A tall, athletic BYU student sits across from me fidgeting, unable to get comfortable. It's our first meeting; I'm learning the basics. Loves to play soccer. Enjoys time with friends. Excited that a brother is coming home from an LDS mission soon.
Then I dive in: "So, what brought you in to see me today?"
Deafening silence. Eyes shut. Then a mumble: “I struggle with looking at pornography.”
A tear runs down her face, which she promptly wipes away.
As you read about my experience with this individual, who did you imagine walking into my office? My guess is that you envisioned a male. What was your initial reaction when you finally learned that it was a female coming in to address a pornography addiction? As I’ve worked with numerous female clients who struggle with pornography and sexual addictions, one of the most difficult things to address is their fear that this is a man’s problem, thus making them, in their own words, a “really horrible”, “broken,” or “appalling” woman.
Pornography has been referred to as, “the drug of the new millennium” (Kastleman, 2007) and has been said to be “more addictive than crack cocaine” (Duke, 2010). If we were to change avenues for a moment and look at narcotics, would we not recognize that both males and females struggle with drug addictions? Would it make sense then to say that if both a man and a woman where to consume heroin, that only a man would experience its effects? The women that I work with have adopted a very similar distortion in that while pornography, the “drug of the new millennium” is rampantly available to all in our society, somehow only men should be affected by it.
Recent research shows that pornography use is increasing among women:
• A 2006 survey released by Internet Filter Review showed that one in three visitors to pornography sites were women.
• About 30 percent of internet pornography consumers are women, according to the 2008 Internet Pornography Statistics.
• The 2006 Internet Filter Review poll also found that 9.4 million women access adult websites each month, and that 13 percent of women admit to accessing pornography at work.
To any women who may be struggling with a pornography or sexual addiction, here are some steps that I have suggested to my clients that have helped initiate affirmative change:
• A lot of women stay imprisoned in the addiction because of discouragement or fear that no other woman struggles with this specific problem. Gain hope from knowing that you are not alone.
• Identify triggers and create a safer environment. For example, if your “drug of choice” is viewing pornography on your laptop in your room, set boundaries to only use your computer in an open area or utilize an internet filter blocking certain websites.
• Reach out for help. This step is vital, whether it is a trusted family member, friend, ecclesiastic leader, or a professional counselor, getting support is a crucial step toward creating change.
Don’t stay trapped because of fear. You are not alone. If you have a pornography or sexual addiction, take the necessary steps to regain your life. Change is possible.
- Duke, Rachel. (2010). More women lured to pornography addiction. The Washington Times, LLC.
- Internet Filter Review (2006).
- Internet Pornography Statistics (2008).
- Kastleman, Mark (2007). The drug of the new millennium: The science of how internet pornography radically alters the human brain.
Kylie Bair is a licensed therapist and specializes in addiction recovery, specifically female pornography addiction. She graduated from the clinical Master of Social Work program at BYU. Kylie has gained valuable experience as a therapist at the Children’s Justice Center working with primary and secondary victims of sexual abuse, LDS Family Services, and is currently working in the American Fork office of Suncrest Counseling.