“I had one woman say, ‘I struggle with masturbation.’ And she just started crying. And then she said, ‘I’ve never said that word out loud.’”
In this Java with Juli, Joy Skarka recalls her experiences walking with women who struggle with porn, and shares from her own story of addiction to freedom. Despite rising numbers of women using porn and erotica, we still tend to refer to it as a “guy thing.” Juli, Joy, and Jonathan Daugherty sit down for a conversation about creating safe places for women to come forward and ask for help. Grab your Java and join us!
This episode isn’t just for those who do struggle with porn, though. We talk about the broader impacts of porn on our culture, such as our body image and expectations of sex. We talk about how we can be safe and supportive friends when a friend discloses their struggle with porn to us.
Do you have a hard time believing you will ever find freedom from porn addiction? I have been there. There were nights when I thought I would never break free from the addiction. I wanted victory over my struggle with porn, but I believed I would always lose the battle. In those moments, I felt hopeless and often questioned God’s plan for my life.
When you feel stuck in addiction, it may be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You may even begin to convince yourself that you are the only woman struggling with porn. Did you know that 70% of women keep their cyber activities a secret? That is why we feel alone.
Porn use is very prevalent with women. 1 out of 3 visitors to adult sites are women. 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction. 89% of women struggle with masturbation. These statistics might even be low, because most women feel too shameful to talk about the issue. Out of fear, they decide to keep the secret inside.
Try to name three recent movies that did not have a romance story in the plot. Could you do it? I couldn’t. The media feeds us the lie that we need a man to complete us. During seasons of isolation, watching rom coms do not help with our loneliness and actually, can cause us to watch more pornography.
When I was a college student, I struggled with pornography and loneliness in singleness. I can imagine those struggles would be harder for present-day college students to walk through because of the isolation in online classes, remote learning, and working from home. It’s exhausting and triggering.
As a sophomore, I broke up with my boyfriend and felt extremely lonely. I spent my nights binge-watching Netflix, looking at porn and habitually masturbating, and my days eating ice cream on the couch. None of my coping mechanisms helped with my negative thoughts and feelings. Fed up with my life, I decided to try giving up romantic comedies for a whole month. I quickly learned that not only romantic comedies, but most movies and TV shows, had a romance plotline. And almost all of those plots included sex scenes.
As someone who serves in ministry with my own history of struggling with pornography, women often pour out their stories to me with a sigh of relief. While sitting on my living room couch, Jessica shared her struggle with porn:
I was exposed to pornography as a first grader by a childhood friend. I had no idea the lasting effects it would have on me as I got older. While I didn’t understand what it was or why it was bad, I innately felt that it was wrong—that alone filled me with shame. Shame followed me through my life until, for the first time, I heard another woman share that she struggled with it too. That defeated the biggest lie I was believed: that I was in this alone.
There are many women in your church who have similar stories to Jessica. Some may sit next to you on a Sunday and others may be leading Bible studies—they all worry that someone will find out about their secret. I’ve had women from across the spectrum confess their struggle to me, from new believing college students to experienced church leaders. Sadly, the influence of porn in the church is almost as dominant as it is in the world.
I first saw porn in fifth grade. I remember the day like it was yesterday. My friend and I just got back from basketball camp and went up to my room to play. I had a small Dell laptop sitting on my desk and my friend said, “Let me show you something.” She pulled up images and at the time, I had no idea this was porn. I had never heard of pornography before. But in the moment, I felt weird.
I felt like we shouldn’t be looking at this. I remember making sure my bedroom door was shut so my parents wouldn’t know what we were doing. After this incident, I wouldn’t look at porn again until college, but I believe it awakened a part of my sexuality.
“Just don’t do it.”
Growing up, I went to church, but my memories of conversations about sex in a church setting are very minimal. As a middle schooler, my parents sent me to a weekend conference where I sat in a circle with other students and we repeated the words “penis” and “vagina.” Parents were encouraged to sit in on the groups and I remember my dad standing up and saying, “I can’t do this,” as he walked away.
Join myself and Heather on Compared to Who Podcast! On today’s unedited video version of the podcast, I will share my story and we will talk about the following:
–32% of consumers of pornography are women and the number is growing. –What porn is doing to our relationships and our ability to be intimate. –Why porn is leading to the rise of abuse in marriages. –How porn is affecting teen relationships. –How reading erotica or sexually charged content can be a dangerous gateway to pornography. –What to understand about your body image if your husband is struggling with pornography. Plus: -Learn Joy’s helpful acronym tip that helps us practically stay free from addictions!
I am so excited that HeartStrong Faith has launched a brand new podcast called, “Honest Conversations | HeartStrong Faith.” What they do is discuss difficult topics by seeing what the Bible really has to say about them.
This week, I joined Rebecca Carrell and Liz Rodriguez to share my journey of sexual healing and how to minister to those who struggle.
Pornography is a growing epidemic. 1 out of 3 visitors to adult sites are women. Joy will talk about the problems of pornography, how it impacts us, our society, and our relationships, and then provide practical ways to begin walking in freedom.