A Tainted Mind: My Porn Experience

I was about five or six years old when I was first exposed to pornography.

This was way back in the days of dial up internet and AOL, when search engines weren’t even really a thing yet. I can’t imagine the challenges today’s kids face with the power the internet has. But that isn’t how it happened for me. I wasn’t looking for it at all.

It was an accident. A friend had figured out how to unlock blocked stations on our satellite TV. I can’t remember why they chose that one, they were young as well so I’d assume they didn’t understand what they were doing, but it didn’t matter.

I have never forgotten what I saw.

Being so young and so innocent, I didn’t understand what was happening. I had no context for it. So I kept watching.

I’ve always been curious and eager to learn, so when I don’t understand something, I like to take the time to figure it out. I’ve always been that way. In this situation, it ruined my life.

I can’t remember what the timeline for my addiction was like, whether it was weeks, months or years. Almost everything about that time of my life is a complete blur, except the porn.

I remember sitting in my room on my Winnie the Pooh bedspread watching the “forbidden channel”, then going outside to ride my training-wheel bike. On another day, sitting inside watching Sesame Street or Little Bear on TV, and switching back and forth to the filth. It sparked my curiosity, and from there, started an inferno in my mind that has ruined almost every good thing in my life since then, and I haven’t realized it until recently.

I can’t remember how often I watched it. Several times, at least. I just couldn’t figure out what was happening, and it held my attention. Studies have shown that TV violence, together with fast action and excitement, holds attention to the screen and is emotionally arousing for children and adults. (2)

My mom soon saw the bill for the channels we’d ordered, and that was the end of that. I was cut off from pornography by the time I was eight.

Studies have shown that pornography use is correlated with lowered quality of life and poorer health (1), and that is exactly what happened to me. Porn made me insecure about my body. It made me feel unlovable. It made me confused and scared. It made me have nightmares. I became overweight, depressed and anxious. In the years following my experience, it all only became worse, but I forgot the source. I thought I was going insane. I didn’t want to live anymore. I would purposefully hurt myself, and attempted suicide on multiple occasions. It felt like a dark fog was thick in my mind, slowly eroding away the essence of who I was. These are just the after effects, years after, of pornography use. Not during.

Softcore pornography influences young people with little sexual experience and especially plastic minds in the process of forming their sexual tastes and desires. Those who have used it have no sense of the extent to which their brains are reshaped by it. (3)

Fourteen years later, I still feel the effects from this Hell I innocently put myself through. A silent Hell that until now, no one was aware of, something I suffered completely and utterly alone. When I was younger, I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t understand God. I didn’t know the Atonement existed. I didn’t understand that it was a problem, one that I needed to seek help for. Back then, pornography was a social taboo, rarely discussed compared to now with organizations like Fight The New Drug and others bringing awareness to this epidemic.

Pornography rotted my mind. Since then, it has continued to destroy my life. Even moderate porn use is correlated with damage to parts of the brain involved in motivation and decision making (4). Because of the damage that occurred to my mind at such a young age, I suffer from depression and anxiety, for which went untreated from the time I was seven until I came to BYU-Idaho and sought help from the Health Center during my junior year of college. Having been baptized, sealed to my family, graduated seminary and held many church callings and now going to a church school, I had almost completely pushed my experience with pornography out of my mind altogether. It was buried so deep that I liked to deny that it ever happened.

I’m still uncomfortable in close relationships. I have deep anxiety when it comes to physical intimacy, almost at any level. I feel like I could never make someone else feel truly loved, because of my original distorted view of love. At first, holding hands with my boyfriend even made me feel unclean. It has been a long, hard road and I will continue to have to deal with its after effects.

As I have begun treatment through self-help books and medical advice, I have been trying to hunt down the root of my problems. Yes, I had a fairly traumatizing upbringing, but I didn’t feel like it was an easy answer like that. As I read Emmilie Whitlock’s blog post on her experience with pornography, it all came flooding back to me. The same feelings of fear and confusion. Ugliness and filth. But then, I felt peace.

I remembered Jesus Christ. I remembered how he walked with leapers, liars, and adulterers. While he did not condone their sin, he loved THEM. Solely because He was their brother. Why should I be any different?

As apostles and prophets have counseled, I’m not. “Now a word regarding how we treat those who have been ensnared by pornography. All of us need the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Those struggling with pornography need our compassion and love as they follow needed principles and steps of recovery. Please do not condemn them. They are not evil or without hope. They are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Through proper and complete repentance, they may become clean, pure, and worthy of every covenant and temple blessing promised by God,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Because of the decisions I have made in my life since then, fighting for my mind, my life and love, and with the endless amounts of repenting I’ve done, I know God has forgiven me. I know that Jesus Christ felt my pain, guilt, and insecurity for this and that I no longer have to feel that anymore. He took it away from me. While I won’t ever forget this experience because of the destructive nature of pornography on the mind and the natural consequences for my actions, I know I am forgiven. While it may be hard to love myself, Christ loves me. His compassion is endless. His Atonement infinite.

Having seen pornography at any time in your life doesn’t make you an evil person. This is something I have had to learn for myself. I’m not a bad person. I just got mixed up in bad things. With Christ, we can overcome anything.

If you have ever been enticed or addicted to pornography, please get help. Don’t wait like I did. Fourteen years later and I’m just now figuring all of this out. God loves you. Christ died for you. They just need you to take the first step. Remember as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in General Conference, “Heaven is cheering you on,” and so am I.

If you need help, please visit with your local church leaders, family services, and other resources listed below:

The LDS church also has great resources for parents to help teach their children about the dangers of pornography.

“I testify to you that your body, mind, and spirit can be transformed, cleansed, and made whole, and you will be freed.” — Elder M. Russell Ballard

 


 

All research quoted was taken from the Harmful Effects of Pornography: 2016 Reference Guide by Fight The New Drug. Download the PDF for free here. #FightTheNewDrug #PornKillsLove

  1. J. B. Weaver, et. al. “Mental- and Physical-Health Indicators and Sexually Explicit Media Use Behavior by Adults,” Journal of Sexual Medicine 8, no. 3 (2011): 764–72.
  2. John P. Murray, Mario Liotti, Paul T. Ingmundson, Helen S. Mayberg, Yonglin Pu, Frank Zamarripa, Yijun Liu, Marty G. Woldorff, Jia-Hong Gao, and Peter T. Fox, “Children’s Brain Activations While Viewing Televised Violence Revealed by fMRI,” Media Psychology 8 (2006): 25–37
  3. Simone Kühn and Jürgen Gallinat, “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated .
  4. Simone Kühn and Jürgen Gallinat, “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated .
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6 thoughts on “A Tainted Mind: My Porn Experience

  1. This is beautiful! You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story. Yes God loves, Jesus Christ loves you and I love you!

    Like

  2. You are so amazing, beautiful & strong! 💗 Love ya! Thank you for sharing your story! I know because you had the courage to share it you will help so many others who are fighting this silent addiction! There is ALWAYS hope & forgiveness for all of us because of the Atonement of our loving Savior ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so amazing, beautiful & strong! 💗 Love ya! Thank you for sharing your story! I know because you had the courage to share it you will help so many others who are fighting this silent addiction! There is ALWAYS hope & forgiveness for all of us because of the Atonement of our loving Savior

    Liked by 1 person

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