Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to actual lives.

We recently received a story that shows just how damaging shame can be to the journey to freedom from porn. Some stories, like this one, illustrate how love and understanding are huge tools in breaking the hurtful cycle that many porn viewers find themselves caught up in.


Dear FTND,

I think your site is great; by the time my wife and I found it, I was already working on my recovery from struggling with porn and we were healing our relationship. That was several years ago now and I have found solace in reading your materials many times when I am traveling alone and tempted to relapse.

My story seems somewhat cliche, but I was 8 when I was first exposed to porn. My parents were not very computer-savvy, so it was easy for me to cover my tracks. I came from a good home with stable, loving parents, but we never talked about the harms of porn. I was struggling with it before I even knew what it was. I spent my entire adolescent life trying to improve myself, trying to gain some self-worth. I excelled at everything I did, but my self-loathing was strong.

I couldn’t understand why I would return to porn time and time again. I would nearly vomit sometimes from watching it. I avoided girls because I was afraid of how I would act. I felt like a complete failure in life. During my senior year, I finally was able to discuss it with my parents. They were supportive and helped me, and things got better. I went from regularly watching porn to just about once every month or two, while my family thought I was done entirely. Out of embarrassment and fear of being a failure to my family, I kept it a secret that I was not completely over my porn struggle.

Years later, my wife and I were in a failing marriage. I was suffering from erectile dysfunction due to my porn habit so I avoided being sexual with my wife, yet I blamed her for not being sexual enough. I isolated myself because of my struggle. Addiction is something that hurts because it makes you feel terrible for choosing to do those things. It makes you feel like you’re the problem. I hated myself. I wanted to quit our marriage because I felt I had failed my wife and our kids. Even though my career was doing very well and I was very successful on the outside, I had walled myself off and felt controlled by the thing that I hated but couldn’t stop.

Coming clean to my wife was one of the hardest things I have ever done. To have her see the extent of my struggle was very painful. And even after I opened up, I wasn’t able to flip a switch and stop viewing porn. My self-hate grew even as I would remain open and honest with my wife, each time seeing her pain and my anger renew at my failures. Everything in my life was falling apart because of it. We either didn’t speak or we argued. I couldn’t sleep and my focus at work was suffering as well.

There were times it felt like the best thing to do was to just tell her I had stopped and keep limping along, viewing it in secret until I kicked the habit on my own, so that I wouldn’t keep hurting her.

Then, this endless cycle of pain and frustration and shame finally came to an end one night.

I had just confessed another relapse to my wife. We had gone through our typical argument of me apologizing and hating myself while my wife felt devastated and angry. After our argument had turned to silence, I tried to escape by taking a shower. I thought I was alone and in the shower I collapsed onto my knees and began sobbing. In our 10 years of marriage, I have probably only cried a handful of times; I just don’t cry. But in this moment, I felt completely overcome with depression and self-hate. I was not strong enough to be the man my wife deserved.

I didn’t hear her come in, but my wife saw me there and climbed into the shower, still clothed, and held me as we cried together. I tried to push her away at first; it wasn’t fair for me to ask her to support me and I didn’t deserve it, I thought to myself. But my wife would have none of that. She told me that she loved me and she knew that we could get through this if we forgave each other and focused on uniting as a couple.

It didn’t come easy after that night, but there was hope in my life for the first time in years. I now had the lifeline I needed to overcome it and I had finally opened myself completely. I wasn’t hiding anything any longer, I had admitted that I was helpless and I needed to rely on someone other than myself. Today, I finally believe I am the man that my wife deserves. We are very grateful for each of our choices that led to us staying together and valuing our marriage above all else.

Part of the reason I am sharing my story is because recently I was shocked at the comments people had left on Fight the New Drug’s Facebook page in response to posts about people struggling with porn. Many people were focused on demonizing the addict and blaming them for the pain that porn caused. This comments seemed to say that love and support were required for everyone but the addict. This is not what helps people. Forgiveness is needed not only for the sake of the victims, but also if those struggling are to recover. There is usually more than enough self-hate from the addict, nobody else needs to pile it on. People that openly hate and denigrate the addict make it harder for the ones seeking freedom but are too scared to admit it because they know how they will be treated.

I know that addiction does not remove personal choice, but there needs to be compassion on the road to recovery.

 A.


Shame is part of the porn problem.

So many who watch porn feel an enormous amount of shame brought on by others or themselves, which pretty much always makes the issue worse. Many feel like they’re a bad person, worthless, or permanently broken. Many feel as though they aren’t worth the affection and love of another because of what they’ve seen. Not only is this untrue, but these feelings of shame can also cripple people’s self-esteem and stunt their progress. And we realize this is a complex issue, since remorse can be a healthy part of finding freedom and healing wounds, but too often, shame is used as a beating stick that weakens and demoralizes.

By choosing love and understanding, instead of shame, we are helping to promote true change in this porn-saturated society. Continue to spread the word that pornography is harmful to individuals, relationships, and society in a way that will inspire and motivate others to choose love, too. In the end, love is stronger than shame.

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