By Alice Taylor
One in three visitors to adult websites are women. Porn addiction isn’t just a guy’s issue, but despite this reality, there’s still a lot of shame and stigma surrounding the topic in Christian communities. This is changing thanks to the work of ministries like XXXchurch.com and others who include women in their resources.
More change is coming, though. A new book created specifically for women is about to be released. Restored: A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Pornography. It is a step-by-step guide to beginning the journey toward freedom, tackling questions relevant to women such as:
Is masturbation sinful?
Has porn ruined my future sex life?
How do I deal with shame?
Could God love and forgive me?’ along with lots of practical tips to overcome pornography.
It is written by yours truly, Alice Taylor.
What makes me an expert on this topic? You may ask.
Well, I write with the wisdom that comes from experience.
When I was twelve, I first discovered online pornography. Somehow, in the days of dial-up internet, I found it a lot of it. I grew up in a Christian home where we didn’t discuss matters of sex or desire. I didn’t hear my Mum say the word ‘porn’ until I was in my mid-twenties and bought the topic up myself. I was very sheltered, so when I found these online images, I became entranced with curiosity and confusion.
They started to fill in the blanks my parents left, and I enjoyed the new feelings it brought up in me. I became a regular visitor to these sites, and as an avid reader, began to scour novels for steamy sex scenes. I even took these on family holidays to read over and over again.
My sheltered upbringing and secretive porn habit set me up for vulnerability in High School. I just never fit in. I experienced ongoing bullying and ridicule for several years, as did the band of misfits I gathered around me. One day, one of these loyal but atypical friends was violently assaulted, and I was a witness.
This crushed me, leaving me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Undiagnosed for several years, I became erratic, afraid, and dependant on many destructive habits. These included self-harm, theft, and repressed rage, which would erupt at any time.
A confused, vulnerable, and unempowered young woman is easy prey.
At eighteen, I entered into what would be the most damaging relationship I’d ever have. I was willing to do just about anything to feel loved and valued, and he was ready to exploit that. He pressured me into doing things I didn’t want to do, namely- sex.
It was horrible. His pornography collection (which he happily showed me) taught him what a woman should look like, how she should act, and what she was expected to do for him. I was not that woman. He humiliated me and made sure I knew how incompetent and forgettable I was. Intimacy was as far away as the concept of my worth at this time.
To make sense of this confusing experience, and learn what I was supposed to do to please this boy and avoid humiliation, I returned to the pornography I remembered from my childhood. However, this time around, I had my smartphone, laptop, and high-speed internet. The content was substantially more hardcore, as well.
It began as an education. What was my body supposed to look like? What was I supposed to do and say to be desirable to men? It wasn’t long before I got hooked again, though. Porn became my escape. It took me away from the shame and pain that haunted my every moment.
The rush of dopamine and adrenalin made me feel something other than sadness for a few moments. I felt a sense of ‘control’ when I felt lost and vulnerable. I sought the experience of intimacy, without the risk of rejection or being told I was forgettable. I relived and fantasized about traumatic sexual encounters, but this time, I had the power.
Porn never salved my pain like I hoped it would, it only taught me lies about femininity and sex and fuelled my suffering. Yet I kept returning. I couldn’t stop. I had become addicted, and I didn’t tell a soul. I truly believed I was the only woman on Earth struggling with porn. Surely the only Christian woman! Every resource I had come across for porn addiction was drowning in masculine pronouns. I felt like the odd one out, like a freak.
After many years of secret turmoil, I eventually broke. I had to tell someone. I had to get help. I confessed my struggle to my closest friend, and she surprised me by saying ‘me too! I thought I was the only one!’. Together, we worked recovery, kicked each other’s butts, and finally got free.
You can read the extended edition of my story and discover the steps I took to pursue healing in detail in Restored. But for now, I will leave you with a brief overview of the process.
No one can beat addiction on their own. I tried for many years, but only ever failed without a strong support team behind me. The first step I took was to tell my best friend I had a problem. It didn’t stop there; we decided to get accountable. We vowed to help each other restrict our porn use and pursue healing instead. Part of this involved installing filtering software X3Watch and doing a social media detox. We also committed to meeting once a week to be completely honest about our struggles and victories.
To recover, I had to learn the value of therapy and personal reflection. I discovered that I didn’t merely have an issue with watching sex on screen, I had an intimacy disorder (along with a myriad of other mental health issues). I realized, to untangle myself from porn, I had to work through my pain. I had to ask myself why I sought out porn, who had hurt me, what I was truly seeking (spoiler alert: It was intimacy) and how to have these needs met without sex. Reflection and professional therapy paved the way for me to walk into true freedom. When I dealt with my pain, I no longer wanted to escape reality.
Recovery isn’t merely about learning how to restrict negative behaviors, but it is equally about reconnecting with yourself, your community, God, and the world. It’s about creating a life you love, a life you don’t want to escape from anymore. Recovery is like a train track, you have two parallel rails pointing in the same direction, one is sobriety, and the other is restoration. Together they move you forward. To truly heal and move forward, I had to work on adding to my life actively- this included relationships, hobbies, life aspirations, and fun. It wasn’t all about restriction.
Get your free eBook
Restored will be available before Christmas 2019, through Amazon. For the first five days of sales, it will be available for free in eBook format. After this, it will only be available at full price. If you’d like to register for your free download, sign-up here, and we will notify you when Restored is available. Please note it is your responsibility to download your free eBook within five days of receiving a notification.