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.

Dear FTND,

I wanted to share my experience with porn because it’s not something I talk about with anyone. My parents know that I’ve struggled in the past, but don’t know the extent to which it affected me and still affects me to this day. I’d like this to remain anonymous. I just want people to know my story.

I hit puberty before all of my friends did. I often got teased for wearing bras, my breakout skin, and for liking boys first. As far as I knew, I was the only girl in school who was experiencing all these things. With puberty coming early, so did the sex talk, and that’s when everything changed.

The first time I saw porn, I was in sixth grade. I had heard about one of my favorite pop star’s leaked naked pictures, and since I was curious and had just been introduced to the topic of sex, I searched these pictures on my mom’s laptop. No, they weren’t anything graphic or extreme, but those naked pictures are what got me started. Since I didn’t have a computer or a phone with internet access, I couldn’t look at those kinds of photos very often, but I did whenever I got the chance.

Then, in eighth grade, I received an iPod touch for my birthday. My parents were not technologically savvy at all, so they didn’t know how to set up a passcode to access the internet or any other safety tools. I started looking at pictures of naked women weekly. I downloaded chat room apps full of adults that were sending pornographic pictures to me—still just a naive 14-year-old girl. I didn’t feel as if it was an addiction, but it was definitely an obsession. I was always thinking about porn, even if it had been days since I’d seen one of those pictures.

Related: British Woman Confesses To Watching 8 Hours Of Porn A Day Before Going To Rehab

The summer following eighth grade, I got a boyfriend, and I stopped looking at porn for about six months. He would sext me and talk dirty to me, and that was satisfying enough for me. I would still occasionally view those pictures, but not near as often as I had before. But once he broke up with me, I went right back to looking at them more frequently. At the end of my freshman year, I started dating another guy who encouraged me to watch porn videos instead of just viewing pictures.

I started watching lesbian porn, which resulted in my boyfriend spreading rumors to other girls that I wanted to have a threesome with them. When we broke up, the rumors got even worse, and he told his friends that we had sex, that I was a lesbian, and many other hurtful, untrue things.

In 10th grade, I got into trouble with my parents over something stupid and had my smartphone taken away as consequence. This kept me from watching porn, but it didn’t stop me from sexting guys on my old flip phone. But that got boring after a while, so I would take one of my dad’s many laptops and start watching porn on that instead. Eventually, my mom discovered the missing laptop, which is when she realized the struggle I was facing.

RelatedShame Made My Struggle With Porn Much Worse, Not Better

I was without a smartphone and a computer for over a year, but I would constantly still think about the videos I had seen. Although I am 100% straight, I found myself obsessing over girls in short shorts, low cut shirts, and tight dresses.

To this day, I have to concentrate on not staring at girls’ bodies when I talk to them. I can’t have a normal conversation with a girl without thinking about her body, and it’s all because of porn. The videos and pictures I watched at a young age have made it impossible for me to see a woman as a woman and not a sexual object used to give pleasure. I know that women are more than that, but it’s been implanted in my mind that they represent sex.

Every time a girl is nice to me, I think she’s flirting with me because of those videos. I don’t watch porn anymore, but it has warped how I think, and I don’t know how to change this tainted mindset.

K.

Why this matters

“Women with high shame scores experienced a 546-fold increase in the likelihood of viewing pornography,” says researcher and licensed therapist Jay Stringer. “When we experience shame, it attempts to convince us that we are unwanted. In response, we may be pursuing behaviors that confirm it.”

As countless girls and women like K. across the world already know, society’s stereotype is all wrong when it comes to the perception of porn being only a “guy issue.” Porn is an “everyone issue,” not just an obsession that only guys have.

RelatedThe Problem With Obsessing Over Porn And Gaming—For Girls

A recent German sex study showed what many people already know from personal experience: women are just as easily at risk of developing a toxic porn habit as men. The study showed that as many as 17% of women consider themselves addicted to porn, and that half of the women surveyed were internet porn consumers. Another study found that about half of young adult women agree consuming pornography is acceptable.

This is exactly what Fight the New Drug is all about. Research is showing how porn harms the people who watch it, their relationships, and society as a whole. We, as a non-religious and non-political nonprofit, exist to give visibility to that research and help consumers make an informed, educated decision about porn for them self.

Bottom line: porn is anything but harmless entertainmentScience and research are proving this, and now society is catching up.

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SHARE this story to show support for this brave girl. Help us spread the word on the real scientific harms of pornography.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with an obsession or addiction to pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a recovery-focused platform that will allow you take a step toward freedom. Anyone 17 years and younger can apply for a free scholarship to the site, and it's an inexpensive fee for anyone 18 and older. There is hope—sign up today to get the help you need and join with an encouraging community.

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