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.
Recently, we received a particularly heartbreaking story, sent to us by a twenty-something girl. Her story is one of a childhood scarred by her father’s porn habits, and a lifelong sense of confusion about sex and intimacy because of it.
We wish we could tell you that this a rare story from the inbox messages we receive. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Fight the New Drug,
I would really appreciate if you could publish this anonymously. It’s my story. Thank you for everything you do.
I barely knew how to speak when I was first exposed to porn. My parents divorced when I was four and after that, I would spend most weekends and some holidays with my father. I loved and adored him, and we would sleep in the same bed most of the time. Most nights, when he thought I was asleep, he would watch porn on TV. Hardcore porn. To this day, I remember with graphic detail what he was watching. Everything was dark. I didn’t know what it was but I was so shocked and scared. I didn’t let him know I was awake, because even then I could understand that I wasn’t supposed to be watching that. I used to roll around and pretend I had been woken up, but still he never once turned off the TV. He would just say, “Don’t bother, it’s nothing, go to sleep.”
Related: My Dad Chose Porn Over Our Family
What I saw on the television was the first perception I had of sex. I now know that his addiction blurred any normal perceptions one might have. It made my father totally blind to my pain and to the ones around him.
I grew up feeling guilty and dirty. Sometimes I would say shocking things to other girls, just to see how they reacted. I felt that I was dirty and they were innocent. Sometimes I would draw naked women and then smudge everything out so that nobody would know.
Growing up in a world of objectified women
As an adolescent, I dreaded the way my body was changing, the way it was growing to resemble the bodies of the women my father loved and failed to hide from me. I couldn’t see how he didn’t ever think that these girls were like me: somebody’s daughters. Did he want me, his daughter, to behave like that? Did he have no empathy for women at all?
As I grew up, I began to fight and yell at him and try to get him to stop. Then my grandmother would tell me, “That’s what real men do! He likes women, that’s why!” There was nowhere to go. I didn’t want to tell my mother anything because I didn’t want to upset her. In my head, I felt like I was protecting her, I felt I had to be strong enough for everybody.
When I visited my father, I would dress as childish and covered as I could. I just didn’t feel safe with him. It hurt more than I can express with words, the thought that this was the man that was supposed to protect me from predators, and from the world; yet instead, I felt I needed to hide myself and protect myself from him. We used to walk on the beach and he would take his camera out and take pictures of sunbathing women before they could notice him. No amount of porn or real women was ever enough for him. Thus I grew up feeling that a “real man” was somebody unable to control any urge.
The cost of having porn as a teacher
I also grew up feeling that any woman was more important to my father than me; all she had to do was show her body and I would just disappear from his conscience. He would instantly go from being present and caring to treating me like a nuisance to be disposed of. Growing up, I never had any notion of romance, marriage, or the possibility of happy monogamy. I thought all these things were a huge lie and thought I knew the truth: sex was everything and love was just a nonexistent idea.
I had my first boyfriend at age 17 and we went much further than I wanted. I hated it and felt dirty for days. Why did I do it? Because we were in the same social group and I was afraid that he would embarrass me by telling everybody that I was a virgin, like being a virgin was such a bad and shameful thing. That’s how skewed my version of sex and intimacy was. And who could I tell? Everybody thought that porn was sexy, that it was cool, or a good subject for joking.
I saw that other men admired my father for being so “sexual” and for being able to get so many women. The society that we lived in told him that he was “a real man,” and told me that I must be too sensitive.
Then, lucky for me, I started associating with women who fought, who courageously expressed what they really thought and felt, no matter how unpopular it made them. I confronted my father and said all I wanted was to hear an acknowledgement, a simple apology for what he had put me through. He denied everything.
The last time I was in his house I discovered porn and I erased everything. All he had to say about it was that he was angry because “I trespassed his private files.” He finished by telling me, “Why is it your concern what I like or not?”
How can you explain something so painful?
He is a lonely man now. He calls me often to try and get me to talk to him. I miss having a father. We traveled together so many times growing up and I played with him often as a child. But I cannot forget. Everybody has to live with their own choices. And he does. I now haven’t seen him for over a year.
So few people know about my struggles. If I had grown up with an alcoholic father, oh how easy it would have been to speak about it. Everybody knows what that is and everybody can be sympathetic. But this? You have to hide and feel shameful. You feel that people don’t understand. How can you explain it?
This story is a look into real heartbreak
There’s a significant amount of research confirming how porn impacts real human relationships.
While you may have thought about how porn could hurt your partner, have you ever considered how it can separate you from your loved ones outside of just romantic relationships—like your family? The unfortunate truth is that this story is as common as it is heartbreaking.
Porn can make consumers withdraw mentally, emotionally, and physically by turning to a habit that thrives in isolation instead of spending quality time with those they love. There’s science behind how porn consumption can become a compulsive behavior and monopolize a large majority of consumers’ thoughts, energy, and time.
Feelings of intense guilt or shame and a perceived need to keep the habit a secret can also separate consumers from those they’re closest to.
No one has the “perfect” family. Even if your current family relationships aren’t where you’d like them to be, you have the power to decide how you want to build your own family. You can make decisions and develop habits now to help you build healthy family relationships in your future.
Some people think that consuming porn is a switch they can turn on or off based on circumstances or relationship status, but the research shows something significantly different.