Girls Hooked on Porn: Battle Notes from a Weathered Fighter

Four months ago, when my pastor approached me to film my testimony, my thoughts went something like this: “Share my testimony? You mean, I would be telling the entire church that I have dealt with an addiction to pornography? No way they will take that well. I don’t want everyone to know about my past, to look at me and see that sex-crazed young girl who had the audacity to share her dirty laundry with the world.”

Within a few hours after being asked, my fears were gently eased and I agreed to share—yet I still felt the same reservations throughout the filming and the anticipation of its airing. The first time I saw the finished product was during one of the church services on the big screen, my voice filling up the auditorium and the feeling of tears slip down my cheeks.

What were people going to say? How were they going to react?

Jesus Stories: Liz Vogt from Impact Church on Vimeo.

My Testimony

Not once did I ever think that my struggles would ever be made public or that someone would want to hear them. Yet, the feedback from the video was overwhelmingly positive: not only did many resonate with my battle with pornography, but also so many others came to ask for nuggets of advice from a weathered fighter. Even more found my boldness to be inspiring, which in turn made every struggle leading up to the video worth it. Soon I had sent my video to many of my close friends and family, wanting for them to be a part of this major step of faith and to celebrate not having to hide anymore.

While I am not proposing that everyone film their testimonies of sexual sin and broadcast it to the world, I am going to give some suggestions that I have gained in my fight against pornography. I would like to call them battle notes, because this struggle is not ending. Although I have freed myself from the bondage of pornography, I still have to fight to remain pure. I am not cured; I am set free. That difference changes everything.

If you are struggling with pornography, please take these notes to heart and remember to always give yourself grace in this journey. If you are reading this as someone who has not struggled with an addiction to pornography, take these as help for a future interaction with a loved one who battles. This struggle is only increasing in our world and we should all be equipped with strategies to help those that are bogged down by its slimy grip.

Seek the relief that comes with sharing.

Believe me, telling someone that you struggle with pornography is terrifying. If that thought does not create a pit in your stomach and a trail of butterflies in your torso, than this must not be a real problem in your life. Admitting to someone that you struggle with this means being vulnerable and taking off the veil that we try so hard to keep up. You do not get to control the reactions of the people that you tell, but do not let that fear be an excuse.

Choose someone that you trust and who loves and cares enough about you to listen. They might need time to deal with it, especially if it has been a secret for an extended amount of time. When you are looking to find someone to ask, consider a few things.

  • Have they been a confidant in the past? If so, how have they handled the information you have given them?
  • Are they a Christ follower? If not, it would be best to find someone who is and can share that hope with your battle.
  • Do you believe that they will be someone that will be there for the long run who can keep you accountable and is brave enough to call you out when you fail? Longevity in battles with addictions are important, so make sure to trust someone who has the potential to be around for a while.

Despite all the fears that sharing brings, begin by mustering the courage to let the words out. Say it: “I struggle with pornography and I need help.” It means swallowing your pride, but it is better than living daily with a fear of being caught or the overpowering guilt that comes from giving in. The first step is to admit that you need help. Once you do that, you are not alone, someone else can share the burden with you. And that is everything.

The start of freedom comes when you decide you are not going to let this eat you up anymore.

One of the hardest parts of breaking my struggle with pornography was figuring out what drove me to watching it. The ancient philosopher Socrates said, “Know thyself.” This can be one of the longest parts of the process.

We are drawn to pornography for many different reasons. Some use it as an outlet for sexual tension, others do not find their worth in the world so they seek it from a screen, and many use it as an area of their life that they can control. (As hard as some try to convince me, no one looks at pornography for the artistic quality.) Everyone has internal and external problems that draw them in, insecurities that seek to be fed and rationalized excuses that drown out the still small voice that says ‘no.’ You need to figure out what those are.

For me, I know that one of my triggers is loneliness. When I find myself disengaged from people or upset by someone, I must not allow myself to be alone. Everyone has triggers and it is vital that they are identified so they can be countered. This part of the journey is all about learning your limits. Just as with any addiction, some can handle more than others at different points in the process. For me, I did not need to give up my phone or my computer because I could handle the pressure as long as I had people that were keeping me accountable and knew what I was doing on the Internet. Hard decisions need to be made on when to be alone, where you have access to technology and how you use that technology.

This also means looking at media and music choices. In my life I have to be extremely careful about the romantic comedies that I watch or the suggestive music because those are some of the triggers that I have discovered. Pornography does not just have to be videos; it can be books, movies, and articles. I have talked to people who have not once accessed a pornography site and yet struggle with reading explicit content online. The sin is out there and has many faces, all of which need to fought against. Again, search yourself and your intentions.

Know what draws you to pornography and seek to put in safeguards that do not allow them to shut out the voice. In my life, accountability has taken on the form of maintaining safeguards that I have set up. Most importantly, I have several people in my life who are aware of my struggle and who will frequently ask where I am at with this battle. They also know the passwords to my computer and can access my history at any point. In high school, my parents put a software on my computer that did not allow anyone to access certain pages on the Internet in order to protect our family. There are many resources out there—check them out!

I felt like I wasn’t even worthy to think about God, let alone think that He loves me.

Let’s admit it: in many of our churches, discussions about sex can be frowned upon or even considered inappropriate. While many will be the first to discuss the importance of abstinence, the others issues can be left on the wayside, especially when it comes to any issues of lust for women. For instance, just bring up struggling with pornography in a group of people after a service and watch the aftermath. This is not how it should be.

We are fallen beings and nothing is new under the sun: people are struggling with pornography in our churches. I grew up in the church struggling with this and never felt comfortable enough to admit it. All I wanted was to know that I would not be judged. I did not want to tell someone that I was sinning and them turn around and show my parents how messed up I was, so I remained silent. With my struggle with pornography and sexual sin, God became someone that I had to hide from, not one that I saw as merciful or loving. My friends became those that could find out my secret, so I ran from them, even if they truly had the best intentions. Instead of looking for the love that I was given, I looked for the faults of others, because if I could find faults in them than I could feel better about myself.

I should have been seeking openness and healing, yet I continued to hide behind my walls for fear that I would share how dirty I actually am and lose the Christian image that I had worked so hard to build up. I can look back and see how my heart became impenetrable and my head unwilling to let anyone in. I was worthless, unlovable, and dirty, only worthy of shame and punishment. And this is all because I let that sin make a home in my heart, a place that should have been hostile to it but yet became its dwelling place at the expense of my own freedom.

If you are struggling with pornography, please know that God is inviting you to bring Him your struggles and your failures. You do not need to live behind walls of protection, because there is freedom that can tear those down and start healing what sin has broken. With Jesus, we are not dirty, worthless or broken—we are redeemed, restored, and made clean!

I had to learn to believe that God wanted something to do with me. My sins did not make him run away. His arms were open just the same. Whether you have looked at porn once or multiple times a day, God wants to change your mind about how He sees you. And if you are someone who is helping someone who struggles with this, let them know how much you love them and how much God loves them even more. We are not in bondage anymore, why should we live that way?

Lastly, know that this will be a battle that will always need to be fought. We might think that we have conquered it and yet it rears its head when we are weak. Safeguards constantly need to be put into place. You need allies in your recovery to continually ask how you are doing. And you also need to continue to look at where you are and see if anything needs to change. Keep fighting, friends!