By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT
A true account from December 2013
The group of teenage boys was all sitting in a circle. It was a weekly meeting for “Band of Brothers,” a pornography addiction program geared for adolescent boys. They were all quiet as Dave explained his situation. It was only his second visit to group. He was scared. At fourteen years old, he was the youngest member of the group. He hesitated a bit as the therapist asked, “What do you need to feel safe in here?”
He thought for a moment and said, “I need to know you guys aren’t going to joke about my problems. This is embarrassing.” His eyes were filling with tears, but he tried to maintain his tough image. He said nothing more in fear that he would start crying. The therapist spoke to everyone: “How many of you would be willing to promise that you wouldn’t judge or joke about Dave’s problems?”
Every hand was up. The boys were used to hearing about embarrassing struggles and had learned to encourage one another. An older boy asked Dave a question: “Dave… are there boys at school that have made fun of you? (pause)… Because we don’t do that here.”
Dave paused then said, “Sort of.” It was obvious he was holding back a quivering lip. With confidence the therapist stepped in: “Dave… why don’t you try an experiment here to see if these guys can be trusted. Can you explain to them why Christmas was so hard last month?”
Dave sighed and looked around while twelve gangly boys leaned in to listen: “When I was young my dad would drink a lot. He hit me and scared me sometimes. He would scream and tell me that I was causing all the problems at home.” He took a difficult breath as the tears began to trickle out. “The next morning he would always ask me why I had bruises on my face and arms. He never remembered that he was beating me. But it happened a lot. My mom eventually sent me away to protect me and live with my grandma. No one was hitting me but I missed my parents.”
The group was listening intently. “So last month on Christmas Eve my dad called me. I hadn’t heard from him in years… and he actually said that he loved me.” The tears were now uncontrollable as he continued describing the experience.
Dave: “I was so happy to hear him say that he loved me. I wanted to hear that my whole life. Finally he liked me!! (pause) The next morning… my mom called and said that he died. He died that very night. Christmas morning! I just wanted him to love me… I wanted to be good enough… and now he’s dead.”
The group was silent except for the quiet sobbing of Dave. At this moment one of the older boys who was a senior in high school and extremely athletic, stood up and walked over next to Dave. He put his arm around his shoulder. Dave relaxed and sunk into his chest. He was sobbing uncontrollably. Now the older boy had him in a warm embrace. Everyone listened to his words: “It wasn’t your fault buddy. No one should ever treat you that way. We’ll be your support. You don’t have to do this by yourself anymore.”
The entire group became a witness to the healing for this young man. He received messages of hope and healing from another human being. And even more powerfully from an older masculine figure. When he finally relaxed and the crying was over, the older boy looked around the circle. With a clever smile he said, “guy-hug?” The rest of the group understood the cue right away. Everyone gathered around both young men. There was some joking… some poking… and some laughter. This was Dave’s first experience in deep male bonding.
The boys went back to their chairs and watched as Dave lifted his tear-streaked face. There was an obvious sense of confidence in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. Then he replied to the therapist’s original suggestion: “Yeah… I think these guys could be safe for me to talk about stuff.”
You might be thinking this experience has nothing to do with teenage porn addiction. Unfortunately, many youth have experienced various forms of “disconnect” that actually fuel the sexual compulsions. Many have never been abused, but still struggle to share and connect. They often use sexual behavior (including masturbation) as a way of masking personal struggles or wounds. This healing experience catapulted Dave into recovery behaviors.
If you know a teenage boy who needs help with porn addiction in Mesa Arizona, please call us for a free 15-minute phone consultation. We’d be happy to help or explain more about our Band of Brothers program: (480) 668-8301. Online: Band of Brothers.