by Kindsey D. Smith
Suzie looks down, fighting back the tears as her mind processes what her husband George (names have been changed) had just said. “I’m done being a father and I’m done being a husband” is something that Suzie never thought she would hear when she and George married seven years ago. Why would George do such a thing? Where did this begin? The answer, she learned, was one word: pornography.
It turns out that very first time George viewed pornography was at the age of 6. By the age of 13, he was addicted. George isn’t alone in this addiction. According to studies on Internet sex addictions, there are about 4.2 million pornographic web sites (12% of total sites on the web). Daily pornographic search engine requests range up to approximately 68 million (25% of total search engine requests). In 2006, the world-wide pornography industry’s estimated revenue was $97 billion. The United States is responsible for $13.3 billion of that revenue. In fact, the market for sexually explicit media is largely responsible for the success of the Internet.
What happens on the screen stays in the family
This addiction is harming millions of families around us. When one is addicted to pornography, virtual becomes reality, negatively affecting intimacy and marital harmony. According to Kimberly S. Young, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, pornography becomes a way for people to self-medicate to temporarily escape from stressors in their life. “Eventually there becomes a lack in sexual intimacy in partners because of the unrealistic expectation that pornography gives. Partners often tend to feel hurt, betrayed, rejected, abandoned, and experience a loss in self- esteem.”
Many researchers have linked pornography with dissatisfaction in family life. Consumption of pornography causes stress and diminishes affection within a family. It changes the perceptions and sexual expectations of the user. One user, a 52 year old lawyer, explains:
“I wasn’t the kind of man to look at pornography. Maybe when I was younger, but it wasn’t something I had to seek out. One night while working late, I stumbled onto an adult website. Soon after, I was completely hooked. Every time I felt stressed with another deadline at work or assigned a new case, I relaxed by looking at porn sites. I started to miss meetings, miss important deadlines, and I stayed late at the office. Every spare minute I had I was looking at porn. I tried to stop. I kept promising myself I would never do it again. I’d quit for a while, and the process would start all over again until one of the partners discovered my habit. I lost my job, my marriage, everything that was important to me.”
Among couples affected by a spouse’s addiction; two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
Meanwhile in the lives of our children…
Today, technology is everywhere, and its reach grows daily. Information is more accessible; with the click of a button inside our pockets we can conveniently reach our emails. We can live video chat with people around the world! It is amazing how much we can do with the technology that we have today. However, some research suggests that this has led to compulsive internet use.
Adolescents have a natural curiosity of sexual behavior and for centuries they have turned to sexually explicit materials to gratify that curiosity. Viewing porn on the Internet gives young people a distorted image of sexual intimacy and what healthy relationships should be. One study suggested that teens being exposed to sexually explicit material increases the likelihood that both males and females will engage in oral sex as well as sexual intercourse at an earlier age. 66% of males and about 39% of female adolescence reported that by the age of 14, they had been exposed to sexually explicit material in the previous year. 90% admitted to having oral sex, and 88% admitted to sexual intercourse.
So what can we do? How can we keep pornography out of our homes and be protected from it when it is everywhere? First, be aware of the signs of pornography use, such as routinely spending significant amounts of time in chat rooms and private messaging, hiding online interactions from significant others, being less invested in relationships with real-life sexual partners. Don’t wait until the addiction has already started. Be proactive. Some steps include couples and families sharing social media accounts; filters on computers and blocking content on the T.V. Actively do what you must to protect your family and your home from this scourge.