Several months ago, I opened the floor for women to write in and share their struggles with pornography in a series entitled “In Her Own Words.”
It’s one thing for me to tell people these women exist; it’s an entirely different thing altogether for these women to have a platform to be heard, even if only anonymously.
Stories are important.
Yes, there is room for research and statistics, and I fully support both in this field. However, that’s not my approach to this issue. My approach is to connect people because, let’s face it, not many of us like statistics. We don’t like studying them in school and we certainly don’t like being them. Entire businesses are run by the idea of treating people like people, not numbers. I believe the same.
No matter what the statistics say, we’re not going to change until a statistic starts to mess with our story. I see this all the time. For the most part, a pastor isn’t going to look for resources for women until the woman who needs it is sitting across from him. A counselor doesn’t study up on the issue until women walk through the door. That’s not a dig; that’s simply how we are as people.
That’s why the first book I wrote wasn’t a resource; it was my story.
“In Her Own Words” gives women a chance to step forward and share their stories here, in a safe place, anonymously, as a way of starting toward healing.
Many responded- few actually shared their story.
If it’s hard for women to share their stories with me (a stranger, but a publicly-identified former addict), then imagine how much harder it would be for them to share with people they know.
The following is one such story. The original author is not a native English speaker. Her name has been changed and the story edited for readability.
I am from Egypt (Excuse me for my poor english). I have struggled with masturbation & porn for 7 years now. I shared my struggle with my church pastor 3 years ago. It was scary for me but he was not shocked and encouraged me to invest more time with God. He always told me not to focus on my falls but on God.
He advised me to enjoy healthy relationships but I am horrible in relationships. I am not kidding. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I never had an intimate friend with who I can share my deep thoughts and struggles.
I always tell my pastor: “I still fall and my trigger is stress.”
But I never told him how this addiction started, the sexual abuse I faced 10 years ago, the constant quarrels between my parents.
I only told him that I feel I don’t want to marry, but I did not explain.
I always fail at talking about my feelings and it ends up in awkward silence. I guess I don’t want to marry because I consider my parent’s marriage a failure. They always quarrel and they talk badly about each other when I am alone with him/her. I feel they are victims of each other!
Obviously, neither of my parents is happy. I don’t know what is wrong with their marriage and what could they have done to make it better.
My mother left her job and stayed at home for me and my brother, but in the end, I am a porn addict and she and I are not close enough for me to share this with her.
Regarding my relationship with God; I feel alone and disconnected exactly as you said in “Mercy for the fallen
Perhaps you make it out of obligation, trudge over to your Bible and flop it open to something “easy.” Your eyes scan the pages, but all it is is black and white text. Two chapters- done. You shut the cover. What was that you just read?
I have not visited my pastor for a long time but I feel a deep need for sharing and advice.
But also I feel too afraid to communicate the guy’s issue and all other issues (the strange feelings and the disgusting scenes I remember when thinking about marriage, my broken family, my past) I never talked with anyone about any of these issues before.
I feel I am a huge burden on my pastor hearing my drama and that’s why I don’t visit him for help.
Thank you Jessica for hearing my story.
In Chione’s story, you can see the many layers that can be present in a woman’s story. It’s never just about pornography and masturbation. There can be causes and effects that need to be addressed too.
Part of helping women find freedom is to walk with them through the healing of all of these different layers.
Imagine a woman’s story like a tangled ball of yarn. The only way you untangle it quickly is with scissors… and we don’t want to do that. So, healing can be a long process as you take hold of one end (that being the woman sitting in front of you) and begin to trace it through.
It can feel like a burden. It can feel like “drama” as Chione said. It requires patience and gentleness and assurance that she is safe and not burdening you.
If you are walking with a woman through this journey, it’s important that you remember it’s her story, not yours. Let her tell it, in her way and in her time. Let her know that healing can, and does, take time.