judgment.
Adjudicators must take care to ensure that interpretation of these criteria is based on analysis of security risk and not on their personal approval or disapproval of the conduct being adjudicated. Everyone involved in the security clearance process is obliged to keep personal values and prejudices out of the process as much as possible.
The first question to be asked about any report of sexual behavior is not "Is it true?" but "Is it relevant?" Sexual behavior is relevant only if the sexual behavior is criminal, compulsive, symptomatic of a personality disorder, makes an individual vulnerable to coercion, or shows a lack of discretion or judgment -- each of which is discussed in some detail below.
Personal codes of sexual morality are not an appropriate criterion for adjudicating sexual behavior. As noted by one judge when overturning the termination of a homosexual federal employee: "The notion that it could be an appropriate function of the federal bureaucracy to enforce the majority's conventional codes of conduct in the private lives of its employees is at war with elementary concepts of liberty, privacy, and diversity." 7
The security significance of questionable sexual behavior depends in part on recency, frequency, intent to continue the conduct, and whether force, violence or intimidation are involved. For background information on specific sexual practices and discussion of their relevance or irrelevance to security concerns, see Information About Specific Sexual Practices.
Some behaviors are almost universally condemned and prosecuted when sufficient evidence is available. These include rape, incest, sexual relations with children (pedophilia), possession of child pornography, voyeurism (Peeping Tom), exhibitionism, and making obscene phone calls. Sexual harassment may also be illegal, depending upon seriousness. For further information, see discussion of these specific behaviors. These behaviors should be assessed under Criminal Conduct as well as Sexual Behavior. They may also be evaluated under Personal Conduct if they are part of a pattern of unreliability, dishonesty, or poor judgment.
Sex offenders seldom limit the activity to a single offense. The behavior is likely to be repeated. One study shows that sex offenders are four times more likely than nonsex offenders to be rearrested for their crimes. 8 Such offenses indicate mental health problems, and treatment is often ineffective.
It bears mentioning that some behaviors, such as adultery between consenting adults and oral or anal sex, are still on the books as crimes in some jurisdictions. However, these laws are seldom if ever enforced. Such behavior should be evaluated only if the subject is charged with a criminal offense.
For purposes of adjudicating security clearances, the precise legal interpretation of the behavior may be less important than what the behavior shows about a person's judgment, reliability, and willingness or ability to follow rules.
Rape is defined by state statute, which means the definition of this crime differs from state to state. Many states now use the gender-neutral term "sexual assault," which covers sexual crimes against men as well as women. More importantly, state statutes are gradually changing to put greater emphasis on absence of consent rather than use of force as the defining characteristic of sexual assault, including rape. The crime is aggravated if force is used, but can occur without it.
A fairly typical legal definition of Criminal Sexual Assault is any genital, anal, or oral penetration, by a part of the accuseds body or by an object, using force or without the victims consent. Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault occurs when any of the following circumstances accompany the attack:
Judicial interpretations may differ from state to state, or be ambiguous, as to whether "consent" to sexual intercourse requires an affirmative yes or may be inferred from a failure to say no. Intercourse with a person whose mental function has been impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, or who is asleep or unconscious, will usually be interpreted as without consent, and, therefore, as rape.
When rape is defined by absence of consent, rather than use of force, it becomes more difficult to determine when rape has occurred, especially when it is alleged to have occurred between friends or acquaintances. Within the context of a complex male-female dating or social relationship, absence of consent is sometimes hard to define and difficult to prove.
Owing to the frequency of acquaintance rape and date rape, many colleges and universities have adopted codes of conduct dealing with sexual behavior. These are not legally binding, but they may be a basis for disciplinary action. Many of these codes of conduct do not define specifically what is meant by consent, but some do. One of the more complete definitions of consent is provided in the student conduct code of the University of California, Berkeley. It states:
"Consent is defined as positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The individuals consenting must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. It is a defense to the allegation of nonconsent that a defendant held a reasonable and good faith belief that the complainant was consenting. A current or previous dating relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. The determination regarding the presence or absence of consent should be based on the totality of circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred. The fact that an individual was intoxicated at the time may be considered in determining whether that person had consented to the act in question. Students should understand that consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity alone." 10
Statutory rape generally refers to sexual intercourse or penetration, whether or not voluntary, with a person who is incapable of informed consent. That includes children under a specified age, with the age varying from 12 to 18 depending upon the state, and may also include mentally handicapped persons.
Most studies of persons convicted of forcible rape show that rapists do not lack available sexual partners. Forcible rape is a crime of violence, motivated by anger and the desire for power and control, not an act of sexual desire by an oversexed or sexually frustrated man. Researchers have consistently found that rapists tend to exhibit more sociopathic tendencies and more generalized lack of empathy than that found in the normal population. 11, 12
As rape is a crime rather than a medical diagnosis, most convicted rapists are sent to prison and there is little attempt at treatment. Three quarters of convicted rapists become repeat offenders. Counseling of rape offenders often fails to quell the inner compulsion to rape. Depo-Provera, a drug that causes a marked drop in sex drive helps to deter rapists by eliminating their ability to have normal physical sexual responses, but it is effective only for as long as the drug is taken.13 Also, the absence of a physical response does not mean a man is incapable of rape. Men have used objects to rape women, and there is debate as to whether penetration must occur for an assault to be classified as rape.
Incest generally refers to sexual activity between blood relatives, but there is no agreement on a universal and precise definition of the term. The degree of relationship that makes it a crime is defined by law in each state. If stepfathers are counted along with natural fathers, incest is more prevalent, as stepfathers are seven times more likely to abuse their daughters than natural fathers. 14
Incest takes many forms ranging from fondling to intercourse, from a one-time event to continuing activity over many years, and from mutual consent (where adults are concerned, as a child cannot consent), to rape. It occurs in wealthy and well-educated families as often as in poorer families, as described in one book about incest, The Best Kept Secret. 15
Two reviews of research on incest concluded that "current knowledge rests on a very insecure scientific basis," as there have been few empirical studies with large sample sizes, adequate comparison groups and objective measures.15,16 One of the best empirical studies used a random household survey of 930 adult women in the San Francisco area who were interviewed by trained female interviewers. The study found that 16% of the women had experienced at least one incident of intrafamilial sexual abuse prior to age 18, and 12% had at least one such experience prior to age 14. Further analysis of the 16% figure revealed the percentage of incestuous relationships with various relatives: biological fathers (2.5%), stepfathers (2%), uncles (4.9%), cousins (3%), and brothers (2%). The 2% figure for stepfathers is noteworthy, as most daughters don't have stepfathers; of those who were reared by stepfathers, 16.7% were abused. 17
Although these figures are dated, they are consistent with recent, although less scientific, survey results. A 1995 study of 420 randomly selected women in Toronto revealed that 17% had experienced unwanted sexual contact (narrowly defined as intercourse and/or other genital contact) by a relative prior to age 16. When other forms of sexual conduct were considered, 34% reported unwanted physical contact by a relative. 18
There are conflicting reports on the significance of an incestuous brother-sister relationship. It is sometimes the result of mutual sexual exploration. One study reports that about half of the participants perceive it as relatively harmless. In another survey of 796 college students, 15% of females and 10% of males reported sibling incest experiences; one quarter of the experiences were categorized as exploitive.19 A more recent but smaller study of 72 girls aged between 5 and 16 found that 90% of the victims of both fathers and brothers experienced clinically significant distress as a result of the relationship.20 Mother-son incest is rare, but can have extremely detrimental psychological effects on its victims.21
Incest is often so traumatic that many children repress memory of it, while others are unable to admit incest because of feelings of shame. As a result, surveys of the prevalence of incest likely underreport its frequency. Nonetheless, as reported incidents of familial sexual abuse increase, the public is becoming more aware of its prevalence. This has led researchers to focus their interests on its perpetrators. Sibling incest usually occurs in two situations: (1) when one sibling is extremely nurturing, leading to a sexual relationship; and (2) when one sibling exerts his power over another sibling without fear of punishment. The latter is obviously a much bigger concern because the perpetrator is using sex as power, much like that seen in cases of rape. 22
More is understood about fathers who commit incest. Approximately one-quarter were themselves sexually abused as children.23 Many of them say that they were sharing something special with the victim and claim that their behavior was considerate and fair, even though in almost all cases they refused to stop the behavior when the victim wanted them to. 24
Incest is a serious security concern for the perpetrator, not just because it is illegal, but also because it usually indicates the perpetrator's sexual behavior is out of control.
In the 1980s, enforcement of laws that criminalize the possession of child pornography forced it out of sex bookshops and into underground networks of collectors. The Internet has now made child pornography so readily available and profitable that it is increasingly attracting the interest of organized crime with its business and money-laundering skills.
Child-protection experts estimate that there are thousands of child-pornography web sites and that as many as 100 new ones pop up each month. The largest child-pornography investigation to date (2005) identified 40,000 Americans who downloaded child porn and led to more than 1,400 arrests world-wide including about 330 in the U.S.6 Also see Pedophilia.
Most large organizations have a policy against employees using the office Internet to view sexually explicit material on the Internet on their office network. This is covered under the Use of Information Technology adjudicative guideline and is usually a disciplinary issue. If this involves viewing child pornography, it is a crime that should be prosecuted. Conviction for possession of child pornography will, under most circumstances, be disqualifying.
Sexual harassment is uninvited and unwanted sexual attention that creates an unpleasant or unproductive work atmosphere. Whether or not a specific behavior falls within this definition is not always clear. All conduct commonly referred to as sexual harassment does not necessarily meet the more narrow legal definition of that term as established by the courts. For more information on regulations and legal decisions defining sexual harassment, see Legal Issues.
Sexual harassment is often a disciplinary issue best handled in a personnel management context. It becomes a security issue for the person responsible for the harassment if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
It leads to criminal prosecution. The crime may serve as a basis for adverse action.
It persists after due warning. This may indicate lack of judgment, gross immaturity, or inability to control one's sexual behavior. Each of these is a security concern.
It is part of a broader pattern of unreliability, untrustworthiness, or poor judgment. In this case, it should be assessed under Personal Conduct, Pattern of Dishonest, Unreliable, or Rule-Breaking Behavior.
Workplace discrimination was first made illegal by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Appellate court decisions in the late 1970s determined that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is, therefore, subject to legal sanction under the Civil Rights Act. 25
Acting on a growing body of judicial decisions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines in 1980, which continue in effect, that describe behavior and conditions that must be present for actions to constitute sexual harassment. According to the guidelines, unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is sexual harassment when:
An individual's rejection of such contact -- or submission to it -- is used as a basis for employment decisions that affect the employee; or
The unwelcome conduct interferes with an employee's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. 26
Conduct may also be considered sexual harassment even if it does no concrete economic or psychological harm to the victim. Specifically, the U.S. Government has identified six types of behavior that, when they are done repeatedly and are uninvited, are generally described as sexual harassment: 27
Sending letters, making telephone calls, or displaying materials of a sexual nature
Deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching
Making sexually suggestive looks or gestures
Pressuring a person for sexual favors
Pressuring a person for a date
Teasing in a sexual way, making sexual jokes or remarks, or asking sexual questions
Supreme Court decisions in 1986 and 1993 28 addressed what is meant by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. The 1986 decision determined that to be a cause of legal action, the harassment must be severe enough to alter the conditions of the victim's employment. This requires statements or actions that are pervasive as well as offensive.
The 1993 Supreme Court decision stated that whether conduct is legally actionable depends upon the circumstances, including how often the conduct occurs, how serious the conduct is, whether the behavior physically threatens the victim or stops at offensive comments, and whether the behavior unreasonably interferes with work performance.
Many lower courts have used a "reasonable person" standard in determining whether sexual conduct is offensive. That is, sexual conduct may be judged offensive if a reasonable person would have found the alleged harassing behavior to be offensive.
There is still no unambiguous standard for determining when vulgar, demeaning, or offensive behavior crosses the line to become illegal sexual harassment. The line is probably destined to remain ambiguous as long as human relationships remain complicated and human behavior continues to be interpreted in so many different ways.
For purposes of adjudicating security clearances, the key issue is not the legality of the behavior, but what the behavior shows about a person's judgment, reliability, and willingness or ability to follow rules.
In a 1994 survey of almost 8,000 federal employees in 22 different federal departments or agencies, 44% of women and 19% of men reported they had experienced some form of unwanted sexual harassment during the preceding two years. The following table shows the different forms of sexual harassment as perceived by both men and women. This 1994 study of federal employees has not been updated. 25
|Sexual teasing, jokes, remarks||14%||37%|
|Sexual looks, gestures||9%||29%|
|Deliberate touching, cornering, pinching||8%||24%|
|Pressure for dates||4%||13%|
|Suggestive letters, calls, materials||4%||10%|
|Pressure for sexual favors||2%||7%|
|Actual/attempted rape, assault||2%||4%|
Many of the behaviors perceived as sexual harassment by the victims do not meet the criteria for legal action under the Civil Rights Act. In addition to the ambiguity of the law, individual government employees also differ in their opinion as to whether certain behaviors represent sexual harassment or simply crude and thoughtless conduct. For example, 77% of women and 64% of men respondents considered uninvited sexual teasing, jokes, remarks or questions by a coworker as sexual harassment. Conversely, 23% of women and 36% of men either did not know or did not consider it sexual harassment.
Of those who experienced some form of perceived sexual harassment, 8% of the men and 13% of the women reported the behavior to a supervisor or other official. The others did nothing or handled the matter themselves. Of those who did not report the harassment, a large majority did not think the situation was serious enough to warrant such action or were successful in handling the situation themselves. On the other hand, 20% to 30% did not report it because they thought reporting it would make their work situation more unpleasant, nothing would be done, and/or the situation would not be kept confidential.
More recent studies of sexual harassment in the private sector suggest that the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace has been declining since the early 1990s, possibly because awareness of harassing behaviors has grown. A DoD survey of the military services found a 22% decline in sexual harassment incidents from 1995 to 2002. This survey also found that 79% of male respondents and 79% of female respondents reported having received anti-sexual harassment training in the past year. 29
If a person engages in sexual harassment despite this increased awareness and education, it amplifies the security concern. Although each situation must be carefully scrutinized to ensure any charges were not fraudulent or retaliatory, sexual harassment in today's workplace may be indicative of underlying emotional or mental instability, and should be taken seriously. At least one recent study shows that a proclivity for sexual harassment is strongly related to personal dishonesty. 30
"Sexual behavior is a barometer, and a highly sensitive barometer, of the whole-person. When things go awry, sexual behavior is one of the first places where we see it."39 Therefore, problems with sexual behavior may be clues to the existence of other problems that are not as readily apparent. For example, inability to maintain a long-term emotional commitment (as indicated by a pattern of unsuccessful, short-term relationships) may indicate underlying emotional problems.
Unusual or problematic sexual behavior should be evaluated in a whole person context. In some cases, it may indicate a mental health problem. In other cases, the specific sexual practices in which a person engages may be less important than positive evidence of self-control, ability to make a long-standing loving commitment, strength of character, and overall psychological adjustment. Qualified medical expertise will be required when making these judgments.
For background information on a number of specific sexual behaviors, and discussion of their relevance or irrelevance to security concerns, see Information About Specific Sexual Practices.
The emotionally healthy individual is able to exercise some control over his or her sexual urges. One's sexual needs should be pursued at appropriate times and places and in a manner that does not create problems with employment, health, marriage, social relationships, or the law, or cause a significant lowering of self-esteem. Inability to do so suggests that sexual behavior is compulsive and out of control. This may result from a personality disorder or what is now described by many specialists as sexual addiction. 31
Compulsive or addictive sexual behavior is a security concern because it may indicate emotional problems, poor judgment, make one vulnerable to exploitation, manipulation, or extortion, and attract the attention of hostile intelligence or security services. Such behavior may take various forms, including what many regard as "normal" heterosexual behavior. It is not the type of sexual activity or even the frequency of sexual activity or number of partners that is indicative of addiction, but a pattern of self-destructive and high-risk behavior that is unfulfilling and that the individual is unable to stop.
The term "addiction" has become a popular metaphor to describe any form of excessive, self-destructive behavior. Scientists specializing in sexual behavior generally agree on what constitutes out-of-control sexual behavior, but they disagree over whether it is appropriately diagnosed as an addiction or as a symptom of an underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder.32 This discussion uses the terms "addiction" and "compulsion" interchangeably.
Many people ask how sex can be an addiction when it does not involve abuse of a psychoactive substance. The scientific argument for addiction is based, in part, on research in neurochemistry that shows we carry within us our own source of addictive chemicals. When pleasure centers in the human brain are stimulated, chemicals called endorphins are released into the blood stream. Experiments with male hamsters have shown that the level of endorphins in their blood increases dramatically after several ejaculations. Experimental rats habituated to endorphins will go through much pain in order to obtain more. In rats, the addiction to endorphins is even stronger than to morphine or heroin.
Humans have comparable reactions. Peptides released during sexual activity are similar in molecular construction to opiates such as morphine and heroin, but are many times more powerful and therefore produce extreme "highs" following sexual release.33 Any chemical that causes mood changes can be addictive, with repeated exposure altering brain chemistry to the point that more of the chemical is "required" in order to feel "normal." 31, 34
If sexual behavior repeatedly causes problems in the areas of employment, health, marriage, social relationships, finances, or the law, or if it causes a significant lowering of self-esteem, the diagnosis of sexual addiction or compulsion may be appropriate.
Indicators that sexual behavior may be out of control include: an obsession with sex that dominates one's life, including sexual fantasies that interfere with work performance; time devoted to planning sexual activity interferes with other activities; strong feelings of shame about one's sexual behavior; a feeling of powerlessness or inability to stop despite predictable adverse consequences; inability to make a commitment to a loving relationship; extreme dependence upon a relationship as a basis for feelings of self-worth; or little emotional satisfaction gained from the sex act.
Deviation from an assumed normal frequency of sexual activity is not an appropriate indicator of addiction. Some individuals have a naturally stronger sex drive than others, and the range of human sexual activity is so broad that it is difficult to define "normal" frequency of any sexual activity. The traditional disorders of exaggerated sexuality, nymphomania in the female and satyriasis in the male, are quite different from sexual addiction. They are believed to be caused by a disorder of the pituitary gland or irritation of the brain cortex by a tumor or arteriosclerosis. These physical disorders are rare. 35, 36
The first extensive empirical study of sexual addiction was published by Dr. Patrick Carnes in 1991.31 It was based on questionnaires filled out by 932 patients diagnosed as sex addicts, most of them admitted for treatment in the in-patient Sexual Dependency Unit of a hospital in Minnesota. Of the sex addicts in this survey, 63% were heterosexual, 18% homosexual, 11% bisexual, and 8% were unsure of their sexual preference.
Respondents to Dr. Carnes' questionnaire were typically unable to form close friendships. Their feelings of shame and unworthiness made them unable to accept real intimacy. They were certain they would be rejected if others knew what they were "really" like, so they found myriad obsessive ways to turn away a potential friend or loving partner. Despite a large number of superficial sexual contacts, they suffered from loneliness, and many developed a sense of leading two lives--one sexual, the other centered around their occupation or other "normal" activity.
In Dr. Carnes' survey, 97% responded that their sexual activity led to loss of self-esteem. Other reported emotional costs were strong feelings of guilt or shame, 96%; strong feelings of isolation and loneliness, 94%; feelings of extreme hopelessness or despair, 91%; acting against personal values and beliefs, 90%; feeling like two people, 88%; emotional exhaustion, 83%; strong fears about their own future, 82%; and emotional instability, 78%.
Out-of-control sexuality may have serious adverse consequences. In the Carnes survey of individuals in treatment, 38% of the men and 45% of the women contracted venereal diseases; 64% reported that they continued their sexual behavior despite the risk of disease or infection. Of the women, 70% routinely risked unwanted pregnancy by not using birth control, and 42% reported having unwanted pregnancies.
Many patients had pursued their sexual activities to the point of exhaustion (59%) or even physical injury requiring medical treatment (38%). Many (58%) pursued activities for which they felt they could be arrested, and 19% were arrested. Sleep disorders were reported by 65%; they usually resulted from stress or shame connected with the sexual activity.
Of the survey respondents, 56% experienced severe financial difficulty because of their sexual activity. Loss of job productivity was reported by 80%, and 11% were actually demoted as a result. Many of these problems are, of course, encountered by persons whose sexuality is not out of control, but the percentages are much lower. 31
Statistics on the prevalence of sexual addiction are difficult to obtain. Dr. Carnes estimates that three to six percent of the population may suffer from some form of sexual addiction. 33
Concurrent presence of other addictions is also indicative. Carnes found that 42% of sex addicts in his sample had a problem with substance abuse and 38% had eating disorders.
The Internet has made access to sexually stimulating materials widely available. Pornographic pictures and movies, erotic literature, and one-on-one sexual conversation are available with little regulation. Sex addicts can access such materials at any time of the day or night from any computer connected to the World Wide Web.
Although many people regularly participate in online sexual activities with relatively little consequence, addiction to Internet-based sexual encounters, or cyber-sex, is becoming more common. The Internet does not cause cyber-sex addiction, but "it provides the opportunity for sexually acting out that can eventually lead to sexually addictive behaviors." 37
The cyber-sex addict's life revolves around opportunities to logon for sex and in turn leads to many of the same negative consequences as "regular" sex addiction, with the exception of medical risks such as sexually transmitted disease. Cyber-sex addicts spend much of their time seeking out chances to secretly access the Internet for sexual stimulation. Like all sex addicts, they exert tremendous effort to hide the behaviors from colleagues, bosses, friends, and family. Although cyber-sex addiction may be "easier" because it can take place in one's own home, it may be harder to hide over time as one spends more and more time alone with the computer and away from family.
Increased recognition and understanding of sexual addiction has spawned the rapid growth of four nationwide organizations for individuals trying to recover from compulsive sexual behavior. They are Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. All are 12-step recovery programs patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous.
In 2003, Sexaholics Anonymous reported weekly meetings in every major city in every state as well as meetings in over 20 countries. At least 14 Internet sites host weekly meetings, while there are tens of thousands of newsgroups dedicated to recovery from sexual addiction. Additionally, in 2003, at least 30 sexual addiction recovery conferences were held in the United States. 38
It is common for self-help recovery programs to have a disproportionate number of well-educated members. It appears that well-educated persons are more likely to seek out such groups. There is no evidence that well-educated persons are either more or less likely than others to suffer from sexual problems.
Sexual behavior may indicate lack of judgment or discretion when it:
The security significance of poor judgment or indiscretion depends, in part, on the location of the subject's assignment, the nature and visibility of subject's position, and the openness of the behavior. Foreign intelligence and security services actively exploit and provoke sexual indiscretions as a means of assessing and recruiting Americans traveling or assigned abroad.
Sexual activity with a local national in a foreign country that conducts intelligence operations against the United States can be a counterintelligence concern, as it increases the chances of the person being targeted for recruitment. Any behavior that increases the chances of being targeted for recruitment shows poor judgment and is a security concern. For further information, see Sexual Behavior as a CI Concern.
Sexual behavior is classified as notorious when it is sufficiently well known and noteworthy that it becomes the subject of talk among coworkers and/or social contacts. Notorious sexual behavior is a security concern because it may attract attention of an opposition security or intelligence service, terrorist group, or criminal element. It increases the risk that an individual will be targeted for recruitment or unwitting exploitation, and that increases the chances that any other vulnerabilities that exist will be discovered and exploited. The risk is greater for individuals whose job brings them into contact with foreign nationals who may be tasked to report on them to a foreign intelligence or security service.
In some cases, notorious sexual behavior may be a personnel issue as well as a security concern. The notoriety may reflect adversely on the U.S. Government or make it more difficult for an employee to accomplish his or her assigned tasks. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace and adultery with a consenting subordinate fall into this category.
Many foreign countries have laws and cultural standards regulating sexual behavior that differ from our own. Failure to recognize these different standards may bring one to the attention of local officials. A man who is accustomed to casual sexual relationships may encounter problems while working or traveling in a Muslim country. Similarly, a homosexual may have problems in a country where homosexuality is repressed and the overt homosexual community is carefully monitored by the police. An American who violates local laws or customs while in a foreign country becomes vulnerable to pressure or coercion.
Lack of judgment or discretion that is not serious enough for adverse action under the Sexual Behavior guideline should also be assessed under the Personal Conduct guideline. When combined with information about criminal behavior, substance abuse, financial irresponsibility, or other derogatory information, it may be part of a broad pattern of unreliability, untrustworthiness, or poor judgment.
Shame is one of the more powerful human emotions. People are sometimes ashamed of their sexual behavior if it deviates from their own or society's standards of what is normal or proper. Intense feelings of shame may make a person vulnerable to pressure or coercion. Also see the discussion of Vulnerability to Coercion or Duress in the Personal Conduct guideline.
If exposure of sexual behavior would cause acute embarrassment to the individual or severe problems with spouse, family, or employer, the individual may be vulnerable to pressure or coercion. This is a counterintelligence concern if the individual is serving in a position where he or she comes into contact with foreign nationals who might exploit such vulnerability if they became aware of it.
Vulnerability to coercion is difficult to assess, as it depends upon the circumstances, such as:
The adjudicator may take into account the subjects own assessment of his or her vulnerability to pressure. For example, subjects assurance that he or she would respond to attempted coercion by advising spouse and/or family of the behavior may be considered a mitigating condition.
Ironically, sanctions associated with the personnel security system may increase the vulnerability to pressure of those who engage in nonconforming sexual practices. If one believes that admission of homosexuality or transvestism, for example, would affect one's eligibility for a security clearance, one is more likely to conceal this information and thus, perhaps, be more susceptible to threats of disclosure.
For background information on a number of specific sexual behaviors, and discussion of their relevance or irrelevance to security concerns, see Information About Specific Sexual Practices.
Extract from the Guideline
(a) the behavior occurred prior to or during adolescence and there is no evidence of subsequent conduct of a similar nature;
(b) the sexual behavior happened so long ago, so infrequently, or under such unusual circumstances, that it is unlikely to recur and does not cast doubt on the individual’s current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment;
(c) the behavior no longer serves as a basis for coercion, exploitation, or duress.
(d) the sexual behavior is strictly private, consensual, and discreet.
Behavior During Adolescence: Past behavior may be mitigated if it occurred on an isolated basis during adolescence and there is a clear indication that subject has no intention of participating in such behavior in the future. Sexual experimentation or indiscretion is not uncommon during adolescence. If the unacceptable behavior happened only once, it is unlikely to be repeated and is not a concern. If there was a pattern of unacceptable behavior, the question is how certain one can be that it is no longer continuing. Some criminal behaviors such as pedophilia, voyeurism and exhibitionism start during adolescence, are difficult to stop, and are commonly denied.
Not Recent: Even if the unacceptable behavior occurred after adolescence, it might be mitigated if it was not recent and there is no evidence of subsequent conduct of a similar nature. The amount of time that must elapse depends upon the nature, frequency, and seriousness of the behavior, the circumstances under which it occurred, and how certain one can be that it has not continued.
No Longer Vulnerable to Pressure: Behavior that caused vulnerability to blackmail, coercion or pressure may be mitigated if subsequent developments have eliminated this vulnerability. This might happen, for example, if the information has already become public knowledge, subject has advised spouse or family or security personnel of the activity, or if subject has separated from spouse. A commitment to advise spouse or family of the behavior, or to advise the security office, in the event of attempted pressure or coercion may also be considered a mitigating factor.
Private, Consensual, and Discreet: Some unusual sexual behaviors, such as swinging, transvestism, and moderate fetishism, are not illegal and not necessarily associated with other serious emotional or behavioral problems. They might be mitigated if there is no other evidence of questionable judgment, irresponsibility, or emotional instability, and the nature of the subject's position and other circumstances are such that subject's sexual behavior is unlikely to attract the attention of others who might wish to exploit this behavior.
Successful Treatment: Successful completion of professional therapy may mitigate past behavior if the subject has been rehabilitated and diagnosed by competent medical authority as no longer likely to engage in the questionable behavior. The likelihood that treatment will be successful varies for different types of sexual behavior problems. When the ease or difficulty of treatment for a specific behavior is known, this is noted under Information About Specific Sexual Practices.
Reference materials are accessed from the Table of Contents.
1. Herbig, K.L., & Wiskoff, M.F. (2002). Espionage against the United States by American citizens 1947 – 2001 (TR 02-5). Monterey, CA: Defense Personnel Security Research Center.
2. Andrew C., & Mitrokhin, V. (2000). The sword and the shield: The Mitrokhin archive and the secret history of the KGB. New York: Basic Books.
3. Allen, T., & Polmar, N. (1988). Merchants of treason (pp. 434-439). New York: Dell.
4. Koehler, J.O. (1999). Stasi: The untold story of the East German secret police. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
5. Allen, T., & Polmar, N. (1988). Merchants of treason (pp. 378-379). New York: Dell.
6. Bryan-Low, C. (2006, January 16). Internet transforms child porn into lucrative criminal trade. The Wall Street Journal, p. A1.
7. Norton v. Macy. 417 F.2d 1161 (D.C. Cir 1969).
8. Smith, S. (2003, November 16). 5 percent of sex offenders rearrested for another sex crime within three years of prison release. Retrieved November 20, 2003, from the US Department of Justice--Bureau of Justice Statistics web site http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/rsorp94pr.htm. No longer available on the Internet.
9. American Medical Association. (1995). Strategies for the treatment and prevention of sexual assault. Chicago, IL: Author.
10. Office of Student Life. (2001). The Berkeley campus student policy and procedures regarding sexual assault and rape. Berkeley, CA: University of California. Retrieved April 16, 2010, from http://ccac.berkeley.edu/.
11. Kalichman, S.C. (1990). Affective and personality characteristics of MMPI profile subgroups of incarcerated rapists. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19(5), 443-459.
12. Covell, C.N., & Scalora, M.J. (2002). Empathic deficits in sexual offenders: An integration of affective, social, and cognitive constructs. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 7(3), 251-270.
13. Is chemical castration an acceptable punishment for male sex offenders? (1999). Retrieved January 16, 2004, from California State University-Northridge, Department of Psychology web site: http://www.csun.edu/~psy453/crimes_n.htm. No longer available on the Internet.
14. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. (n.d.). Adult survivors of incest. By the Numbers. Springfield, IL: Author. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from http://www.icasa.org/home.aspx?PageID=500
15. Rush, F. (1980). The best kept secret. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
16. Alter-Reid, K., Gibbs, M.S., Lachenmeyer, J.R., Sigal, J., & Massoth, N.A. (1986). Sexual abuse of children: A review of the empirical findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 6, 249-266.
17. Russell, D. (1983). The incidence and prevalence of intrafamilial and extrafamilial sexual abuse of female children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 7, 133-146. And Russell, D. (1986). The secret trauma: Incest in the lives of girls and women. New York: Basic Books.
18. Randall, M., & Haskell, L. (1995). Sexual violence in women’s lives. Findings from the Women’s Safety Project, a community-based survey. Violence Against Women, 1(1), 6-31.
19. Finkelhor, D. (1980). Sex among siblings: A survey on prevalence, variety and effects. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 9, 171-94.
20. Cyr, M., Wright, J., McDuff, P., & Perron, A. (2002). Intrafamilial sexual abuse: Brother-sister incest does not differ from father-daughter and stepfather-daughter incest. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(9), 957-973.
21. Kelly, R.J., Wood, J.J., Gonzales, L.S., MacDonald, V., & Waterman, J. (2002). Effects of mother-son incest and positive perceptions of sexual abuse experiences on the psychosocial adjustment of clinic-referred men. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(4), 425-441.
22. Phillips-Green, M.J. (2002). Sibling Incest. Family Journal-Counseling & Therapy for Couples & Families, 10(2), 195-202.
23. Hanson, R.F., Lipovsky, J.A., & Saunders, B.E. (1994). Characteristics of fathers in incest families. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9(2), 155-169.
24. Gilgun, J.F. (1995). We shared something special: The moral discourse of incest perpetrators. Journal of Marriage & Family, 57(2), 265-281.
25. This section on legal issues is based on U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. (1995). Sexual harassment in the federal workplace: Trends, progress, challenges (Chapter 6. Court Decisions and Evolving Views of Sexual Harassment). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The appellate court decisions noted here are Barnes v. Costle, 561, F.2d. 983 (D.C. Cir. 1977) and Corne v. Bausch and Lomb, Inc., 562 F.2d. 55 (9th Cir. 1977).
26. EEOC guidelines are found at 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1604.11.
27. Erdreich, B.L., Slavet, B.S., & Amador, A.C. (1995). Defining sexual harassment: Changing perspectives of federal workers. In Sexual harassment in the federal workplace: Trends, progress, and continuing challenges. Washington, DC: US Merit Systems Protection Board. Retrieved November 21, 2003, from http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=253661&;version=253948&application=ACROBAT
28. Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 106 S.Ct. 2399 (1986) and Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 114 S.Ct. 367 (1993).
29. Gilmore, G.J. (2004, Feb. 26). DoD releases 2002 sexual harassment survey results. Armed Forces Information Service. Retrieved July 13, 2006, from http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=27254
30. Lee, K., Gizzarone, J., & Ashton, M.C. (2003). Personality and the likelihood to sexually harass. Sex Roles, 49, 59-69.
31. Carnes, P. (1991). Don't call it love: Recovery from sexual addiction. New York: Bantam. The research was done at the Golden Valley Health Center, 4101 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley, MN 55422, but the Sexual Dependency Unit no longer exists there. At last report, Dr. Carnes was at Delano Hospital, 23700 Camino del Sol, Torrance, CA 90505, phone (612) 782-0510.
32. Gold, S.N., & Heffner, C.L. (1998). Sexual addiction: Many conceptions, minimal data. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(3), 367-381.
33. Carnes, P. (n.d.) Dr. Carnes’ resources for sex addiction and recovery: Sex addiction Q & A. Retrieved April 2010 from http://www.sexhelp.com/addiction_faq.cfm
34. Milkman, H.B., & Sunderwirth, S. (1986). Craving for Ecstasy: The consciousness and chemistry of escape. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
35. Barth, R.J., & Kinder, B.N. (1987, May). The mislabeling of sexual impulsivity. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1, 15-23.
36. Salzman, L. (1972). The highly sexed man. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 36-49.
37. National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. (2003). Cybersex and Sexual Addiction. No longer available on the Internet.
39. Statement by Dr. Bernard Mooney, CIA Office of Medical Services, Applicant Evaluation Division, to R. J. Heuer, PERSEREC, September 16, 1992.