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 recently received this true story that shows how a porn habit can feed a vibe of secrecy and dishonesty in a relationship. In the end, watching is never worth it.

Thank you for developing this organization. In 2014, the man I’d been dating for three years and was engaged to loaned me a flash drive to use for grad school. Unfortunately, he loaned me the wrong one and as all 598 images loaded—some identifiable as “friends” of ours, others very graphic and disturbing—I watched the life I envisioned come crashing down.

His story was not dissimilar to many others. He came from a household with rigid boundaries, little affection or open talks, and a militant father.

He was introduced to porn at age 12. It started off as magazines and quickly became a collection. A collection that he cared so deeply for that as he progressed to internet porn, he began to save, organize, and label each of the 800 CDs that his mother hid from me. She later dropped them on the front doorstep of the woman he married after I left him.

The continued lies

I actually worked in addiction at the time. So because of the understanding I had of addiction, I felt compelled to show grace. Not four days after I discovered everything did I realize how tight of a hold this addiction had on him. Four days was all he lasted before he saw a pic of a fitness model on a sports page and began searching for nude pictures of her.

We went to counseling. He cried. He begged. And he continued to lie. I fought so hard for him, I supported him, I believed he loved me enough to do better. No one told me that this addiction has little to do with love and is really quite separate from it in the brain.

Related: True Story: I Ditched Porn When I Realized That “Extreme” Is Now Mainstream

The depths of his problem had already spanned beyond porn. He had been acting out. Married women were his MO, he liked the thrill of risking everything and potentially being caught. His friends’ wives were not off limits either. It’s no surprise that he was a cop and a thrill seeker. That came through in how he acted out.

Still trying to save us, I went to a support group for women who were victims of what I went through. Some of them had been fighting for their husbands for 30 years.

Compounding issues

Around the same time, the counselor contacted me directly. We weren’t just dealing with sexual addiction. He believed we were dealing with narcissism on top of it. This man was remorseful for having been caught and nearly losing me, and he was still acting out behind my back. Facebook was even a temptation for him. He’d save perfectly innocent appearing pictures of strangers. He said he liked the way they were looking “at him” in the pictures. His fantasy world was beyond comprehension.

One night, two police officers showed up at my door. He’d broken his leg at work. I rushed to his side in the ER. I held his phone and wallet while they did radiographs. The medic who had tended to him held up the pants they’d cut off of him. Feeling the weight of something in the pocket, he reached in. A phone.

Knowing I was regularly checking his phone, my fiancé had purchased a pay as you go phone so he could continue acting out.

That was the moment I’d had enough. I’d decided I would not be doing this for 30 years. I took him home. He was told he had until his leg healed and then he must leave.

My heart breaks for him

I wish I could say this had a happy ending. It doesn’t. He went on to marry a young girl and put her through the same things. He is still acting out to this day. Four years later, and his sexual addiction controls his life.

I don’t hate him, I pity him. How sad it must be to be incapable of ever experiencing true intimacy with a real woman. How sad it must be to be limited by such an intense fantasy life—no one told me that the pretend threats of rape or the way he treated me in bed was a red flag.

Related: My Wife Thought My Porn Habit Was Normal While It Slowly Destroyed Me

I’ll never forget the day I realized that he enjoyed hurting me in a bad way. It broke my heart. I still hope that he experiences healing, but I know that will be so difficult in our over-sexualized culture.

T.

Not such an isolated story

Porn is, at best, heartbreaking, and at worst, downright destructive to relationships. Thankfully, real love and mutual determination can have the power to work through the damage porn can cause in a relationship. But both partners have to be all-in, and sometimes, and in cases like the story above, they can’t weather the difficulties and issues porn brings to the table. And that’s okay, too.

The truth is porn fuels toxic and sometimes dangerous mentalities in consumers. Porn fuels the issue of sexual narcissism in men who exhibit traits like the ones in the story above. And the issue is, men who are sexually narcissistic believe that they are entitled to sex; such an attitude of entitlement is obviously a red flag for sexual violence perpetration, and it is also a risk factor for physical violence against women, including femicide.

Related: Data Shows Australian Domestic Violence Crisis Is Fueled By Violent Porn

The threats of rape this Fighter endured aren’t normal, and they aren’t healthy. There’s no doubt that porn, with its fantasized world of sexual violence, fed this mentality in him. Not cool.

Our mission since day one has been to shine a light on the real harms of pornography and make this issue a hot topic, not some awkward or hidden conversation. By being open about the harms of pornography, we can change attitudes and perceptions about this new drug in our society, and how it’s affecting individuals, relationships, and our society as a whole.

Fight for real love, and fight to change the world.

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