By Morgan Bowser, Citizens For Decency Contributor.
I was eleven years old when I first became exposed to pornography, which seems young, but many recent studies are indicating the age of pornography exposure is getting younger and younger. For years, I did not even realize what I was doing and what was happening to the development of my brain. I suffered with an addiction to pornography for seven years before I even understood that I was addicted. You see, up until a church lesson that I had at the age of eighteen, I felt like pornography was simply just bad pictures in magazines. That was all I had been told. When I was told that pornography was on our smart devices, computers, and even the television shows and movies we watch, I realized I had a problem.
I was devastated. I remember at the age of twelve writing a list of things I swore I would never do. Viewing pornography was one of those things, but here I was six years later realizing that not only had I done that, but I had purposefully sought it out. I was confused for a long time and did not know where to go for help. I felt like I could not tell anyone because it was viewed as such an immoral and inhumane habit. But, I needed help. I was still young and was not mature enough to handle my impulses to view pornography on my own. Battling any kind of addiction alone is impossible.
After a year of hard work I can say that I successfully worked through my issues with pornography, however what I did not realize is that it was not over. Something I wish I would have realized is that sobriety is a lifelong journey. I thought it was over and I let my guard down and over time I once again found myself back into this dangerous spot. I still struggled to work through impulses – I was so discouraged in myself. I felt like I could not change or be different, I came to a point that I believed this was just how my life was going to go, a forever addict to pornography.
I do not share my story lightly, it is my hope that we can all learn something-- those who are struggling with an addiction to pornography, those who are dealing with a loved one’s addiction, and even just the community members who may not be familiar with addiction to pornography.
The first thing I want to highlight from my story is the importance of teaching our children clearly about pornography and what it is. I suffered for many years during the years where my brain was developing a great deal and I never even realized it. Children are being exposed to pornography at a young age where they cannot even fully comprehend what it is or how it is negatively impacting the development of the brain. This is why it is important as parents to teach and educate our children from a young age. But we cannot just teach them, we must follow up, we must be there to answer their questions, and we must teach clearly.
The second thing I want to highlight is the idea that sobriety is a lifelong process. While I can say I live a sober lifestyle from pornography now, I cannot say that it is not something I am often tempted to do. While the temptations have decreased they are still there. I am much better at navigating these temptations and even avoiding situations where I may be tempted in the first place. It is something I actively have to be aware of. I have made a lot of changes to my lifestyle. But, it is still a fight I have to endure. Recovery is a lifelong battle, one that requires a great deal of courage and strength. One that requires empathy and unconditional support.
Pornography is an evil in our world today that is taking heart in many innocent victims. I have hope that as we continue to educate ourselves about theses dangers and the effects they have, we will be more prepared to help the future generations avoid this plague. As we strive to educate others, to compassionately understand those who suffer from this plague, and seek to heal them as we would those with a physical ailment, we will be empowered to see lasting change in our homes and communities.
Written by Morgan Bowser, Citizens For Decency Contributor
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