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For anon 27 on the birth control post

..who wrote the following: I am thankful for the combined RS/priesthood meeting we had Sunday that was about using the internet…which prompted my husband to check my kids’ search histories.

I say I’m thankful, but I am also devastated. And now we have found out my teenage son has a porn addiction.

I can’t really tell anyone. And I need support. This is so hard.

As soon as I read your comment it all came back to me. That punched-in-the-gut-so-hard-I-can’t-breathe feeling you get when you discover something painful and devastating like that. I recognized it because a few years ago it happened to me. And I know it is a lonely road. You can’t talk about it. Because it’s one thing to share your own issues, struggles or weaknesses with a friend, but a completely different thing to disclose something that personal about a loved one whose privacy you want to protect. While at the same time you are beating yourself for somehow not having protected this same child from evil and harm.

Here is my story:

Cameron was only 14. I’d just arrived home and walked into his room to see if he was ready to leave for the ward temple trip. “Mom, I can’t go. I’m not worthy.” It was so unexpected. I was devastated. But the full force of it didn’t hit me until later that evening when I was finally able to talk with my husband. He revealed to me that he had found evidence of porn on the computer.

My mind was reeling. How could this have happened? Cameron is a good kid. How had I failed to protect my child? Should we pull the plug on the Internet and remove any sort of technology from our house? What could we do to save him?

I was right to be concerned. We’d already had a RS lesson on the subject, given by someone who worked with a lot of young adults dealing with pornography addictions. The meeting was meant to be a wake-up call and to pull some heads out of the sand. But the facts on the highly addictive nature of pornography had left me feeling completely hopeless and depressed–and that was even before my son became addicted. I had a few friends whom I knew were dealing with such issues at home and I had a mere glimpse of the terrible toll it was taking on their families. The statistics on avoiding it–let alone beating it–are grim at best.

Sure there are safety measures–and you should definitely take every precaution possible–but don’t for a second believe they are foolproof. There are ways around filters and histories that any computer literate teen can manipulate (private browsing, gateway websites, etc.). One of the best things one can do is avoid thinking, “it could never happen to my kid.” When it did happen to our kid, we wondered what to do. I knew at least one of my friends who had canceled her Internet contract when she learned her son had been viewing porn. But realizing that the Internet is everywhere and feeling our son would need to learn to overcome it before moving out into the world, we chose to remain connected, tighten the rules and be ever vigilant.

One thing I learned is that as a people we do have our heads in the sand. I was riding in a car with my friend one day when she announced that the topic was up for discussion again in RS. “Why do they keep talking about this? It doesn’t really apply,” she said. “Wake up!” I wanted to shout. Pornography does affect us. Whether or not we are aware, each of us knows someone–a friend or a family member–who is silently suffering through the painful effects of pornography. Satan is no longer even subtle about this powerful tool he has with which to tear apart families. It is blatant and pervasive and we are not immune. Pornography continues to be one of the top concerns of priesthood leadership throughout the church.

I guess you could say I was lucky. I’d prefer to see it as blessed. It’s been a long and hard road back. But my son was mostly open with us was willing to work with the bishop and see a counselor and keep trying to overcome. I appreciate that he was honest and of a sincere enough heart that he didn’t want to participate in the church unworthily, but stepping back was not without its challenges. Leaders and young men pressured him when he didn’t want to perform priesthood responsibilities (this was since addressed in my ward and I can say it improved over time). But I know that just as with any addiction, staying clean is a never-ending battle and there is always the possibility of recidivism.

The second of our RS lessons on pornography and several mentions of it in ward and stake conference since gave me hope. This time the speaker was less about statistics and pulling our heads out of the sand and more about the immense scope and power of the atonement.That is the only way out of it.

The path is difficult, but through Christ, all addictions–even pornography–can be overcome. I have a testimony of the power of prayer and fasting. I’ve witnessed as the tender mercies of the Lord sent just the right people to influence Cameron for good at the right times of his life. I watched the gift of the atonement work a miracle in my son.

Sure I still remember the gut-punched feeling I had on that day. I am not naive enough to believe it will be the last time my stomach will knot up like that. But I also remember and hold on to this:

On an early Sunday morning years later, I arrived a few minutes late for Sacrament Meeting. As I slid onto the bench where my family was already seated and singing the opening song I wondered why Cameron wasn’t there. My eyes looked out across the congregation. Then they filled with tears as I saw my son sitting at the sacrament table for the very first time, at the age of 18. I wept through the entire sacrament prayer as he offered it, full of depth and feeling that filled my heart.

Even though it feels like it, I know I am not alone in this. Please share (anonymously if you wish) your stories. Was it a child, a spouse, a friend, or even yourself? Where did you turn for help? Have you found hope or peace? How?

53 thoughts on “For anon 27 on the birth control post”

  1. My husband had an addiction to porn that began many, many years ago. It started out with the old-school stuff (mostly movies), but once the internet became popular that became his drug of choice. I can't remember how I found out. I think he told me one day when he was feeling guilty. Since I had never heard of a porn addiction I was completely grossed out and demanded he go see the bishop. This was in the mid 90's and our bishop was pretty clueless about the whole internet porn thing. Fortunately he threw the book at my husband and it scared him straight. The thought of his church membership being threatened really terrified him.

    His life hasn't been porn-free since then, but the porn episodes have become much less frequent. Once every year or two and even then they are very short-lived. I have come to recognize the symptoms: usually his temper becomes very short. He's much more irritable and mean when porn is in his life again. I usually can guess when it's become an issue. Interestingly, just the fact that I know seems to give him more power to overcome it. I check up with him every day or two and he is usually pretty honest.

    He is terrified of our sons developing such an addiction. He's a computer guy and has made our computers very safe (although I know there are ways to get around barriers. And there are always friends with clueless parents too).

    Let me just tell those people struggling with family members who have a porn addiction that it is possible for men to overcome pornography. Just like anything else that requires discipline, the more you resist the easier it becomes. Sadly there is not much you can do when you are not the person looking at the porn. Threatening, guilt trips and punishment don't really work. I think it's more important to keep the communication lines open. I always let my husband know that I was extremely disappointed in him, but I wanted him to know that I would help in any way I could. In the early days that meant being in charge of all the passwords on the computer and having to log him in each time.

    It's sad that we can't discuss it more openly with others because it is becoming such an epidemic. My brother is the bishop of a singles ward and he has whole rows of men each Sunday who can't take the sacrament due to porn.

    Don't feel like you are suffering alone. Lots of your sisters are struggling and hurting too. Just keep praying and having faith in the Lord even this road is long and lonely. The atonement is a magnificent thing.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. We all have to know that this applies to us. Whether we know someone personally that struggles with it or not, it is always there and always something we need to be aware of and do our best go guard against and keep our eyes open. Sticking our head in the stand about it, and assuming it does not apply, will only make it worse

    In my calling in our ward, I recently had a call from one of my sweet sisters. She was sobbing hyseterically. She had woken up from a nap and had a strong feeling to check her husband's laptop. It didn't make sense to her because he had told her it was broken and she had not seen him use it is a very long time.

    It was full of pornography. She is new in the church and didn't fully realize how serious it was. She didn't know what to do. When I suggested a talk with the bishop, she didn't want to because of her nervousness. She finally said she would like to go if I could be in the room with her.

    It was very difficult to be in a room where very serious and disturbing things were being talked about, but I have to say, it was one of the sweetest experiences in my life. Our bishop was very practical and honest about it, but the hope he conveyed to her, because of the Atonement, was so humbling and so powerful. As hard as it was, I will be forever grateful to have sat in that room.

    There is a long road ahead for this couple, and I have no idea how it will end, but the Savior does. And He has made a way for each of them to get through it if they rely on Him.

    Just like you did and your son did. Thank you.

  3. I was completely shocked the day I learned my husband was addicted to porn. He didn't tell me, I found evidence on his computer. I felt like my world as I knew it was over. But I am here to tell you that the atonement is real. My husband has now been porn-free for four years. He has worthily held many busy and fulfilling callings. It was a struggle, but he beat it, and continues to beat it every day, and I know others can as well. My brother-in-law also has a porn addiction. It has been a harder, longer road for him, but he is also overcoming it. Don't give up hope.

    As a woman, though, this is one of the most devastating things I have ever gone through. My heart goes out to anyone struggling with the same issues.

  4. Speaking as an addiction survivor: I was pretty fortunate growing up–good friends, very slow internet, and a strong desire to serve in the church, I didn't hit it until just after the mission. Even though it was a pretty short (4 months) episode, it was still a big struggle to pull out. The way the atonement helped me was it gave me the spiritual strength to see that this behavior was way out of whack, to build new, better habits, and to attend the church's addiction recovery program. As I served others and learned to let go of selfish behaviors (and to be on guard during bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired moments) I felt the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost entered my life. Images fade, but first the attitude towards the images changes. It still took a while for me to trust myself, to feel truly competent to be a husband and father. It's a hard road, but the Savior is so powerful, and each day ends better. It's really amazing to have the meetings with the Bishop now be discussions of how to help other members of the ward instead of how to stop my spiritual hemorrhaging.

    Anon 27, my heart goes out to you. Recovery and remission can and do happen. Hold on to that hope and faith.

  5. Just as a follow up, one scripture that really helped me during that time was in Alma 13, in that great discussion of the priesthood. Verse 10 reads, "Now . . . there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish."

    The emphasis on "exceeding faith and repentance" and "choosing to repent . . . rather than to perish" really helped me navigate the dissonance between the addiction and how I wanted to view myself as a good Latter-day Saint. Learning and realizing that the temptation is not the sin and mastering what I did with the temptation was the process, along with the idea that not only was I not disqualified from the Atonement, I wasn't disqualified from a lifetime of church work and eternal life was empowering and helped me overcome the darker impulses of despair that always accompany attempts at recovery.

  6. My stepfather–who I've always loved as a father–has a scary, hard-core addiction to pornography that my sister and I discovered on his computer. Mom knew all along, yet continued to attend the temple with him as if nothing was wrong. She remains in denial to this day.

    Sis and I met with mom & dad's bishop–even inviting them to go with us (which they did) and poured out our hearts in that bishop's office, begging our parents to seek help, because many of our stepfather's porn preferences involved young teens and children, but our parents went behind our backs and met again with the bishop the next day (without me and my sister) and told him that we lied.

    So now our stepdad continues to serve in a high calling in his ward, and my sweet mother babysits children for the young families in her ward, too. Dad's secret has been swept under the rug, and I now fret over the safety of every child that enters their house.

    Why, oh why doesn't that bishop at least try to protect his ward families by removing this child-luster from callings until he is healed? And can't someone offer a cautionary "heads-up" to the families of the ward, who continue to trust their children to a home that is no longer safe? If I lived closer, I would do it myself.

    In any event, I am now wise enough to politely reject kindly older women who offer to babysit–women who (for all I know) might be in a similar state of denial as to the safety level of their home!

  7. ScaredDaughter,
    You don't have to live nearby. He has kiddie porn on his computer? Call the police! That will be a wake up call. You can't expect a bishop to be omniscient and somehow "know" what is going on.

  8. I have seen so many men struggling with pornography addiction over the past few years (including my husband and father-in-law) that I had begun to distrust all men and their attitudes toward sex. Finally, our family is seeing some real change of heart, so I am regaining hope.

    In my experience, the biggest obstacle to overcoming this addiction is admitting that it is, in fact, an addiction. Those who struggle with this cannot just be strong and stop on their own, they need the atonement (above all!) and possibly professional help. It requires a great deal of humility. I would like to suggest the book "Clean Hands, Pure Heart" by Phillip A. Harrison. The author is a former pornography addict and he writes about how one's attitude needs to change and how we need to understand the atonement and God's love in order to recover. It is a good read for people wanting to understand those with a pornography addiction as well as those trying to overcome one.

  9. Marintha–

    I agree. But tried that route and learned that small towns frown on investigating affluent/community-leading citizens.

    In that vein, can anybody tell me how to remove my photo from my (what was supposed to be) anonymous postings? If anybody from said small town sees me, my family will despise me for speaking so openly in a public forum–I have NO idea why this site published my photo on what was supposed to be an anonymous posting! Grrr

  10. My father struggled with an older fashioned porn problem. He was into magazines. I remember as a child, cleaning the bathroom and finding a magazine here or there. I knew it wasn't good. I didn't look at them, and I never said anything to my parents (though I probably should have), and I would just put it back and ignore it. I still loved my dad. He was amazing, and wonderful, and was a huge example to me of love, and forgiveness, and friendship, and proper parenting.

    Years after his death, my husband and I (having been married now for 7 years) happened to have a discussion about my fathers addiction, including me explaining why I didn't let it effect my perception of him. I then went on to get into a more detailed discussion with my husband about what I would or would NOT be able to forgive (hypothetically, of course) of my spouse. I had commented that if it was an addiction to pictures, and didn't involve other REAL people (such as phone calls or text messages or infidelity), that as devistating and hard as is it would be for me, I would not consider it a problem worth ending my relationship over, as long as he would be willing to get the help necessary to put an end to the addiction.

    A week later we had David Bednar come to our Stake for Stake Conference. In the priesthood meeting he mentioned the dangers of pornography, he told the men it's not too late. Fix the problem NOW. Make today a new day. Start fresh… The next day, after conference was over, my husband sat me down on the couch and started to cry. Which startled me, since I had NEVER seen him cry. Ever. He told me he had been struggling with pornography since he was a small child. He told me all the details, and I was just reeling! It was like I was in a fog…

    It was then, that I was told of my husband's HORRIFYING childhood experiences. His mother fell away from the church, divorced his dad, and married again soon after to a man that was far from ideally LDS. My husband's step father used to go to a friends house to get high twice a week. He would often take my husband (then 5) with him, for "male bonding". While his step dad was out back getting high, my husband would be inside with the friends children watching porn. All these little boys would be covered up with blankets "doing their thing" while watching some really adult XXX rated movies. MY husband was much to young to understand what he was being subjected to was bad… This happened for YEARS before he came to realize that this wasn't normal nor was it okay. And that's when his addiction started. When he was 5. It broke my heart to hear such a story. The somewhat happy ending is that eventually his step dad turned his life around, joined the church, and married his mom in the temple, but the damage was already done to my husband. And it has been 25 years worth of agony and misery in my husbands heart since.

    It doesn't help that my husband is a computer engineer, and thus knew how to hide any sign of porn from me (his much less computer savvy wife), AND he had recently left a job working for an internet filtering company, where part of his job was to try and break through the filter to help find the weak points and fix the filter to be stronger and better. His job was to TRY to find porn! Had I known about his problem, I wouldn't have been okay with this job.

    Well, he set an appt. to talk to our bishop, and started the path to recovery. Luckily his addiction was very minor (as opposed to some people. He would slip up and look at stuff online (always from work) every few months for a day, and then the guilt would hit and he would stop. A few months later he would be bored, or frustrated, or curious, and would slip again. But it was never longer than for an hour or two, and never two days in a row… The bishop didn't feel the need to remove him from his church callings, but he set up some check points for us, and helped to make an active plan to keep him from falling back into his habits.

    My original thoughts were all sorts of jumbled. We went through a phase where I was not interested in intimacy with him. I wondered if I was at fault for any of his previous episodes. I asked him all sorts of questions that were not just hard to ask, but hard to hear the answers to… I wondered if he had EVER been worthy to marry me in the temple, or bless our child when she was born… It was a pretty dark time in my life… I had always felt that I was pretty observant, but did my childhood living with a man that had a porn addiction make me less able to see the signs of others with the same addiction?

    Though I would never EVER say that I am grateful for this stumbling block in my path, I will admit that it has helped me and my husband to grow exponentially. Through the atonement, I have come to love my husband even more than before, we have grown stronger, we are not just surviving, we are THRIVING. He has said on more than one occasion, just having someone else KNOW about his problem has made it easier to abstain. Just knowing he will be held accountable BY ME and the bishop, has made it easier to not follow those promptings. When he is bored or tempted, he picks up the phone and calls me. We talk. Not about anything related to the problem, just about our days, and what the children are doing, and about our callings…

    I think that hardest part for me, honestly, was my fierce loyalty to my husband (and father). I had a friend whose daughter was introduced to a magazine by a neighbor boy and she was so upset by it that she called the parents and chewed them out, and kept referring to this neighbor boy as a pervert, and an evil child, etc. And I wanted to come to this boys rescue. Just because someone is struggling with a pornography addiction, it doesn't mean that person is an evil person, nor are they a pervert. That's not to say some of them aren't just that. But not all of them! It hurt to hear her say that, knowing that if she KNEW about MY HUSBAND's problems, she would be saying the SAME thing about him. It hurt me to the core. I still have that fierce loyalty. I still feel like my husband is an amazing and wonderful man, and I am beyond grateful to be married to him, and to be with him for the rest of eternity… And I am grateful that he had the courage and strength to stand up and admit to me that there was a problem.

    Anon 27, I wish you the best when dealing with this problem. I hope things work out and I hope, if anything, that this helps strengthen your relationship with your son. You, and many others, are in my prayers.

  11. For those posting anonymously—If you have a wordpress account, you need to be logged out to post anonymously. Your avatar will show up unless you do so, and therefore you won't be anon–

  12. Beating it is hard; but as was mentioned the atonement is a miracle.

    Both my husband and I have struggled with porn addictions; and it's awful. It is one of the best ways to feel dissatisfied with real relationships and to destroy a marriage, because we were both seeking gratification from outside sources.

    The awful part is neither of us really had any exposure to it. My first exposure was seeing the underwear ads of the Sears catalogue; his was advertisements in Germany. We went looking for the rest.

    I'm terrified that my kids will struggle with similar issues because sexual exploitation and titillating images are EVERYWHERE. If only I knew how to really protect them.

  13. My husband and I broached the topic before we got married. My mom had the inspiration to have me ask him specifically about it after we were engaged. She had the sense not to ask again about it ever afterward. But I'm grateful she brought it up with me. He did have a problem. I got him to a bishop since he had stopped looking since we'd started dating. He wanted to stop and I wanted things to start on the right foot. It's been 3 1/2 years with me only asking every six months – after or during General Conference when the subject comes up. I would ask more often, but he's never alone with a computer. At work his office is full of people with their screens open to anybody's eyes. Our home computer is in the living room and we go to bed at the same time. I wish I could feel more confident in his ability to stay away from pornography, but I still brace myself for the day when he tells me he slipped up. But I know we can work through it, if it does happen. We've done it once, we can do it again!

  14. #9, I would go higher–seriously. Kiddie porn is a felony. Chances are his pictures aren't local. The FBI could easily be involved. It's just too dangerous with small children in his house, even occasionally, to let it slide.

  15. Outstanding and insightful comments. It strengthens my faith to find this topic talked about honestly (if not openly). Thank you all for sharing your stories. I know they are helping.

  16. Many thanks to the writer of this post. Bless you.

    I heard a story like this when my boys were younger. My friend actually took a sledge hammer to the family computer when her soon repeatedly looked at porn. I'll admit that at the time I thought, "Hmm, she has a really troubled kid. Good thing I don't have to worry about that." I WAS WRONG.

    Every parent, every wife, every mother needs to worry about porn. We are kidding ourselves if we think our family is immune. A few years ago our Bishop had a meeting about porn telling us that with teenage boys the question was not 'if' but 'when.' I found his words frankly offensive– not all boys are perverts! But my husband corrected me.

    "Porn is tempting for every boy going through puberty." my husband told me. My oldest son agreed.

    Now, I'm not posting anonymously and I hope you'll respect my words. Anyone who knows my boys and my family will confirm that my sons are as sweet and clean as they come– but they told me outright that porn is a temptation. Even my 12 year old (hmm, guess he's 13 now) hears about various websites at school. And so we have very strict rules and we talk about them often. Our computers are password protected and I change the password often. No one logs on unless I am around. Even then, computers stay out in the kitchen (I have a desktop and a laptop) where everyone can see.

    Mothers, wives! Be proactive! Set rules before you think you need them. The average exposure to porn is age ten. Explain to your sons and daughters the poisonous nature of pornography.

    Encourage personal scripture study and prayer. Nothing will protect them against evil more than the Spirit.

  17. Pornography addiction is hard! My husband struggles with it, at least 2 of my 3 brothers struggle with it, and I'm pretty certain my BILs struggle too.

    The biggest thing that helped me was going to SA-Anon, which is a 12-step group for spouses of sex addicts. I learned I wasn't alone, that I was lucky that my husband never progressed beyond looking at pictures, and we have been able to move past it. Also, I learned it wasn't my fault, and that it really didn't have anything to do with me.

    It's still a problem, but not as much as it was in the past. My husband and I don't fight as much now, and he is trying to get past it.

  18. I discovered my husband had a problem after we'd been married just a few months. I was so willing to look the other way, to assume the best and expect him to "handle it", that it went on for years. Every time there was a confession there were tears and rage and a renewed sense of fear–but always forgiveness. And then we'd start back into the cycle again.
    I felt like I was locked in prison for 13 years. It wasn't until I finally said ENOUGH and wrote a letter to his entire family, letting them know what was going on and that I could no longer bear the weight of the burden alone.
    He signed up at covenanteyes.com and added me, his parents, and his brother as his accountability partners. If I had to pinpoint only one thing that finally helped him turn the corner, it was that website. The secrecy is the worst part of pornography addiction. I felt shame, he felt shame, and not being able to talk about it simply fueled the fire.
    Today, after 12-step programs, accountability software, a bishop who held his feet to the fire, and a changed heart, he is a worthy man. I can't believe I stayed, I can't believe all that I endured. I know that I was carried by my Savior through all those dark and terrible nights. There is now peace in my home. I am no longer locked in a cage of fear and apprehension. The atonement is real. It is my testimony that it changes us. It changed me, too. My capacity for love is greater. I am kinder, more gentle, more caring, more involved, more committed. I can even say today that I am grateful for the experience.
    There is no other hope but through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  19. This post has hit way too close to home. Less than a month ago, I happened to check my computer's history and found long long lists of terrible searches. I hoped that it was some glitch in the software that had allowed things to be downloaded, but of course it wasn't. It was my sweet, sweet 13 year old son, who I love and adore. He is a good, kind, funny, friendly boy. And I felt like I'd had a knife stuck in my stomach. I don't know if I've ever felt as sick. The kinds of things he had typed…the kinds of terms and things he'd seen…I am NOT naive. I can hold my own in the world. But I had no idea that he had gone down this path.

    I am still sick that I hadn't put up a good filter. He is young enough that I think he wouldn't have figured out right away how to get to hardcore stuff. It would at least have been a deterrent.

    And I wish I'd started talking about porn long long ago, and the way Satan uses our natural, good desires to trap us in paths that do none of us any good.

    After much prayer, my husband and I password protected the computers, and then he took him out for a treat and a long drive. They had a wonderful talk, and my son has more light in his eyes than he had for a few months. He had been unmotivated, snappy, distracted, his grades were slipping. I had had a couple of feelings that I shouldn't leave him alone, but I thought I was just being paranoid. I wish I'd listened to the spirit.

    We're at the very beginning of the journey, and I am still devastated by everything that has happened, but I can testify that the Atonement is real and that the spirit has encouraged us to be kind to him, to encourage him, and not to bring it up as often as sometimes I'd like to. I worry so much about the future, about the times he is discouraged or bored or stressed. It's so easy to turn to an addiction in these times. I worry about letting him babysit. I worry about his future relationships. I worry about the images in his head. But I have to trust that Heavenly Father will give us the help we need if we're willing to try with him.

    And I'm so angry at Satan and at the people Satan has trapped into believing that porn is ok, that creating it is ok, that posting it is ok, and that looking at it is ok.

  20. I am female and also had a struggle with pornography (and other, ahem, behavior that goes with it) as a teenager. We didn't have a computer or internet; I mostly watched scenes from movies (mainstream ones, not 'porn') or read titilating scenese from books. It started with usual adolescent curiosity and hormones; I realized that certain things made me feel a certain way and that I could do more about the feeling. It quickly became an addictive way to deal with stress, fear, anxiety, anger, etc. The problem continued off and on through college and my mission (yes, I spoke with various bishops and my mission president about it). For the last ten years or so, especially since being married, I have not done it. I've become much more careful about what I watch and read; sometimes I'm tempted by things but I've learned other coping strategies.

    A few things I've learned from my experience and from others':

    Teenagers (of both genders) will probably all look at 'porn' at some point. Or at least be exposed to some sort of sexual content. Like others have said, we need to be frank and open with our kids that this is a possibility and discuss coping strategies with them. Each individual will have a different reaction. Some who see it once and are aroused assume there is something wrong with them, or they may assume that it must be OK, or whatever. Teenagers have a bad combination of emerging sexual urges and a lot of curiousity. Plus a sense of invulnerability and a desire to be independent. Also, the impulse as parents is to back off at a time when our kids might need us the most.

    Regular pornography use and addiction is often an emotional as well as a spiritual issue. Make sure your son has other, healthier ways to take care of his emotional needs. Regular activities with family and friends, journal writing, a good schedule with plenty of sleep and physical activity–these things can all reduce stress and make it easier to step away from porn.

    Reduce the secrecy and shame also; this one is tricky because pornography is a terrible thing. But most of those who are regularly using it are quite aware of that. Be extra gentle and discreet when people you know opt out of things like going to the temple or passing the sacrament.

    I do believe that if you are at a point where you are addicted you can overcome it. It does take a lot of work, spiritually and otherwise. I feel bad that I wasted so many years of my life living with less of the companionship of the Spirit because I did not take my problem seriously and didn't take the steps I needed to fully overcome it.

  21. I recently ended a dating relationship with a man who is addicted to pornography. To his credit, he admitted to his addiction during the early stages of our relationship and I was stunned! Up until this point, it had never crossed my mind to ask the men I date if they have problems with pornography, but it's now an absolute question.

    I am still overwhelmed with sadness when I think of the many lost opportunities this man has faced due to this addiction that started when he was 13. However, I also have a testimony of the Atonement and know that even pornography addictions are covered by it. But this knowledge is separate from my desire to start to build a relationship with someone who faces such problems. Sometimes separating the two issues can be difficult. Regardless, I have nothing but faith and hope that this man can overcome his addiction and build the kind of life for himself that he desires.

  22. This makes me very sad. I think I am one of those with her head in the sand. I know it's out there, but naively thought not so much. I know it is brought up at General Conference and especially in the Priesthood session, but for some reason, it didn't click as something I needed to worry about. Satan is a rotten bugger. Hiding everywhere. Actually not hiding so much I guess. I was flipping channels the other night and saw some of the Victoria's secret fashion show. In primetime, no less. Shocking to say the least. What used to qualify as porn is now mainstream. Scary.

    Thank you everyone for this post and for the comments. Time for me to wise up.

  23. It's a fairly recent thing, my descent, and to be honest, most of the time I don't want to give it up. (Wow, I'd not come to that realization until now). Another commenter referred to it as a crutch, and it most definitely serves that purpose for me. I hate to think where I'd stumble to without it.

    I'm a married woman; in my thirties I have hit a point where my sex-drive exceeds my husband's. Way, way beyond, as if all of the years my libido suffered (through pregnancies & breastfeeding, depression) have suddenly dumped that missing desire on me. He found it a dream come true, at first, but soon grew weary of my advances. My drive was driving a wedge between us, every time alone in our bedroom awkward, same as any physical affection elsewhere.

    So, here I am. My usage serving a purpose in decreasing the pressure my husband felt, and it's a relief for both of us that way. But sometimes, I realize what a dreadful fix it is, and the desire to stop feels stronger than my physical one to continue. And then the dam feels near to bursting, the floodgates open and the guilt is swept away…

    Has anyone been through a similar disparity in sex-drives? I feel so very alone and unable to see a way through without pornography propping me up from time to time.

  24. I too thought I was one who could keep her head in the sand, until i found the internet searches. Sigh. Punched in the gut is a pretty accurate description. Luckily i found it before it was an addiction…protect yourselves and your family member, even if others think you are going too far.

  25. This post could have been written by me. I remember very well that sickening feeling when I found out that my 12 year old son had a porn problem. One of the hardest parts was not being able to talk about it with others out of respect for him but mostly out of fear of judgement. We have tried our best to help him, filters and passwords, counseling for both him and us. The lds counselor was the first one that told us about how common this problem was with teenage boys and made us feel much better about being able to overcome it. My son is now 16 and we have had many setbacks but his is doing really well right now. I have to believe that it will be a temptation all his life. I know Satan is real and trying very hard to get these young men, but I also know that the atonement is powerful and able to overcome all things. I think we need to discuss and be open about it, to me it is not a matter of if but when my child will be exposed to pornography. Satan does his best work in the dark, lets bring this out to the open talk to your children ask that hard questions and be prepared for the hard answers.

  26. My brother-in-law (who is so "super-spiritual" that everyone jokes about him becoming a general authority) is struggling with a porn and masturbation addiction. He and his wife have 2 small children and are now getting a divorce. This has affected our ENTIRE extended family.
    We all love him and are trying to help him through this. He is in the 12-step program and is very open and honest with everyone.

    No one is immune. I'm glad we're talking about this here.

  27. To the 23rd person that posted, I hope you didn't scare him off from being honest.

    I have struggled with masturbation since age 14. When I was older I discovered porn as a way of enhancing the experience.

    I have been on and off church probation for years. When I first started dating girls I was honest with them and told them I was not worthy to bless or pass the sacrament. Many chose not to date me because even though they were not perfect, my imperfections were more than they could handle dating. They would tell me I wasn't worth them, which would depress me further, which would make me seek out other forms of comfort, which would make me less worthy to serve in the church.

    Eventually I figured out it was easier not to mention my status inthe church. We could date, have fun, I could develop some worth and see there are ways to be happy with out masturbation and porn. Eventually the girl would find out. Some chose to leave but others saw the good in me despite the weakness and stuck around. I wonder if refusing to date someone because they are honest is better than dating someone because they are keeping a secret from you.

  28. Sean,

    I hope I didn't scare him off from continuing to being honest in his relationships either.

    His honesty was something that I quite admired and knew was representative of him as a person. It was also one of the main reasons I put effort and time into our relationship after his admission to me of his pornography addiction. I also put time and effort into educating myself about pornography addictions, talking to my bishop, reading church talks, attending the temple, and doing a whole lot of praying. I was very open with him about my thoughts and concerns. I asked him questions. He provided answers. Eventually, I told him that in order for me to be in a committed dating relationship with him, I needed to know that he was 100% committed to overcoming his addiction. He couldn't tell me yes. It was soon after this conversation that our relationship ended.

    So I would not say that I ended a relationship due to his honesty. Rather, we actually had a relationship because of his honesty.

  29. Sean,
    I think that it would be ok for someone to break up a relationship and not get married because of a pornography addiction or any other major issue that would effect married life or even the ability to get married in the temple. We may not choose what our spouses do after we are married, but we are entitled to make choices with the knowledge we have. I would not want to choose a spouse with that particular problem and I think that it is ok that other people would not want to choose that trial. I know that sounds judgmental, but that's because it is.

  30. My husband is a porn addict too. My story differs from the other ones here because he is not willing to repent. He looked me straight in the eye and insisted he is unable to repent. He tried and it didn't work. That blew me out of the water. I've struggled with my own addiction due to childhood abuse, and it never in a million years occurred to me that someone would have a problem and not want to work on fixing it. He didn't even hint that he might repent when I threatened to divorce him.

    I've turned my life upside down to get free of my own addiction. And yet, when I pray about him, I get the definite impression that I should stay married to him and pray for him. I am close enough to the spirit now that I trust that prompting, and also trust that if the time comes to end the marriage, I will be prompted about that too.

    This is a 2nd generation problem. His mom said his dad has used porn their entire marriage too, and has also never even talked to the bishop once. Sickening. My biggest concern is not raising the third generation of porn addicts. I'd be willing to divorce him for the sake of the children. I wish my MIL had divorced my FIL so my husband didn't think this is a problem a wife should just learn to live with. (Everyone has a temple marriage, isn't that nice?)

    Oddly, other than the porn, he's a great husband. He's kind, generous, funny, respectful, supportive, and a good dad. There's a wall in our marriage, though. We could have more than we do, but my marriage isn't terrible by any measure. I can stick it out and pray for as long as the spirit says to. That attitude may change when the kids are old enough to use the computer, but so far I am handling things okay.

    And for the commenter who is struggling with her own over-active sex drive and addiction: I used to think I had a higher sex drive than most too. That's not true, actually. Porn is a signal that the user is using sexual feelings to mask other problems; issues they don't want to face. It takes therapy, and a willingness to be brutally honest with yourself, to uncover the underlying issues and deal with them directly. My sex drive is very normal now, now that I'm not using it to avoid other problems.

  31. The church has a very good 12-step program for pornography addiction. You can contact lds social services in your area (or your bishop) and they can help you find a support group.
    My husband was addicted to porn from age 10. He told me before we were married, and that he was in recovery, but he had a relapse after we had been married for 6 months. It crushed me. I didn't think we would ever get through it. But we worked on the 12 steps together and went to the support group every week together. There were a couple months where I felt the power of Christ and the Atonement carrying me through every day. It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through.
    It has now been 3 years and 9 months since my husband used pornography. I used to wonder if there would ever be a time when I didn't think about his addiction every day, but I finally reached that point. I rarely think about it anymore.
    We were at BYU when all of this happened, and we heard that 1 in 3 male students have a pornography addiction. I don't doubt that for one second.
    Regardless of how harmful and prevalent the addiction is, I have a firm testimony that the atonement can heal ALL wounds and addictions. I have a lot of doubts about other things when it comes to the gospel, but I will never doubt the power of the Atonement when it comes to addiction.
    For those concerned mothers, I can understand that it must be terrifying to learn of a young son's addiction. But remember, my husband became addicted when he was only ten. I wish his parents had done a better job at intervening (they knew about it, but didn't deal with it very well). There is hope. No matter how long the addiction has gone on, no matter how young or old, there is hope. Your son can enter recovery and become an honorable man who can be a loving, caring, pure, and wholesome father and husband. I have seen it in my own husband. Have faith and courage, and know that there is light at the end of the end of the tunnel. Show an outpouring of love to your son. Making him feel guilty or ashamed will only exacerbate the problem. Shed light and love on the addiction and show him that you are willing to go to an necessary means to help him. (Or her, I know women can be addicted too.)
    Take heart! There is hope!

  32. It's killing me that I'm out of town right now while reading this post. Makes me wish I could blink home in an instant, and have a long chat with my kids. My oldest boy is 10, and while I don't believe he's into this, I'm now dying to have a conversation with him. Suddenly I'm feeling like he's there and I'm not around to protect him from Eminent Inevitable Entrapment! I guess it can wait three days, but still.

    I'm so grateful for all the honesty shared in this thread. And for the testimony about the atonement and it's power that so many of you have expressed so beautifully. Thank you!

  33. Dear Friends,

    Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my plea for support. It means a lot to me to read your words.

    I will share what has happened so far since I found out. That day, after my husband and I had both spoken with him separately, we looked together at the history on his login to see what he had searched. My husband would cover the screen with his hand to block out the awful images that kept coming up.

    He seemed to be curious about things…looking up on Wikipedia various sexual terms. And from there clicking on other things. Seeing these things was what made me realize how much innocence has been lost.

    But here's the hard thing: he told me he was struggling with an addiction a few months ago. I thought he meant masturbation. I didn't ask directly. I tried to teach him about the importance of sexual purity and how important physical intimacy is in marriage. But, I was missing the whole picture, the computer was only partly protected with software and although in a very public place in our home, he was often left home alone.

    One thing I am trying to do now is be grateful in all things. I am using this wake up call to make important changes. I get up at 6:15 every morning and do yoga for fifteen minutes with him and then about 20 minutes of scripture or "Preach my Gospel" study and prayer with him before he leaves for school. I have made a list of what I want him to do after school–playing with his sister (to have real relationships), serving others, walking the dog, etc. It has been hard not to trust him to be alone in the house…I need him to babysit sometimes.

    We blocked tons of sites, restricted his computer use to only when I allow him on and imposed more limits on his video game time too to begin stamping out addictive habits.

    I love my Savior. I know he can help. I will turn to him with full purpose of heart. I will be grateful I can help him now…

    I could go on about how I knew my husband had a masturbation problem before we married that made me break up with him before we were engaged. But he sought forgiveness and worked to change.

    I could also talk about how I taught in church that sexual abuse stems from incorrect knowledge about sex. This is why I feel books like Laura Brotherson's And They Were Not Ashamed can be so valuable to church members.

    And to the commenter who has an off-balance libido with her husband: that is part of the package I think. We women come to the prime of our sexuality later than the men. It is part of the giving in intimacy. Read Laura's book. Make your husband read it (or give him the CD like I did to have him listen to it in the car).

    Sorry this was so long. I just wanted to thank you for this post and the support. I wanted to tell you more of the situation and share my testimony that I trust in Christ, so I do feel hopeful–even though I have to work hard to not judge him harshly, but to love him as only a mother can. I still have so much to learn.

  34. Oh, And Michelle L, I love you! You are a great example. I will try to follow it. I have an older son too. I need to be vigilant and not afraid of boldness in following the counsel of our leaders. Your sons are great men.

  35. Seems from reading the comments here that people tend to have a very liberal definition of "addiction" when speaking of pornography. Having been treated for addiction myself I had it pounded into my head that the measuring stick for addiction was when my behavior began to affect the lives of others. Many of the commenters write about being taken completely unaware when they discovered that a loved one was indulging in pornography which, in my experience, is entirely inconsistent with the concept of addiction. Let's be sane about the discussion and use the term "addiction" with care.

  36. Just tonight I went through the history after my 10 year old's computer session. There were several porn sites that he'd tried to get onto, but my husband has made it pretty impossible for that to happen. We've been really vigilant about keeping our computers safe for the kids. My husband and I sat down with my son and it turns out he's looked at porn several times at a friend's house.

    It seems like there is just no way to keep kids away from that awful stuff. No matter how hard we try it will seep into their lives somehow.

  37. PaulM – I completely agree that not all porn use is an addiction. Some porn use is just curiousity, and the user stops voluntarily. Or it's a bad habit that can be broken with willpower and a change of habits.

    But there is much more to addiction than when it begins to affect other people. I'd say it's an addiction if the user feels deep shame and self-hatred, and yet can't stop. And they obsess about it all the time and refuse to talk about it and get defensive. And they use it to avoid other things they don't want to deal with.

    The fact that someone was taken unawares doesn't mean that they were unaffected by a loved one's porn addiction. Finding the porn may actually explain some holes or inconsistencies in the relationship. They may have been affected, but not known what was beneath it.

    I thought I'd done a great job of not letting my own addiction affect others, until I quit and saw how drastically so many things in my life changed. I was deceiving myself when I thought I hadn't affected anyone else. My husband doesn't think his porn use affects anyone besides him, but I can list a dozen things that would be better in our life if he'd quit. Addicts shouldn't be trying to gauge whether or not their actions affect others because they're biased in favor of any conclusion that lets them continue their behavior.

  38. I think every single man in my life has been affected by porn. To think otherwise is to have your head in the sand. When I realized this several years back, I was horrified at first, and then became more vigilant about what I could do to help, love, hold hands with those men in my life who have fallen into this addiction.

    Timely topic. Glad to see it addressed openly here. Thank you.

  39. Thank you for this post and discussion. I recently had a discussion w/ a friend whose church leader cited stats that made my jaw drop…that 80 percent of young men in the Church have problems with this. I have heard stats not unlike that for men. I hear that the problem is increasing with women.

    Michelle L., I think you said it well. We have to be so vigilant. Will you link again to your post that you wrote about this (the one about moving your computer)? Your focus and dedication in doing all you can to help protect and arm your children is an inspiration to me.

  40. that 80 percent of young men in the Church have problems with this.

    That was likely a local stat, but still, the comments here suggest to me that it may not be an isolated thing. It's so sobering.

  41. The hardest time was when my husband refused to admit he was doing anything wrong! "It's not hurting any one!" Well, let's see, it hurt me and our intimate life, he got fired from a job because he would stay up all night looking at porn and then would sleep in and be late for work.

    For awhile I wondered if it was even worth staying with him, as we didn't have any kids yet. But after he got fired and got kicked out of his support group for not being able to commit to going, he finally started to realize that something wasn't quite right.

    And while he still struggles a bit–porn addiction is like heroin for the brain and it's awfully hard to get out–he is trying and that's all I can ask. And he actually voluntarily talked to the bishop and stake president about it, and that helps knowing that there is some support there and someone besides me to report too. And they've been very understanding and non judgemental because this is a huge problem and it's not just my husband.

    And seriously, check out S-Anon. sanon.org will help you find a meeting in your area, it's anonymous and free, and you'll find support and help.

  42. Pornography is a growing problem. What most youth and adults don't understand is the way that pornography can damage, healthy intimate relationships. It changes what men and women as as attractive, sexual. Novelty/Variety is a primary focus, alot of the power of the stimulus. Novelty provides a strong turn on but sets you up for failure in a long term monomgamous relationship.

    I recently worked with a couple, the husband's pornography issues were causing him to pressure his wife to participate in things she was uncomfortable with yet, it was what the pornography had taught him to want and was creating a very destructive dynamic in the marriage. The level of the addiction and failure of others to provide adequate support services only fueled the cycle, followed by guilt, and exaccerbated depression, anxiety, and anger issues.

    To female currently struggling– I would recommend finding a good MFT or sex therapist. Open communication and professional support can help to ameliorate the current "bad fit" in partners levels of desire. Often times other maritial and individual issues play out/evidence in the bedroom either in the form of lack of desire or as well as compulsive sexual activity. It probably needs more exploration as to what is sort of at the root of things and work to develop a long term solution that will be healthy and strengthen the relationships.

    I don't like to get caught up in numbers or statistics other than that it is a problem. Alot of it stems from curiosity and lack of open opportunties to discuss sex. All of us have probably see it at one time or another (usually inadvertantly). But I have yet to see any study that actually measures it predominance and that could be extrapolated to the larger population. SO I don't be live in using numbers you can't back up/cite. Some regions and demogrpahics seem to struggle more than others. I also like to be careful in the use of the label of addiction. I think vigilance is important, while erecting barriers of access etc are good. In the end it's about self control and choosing not to participate. Soon enough our children willbe grown adults faced with full access to whatever they'd like so we are really trying to help them develop life long skills far more than simply being gatekeepers.

  43. To #44 – You are right, it is just like heroin addiction only worse, I think. That's one thing my husband really liked about http://www.candeocan.com. The program explained scientifically, biologically how the brain is wired to release certain hormones when porn is viewed and the addiction is to that chemical release. It is a very powerful stimulant! It helped my husband realize why he couldn't kick it on his own. His body craved that flood of endorphins.

    I disagree with PaulM. I was married for almost 15 years and never knew my husband had struggled with this off and on our whole marriage. I treated him like an adult and trusted him even though he worked in the tech field. Porn is different from other addictions because it is always done in secrecy. That is a large part of its power. It is a solitary activity. My husband did not stay up late, but he did work at home. When I left to run errands, he was alone and could indulge. He was relieved to be discovered and anxious to get this out of his life. He found great success with Candeo and could move through it faster than meeting with a therapist once a week (although he did that too because I asked him to). He has fully repented and is happy to have the tools to combat any triggers that he comes upon. He knows it will always be a weakness, but it doesn't have to be a sin. There is hope and there is treatment available.

  44. I used to chafe at the bit with impatience during conference, when the general authorities would devote more time to pornography than to drug and alcohol addiction, which I thought was the greater problem. But as a bishop's wife, I now realize that pornography is pretty much running rampant out there, especially with our young people who are confronted with it in so many seemingly innocent venues…even at school, sometimes, when computer labs are not blocked or monitored.

    We all need to be aware, and I think this post is excellent and timely. Thanks.

  45. It's been over twenty years since I was 13 and my parents told that my dad had a porn addiction–I'd found a few magazines by then, seen part of one porn movie he didn't record over, and listened to countless dirty jokes and sexual comments. A couple years later I was walking down the hall at church and listned to him give a lesson in Elder's Quoram about his masterbation problem.

    My oldest brother started getting into porn at 14, the next brother was 12, the next brother refused it, and the forth brother was 10 when I found it on their home computer.

    I love each of them more than I can say–I understand that they use it for stress, loneliness, anger, and recreation. I know they love their wives, that they are loved by God, and that as men they are SO vulnerable. But Porn has defined the relationship I have with my parents and siblings. I'm married to a man who has not had a problem with it–but most of the other men in my life that I love the very most are dogged by it.

    In some ways, I'm benefited to know that being porn addicts does not make them evil–it is a sin like any other sin; gossip, dishonesty, judging others, covetousness. Porn is not WORSE than something else, but it is more painful than many of them; more encompassing of personal relationships. While a wife won't blame herself for her husband coveting a neighbors car, she'll take blame for her husband lusting over another woman.

    I would also like to say that while I admire the ability for those that struggle to talk about it, my life was not blessed to know of my father's struggle, to here him talk to people about his 'problem' as openly as he did. It was humiliating and I as sexualized earlier than I should have been. I would suggest that those dealing with this issue keep it between themselves, their spouses, their clergy, and those people who can help them overcome their issue. I believe my father 'indulges' a bit in just talking about it to other people. I also think it was easier for my brother's to not only become involved but stay involved because dad did it and even though they were taught it was wrong, how wrong can it be when there is so much 'acceptance' of it in our home?

    Heads in the sand puts our children at even more risk than they are just living at the time they live.

    Thank God for the Atonement.

    And thank you for this post. I read every comment and am humbled and yet inspired by the many people fighting this.

  46. Do you think that LDS men are more susceptible to porn issues because they are less inclined to seek out actual sex as a release and see porn as 'safe'?

  47. Kicked in the stomach is an excellent way to describe the feeling. My husband struggled with a porn addiction for years before ultimately having an affair and moving out. I know I did not cause his addiction, but to my forever sorrow, I also did not give the tough love a wife should have and overcome my own embarrassment in order to get him to seek help. I stuck my head in the sand and wanted to show how forgiving I could be without realizing that willpower on his end might not be enough. My strategy backfired. Each time I found evidence, he was a little less sorry until finally he had convinced himself that he did not feel guilt and that he needed to remove himself from the things that were now "wrong" in his life, i.e. me and the church. He is so incredibly upside down now, and while I know I can't fight his battles for him, I wish that I had known just how addicting it was and what it could do, and encouraged him to get help before he hit this level and was no longer afraid of losing me.
    The major success of the porn industry suggests that Satan is getting very skilled at this particular battle and we all know that men in particular are very susceptible to it. I don't think satan has ever had such a valuable weapon before. In return, I believe we mothers and wives are also endowed with extra weapons from God to help fight for those we love on this side as well. Be brave and dont hesitate to encourage your loved one to get help and while you are at it, ask God for what you need to be his "wing man." Whether it is patience, understanding or strength for the relapses, keep in mind that God wants our men to succeed as much as satan wants to bring them down and he is not stronger than God. We women are God's weapons in the fight against pornography. Everyone who overcomes this addiction has to want it, but no addict can overcome without unfailing love and support. Be educated, be brave, be communicative and be upfront. Most of all, have faith.

  48. To #6 – As a mother of young children I plead with you to call the police. Please make sure that the young mothers in your parents ward are warned. For all I know your stepfather is in my ward! I can tell you, I WOULD WANT TO KNOW if I was about to let my child into his house. Because there is no way in hell I would take my chances. What if he ends up molesting a child? You say you "fret over the safety of every child that enters their house" – maybe it is the Spirit urging you to do something more! Please contact the police for the sake of those children before it is too late. I would inform the stake president of what is going on, too since the bishop is not taking any action.

  49. Not to harp, but as has been pointed out, child pornography is a FELONY. In college, I had big dreams of substantiating the causal link between pornography use and violence against women. Didn't happen. Probably won't. Wanna know what did happen? Last week the American Psychological Association published a study linking the use of kiddie porn to child abuse. 155 men convicted of child pornography possession. 84% admitted to also having abused children. Average number of victims: 13.5 per man. You know who needs to pull his head out? That bishop.

    #6, I know it's gotta be a sucky thing to think about sicing the po po on a man you've loved as a father. Not that it makes it much easier, but there are hot lines which allow you to remain anonymous:1-866-DHS-2ICE (run by the Department of Home Land Security) or http://www.cybertipline.com (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

    Each and every one of you is amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories, and more than that, your hearts.


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