Porn addiction: An assault of the mind and body


(Editor’s Note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is the third in a series of four articles discussing the topic of relationship assault in many forms.)

by Tom HARALDSEN

tharaldsen@davisclipper.com

Let’s call pornography what it is—a form of sexual assault. Like any addiction, porn can lead to physical and mental problems, can destroy relationships, and can financially impact the addict as well as their families for years to come. There are no “single” victims of a porn addiction—those who love or even associate with the addict are victimized as well.

There’s no shortage of those who’ve been affected by this societal cancer, even here in Zion. The addicts and their victims are more than willing to share their stories, but only once they begin to see the tide turned toward recovery. In each instance, the names of two families I spoke with have been changed to protect their identities.

For one young woman, Sheryl, now in her mid-30s, she discovered her husband’s addiction when “our patterns of romance changed,” she said. “When we got married, he was so tender and gentle and thoughtful as a partner. But I could see that his level of aggressiveness changed. He even told me, ‘What used to be satisfying no longer is to me.’”

The husband, who we’ll call Chad, admitted as much.

“When Sheryl asked me what was going on—why I seemed to be rougher and meaner [in their romancing], I broke down and told her that I’d been watching porn at a friend’s house. I found my gratification in what I was watching people do on screen, and so I brought those thoughts and ideas home. And she wasn’t agreeing to do these awful and unnatural things. It was terribly thoughtless and selfish of me. Had she not confronted me, I think the problem would have grown worse.”

Chad and Sheryl began getting counseling, and Chad ended his friendship with his “buddy” who had introduced him to illicit videos. They are still in counseling after nearly two years. Like any addiction, Chad knows he’ll be fighting it for a lot longer. Both admit that their future as a couple is still up in the air.

So is the marriage of Scott and Catherine (Kate). They found each other more than two decades ago when both of their first marriages crumbled. Highly successful in their professions, and well respected in the community, Scott and Kate seemed to have everything going for them. Until, like Chad, Scott was introduced to pornography by a friend. Then, everything changed.

Kate doesn’t discuss specifics of what Chad watched or did, but she does discuss the challenge of being married to “a porn and sex addict.”

“I can honestly tell you this is one of the hardest addictions as a spouse to recover from,” she said. “When you are an addict with chemical addictions, you are known to be a hero when you admit it and fight it. But as a sex and porn addict it goes a little deeper. This is because of the disturbing way an addict medicates himself. I can tell you that I have suffered with betrayal trauma as a result of the addiction.”

She said, “The (D) day, meaning the discovery day, was probably one of the worst days of my life, as with everyone when they find out their spouse has been basically living two lives. I wasn’t quite sure what to do next or even how to handle my own life. As a result of a marriage of investment, I decided to try and turn things around and bury myself into education on the effects of the brain of a sex and porn addict. I decided this would be good for my own healing. 

“I had no idea this would be like attending a funeral and experience grieving emotions about every week to two weeks. I have felt lost, lonesome, betrayed, angry, hurt, abandoned, lied to, cheated on and the list goes on forever. Just when you think you might have a grip on life and have it all figured out, a new emotion hits you without warning.”

Kate began going to her gym daily, trying to blow off some of her anger. She also joined a group therapy with other women experiencing the same trauma. She described feeling like “I have been on the battlefield and am suffering from PTSD.” At times when she has wanted to “throw in the towel,” she begins journaling her thoughts on paper, getting her emotions out in writing.

In Scott and Kate’s case, there is also the challenge of facing family, friends and church members who “you get to face and explain why you want to cry every 30 minutes.” Both Scott and Kate have cried endlessly over the situation. Scott avoids using the Internet or even cell phones—much of that ban self-imposed. He has apologized profusely to Kate and other loved ones. Likewise, Kate has had to avoid certain things herself.

“I have to be careful of where I go and what I am around, as it will set off triggers. When that happens it sends me into a spiral effect of angry emotions. I soon have to remove myself from the area quickly.”

As for their future, she said, “I can’t say whether or not I will stay in my marriage, but I can say I am giving it my best shot as I know there are too many families being torn apart and I am not a quitter without a fight. I also have to remember that if I had cancer, I am positive my husband would be by my side at all times.”

There are numerous resources in Davis County and throughout Utah for those fighting porn addiction. You can find them through a Google search online.

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What others say about : Porn addiction: An assault of the mind and body..


Goodwins

Thanks for including real stories about the consequences of pornography use to not only the viewer but also to the spouse. The consequences of pornography are real and negative. One of the resources that can be useful for those wanting to overcome a pornography habit is the book Power Over Pornography. Its unique application of cognitive behavior methods seems to work better than alternatives. I recommend it.

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