If you haven’t noticed before, we talk a lot 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 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.

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 can 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

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 viewers 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.

We believe it’s possible to genuinely hear out both groups, partners and users, 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 of a porn user, and quite another to act in a way that compounds the sorrow, fear, anger or hopelessness of the porn viewer. They’re not the same thing.

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.

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 viewers, 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.

What YOU Can Do

Love alone is worth fighting for. SHARE this article to raise awareness that shame is part of the porn problem.

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