They Do Exist.

Pornography

Lessons On Boys, Fantasies, and Casual Relationships.

GWP_justakiss

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is anonymous by request of the author. Make sure you come back tomorrow (Tuesday), as we’re hosting a beautiful giveaway by Lionhart! – Lauren

It started in my head, and the image was only there for just a split second. He laid over me, looking down into my eyes. I hardly knew him aside from a few short conversations about building houses and being a musician. That made him more attractive to me; the less you know about a man, the less you have to feel bad when you don’t respect him. I am four years older than he, which makes me more attractive to him just by age alone. I closed my eyes and he bent his arms to lean down and kiss my lips. And then it was over. The fantasy, that is.

Fast-forward three weeks and despite the numerous times we have been around each other now he still calls me by a name that is not mine. I shake my head about how I ever could have thought I was attracted to him – even if it was only long enough for a short fantasy. I know nothing about him, and he knows nothing about me.

Photo by Branden Harvey / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

To me, he is just a silly boy with a poor memory. He is fit, quiet, and cocky, young and surprisingly irritable. He is not my type at all, but I know nothing about him. And about me – my heartache, my brokenness, my struggles – he knows nothing. My conquests, my achievements, and the battles I have won: nothing. He does not know how gently to hold my heart. He does not know when to push and challenge me past what I think I can endure. He does not know what a far way I have come from the mess of a girl I once was, to the woman of God I have fought so hard to become. He does not know me. To him, I am just un-sunned skin covering bones to a medium set frame with a mess of long, graying-black hair on my head and a pair of blue eyes.

To him, I am just breasts and a nice butt, a little less fit than I ought to be and a tiny bit shorter than most girls. He knows nothing about me.

So why is my fantasy a problem?

Well, I’ve realized it is a little bit like the culture of pornography. It allows me to create an ‘other’ in my mind that is completely suited to my desires (in this case sexual) and nothing else. He caters to my needs and politely goes away when I am distracted by something else. But I have a connection with him. And this particular fantasy, ‘him’ represents a real man. With real characteristics and a real personality, real struggles and a real heart. And now I have mucked up the reality of who he is – a creation of of the Most High God, made in the image of the Lord – and I have made him into something he was not created to be.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28) 

Ladies, these words apply to us as well. So I ought to have repented for my lustful thoughts and adultery, and leaned into the Holy Spirit for strength to hold this man to the respect he deserves as a child of God. But instead I ignored it, assuming nothing would come of only a few desire-filled thoughts.

“…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.” (James 1:14-16)

Rewind to last night. I just wanted to flirt. I just wanted a little attention. And those desires, those silly thoughts, those fantasies…still lingered. The maturity I have found in the four years since I was his age told me that I shouldn’t have anything to do with this. Everything started innocently, moving slowly enough that I could stop before anything went too far. Just a foot rub, from a man who is not mine. Just a lean on his shoulder. No need to drag me away, I had already been enticed. And suddenly the exact image I had created of this boy in my mind had become my reality. I closed my eyes and he bent his arms to lean down and kiss my lips.

As he did so, the most peculiar thought popped into my head: “This is the problem with culture of pornography.”

I played the thought over and over in my mind, wanting to shout it out, but the boy I barely knew filled the space that was meant for those words with his tongue. Like every other time with other boys, I catered to his needs and desires just to the point of making me uncomfortable and then distracted him elsewhere. Like every other time, I became a slave to this man’s fantasies and images that he has collected of sexy women. I am still working through why I did not stand up, smack him in the face for taking a foot rub to a butt grab and go inside, but that is not the point I am making.

This is the point: my random thought about the culture of pornography came from the realization that this boy has never and will never love me. I am nothing to him. Just a face he will see for the next month or so, and then likely never again this side of Heaven. I was his live porn, of sorts. The kind you get to touch, except when she asks you to stop for a bit. An even better way to get off, and still not have any emotional ties.

The culture of pornography teaches us that human beings are to use each other for our own pleasure.

It teaches a man that he can satisfy the nagging erection without ever having to listen to the girl bitch about picking up his socks or putting down the toilet seat. It teaches a woman that men like her sexy, and after that, she’s useless. And it teaches us to come together and use each other’s bodies for our own selfish pleasure without any care or concern about how the other is doing. The culture of pornography creates sexual disunity between men and women.

I looked the boy in the eyes and shook my head. “You don’t know anything about me,” I finally mustered up the courage to say to him. His response? “Is that such a bad thing?”

It is easier to use the girl next door to satisfy your needs if you do not know anything about her life, just as you do not know anything about the girl on the screen. And real life is better isn’t it? And it is easier to use the boy down the street to satisfy your unmet desire for just one kiss if you know nothing more about him than you know about the boy inside your mind.

I walked away from this with a new understanding of my sexual sin and the struggles of my past. By God’s grace, I have grown so far away from a lifestyle filled with hook ups and late night make outs that I forgot how long I would need to shower until I stopped feeling dirty. By God’s grace, I hope never to return to a place where love is absent and sexual immorality is abundant.

I still haven’t figured out a nice way to tell him that my name is not Kim.


Boundaries: Finding Out Your Boyfriend Is Addicted To Porn

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Editor’s Note: I remember several years ago, I believed that all men watched pornography, that it affected nothing, and that because it was normal, I had no right to ask a boyfriend to “give it up for me.” As a result, I buried all my emotions deep down, and charged forward in my relationships with a thick, invisible hurt and distrust that affected so much. And, some of the men I dated dealt with emotional and physical consequences that I had no idea were caused directly by addiction to porn. Later, I learned that pornography has scientifically proven many emotional, spiritual and physical consequences. More recently, I’ve discovered that some good men are truly committed to ridding it from their lives. It is a beautiful thing seeing men and women being brutally honest as they strive to love each other and remain faithful to one another. Today, Amanda Lenhardt shares her story on finding out her boyfriend was addicted to porn. She blogs at Separated By Beauty. – Lauren

It’s those first few moments, days, and months that just seem impossible. There are few words that really describe how you feel after you find out your loved one is addicted to porn. If I could describe this feeling in anyway it would an overwhelming amount of confusion that bombards your life.

I really wasn’t sure where to turn with any of it. All I knew was that I was hurt and breaking.

Growing through this, fighting through this, and coming out on the other side stronger has shown me the importance in setting boundaries. It didn’t mean ending things. It meant healing me. It meant coming to terms with not being able to fix Dustin and our relationship, not matter how much I wanted to. It meant leaning more on Christ and less on the brokenness that each one of us shared. It meant learning to be healthy myself, no matter the future outcome.

Our story doesn’t start with boundaries, but it ends with them. I knew after finding out that I should “make boundaries.” But I had hesitation towards this idea of creating any type of “walls” around my heart. In my mind, I wasn’t sure what boundaries were going to look like, where they would take us, or what room I had to make for them.

Photo by Laura Pett / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

But then, I came to a point in our relationship where I hit rock bottom. I realized we had a much larger problem at hand and that something needed to happen, actively. Not only for our relationship to be restored, but for our hearts.

I by no means have all the answers. I just have my story. The boundaries you create with your loved one may be different then the ones I created with Dustin. But if I help you just by sharing the things I have done then I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity.

One of the first boundaries I created with Dustin was limiting our time together. Porn creates a relationship full of distrust. After I found out, it was hard for me to get over something I had to re-face every time we would see each other. I made it clear, for those first few months after it happened, that our time together would only be spent at church or in a group. I needed to have a grasp on forgiveness that I knew was clear and solid. This wouldn’t happen if we spent a lot of time together, absorbed in one another. So for two months, we saw each other on Wednesdays and Sundays, rarely texted, and remained off the phone. I didn’t do this to teach him a lesson, but to care for my heart. When you find out your boyfriend is addicted to pornography, it does damage to your heart. Setting boundaries isn’t simply “saying no” to your boyfriend. It’s creating a way to prioritize the healing of your heart. For me, I knew it would not be healthy to stay so closely tied in the relationship.

Secondly, I had to make sure he knew I supported him without creating a rule guide to his life. When I first found out, I thought I would be able to fix him by handing him a list of things I wanted him to change. I soon learned that this harmed both of us. It created an environment of shame for him and was unrealistic on my part. I had to step back and see ourselves as two individuals, and to stop taking responsibility for his addiction. I made it clear to him that I loved him and was here to pray for him instead of handing him a list of things I wanted him to do. He knew that porn would have to be gone for our relationship to succeed. It encouraged him more knowing that I was there praying from him instead of nagging him.

Lastly I had to be intentional with other women in my life. This is not something you can walk out alone. It was a walk of consistently going to Christ, and talking with other women. Very few knew how to respond, but it’s a matter of bringing the darkness to the light. Christ does not want you to walk through this alone. Find women you can trust and that you know will be here for you to support you. Also, it’s never healthy to consume your life with one relationship. Dustin and I make it a point to make time to hang out with others.

Ladies, if I can do anything, I want to encourage you to set boundaries in your relationship during this time. You have every right to go to your man and set a standard. You do not have the role of changing him, but of determining what you desire in a relationship with a man. You cannot change his heart, but you are responsible for caring for your own. Guarding every ounce of it knowing that with Christ you can have peace that can seem so absent during this time.

You are not just setting boundaries to fix what porn breaks in your relationship. You’re setting boundaries to make your heart stronger, and to truly recognize that you will be all right whether things get better or worse. Something boundaries gave me was a peace. I was not swimming with all the burdens I had picked up for Dustin, but I was relying on a peace that Christ had supplied.


What I Learned About Porn, Secrets, & Shame In 2011

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by Elsie. What we keep in the dark, eats at our hearts. For 2012, make a resolution to spill your secrets to someone you trust. And if you don’t have someone you trust, resolve to pray and pray hard for that woman. It is a perfect time too, to volunteer as a mentor or request one. Check out our mentoring page. Much love, and Merry Christmas! – Lauren

I never thought that I would be the girl that got to write this story. It could turn out to be a spin-off tale about depression and loneliness and a fight so hard it almost tore my soul out. I know what it is like to feel so alone that you cry yourself to sleep every single day of the week. I know what it is like to want something so much that you will do crazy things just to get it. I know what it is like to fall in love with wrong person that your life soon becomes a living hell. I know what it is like to wear your heart on your sleeve, and that is where my story begins:

I was only eight and I remember my brother having two of his friends coming over to our place to play video games, but they soon turned out to be R-rated movies. There were times they would literally kick me out of the house to watch their ‘horror movies’. Being the little girl that was scared of monsters under the bed, of course I obliged, but after a while my curiosity got the better part of me. That is when I had my first exposure to the porn world. Soon after he left for boarding school, I knew where he hid his stuff, so it was only natural that the nosy little sister went fishing for the good stuff.

I was addicted soon enough, and I was careful enough to never get caught. I was the girl who went to church, who said enough, did enough and never got caught in any wrongdoing. And of course when it was time for my baptism, I was right there reciting those vows like I had no care in the world with the rest of my friends. Nobody knew my secret. No one could see anything wrong with what I was doing.

But things like this tend to affect one in ways that you cannot imagine. I became a recluse, because half of my time was spent in search of videos or romantic novels.  My relationship with any guys was practically non-existent because in my eyes, none of them fit the bill. None of them were as hot as those I saw in my movies ,or even came close to the tall, dark, and handsome ones in my books.

Crazy enough, it was around this time that my pastor talked to my youth group about the importance of waiting until marriage to have sex. And who was I to be left behind? I jumped right in and even had my ‘purity’ ring made. I went out a few times but they all fled when I told them I wasn’t going to sleep with them. That is when my depression kicked in. On one hand, God was tugging on my heart – and on the other I had all this stuff in my mind with no way of venting it out. Who would this little ‘miss perfect’ tell about what was really going on? I was too keen on maintaining that image that I wasn’t going to let this ‘stuff’ ruin it.

College didn’t make anything easier. Even though my hideaway was still the church, all my spare time was spent ‘researching’ ways to make sure I could keep my future husband. (Read: porn.)

The problem is that you can’t serve two masters at the same time. You will end up loving one and hating the other. I ended up blaming God that the problems I was experiencing were His fault. He was supposed to be so powerful, but I felt that He had somehow forgotten me.

I had met a guy and fallen so much in love with him, only to realize that I was the rebound from his breakup. When he left, my world came crashing down. Really. I started drinking, and my depression got worse with each passing day. I couldn’t sleep because the images I had been watching over the years began tormenting me. There were a few times I contemplated suicide because everything was falling apart. I had no one to talk to,  because I had worked so hard in pushing people away. I was tired and miserable and the guilt was eating away at my soul, chipping away at everything I once held true. Masturbation somehow became my outlet. Some crazy form of comfort.

Even when I thought He had forgotten all about me, He still knew who I was and He fought to have my heart back. Of course, I fought back like crazy, because I had vowed to never ever love again – even though He was the creator of the universe. The walls I worked so hard to build around my heart? He slowly chipped away, and now I am believing again. He has sent me amazing friends, people who have helped me get through the dark moments. Now, I can smile again. The journey to recovery is not easy and there are days I crave the feelings again – but I know that someday He will replace it with something that is genuine and that is true.

I will not fear to be alone anymore because He really is my solace, my shelter, and above all, my greatest love.

I may not be where I want to be, but I am getting there, one steady step at a time, with my Father holding my hand.


Winners Of The Book Giveaway!

Editor’s Note: Congratulations to our winners! On November 29th, we held a giveaway for Dirty Girls Come Clean. Our five winners are listed below and will be receiving a copy of the book for free. If you didn’t win but really wanted/needed to read the book, PLEASE skip a couple coffees and buy it here. Dirty Girls Ministries has blessed us with a discount, and the book is only $6 for you. – Lauren

WINNERS:

Laura, lauramorgan[at]gmail.com

Alyssa, ahobson92[at]gmail.com

Brittany, brittanylgrant[at]gmail.com

Stephanie, schampag[at]stetson.edu

Lindsey, lindz391[at]yahoo.com


Pornography: I Am Not Dirty, I Am Clean

Editor’s Note: This is our last post on pornography. It was written by Lindsey – she blogs here and tweets here. We received dozens and dozens of submissions this month, with over 50 that we were unable to publish due to time. If you sent in your story, thank you. We are holding onto it for the future. I have learned this month that we have not been alone in this. We have simply been silent. Start speaking, find community, and find abundant life. If you don’t have Dirty Girls Come Clean yet, Dirty Girls Ministries is temporarily offering our readers the book for only $6. Or you can enter our giveaway that closes tomorrow! – Lauren

I was the best Christian girl a Christian girl could be. I never hiked my Christian school uniform skirt higher than my knee, I was the best at church Bible drills, and I always raised my hand when the teacher asked for a volunteer to pray.

My parents had come from rough backgrounds, but they were doing all they could to make sure their daughter was raised right. I was protected, sheltered, and naïve. The sex talk was reduced to being handed a book about adolescence, and I knew not to ask questions about what I read. Just around the time when my hormones and my body were starting to leave girlhood, though, my school got a new transfer: a girl with plenty of answers. She told me eye opening stories of what it was like in her public school. My curiosity was insatiable. One afternoon when I was left home alone with the television, I landed on Jerry Springer’s holiday special and MTV’s raciest videos. I was intrigued and horrified by what I saw.

Mountains of guilt changed my mood for days until I confessed to my mom what happened. I was forgiven, I suppose, but nothing was dished out. Nothing was healed.

Four years later, I was given a laptop for my high school graduation present. I had spent the last few years filling my mind with words and descriptions from Christian romance novels, and it didn’t take me long to wander into the dredges of the internet to add to my repertoire of images.

After that first confession with my mom, I was never asked about the incident again. I was the perfect child, after all, and I acted my role perfectly. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, but I knew I needed to keep this a secret. What would people think of me if they knew, anyway?

I already knew what I thought of myself.

I am a freak.

There’s something wrong with me.

I have a guy problem. I notice other girls in ways I shouldn’t. I look at porn. And I like it. Heck, I thought girls weren’t even supposed to want sex!

Eventually, my struggle wasn’t just looking at porn, it was an addiction to everything sexual I could get my mind on. I hoarded scenes from every source and then I let my mind take everything further. In the realm of my imagination, the sexuality became even more twisted and damaging. And, there in my imagination, I was alone.

I was alone whether I wanted to be or not. I was certain no one would understand if I told them. They would just cringe at the things I’d done and try to get away from my dirtiness. I was the only one with this disease. I didn’t want to bear it alone, I wanted to get out of this cesspool, but I was scared to death of what people’s reaction would be if they knew. I was stuck.

In the throes of this downward spiral, my college held a women-only event. “Secret Struggles of Women”. I had a small hope that there would be something there that could help me, so I went. It was at this event when I first had an inkling that I might not be alone.

One of the speakers talked about how she had struggled with masturbation since adolescence. Her testimony turned my world upside down. She has a guy problem like me! Maybe I’m not the only one with this disease! Maybe I can be fixed, too!

At the end of her talk, she urged anyone in the audience struggling with lust to tell someone about it. Telling someone was the first step. “Freedom is out there,” she said. “Don’t settle for anything less.”

Gosh, did that sound amazing, but I was still certain my friends would be disgusted. They could never love me after they knew what I’d done. I decided to keep my secret safe, but left with porn in my solitude, nothing was getting better. In fact, things were getting worse. I’d gotten my first boyfriend, and we were having a heyday with our physicality. I was gaining more and more images and sensations from what my imagination did with our kisses.

Seven years into my addiction, I formed an accountability alliance with my best friend. Part of me was terrified that my secret would eventually come out, but part of me wanted to spill out my heart every time we talked. This one particular evening, I had just shut down some sexually charged videos before I walked the hall to our meeting place.

My thoughts during our conversation boiled with guilt as I lingered over what I’d just been watching. My soul squirmed and ached to finally get this hell out in the open.

Our chat led to her commenting on the lack of vulnerability on our campus. Oh boy… here it comes.

“Well… you want vulnerability? Here we go.”

And I told her.

Everything.

It seemed like I spent hours detailing the past seven years. I told her about the heartache. The guilt. Feeling like a freak. Feeling like filth. I equated myself with the scum of the earth. I was the chief of sinners. And I’d understand if she didn’t want to hang out with me anymore.

When I finished, I noticed that I’d been looking ahead, away from her the whole time, Now that everything was laid bare, I didn’t want to look her in the eye. All I could do was hang my head in shame. When curiosity finally won the battle and I looked at her face, I saw sorrow, pain, tears, and then two arms flinging themselves around me.

Holy crap. She’s hugging me?!

The first wall of my prison came crashing down in that moment as my tears wet her t-shirt.

Since that evening, more chains have been broken. I’ve gone through counseling, and I’ve been blessed with seasons of sobriety. I’ve told more people my story, and it has only ever been met with grace, respect, sometimes tears, and always love. Each time I’ve shared, my addiction and the fear of rejection has lessened. My final semester at college saw me giving my testimony before 50 other young ladies at another “Secret Struggles” gathering. Having three girls come to me thanking me for telling them they aren’t alone, that was the most humbling and rewarding experience I could have ever hoped for.

As I have been told, and as I told them, may I tell you now? There is freedom for you! No matter where you’ve been, freedom is being offered to you right now.

The purest freedom comes from Jesus. He has been teaching me that I’m not identified by my actions. I am not my addiction or my sexual confusion! I’m not dirty; I am clean! Covered by the blood of Christ, I am a beautiful creature on her way to perfect healing.

I still mess up and allow myself to be coaxed back to the horror of lust, but Jesus’ offer of endless grace continues to win my heart again and again. And I know now that I’m never alone.


BOOK GIVEAWAY: Dirty Girls Come Clean

Editor’s Note: To wrap up this incredible month on pornography, Dirty Girls Ministries has given five copies of Crystal Renaud’s book, Dirty Girls Come Clean, to us for a book giveaway! So, so very many of you have been sending us emails, DM’s, and messages asking, “what’s next?” in your struggle with pornography. Crystal shares her story and applicable ways to overcome it, for women. We want to make sure you know about it, and have the opportunity to read it. – Lauren

The giveaway starts now – and the five winners will be announced on December 1st.

To enter, please leave a comment that includes your email address.

If you do not leave your email address in the comments, you will not be entered into the giveaway.

If you’d like to read the first chapter right now, you can do so here.

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I Am 22, Engaged, And Addicted to Porn

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is anonymous. If you would like speak with her, please send an email to goodwomenproject[at]gmail.com and I am happy to put you in touch with the author. If you are trying to stop watching porn, please check out our Resources page that we are putting together. Also, Dirty Girls Ministries is selling their book, Dirty Girls Come Clean for only SIX DOLLARS today. Go get a copy. Much love. – Lauren

I could give you facts and figures, but the truth of the matter is that sometimes truth is better heard through story. I think of the parables of Jesus Christ and how simple stories turned the world He knew on its head. This story isn’t a parable and it’s definitely not fable. This is truth.

The truth of the matter is this: I am 22, engaged to be married, and addicted to porn.

But I wish someone would have told me years ago that that “purity pledge” I made in eighth grade didn’t mean that as long as I didn’t have sex, I was pure. That is certainly not the case. I am both impure and a virgin.

Abstinence isn’t the answer to purity in the Church. Simply refraining from having sex (and as the wedding day draws nearer, I’m starting to fully realize that “simply refraining” isn’t simple at all) does not make a “pure” person.

I became addicted to the idea of sex when I was 17 and foolishly engaged. Although we weren’t planning the wedding until 3 years down the road, I wanted to make sure I was ready for sex. So I did “research” and became a little addicted.

I wish someone would have told me then that there’s no such thing as “a little addicted”.

After he broke up with me, I went to a Christian college where every website we visited was monitored. So I stopped looking at porn. I thought I was healed!

And then I went home for breaks. I’d bring my computer to my bedroom at night. I’d click on every website that became available. I looked at ALL kinds of porn, something to get me off. But I told myself that I could stop at anytime. And when I went back to college, I did stop.

But I never stopped thinking about it. And that was the thing. My “little addiction” became an infestation in my brain that would not, could not leave. I’d get so hungry for it that I’d go crazy sometimes. I dropped out of my first year of college for other reasons, and that summer, every weekend not spent at camp, I’d go to bed with my computer – reading, looking, fantasizing.

I went to another Christian college and thought I had it beat again. I survived summers and breaks at home without looking at porn, without reading erotica.

And then I got engaged.

Now, I’ve been told multiple times that everything gets more difficult once a ring is on a finger. And the ring is shiny and beautiful and speaks of love and promises. But I’m stuck.

I was tricked into thinking that I needed to know everything by the time of our wedding so that I can make him happy with me. To do so, I started watching porn – again.

Even though I am a virgin, my fiance is not. Even though he tells me that this will be completely different for him this time around, I still feel inadequate – AND WE’RE NOT EVEN MARRIED!

My addiction has made us reset boundaries twice now, simply because I was more willing to be flexible with the boundary lines we had set before. I want the pleasure that the girls get in those videos. I want to know what it’s like for his hands to be all over me. I want to know what desire feels like – when he can’t get enough of me, or what I’m able to give isn’t enough. And we’ve hit those lines far too many times in the past two weeks. He and I used to be able to nap together – no more. We used to be able to passionately kiss – no more. Not until the wedding when we can kiss all we want and fall asleep in each other’s arms. Even taking those two things away is painful. Sometimes it makes me think that he doesn’t want me at all; I’m tricked into thinking I’m not good enough. Truth of the matter is this: I’m good enough for him, but one more “oops” moment will turn into one of us taking off clothing. He’s protecting my virginity because he thinks it’s beautiful.

I wish he could protect my innocence. I wish he could erase my memories of those pictures and videos.

I don’t want to be trapped. I was tricked into it by the little lie that told me I would know how to do nothing on my wedding night; tricked into the lie that said that he wanted my body more than my heart. I bought those lies. I’m trapped. I want desperately to get out.

So I put one foot in front of the other, and I keep walking forward. I may stumble; sometimes I may even fall. But my God is gracious and forgiving, slow to anger and abundant in love and he will pick me up again and help me to continue to walk forward.

I cannot do this on my own. I am weak.

But my God can – and will – deliver me..


I Tried To Be A Porn Star

Editor’s Note: Today’s story was written by Jen. Porn is wholly destructive because it teaches us performance instead of intimacy. Sex is meant to be “with” someone, not “for” someone. Our sex-saturated culture has thoroughly convinced women that we are to serve a man in bed, and has set a distorted standard of masculinity for men that they cannot attain – keeping both of us from participating in real, true connection and satisfaction. – Lauren

I remember being six years old and wandering around the video rental store as my dad browsed in the adults-only section. He would try to hide the video he chose, but I could always catch a glimpse.

Or the time when I was seven and hunting for hidden Christmas presents. Instead of gifts, the box under my parents’ bed held stacks of dirty magazines – magazines that made Playboy and Hustler look very tame.

I remember when my family got the internet for the first time, and how my dad wasn’t very smart with clearing the history. He never did learn how to do that.

So there I was, 10 years old, with more sexual images in my head than should have been there. I was curious, and intrigued. I knew this stuff was off-limits, but I wanted to explore. The images seemed so wrong, but maybe I just felt that way because I was a kid? Maybe they were just part of being an adult?

I am, by nature, a reader and a learner. If my interest is piqued on a topic, I don’t stop researching until I become a mini-expert. I’m also an only child, with extremely distant parents. I can sadly say that in many ways, I raised myself, and sex was no exception.

After I discovered the stuff my dad was looking at online, I started to explore the internet more and more, and I was amazed at the vast amount of information that was so easily accessible. I was alone and unsupervised during most of my free time, and I began to teach myself about sex. Using the internet. Without wise parental guidance. What a fantastic combination, huh?

By 12, I had spent countless hours reading erotica, browsing through sex Q&A forums, and basically learning everything I could about it. I mostly stayed away from the images, because the writing thrilled me more. I developed a very warped perception of sexuality, thinking that it was exactly what every guy was looking for, and to not offer it ASAP would be a bad idea. Sex seemed like the pinnacle of a relationship, so why would you not skip right to it? In the things I read, emotions always seemed to naturally come out of sex, so if I tried that, I’d feel emotionally fulfilled, right?

At 13, a much-older boy started giving me attention, told me he loved me, and I gave myself to him right away. What struck me afterwards was the lack of emotion I felt. What was I doing wrong? Why did I not feel anything? Why wasn’t this like the stories I had read? The answer I came up with – “fake it ’til you make it”. Maybe if I pretended that it was an incredible, life-altering experience… maybe if I pretended to want it all the time… maybe the feelings and fulfillment would come.

They never came.

My second partner had a very active porn habit, and although it bothered me that he was using other sources besides me to meet his needs, I pretended to be fine with it. After all, I needed to be the girl that was down for anything. So, I started looking at stuff he told me to look at, and got a clearer picture in my mind for how sex was supposed to look. My goal became to act like the porn stars – maybe I would feel good if I could really make the guy feel good, and porn stars seemed to be able to make that happen.

Fast forward a few years, and I found Jesus and decided that I wanted life to be different. I realized then that God had a purpose for sex, and that it was meant to be experienced within the boundaries of a lifetime commitment (marriage). But that’s really where the change stopped.

I got married. I still tried to act like a porn star. I kept the same mentality about sex that I had before. And I still felt nothing.

I’ve been married for four years and my husband and I were able to have emotionally-connected, God-honoring sex for the first time just a couple of months ago. God has finally broken through my wall of misconceptions about sex. And it feels great.

I chose to write about this under the topic of pornography because I feel that my misconceptions were strongly based on what I saw and read in porn, mixed with my interactions with other people who were addicted to porn. It really damaged my heart and mind, and I am extremely happy to say that I am finally working past the damage, and I am figuring out how to replace the misconceptions with God’s truth. I am being set free.

Good women, please protect your young kids (present and future!) from coming in contact with porn. If you do struggle with it, or your partner struggles with it, please be extra cautious that your kids don’t see it. Young minds are not prepared to deal with it..


My Secret Childhood Sex Life: Porn, Masturbation, & Shame

littlegirltv

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is anonymous, but the woman who wrote it has graciously volunteered to talk with anyone about these things. Please send an email to GoodWomenProject@gmail.com and I will put you in touch with her. Her story today is a little long, but stories like these need to be. Thank you for listening. – Lauren

Lots of people think back on their first memories with a nostalgic contentment. Childhood, for many, is a time of innocence, purity, and care-free giggles. Mine didn’t happen to turn out that way.

My childhood wasn’t unbearable, nor do I feel like I missed out on being a kid. I had many happy times growing up. I played softball, was a cheerleader, adventured around in the woods behind my house, and sang in school plays. I had a bubbly personality, and I smiled often. Any observer would have thought that I was a normal, happy little girl, and for the most part, I was. But what no one knew was that I struggled every day with thinking that I was a dirty piece of scum.

One of my first memories in life was watching hard-core pornography.

I was about 5 years old and was on vacation with my parents and cousin who was about a year younger than I was. My cousin and I were really good buddies, and we did everything together. My parents had left our hotel room at some point one night, and my cousin and I decided to flip the channels on the TV. We came across porn. We stared, wide-eyed, at the images of a man and woman acting in a manner completely different than we had ever seen before.

I think it mesmerized me in a way, because the next thing I remember was my mom coming back into the room and catching on to what we were watching. She got really frazzled and quickly turned off the television.

It was too late.

We bombarded her with questions.

“What WAS that?!”

“Mommy, what were they doing?”

“What was that man doing to the lady?”

My poor mother had no idea how to handle the situation. She ended up giving her five-year-old daughter and four-year-old niece “the sex talk”. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something along the lines of, “When mommies and daddies love each other very much, they do things together to show each other how much they love one another. Kind of like what you saw on the TV.” I remember being really confused and scared.

Let’s just say I was never the same.

My cousin and I were really close, and could always be found playing together. One of our favorite games to play together was “house”. (She had one of those really awesome kitchen sets and an Easy Bake Oven. Playing at her house was little-girl heaven.)

We took turns playing “Mommy” and “Daddy”. Whoever played “Mommy” would cook and clean, and whoever played “Daddy” would “go to work” and read the newspaper.

We added a new twist to our games with this new knowledge of the worlds of “mommies and daddies” that we had seen that one night. We would basically recreate what we saw in the pornography with our four- and five-year-old little bodies.

At first, we had absolutely no idea that what we were doing was “wrong”. We began to catch on, however, as we got older. We began locking doors behind us to go “play”. What began as a relatively innocent game of “house” became a full-blown addiction to sexual satisfaction.

I remember my self-image during these years. Any time one of my family members or one of my parents’ friends would talk to me and tell me what a “good girl” I was, I would smile and say “thank you”, but in the back of my mind I remember thinking, “You don’t know what I do when you’re not looking. I’m bad.”

I genuinely thought I was “bad”. I don’t ever remember thinking that I was “good”.

My entire childhood was tainted with feelings of worthlessness, dirtiness, and shame.

I began masturbating around age eight. I sought out videos like the ones we’d accidentally seen. And by age 12 I had a budding addiction to pornography and masturbation.

The “game” continued until my cousin and I were about 11. We stopped when we realized that what we were doing were lesbian sex acts. I remember being scared to death that I was, in fact, a lesbian. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t lesbian, but that my first sexual experiences were all with a girl, and that it is common for girls with these kinds of experiences to question their sexuality.

So.

Much.

Shame.

These events in my childhood not only lead to addiction to pornography and masturbation, they lead to attempts in my adolescence and early adulthood to “prove” to myself that I wasn’t a lesbian by hooking up with as many hot men as I could. This didn’t liberate me like I thought it would. It just brought… you guessed it. More. Shame.

I’ve recognized that sexual shame is a vicious cycle. The shame that comes from doing something “dirty,” causes distress and a negative view of one’s self worth. This builds up inside and needs to be released, and it is. Usually in the form of another “dirty” act. The shame cycle continues, and it will until you are able to release the built up distress in a different way.

You guys, the events that took place in my childhood were that deep, dark, secret that you never expect to tell ANYONE. I swore I would take these memories to my grave because even the thought of them made me sick to my stomach with shame.

Through a series of events when I was 19, I hit rock bottom and found God in the pit of my depression.

Through a growing intimate relationship with Jesus, I was able to start talking about what plagued me as a child.

One day, I felt like He was asking me to tell a specific friend of mine about the “games” my cousin and I played as little girls. I was terrified. But I knew God was trustworthy, and I began talking.

Turns out she had had a very similar experience and had never told anyone before. She had blocked it out of her memory. Together, we began opening up about our pasts and praying over each other. We experienced so much freedom in confession and the true fellowship that comes with honesty within a friendship with a sister in Christ.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there is FREEDOM for you if you feel stuck in and enslaved by your sexual urges and the shame that they cause.

The first step?

TALK TO SOMEONE – HONESTLY – ABOUT THE THINGS YOU ARE SHAMEFUL ABOUT.

Surprisingly, there are SO many girls and guys (seven of my friends that I have talked to so far) that have struggled with these same things. It’s just that nobody wants to talk about it. And definitely not in the church.

So ladies… let’s start talking to each other.

Watch what God does with our honesty.

What you bring into His light He will take. He will form beauty out of your ashes. Just give Him a chance. He wants you to know that He understands you, that you were young and you didn’t know what you were doing.

He has taken care of everything on the cross of Christ and you stand before him INNOCENT. PURE. SPOTLESS.

Oh, P.S. My cousin’s name?

Grace..


Porn, Your Marriage, And Our Lackluster Sex Lives

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Nicole Cottrell, over at Modern Reject. She writes awesome things on culture, sex, dating, relationships – all of it. You might remember her article for us, Christian Dating: Do’s And Don’ts. You can follow her on Twitter at @modernreject. – Lauren

Here’s what they want you to believe:

They want you to believe that pornography isn’t harmful, and even safe.
They want you to believe that it is somehow vastly different from actual physical adultery.
They want you to believe that pornography in no way affects your sex life, except that it enhances it and makes it “sexier”.
They want you to believe that porn can actually jumpstart a dull sex life and bring about renewed sexual desire in a marriage.
They want you to believe that a husband or a wife viewing pornography will look at their spouse exactly the same way even after staring at strangers’ naked bodies.
They want you to believe because they know good and well that it is all a lie, but the more of it you fall for the better.

But the truth is quite different:

The truth is pornography can be devastating to a marriage.

The truth is pornography mimics and mirrors the activities that take place in an adulterous relationship – temptation, lust, sin, cover-up, shame, guilt, regret and the like.

The truth is porn greatly affects your sex life, especially in marriage and can actually decrease sexual desire for your spouse.

The truth is some estimate that 10% of online users will become addicted to porn.

The truth is pornography is one masterfully crafted lie to steal the joy and intimacy of sex between a husband and a wife.

How do I know all of this? Because I fell for the lie. I wouldn’t say I was ever addicted to pornography, but I certainly enjoyed it. I was exposed to porn at an early age and while I knew it was different for guys, I also knew it still affected me as a female.

Pornography, when indulged, becomes a standard for sex that is ultimately unreachable. The reason? Because porn is lust and lust is insatiable. We cannot feed it enough. It is not manageable. It is not controllable. It controls us, despite our best efforts.

Yet, when it came time for me to get married, I didn’t have a second thought about pornography. Those days were long behind me. Since strengthening my relationship with God, I hadn’t seen a sexually arousing photo in years. I felt free.

But I was wrong. Because porn is not controllable, many of the images that I had once viewed rose to the surface upon entering into marriage.

Things I was certain I had forgotten made their way into the forefront of my mind. And there they sat. Hungry. Starving, actually. Waiting to be fed. And what did they want? Those images wanted to strip me of the joy to be had in my marriage bed. They wanted to steal my freedom – the freedom I knew I could experience with my husband.

Suddenly, what was supposed to be the enjoyable, fun, intimate act of marriage became a barrage of images and my past fighting for my attention. I began to emotionally and physically shut down. I didn’t want to be touched at times, let alone have sex.

The problem is, marriage is not the guarantee of a lust-free life. Nor is marriage the guarantee that what you once did will not follow you into marriage. If anything, the struggles we face outside of marriage are magnified within marriage. Pornography is no different. Many people falsely believe that their sexual wanting or sexual lust will be satisfied once they are married, but again, this is simply not true.

Saying “I do” will not prevent you from indulging in the flesh if that is where you found yourself before marriage. Pornography could, in fact, seem even more appealing after marriage. Porn tries to tarnish and corrode that which is beautiful in God’s eyes.

So what do we do? Instead of reliving each and every sexually explicit image in my mind, I decided they would not reside with me any longer. If the flash of an image appeared I would quickly control it, never letting my mind wander or stray. I was also open and honest with my husband about my feelings of shame that were now permeating my marriage bed.

And freedom did come. It did not happen overnight, but it came. The more I trusted, prayed, and allowed myself to enjoy what I had been given now, the lesser the grip my past choices had on me.

Your marriage bed is not the place to allow pornography. Not once. Not ever. It cannot be satisfied and therefore it cannot be managed. Despite what people would have you believe, porn is not a solution to a lackluster sex life. It is the promise of heartache and regret.

Pornography lies and tells us that what we have now isn’t enough. It tells us that we can never experience sexual freedom without graphic images. It lies and says sex needs to be a certain way. It tells us that the marriage bed of two people who love one another isn’t exciting, or sexy, or worth fighting for.

But nothing could be further from the truth..


Forgiving Myself For Pornography

Editor’s Note: “Forgive” is defined as, “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.  It is one thing to let the reality of God’s forgiveness settle into our hearts, and another thing to stop feeling angry or resentful towards ourselves for our own sins and mistakes. Shame would have us believe that we are broken beyond repair, and that we are unforgivable, past the point of redemption. But Isaiah says God “forgives your wickedness and remembers your sins no more” and Psalms reassures that “with You, there is forgiveness.” In Luke, Jesus asks us to “be merciful, as your Father is merciful” – and I fully believe that in this command he asks us to give out mercy even to ourselves. Today’s post is written by Brooke Ternes and she tweets at @brookesara25. – Lauren

I was 12 years old. It was late at night. I just wanted to watch something on the TV in my bedroom until I got tired enough to try to sleep. I scanned the channels. There was nothing interesting. News, infomercials, and then something that shocked me. Something that I knew shouldn’t have been there. Something I shouldn’t see. We weren’t even supposed to get that channel. Why was it there? I quickly changed the channel. And that was it.

Well, for that night anyway.

Curiosity is a wonderful but dangerous thing. And I was one of the most curious kids you’d ever meet. I ran off in stores. I touched anything in my reach. I got in trouble a lot as a curious child but I never imagined where that might lead.

That night didn’t end in watching porn but it was the beginning of my two-year addiction. It was just a glimpse. But it was one that forever changed my life. I could write about those two years. I could write about wanting porn like it was a drug. I could write about the hurt that I was trying to alleviate with my addiction. Or how guilty and dirty I felt. But I won’t.

The interesting thing about being addicted to pornography is that there is no support group. When something like porn addiction is in your past you don’t normally talk about it much. I have many friends who used to be drug addicts, some of them dealers, who share their stories often. I don’t share mine that much. The stigma attached can be crippling. And so can the guilt.

I thought I was the only one for years. I constantly beat myself up for the horrible decisions I made in my brokenness. As much as I knew I was forgiven by God and covered by the sacrifice of Jesus the guilt just wouldn’t seem to go away.

I’m no expert but if there is one thing that I learned in my healing process, it is that much power lies in forgiveness. And as much as I had to rest in God’s forgiveness, I also had to forgive myself.

I am not trying to say that the knowledge of God’s forgiveness is not important or not transformative. It is! But there is also great power in forgiving yourself when you royally mess up.

The turning point for me was a service at a church youth camp. The speaker was talking about forgiveness but in a way that I had never heard before. He briefly mentioned the concept of forgiving yourself and the light turned on. In that moment, I realized that I could not fully experience the grace and forgiveness of God if I wasn’t giving it to myself.

Do I regret the decision I made at 12? Absolutely.

Can I change the fact that I made that decision by continuing to beat myself up? Not at all.

So, at 16, I made one of the best decisions of my life… to afford myself the same grace that God had given me. I let it go. It doesn’t change those two years. And I’m not proud of them. But in that moment of saying out loud to myself, almost like a prayer, “I forgive you,” God finally had to room to do what he does so well.

He got to be God. He got to forgive. To cover. To heal. To redeem. To restore. To renew. In that moment filled with tears, grace washed over me like a flood. The weight of my own sin was lifted off of my shoulders and I came face to face with grace.

It is still a process. I still have to remind myself that God doesn’t see that when he looks at me and that I should strive to see myself through his eyes. But those moments of my history don’t haunt me like they once did. They are part of the story of God’s unending grace, power, and love in my life. Parts that I hope he can use to reveal himself to others..


Pornography: Lessons From A Recovering Addict

Editor’s Note: Even if you are not addicted to pornography, please read today’s post so that you have a better understanding of it – I personally needed to read this today. Today’s post is anonymous. If you are watching pornography and want to stop, we have a growing list of resources here. – Lauren

My story is different than most women’s. Yes, my life has been affected by pornography. However it isn’t a boyfriend or spouse that has an addiction. I am the addict. For more than 20 years I’ve had a “problem” with masturbation. What started as innocent curiosity turned into an obsession with romance novels, which lead to erotic fiction, and eventually into full-blown hard-core pornography.

While mainstream society accepts and even embraces these practices, I knew deep down that what I was doing was wrong. I felt shame and guilt, and I tried many times to quit. I tried and I tried. Over and over again. I can recall two times over the years where I succeeded in abstaining for about a month, but then I would slip right back into the routine.

I felt I was the lone woman on the planet that viewed pornography. At my church they talk often to the men about the harmful effects and evils of pornography, but never to the women…which made me feel even more of a deviant. I began to have this skewed view that it was “normal” for men, but not for women. While it is certainly more prevalent with men, studies show 9 in 10 boys and 1 in 3 girls use pornography, and those statistics are steadily increasing.

One day last year, I began to realize I may be an addict. I read something that compared a bad habit to an addiction. What is the difference? A bad habit you can change on your own. An addiction is a bad habit that you can’t stop on your own and your personal willpower isn’t enough to help you overcome. I was floored when I read that. This description fit me to a T. I am an addict.

I started looking for ways to get help. I discovered support groups and 12-step programs for porn and sex addicts. I found therapists that specialized in these forms of addiction. Then I did nothing. In fact, I started delving even deeper into my addiction. This continued for a few months. Meanwhile, my whole world was coming apart. I no longer found any joy in the job I had previously loved. I dreaded going to work. As a result I started working fewer and fewer hours… which lead to making little money. I was having a hard time paying bills and rent, and finding money to buy food. I stayed up all night, slept into the afternoon and laid in bed all day watching TV… or worse. My family began remarking about my lack of joy, even going so far as to say I may be depressed. I hadn’t been to church in years. I was living in a world of darkness.

Then something happened. A friend of mine, who I had known for 15 years, was arrested in a prostitution sting. This man was a public figure, a teacher, a father, and an ecclesiastical leader. The community was shocked. I was hit over the head with a theoretical two-by-four. I didn’t want to end up like this man… so far down in the pit of my addiction that I would resort to doing things I would have never imagined I could do. Doing whatever it took to feed my addiction, and in the meantime shattering my family and disappointing those I loved.

I decided to take action. I made an appointment with the therapist. I found out when the next 12-step meeting was, and I made an appointment to meet with my ecclesiastical leader to confess. I knew that if I was to succeed this time I had to throw every possible tool of recovery at my addiction. I went in whole-hog. I quit cold-turkey. And I suffered withdrawals. I didn’t sleep for about three weeks. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to eat. All I did for those three weeks was pray, educate myself on addiction and recovery, and do the bare minimum to survive physically. There were moments of despair and hope, pain and joy, fear and love, and darkness and light. In the end I was stronger, more knowledgeable, lighter and above all else: clean.

It has now been 10 months and I have not relapsed once. 10 months clean! Even a year ago I did not think that was possible. It has been, and continues to be, a journey of healing, forgiveness, and progression. Here a just a few of the more important things I have learned along the way:

1. I can’t do it on my own. “It” being everything in life; recovery from addiction, living life with joy and passion, forgiving and forgetting the mistakes of the past, etc. Only after I asked God to bless me, through Christ’s loving sacrifice, with grace and mercy did I have the power to truly begin healing from the inside out.

2. To the brain, pornography and sexual addiction are just as chemically addicting as drugs, alcohol and food. This understanding gave me power. I wasn’t just a weak person that couldn’t quit. I had damaged my brain, literally shrinking the decision-making area of my brain and killed brain cells with the over-saturation of chemicals. With this understanding I went to God and asked Him to heal my brain so that I could have my agency and choice back. I needed spiritual AND physical healing. I knew I would have to be patient and have faith because healing the brain takes time.

3. Addictions are not the problems that need fixing. The problems to be fixed are the character weaknesses and shortcomings that are at the foundation of addiction. I didn’t see this foundation until I was working through one of the 12 steps. I had to take an honest look at my life and write down all the things I had done wrong. What I saw emerge was a life-long pattern of lying, cheating, stealing, selfishness, pride, enmity, lust, and disobedience. Not a pretty picture. My addiction was the coping mechanism I had developed to numb the feelings of shame and guilt I felt because of my actions and those weaknesses and shortcomings. Unless I could address the real problem, I could never have any success at full recovery. I would relapse, or switch to another addiction.

4. As I have read others’ successful recovery stories, there are four things I see in common:

a) Utilizing an addiction recovery program. This entails attending meetings AND doing the steps and work of the program.
b) Working with a Christian therapist experienced in addiction recovery, specific to their addiction.
c) Confession to, and working closely with, an ecclesiastical leader.
d) Daily protection; spiritual (prayer, scripture study, etc.), physical (exercise, meditation) and emotional (hobbies, building relationships, service) activities that keep your mind, body, and soul on a path of healing.

From one woman to another: if you are struggling with pornography or other sexual addictions, please know that you are not alone.

There is hope available to those that repent and give their lives to Christ. Through Christ there is forgiveness, beauty, love, light, and healing..


My Husband’s Addiction To Pornography

Editor’s Note: Today’s submission is anonymous. We covet your comments here, but ask that you remain respectful, compassionate, and gracious. If you would like to be put in touch with the woman who wrote today’s post, please email me at goodwomenproject[at]gmail.com. – Lauren

The day I said “I do” I thought life would be easy sailing. Especially in relation to my husband’s pornography addiction. Man, was I in for a rude awakening. It’s been a hard road.

My husband and I dated five years before we got married. We knew everything about each other. No secrets. I knew about his porn secret. He had confessed back then. He confessed he had been watching porn since he was young. I had caught him several times. Being an ex addict myself – to food and alcohol – I knew that for him to overcome it would take one thing alone: God.

Even knowing this, I made the situation worse. Instead of trying to encourage and support him while we were dating, I blamed myself. Even though I knew he’d been watching porn before he met me, I still chose to believe it was my fault. And the usual thoughts still ran through my mind: “I’m not pretty enough. Not fun enough. Not sexy enough.”

He was looking for excitement and I was just the normal girl next door; sweet and charming with a cute face and addictive personality. But sex appeal, big boobs, size 0, leggy, the stuff of men’s fantasies? I was not.

I was furious. Angry. Depressed. Insecure. Lonely. Rejected.

I became obsessed with my appearance. I never felt okay in my own skin. I tried to change: worked out more, ate less, dressed more provocatively, talked trashier…anything I thought would make him want me.

I blamed him, resented him, and secretly hated him for what he was doing to ME. It truly damaged my heart. My relationship with Jesus suffered. We almost broke up three to four times. Maybe you think I should have dumped him – but I had been an addict and God had healed me. I knew that God would heal him. But I thought it would be sooner than later.

I’m now a little over one year married to this man. A few months ago my husband confessed that he had continued to look at porn since we first got married. We were in our car leaving church. It was a normal Sunday – but my heart went spiraling out of control. Again.

Devastated. Wounded all over again. Distraught to say the least. Rejected. Alone.

Before we got married, we talked about the porn issue in premarital counseling. I thought we were on the right track. I was naive to think that marriage in itself would heal the broken places in his heart that kept leading him back to pornography. I thought that I would have been enough being his wife.

This time, the feelings of inadequacy hit harder. Was marrying me not enough to make him stop? I went into a couple months of depression and serious anger towards him and God. I wondered if I should have left him while were dating. But when you take a marital vow – you are no longer entitled to “what ifs”.

I had tried everything, but I could not make him change. I had tried changing myself into a trashier version of me to appeal to his sexual desires, but he still looked at those images. I tried crying and yelling and “Don’t you see how you are hurting me!” and “Am I not enough for you?” but those didn’t change him either. Yes, he felt bad – but guilt and shame doesn’t change hearts.

So I finally turned it over to Jesus.

God told me to change myself. But this time, Jesus would be changing me into a version more like himself.

I know that the best way for me to build my husband’s spiritual life is to live out my own. That’s where I am today. Allowing God to change me.

I am learning to respect my husband. I am focusing my thoughts on the positive things he does instead of the negative. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I am choosing to serve this man. To lay down my life for him. I am releasing him of his debt. To influence him in a Godly way, I must submit, be his helpmate, and forgive.

God is changing my heart daily. God is filling my ache. God has shown me that pornography is just like any other sin, and I am not to blame. God is teaching me to view my husband as my brother in Christ who desperately needs my respect regardless of how his actions have hurt me.

If I were to continue to hold this over his head and beat him down – what good would it do?

I gain nothing in seeing my husband as an enemy in this.

Has this journey been hard? Yes.
Has it been incredibly lonely? Yes.
Is it getting better each day? YES.
Is it because of me? No.
Is it because of Jesus? YES!

I encourage you wives to forgive and let God heal YOU so you can influence your husband for good.

Remember these verses:

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1-2

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence in your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

Here are practical ways of helping him in this situation:

1. Forgive him with God’s help
2. Daily pray for your husband
3. Do not withhold sex
4. Serve him by studying him and finding out what it is that YOUR husband needs
5. Have an honest and real conversation with your husband explaining how his use of pornography has hurt you (with RESPECT)
6. Set a boundary by saying that you will no longer tolerate this in your marriage and he must choose you over “them”. Stand up for yourself and your marriage. A good man will respect you for that.
7. Encourage your husband to seek counseling (Christian male counselor who deals with pornography addictions)
8. Set up internet blocking systems with him
9. Encourage your husband to find Godly men to hold him accountable instead of it having to be you
10. Ask God to change you and to heal your own brokenness

I write this today still in this battle. My husband is not healed yet. He is currently seeking out a counselor, has set up barriers in our home, and is developing friendships with other men for accountability. He has a long way to go, but I see God moving and working in him. It might not be the pace I would want, but that’s where God is teaching me to trust Him. I just have to focus on doing my part.

Daily forgiving, daily serving, daily respecting, daily moving toward him, and daily finding my worth in my Savior.

Yes, my husband’s addiction to pornography has brought me closer to Jesus..


Pornography: It’s Not About Me

Editor’s Note: 87% of men watched porn in this past year, and today’s post is written by a woman who loved one of them. Pornography affects relationships, our sex drive, and our heart’s capacity to give and accept love. Lauren Sykes blogs at laurensykes.com and tweets at @laurenesykes. – Lauren.

In an instant I became a statistic. A statistic I had never wanted or imagined I would be included in. I was betrothed to one of the seventy-five percent. Something I had never viewed, still or moving, was now radically shaking the very foundations of my life.

Porn.

A now culturally acceptable ‘pastime’ was the poison killing my perceived happily ever after. I sat in stunned silence as the confession escaped his lips. Doing what sin does best… steal, kill, and destroy.

Intimacy stolen.

Connection killed.

Us destroyed.

With those four letters, understanding dawned as sin was illuminated. And as the spotlight shone into the depths of the shadows of my heart, I was left with insecurities exposed and arms empty. Seeds of insecurity planted and hidden for a lifetime. So deep in the depths of my sin-ridden heart I didn’t even realize they existed. The seed began to grow, roots running deep.

Not pretty enough.

Not sexy enough.

Not satisfying enough.

Knowing I would never be able to compete with the computer screen or still airbrushed images. Because porn re-educates the mind. Tricks it into believing connection isn’t required for intimacy. That the high of the climax can come with no strings attached. No journeys along roads less traveled where conflict is painstakingly worked through. Pain that heals isn’t required to click a mouse.

Porn caters to the ultimate selfishness. It gives what you want, when you want, and how you want it… no strings attached. Minimal effort required.

It is the antithesis of God-designed relationship. Where love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

True love is grounded in connection, not a moment of orgasmic bliss. And while porn seems to meet the God-given need in the moment, it’s a counterfeit of the ugliest kind. Because connected, committed love is the one of the most beautiful gifts God’s given this side of heaven.

That counterfeit shattered my life. It radically altered the course of my story. And while it has shattered and revealed broken within, He is making beautiful things. Healing insecurities. Creating stained glass with the broken pieces of me. Ever reminding me who I am. More often than not, remembering the truth is a battle. One I face almost daily, as the broken edges threaten to pierce.

The man I loved chose porn.

It wasn’t about me.

 

I am enough because He is enough.

Are you one of the thousands {dare I say millions} of women living in the shadows of porn?

.


I’ve Never Watched Porn But I’m Addicted To It

Editor’s Note: Today’s post punched me in the stomach. It was written by Bethany Turley. She blogs at Bethany T Writes and you can follow her on Twitter at @bethanyttweets. She asks a hard question, and one that we all need to answer: Are you addicted to porn and don’t even know it? – Lauren

It’s a slippery slope.

Isn’t that such a trite expression? But I wish someone had been there to tell me that on the day I first clicked that link.

I’ve never watched “porn”. I’ve never seen a video of two individuals having sex.

But I’m addicted.

Webster’s dictionary defines pornography as “a depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement.”

Guilty as charged.

Sitting at the computer clicking through to that joke category might have looked innocuous, but my thirteen-year-old heart knew it was wrong.

And yet I returned. Day after day I came back to this website that was intended to evoke a crude laugh. Instead it opened a door inside of me, to a part of me that was mysterious and exciting.

Then one day, my mom almost found me out. So I stopped.

But it wasn’t over. It was there, waiting for me, beckoning to me. An article on dating or women’s health. A movie preview I didn’t see coming. A chapter in a book I had to read for class.

I justified it to myself. I told myself that it was stuff I would need to know someday, so why not know it now? I wasn’t hurting anyone. I wasn’t feeding into some multi-billion exploitative industry.

You know what breaks my heart the most? That I say this in past tense. Because it’s still true after seven years. It’s a trap I’m still fighting right now.

But you know what I love? That I can say this in past tense. Because God has not created me to be trapped by lust.

I have a sex drive, and that’s okay. I still don’t know exactly what to do with it as a single person. It’s not really the type of thing that naturally yearns to wait.

But regardless of what my hormones are screaming, I’m realizing that pornography is tearing my heart away from God and my community.

Pornography builds a wall between you and the people who love you. It becomes a secret you don’t want to share. It becomes your comfort when you’re tired or lonely. It becomes the thing you depend on instead of God.

The Bible says to flee sexual immorality. Instead I have adopted a “dabble in but try not to get trapped” mentality. But if you’re not fleeing, you will get trapped.

It doesn’t even have to be explicit. If you are using something to feed into your sex drive and achieve sexual excitement, that’s porn. And it will destroy you.

I wish there had been someone honest enough to share that with me along the road. Someone who wasn’t afraid to broach the topic; who trusted God’s redemptive power enough to let me be broken.

It’s a hard thing to talk about. We’ve stigmatized pornography to the point that confessing it is social suicide. I’m terrified to share my struggles.

But in Christ I have victory, and I want to share that with the world. I have a story of redemption, and I can speak in boldness and faith, leaning on the God who created me to be so much more than I can imagine. The God who created me to be more than a lonely thirteen-year-old at a computer.

Join me in sharing God’s victory in our lives. Be set free from the prisons you have built, and spread the news of the One who freed you. The world needs it.

Maybe you know a thirteen-year-old girl who is one click away from a life-long battle.

Maybe your story could show her she isn’t too broken to be healed..


Pornography: A Confession Of My Addiction To Instant Satisfaction

Editor’s Note: One of the greatest untruths that I believed when I would watch pornography was that “this isn’t hurting anyone”. But pornography separates. It condemns us. It fills us with not just guilt for doing something wrong, but with shame for who we are. It isolates us, and raises questions in our minds that we cannot answer. It alters our feelings and emotions towards sex, the most intimate part of our relationship with another human being. It does hurt us. And it does hurt people in our lives. Today’s submission is by Gianna. Thank you for listening to her story. – Lauren

I guess I would have loved to read about pornography here and think “Oh wow. So it does happen to women as well as men. Poor girls…” – but unfortunately I already knew that. Because I’m one of the “poor girls”.

Sex has always been a taboo in my family. In a Christian home like ours, sex is not a word used lightly, and certainly not with children. I would love to say that this is what drove me to pornography in the first place, but I don’t really know what would have happened if my parents had been more open about it. Would I still have been curious? Looked at the images? Read the books?

I have always loved to read. Anything I could get my hands on, I would read. Which made it hard for my parents to monitor everything I was exposed to. And it all started with a sex scene from a book a friend lent me. It wasn’t an adult book – in fact, a lot of girls at my school were reading it. Since no one told me about sex before, it was weird for me to experience new feelings and sensations from words written on a page. But the “instant satisfaction” that I felt rapidly became addictive. I would go back to the descriptions over and over again just to feel the tingling and warm sensation that went with it.

I was only 11 and thus not very good at deception or hiding things. My parents actually became aware of what I was doing. The day they addressed what was going on, in such a horrified tone and manner, more shocked than angry, was the worst of all. I felt so ashamed. I tried to make up a reason why I would be doing such a thing, but I couldn’t come up with anything. They never talked about it again. My dad passed away just a few months later, and the shame and guilt of being a disappointment crept in – but I still couldn’t stop.

In fact, it became harder over the years as things became easier to access: the Internet, my own computer, books… everything was there to “help” me when I felt sad, lonely, rejected. And yet since this was so wrong and I knew it, what I watched and read became more violent. As if I was punishing myself for doing it. Sex couldn’t be loving or gentle.

On the outside, I was a very “pure and perfect Christian” who wasn’t dating, wasn’t kissing or sleeping with anyone. I avoided the worst sin of all: Sex. But on the inside? I felt dirty and guilty. No one talked about sex or pornography in my church or among my friends. And all I kept thinking was, “What if someone knew? What if ANY of my friends knew? What would they think of me?”

I kept a safe distance from boys and men in general, building up a wall that enabled me to “rationalize” my behavior. I told myself, “At least I’m not really sleeping with someone.” Or, “I’m not hurting anyone or doing something I can’t take back.”

But the truth is that these images – the “instant satisfaction” associated with these moments in my brain – is not going away. Even if I don’t watch or read anything for months, years, they’re always there. Pornography was hurting me. It was hurting people. And it was something I couldn’t take back.

And my opinion of myself has been lowered so much because of this that I can’t believe anyone could love me for what I am.

I can’t change myself. All I can do is ask God to change me. I can’t erase what I did, but He tells me He can.

He can make me pure when I’m not.
He can replace unhealthy sex experience with a real relationship.
He can help me help someone else dealing with the same addiction.

My happy ending hasn’t come yet, but He called me by name and told me that He had great plans for my life.

Freedom. Hope. Love.

He can turn this around..


13 Years Old And Addicted To Pornography

Editor’s Note: Today’s submission is anonymous. She is 19 years old now, and free from pornography. It is still incredible to me how many facets of your personality and identity pornography infects and changes. But God is always so faithful to redeem. If you would like to share your story, please see our Contribute page for more information.

I was struggling with understanding my sexual orientation and began to question my sexuality. Those lies made me want to prove that somehow, some way, I was straight.

At this point in my life, when I was around 16, everything sort of went out of control for me. I had my secret addiction “tamed”. I would only watch porn when I couldn’t take it anymore. My excuse was “well, my hormones are out of control I’m about to start my period… at least I’m not having sex; I’m sure God is okay with this.”

Truth: God was not okay with that.

I stopped going to church. I started saying ‘yes’ to parties and started having real life encounters with real guys. I stopped having a standard, or demanding respect from guys. Steamy make out sessions in the grass at a fair. Snap shots of my body to guys who didn’t give a rip about my heart. Drunken “we did everything but sex” hook-ups. Watching porn made me crave the real life pleasure. I was sick of “doing it myself”, so I didn’t say no when a guy tried to put his hand down my pants. I didn’t even think twice by helping him get my panties off so he could perform oral sex on me. I was farther away from God than I had ever been in my whole life.

My high school years were a playground for Satan. Because of my addiction to pornography, I let guys disrespect me, I had an unhealthy relationship pattern, and most of all, I struggled with more than enough self-hate. I went from a 13-year-old girl, who didn’t really understand what I was watching, to an 18-year-old who was trapped in a life of darkness.

There is an upside to this story. God used a tragedy in my life to bring me back to him. I had removed everything from my life that brought me away from Jesus, and loved how my life had changed, except for one thing: Pornography.

I struggled with bondage a good six months into my renewed salvation and relationship with Jesus. And then one day at church we had a sermon on freedom. For the close of the service, Pastor told us to write down something that held us in bondage, and to set it at the altar, to leave it at the cross. So that’s what I did.

Truth: God redeems. I am redeemed. My Savior loves and cherishes me. God set me free from pornography. He’s teaching me who He created me to be, and how to be that person. I am free to love my Savior and be in a deep love relationship with Him.

Truth: I have a destiny. I have a purpose. An addiction to pornography may be my past, but it does not define who I am anymore. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Truth: God does have someone special planned for me. Whoever he is, will overflow with the love of Christ, and reflect his integrity. I am good enough for my future husband. Until then, I will wait, for him. I will seek the Lord and be drenched in Proverbs 31.

Truth: I am a 19-year-old young woman set free from a pornography addiction. Madly in love with the One who set me free and made me clean..


A Woman’s Conversation About Purity, Porn, and Erotica

EPP

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Katherine. She has her degrees in Child and Family Development and Women’s Studies, and blogs at Her Maiden Voyage. You can also follow her on Twitter at @kathhickey. – Lauren

As a feminist and a Christian, I love opportunities to bridge the two cultures together, and porn allows us to do just that. While I can’t speak on behalf of the entire feminist community, I can say a growing number of feminists are strongly dismissing porn as an anti-woman industry. This probably comes as a surprise to many who aren’t involved in the feminist movement. However, you would be surprised by how many topics feminists and Christians agree on, and pornography is no exception.

On average, 11 is the age at which boys start viewing or are exposed to porn. This means that pornography is the one of the first sex educators. It is crafting young boys’ first images of sexuality. Let’s stop and think about this. A young boy’s first perception of sexuality is of usually extremely violent sex, where the male partner treats his female partner as an inferior, in wholly unrealistic situations, practicing unusual sexual acts. What do you think he is going to expect his first sexual encounter to look like? What do you think he is going to expect his female partner to perform during sex? What do you think he is going to try to perform during sex? I shudder. Researcher and anti-porn activist Gail Dines wrote a book named “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality”. The title alone captures what is happening in our porn-saturated culture; we are being hijacked. Directors and filmmakers are creating images that dictate how we are expected to have sex. Gail Dines claims men are having “industrial strength sex that makes real sex seem boring”. It treats women as a commodity, disposable. It creates norms, and very disturbing norms at that, for how we are expected to experience sex. It regresses women into patriarchal, stereotypical, gender roles, where sex is something you do to a woman, not with a woman.

There is one particular form of pornography that rarely gets mentioned, and that is erotic fiction. I love my Amazon Kindle, I really do, I just don’t like having to pay for e-books. Amazon offers a list of free e-books, and most of them fall in the category of erotica. What I find interesting is that Amazon has no qualms around releasing all of the erotica for free. I like to think that subconsciously, they realize its lack of value, and can’t imagine charging a reader for such useless books. While I haven’t heard many stories of women who read erotica, I realize that it can be just as tempting as “the real stuff”.

I remember reading The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks in high school and being shocked that there was steamy sex scene in it. While my objections to porn align themselves pretty well with erotica, there is one aspect of erotica that really trumps them all. Authors use words to describe feelings, thoughts, and emotions. We are going beyond the visual of porn, we are stepping into the person’s mind. Not only are told that this is what sex looks like, we are told that sex must also make you feel a certain way, and think certain things. The actual sexual act is hijacked, but also the emotions and feelings surrounding it.

In Christian circles, we tend to associate our conversations around porn with the notion of purity. Purity in itself is an interesting concept. We tend to have a binary, dichotomous, view of purity. You are pure or you are not. You are a virgin or you are not. You are a prude or you are a whore. We have regressed purity to a state of being which, once lost, cannot be retrieved. This is incredibly obvious in our discourse on purity. Why do we call it “losing your virginity”? Why is it lost? Where did it go? Can you find it again? Jessica Valenti wrote a wonderful book on the topic called The Purity Myth. While it is written from a secular standpoint and some Christian readers won’t agree with all of it, it is still a mine of information and insight. Valenti claims, “For women especially, virginity has become the easy answer – the morality quick fix. You can be vapid, stupid, and unethical, but so long as you’ve never had sex, you’re a “good” (i.e. “moral”) girl and therefore worthy of praise.”

She’s right. We have a double standard. Our sexuality is not limited to whether or not we have had intercourse, even though that’s what religious groups tend to focus on. Our sexuality is engrained in a larger culture and society. Our sexuality is influenced by the media, by friends and family. We may be hesitant to admit this, but nearly everyone and everything around us affects our sexuality. Purity is not an “either/or” situation, but a “both/and” notion. Viewing porn does not instantly turn you into an “impure person” instead of a “pure person”, because let’s be honest, we are all impure. We have all participated, seen, or read something we shouldn’t have. I am not purer than the person beside me who is addicted to porn.

We need to remember that we all have the same goal, and are reaching for the same prize. Purity isn’t something you lose, because you never really had it to begin with. We are all born into sin, in a world saturated in sex and self-gratification. It is something you gain. It is something you work towards. Impurity is about staying where you are, at the bottom of the ladder looking up. And thank God, there will always be room for improvement, to move upward, to work towards the Ultimate Gain..


Losing Reality: My Struggle With Pornography

Editor’s Note: Most of our stories this month are being shared anonymously, as is the story shared today. Pornography is a dangerous world to slip into. It builds upon itself, slowly taking more control – and eats at the good in our lives. Please listen to the words of this woman as she passes on what she lost in becoming addicted to sex and pornography. – Lauren

It started as an innocent Google search. I was eleven. I wanted to know more about one of my favorite singers, so I searched her name. I ended up on a fan site, which had a chat room. We weren’t allowed to chat online, but I was curious, and never got caught breaking the rules anyway. I was sneaky. I made up a name, and started talking to total strangers from around the country.

A few weeks later, I was chatting with a few people and one of them sent me a link. They told me to click it and not to worry about the part where it asked if I was eighteen, I’d like what I saw. I naively clicked and opened a porn site. At first, I was mostly surprised. I didn’t know it was wrong, my parents had never even given me a sex talk. I was curious. Something in me was shocked, but another part of me wanted to know and see more.

So I came back. Again. And again, every day. Soon I was saying goodnight to my parents then waiting until I heard my dad snoring to sneak back downstairs to the computer to watch porn. Every night, for hours and hours. I’d be quiet, turn off the sound, and clear the history after I was done.

Inevitably, I began to mimic what I saw on the screen. I started masturbating every day, several times a day. I was hooked. I loved it, it was my secret and nobody knew. I felt proud, but in a guilty, scared way. I was unsure of what I was actually involved in. I withdrew from my family and friends.

I started making excuses to stay home alone… especially on Sundays when the whole family would go out to church. I’d say I was sick, or some other excuse. I didn’t really believe in God anyway, so I didn’t care. I just wanted sex. I wanted to watch more porn, to feel better about myself. I wanted to be what I saw on the computer. I wanted that crazy sex. I wanted to know what it was like. Those secret moments with porn became my life. I literally lost reality, convincing myself that I should run away to have that sexual perversion. It got so bad that I’d go to my job as a babysitter, put a movie on for the kids, and then watch porn until the parents came back. I almost got caught more than once. But I was good at lying. My parents and family were too caught up in the busy chaos of homeschooling and taking care of the babies to notice. They never knew.

I built a world in my head. A world where I was that bad girl with huge boobs and all those guys going crazy for me. I was a stripper, a hooker, or a famous porn star. And I was good at what I did. But none of it was real.

I started cheating in schoolwork to make up for my lack of sleep and addiction. I had no desire for anything else. I became even sneakier, telling lies was my first language.

Thankfully, God radically broke in and saved me a few months before I turned fourteen. But three years of my life had been wasted, utterly consumed by my pornography addiction. I haven’t masturbated or been involved in porn in over six years now, but it still affects my life seriously. I would have reoccurring rape nightmares, and my mind is still a battlefield as I try to forget the thousands of images and filth that filled those years. It seriously injured my education, as I continued cheating through high school to cover up the time lost to my addiction, and am now seriously struggling in college as I basically missed all of my middle school studies and consequently much of high school. I don’t cheat any more, but I am barely maintaining a 1.5 GPA as I struggle through subjects I should have mastered long ago.

After I got saved, I started to look to the Church and to my parents for answers about sex. My parents never talked about it. In fact, after a youth group sermon referred briefly and non-graphically to sex when I was fifteen, my dad told me that sex is only to be discussed by a husband and wife… his reasoning for us “not being told”. We weren’t allowed to go back to youth group for a long time. The church briefly and gingerly spoke about saving it for marriage, and how it’s a terrible thing.

I needed my parents to be frank and tactful about talking to me about sex. I needed the church to be forward and truthful about sex. I needed to know that it’s a beautiful thing, a sort of a wedding gift from God. But I didn’t know. I was left in the dark, and I stumbled. I looked for answers in all the wrong places. I needed them to help me heal and work through what I had been through with porn and sex, and they didn’t. They pushed it in the closet.

Parents, please be a safe place for your kids to talk about sex. They already know much more than you think, even if you think you sheltered them. Church, stop teaching that sex is dirty and wrong and frightening. Tell the truth about sex. Address pornography. Don’t dance around the hard issues and shun those who are struggling. And women, this isn’t just about the men anymore. Speak up, tell your story. God pulled me out of my addiction, and He’s carefully healing me. He can do the same for you..


Pornography Resources

This is an incomplete and developing list of resources that we are making available to those of you who don’t know where to go for 1) information about pornography 2) tools to help you stop watching pornography and 3) community. There is no magical formula or secret phrase that will make you stop watching pornography. As broken people, there are many things we continue to do that we wish we had the strength to say ‘no’ to. Yes, it helps to know the consequences of watching pornography because “it’s bad!” doesn’t stand up against our loneliness – but we also need Jesus to fill in the empty spaces of our heart and community to talk with, relate to, and encourage us. We are striving to be a place that can direct you to all three things. Have resources suggestions? Add them in the comments!- Lauren

Filters & Programs:
X3 Pure – 30 day online program
X3Watch.com – free Internet filter w/accountability list
Setting Women Free – PureLife’s phone counseling and resources
L.I.F.E Guide For Women

Books:
Dirty Girls Come Clean – Crystal Renaud
Every Woman’s Battle – by Shannon Ethridge
Exposed: A Novel – by Ashley Weis
Hooked – by Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., MD
Permission To Speak Freely – Anne Jackson

Blog Posts & News Articles:
The Problem of Pornography – Max Andrew Dubinsky
Online Porn, Cosmopolitan, And Me – Anne Jackson
Porn Zombies – Michael Carpenter, Good Men Project
The Chemicals Behind The Addiction – Fight The New Drug
Female Sexual Addiction Text – Freedom Every Day
America Is Addicted – Sackcloth & Tea
Why Shouldn’t Johnny Watch Porn If He Wants To? – Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson, Good Men Project
Porn Then & Now: Welcome To Brain Training – Psychology Today
Pornography Is What The End Of The World Looks Like – Robert Jenson, Good Men Project
Giving Up The Gun: A Life Without Pornography – Max Andrew Dubinsky
What I Wish I’d Known Before Watching Porn – Women Are Watching It Too – Lauren Dubinsky

Bloggers Who Share Their Story:
NicoleWick.com
Crystal Renaud – Ex-porn addict
Shelley Lubben – Ex-porn star

Do you have any resources to share with us? Please leave them in the comments below and we will add them to this list!.


What I Wish I’d Known Before Watching Porn

Editor’s Note: I decided to launch our topic this month, pornography, with a little bit of my own story. Over the last couple years, men have begun to enter the discussion, but women have remained silent. For most of us, it’s still the men’s world, but statistics show that 1/3 of pornography viewers are women. Enter, Good Women Project. Ladies, it’s time to speak up and shed light on another dark place. If you’d like to read my own personal blog, I write at laurennicolelove.com/blog. – Lauren

Pornography is a charged subject, and it’s a word that rarely crosses the lips of most women. Yes, there are now breeds of the modern woman who watch, talk, and joke about it regularly, but most of us still stay further away from speaking the word than we actually stay away from it.

When I was in high school, pornography was on the long list of “bad things” that I didn’t know much about – and unfortunately also on the list of things I had participated in. Nevermind why I was watching it, the how is the same for all of us: we stumbled upon it because of someone else. And none of us knew what to expect, or how to handle it.

Later in life, I caught myself remembering how I used to watch it for a few minutes here or there, and wondered strictly out of boredom if it would fill the big, empty space of loneliness in my late nights. There were no parents around to hide from anymore, and no one checking my Internet history. Pornography was easy, and I never exactly knew why it was bad, particularly since I wasn’t actually having sex. To me, it was just something dirty that you probably shouldn’t have anything to do with. But “probably shouldn’t” never stands up against loneliness and boredom.

I am not one with an addictive personality. Meaning, I binge, and then drop things quickly. I knew this about myself, and so I used this as an excuse for watching pornography. I’d watch it every night for a couple weeks, then not at all for a few weeks. Always off and on. Clearly I wasn’t addicted. Just like I smoked, and never became addicted to nicotine, and drank, but never became an alcoholic. I was just watching it, and could stop anytime I wanted. No damage done, because I was still in control.

Wrong. Nicotine still seared my lungs, and alcohol still did some decent damage to my liver and personal life. Just because we aren’t addicted, doesn’t mean it does no harm. Even while I wasn’t “addicted” to watching pornography, I always wanted more. It existed as a guaranteed time-filler and pleasure-bringer, and when you get an hour to yourself – that’s an easy default. An easy default activity that establishes a heavy precedence in what you do with your next bad night.

I wish that 10 years ago someone had educated me on pornography. What it is, what it does, and what it reaches in and destroys in the hearts, minds and bodies of men and women.

I wish that someone would have told me that researchers have proven it sabotages your sex life.

I wish someone would have explained how dopamine, the chemical that is released every time you experience pleasure, drives you to return to what provided that feeling before.

I wish someone would have told me that the kind of pornography you’re most turned on by is usually linked to a corresponding hurtful event in your life, further injuring your brokenness.

I wish someone would have told me pornography would normalize things I wasn’t emotionally or physically ready to handle in my relationships with men, making me feel like I had no options or control over my sex life, filling me with much regret.

I wish someone would have told me I would begin to objectify men, build up images in my mind, and think of sex day in and day out, to the point where I couldn’t remain focused on anything else.

I wish someone would have told me it would make me feel less valuable to men, and bring up insecurities for years in the bedroom.

I wish someone would have pointed out pornography establishes your sexuality completely apart from real-life relationships, causing huge problems in your intimacy with real significant others.

I wish someone would have explained what “sexual anorexia” was and that countless young men are unable to get erections because they’ve been watching porn since they were around 14 years old.

I wish someone would have told all the men I’ve dated that the porn they are watching is keeping them from being turned on by me, ultimately destroying our relationship.

I wish someone would have told me that the dopamine and oxytocin being released from my watching certain types of pornography would cause me to question my sexual orientation, which in turn cost me relationships with friends.

My “I wish” list is nowhere near complete, either. In the end, I simply wish someone would have told me why it was so harmful, instead of simply putting it on a list of things we don’t talk about. Had I known how much it would have harmed me, I would have left it alone.

If you’re a woman who has watched pornography, or is watching pornography, studies are now showing that we make up over a third of pornography viewers. It’s no longer a taboo topic, and I would personally like to give you permission to speak openly in this space over the next month.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a list of resources on pornography for men and women. We will be adding to it for the rest of the month. Later on this month I’ll write again on things I’ve had to wrestle with since watching pornography, things I’ve learned about myself, and the life I’ve found apart from it.

Want to share? Visit our Contribute page and submit your story, your questions, your struggles with pornography there..