My own story.
More often than not, people are exposed to pornography at a young age. Here are some alarming statistics from Covenant Eyes (click here for more information):
93% of boys and 62% of girls have been exposed to pornography by the time they’re 18.
83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex on the internet.
32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality on the internet.
18% of boys and 10% of girls have seen rape or other sexual violence on the internet.
15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
Only 3% of boys and 17% of girls have not seen pornography online.
These statistics are quite disconcerting to say the least. When I asked several men in my life how old they were and how they were exposed to pornography, many said they were exposed by age 10-12, and they were shown pornography by a friend, family member, or through media. But this article isn’t going to be about generalities and semantics, but rather my own experiences.
I believe the first time I was exposed to pornography was at age 10. I was in a Yahoo! Messenger chatroom. Being 10 I wanted to make some friends because I didn’t have many in real life. I remember an adult man asking me how old I was, and then preceding to flash me his penis. It was the first time I recall seeing a penis. At around age 12 I caught my brother watching pornography, and I couldn’t see with my father but I believe he was looking at stuff he shouldn’t have been because he screamed at me to leave the room and said not to go in the computer room when he was using it without permission. As a teenager I had looked at pornography on my own a few times. I had a reaction to it and realized how powerful sexual imagery was. I even wrote my own fan fiction for awhile, feeling powerful as my fingers typed away sexual thoughts/fantasies of mine into a storyline.
When I was in high school a boy tricked me into describing personal things about me, my body and my sexuality. A “friend” told me he’d save my pictures to masturbate to. Another “friend” would ask me for naked pictures of myself.
I did not really start hating pornography until I was around 18. One of my high school friends had had bad luck with boyfriends and she posted a Facebook status about how she would not date a man who used pornography. I was curious and talked to her, and she explained how through her faith and her experiences with men who used it that it was something she didn’t want for herself. I started researching more and found alarming statistics. I found out that many women were coerced in some way, whether it was physical force, financial reasons, wanting attention, etc. I heard about the rumored snuff films, and I realized something; what is the difference between someone on screen or someone in person?
Even with that knowledge and those convictions in mind, it was different because I hadn’t had a boyfriend. Until April 2015. I started going out with a sweet, funny, handsome and lovable man from work. The first few months I was naïve and in puppy love, thinking to myself: I’m so in love with him and am not sexually attracted to anyone else. I don’t need or want pornography so he won’t either. But I also had a naïve idea that all men would watch it regardless of feelings and that I’d scare him off, so I told him I didn’t have any problems with it. To make matters more complicated I’m demisexual. When I first found out my boyfriend used pornography, last October, it hurt. A lot. It felt like a knife had been driven into my heart.
My boyfriend informed me he had been exposed to pornography at around age 10 by a friend. So it’s been part of his life for 12 years. It had been a nearly everyday, multiple times a day problem for 11 of those 12 years. When he found out I didn’t like it, he started working hard to battle it. He’s slipped up 3 times since last October, I found. At first I thought it was an issue of his past, but through me being open, understanding and judgement free, I found it was an issue that still haunted him. He had previously stated that it was not a huge part of his life, that it’s not cheating, not a big deal, that he’ll stop, etc.
It’s been a long road. Until last week, although I had suspicions, I thought he hadn’t slipped up at all. He told me everything was going well and that I was free to check his phone. The few times I checked I didn’t find anything. But last week when I saw it right in my face it stung. It felt very close to being cheated on. It was a very thin line. I showed him this article and it made him realize it was a very thin line. It made him realize what a lot of women (and men) feel when they find their partner using pornography. When this realization of his occurred, it allowed both of our healings to begin.
I think about porn all the time. Not in the way of an addict, but the way of someone who’s been traumatized for it. Throughout all of this, I’m thankful for my boyfriend. I love him more than anything in the world. I’m thankful for his courage to stand up and acknowledge it’s a problem plaguing him and many other men. And that’s the first step to healing. It’s the first of many for a long road. I’m beginning to help my boyfriend reach a year without porn. It was his first initial efforts that showed me he was a man worthy of being my husband and the father of my children. He stopped the MO aspect of PMO, but couldn’t stop the P aspect. And together we’ll beat the P aspect. We’re going to avoid triggers together and he’s going to be accountable to me. And this time next year he’ll be a year free from porn.
Like all bad habits, pornography has to be stepped on. It’s difficult with all the sexual imagery out there, but together men and women are standing up to the porn industry. Many men are part of NoFap, Fight the New Drug, sex positivity and anti pornography, feminist groups, etc. Men and women need to band together and love one another, and show one another respect. Some people don’t care about porn use in their relationships, some even watch it together. But this blog is for all the people who hate their partner’s porn use, because it makes them feel not good enough, unattractive, sexually not appealing, and who just don’t want them or someone they love supporting an industry that runs off of damaged people.
Granted, some men and women in the porn industry feel empowered. But the porn industry gets a good majority of its actors and actresses from damaged upbringings. Much like drugs, the porn industry promises a feeling of euphoria to all who join, a sense of community, much like a social clique. But in the end, it is not normal to gain personal or sexual satisfaction when you’re likely watching a woman who was physically/sexually abused be degraded on camera for money. End of story.
I hope my own experiences can help give hope to other men and women who both struggle with this issue, or who have a partner who is. Remember Porn Kills Love, But Love Can Conquer Anything.