What Is the 12-Step Recovery Program?

When encountering an addiction recovery program — whether for pornography, alcohol, drugs, or eating disorders — you will encounter a variation of the 12-step program.  In the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous was the first group to draft 12 steps to addiction recovery, and since then, other organizations and religious denominations have adopted similar steps.eDLHCtzRR0yfFtU0BQar_sylwiabartyzel_themap

Why do so many groups use the 12-step program? Because it works. The steps provide a map to your recovery through acceptance, selfless acts, and repentance. It breaks you out of isolation and forms connections through reliance on God and others for help and restitution.

What also makes the program effective is that it’s a life-long commitment. Once you have completed the steps yourself, you’re given the challenge to practice the principles again and again through aiding other people as they overcome their addictions.

We have published a series of articles based on the 12-step program, expanding on the principles of these programs. You can also visit Alcoholics Anonymous and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more information (the latter with minor variations on the former). Below are the current 12-step programs from Alcoholics Anonymous and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, demonstrating the differences.

No matter your religious beliefs or claimed denomination, you can find support and relief through utilizing these steps. We hope that you will join us in exploring the tried-and-tested 12 steps toward freedom from addictive oppression.

  Alcoholics Anonymous Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
1 We admitted we were powerless over [our addictions]—that our lives had become unmanageable. Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
5 Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.
6 Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
11 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.
12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [others battling pornography addictions], and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share the message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

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Why you should disclose your addiction to your partner

Passionate young couple in mountains

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to tell your partner that you have been addicted to pornography.  Ideally,  you would want to tell your spouse about this problem very early on in the relationship… and some people do. But what happens next and what if you skip this process all together? And what if your spouse learns about your addiction through discovery, not disclosure?

Addicts need to understand that disclosure is always better! Without the truth, healing will never take place for the addict or the partner. There may be risks, but in the long run, this will be much more effective.  “When an addict comes clean, owns it, and commits to recovery and sobriety, it is the best scenario all the way around.” -Dr. Jill Manning. An important aspect of disclosure is FULL disclosure. This means not leaving things out, and continuing to disclose honestly when it happens again in the future.

Why is disclosure better?

When a partner discovers that their loved one is addicted, it is a type of trauma. Depending on the seriousness will affect this trauma, but whether they discover, or hear it from you, and whether it is serious or mild, those feelings of trauma will take place. However, there are dramatic differences between discovery and disclosure. Those who disclose have shorter periods of mistrust than those who discover it, and recovery is easier when an addict comes clean. 

Interesting stats: 50% of partners indicated full disclosure was one of the most important activities for their healing.

84-87% of partners find out about their spouses addiction. Only 13-16% are told in an upfront way. It is often the lies and the withholding that is the deal breaker for partners, more so than the acting out.

There will be risks in disclosure, and it will be traumatic for both people in the relationship, but it will foster healing, and allow trust to be repaired.  

“When an addict comes clean, owns it, and commits to recovery and sobriety, it is the best scenario all the way around.” -Dr. Jill Manning.

 

How to Avoid “The Itch”

When trying to quit pornography, relapses will happen. Just like any drug, it takes time for pornography to leave your body and for you to be back to normal. During this detox period, your body will go through a type of withdrawal which I call “the itch.”

This itch can be extremely hard to ignore. There are times when you won’t have a problem resisting to scratch, but the itch won’t leave until you either forget about it or until you scratch it.

There are ways, however, to ease the itch. It won’t be easy, but if you want to leave porn in the dust, then there are a few essential steps you have to take.

1 – Make a Plan.

A goal without a plan is just a wish (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). If you want to quit pornography, then you have to make a plan of action for when you feel the itch. And don’t just think about the plan in your head, but sit down and write it out in detail.

Imagine where you will be and what you will be doing when the itch strikes; write down exactly what you can and will do in that situation. Maybe you’ll need to go for a run or take a cold shower. You might even consider calling your grandma in those moments! If anyone can make the temptation to look at porn disappear, it’s good old g-ma.

It might be a good idea to have a family member or a good friend sit with you as you come up with your plan of action. This way, someone will be able to keep you accountable to your goals.

2 – Identify Triggers..

While you create your plan, you need to evaluate when and where you usually start feeling like you need pornography. I’m talking about your triggers. These triggers are the things that make that itch come on in the first place.

Some examples of triggers could be:

  • Tiredness
  • Laziness
  • Sadness
  • A feeling of emptiness
  • Excessive computer usage
  • Reading explicit material
  • Ect…

Evaluate what your porn triggers are and try to avoid them as much as possible. Obviously you can’t always avoid being tired, but you can avoid the computer when exhaustion hits.

3 – Seek Help

When you’re healing from an illness, you don’t usually do it alone. Most of the time, you have doctors or family members or friends to help you heal. This is the same thing as when you’re healing from pornography.

Ask for help from a family member, church leader or a friend. If they see that you are passionate about quitting, they will be passionate to help you. Whoever you choose, make sure it’s someone who will support you when you feel like nothing will help. This person should be your safety net in times when the itch seems a little too irresistible. They should be someone who will encourage you to keep trying and to stick to your plan when you want to give up.

4 – Never Give Up

The last and most important step of avoiding a relapse is to never give up. Quitting porn can sometimes be a long and difficult process. Relapses will happen, but the key is to not get discouraged. Never let yourself think that quitting porn is an impossibility. If you really want it, you will get it.

Revise your plan as much as you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are serious about quitting pornography, then square your shoulders and strengthen your resolve. It won’t be easy, but don’t let the challenge stop you from becoming your best self. You can do it!

After going through these steps, share your experience with us on our Facebook or Instagram. Or send us a comment in our Contact Us tab. Let’s all rally together with a resolve to break the status quo and overcome the itch!

How to Improve Self-Control

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Self control can be tricky business: There is a quote I love by Philip Meyer……”The entire history of humanity is marked by a single inexorable movement – from animal instinct toward rational thought, from inborn behavior toward acquired knowledge. A half-grown panther abandoned in the wilderness will grow up to be a perfectly normal panther. But a half-grown child similarly abandoned will grow up into an unrecognizable savage, unfit for normal society. Yet there are those who insist the opposite: that we are creatures of instinct, like wolves.”

We are similar to animals in that we have impulses and critical needs, but we are unique in that we can make logical decisions and think critically. However, these two sides of our brains are often in conflict. We constantly find ourselves in situations where we need to choose between what we want instinctively, and what we should do. “I really want this piece of cake, but I should have an apple instead.”

What the Research Shows: “Studies have found that children equalize their lifelong self-control level by age seven or eight (though these are not necessarily permanent and can be changed well into adulthood). People with high self-control are able to consider the long-term implications of their actions and can accordingly delay gratification, or choose to act based on their overall best interests. Those with low self-control, by contrast, have difficulty thinking beyond their immediate desires. This impulsiveness manifests in ways that can be destructive both to these individuals and those around them, including risk-taking behavior (which stems from lack of consideration given to possible hazards) and low empathy for those around them.”

How to change: Is it possible to increase our self control and allow it to overshadow our natural instincts? YES! Here is some food for thought from recent Social Psychology research. “Practicing self control in one area of your life will help you improve self control overall. So, if you’d like to increase your willpower, don’t make a long list of New Year’s resolutions and tackle them all at once in January. A better strategy, the research suggests, is to start with one area and then let your increased self control spread throughout your newly improved life.”

Try something new this week. Decide to floss your teeth every day, do yoga on Saturday mornings, read an educational book for an hour before bed. These, (small as they seem) are the start to accomplishing your bigger resolutions.

 

 

The Pornography Thieves: Stealing My Daughter’s Innocence

Lessons Learned From My Teenage Daughter’s Pornography Addiction

The Authors of This Article Wish to Remain Anonymous

As parents of a teenage son, my husband and I have been adamant about teaching him the hazards of pornography. This adheres to an urgency that exists for parents of growing young men to endow them with the knowledge necessary to fend off attacks that we know are carefully crafted to ensnare them. After all, pornography is only a male problem, right? Think again.

We, also, have two lovely teenage daughters. We made sure to include them as we discussed the pitfalls of pornography, but felt there was no need to scrutinize them further. We were under the misconception that girls were not targeted, and therefore, did not have the same issue with viewing pornography; at least not our girls. We had placed filters in our home, added security to our computers and had vigilant conversations with our children on the subject. We believed our prevention efforts had been sufficient.

One of these conversations led to a deeper discussion with my eldest daughter in which she revealed that not only had she been accessing pornography in our home, she had been accessing for many years. It took a few moments for the reality to catch up with the words. As the wave of shock receded, an anguish and anger was uncovered I felt like a failure as a mother. How did my daughter become a slave to

something so derogatory towards women on my watch? What filth had she been subjected to? I yearned to help my daughter who was conscripted into the perilous battle of pornography addiction.

I seethed with fury at the pornography industry for sneaking their foulness in my home and taking the innocence I strove to protect. I know with certainty these thieves have no sorrow for what they have taken, no remorse for the damage they have done.

I had to step back and reevaluate the situation. My first step was the most important, I needed to arm myself with an education on this adversary, if I was going help my daughter win this battle.

Are You Educated on Pornography Statistics?

  • 9 out of 10 youth ages 8-16 have been exposed to pornography.
  • Porn is not just pictures of naked men or women posing for a camera. It takes the form of literature, photos, videos, and most recently Virtual Reality Porn
  • Pornography has grown to be more violent and graphic than ever before. Studies show this includes scenes of some of the most vile, depraved, and degrading acts imaginable.
  • Violence towards women in pornography is shown in the form of slapping, choking, hair pulling, bondage and other forced sexual acts.
  • Pornography can be found on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Ebay, Pinterest, and Google Images; among several other ways.
  • No filter is 100% guaranteed. Clay Olsen. founder and CEO of Fight the New Drug, stated that accidental exposure to pornography is often the avenue that leads teenagers to addiction. In one study, 41.3% of the 1,166 respondents were accidentally exposed to pornography as a result of misspelled searches, advertisements, and redirects from other websites.
  • Frequent use of pornography can lead to a cocaine-like reaction in the brain making viewing porn highly addictive
  • As of 2014, porn was a $97 billion global industry.
  • Pornhub’s 2016 statistics boast the following (no visual pornography is contained in this link)
    • U.S. is the highest consumer of porn with 40% of visits to the site.
    • Since 2010, Pornhub has seen a 1424% increase to their site, mainly due to mobile traffic.
    • 61% of traffic to their site comes from smartphones.
    • Women make up 26% of their customer base. Pornhub is continually finding new ways to attract the female consumer.
    • The most popular time of the day for pornography viewing is between 10pm and 1 am
      .
    • The total number of videos viewed on their site in 2016 was 91,980,225,000. That equals 12.5 videos per every person on the entire planet!

You are Not Alone

This new awareness helped us to construct a new defense for our family. In time, I shed any inadequacies I perceived to have as a parent and ventured to share my experience with others. I found parents confronted with the same plight, trying to navigate the feelings of confusion, distress and frustration. In hopes of helping others that are engaged in this struggle, let me share with you the fortifications we have built for our family.

What Should You Add to Your Family Protection Plan?

  • Love your daughter. Separate the pornography addiction from your child or teen. They need to know they are still loved. This gives them the hope and encouragement they need to recover.
  • Family rules. Together as a family, decide on pornography protection rules that all will adhere to. Some of these rules may include:
    1. Parents have permission to check device content, parental controls and blocks regularly.
    2. No Internet devices behind locked doors.
    3. Turn in all Internet devices to parents at bedtime (cell phones, laptops, etc.)
  • Communication is the key. Have daily check-ins with your teen or child. This allows your child to be accountable for their daily actions and reinforces that you are consistent in your support. Be specific according to your child’s needs. For example:
    1. Have you looked at pornography at all today or since the last time we talked?
    2. Are you having any struggles with (specific problem) you want to talk about?
  • Patience is a necessity. All addictions take time to overcome and may have several setbacks along the way.
  • Get help if needed. Find a counselor or therapist who has worked with pornography addiction.
  • Online sites that can help:
  • Don’t give up! You can defeat this.

Triumph Together

There are moments when we needed to reset during setbacks, but we have seen a significant change in our home. We have learned to celebrate each triumph along the way in conquering this addiction. When parents and children can join together, their combined forces can prevail over pornography.

4 Ways that Covenant Eyes Can Protect Your Family

The age of internet has made pornography so prevalent that most teenagers and young adults consider not recycling more immoral than viewing porn.

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Sure, recycling is important. But it’s likely that the general population of teens is unaware of just how harmful pornography is from the inside out. Thankfully, internet filtering systems like Covenant Eyes can give your family some protection from these harms. Here are four ways that Covenant Eyes can help your family:

  1. Customized filters for every family member

The average age of pornography exposure and addiction are the same: Age 11. (2) Since this is the case, it’s true when Covenant Eyes’ website says “One wrong click can change a life.” Internet filters are a great tool to protect pre-teens from unwanted exposure to pornography. Covenant Eyes lets you customize your internet filter settings to the ages and needs of your family. You can create custom lists of blocked sites for each person or device in your home—you can even turn off the internet completely at certain times of day. It’s designed for your family, whatever your needs are.
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  1. Accountability for you and your spouse

Most people who have ever tried to start a new workout program know that it helps to have a buddy—someone who is counting on you to get up, show up, and not give up. When you are trying to reach a goal, it helps to have someone on your side. Covenant Eyes has an internet accountability feature that lets you report to one specific person on your internet use. You can identify a coach for yourself—be it a spouse or a parent—and account to just that person on your progress.

  1. Get reports on what’s happening in your home

Internet accountability also lets you parent in a way that will build trust and openness among the members of your family. This feature sends reports to you so that you can see what websites and levels of content are being viewed in your home. Covenant Eyes explains it this way on their website: “Internet accountability is a report of what you see and do online, designed to start a conversation, helping everyone in your home make wiser choices about Internet use.” (3)

family

  1. Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge App

If you or someone in your family is struggling with a pornography addiction, there’s an app for that. Covenant Eyes released a new app for iPhone that gives you inspiring messages, prompts for reflection and a tracker to help you chart your progress. An Android app will be released in 2017.

Covenant Eyes was designed with the idea that every family is unique. Understanding your family’s needs, you can use internet filtering and accountability in tailored ways that will do the most good. It’s more important than ever to create a plan so that pornography doesn’t become commonplace in your home. You can check out more and buy the product at www.covenanteyes.com.

Download the iPhone app
Setting Up the iPhone app

Download the Android app
Configuring the Android app

Oh, and be sure to recycle.

 

 

Sources:

  1. “The Porn Phenomenon: Survey of U.S. Teens & Adults.” Covenant Eyes Comparisons/Barna Group. January 19, 2016
  2. “Healing Hidden Wounds.” Jennifer Grace Fallon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ensign. September 2016.
  3. “What is Internet Accountability?” Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering. October 20, 2016. Web. http://www.covenanteyes.com/services/internet-accountability/

 

 

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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Rise Above Porn 5K

Join us in a run to #riseaboveporn Saturday, July 9, 2016, at Smith Park in Rexburg, Idaho (E Main St & N 3rd E, Rexburg, Idaho 83440).

This Cops and Robbers themed 5K is a community-based event for all ages. Run to help to increase awareness of the effect pornography has on individuals, families, and communities. Festivities will begin at 9am with a brief informational program on the problems of pornography as well as empowering messages on defeating its grasp.

Each runner will wear an adjustable waistband that has two detachable flags on it. At a specific point in the course, volunteers from the sheriff’s department will chase the runners in an attempt to gather their flags. Every flag left on the runner’s waistband can be redeemed for an extra raffle ticket. Refreshments will be provided after the race.

Be sure to register early to receive discounts on registration fees! Tee shirts are included in the price of registration. On site registration will be open at 9:00 am and will cost an extra 5 dollars for every participant. cops and robbers

Free Seminar in Provo

Join us on March 31 at the Provo City Council Chambers as Todd Weiler discusses the new resolution and learn about ways you can protect yourself and your family against pornography as well as how to get involved in the fight against this disease.

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UCAP and Resolutions

We have had a busy and exciting weekend!

On March 11, 2016, the Utah State Legislature unanimously agreed that pornography is a public health crisis, and we want to thank Senator Todd Weiler for his work in promoting this resolution and increasing awareness. According to Senator Weiler, at least ten more states are considering creating similar policies.

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One day later, we had the opportunity to meet Senator Weiler while we attended the UCAP Conference held in Salt Lake. We also (finally) met our fellow interns based in Provo, and were able to attend multiple sessions discussing different aspects of pornography. And Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was the keynote speaker.

“Society must see this evil like the epidemic it is,” he said. “This ought to be seen like a public health crisis, like a war, like an infectious fatal epidemic, like a moral plague on the body politic that is maiming the lives of our citizens.”

Elder Holland told attendees that using pornography is adultery. It is looking at another woman with lust. Further, according to LDS scriptures, “he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:23).

He gave the following advice to those struggling with a pornography addiction: hold FAST, which stands for flea, ask, strive, and triumph.

Fifteen years ago, UCAP saw 200 people at their conference. This weekend, almost 3000 people came to the conference, according to Pamela Atkinson, board chair of UCAP. The fight against pornography is becoming more pronounced, and we were thrilled to be a part of the movement in Utah.

Pamela issued the challenge of sharing what you have learned with at least five people—we want to pass this challenge on to you. Share something you’ve learned about the dangers of or recovery from a pornography addiction with five people you love.

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