From the ages of 8-18 I was a girl addicted to pornography. I think for a guy watching porn, it's more accepted and almost encouraged, and at the time I felt like I was the only girl watching it. I don’t use the word addicted lightly; I would watch it every time I was by myself, first thing when I got home from school, before I went to sleep. I literally needed to be with people all the time otherwise I would watch it, I was never satisfied.
It first started when I discovered a clip of a couple kissing online with a friend, we watched it, giggled a bit then shut it down. However, I went back to it later on my own, watching more and more. The scary thing is that for all the years I watched porn, I only ever watched it on non-porn related sites, that is how much there is online and how easily accessible it is.
Throughout my teenage years, porn continued to be something I viewed every chance I got. By the time I was 17 I had very low self-worth and consequently became depressed. I wanted to go to university to study medicine, but I really struggled with my advanced higher subjects and didn’t see how I was going to get the grades to get in. Reflecting back on my time at school at that point, I felt like it had all been a waste; I didn’t have many friends, I hadn’t had that much fun, I wasn’t going to get into university and had spent so many years stuck in the same cycle of watching porn.
I finally got help when I went for counselling and discussed my addiction, this resulted in porn losing some of its appeal. I did make it to university and when I moved away from home, I intentionally spent lots of time with other people and hardly any time on my own in my room to avoid the temptation to go back to porn. I had nearly gone without it for a year when there was a series of challenges in my personal life… I was stressed and alone in my flat and went back to the familiar comfort and cycle of watching porn.
My porn addiction remained my shameful secret that I kept from everyone. I didn’t drink at parties because I didn’t want to accidentally tell someone about it if I got drunk, I was so scared about anyone finding out. It wasn’t until I told my university friend about my addiction that things really turned around. She kept me accountable and, being a Christian, prayed for me. Frequently, without realising, she would message me at night just before I was about to watch something, she helped me so much.
The final breakthrough came when I was prayed for at a Christian event. Prior to that, I was overcome with the shame from years of watching porn, but it was replaced with love, hope and peace. Afterwards I felt so much more comfortable sharing my story with friends and less embarrassed by it all.
I can now see that pornography consumed my childhood and adolescence. It gave me such low self-worth, I felt dirty and unlovable, I carried so much guilt and all my relationships seemed tainted. In friendships I felt dishonest to people for not telling them, like I was somehow being fake. I felt like a bad Christian and that my relationship with God never advanced because of it. I didn’t ever tell my parents because I didn’t want them to feel responsible that I had found it at such a young age.
For a while in my early teens it even made me confused about my sexuality because I was never attracted to males or even females that I saw in person, but I enjoyed watching both online. All relationships to me were sexualised and not loving. Even the idea of kissing a guy gave me so much fear. My view of affection and passion was completely warped, I saw it all as possessive, self-gratifying and borderline abusive because that was my experience of it in porn. My view of guys was that they were only out for one thing and that they were incapable of actually caring. I was guarded around guys, I didn’t give them a chance to like me or get to know my personality or trust them with my feelings, I only ever flirted. I didn’t know how to have a normal relationship without it being sexualised. I had so many confused thoughts and this damaged my view of relationships. I’d allowed my past experience of pornography to create such unhealthy expectations.
However, I do believe there is a purpose for all that I have gone through. I first became aware of Love Matters when a girl I knew posted on social media about designing their website. The name really struck me because of how I viewed relationships after years of porn’s influence. I thought the aims of Love Matters were great, so I contacted them and asked how I could get involved. I am thankful for the opportunity I now have to share my story and how I have been restored through the help and support of professionals and good friends. I hope my experiences will show others, guys and girls, that they are not alone and that it might give them confidence to seek help and not keep their addiction hidden for so many years like I did.
If you think you, or someone you know, has an addiction to porn there is help and support available. The Naked Truth Project is a place you can find help, particularly through their online support groups. More information can be found at Naked Truth Recovery here.