The Readers Weigh In: Women and Pornography

Made in His Image is exceedingly grateful to New Advent for promoting our blog!! Yesterday’s post “Let Her Speak: Women and Pornography” produced countless emails and responses. Thank you so much to all who have written. It’s my hope, that the following will be a source of inspiration and healing to you.

A reader writes, I stumbled upon your blog though a link on New Advent. Your recent blog post, “Pornography: Not just a Man’s Problem,” tackles a subject that doesn’t receive enough attention, women can become addicted to porn, just like men. As a woman who struggles with porn, I have a suggestion for a resource for your readers: “Pure Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Integrity.” A few things to note about this book, the writer is not Catholic (there’s nothing anti-Catholic in the book); the book is aimed at all women who are experiencing problems staying chaste, not just at women with a pornography addiction, though there is one chapter that specifically addresses porn; and I found it presented some of the same ideas as Theology of the Body, but was a much easier read. As someone who has struggled with pornography and masturbation, the book was very helpful to me.

Other things that have helped me in my struggle: frequent Mass and Confession, prayers to St. Joseph, patron saint of purity, the Rosary, lots of Bible reading, and patience. I have lots of patience with others, but when it comes to myself, I forget that I’m not perfect and that habits can be hard to break. Although once in a while, I need to give myself a good talking to, I have a history of self harm and eating disorders, and it is far to easy for me to slip back into destructive patterns. So, I try to be patient with myself.

I’m glad that you and others have drawn attention to the problem of women and pornography.  When I first admitted I had a problem, I could hardly find resources on women and chastity, much less anything on women and pornography! Everyone seemed to be assuming that women didn’t need help with chastity. There’s nothing quite so lonely as believing yourself to be the only person in the world with a certain problem! Not that I’m glad other women have this problem, but when I heard about other women with a porn problem, it comforted me to know that other women were in the same boat. The greater comfort came from hearing that there were women who had conquered the problem.

Another reader writes, One resource that is outstanding for both men and women is the book of meditations called “Clean of Heart” by Rosemarie Scott. It’s the best Catholic resource that I have found for helping to heal these sins.

Another reader concurred, I agree. This book really helped to turn my life around, and it isn’t geared toward men specifically at all. Good luck and God bless to all who struggle. 

Another gentleman wrote, I recommend another wonderful and useful book: Neal Lozano “Unbound.” No doubt, it will change your way of thinking on this matter. Blessings!

Justin wrote, pornnomore.com is a good site for those struggling with this issue and is geared towards Catholics who want to be serious about the Faith and about recovering from porn and other sins against purity. Anyone that says pornography is harmless needs a reality check. It does deep damage to people on almost every level. I will offer up a decade of the rosary for all who struggle with this.

Always remember, “We are not the sum of our failures, but of our Father’s love.” – Blessed John Paul II

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Let Her Speak: Women and Pornography

The following was sent to me by a very brave woman. I thank her immensely for her candor, courage and willingness to share her story to help other women who are struggling with an addiction to pornography. May she be greatly blessed and always know how loved she is.

I was twelve and browsing on a website my sister showed me.  A harmless website, she thought, just little quizzes, “What Superhero are you?” “What planet are you most like?” One day, I clicked on a link and my life changed.  There were stories on the website too.  Many of them were harmless stories, but several of them were hard-core erotica.  The first one I clicked was a fairly tame story, but soon I was into some very depraved stuff.  I soon found other websites, easier to navigate, more stories.  I didn’t admit to myself that I had a problem or that it was a sin for two years.  By that point, I was reading and watching porn almost every day.

My addiction to pornography led to other problems, even before I admitted it was a problem.  I had such strong feelings of self-hatred that I frequently cut myself and periodically stopped eating.  After I admitted I had a porn problem, the cutting temporarily got worse.  I thought I was disgusting  and horrible and cut to make myself feel better.  Then I would feel horrible for cutting and eventually cut again to punish myself for being horrible.  It makes no sense, but if there is one thing I’ve learned its that I, like every other human, am not always rational.

Recovery is an ongoing process.  I am both blessed and cursed with a wonderful memory and porn is designed to stick in your head.  The images and words still come back to me, generally when I least expect it.  Confession is a weekly must and I make it to daily Mass as often as possible.  Every night I make an examination of conscience paying close attention to the slightest lack of purity.  I ask St. Joseph’s intercession daily for purity and try to pray the Rosary every day.  Every night I read the Bible and a chapter or two of some spiritual book.  And most of all, I have patience with myself.  When I fall, I remember how far I’ve come and how much God loves me.  Then I rush off to Confession to try again.

Women Don’t Watch Porn! Not.

Made in His Image has some very exciting news!! On Saturday, the article I wrote for my blog in regards to women and pornography was published on New Advent, the largest Catholic website in the world!!! God’s really moving and shaking huh? You bet He is!! If you haven’t read the article check it out: Pornography: NOT Just a Man’s Issue.

Blessed be God!!

By Matt Fradd, founder of The Porn Effect and apologetic speak for Catholic Answers.

Pornography almost always sends it’s consumer into a spiral of shame and isolation. How much greater the shame and isolation, then, when you are constantly being told, “Oh, girls don’t struggle with porn.” It’s time to face the facts – women can and do. In this blog we will hear from a young woman named Jessica Harris who once struggled with pornography, and now by the grace of God is finding freedom.

By Jessica Harris:

When I first saw pornography, I was confused. I was thirteen and had happened upon it completely by accident. There was a video with a neat title and I clicked on it, and nearly threw up. There was a physical charge, but that did not cause my addiction. I was curious, so I kept looking, but the pornography just made me sick, so I ventured into the realm of cyber sex and erotica.

That is how I got addicted. Those men made me feel loved and accepted, even though I was adjusting myself to be whomever they wanted. They desired me, and that feeling was my addiction. I got into pornography to figure out how to make them happy. When I tried to back out, that is when my body stepped in and said, “No, you have to have this. You have to have this rush.”

Over the months of cyber sex and romantic stories, I had become a sex object to those men. I had numbed myself to what was once so repulsive. Now, it no longer mattered if those women were being beat up and mistreated because at least they were being loved, right? They are really just like me, aren’t they? Isn’t this love?
That is how many women progress. We do not tend to jump right into the hardcore world of debauchery, but we can get there.

When women become addicted to pornography, it is really, in my opinion, out of a desperate search for love. Many women found trapped in pornography are struggling with low self-esteem or have rough family lives. Quite a few, like myself, have no relationship with an earthly father and therefore never learned as a young child, what a healthy relationship with a man looked like. Men were there to boss you around, beat you up and leave you behind… just like they do in pornography. That is the new love. The fairy tale happy ever after dream is dead, replaced by ‘settle for whoever can pay your bills.’

Contrary to popular belief, and I believe this is true in the cases of both men and women, this problem is something deeper than a problem with lust. This is a problem with life, and the life Christ promises to us. Porn addicts are not some vile, cold-hearted maniacs. If experience proves true, porn addicts, at the deepest part of who they are, are searching, broken hearts in dire need of life. For women, that is our cause, for men, that is the effect.

The way I see it, the physical pull leads men to porn; the longing for love keeps them there. The longing for love leads women to porn; the physical pull keeps them there.

For the complete article click HERE.

Please browse Jessica’s website: The Beggar’s Daughter. And her FACEBOOK PAGE.

Jessica has wonderful resources available for women on her website. Made in His Image will be back tomorrow with advice from a woman who wrote to MIHI, following our previous article about women and pornography.

Pornography: NOT Just a Man’s Issue

The first time a woman wrote to me about her struggles with an addiction to pornography, I didn’t know how to guide her. The emails kept coming, so I decided to turn to my friend Matt Fradd, founder of the Porn Effect for guidance on this issue.

A former porn star told me that she didn’t know one woman in the industry who hadn’t been physically or sexually abused.

Another woman wrote to Made in His Image: I am still struggling and on my road to recovering. It is a daily battle. Counseling has helped immensely and I highly recommend it. However, I believe one of the greatest ways I have discovered to combat this dragon, to heal these wounds of sexual identity is to seek my true identity in Christ and to quench my undying thirst with the love and intimacy of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The reception of Holy Communion (in the state of grace made possible by the Sacrament of Confession) which is the closest and most intimate we can be with anyone in this life. As well as adoration, asking Him to calm the cravings, to fill the void and to heal the wounds of pornography. Finally, I read Psalm 139. I encourage all those struggling in any way to read this Psalm often. I have discovered it as an immense help in my struggles. It sums up our identity in Christ. Porn speaks lies to us “you are worthless, you are an object to be used, you are shameful, disgusting.” God drowns those lies with the truth “You are invaluable, you are loved,” there is no shame in Christ.

Below are two excellent resources given to Made in His Image by Matt Fradd.

1) THE PORN EFFECT

2) COVENANT EYES

MIHI wants to lovingly encourage you to browse these websites and to get involved in a program that can aid you in recovery. While MIHI doesn’t know how to personally advise a woman in this area, I am here to offer support, a listening ear, compassion and prayers. MIHI seeks to be an avenue to help set you free. I have received countless emails on this topic, so please know that you are not alone in this addiction. Please contact MIHI with any information you might have that would be helpful to other women, so I can post it.

One of the biggest misconceptions about God is that He is a tyrant. I’ve seen His love, I’ve seen what He can do. He is no tyrant. He is the most loving and gentle Father and He yearns for you to come to Him. Don’t be afraid, snuggle close to His Sacred Heart tonight and tell Him your struggles. There is nothing that He can’t do for you, or heal you of. Approach Him tonight, beg Him for grace, go to confession, and begin a new in His love and mercy. He adores you.

Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy. – Jesus to Saint Faustina.

You are not the sum of your sins, but the sum of your Father’s love for you. – Blessed John Paul II

YES! I’M TALKING ABOUT…

YOU.

The Father loves you! You have immense worth, as His daughter! You are valuable! You are lovable! You are made in His Image. Look in the mirror and say that ten times tonight. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it, say it anyway. And keep repeating the exercise daily. I use to do that, I still do. And guess what? Today I believe it, and I desire for you to believe it too.

We will be back Monday, with a special post from Matt Fradd, on this same topic. Please check back and enjoy the weekend! MIHI is praying for you!