It’s been well over a year since I first saw a news clip featuring Bethany MacDonald of the Naked Truth Project. Bethany was bravely sharing her story of porn addiction on the news and I remember feeling so encouraged. Here was another young woman on a different continent speaking up.
Take heart those of you who are frustrated by lack of resources. The conversation is starting.
Last year, Bethany and I got to sit down a video chat. We shared our stories and talked about how we are impacting women in our own ways. I wanted to take the opportunity today to introduce you to her (and her neat accent). The next post will highlight Naked Truth’s program, “Click to Kick.”
My name is Bethany MacDonald, 25, married to a wonderful Scottish man called Gav. We’re based in Manchester UK and moved down here from Scotland to work with Naked Truth Project. My official job title is Youth and Schools Worker so I spend a lot of time in schools educating young people, training teachers but also get involved in a lot of the wider charity work and help with educating parents and running our recovery programmes.
I was first exposed to porn by accident when I was around 10 years old.
I remember searching something fairly innocent and then being bombarded with these images of naked female bodies – I’d never seen anything like it before and I was captivated. As a young girl, I felt empowered and excited and like I’d finally grown up. I wanted to look like them and be like them!
Very quickly, this turned into regularly looking for images and videos which landed me on porn sites. I knew that this was probably what my parents were trying to block with their filters and when they talked to me about “online safety.” I made sure that I covered up as best as I could by deleting internet history, sneaking down at night and using private browsers.
As a teenager, I made the amazing decision to give my life to Jesus. I loved him and I loved what He was doing in the lives of my friends around me and I was so hungry to get to know him more. In 2010, I went to University in Scotland and, through a crazy (and God-guided!) series of events and changes, ended up studying Theology. I got plugged in to an amazing local church and the Christian Union on campus and threw myself into Church to lead worship, Bible Studies, mentoring, youth group, prayer meetings.
And yet, in the dark, my porn use was growing and thriving.
I felt so guilty. So dirty. So unfeminine. And those lies and insecurities meant that I kept going back for more. I thought that there was something wrong with me because I’d only ever heard porn talked about as an issue for boys. I believed that I would never be in a relationship with anyone so resigned myself to continue looking at porn – that’s all I believed I was worth.
Eventually, at a student weekend away during worship, it all came crashing down. I couldn’t hold this façade anymore and I felt a spiritual battle raging inside of me. After arguing with myself as to why I should never tell anyone, I spotted my small group leader and I knew that I had to tell her.
Before I could change my mind, I ran (literally sprinted!) across the room and poured out my heart to her. It was messy and ugly and there were tears and snot but as I spoke and shared my battle, I felt such relief.
Then the most significant thing happened. She put her arm around me and said “Oh, Bethany” and held me. In that moment, the dirtiness, the hurt, the fear and the pain was lifted. I had told her and she hadn’t rejected me. Wow.
She shared how this had actually been a battle for her and how she’d cried out to God to use her and to not let her struggle be in vain. That was the first step in my recovery. Over the coming years it was difficult.
I hoped telling someone would fix it all but it was hard work.
I had to avoid certain people, places, devices, websites and times that triggered me. I had to learn the art of discipline and self-control. I had to pray and confess over and over but, slowly, as I started to peel back the layers and allow God to speak into my heart, he dug out the roots that had been laid down in previous years. Things that I hadn’t thought about for a long time; painful memories, hurtful words, vulnerable moments. He started to replace lies with truth and restored what had been stolen.
What encouragement would you offer a female struggler?
- When you feel disgusting, it’s a lie.
- When you feel alone, it’s a lie.
- When you feel rejected, it’s a lie.
Porn is a big fat liar and part of your journey as someone who struggles with pornography is to find the truth. Where can you find truth?! Is there such a thing as life-giving truth?! It’s only truly found in Jesus and He WANTS to help if you’re willing to offer up your life. All of it. All
of the mess. All of the hurt. All of the memories. Once you let Him in, then the
work can begin…..
Also, TELL SOMEONE! Find someone who champions you in other areas of your life and loves you. Even though everything within you wants to keep this in the dark and you’re scared of what they might think about you, you need to tell them.
Light overcomes the darkness and the power of sharing with just one other person is the start of your healing.
In the next post, Bethany is going to introduce us to Naked Truth’s revolutionary program: Click to Kick.
This post is the first in a series I haven’t even introduced yet called “In Her Own Words.” It will be an opportunity for women from all ages and backgrounds to share their stories of struggle.