By Paul Strand, CBN News Senior Washington Correspondent
It’s pornography, it’s a booming industry, and now it’s a growing addiction for tens of millions of Americans.
You’d think this would mostly be a problem for men since they’re so much more easily stimulated by the visual. But the internet has also found ways to ensnare women in the vice of pornography.
COMPLETELY, INSTANTLY AVAILABLE
“Sandi” became an early victim of internet porn.
She told CBN News, “Women in particular would not be found walking into an adult book store to buy hard-core pornography. And the internet just makes it completely, instantly available to anyone.”
Patrick Carnes, the country’s leading researcher on porn and sex addiction, stated, “The reality is to think of it as a male problem is a mistake.”
Dr. Doug Rosenau, a sex therapist mainly to the Christian community, agrees with Carnes.
“Sexual sin and sexual brokenness is not a male issue,” he said.
Sandi’s problem’s began when she got her first computer in 1996.
“I quickly discovered that you could find pornography,” she said, “that you could find all sorts of erotic stories.”
But what really hooked Sandi was when she discovered chat rooms, instant messaging and an online lover.
“We would talk about all kinds of sexual topics and we would share different website addresses where we would basically be looking at pornographic websites together and talk about what we were seeing,” Sandi revealed. “And then the other aspect of it that was really destructive for me is that it became addictive in and of itself.”
HOOKED AT NINE YEARS OLD
“Brandy” is a young woman who became hopelessly hooked as a child on the porn she discovered in her parents’ bedroom.
“Between the ages of nine and 13 was definitely when I was immersed in that,” she said. “It desensitized me to what was appropriate sexuality.”
And that led her to start what she clearly now sees as a number of inappropriate and regrettable sexual relationships.
“I was definitely assertive and the initiator,” she said. “I look back and I think ‘look at the boys and the guys that I took their innocence.'”
Brandy pointed out, “Even though I had accepted Christ and started walking with Him when I was 15, I still had no idea and no one who had taught me what healthy sexuality looked like.”
She summed up, “What I was experiencing in pornography…it just desensitizes you to what is pure and what’s healthy and what’s supposed to be.”
WOMEN 40% OF ONLINE SEX ADDICTS
Addiction expert Patrick Carnes revealed a startling statistic about sex addicts: “Especially on the internet, what we found is 40 percent of them are women.”
Therapist Rosenau warned, “Never take for granted there would be a person that would never get into an affair, never get into internet pornography.”
Salt Lake City therapist Dan Gray counsels many female porn addicts.
He said of women, “They get into the internet chat rooms and find emotional connection — which is mostly what they’re looking for — which then leads to sexual impropriety.”
This world can suck you in, even those who think sexual addiction couldn’t happen to them.
Sandi revealed, “I’d been a Christian for a long time, but I found that I didn’t have control over this part of my life.”
“You feel guilty because of activities that you’re doing on the internet,” she added, “but you don’t feel like you can give them up. And so the guilt separates you from the Lord.”
CBN News traveled to Laguna Beach, California, because it’s home to Steve Arterburn, one of Christian America’s most popular radio talk-show hosts.
He says many more of the calls to his show now involve sex addiction, and many more of the calls come from women.
“There are so many women who are trapped,” Arterburn said, “and didn’t have any idea that they were going to get into trouble with just this little going online, going to a chat room with other men.”
JUSTIFYING THEIR ADDICTION
Arterburn told CBN News many of his callers try justifying their cybersex addiction.
“You can’t maybe as a Christian woman in a small community go out and get drunk at the local bar, but you can go online and no one will know,” he said. “And many times she’ll rationalize and say ‘well, I don’t know this person. I’m not having physical contact with this person. So it must not be all that bad.'”
But often these cyber-relationships escalate and end up causing real pain in the real world. One study shows a third of divorces now are caused by problems that started with one of the spouses messing around online.
Arterburn said of some of these divorced women, “They end up meeting some guy and having sex with him and totally violating everything that they ever thought that they would never do in their marriage.”
One study suggests almost 80 percent of the women who get hooked on a cyber-sex partner go on to make contact with the person in the real world.
Therapist Rosenau said, “These women at times will lose everything that’s important — their family, their husband, their children.”
And many other women bear internal scars from their immersion in cyber-sex or porn.
“Because I feel that I was so hypersexualized as a young child, I still struggle,” Brandy revealed. “Part of my fear is that in the future, what’s going to happen when I become married or get in a relationship with my husband — are these images going to pop back up? Am I going to have to fight through sin that happened 10 years ago?”
CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
Rosensau stated, “It’s still so much more of a stigma for women that there’s just this conspiracy of silence around female addiction.”
But Brandy says there is an answer — one she has found.
“The key is being honest before God, because He knows what’s happening anyway,” she said. “And He is actually weeping and mournful and grieving that you’re experiencing this and that you’re running to something so false compared to what He has to offer.”
“God says for us to avoid any hint of sexual immorality,” Arterburn stated. “And He’s trying to protect us there for something far better than you could ever find on the internet.”
“There is hope,” Sandy added. “Help is available.”
- Get resources to help women addicted to porn: www.christianwomenandporn.com/pornography-addiction-resources
- Use filters and accountability for your computer and devices: www.christianwomenandporn.com/using-computer-filters-and-software-to-break-free-from-pornography