fbpx Skip to main content
BlogFeatureGeneral FTND

Fighting Against Both Porn & Shame is More than Possible, It’s Necessary

Shame can carry a discouraging weight that makes it impossible for some to change, forgive, or progress. Here’s how shame harms lives affected by porn.

By November 17, 2021No Comments

This article contains affiliate links. Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

Decades of studies from respected institutions have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption on individuals, relationships, and society. #NoPornovember is all about giving visibility to these facts and empowering individuals to choose to be porn-free. Learn more by clicking here.

If you haven’t noticed before, we talk a lot in our resources about the relationship between porn and shame. For many people, shame only makes the problem worse for those who watch porn. And while most of the feedback and response we get regarding the message about shame is positive—there are always a few legitimate concerns raised, as well.

On one hand, there are those who have been relieved to hear this subject being addressed, often after experiencing feelings of shame act as a barrier to healing. It’s inspiring to read of accounts that help people move on from their porn-viewing patterns like this:

“After choosing to release my private shame and lay down the burden I carried, I am now three and a half years free from pornography and have never looked back. Since breaking free there has been an abundance of healing, love, and forgiveness in my life. I now get to hold fast to love and feel its true meaning.”

Related: It’s True That “Porn Kills Love,” And So Does Shame

Fortify

Shame can discourage progress

On the other hand, there are partners and spouses who have felt their own shame or humiliation in relation to a loved one who still uses pornography. Clearly, this is a complex and sensitive topic—and we recognize that. Some people have been unsure about what we’re actually saying about shame, and have offered some points that deserve attention.

For example, here’s a comment from one of our posts:

“I don’t know, shame has actually helped me quit things in the past. It motivates me. So I guess it could go both ways. Depends on the individual. And if you are the person watching it and lying to your partner about it…you should most definitely be ashamed. Not for the porn, for the lies and pain it usually brings.”

And another comment:

“Shame is a perfectly normal and human emotion to feel. Should people think that they’ll never be able to overcome their bad habits because of it? No, that’s not good and it’s not true. But shame is not itself an evil thing that needs to be eradicated. Shame is something that we’re supposed to experience, work through and learn from. Shame can initiate change for the better.”

Are these messages above contradictory to other things we’ve been writing about shame? We don’t think they have to be.

It’s a question of definition

Part of the confusion might stem from the different ways that words get used: Guilt, remorse, shame, shaming, shameless? These are all different words and experiences, and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Some can be healthy for starting the healing process, some have been shown to be counterproductive for recovery.

The whole point behind this movement is that a bigger conversation is needed about all of this. You’re not only an important part of that conversation, you are the conversation; you are the movement.

RelatedWhy You Should Stop Feeling Like A Bad Person For Watching Porn

BHW - General

In drawing together so many diverse people with various struggles and different backgrounds and stories, we’ve never assumed that Fighters agree on everything. And that’s totally 100% okay. Rather than seeing disagreement as a bad thing, we believe that really powerful learning can happen as we open the conversation and really hear each other out across our unique experiences.

For example, there are so many who have been hurt by someone else’s use of pornography. Sharing their stories of pain will continue to be a central focus of this movement for love, coupled with raising awareness on what research is saying about how porn is affecting relationships and families in a very real way.

Porn harms, shame makes it worse

Even so, we hope it’s clear that partners and family members aren’t the only victims of the porn industry. Many individual consumers of pornography feel absolutely desperate to break free—and struggle for years to find out how exactly to do so. Their stories are important, too, and deserve awareness. This movement is for them, too.

Related: 3 Ways Facing Shame Can Take Away Its Power & Help You Quit Porn

We believe it’s possible to genuinely hear out both groups, partners, and consumers, without minimizing either. For example, paying attention to the burdensome shame that some users experience is not suggesting that anyone who expresses concern about someone else’s porn use is somehow “resorting to shame tactics.”

It’s one thing to feel deep sadness or fear or anger as a family member or partner of a porn consumer, and quite another to act in a way that compounds the sorrow, fear, anger or hopelessness of the porn consumer. They’re not the same thing.

Store - General

Let’s learn from each other

There’s so much to be said about how to combine healthy accountability and love in relationships affected by porn (and shame), and we hope to continue to learn from our Fighters’ different experiences in trying to do just that.

Related: This Study Shows Feeling Shame Fuels Hypersexual Behavior While Feeling Guilt Fuels Change

Maybe it’s time to recognize that these painful feelings of shame, humiliation, embarrassment, fear, anger, hatred are common to almost anyone that pornography affects—porn consumers, betrayed partners, and family members?

Let’s welcome our different perspectives and continue learning together how to work through these painful feelings—and move beyond them (and pornography) for good.

If you’re struggling with porn

Struggling with porn can induce feelings of shame, helplessness, and worthlessness. The good news, however, is that change is absolutely possible.

Research and the experiences of thousands of people have demonstrated that over time pornography’s negative effects can be managed and largely reversed.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3COPY Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286COPY 

Related: How Avoiding Shame Can Help With Healing From Betrayal Trauma

In fact, even in cases of serious substance and other addictions, research shows that the brain can heal over time with sustained effort.Pfefferbaum, A., Rosenbloom, M. J., Chu, W., Sassoon, S. A., Rohlfing, T., Pohl, K. M., Zahr, N. M., & Sullivan, E. V. (2014). White matter microstructural recovery with abstinence and decline with relapse in alcohol dependence interacts with normal ageing: a controlled longitudinal DTI study. The lancet. Psychiatry, 1(3), 202–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70301-3COPY Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2015). Gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions: recognition and treatment. Harvard review of psychiatry, 23(2), 134–146. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000051COPY Rullmann, M., Preusser, S., Poppitz, S., Heba, S., Gousias, K., Hoyer, J., Schütz, T., Dietrich, A., Müller, K., Hankir, M. K., & Pleger, B. (2019). Adiposity Related Brain Plasticity Induced by Bariatric Surgery. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 290. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00290COPY  Research also indicates that, while guilt can motivate healthy change, shame actually fuels problematic porn habits.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior.18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182COPY 

So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run. Think of it like a muscle that gets bigger and stronger the more you use it—the longer you stay away from porn, the easier it is to do so. All it takes is practice.

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.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

Send this to a friend