Finding a Voice: Cynthia’s Story

Names have been changed for privacy.
Originally published August 23, 2016

I’m a therapist. I’ve heard arguments that pornography is a cultural, religious, or a moral dilemma. I argue that porn is a real problem, and it has been very real, personal, and first-hand for me.

For years in my marriage, my husband was emotionally distant. We didn’t have a relationship. After dinner, my husband would help me put the children to bed and disappear for hours on the computer, sometimes until four in morning. We were seldom intimate. I was the one rejected by my husband and felt emotionally abandoned. I was young and naive. I knew something was wrong in my marriage, but I didn’t know what. I read several relationship books in order to fix things, and nothing seemed to work.

I questioned if it was me. I had an inkling that just maybe it was porn; he had passwords on his computer, which was turned away or in another room. But I believed I had to have proof. I would interrupt him at odd hours and find him playing games. I thought I was wrong, and my husband often told me I was too needy. Marriage was a big commitment, and I tried hard to make it work.

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It soon became clear that my husband was lying: He used the credit card without telling me. He went to huge lengths to hide his smoking and other habits by washing his hands and changing his clothes. Finally, we went to marriage counseling about his dishonesty and emotional unavailability. I asked him if there was anything else I needed to know about, and he said no. After marriage counseling, I hoped we were better; I made myself believe we were better. I decided to have another baby because I thought it would take attention off our foundering marriage.CFD-IPHONE-Original-ForWeb

At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of two children. My husband didn’t want me to work, and for years, I didn’t have a car. It seemed I couldn’t get out of the house or out from under his thumb. While I was eight months pregnant with my third child, I found pornography on his computer. At the time I wasn’t ready to deal with anything more. Mentally, I put it aside. Once in a great while, my husband became the man I married, and I remembered why I tried to make it work. So was the case after our baby. He was present for the birth, but he soon reverted back to his ways of spending countless hours on the computer and seldom being available. Fortunately, I had a good friend and neighbor who told me to talk to my husband about the porn. When I confronted him, he admitted to having a problem with pornography.

He told me he couldn’t stop and needed help. I was very angry, mostly because of the lies. He had opportunities when we went to marriage counseling to come clean, but he didn’t. I didn’t know if I could trust him because of this pattern of lying and hiding behavior.

Lying was worse than the pornography. I also felt angry and betrayed because my husband had chosen pornography over intimacy with me. Our sexual life was pretty non-existent, one or two times a month, while he was looking at pornography and masturbating every day.

I felt very unattractive and worthless. I was also very angry because to society’s standards I had a good body and was thin to the point of being skinny.  I remember yelling, “I could be a porn star! Maybe I should, so you would look at me!”

I thought about leaving him, but decided to stay with him if he went to counseling. We found LifeStar, a sexual addiction recovery program. It was life-changing for me. Sexual addiction wasn’t about sex, but how he felt about himself and dealt with emotions. I learned to set boundaries with my husband and other people, which was big for me because I tended to say yes when I wanted to say no. I learned to take care of myself and make myself a priority because I put everyone else first. I learned I had a voice.

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I was empowered to go back to school for a career and stand up to my husband. For the first time, I realized I could choose to be happy, and I was only responsible for me. The healthier I became the worse my husband was with looking at pornography. He increased it at work and lost his job. I issued him an ultimatum: get it together or I was leaving, and I kicked him out of the house. He sunk lower, and I moved myself and the children to my mom’s. I realized he wanted and was excited by what he couldn’t have. If he could have me, he didn’t want me. If another guy wanted to date me, he was interested.

WomanThere is a flash of hope for those who lose everything and come face to face with their truth. My husband did a 180 and told me he had kept me away to protect himself. It made me determined and passionate about fighting pornography and sexual addiction. I was involved in S-Anon and presented at a conference for social change. I continued my progress in school, earning my bachelor’s degree, and applied for graduate school. By that time, I had determined to be a therapist to give back, working with trauma and sexual addiction. I was able to come full circle. I found myself on the other end of LifeStar, being a facilitator and clinician instead of a client. I’ve seen many lives impacted by pornography and those who have an addiction, staying up all night, not taking showers, looking at it at work, losing their religious status, and going to prostitutes. I’ve seen marriages destroyed and hearts-broken over porn. I’ve seen lives destroyed.

But I also see hope. There is hope in education and talking to our children about the falsehood of pornography. There is hope in society when women are treated with respect and not just used as sex symbols or demeaned in porn.

It’s time to get real about beauty and what makes a woman truly beautiful—not the photo-shopped, heavily-made up girl you can’t have, but the one who stands by your side, supports you, and loves you. Love can heal and is perhaps the biggest fighter. I learned through my journey to love and validate myself, which is the biggest empowerment of all.

If we stand idly by and let pornography destroy the lives of great men and women, we are letting society fail. By actively raising awareness and helping those who are struggling overcome this plague, we are choosing to protect families, individuals, and society.

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Owning the Addiction: Jack’s Story

Names have been changed for privacy.
Originally published January 31, 2015.

Jack Miller, a college student, was first exposed to pornography at about 15 years of age.

His addiction started there.

“At first, I was looking at catalogs,” he said. “I eventually got on the computer with more time.” During his sophomore year of high school, he thought he had a problem when his parents caught him looking at it. Even then, his addiction lasted throughout high school.

Miller later admitted to looking at pornography to his bishop. Soon after, he served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“That could have been one of the scariest moments of my life because I was risking having to leave on my mission later,” he said. “Luckily, it worked out, and I left on time as planned.” But Miller faced a new challenge when he came home.

“I came back [from my mission] and figured out what a smartphone was,” Miller said. “All of the sudden [pornography] was even more accessible.”

Once you admit that you have an addiction, you admit that you’re powerless against it. – Jack Miller

Miller came to BYU-Idaho after his mission. It was about this time that he started looking at pornography again. Still, he never thought it was an addiction because he only viewed it on occasion.

“I never considered it an addiction because it was off and on,” Miller said. “I wasn’t looking at it every day.” Miller’s singles ward bishop, however, told him otherwise. Miller started to see his problem as an addiction after meeting with his bishop. “Even though it wasn’t constant, a long period of time shows that you have an addiction,” Miller said.

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Reed Hendricks, a BYU-Idaho counselor who specializes in sexual addiction behavior, said the admittance process is key to recovery. “A good treatment is that they’ve got to learn to acknowledge honestly what they’re doing,” he said. “[They need to] acknowledge what it’s doing to their life.”

Zachary Moss, a stake missionary group leader for the LDS Family Services Addiction Reco
very Program, said changes begin to take place after acknowledgment: “[When] you realize you have an issue that you need to do something about, changes start to happen.”

“Once you admit that you have an addiction, you admit that you’re powerless Man walking on pathagainst it,” Miller said.  But after accepting his addiction, Miller took action.

Hendricks said motivation comes from one of two sources: within or without. To progress, motivation has to come from within.

“It might start out with being compelled by some other outside source,” Hendricks said. “It ultimately [has to] come from ‘I want to do it for myself.’”

At first, Miller’s motivation was his family. He said he wanted to secure his family’s support. “You don’t want them to be disappointed in you,” Miller said. “…You don’t want them to see you like that.”

Miller then saw the path he was heading down. He reflected on his goals of marriage and family and knew he had to make some changes. “At that point, it scared me,” he said. “I finally saw the person I was becoming.”

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“People who have addictions will almost always want to conceal it,” Hendricks said. It is important to talk to others because it helps release guilt and shame. “They become less authentic and less honest with themselves.”

Moss said confiding in others also helps relieve life’s pressures. When Miller told his girlfriend about his pornography addiction, he said he felt comfortable telling her because of the trust they had established.

“It’s like letting sunlight in,” Moss said. “It makes you feel a lot better.” Miller had tried to overcome the addiction himself at first, but he later accepted help from others.

“You need some kind of help from another source,” Miller said. “You have to make your effort and turn to support from others.”

Once you are addicted to something, you are addicted for the rest of your life. You really have to change and become a new person. – Zachary Moss

Hendricks said people often turn to one resource for help: “Some people try to turn it over to God. Other people want to go to counseling and try to change their behaviors. That usually doesn’t [create] long-term change.” Hendricks said long-term change occurs when people combine these resources.

“[Receiving] proper help with the emotional aspects of addiction and from [God] to strengthen us, heightens our abilities,” Hendricks said. “That’s when people make long-term, lasting changes.”

However, people with an addiction will always struggle with temptation.

“Once you are addicted to something, you are addicted for the rest of your life,” Moss said. “You really have to changeMan looking at mountains and become a new person.” Hendricks said treatment goes beyond changing people’s behaviors. He, like Moss, said people also have to change their nature.

“If we only try to stop the pornography use without changing the triggers, we never make any long-term change,” Hendricks said.

People with addictions become less and less effective at tuning in… They are less connected to what is happening emotionally, physically and spiritually.” – Reed Hendricks

Triggers are emotions that can cause people to relapse. Such triggers include loneliness or low self-esteem. Hendricks said one or more triggers occur before relapse. To avoid this, he said people need to be aware of what triggers them.

“People with addictions become less and less effective at tuning in,” Hendricks said. “They are less connected to what is happening emotionally, physically, and spiritually.”

Miller’s trigger is unused time. “I try to make sure I’m filling my time with something, even if it’s just playing video games,” he said. Yet, people should not just keep themselves busy. Hendricks said people need to meet their different needs. “Being busy with good things isn’t the same as actually meeting the need,” he said.

Despite the circumstances, Moss said help is available for anyone with an addiction. People can find help through addiction recovery programs, church leaders, and non-profit organizations.

“There’s always help,” he said. “There’s always hope.”

What is your motivation? Share it below.

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Let’s Talk About Love

We are proud to introduce our special guest writer, No Porn Club. This organization seeks to spread awareness of the harmful effects of pornography by “talking real.”
Originally published February 13, 2015.

Love is a funny thing to talk about when you are divorced. It’s also something that isn’t mentioned much when you are full-blown in the middle of a relationship or marriage with someone who has a pornography addiction.

There was a time in my relationship where I had a decision to make. Either to walk out the door, be angry, hateful and revengeful or…

I’m leaving a scripted pause above because anyone who has been lied to, deserted, used, forgotten, cheated on and betrayed in every way is thinking, “What other choice is there? What could possibly be left to do than cry, scream and tell him/her off?”

no porn clubBelieve me, I thought about all those delightful options, but just weeks before, I was praying. The one thing I had left, the one thing that hadn’t been ripped from me yet, was my faith in a God who loved me still. I had knowledge that His plan and vision was larger and better than mine.

I prayed to somehow know truth, even just a piece of it.

The answer I received was that in order for me to have truth, there had to be love. I needed to accept the person who had hurt me most as someone who was really, truly, deeply good inside but got lost along the way, who had failed to see for himself what love really is.

So I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter of love, expressing that I understood what he was going through and that I understood the battle he was facing must be so difficult. I told him despite those vices that were there, I would always love him; I would support him. At the end of the letter, I remember saying that we could move on together with honesty and that this could be a fresh start. I felt and meant every word.

“Fake love brings quick moments of gratification… Real love is so much more beautiful. It’s the kind that forgives over and over, looks past the worst,  hopes for the best and uplifts and inspires.”

Soon after, I received the truth of how the pornography addiction led to one thing after another. It was unbearable at first to hear as he disclosed more and more, but I remember — in the midst of feeling panic and feeling my heart about to leap out in a twisted distortion of pain — there was peace that came over me. It was an extension of love that was not mine. It was more love than I was capable of giving myself in that moment.

It was the beginning of a journey to understanding what love really is. This kind of love isn’t expressed in kisses or in the bedroom. It’s definitely not found on a computer screen. It’s the kind where you give your will to someone else — not the kind of will that succumbs to abuse, but the kind that allows you to look past the ugly and somehow, even for a moment, see the good.

It’s funny how the world has painted its picture of what love is. I mean, look at the most recent movie 50 Shades of Grey that is hitting box offices with frantic guys and girls waiting with giddiness to watch. They will leave with the idea of what the world says love is: a whip and a bed.

Fake love brings quick moments of gratification. It’s like the turn of a page. Real love is so much more beautiful. It’s the kind that forgives over and over, looks past the worst, hopes for the best and uplifts and inspires. Real love is enduring love, the kind that comes from selfless acts and the intent to hold another’s virtue with respect and high regard. It holds someone and their needs in the highest regards.

“I have personally seen how love can heal addicted and broken hearts, even if it’s just for a moment. Sometimes, you only need a moment to change a lifetime of events.”

I have no doubt that this kind of love can still be found in all of us. But it’s a choice we need to make. For the addicted, it’s the choice to love someone more than the fleeting moment of a lustful eye. For the betrayed, it’s the choice to let go of the hurt and give it away, to allow inspiration to come in a way that changes your very human nature. To love instead of hate. To give instead of hold back. To support instead of bash.

I have personally seen how love can heal addicted and broken hearts, even if it’s just for a moment. Sometimes, you only need a moment to change a lifetime of events.

Unfortunately my own marriage could not be saved by love alone, but it has brought healing and change. I still love this person. When there are moments of pain, I literally hold out my hands and give my pain to God. I ask for His love in return, and I always receive it.

I have never been denied His love. Even in my weakest moments of anger, He still gives me what I need most, true love. That love then can be given back over and over. Over just a period of six months, I am in a place that takes many to feel over a span of years. It’s funny how I thought that this real love was changing someone else, but now I see that the love was actually changing me more.

How divine.

No Porn Club 

How do you show your love even in times of chaos or trouble? Share your thoughts below.

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Love Kills Porn: A Documentary about Overcoming Addictions

Celine Reese, a photographer and BYU-Idaho graduate with a degree in Communications, created a beautiful, inspiring video for her senior project encouraging fighters to keep standing up against pornography and show the positive side.

“In our society, there is so much shaming,” Celine said. “So many of us have this misconception that those who make these sins are bad people. We are so afraid to talk about it, and those who are fighting are terrified of opening up about it. It is such a hard topic, but I wanted to get people to see this horrible problem in a more positive light. There is hope.”

While talking about her inspiration to create this video, Celine said, “I knew so many people that went through it, and I wanted them to feel hope. I also felt like I had no idea how to support them. When someone loses a battle, sometimes you take it all on yourself. … I wanted to give fighters hope and help them, and I wanted to help supporters know that they’re not alone.”

logo-lineAccording to Celine, shaming does nothing to help, and neither does believing these people are bad. Both parties are afraid to open up and talk about it, and while it is a hard topic to discuss, Celine hopes her viewers recognize the importance and power of hope. “We can’t judge anyone. We need to have our arms open to them,” she said.

“We always focus on the problem,” Celine said. “So what’s the opposite of porn? Love. If porn kills love, then you can bet that LOVE kills PORN. Through relationships, the atonement, and family, pornography, with a lot of work from the fighter, can be overcome. But it can’t be overcome without love, without that communication, and without those positive bonds.”

Fighters should find someone to confide in and help keep them accountable and recognize that love and hope.

Supporters should remember that they’re not alone. “They can always talk to someone, even me, about what they’re feeling,” Celine said. It may be easy to feel responsible for lost battles, but that is not true. Supporters simply need to “listen, tell the fighter they are loved, and tell them to come to Christ. Then they remember that too.”

 

For more from Celine and her fighters, check out “Love Kills Porn: Q and A with Fighters and Producer” and “Love Kills Porn Q and A” (part two).

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Supporting Loved Ones: Jacob’s Story

Names have been changed for privacy.
Originally published November 24, 2011.

Jacob Smith, a college student, picked up the ringing telephone. He didn’t recognize the number but still answered.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” the caller said.

Smith was surprised. He recognized the voice at the other end. It was his brother, Mark. Mark was a solider. He had served in the U.S. Army for three years. In July 2011, he was deployed to Afghanistan. When he left, he took a secret greater than pornography with him.

Mark told him he was being discharged from the U.S. Army, but Smith didn’t understand.

 “Is it a general discharge?” he asked.

“No,” Mark responded.

“Dishonorable discharge?”

No immediate response.

logo lineSmith hung up the phone. He remained calm despite having just learned that his brother was going to prison, but he didn’t know why.

Later that day, Smith went to play ball in a nearby field. He walked home afterward, thinking about his brother the whole time

“It wasn’t off my mind,” Smith said. “Without realizing it, I took a three-hour walk around the whole town.”

Smith described that day as his worst Thanksgiving.

Mark eventually tried taking his own life. Fortunately, a friend stopped him. Shortly after the incident, Mark turned himself in.

logo lineDecember 26, 2011.

It had been a month since Thanksgiving, and Smith still didn’t know why Mark was going to prison when he finally asked his dad.

In that moment, Smith found out about Mark’s addiction: Mark had a pornography problem.

It had led to other actions with serious consequences. Mark inappropriately touched his step-daughter multiple times. Neither Mark nor the step-daughter ever spoke about these incidents.

“Pornography is secretive by nature. … People are trying to cover up their tracks. They don’t want to get caught because there’s shame and embarrassment.” – Tim Rarick

“Apparently, he kept having this addiction that wasn’t being contained,” Smith said. “He felt so distraught over what he had done.”

Tim Rarick, a BYU-Idaho professor with a Ph.D. in Human Development & Family Studies, said different factors — including biological, personality, and familial — could contribute to acting out. The duration and intensity of the addiction also plays a part, he said.

Pornography users are likely to engage in violence toward women and also support attitudes thereof, according to “Porn Leads to Violence,” an article from Fight the New Drug.

“Once they start watching extreme and dangerous sex acts, these porn users are being taught that those behaviors are more normal and common than they actually are,” the article states.

Smith said only a few family members were aware from the beginning, but no one knew of his other actions.

Rarick said people with an addiction withhold information from loved ones. “Pornography is secretive by nature,” he said. “People are trying to cover up their tracks. They don’t want to get caught because there’s shame and embarrassment.”logo line

After his brother returned to the United States, the legal process began, and Smith attended Mark’s court hearing in February 2012.

During this time, Smith learned everything his brother had done. “Hearing all the charges and specifications … really brought Gavelthings to life,” he said.

Smith said his brother’s willing attitude and cooperation made the process simpler. He wanted to correct his mistakes.

“Even [prosecutors] appreciated how easy of a case it was,” he said. “It’s not every day that you find someone who’s on trial … for being cooperative, trying to own up and [taking] responsibility,” Smith said.

Rarick said acceptance is critical to addiction recovery. “Without acknowledgement, full change and recovery is not possible,” he said.

Smith said his brother’s verdict was quickly determined; he pleaded guilty, and Mark was sentenced to nine years in prison.

logo lineMark’s parents and siblings handled the conviction as well as they could, but it was hard for them to understand, and they struggled with the situation at first.

Smith, on the other hand, struggled for several months. “I went through the normal four stages of grief, which consist of shock, anger, guilt and sorrow,” he said.

Rarick said family members of an addict typically go through these stages. Anger is a common emotion for parents, he said.

“[Parents] judge themselves. They tend to beat themselves up [and say] ‘Where did I go wrong?’” – Tim Rarick

Jeff Jones, a therapist for the Child and Family Resource Center, said parents also experience guilt.

“Parents want to believe that their children aren’t the ones who are going to [look at pornography],” Jones said. “All of us want to believe it.”

Smith said his father felt guilty about what happened. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still beating himself up over the ordeal,” he said.

Rarick said parents can also take their child’s addiction personally. “They judge themselves,” he said. “They tend to beat themselves up [and say] ‘Where did I go wrong?’”

logo lineDecember 25, 2012.

A year later, Smith saw his brother again on Christmas and was one of 14 people who visited an inmate at the prison where Mark was incarcerated.

“That’s all [the inmates] that were visited on Christmas Day,” Smith said. “They [were] thrown away from everything they [knew].”

Overall, Smith said his family is supportive of Mark. “[He] is very fortunate to have the family support that he has because most people in his situation have nobody and nothing,” he said. “That support system helps his chances of not being a repeat offender.”

Rarick said recovering addicts often feel hopeless: “Many of them experience severe depression, feelings of worthlessness,” he said. “They feel like they aren’t worth loving.”

But the truth is that they need love and support from others.

“Don’t do a love withdrawal,” Rarick said. “It makes it worse on the recovery.”

“Let them know that they are still loved and that you’re there to help support them. They need to feel validated, like they are important and that they can overcome these problems.” – Jacob Smith

logo line“[Mark] knows that things will not be the same when he gets out,” he said. “He knows things will have to be done differently.”

Rarick said recovering addicts need to be proactive when repairing relationships. This can be accomplished by going to therapy, building safeguards and talking individually with family members, he said.

And Mark is being proactive by doing what he can to mend and maintain relationships with his loved ones.

“He definitely writes cards and letters as often as he is able,” Smith said. “He’s really tried to makes amends.”

logo linePresent day.

Mark and his wife are divorced. He has no contact with the children.

Still, Smith and his family continually support him. Each family member visits their brother (or son) as much as possible.

In addition, Smith’s parents are making plans for his future.

“My parents have been working on coming up with a really good support system to get him rehabilitated in the normal life when gets out,”  he said.

For people with loves ones struggling with an addiction, Smith said, “Let them know that they are still loved and that you’re there to help support them,” Smith said. “They need to feel validated, like they are important and that they can overcome these problems.”

“You need to be filled with hope if you are to overcome the rippling effects these things have.” – Jacob Smith

Similarly, Jones said not to look down on them.

“You don’t condemn, but you don’t condone,” he said.

Jones said families should also establish open, honest communication. He said this will help families overcome the addiction together.

Moreover, inviting a third party (such as a counselor or bishop) can help families cope.

Man looking at surroundings

Smith said that he sought a counselor and that therapy has helped him progress over the years.

Rarick said counseling is a helpful tool for all family members because it helps them cope with the situation. “It can help through the grieving process,” he said. “It can help them understand the pain they are feeling.”

Smith moves forward each day and said that having hope is key in these types of circumstances.

“You need to be filled with hope if you are to overcome the rippling effects these things have,” Smith said.

 

To learn more about how to support a loved one, read He Restoreth My Soul and What Can I Do About Me?

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Finding Hope

Pornography knows no bounds and is not a respecter of persons. Everyone can be affected and addicted to pornography at any time in their lives. This includes women as much as men.

Pornography needs to be talked about, and those affected should feel that they can bring their addiction to light so they can get help and find hope. They should feel the love of those around them, not fear, disgust, or malice. The power of the Atonement and the love of Jesus Christ can help you overcome the struggles and pain of pornography addiction.

The woman in the following video was only 11 years old when she was introduced to pornography. Her story brings the power of hope to those struggling with porn addictions.

Where do you find your hope?

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Overcoming Pornography Addiction

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has recently released a Mormon Message about pornography and the effects it can have on marriages and families. The video, “Overcoming Pornography Addiction: The Healing Power of Jesus Christ,” talks about a family who has been directly affected by the destructive power of pornography.

Both the wife and the husband counseled with their bishop to overcome the effects together but also in their own way: Both needed healing in different ways.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a pornography addiction, don’t let it destroy your family. Like Troy in the video, be open, honest, and fight for your loved ones. Seek counseling and avoid placing blame on yourself or others.

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Continuing the Journey: Adam’s Story

Names have been changed for privacy.
Originally published November 24, 2013.

Adam Greene, a college student, has fought a pornography addiction since he was about 16 years old; however, he continues to move forward each day.

Paul Henderson, a facilitator for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, said a pornography addiction is somewhat different from other addictions: “It’s not something you throw away; it’s stuck in there,” he said. “It’s everywhere, so it makes it really hard to get away from.”

Greene was first exposed to pornography when he was about 12 years old. He was curious but didn’t know what to think at first glance. “I liked what I was seeing, but I would have to admit that I didn’t really understand what I was seeing or how it made me feel,” Greene said.

Henderson said an addiction is different for each individual. He said people can become addicted because of certain triggers, such as curiosity or stress. He also said an addiction could be a result of abuse. “You find that it’s great at first, so you do it more,” Henderson said. “The more you do it, the more you need to use it. Eventually, you’re not doing the things you used [do]. It becomes very, very addictive. It becomes who you are.”

“Nothing I was doing was helping me, and for me, that was the point. I was going further and further down the hole.” – Adam Greene

Greene knew he needed help when his addiction started to control his life. “I did some things, in a sense, that scared me straight,” he said. “The choices I made brought to my attention what it was that I was really viewing and doing with the porn. It scared me.”

His first step to recovery was understanding his own actions. “It [wasn’t] some harmless thing that I was doing,” he said. “There’s no way I would have done anything to change if I didn’t think anything was wrong.”

“Nothing I was doing was helping me, and for me, that was the point,” Greene said, acknowledging that at first he didn’t fight. “I was going further and further down the hole.”

Getting out of the hole.

Greene said he confided in his church leader. He also sought professional counseling. In addition, he told several loved ones about his addiction, who were supportive from the beginning, he said. “All of them were very accepting and supportive of what I told them and did everything that they could to be loving and supportive,” Greene said.

Self-punishment was one of the hardest obstacles for him to overcome: “I hated myself for being so weak, for doing something so vile,” he said. “I hated myself for all the opportunities I had lost because of my addiction.”

Henderson said acknowledgement comes before motivation. “You have to admit that you have a problem before you can get motivation to do it,” he said. Addictions can affect personal relationships and relationship dynamics. For example, he said people with addictions tend to isolate themselves from others. Greene, however, has mended relationships with his loved ones.

Greene encourages recovery addicts to seek help. He said they need to know what will help them through recovery. “Do whatever you need to free yourself,” he said. “Believe that you can overcome and win.”

Henderson said recovery addicts must also be consistent throughout the recovery process. “Take one day at a time,” he said. “Allow yourself to change.”

How did you or a loved one get out of the hole?

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Fight with Me, Together

This guest post was written by a Citizens for Decency staff member.  If you have an experience with pornography and would like to be a guest writer, email your article to citizens4decency@gmail.com.

I have read studies that show the harmful effects of pornography and made the personal decision to stay away from it. Pornography, however, has a way of finding even the most unwilling participants. People with the best intentions find themselves face-to-face with videos and images that stick to the mind like plaque sticks to your teeth, but there is no quick brush that can get eliminate pornography’s impact. I guess the only thing we can do when life presents us with the option to indulge “just a little” is to turn our backs and remember just how dangerous pornography really is.

2749561795_4c25c5a576_bI am a young newlywed who recently had the opportunity to go on a business trip. It was hard to be away from my beautiful wife for an extended amount of time, but we both agreed that the prospect of what I would accomplish was too exciting to pass up. After a long day of conference meetings and appointments with potential clients, I was relieved to end up in my hotel room. As I settled in for the night, I couldn’t wait to tell my wife all about my day. When I reached only her voice mail I decided to try and catch the evening news.

While flipping through channels, I stumbled upon a scene which instantly wrapped its unforgiving tentacles around my thoughts. Pornography is crafted to ensnare viewers, no matter their gender, no matter their age. The famous line, “take no prisoners” isn’t even applicable because pornographers will leave you utterly alone and trapped inside a cell of the mind. The disease will never finish you off. Pornographers don’t make money off death but through the heartbreak of addiction.

I admit, looking back, that I was not as prepared as I wish I would have been. I should have changed the channel as quickly as I registered what was on. Every second spent viewing porn adds bottles of poison into the system. Even after just a short period of time, I felt nauseous, angry, aroused, and a myriad of other feelings. What was worse, I felt the vibration that meant my sweet wife was checking in to see how my day was. Above all the other emotions, I was embarrassed.

I quickly mentioned what had happened but, not wanting to enhance my embarrassment, quickly moved on. After the call, I couldn’t stop thinking about that destructive scene. I DIDN’T WANT IT! How could I make the thoughts go away? Then the solution came: I needed to call my wife. It was about 2 a.m. I didn’t want to disturb my wife and, what’s more, I didn’t want to admit how strongly pornography was affecting me. But, I made the call anyways.

She wasn’t mad, didn’t doubt my loyalty, and never questioned my love. On the contrary, she praised me for how I was handling the situation. She reminded me to pray and told me that she would stay up all night to talk with me if needed.

That night, I discovered a key to fighting pornography: we need our loved ones. It is crafted to ensnare, so just remember that pornographers win when we choose to fight alone.

When have you won an unexpected battle with pornography?

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Supporting and Responding to a Spouse with a Sexual Addiction

We at Citizens of Decency are proud to introduce our special guest writer, Maurice W. Harker. Maurice is the director of Life Changing Services. He is also the creator of the Sons of Helaman program, the Men of Moroni program, and the WORTH group.

There are many different philosophies on this topic. I am guessing my recommendations will cause great relief to some and will stimulate a strong negative reaction in many. Either way, after working very closely with couples in this situation for more than a decade now, I am confident that the ideas I share will be the best when responding to your spouse who has a sexual addiction.

This article will appear to have a bias. That is true. Currently, in 99 percent of the cases I work with, it is the husband who has the sexual addiction, and it is the wife who seeks understanding on how to respond. So, this article will clearly discuss how I recommend a wife should respond to a husband’s pornography/sexual addiction. While women can have sexual addictions, it is not the focus of this article.

First, we need to remember that the role a wife plays in these circumstances is different than the role of his parents, siblings, friends, church leaders, clinicians, and sponsors. I would hope that his parents, siblings, friends, church leaders, clinicians, and sponsors will have a patient, compassionate response toward the man with the addiction. But the wife, primarily, is the only one that is a victim of his misbehaviors and mentalities. Many try to declare, “She has nothing to do with the misbehaviors,” or “She shouldn’t take it personally.” I agree that she holds no responsibility for the cause of his misbehaviors; it is not her fault. But in many ways, her life is greatly affected by his misbehaviors. It is very painful and scary to discover your spouse is drawn to and takes action toward other women, especially when he has a hard time controlling it.

Woman

Geoff Steurer, MS, LMFT has already itemized the destructive impact an addiction has on the wife in his article, so I will not be addressing that here. I will address how to respond. When making recommendations to a woman as to how to react to a man’s misbehavior, imagine your high school-aged daughter comes home from school one day —and says, “The boy I have been dating keeps looking at other girls without their clothes on. What should I do?” Notice, first, that your reaction is not, “Well, sweetie, you just need to be supportive and not take it personally.” We don’t say, “It’s not a big deal,” or “Maybe you should get better at meeting his needs; then, he wouldn’t need to do that.” Notice when the misbehaviors affect our daughters, we would have a much different (and more accurate) response to what course of action she should take than a traditional clinical approach. So, the steps below are designed for the spouse — not the parents, siblings, friends, church leaders, clinicians, and sponsors. That is a topic for another day.

  1. Withdraw to a safe distance. Many are disturbed by this first suggestion, but if they truly understand the situation, making sure the victim receives no more injury is the first priority. The “distance” depends on how hurtful his behaviors are. You don’t measure how much something hurts or whether it hurts by asking the one delivering the pain. The one receiving the pain will need to figure out how much distance and what kind of distance is needed. An addict during this stage is often more concerned about his own comfort than he is to hers. I do not advocate for divorce unless the individual bringing pain to the relationship continues to do so and does not consistently invest time and effort into understanding and changing the painful behaviors. If the woman is going to heal and recover from this experience, she will need a safe and secure “incubator” or “greenhouse.”
  1. Pack your wagon. The wife will need to prepare for the possibility that she has a long journey ahead of her, and there are no guarantees that he will overcome his issues. Addiction can be overcome, but it is a lot of hard work and can take a while. Sadly, some men are not willing to do that much work. Healing and recovery are often derailed by impatience. Both parties need to focus primarily on making sure they are emotionally fortified for the work required to heal and recover. Both need to plug into their Divine Power for this education and rejuvenation. They should only “work on the marriage” when both can maintain an edifying environment for the other during communication.Pack Your Wagon
  1. This is not punishment. An addict in the early stages of recovery will often describe step one and step two as punishment. In reality, the steps she needs to take for her own safety will break up his comfort zone, but it is often connected to sustaining his addictive behaviors and mentality. For the future to be different, the present needs to be different. Discomfort does not equal punishment. Incidentally, not intentionally, her distance should create some motivation on his part to do the work it takes to reach out to those who can help him recover, including parents, siblings, friends, church leaders, clinicians, and sponsors.
  1. Find and plug into healing resources. She will need to find quality people and programs that will feed her with lots of energy and accurate information for healing. The tendency is for her to rely on him to change. “I will feel better when he…” This dependence on him needs to be disconnected.
  1. Maintain dignity. It is important for a woman’s emotional well-being that she does not allows herself to misbehave just because he misbehaves. In the early stages, it is not uncommon for the addict to blame his behavior on what she does or doesn’t do. These same men will tell their children, “Just because your sister does something wrong doesn’t mean you get to do something wrong too. You can’t blame someone else for your misbehaviors.” The wife needs to watch out for the same pattern in her behavior. Do not let yourself misbehave just because he does. Handle everything as if you are training your daughters for the same situation.
  1. Nurture goodness. If he shows signs of improvement, you are encouraged to say, “Good job,” but nothing more is required of you. Do this because you are a good woman, not because he needs it. His development/improvements should not be dependent upon you. If an addict is going to gain full mastery over his misbehaviors, he will need to have a system that is not dependent on his spouse. He may temporarily rely on others (sponsor, therapist, church leader, coach, etc.) but should not use his wife, the victim of his misbehaviors, as his primary support. I have a great deal of confidence in men and their ability to overcome this addiction and its negative side effects. When we train men, we train them to get their emotional rejuvenation from someone other than the one that has been crushed their misbehaviors.
  1. Refuse to be abused. Hopefully, his painful behaviors will cease soon, but if the addictive behaviors, or any of its accompanying behaviors (lying, hiding, elusiveness, anger, frustration, etc.) return, then I recommend the wife go back to step 1.
  1. Flourish in a safe environment. In my experience, if a man can show consistent improvement, if he can grow in his ability to provide her with emotional safety and security, she will warm up to him with little effort. As I have watched couples recover from extremely painful situations, if the man provides a greenhouse for an extended period of time (one month for every year he has had a problem), then the woman almost always responds as any good seed does. In a timely manner, she will grow and blossom again. It You're Not Okay But That's Okayis a miraculous process to observe. He grows in confidence and a sense of competence. She feels safe and secure. If he does not do the work it takes to provide her with safety and security, she can find sufficient safety and security from her own efforts and the Divine Source. She can flourish outside the relationship, again, sadly, leaving him outside the greenhouse.

For greater understanding on this topic, read Maurice’s book, I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, But That’s Okay!  Maurice’s counseling agency, Life Changing Services, provides remote services for both the women who find themselves in this situation (the free WORTH group) and men who are ready to work hard to recover from the addiction (Men of Moroni).

Visit www.LifeChangingServices.org for details. Email inquiries to sofhoutreach@gmail.com.

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