Understanding P0rnography Addiction
by RI Editors
This essay in our Peculiar Minds series is by Dr. Kevin Skinner.
Do you have a loved one who might be stuck in p0rnography? Are you wondering what warning signs to look for if someone is trapped in p0rnography? How should you respond after you discover a loved one’s involvement in p0rnography?
Maybe you just want to know whether there is any hope for a recovery. In this short essay, I will provide a few thoughts and ideas, based on my work.
While there is no one thing that would indicate that a loved one has an addiction to p0rnography, there are specific signs for which you can look. These include:
- Hiding Internet behaviors—Not allowing others to see or use the computer, using a password to protect the computer, and/or quickly changing screens when someone enters the room.
- Spending significant alone time randomly surfing the Internet or watching excessive amounts of TV—It may seem harmless to randomly surf the Internet, but hours of useless surfing leads to trouble in many situations.
- Emotional disconnection—Individuals trapped in p0rnography often disappear emotionally. Their loved ones will say things like, “When he is home, it is like is he is still gone.”
- Change in sexual patterns or behaviors—One of the common warning signs is a change in the bedroom. Some individuals become more assertive, (e.g. want sex all the time, want to act the way they see it done) or they may be unable to perform in bed.
- Mood swings—P0rnography alters moods. Individuals who are caught up in p0rnography report that their moods change before viewing (anticipating what they are going to do) and afterwards (more irritable and upset).
- Multiple addictions—Many individuals trapped in p0rnography struggle with more than just p0rnography. Other common examples include: food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, and/or intense activities.
Individually these signs might not be that big of a red flag. However, if your loved one struggles with multiple bullet points above, you might have reason to be concerned.
How to Respond to a Loved One Addicted to P0rn
If your loved one suffers with an addiction to p0rnography, it is important first to look inside yourself. You may want to strangle him, but that isn’t a good option for his long-term recovery. You will want to begin by searching within your own heart. How is his behavior influencing you day-to-day? How are you dealing with your hurt, pain, or feelings of betrayal? Once you have answered these questions, you will be better prepared to help your loved one.
Here are four suggestions to help you better respond:
- Upon first discovery do not make important decisions. You really need to take some time to process the information your loved one has shared with you. Once you have a better understanding of his history of involvement and how he responds now that you know, you can then make a better, more informed decision.
- Listen to him and his story—It is important to truly understand and seek information. Most women are really good at this. However, discovering a partner’s involvement in p0rnography is a very difficult emotional experience. Once you pull yourself out of the emotional pain, listen to what he is saying. Ask him about his history and how long he has been involved. Who has he told over the years? What does he want to about his problem?
- Encourage with love—This is perhaps the most difficult way to respond to discovering a loved one’s involvement in p0rnography. P0rnography triggers powerful emotions in everyone, not just the individual caught up in it. Your challenge is to find a deeper love for him so that you can encourage him with love. One woman put it this way, “When I first discovered my husband’s actions, I yelled and screamed at him. However, as time went by I realized he had been living in his own nightmare. This realization helped me have more compassion on him, even though I hated what it did to him and his lies.” Loving words include: “I will be by your side as long as you are trying. I believe you can do this because I have seen you do hard things, and I love you and my desire is for us to be together as you work towards recovery.”
- Have expectations/establish boundaries—After discovering your loved one’s involvement in p0rn, you need to have expectations. These might include: seeking professional treatment, attending a 12-step group, talking with a religious leader for extra support and guidance, reducing vulnerable times, cutting back on internet use, getting a filter or accountability program on the computer, and/or finding a sponsor.
Your response really does matter. Initially, your emotions may be all over the place both up and down. This is normal. However, as you step back and analyze the situation, you can establish clear expectations, demonstrate love, listen, and understand him, avoiding making a hasty decision about your relationship.
Is there hope?
Many women ask me whether there is hope for their loved one involved in p0rnography. My answer is always: YES! Over the years I have found that those trapped in p0rnography want out. Unfortunately, many of them don’t know where to start or how to get help. When they begin to take action and seek help they can make great progress. Here’s a list of seven things that people in recovery generally do in the recovery process:
- Learn about the recovery process
- Become accountable
- Develop a recovery game plan
- Create meaningful connections
- Learn how to regulate emotions
- Have a positive focus
- Develop healthy habits
Over the years I have witnessed many individuals and couples work through the recovery process. It requires much effort and there will be many painful days. However, the price of healing and recovery is worth it. When a couple sits down in my office and looks into each other’s eyes with love for each other after months of counseling and other recovery activities, I realize that there is hope — I have seen it firsthand. It is possible!
Dr. Kevin Skinner is the clinical director at Addo Recovery, a center that offers clinical treatment for pornography and sexual addiction. The center offers a unique online support for women dealing with their partner’s sexual addiction. Dr. Skinner is the author of Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery. He has developed many other resources for individuals and couples seeking extra support in the recovery process. You can learn more about him and his work at www.treatingpornographyaddiction.com.
The Entire Series
- Forum – Is Mental Illness a Latter Day Plague?
- Resources (research)
- Resources for Help with Mental Illness by Paul
- Understanding PTSD by Robin Grosland
- Anxiety Disorders, Including PTSD (research)
- The Diagnosis by anonymous
- Understanding Asperger’s by Kathy Ward
- Understanding Dementia by Cassandra Jones
- Different Issues for Children (research)
- Asperger’s and Autism (research)
- Simply Depression by Jendoop
- How to Help Someone Who is Depressed: an LDS perspective by Sarah Hancock
- Forum – Does Committing Suicide Consign Someone to Hell?
- The Well of Depression by Cheryl
- Panic, OCD, Grandma and Me by NotMolly
- Understanding Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and OCD by Robison Wells
- Free at Last by anonymous
- Forum – No One Wants to Hear They’re Wrong
- Understanding P0rnography Addiction by Dr. Kevin Skinner
- What is Real? Living Without Diagnosis by anonymous
- A Reader’s Story of Hope by anonymous
- Understanding Bipolar II Disorder by Tresa Edmunds (Reese Dixon)
- What is Bipolar Disorder? (research)
- Choosing Treatment through Revelation by Bonnie
- Overcoming Anxiety and Depression Without Medication by Aaron Anderson
- How Do We Embrace Those with Mental Illness by Jendoop
- What is Schizophrenia? (research)
- Understanding Schizophrenia by Judy Hall
- Understanding a Roommate with Schizophrenia by anonymous
- Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder by Melissa Horsley
- My Path Down the Rabbit Hole by anonymous
- Mental Illness FHE Lesson by Jendoop
- Healing by Michelle