DTS Magazine

5 Things Leaders Need to Know About Women Who Struggle with Porn Addiction

“Joy, you are so vulnerable and so brave. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I could never talk about these issues freely.” This response—from a woman leader in the DMin program here at DTS—didn’t surprise me at all. Last summer, I spoke to the women in a ministry cohort on the topic of pornography addiction. Why? Because women face porn addiction and they need help. I know, because I was one of them.

Women face porn addiction and they need help. I know, because I was one of them.

Porn for Comfort

On the third day of my freshmen year of college, I was sexually assaulted. Depressed and hurting, I turned to porn for comfort. For lack of having a quality sex education growing up, the internet became my teacher. My desire for sex was awakened early in my life, and I wouldn’t find healing or freedom from the shame I felt for a few years.

During my talk, I did my best to share with openness and boldness. If we, as church and minister leaders, shy away from the hard, why would other women rise up in their vulnerability to courageously openly share with others? As a millennial, I look for those characteristics in a church. Young women crave authenticity. They need leaders to open up and talk about the challenging and relevant issues of our day.

Statistics show women in our churches struggle with porn addiction. Women account for one out of three who view internet pornography on a regular basis. Seventeen percent of all women struggle with pornography addiction. Eighty-nine percent of women masturbate, and seventy percent of women keep their sexual addictions a secret. Shame is the last thing women need to feel when they walk into churches. We all need God’s grace so we can have open discussions about sexual addictions.

Not Just a Man’s Problem

We often consider porn addiction “a man’s problem.” Sexual addictions run rampant in our churches, affecting both men and women. When was the last time you heard a sermon on pornography in your church? If you did hear one, when was the last time you heard it preached to women also? Most female porn addicts feel alone. Instead of finding freedom, women hide their stories, building shame in their hearts and giving Satan power. To help women struggling with porn addiction, leaders need to lead the way by opening up and sharing.

What happened to me has occurred to many other women, and they need to know they’re not alone.

When I struggled with porn, I felt utterly alone. I had no one and nothing—no leaders to help or resources to guide me. I had no safe place. What happened to me has occurred to many other women, and they need to know they’re not alone. Every time I share my story with someone of how God healed me, I let my weaknesses show God’s strength. I consider the following scripture, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God (2 Tim 1:8). It is what encourages me to share my story.

So what can leaders do to help women who struggle with porn? Here are five things leaders need to know about women who struggle with porn addiction:

1. Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder.

During high school and my freshmen year in college, I looked for love and intimacy in all the wrong places. It was never about sex at all, but about my desperate desire to feel fully known and fully loved.

In her book, No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction, Marnie Ferree wrote, “It’s not about sex at all, but about the desperate search for love and touch and affirmation and acceptance. Those are descriptions of intimacy. God created us for intimate connection with Him, with others, and with ourselves. When those connections are broken or absent, women desperately seek a false substitute. Sex or porn is the best stand-in for the real thing.”

2. Sexual addiction can’t be covered up with a work-based Band-Aid.

Telling a woman to pray more or simply refrain, won’t fix the heart issues. This Band-Aid will fall off and leave a gaping wound. For addicted women, porn helps them cope with pain. If we strive to “fix” the outer behavior (of watching porn), women will find new coping mechanisms or new addictions. Addiction is more of a heart issue, and it is there where Christ will do His work.

3. Unhealed family wounds can lead to sexual addiction.

Help women to understand the roots that formed the foundation of her sexual addiction. Talk openly about her family relationships. None of us grew up in a perfect family, yet unresolved family issues can still play a role in addictions. If a family system never talked about sex, this could explain her keeping quiet today. Working through childhood and family relationships will open up unhealed wounds.

4. Abuse can lead to sexual addiction.

The statistics of women who struggle with sexual addiction and their past of abuse are staggering:

  • 72% have been physically abused
  • 81% have been sexually abused
  • 97% have been emotionally abused

5. Sexual addiction recovery is not about changing behavior. It’s about transforming our hearts through Christ.

We need to stop condemning sexual sin without a willingness to help and understand the sin and the sinner. Sometimes a woman will admit to porn addiction, and instead of feeling loved, she experiences shame. Extend her the help she so desperately needs. Love her and point her to Christ. Help her love Jesus more so she can figure out the heart issues that are leading to addiction.

Breaking the Chain of Pornography

Jesus came to break every chain—every single chain—even porn addiction for women.

Imagine what would happen if church and ministry leaders talked more about women and porn addiction. We do our best to teach the good news of Jesus—the redemption of the Cross. Do we teach Jesus died to redeem lives, even the lives of porn addicts? Jesus came to break every chain—every single chain—even porn addiction for women.

We need to stop caring about the labels of others and lead with boldness and vulnerability. I refuse to be marked as “porn girl” for the rest of my life. I want people to see me as a daughter of God who embraces grace every day. I’m now free from the power of shame and addiction through the work Christ has done in my heart.

Sexual Addiction Recovery Resources

Books
Websites
Joy Pedrow
Joy Pedrow is a second year student, pursuing a MACE degree in women’s ministry. To know more about Joy, please visit JoyPedrow.com, where she points women to Christ so he can bring them healing from addiction and freedom from shame.
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