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My Lonely Journey as a Woman Who Struggles with Porn

“One day, I was trying to find a gaming website, but I ended up clicking on the wrong link. I’m not being dramatic when I say that one wrong click changed my life.”

By October 4, 2021No Comments
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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.

We received a story that shows what a real struggle pornography can turn into. The following story shows how porn can isolate, consume, and eventually even harm friend and family relationships.

FTND,

The struggle is real. That is the best way I know how to start this message. But here we go:

As a 12-year-old, I loved playing video games on the family computer. One day while my parents were at the grocery store, I was trying to find a gaming website, but I ended up clicking on the wrong link.

I’m not being dramatic when I say that one wrong click changed my life.

I was instantly taken to a world of seeing men and women treating each other like animals, depicting abusive sex. What I saw shocked me, but I couldn’t bring myself to click away from the site because of how the images made me feel. I started going back to it again and again and it quickly started to twist my perception of what was supposed to be love. The images were burned into my mind and I couldn’t get them out.

Related: How Porn Can Normalize Sexual Objectification

Soon, it became a regular part of my daily life to watch and read pornography. Up until that point in my life, there was no emptiness in my life that I felt I needed to fill. Until I found that website. Then it was like I was constantly trying to satisfy something I couldn’t fill.

At the age of 15, I started to become scared of myself. I felt nothing; I felt like I couldn’t fully care for people, for my body, for my mind, or for my heart.

I just felt numb and hollow all the time. I viewed everyone around me, including myself, as objects. Nobody really mattered except for what I saw in porn.

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Facing the misconception that women “can’t struggle” with porn

Eventually, I sought help from an adult I trusted. It took all the courage a 15-year-old girl could find to admit it. But at that time and place in my life, that person did not believe that a girl as young and innocent-looking as I was could have fallen into the dark world of internet porn.

I came away from that conversation feeling hopeless and empty once more. I was too afraid to tell my parents. What would they think? What would they do? What would it do to my little sister? Would they be able to actually help me?

No, I felt like no one could or would even want to help me. So I tried to fight alone. I tried everything to make sure I was around other people all the time and that technology wasn’t near me at night. But I would always find myself sneaking out of my room when everyone else was sleeping to go over to the computer to watch porn.

At 18, after three years of self-loathing, anger, and countless tears, I found myself quitting the fight and just giving in. I was at a point where I could not find a good enough reason to keep trying. No one can even tell, right? I used that justification and allowed myself to continue my porn obsession because I felt it was useless to try and overcome it.

But after a while, the depression that followed me around became too much. I was constantly feeling empty because porn left me feeling like actual relationships with real people could never measure up. I felt like all I ever did was lie to others and myself. I had no idea who I was.

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My struggle with suicidal thoughts

I soon found myself giving up the most important fight—the fight to live. I was done. No one believed that I was struggling and I couldn’t pull myself out. I wanted to end all of my pain and loneliness. But right when the unthinkable was about to become a reality, something happened.

Someone in my community told me of a service opportunity that had come up, one where I would have to leave home, be away from technology, and where I would always be helping others. It would be an opportunity to forget about myself and just focus on helping out other people.

On a whim, I took the chance. I left my home, everyone and everything I knew, and got straight to work.

Related: Why Being Anti-Porn & Anti-Shame Go Hand In Hand

The purpose of this humanitarian opportunity was to help people, to help them with any struggles and addictions they may be having and let them know that there are people that care for them. But as much as I wanted to help, it wasn’t always easy for me to help people understand something that I myself did not know. I still hadn’t told anyone about my porn addiction, though I knew I should have.

I still had the powerful urges, the desire to use porn to escape the world I was living in, but the fact that I was always around people kept me from falling back into my habit.

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Realizing I’m not alone after all

At first, it felt like I couldn’t make it. With each passing day and week, my thoughts kept turning to the one thing I would use to cope with pretty much any emotional feeling that I had: porn. And now that I was actually starting to feel alive again, I didn’t know what to do. It felt foreign.

About two months into my adventure, I started to see that I was far from alone. I saw that I wasn’t the only person who felt trapped. It was saddening, yet surprising, to see that so many people, young and old, boy and girl, struggle with porn. I started actually feeling like I could help them and that I could be helped too. I saw that they were all trying to reach out, trying to ask for help, and just silently hoping for somebody to listen to them.

Related: 50 Good Reasons To Stop Watching Porn Forever

I saw that all these struggling people were just looking for someone who they could trust completely, someone who would tag team with them in their fight. I decided to be that person for them. I decided to be that person that I didn’t have when I sought help as a teenager. I became a leader and witnessed the trials of many young girls who struggled with self-esteem.

My desire to help them grew while I found myself losing the desire to look at the lies of porn. It turned out that while I was trying to help them, they were the ones that were helping me.

I wish I could say that when I returned home from my trip that I was 100% cured and never dealt with this battle again. As anyone who has struggled with porn knows, that’s not how it works. I still have days where a thought of going over to the computer to look at porn or opening the pages of an erotic book crosses my mind. But now that I know I’m not alone, I am winning the fight.

The feeling of true freedom

Now, I have been porn-free for three years! I have many people to turn to when I am struggling, not only those that I met while away from home, but my family as well.

I finally told my family and they now support me and have a better understanding of the power of a porn struggle. I hope my opening up to them will prevent my little sister from having to go through a similar struggle.

Related: True Story – I Stopped Watching Porn And I’ve Never Been Happier

Like I said, the fight still isn’t over for me. In fact, I am currently in a relationship where the love of my life struggles with porn daily. But he knows that he will never fight alone because he has me.

I just want to let anyone else who is struggling with porn to know that you don’t have to cry because you failed last night or today. You don’t have to feel alone in your weakest moments or empty at the end of each day. Find a group, find good friends, and find yourself. You can and will win the fight.

Thanks for all you do!

T.

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Why this matters

When it comes to the topic of porn, one of the most common questions is whether porn can actually be addictive. The short answer is yes—it absolutely can be.

Considering that an estimated 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women consume porn, let’s take a few moments to examine why it might be difficult to quit for some consumers.Solano, I., Eaton, N. R., & O'Leary, K. D. (2020). Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample. Journal of sex research, 57(1), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1532488COPY 

While it’s important to remember that most porn consumers—even many who may find it very difficult to quit porn—do not qualify as “addicts” in a clinically diagnosable sense,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring Trajectories of Pornography Use Through Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of sex research, 55(3), 297–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  many addiction experts and specialists agree that pornography addiction is, in fact, very real.Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 5(3), 388–433. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs5030388COPY Stark R., Klucken T. (2017) Neuroscientific Approaches to (Online) Pornography Addiction. In: Montag C., Reuter M. (eds) Internet Addiction. Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46276-9_7COPY De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016COPY 

Because so much of addiction happens neurologically, some experts have determined four major brain changes common to addicted brains: sensitization, desensitization, hypofrontality, and a malfunctioning stress system.Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., & McLellan, A. T. (2016). Neurobiologic advances from the brain disease model of addiction. N Engl J Med, 374(4), 363-371. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1511480COPY  Spoiler alert: research confirms that each of these brain changes can be found in cases of pornography consumption. Sensitization, in particular, can make porn difficult to quit.

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Dozens of studies have exhibited sensitization’s role in problematic porn consumption.Voon, V., Mole, T. B., Banca, P., Porter, L., Morris, L., Mitchell, S., Lapa, T. R., Karr, J., Harrison, N. A., Potenza, M. N., & Irvine, M. (2014). Neural correlates of sexual cue reactivity in individuals with and without compulsive sexual behaviours. PloS one, 9(7), e102419. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102419COPY Snagowski, J., Wegmann, E., Pekal, J., Laier, C., & Brand, M. (2015). Implicit associations in cybersex addiction: Adaption of an Implicit Association Test with pornographic pictures. Addictive behaviors, 49, 7–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.05.009COPY Gola, M., Wordecha, M., Sescousse, G., Lew-Starowicz, M., Kossowski, B., Wypych, M., Makeig, S., Potenza, M. N., & Marchewka, A. (2017). Can Pornography be Addictive? An fMRI Study of Men Seeking Treatment for Problematic Pornography Use. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(10), 2021–2031. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.78COPY 

In everyday conversation, we sometimes refer to sensitization as the feeling of being “triggered.” For example, when an addict experiences specific cues related to their addictive behavior—such as related images, certain locations, or even a specific time of day—they may experience sudden urges which can be incredibly difficult to resist.

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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