By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Kendal was only 6 years old. He remembers how much he admired the teenage boy. He was athletic, popular, and seemed to really enjoy spending time with Kendal. While Kendal’s parents were often occupied with all the younger children, the attention from the older boy was wonderful. He was nice to Kendal, while his father’s anger struck fear into him.
The abuse was quick. The boy took him out to the barn and molested him. It was confusing, but Kendal didn’t know what to do. He was in shock. He also didn’t want to lose the boy’s attention or somehow make him angry. He just froze.
It occurred several more times, until finally the boy moved away. Kendal moved on with his young life and put the memory out of his mind. However, he began struggling with serious anxiety issues. His parents took him to a counselor, and he was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He appeared to be very sensitive and emotional. Every day seemed to be a challenge getting Kendal to school. His parents had no idea that he had experienced the molestation. He simply lived with the memory by himself.
Finally Kendal found some relief when he was exposed to pornography at eleven years old. It provided both a rush of adrenaline and a sense of relaxation. This sensation was escalated when he learned to masturbate while watching the pornography. He was suddenly able to calm himself. He could escape from his anxiety-ridden life, into images of people getting close to one another. It didn’t matter that the people in the images reminded him of the abuse. The whole experience pacified his anxiety and helped him to function every day.
Kendal’s use of pornography as a way to escape, escalated over the next several years. He found himself hopelessly addicted. By the time Kendal turned nineteen, he was leaving home to work in the porn industry as an actor. He had turned to drugs and alcohol. Sometimes he was even soliciting himself as a prostitute.
Although sexual abuse doesn’t necessarily cause pornography addiction, it definitely leaves a child vulnerable. By current estimates, the majority of those who use pornography are between the age of twelve and seventeen.1 Similarly, 93% of all boys and 62% of all girls have been exposed to online porn before they each eighteen.2 Most people don’t even realize that the world of pornography is filled with drugs, abuse, and rape.3
The majority of those who struggle with pornography addiction do not have the devastating consequences that Kendal experienced. But pornography addiction creates painful consequences that occur gradually over time. It changes the brain to make it more difficult for someone to function emotionally and socially. Additionally, changes to the prefrontal cortex often cause someone to become more impulsive.
There is hope for those struggling with pornography addiction. You can find freedom from this problem and it’s devastating impact on your life. However, you must be prepared to come out of isolation. What can you do? Find support. There are thousands of support programs and ministries throughout the nation. Simply reach out and take a risk. It may generate fear to start sharing, but it’s worth it. You’ll be on the road to recovery.
If you are a struggling with pornography addiction in Mesa Arizona, call us for a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist who specializes in these complex issues. We can help: (480) 668-8301.
1 Presentation by Clay Olson, 2013, Arizona Coalition Against Pornography, “Fight the New Drug."
2 “Teens and Porn: Ten Stats You Need to Know,” by L August 19, 2010, Covenant Eyes.
3 “Get the Facts – Porn Harms in Three Ways,” by Clay Olson, Fight the New Drug.