IS IT AN
AL-ANON FAMILY GROUPS
OR IS IT A
If your a “Newcomer” who's been approached by the Lovely Ladies of Gottawanna.
A “New Member” who is hearing of Gottawanna for the first time.
Or an “Old-Timer” who thought the Gottawanna’s were gone.
The information on this Website is important for,
KNOWLEDGE BASED DECISION MAKING
We think the following is a clear and concise disciption of the Al-Anon Family Groups philosophy and principles.
The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope, in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.
Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity; organization, or institution: does not engage in any controversy: neither endorses nor opposes any case. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.
Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.
Preamble from the book, How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics. An Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature! (CAL)
Al-Anon's Delisting of Gottawanna Meetings.
Al-Anon of Orange County, is the location of many of the Gottawanna Meetings.
They do not list Gottawanna Meetings in their "Meeting Directory". For "any group that violates the Traditions... " there is a procedure within Al-Anon to "remove meetings causing serious problems from the local meeting list..."
The Al-Anon District 60 website, the home area for the Gottawanna's, was decommission by A-Anon. Because the Gottwanna's were using the site to recruit and advertise Gottawanna functions in the name of Al-Anon.
There are several reasons why Al-Anon took these extraordinary, exceptional, and extreme, steps.
"The action was not punitive in nature, but an acknowledgement of fundamental differences in ideology and practice."
"The separation of these groups from others is their own choice. That they identify themselves by another name [Gottawanna] indicates a desire or belief that they are unique, as does an earlier attempt to hold their own convention."
THE DEFINITION OF A CULT
A system of religious Veneration and Devotion directed toward a particular figure or object:
It has been said by many in Al-Anon that the Gottawanna's veneration and devotion is directed towards Sue and Keith Drum.
Gottawanna Home Group was established in 1961 as “Fullerton Tuesday Night Meeting”.
"Sue D, only had two years in the Al-Anon program. She had the desire to study the Steps and put them into practice into her life as she knew her husband, Keith, and members of Alcoholics Anonymous were doing for their own personal growth."
(Quoted from the "About Us" page on the website, http://www.gottawanna.net)
Keith D, is a long time member, "Old-Timer", of "Dog On The Roof". A Men's Stag Group Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Dog On The Roof – Men's Stag Group Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous was established in Fullerton, California on April 15, 1962.
"Around 1990 and only because of the loving support and cooperation from the members of the Gottawanna Al-Anon Family Group we were able to get ourselves a good old fashion meeting hall, where we could enjoy having our meetings with complete autonomy."
(Quoted from the "History of the Dog", page on the website,http://www.dogontheroof.com)
The Meetings are "Closed Meetings", but If you could visit the "The Hall" you would see the two Icon’s images hanging in veneration.
A demonstration of the Groups devotion directed to their leaders.
A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister:
Sue and Keith D are well know for their opinions on how "Their" Fellowship should practice the Program.
Many of their practice's are against the written doctrines of the "Official" Traditions, Concepts, and General Warranties, in Al-Anon. As stated in the Approved Literature of the Program.
There is also controversy on how their "Groups" Work the 12 Step Program.
The social aspects and arranged relationships, is considered strange or sinister"by others.
Examples are "the pairing and un-pairing of members with others,"
The un-paring of relationships prior to becoming a Member.
Paring members of Dog On The Roof (A.A.s) and Gottawanna's (Al-Anon's?).
A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing:
The "misplaced or excessive admiration" of Sue and Keith has led the Groups to practices what many consider "strange or sinister"
And that this "misplaced or excessive admiration" has perverted the Al-AnonTradition of “Principles above Personalties".
In the following information, the blue type represents quotes from Al-Anon (CAL), or the Delisting Letter on the "About Us'" page.
THE GOTTAWANNA'S CULT PRACTICES AND TACTICS.
"The practice of farming or recruiting members from panels or other meetings is not in the spirit of “attraction rather than promotion.”
Many have reported a popular tactic of Gottaqanna's is to approach New Members at one of their first Meetings, or at a Beginners Meeting. After the Meeting they,"Walk them to their car" to "Make sure your safe", while offering kindness and love. Your first impression will be very positive.
When you are approached by the Gottawanna's they will use what Psychologists call "love-bombing" a cult tactic used in recruiting.
Becoming "Instant friends" with you. Sharing with you that "They" and "Only They" understand what you are going through.
They will strongly suggest that you attend one of "Their Meetings". The "True Program".
They will suggest that they pick you up the next evening, (they now will know where you live) and take you to one of "Their Meetings".
At the Gottawanna Meeting you will be overwhelmed with the Love and Support of the Gottawanna's. It is Promotion of their program!
The Gottawanna’s present a very attractive image, through it’s “Dress Code”, and it’s Loving interactions with the ‘“Newcomer”.
It is good PR.
Members are required to recruit, something Al-Anon does not do, nor Promote.
Al-Anon is a Program of “Attraction not Promotion”!
"We come to Al-Anon seeking change. We want to end our pain, and we turn to Al-Anon in the hope of finding out what to do."
PRAYING ON THE VULNERABLE.
Gottawanna's will attend Al-Anon meetings, and Beginners Meetings to recruit “Newcomers”, giving the false impression their Groups are Al-Anon. One reason they focus on the “Newcomers” is because of their naivety.
The “Newcomers” are usually in a desperate state of mind. They come to Al-Anon in a weak and vulnerable condition, because of the Alcoholic behavior in their lives. Most are seeking Help and Hope! Lost and looking for direction!
They are easily influenced by the propaganda of the “Lovely Ladies of Gottawanna”.
The “Old-timers” who know Program are not fooled, and not easy to recruit.
The Love that a “Newcomer” may feel in recruitment is a Heart and Mind Control tactic use by all Cults!
If the “Newcomers” knew their true practices and beliefs beforehand ,they would know “This is not Al-Anon!”
There will be high pressure to attend “Their Meetings”.
And will be told not to attend other Al-Anon meetings. Creating separation from the Al-Anon community.
Thus creating an even tighter bond with Sponsors and the others in the Groups
WHY DO THE GOTTAWANNA'S NEED TO RECRUIT?
The Gottawanna’s have expenses that are not, and would not be approved by Al-Anon.
Gottawanna’s collect “Dues” for their private expenses.
Activities not approved by Al-Anon.
The “Dues" are collected to support their own place of worship, “The Hall”.
Their own Conference’s, Retreats, Celebrations, and Couples Weekends.
The collection of “Dues” is not voluntary!
There are repercussions for those who do not, or can not pay.
Some can have dire consequences!
The Al-Anon Preamble states, There are no Dues for Membership."
"There are no dues or fees for Al-Anon membership. Contributions are not voluntary when there are negative consequences for non-compliance."
Members have shared, once you attend a Meeting, you will feel the pressure of the “Group” to attend all of their sanctioned Meetings.
You will be told which meetings to attend.
You will be told that the other Al-Anon meetings, to quote Sue D, “do not work a good program” and are “sick people”, in "sick programs"
Gottawanna’s Sponsors will tell you who you can or cannot talk to, or associate with.
In Al-Anon "Guidance never imposes a decision on someone else or dictates an action. Any orchestration of personal relationships, or living circumstances, defies the Al-Anon credo not to make decisions which affect the lives of others, particularly about family situations."
Gottawanna's do not use the "How Al-Aonon Works." the book that "Working the Program" in Al-Anon is based on.
The book that defines the guidelines and philosophy of the Al-Anon Program.
Al-Anon's three Legacies, Recovery through the Steps, Unity through the Traditions, and Service through the Concepts.
The Twelve Steps, "the Steps are a "How-to" guide that helps us find answers to our most pressing questions, answers that previously eluded us."
The Twelve Traditions, "A set of guidelines that hold our program together". "They suggest ways to make decisions that are in the best interest of all concerned and provide a structure that is based on spiritual principles."
The Twelve Concepts of Service. "The Concepts of Service show us healthy ways to work with others and make wise, constructive decisions, they can be very useful situations at home and at work, as well as in Al-Anon service.
In Gottawanna you must read the A.A. "The Big Book" with your Sponsor before working The Steps.
The Big Book serves as the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, describing how to recover from alcoholism. The reasoning is: once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
“It is well to remember that A.A. literature is written for and from the viewpoint of alcoholics and is not Al-Anon/Alateen Conference Approved Literature. Reliance on opinions expressed in A.A. and other publications can distort the Al-Anon approach, particularly for the newcomer.”
There is a hierarchy of who “Shares” at a Meeting, and who does not.
In which order the sharing will happen.
Who “Must” Share at a Meeting. What they “Must” share about.
In Al-Anon we believe that, "Sharing involves revealing something about ourselves to others. But not everyone fells comfortable opening up to a roomful of people, especially at their first Al-Anon meeting. And some subjects are too personal, too detailed, or too embarrassing for such a public discussion. That's why sponsorship is so important."
Gottwanna’s have to travel in groups together to Conferences and other Events.
Self Policing Tactics, and Group Pessure to keep members with-in the Program.
The Gottawanna's will keep you busy with their priorities, “Their Meetings”. Everyday of the Week.
They will have you take on Service Positions, in "Al-Anon Meetings" to promote Gottawanna's ideology and practice.
Gottawanna’s need to make you believe that there is no where else you can go and still be saved.
That your actions could cause Alcoholic to drink again, and could die because of your actions.
The fear based control mechanism is designed to keep you in a Gottawanna’s and Dog On The Roof relationship.
This fear also gives the Sponsors tremendous power over you.
Any Newcomers” who do not get with the program, will be kicked out and told “Do not to return!”.
Go To An Al-Anon Meeting. You’ll find none of the above.
Non of the above actions and tactics are part of the Al-Anon Steps, Traditions, Concepts, or Warranties of Al-Anon! Which all Al-Anon meeting should follow. Or risk being Delisted from the AL-Anon Meeting List.
CONTROLLING PRACTICES OF THE GROUP.
Sponsors, and Sponsorship.
The “Newcomer” is assigned a “Sponsor” in their first Gottawanna meeting. And reassigned as determined by others in a "higher power" position of “Authority".
Al-Anon suggest that a “Newcomer” attend at least 6 (different) meetings before “selecting” a Sponsor, that is of their choosing.
Al-Anon does not require anyone to have a Sponsor. In Al-Anon, everyone Practice the Program in Their Own Way!
There is no “Authority”, other than your own personal “Higher Power”, in Al-Anon!
In Al-Anon, “Sponsorship is a confidential relationship between two Al-Anon members who benefit from sharing experience, strength, and hope. The intimate details exchanged strengthen the bonds of compassion, acceptance, and understanding. This private relationship is focused on the Al-Anon principles. Making a commitment to this special relationship, or letting go of the relationship, is a personal choice.”
The Gottawanna Sponsor has a very rigid rule of Sponsorship.
An example of a very rigid rule is in regards to prescribed medications. They play "Doctor" with you, and your loved ones lives.
Al-Anon believes, "A group policy, however, to refuse to sponsor anyone on anti-depressants and/or instruct any individual to stop using prescribed medication as a condition of being a group member is an unacceptable and potentially dangerous practice."
The Sponsor reports to a “Higher” Sponsor.
A Sponsors “Authority" is based on their time in the Group and their Status.
These “Lieutenants” may report directly to the “Highest Level” (Sue D), that will make the decisions, and be sent down thru the “Chain of Command”.
"There are no secrets in Gottawanna.” Sue D.
From behind the “Closed Doors” of a meeting. To the “Closed Doors of the bedroom”. There are no secrets in Gottawanna or Dog On The Roof!
These secrets become "Public Knowledge" with-in the Groups, then with-in the "General Public". With the ability to cause great "Harm" to family, friends and to relationships.
One of the main Principles of Al-Anon is Anonymity!
"Personal information of a sponsee should never be exchanged between a sponsor and others. Honoring the inviolability of the sponsor/sponsee relationship is paramount."
Another of the controlling tactics of the Group is, Shunning. You may be shunned for a variety of reasons. By the Group, or by Sponsors. It may be with-in the Groups, or publicly. It is a form of group pressure to perform or conform to the will of others. A Cult tactic use to control members.
Al-Anon believes that , "When members leave these groups, or fail to do something required of them, they run the risk of being shunned. Rejection is contrary to our one purpose: to help families of alcoholics."
SPONSORS AFFECTS ON PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
Members have shared, that a Gottawanna Sponsor will be involved with matters that are outside the scope of Al-Anon.
The Gottawanna Sponsor will be involved in all of your personal relationships.
To include your work relationships, family and friends.
And your Love life.
The Gottawanna Sponsor will control your marital and dating decisions, with direction from their Sponsor.
Paring of members and the un-paring of members is under “Their Will”. Not God’s Will.
They will interfere with any relationship that does not have their blessing. Or is not beneficial to the Groups.
To disagree with a Sponsor is to disagree with the Higher Power”
As Sue D. says "Their is no sicker Higher Power, than the Higher Power of a newcomer!"
There are very severe consequences with saying “No!” to a Sponsor’s request....
Al-anon is not a religious program, but it is a spiritual one. our Twelve Steps speak of a Power greater than ourselves and a God of our understanding. We do not impose a particular image or definition of that God or Higher Power. Instead, we leave it up to individual members to define these terms for themselves, and to find a personal, spiritual relationship that allows them to benefit from what our program has to offer.
GOTTAWANNA'S, AN UNSAFE ENVIRONMENT.
"When Anonymity is not respected, it creates an unsafe environment."
And it has had it’s consequences, on many. Families and Lives have been "Harmed".
"We don’t gossip in this program, we network.” "We share information."
Sue D., 10/13/13, 36 Annual Brazos Riverside Ca. Al-Anon Speaker-Sue D., 10/11/14. 57:00
Members and past members have expressed, "Everyone knows, everyone's business" in Gottawanna and Dog On The Roof.
They explain, Personal and Private information between a Sponsor and a Member is “Shared” with the Group.
When a Sponsor, or their Sponsor, determines that it should be. It is “Shared" in meetings, and after meetings publicly.
And could be shared by Sue D., believing she has the “Authority”, to share intimate information.
Many in Al-Anon believe breaking anonymity "Harms" the lives of Members, and Family and friends who are not in the Groups.
It "Harms" all the Members of the Groups, and it "Harms" the Groups, when anonymity is broken.
Breaking of Anonymity is used as a “Controlling Tactic” to keep members in line.
And to discredit members, and to encourage shunning of members who leave the Groups.
These tactics are not, in keeping with the slogan “Keeping the Light Touch” as quote from the Gottawanna Website.
"In Al-Anon, the more LOVE we offer, the more LOVE we will find within ourselves."
Many in Al-Anon believe, these are the heavy -handed tactics of a cult. These tactics are used to keep members under the control of powerful group leaders. Since the members are under the leader's will, they will also follow the group's ill.
Tradition Two: “For our group purpose there is but one authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants – they do not govern.”
This loss of individual responsibility is very troubling to us and is a sign that the Gottawanna's are not following Al-Anon practices. Al-Anon does not endorce a power structure like this, instead it encourages it's members to use their own judgement.
One of the three obstacles to success in Al-Anon is dominance. In Al-Anon, we have no authority figures. The First Step has taught us that we have no power over anyone but ourselves. We are reminded to place principles above personalities and be a fellowship of equals.
Al-Alnon we believe that you should "Take what you like, and leave the rest!"
THIS WEBSITE'S PURPOSE
The claims contained on this website are largely sourced from information in the public domain, with most of it coming from official
Al-Anon websites. Al-Anon leaders spent years conducting extensive interviews with people who were once part of the
Gottawanna Group and then left (often called "escapees"or "Goneawannas").
These interviews, in addition to public information, revealed the nature of many Gottawanna Groups practices.
This website is an attempt to provide easily found information on Gottawanna Groups.
So those who may be exposed to them are aware of their activities.
Most of the quotes and partial quotes, on this page are from the Delisting Letter, Dated April 20 , 2010.
Many are direct quotes from How Al-Anon Works for Family & Friends of Alcoholics.
On the About Us page there is a PDFs of the Delisting Letter, and other information, that may be contained on this website.
THE WEBSITE'S DEVELOPERS
We are Non-Members and Members of the Fellowship of Al-Anon. Some of us are "Working the Program", and some never have.
What we have in common is that we all have been "Harmed" by the actions of the Gottawanna's and the Dog On The Roof groups.
And we hope that Newcomers and New Members, with the information on this page, will avoid the pain of our experiences.
Our belief is that the Members of the Fellowship of Al-Anon need to be aware, and respond accordingly.
"We share the responsibility for protecting and preserving the character of our fellowship, for being sources of help and hope to those affected by alcoholism, and for accurately representing the Principles of our program to the world at large."
Below is a list of the Al-Anon websites used as sources:
Al-anon Family Groups, Information Service Office of Orange County, website.
Southern California Al-Anon Area Web Site.
SCWS Al-Anon" website, under the "Assembly Presentations" tab. - Task Force for Resolving Group and Member Concerns.
Below is information of the Gottawana Meetings status of "Do Not Recommend" by Al-Anon.
And the removing of their Website.
The Dictionary definition of a Cult, and a few examples of why many consider Gottawanna's (and Dog On The Roof) to be a Cult.
Following The Definition of a Cult, is More Information About Cults.
Then the Gottawanna's Cult practices and tactics.
Their recruiting and praying on the vulnerable. Why the Gottawanna's recruit.
About the Gottawanna's meetings, and their Cult controlling practices.
Gottawanna's type of Sponsorship, and the Sponsor's affect on personal relationships.
How the Gottawwanna's create an unsafe environment for those in, and outside of the Groups.
IS IT A CULT?
What determines if a group is a "cult" can be difficult to define. Some groups are borderline, some are extreme. To share some of our concerns about the nature of the Gottawannas, here is a rundown on the dictionary definition of a cult and how it relates to the Gottawannas.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CULTS.
The following information and quotes are from the Website,
From the "An Introduction to Social Influence" page. Under the tab "Cults".
The reader may find the site very useful in gathering more information on questions and answers on cults.
Kelton Rhoads currently serves as adjunct professor of
Communication and Psychology at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication.
"I approach the topic of influence from a scientific viewpoint--you won't hear me talking about my hunches, fabricating entertaining distinctions, constructing pseudo-scientific systems, or offering anecdotes as substitutes for hard evidence."
"There are over 3,000 destructive cults in the US, with approximately 4 million members."
"Since cults make liberal use of many influence techniques, I find them fascinating and study them whenever the chance arises."
"I've been able to identify about 30 influence tactics (depending on how finely you make the divisions within types), which are used to varying degrees in cults. They appear to group themselves into two types: the first set are used to attract recruits (I call these get-tactics), and the second set are used to keep members (I call these keep-tactics)."
"Cults prefer intelligent, productive individuals who are able to contribute money and talent to "the cause," whatever it may be."
"Unlike most established religions which employ a broad power structure with checks and balances, cults often have a pyramid structure, with one leader at the top demanding complete subservience from subordinates."
"Many cults use respectable sounding organizations as fronts. For example, Narcanon is run by the Church of Scientology. Even more ominous is the Church of Scientology's recent acquisition of the Cult Awareness Network, previously a clearinghouse for crucial information about destructive cults."
"Established religions and altruistic movements are focused outward--they attempt to better the lives of members and often, nonmembers. They make altruistic contributions. Cults serve their own purposes, which are the purposes of the cult leader; their energies are focused inward rather than outward (Margaret Thaler Singer)"
"I'm not the kind of mindless zombie who joins a cult." But very few mindless zombies join cults. Instead, as discussed on a previous page, the vast majority of cult recruits are normal, productive people--people confident in their ability to shrug off cult influence tactics. So, if I had to name the single most important defense against cult influence, it is the realization that we are all vulnerable--our friends, our families, and ourselves." Dr. Brad Sagarin
How cults recruit & indoctrinate their members.
Mind Control Techniques In Cult Recruiting.
Cult Recruiting Methods.
Why do people join and even appear to thrive in cult-like groups?
THE SUGGESTED AL-ANON CLOSING
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them.
Take what you liked and leave the rest.
The things you heard were spoken in confidence and should be treated as confidential.
Keep them within the walls of this room and the confines of your mind.
A few special words to those of you who haven’t been with us long: Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them, too. If you try to keep an open mind you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened.
We aren’t perfect. The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while, you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way - the same way we already love you.
Talk to each other, reason things out with someone else, but let there be no gossip or criticism of one another.
Instead, let the understanding, love and peace of the program grow in you one day at a time.