IN THE RED

Seven times wasn't enough: Kenyan sex addicts reveal struggle

In Summary

• Some think the addiction is a joke.

 Sex addiction is sometimes looked at as an inconsequential matter, but for two Kenyans, it almost destroyed their lives.

Two victims have spoken up about the impact it has had on their lives.

"At its worst, even having sex seven  times a day wasn't enough," Agnes Mwende says.

Mwende, a mother-of-three, says her sexual compulsion took over her life in 2018 and ruined her relationship.

In the beginning, she thought she just enjoyed sex with her partner, but sex  became the only thing she thought of.

"It was literally the first thing I thought about when I woke up, I just couldn't get it off my mind," said the 37-year-old, from Kitui county.

She says whenever she told her friends they would joke about it.

“My friends laughed at my condition  and because  I am a Kamba lady they said the tribe is known for loving sex.”

"I took it as a normal thing."

Mwende's condition caused serious problems in her relationship. Though her partner enjoyed the attention at first, it became insurmountable for the couple.

 
 

"At first he was fine with it but towards the end he couldn't understand it at all. After a few months he started to raise questions about why and where it was coming from."

Her husband accused her  of having an affair - "he thought I must have been feeling guilty about it and that's why I wanted sex with him."

ESCAPE TO MASTURBATION

She turned to masturbation.

"It was giving me the instant hit and five minutes later I wanted it again."

She says she became a loner and stayed in the house.

In November 2018, Mwende "needed a break" from the relationship and went to stay with her mother.

"When I left, I told my partner I needed to get better. He let me go, then the relationship broke down very quickly after that.

"I was under the care of a psychiatrist at the time - she kept saying she would alter my medication but she never said there were any support groups or anything."

She  was diagnosed with depression in 2012 after the birth of her third child. She said after it intensified in 2018 she changed jobs, split up with her partner and moved to Nairobi.

"I made many lifestyle changes in order to get over the depression and the addiction and for me, that has worked," she said.

MULTIPLE PARTNERS

Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, said his compulsion led him to cheat on his wife with "hundreds" of sex workers, leaving him with  guilt.

"When you are in full-blown addiction you are obsessed with thinking about it - from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.

"It was a horrible, gross experience - there is nothing sexy about it. When you wake up in the morning with a dose of chlamydia, it is not sexy.

"It is damaging and life-destroying."

Mark, who is in his 50s, estimates he paid hundreds of thousands a month for sex over several years, even building relationships with some of the sex workers he saw.

"What started with one affair at work led to another - but unlike most office affairs which may stem from one partner being unhappily married, mine was an addiction which I had to feed each day.

"You have one affair and then you want another and another one.

"I soon realised that the quickest and most convenient way for me to feed my addiction was to pay for it. I would be seeing escorts, sex workers, three or four times per week.

"It is just like being an alcoholic, it's a cycle that builds up in your mind - you feel a high from thinking about how it might happen and then you act it out in the way you planned.

"Then when it's over you feel remorseful, you say you're never going to do it again."

Mark stopped leading his "horrendous double life" when his wife found an email and confronted him.

He sought help from psychologists and says he has abstained from extra-marital sex for several years.

"For people who are in this situation, I just want them to know that there is a way out and you can break the cycle."

Addiction Counselor Faith Mwangangi says there are many ways in which sex addiction can manifest.

"Some addicts need to have random hook ups with strangers, while others use pornography to meet their needs."

She says some are addicted to self-pleasure or a particular fetish, while other sex addicts crave the voyeuristic attention of others. 

Mwangangi says behind all the varying behaviorus of sex addiction is the psychology of the addict.

"Sex addicts  lack a clear and unambiguous view of the role sex plays in their lives and in their intimate relationships."

She says sex addicts feel a sense of release or freedom when engaging in their fantasy worlds.