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Did You Know That Women Struggle with Porn Too?

Did you Know that Women Struggle With Porn Too?

I was 13 years old when I was exposed to pornography—this was back in 1999, in the land of dial-up and dinosaurs. While researching for school one day, I found a website with small clips from videos and TV shows. As I clicked through the different videos, one thumbnail caught my eye. I clicked on it. It was a porn video.

I wish someone could have warned me about how the next few minutes would change my life, and not for the better. I woke up that morning a teenager whose only knowledge of sex was sex ed classes in school and whatever my classmates were whispering about. Within seconds, that all changed. No adult content warning. No age verification. Just straight hardcore pornography.

When I tried to click out of the screen, it took me to a porn site. The homepage was filled with photos, ads, words I had never heard before, and a chat room.

I entered the chat room and soon realized people weren’t there to “chat.” They were there to have cyber sex.

There was something so intoxicating about being wanted.

I was an awkward teenager, a year into puberty, with bushy eyebrows, and frizzy hair. No one liked me that way, looked at me that way, or thought of me that way. Online, though, I was a different person. I could be whoever I wanted to be and whoever she was, she was desirable. Sex chatting became a daily thing, and pornography was my way of conducting the necessary “research.”

After a couple years, perhaps around my junior year of high school, I got annoyed by the chat room play. It took too long. So, I started viewing pornography—hardcore pornography—every day. After I got home from school, I would spend hours watching videos and searching free sites. I would print off pictures to store for later or save them to floppy disks (yes, floppy disks). It became my life.

But no one knew.

In fact, I worked very hard to make sure no one knew. My standard was perfection, in everything. I was the perfect student, the perfect church girl. I was the good girl with a dirty secret. At the time, I thought it was ok. At least I wasn’t out having sex and getting pregnant. At least this was safer. That’s what I thought.

After a while, I was losing sleep, staying up all night watching pornography, or sitting on the couch watching the adult channels we didn’t get, hoping for a scene to slip through. When I tried to stop, I couldn’t. I tried to cut back my use, and couldn’t do that either, so I began to physically beat myself. I thought, “If I can just make this hurt, then it will stop.”

I wish someone could have warned me about how the next few minutes would change my life, and not for the better.

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I’m a woman.

I looked for help, but couldn’t find any. Everything I found was for men.

As a senior in high school, it felt like I might be the only woman in the world who had gotten herself into this place. I was the only woman in the world who found pornography. That’s what it felt like, and I felt completely helpless.

During my freshman year at a Christian college, I got caught. I had hoped for that because it’s always easier for someone else to start the conversation. I knew that if someone asked me, I could tell them “yes” but there was no way I was going to willingly volunteer that information. So, when I got the summons to the Dean’s office, I was hoping to finally get help. Instead, I was told that, despite overwhelming evidence, they knew this couldn’t be me because “women just don’t have this problem.”

I felt helpless.

That day, I gave up.

If no one could help me, I already knew I couldn’t help myself. I had no choice, I thought, but to become an adult film actress. This good girl with dreams of being a doctor and making everybody proud simply gave up. Pornography was the only thing I was good for, I thought. It was who I really was.

I began an online relationship with a man. I was 17 years old when he asked me for nudes. I sent them.

And it felt like a part of me died.

I tell people that what is so damaging about pornography is it separates the body from the person. When I became someone else’s pornography, it felt like who I was no longer mattered. It didn’t matter that I was high school valedictorian. It didn’t matter that I was under 18. It didn’t matter that I wanted to be a doctor. My favorite color? Who cares. All that mattered was the position, the lighting, the placement, the product. I was nothing more than pixels on a screen.

He responded: “You’re perfect.”

I felt stuck.

And it was like he owned me. What perhaps should have felt empowering, was enslaving. I would have gone anywhere with him. He could have asked me to meet him at the local gas station, and I would have gone. Women have been killed doing this.

It was absolutely the lowest point in my life. I gave up on everything—all my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. None of it mattered. This was my future. There was no turning back.

What is so damaging about pornography is it separates the body from the person.

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I left that school at the end of the semester and went back home. I continued to watch pornography and kept in touch with my online “boyfriend” daily. When I visited porn websites, I would try to find the “apply to work here” button. Thankfully, there isn’t one.

That summer I had a “come to Jesus” moment and realized I really didn’t want my life to be pornography. I really wanted to do something else. I wanted my life to make a difference and pornography doesn’t do that. It doesn’t make a huge impact in the world, at least not in a positive way. An adult actress is just one of the hundreds of faces on a constantly-changing screen. Deep down, that wasn’t what I wanted.

A journey of healing through recognition.

So, I gave life another chance and ended up at a new college. There, almost a year after being told “women don’t have this problem,” I heard a different message. I heard, “We know some of you girls are struggling with pornography, and we want to help you.”

That moment was so freeing. There’s something about knowing you’re not alone. I wasn’t some weird woman who had gotten herself stuck in a mess. There were people who wanted to help, and they did.

Telling someone I needed help was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I have never regretted it.

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The road to healing was a long one. It took months to unearth and work through some deeper issues in my life. There were relationships that needed to end, and others that needed to be restored. I had to learn how to interact with people again and learned the beauty of being real.

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There is a hope and a healing that comes when we’re honest.

Now, the one thing I never wanted anyone to know is often the first thing people know. I travel around the world talking about how pornography is not just a guy thing, raising awareness about sexual exploitation, online safety, the dangers of things like sexting, and promoting a healthy conversation about female sexuality.

If you’re a woman who feels trapped, know that you are not alone. There is hope and healing to be found, and no matter what anyone tells you, you are not a sexual product. We, as women, are worth more than pixels on a screen.

For more encouragement from strong women like this, check out:

The Good Christian Girl Who Struggled With Porn
The Solution to the Sex Trafficking Problem
Why You Need to Talk to Your Teen Girl About Sex and How to Do It
Sneaky Teen Texting Trends You Need to Know About
Advice on Technology Safety for Kids From a Licensed Psychologist

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Known for her grace, candor, and a little bit of sass (ok, maybe more than a little), Jessica isn't afraid to tackle topics that would make her own mother blush.

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