Guest Post: Finding Accountability When You’re A Woman Struggling with SSA
“I know you say to tell a woman about your porn problem, but what do you do if you’re attracted to women?”
That question, in some form, kept popping up in my inbox recently. I had just finished writing about accountability. One of the keys I always stress for women trying to find help is that it is often better for them to tell a woman. There are a few reasons for this, one of which is, if a man offers to help a woman with her porn problem, he runs the risk of becoming something I call “emotional pornography.” I write about that here.
Which is all fine, well and good, and makes sense. A male-female sexual accountability relationship can easily run into dangerous territory, unless of course, the female is attracted to females.
Would it actually be better for a SSA woman to be accountable to a man?
I didn’t really have an answer for that. In fact, it stumped me. I could clearly see why these women were writing in feeling a little hopeless. They wanted to tell someone, but they didn’t want that relationship to make their struggles worse.
Same sex attraction (SSA) is not part of my story. At one point, I believed I might be transgender, but I was never sexually attracted to women. That being said, I felt a little inadequate to offer any sort of help. So, I reached out to a friend who does have this as part of her story.
Amy struggled with pornography and SSA as a married woman, so I am going to let her share her thoughts on how to find accountability for a porn problem when you also struggle with SSA.
To be clear. This is not a conversation about finding accountability for SSA itself. That entire topic is a different discussion and not what is being addressed here. This is a specific answer to specific questions raised by Christian female readers who are wanting to get help overcoming porn and also who struggle with being sexually attracted to women.
Without further adieu, here’s Amy:
When I first confessed to my husband and pastors that I was struggling with pornography, I had
no idea what to do next. My husband was understandably hurt and in shock. My pastors never
had a woman confess a porn addiction to them, so they didn’t know what to do with me.
On top of everything else, I was unsure how to admit to anyone I had been watching lesbian porn.
I wasn’t watching it because it was less violent. I was watching it because I had been struggling with same-sex attraction for a very long time and pornography was my hidden outlet for it. The more pornography I saw, the more I fantasized and struggled with lust toward other women. I was stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle.
I decided to look for help, and I eventually found a resource online for women. I joined their
group where we could discuss our struggles with pornography and find accountability with one another. I was so excited to have found this group as a means of accountability and support, but there was one huge problem…
I quickly realized that reading other women’s confessions about their struggles with pornography and masturbation was a huge trigger for me.
Now I felt like an even bigger freak, because I couldn’t handle being in a group of women talking about their temptations. Our struggles were similar, but they suddenly felt so different. I felt too much shame to explain that to anyone, so I just quietly left the group.
The fantasies I had running through my mind seemed impossible for me to stop. Looking back, I had friends I could have talked to, but (like many of us) I was afraid of being rejected and misunderstood.
I was convinced I would scare my friends away if I told them.
If they honestly understood the details of what I had been immersing myself in, I figured they would run away. I didn’t know how I could possibly reach out for accountability when I really needed it. I had already spent years distancing myself from other women as it was, because I was afraid of my own feelings toward them.
I would have been much more comfortable seeking out accountability with a man. I felt like I saw women the same way they did.
I didn’t want to go that route, though. Discussing my struggles with porn, fantasy, and masturbation didn’t seem like the wisest thing to do with a man. I did try to talk to my husband, but that caused more friction than anything in the beginning. He was understandably hurt, and every reference I made to pornography caused him to feel even more rejected. This left me in quite a predicament.
I spent the next couple of years without an accountability partner. Quite honestly, I believe I
made everything so much more difficult for myself by not reaching out to someone. I continued to find myself buried in shame instead of taking the chance of being transparent with someone else about what I was going through.
I eventually met a woman at my church, and after getting to know her I decided to tell her some of my story. She was my mom’s age, so I felt more comfortable talking to her. We started meeting together on a regular basis.
Thankfully, due to our age difference, I didn’t have the same fears of her not wanting to be around me anymore or the fear of becoming attracted to her in the process of sharing my heart with her.
Since starting my blog in 2010, many of the women who reach out to me struggle with same- sex attraction in addition to pornography.
Maybe this is something you experience as well. This can not only add an extra layer of shame to the mix, but it can be even more challenging to find safe and effective accountability.
Far too often, women forsake accountability all together, because they don’t know where to turn.
When someone experiences same-sex attraction and is also in need of accountability, it can be challenging; but I have found it to be an incredibly valuable and worthwhile decision.
These are some thoughts and suggestions that can help point you in the direction of safe and effective accountability if you need an accountability partner:
Do not have male accountability partner
I get it. If you aren’t attracted to men, then what is the harm of having one as an accountability
partner? Maybe you feel safe and more comfortable talking to a man, because you won’t become emotionally bonded by discussing personal details with him.
My hesitation is what could be going on in his heart if you called him one day to tell him you were feeling tempted. Most men would have great difficulty with that one, even with the best of
intentions. An exception would be if you have a male therapist you have been talking to who is a trained professional in this area. That is more of a counseling scenario, though, rather than an accountability partner who you may have more spontaneous contact with throughout the week.
Maybe the only person you know and trust to confide in is your pastor, who is a man. I would
recommend telling him a little bit to give him a general idea of what is going on. Then, hopefully, he can refer you to a woman you can share the details with.
Find a trustworthy and compassionate older woman
Maybe you have found it too humiliating to tell a woman your own age that you are struggling
with porn and wrestling with same-sex attraction at the same time.
Like me, you may think if another woman your age found out what you were truly watching, she would hit the road. If you struggle with same-sex attraction, it can be easy to bond very quickly and become emotionally enmeshed with other women when talking about temptations and other intimate matters. I have found that choosing an older woman to confide in can often help safeguard you from much of this.
Maybe you know someone, but she appears to have never struggled with pornography or same-sex attraction. That’s ok! The woman who counseled me had never experienced either one of these struggles. She was able to help me because she was wise, compassionate, trustworthy, she prayed for me, challenged me, and she continually pointed me to Jesus.
What about your female friends?
If you have a friend you feel could hold you accountable, that’s great! She may know of your situation and be compassionate to what you are going through, and diligent to ask you the tough questions you need to be asked along the way.
My only caution would be to not choose a friend you are attracted to.
Forming a deep bond by sharing intimate details of a porn struggle with someone you are attracted to is a disaster waiting to happen. At the very least, you may find yourself telling her intimate details of your struggle for the wrong reason. This would be counterproductive to your healing and not be healthy for either one of you.
Maybe you have a friend you are not attracted to, but the closeness built by talking about your pornography struggle starts to become a temptation for you. If this happens, please do not let shame bury you. This does not mean you are a perverted freak who needs serious help. I have been there and know how it feels.
On more than one occasion, when a friendship of mine started to go deeper, I would sometimes have a sexual thought or dream about her. That’s where my mind and heart used to automatically go when building a closer relationship with another woman. I learned to take a step back for a while, and all of that would soon pass.
If you start to feel tempted in that way, preserve your friendship by taking a step back for a while and see if there might be someone else you could confide in. Find someone who will not encourage you (directly or indirectly) to become dependent on her but instead someone who will continually point you to Jesus. I have had a few different people speak into my life in this area over the years. They all have different personalities and styles, but they all provided valuable accountability for me along the way.
Keep your eyes open for any groups (online or in your community) for women
As the awareness grows regarding women struggling with pornography, groups like this are slowly starting to become more common. They provide an excellent opportunity to be accountable and transparent with a group of women with similar struggles.
I thought I would have to remain at arms’ length from women for the rest of my life in order to not lust after or fantasize about them.
As I started to find freedom from pornography and lust, I was able to gradually form close relationships with some of the women who are my closest friends today. I can also sit down over a cup of coffee and talk with another woman about her struggles, and it does not affect my heart like it used to. That’s something I never thought I could have.
I recently wrote a book about my story called, “Longing for Intimacy: Hope for Women
Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction” if you are interested in more of my story.
This has been a long journey, but God has done so much in my heart as I have learned how to grab a hold of the grace He has had for me every step of the way. No matter what you have done or what your struggle looks like, you are not alone, and His grace is also available for you.
Thank you, Amy!
If this is your story, I hope you understand that you are not alone, and that you can find help. The added issues of SSA don’t have to keep you from being able to enjoy the benefits of community! As Amy says, as awareness grows, there are a growing number of resources for women from all backgrounds. If you are uncomfortable reaching out to someone in your church to get help because you’re afraid of the added shame, I encourage you to reach out to Amy or to Lacy Bentley at REAL Love Recovery.