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How My Obsessive Porn Habit Spiraled Out of Control

“At one point, I had so many disks with porn on them that if you placed them on the floor, they stacked up past my waist. Yet, I couldn’t comprehend that I had a problem.”

By November 16, 2021No Comments

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 real lives.

It was about 5 am when there was a knock at my door. I don’t usually get visitors in the morning, especially that early.

This visitor announced himself as the State Police, and that he had a search warrant. My wife stirred in the bed. I felt a sense of panic. When I answered the door, men in tactical gear pushed me down.

My wife and 7-year-old daughter were taken from their rooms and put into the living room with me. My daughter was crying and scared. My wife had a look of shock on her face. A team of roughly 15 people was frantically rummaging through my house. A large group of them, a forensics team, were in my basement.

I could vaguely hear them talking as they were outside my visual range. A woman took my daughter to the hallway away from my sight, but I could still hear her. “Did your daddy ever touch you?” she asked. I was filled with rage.

Related: How OnlyFans Reportedly Facilitates And Profits From Child Sex Trafficking

Another officer took my wife to our bedroom. Again, I could hear everything they were telling her. The house wasn’t that large.

“We found child sexual abuse images on this PC. Is it yours?” I could hear my wife gasp in horror, followed by sobbing. She was led back out to the living room, red eyes and a look of disbelief. I didn’t have words for her.

The police eventually led me off to jail. My story was widely broadcast because I did volunteer work for a children’s organization. The reports were rage-inducing, because none of them interviewed me or sought to get clarification. They all reported that I was in possession of child sexual abuse material—commonly known as “child pornography.”

Though it was true, there were in fact two files on my PC where the Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce identified underage teenagers that I had downloaded from a file-sharing network. There was also a third file they charged me with but couldn’t find. I had likely deleted it when I realized what it was shortly after I downloaded it. That charge was later dropped.

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What the news articles failed to mention was my downloads directory. It was filled with tens of thousands of porn files—all legal. I wasn’t a child abuser, stalking or trafficking children, I was a porn addict. Those two illegal files would cost me everything.

I was fired from my job before I got bailed. My daughter was crying all day after she watched daddy being dragged off in handcuffs. My wife seriously considered ending the marriage. While I spent nearly all day in jail, I was trying to rationalize what had just happened. How did I get in this mess?

Related: How To Report Child Sexual Abuse Material If You Or Someone You Know Sees It Online

The start of my porn obsession

To answer that question, I have to tell you about my 7-year-old self. I was an only child, and I was left at home—much of the time by myself.

My father was an insurance salesman and was always traveling for work. When he came home, he always had a drink in his hand, a pipe in his mouth, and usually kept to himself. The reason he kept to himself is that is was always looking at porn—he had large stacks around the house.

When I was seven, I was constantly reading books on his bookshelf. One day, I found his old Playboys tucked into the top shelf between encyclopedias. I remember thinking to myself how beautiful the women were, how pretty their bodies were I felt something new, looking at pictures of nude women. There was a sense of wonder and bliss.

Related: MindGeek, Pornhub’s Parent Company, Sued For Reportedly Hosting Videos Of Child Sex Trafficking

As I progressed into my teen years, I sought out more porn. I also figured out that my dad threw out his porn stash every few months. After this, I would go out to the trash at night and do a quick retrieval. I would use my newfound stash to exchange with other kids in the neighborhood—a porn barter—o get more porn or other things like Atari games.

Things had changed by the time I got to college in the ’90s. Newsgroups became a thing, and I figured out how to download porn from them. On my 486, I would format the free AOL disks that were so plentiful back them and fill them up with porn. I usually did all this on the schools’ lab computers. I remember at one point, I had so many disks that if you placed them on the floor, they stacked up past my waist.

Yet, in all of this time, I couldn’t comprehend that I had a problem.

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Turning to porn to cope

In the weeks prior to my arrest, I was a mess of a human being. I had been sufferings panic attacks the whole summer—which I believe were being induced my feelings of helplessness regarding my daughter’s brain tumor.

I leaned on my porn addiction more than I ever had. I would get out of work, swing by the liquor store to pick up some beer, and then spend the night looking at porn. But as the summer wore on, I found myself staying up later and later.

Related: Letter From A Sex Offender: How I Went From Vanilla Porn To Child Sexual Abuse Material

The problem was that I always wanted something new, and I was seeing more and more content that I had already seen. Studio porn was becoming too bland for me. What I found exciting was webcam porn, it felt more authentic. But I didn’t want to pay for it! No, I wanted free. Just like way back in the ’90s, I swore I would never pay for porn.

Since the birth of my daughter, I had been downloading Disney movies using file-sharing networks. I tried doing the same thing with porn—and discovered that many of the cam sites had their content scattered all over the web. I could download all I want—and the best part is that because I was using a file-sharing network, I could click on hundreds of files a night and not stay up so late trying to browse.

Finding a way out

It was at this point that the Internet Crimes Against Children taskforce had monitored me downloading that teenage girl. They went to my IP, got them to release my address, then got a search warrant.

That whole process took about three months—had I deleted those two files in that whole time I had them, I likely would have never been prosecuted.

Related: Reddit Sued For Reportedly Allowing Distribution Of Child Sexual Abuse Material

I managed to keep my marriage together, I got into a 12-step program, and now I help other recovering porn addicts.

I also found yoga, CBD, and meditation to help my stress levels. I’m a registered sex offender now but there is a promise that I might get off of the list soon. I’ve had zero panic attacks since undergoing therapy and staying porn-free.

I share my story in the hopes that it may illuminate the dark world of porn and the unexpected places an out-of-control habit can take you. It just isn’t worth it.

S.

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An exploitative industry

In the porn industry, there is virtually no way to guarantee that any piece of pornographic content is truly consensual, ethical, or even legal.

The unfortunate truth is that the porn industry has an extensive history of profiting from nonconsensual content and abuse, even ignoring victims’ pleas to remove abusive content.Kristof, N. (2021). Why do we let corporations profit from rape videos? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/opinion/sunday/companies-online-rape-videos.htmlCOPY Kristof, N. (2020). The children of Pornhub. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/04/opinion/sunday/pornhub-rape-trafficking.htmlCOPY  Virtually every major porn site has had issues with nonconsensual content, abuse, or child sexual abuse material (aka “child porn”). Kristof, N. (2021). Why do we let corporations profit from rape videos? New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/opinion/sunday/companies-online-rape-videos.htmlCOPY Burgess, M. (2020). Deepfake porn is now mainstream. and major sites are cashing in. Retrieved from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/deepfake-porn-websites-videos-lawCOPY Kristof, N. (2020). The children of Pornhub. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/04/opinion/sunday/pornhub-rape-trafficking.htmlCOPY Meineck, S., & Alfering, Y. (2020). We went undercover in xHamster's unpaid content moderation team. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en/article/akdzdp/inside-xhamsters-unpaid-content-moderation-teamCOPY Titheradge, N., & Croxford, R. (2021). The children selling explicit videos on OnlyFans. BBC News Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-57255983COPY 

Not only this, but porn can negatively impact consumers in a very real way.

Related: Reports Of CSAM Increased In 2020—Why Was So Much Of It Created By Minors Themselves?

Research shows that porn consumers can become desensitized to porn, often needing to consume more porn, more extreme forms of porn, or consume porn more often in order to get the same response they once did.Albery, I. P., Lowry, J., Frings, D., Johnson, H. L., Hogan, C., & Moss, A. C. (2017). Exploring the Relationship between Sexual Compulsivity and Attentional Bias to Sex-Related Words in a Cohort of Sexually Active Individuals. European addiction research, 23(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1159/000448732COPY Banca, P., Morris, L. S., Mitchell, S., Harrison, N. A., Potenza, M. N., & Voon, V. (2016). Novelty, conditioning and attentional bias to sexual rewards. Journal of psychiatric research, 72, 91–101. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.10.017COPY 

In fact, according to one 2016 study, researchers found that 46.9% of respondents reported that, over time, they began watching pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.Wéry, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 257-266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.046COPY 

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Not only this, but a number of peer-reviewed studies have found a link between pornography consumption and mental health outcomes like depression,Harper, C., & Hodgins, D. C. (2016). Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students. Journal of behavioral addictions, 5(2), 179–191. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.022COPY  anxiety,Wordecha, M., Wilk, M., Kowalewska, E., Skorko, M., Łapiński, A., & Gola, M. (2018). 'Pornographic binges' as a key characteristic of males seeking treatment for compulsive sexual behaviors: Qualitative and quantitative 10-week-long diary assessment. Journal of behavioral addictions, 7(2), 433–444. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.33COPY  loneliness,Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018). Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 44(2), 127–137. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY  lower life satisfaction,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring trajectories of pornography use through adolescence and emerging adulthood.55(3), 297-309. doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  and poorer self-esteem and overall mental health.Koletić G. (2017). Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of adolescence, 57, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006COPY  These studies have found that these links are particularly strong when pornography is consumed to try to escape negative emotions, and also when pornography consumption becomes heavy and compulsive.Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). When is online pornography viewing problematic among college males? Examining the moderating role of experiential avoidance.19(3), 168-180. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.657150COPY  Quitting porn can help interrupt the unhealthy cycle of escapism and mental health issues.

Related: This Child Abuse Expert Says Many Abusers Have Escalating Violent Porn Habits

Porn is not harmless. Decades of research and hundreds upon hundreds of studies indicate that porn can have serious negative consequences for individuals, relationships, and society as a whole.

While the multi-billion dollar porn industry may try to sell porn as harmless entertainment, the preponderance of evidence suggests otherwise. Help build a healthier world by rejecting porn and its toxic narratives.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of CSAM, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or call 1-800-843-5678.

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