About the author, Jay Stringer

A licensed mental health counselor and ordained minister, Jay Stringer has spent the last decade working on the frontlines of the demand for pornography and sexual exploitation. Stringer holds an MDiv and Master in Counseling Psychology from the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and received post-graduate training under Dr. Patrick Carnes and Dr. Dan Allender. Jay's first book, Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing, will be released in the fall of 2018. His book includes original research on over 3,600 men and women struggling with pornography. Visit Jay's website to download a free chapter. Follow Jay on Twitter: @_jaystringer

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30 thoughts on “Who Watches Porn? 3 Key Predictors of Porn Use

  1. I was sexually molested in my preteens years by a family member and it’s not until reading this I comevto realize why I turn to porn when am bored, alone and at time when I feel undesired. But in all readings I haven’t heard or seen the trigger or hormonal arousal triggers for women especially in that menstrual cycle time because that’s one of my biggest triggers. So I do hope that’s some research and topics can be done on that. But thank you to covenant eyes for helping my move towards change

    • Karen,

      Yes, one of the maddening features of pornography is that it appeals to the wounded portions of our story. So many of my clients come into my office thinking their primary issue is with pornography only to find there are other key drivers that necessitate their porn use. Sadly, trying to “stop” porn use gets the attention rather than transforming the key drivers beneath our pursuit of unwanted sexual behavior.

      I highly recommend the work of The Allender Center I mentioned above for addressing sexual abuse. And I also wrote a blog with Covenant Eyes addressing female shame and themes of abuse : http://www.covenanteyes.com/2017/10/26/silence-the-sound-of-female-sexual-shame/

      Thanks for your courage to contribute to the conversation.

      Jay

    • Karen, I agree! Both I and another female I am related to experience profoundly intensified temptation and triggers related to sexual sin around the time of our menstrual cycles. You are definitely not the only one struggling with that specific issue! I have found that keeping a list of tasks that aren’t urgent, but are something that should get done at some point (clean out the car, organize a desk or room, finish some half completed project, etc.) helps me to have something to distract myself with when those times hit. If I can keep my mind busy I do way better at overcoming a potential setback in my recovery.

  2. Jay,
    Thank you for an excellent article about finding out what drives our sexual addictions and use of porn. I have not read some of the resource materials you linked to but intend to do just that. I went through a very deep problem with depression, anxiety, and inability to cope with life recently. This ended up with a six week stay at the Menninger clinic in Houston which I consider a level one trauma center for depression. While there it became evident to me that shame has pushed so much of the symptomatology of what I have been going through my whole life including depression, anxiety, sexual addiction, and use of porn. Before going there, I hate to admit I was clueless about the interaction of shame in my life with all these different problems. However; while there I started the journey of dealing with shame in my own heart. One of the best resources I came across was Brene Brown’s book called “Daring Greatly.” I bring this up just to make sure that it’s not overlooked. It is not an actual Christian book although I do think that Brene has a working faith. However the book is extremely well done and instead of having to slog through it I could not put it down. It spoke to my heart at many different levels. Perhaps it only worked as a primer to help me start to understand this but it made me very aware of the interaction of shame and my life. Your article goes further to help us identify how we can heal from the problem once it has started. The hard part, is finding actual practical suggestions about how to do this. I am working with a psychotherapist and I am asking about this whole process of shame resilience. Do you have any other resources or even perhaps some of the ones you already mentioned that would be specifically aimed at practical things that can be done on a day to day basis to help to decrease the influence of shame in our hearts? I am finding out also daily that this process involves very hard spiritual warfare. Satan is not willing to give an inch. Your words give hope for the future. Again thank you so much for this article. Looking forward to seeing more from you.

    • Steve,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. What a season this has been for you. I am so grateful you found some good people and resources. Re: additional resources on shame – I would check out the film The Heart of Man. All of the interviews really address shame in some profound ways. Additionally, I highly recommend the work of Curt Thompson, who wrote a book titled, The Soul of Shame. Here is an article CT did with him a couple years ago: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/julaug/how-neuroscience-and-bible-explain-shame.html

      I will also be writing on the topic of shame on the CE blog in the coming months, so stay tuned!

    • “Surfing for god”
      John Michel kusick
      Hits the nail on the head and it’s an amazing eye opener to the struggle

  3. Thank you for this. Especially for the discussion on shame. I want to follow up on the links in the article about this and do some intense Bible study. I believe that emotions are one of the more prominent ways humans exhibit the image of God. Shame is one of those emotions and I would like to use it, feel it, react to it in the way God desires.

    • Thanks, Landon. Yes, I highly recommend the resources I put in the article. I think so much of what God desires with our shame is kindness. Romans 2:4 is so clear in saying that kindness is what leads us to radical life change (The Message).

  4. I’m not sure how or why I got into porn in the first place, other than maybe just teen hormones combines with access and not enough supervision at a time when it was most needed, but the shame section certainly makes sense for me.
    I can’t count the number of times I was struggling and despite not wanting to give in I remember telling myself “I don’t want to but I know I will because I’m an idiot.” And within the hour I’d be at the computer totally ashamed of myself for what I was doing.
    I’ve been free for almost 3 years now (not that there haven’t still been struggles) and it wasn’t till my wife found out I was able to finally get past it.
    I don’t necessarily think everyone in your life or even your church needs to know about it (after all if shame is what drives it, more shame may not help) just one or two people close enough to you to help should be enough. With that the threat of it going beyond that combined with the assistance from those that do should be enough to get most people on the road to recovery.
    It worked for me anyways.

    • Nick, thanks for sharing some of your journey here. Yes, hormones really can not be underestimated, especially as teenagers. When we live in a society that fails to offer comprehensive sex education about what is unfolding in bodies and then just warns us against doing “bad” things, it is a recipe for disaster. As you can imagine, the message “don’t do it” ends up also meaning, “there is something wrong with you if you do.” When we feel the shame of being an “idiot”, we will so often pursue behaviors that confirm it. And yes, wise words on who and when to share your story with.

  5. I think this (esp shame )applies to any addiction,big or small or habit we have a hard time to change. Thanks for helping to protect us and esp our children.

  6. Depression piggybacks with my lack of purpose. I was raised by alcoholic parents who would argue in the evenings. Whoever shouted the loudest won the argument. I’d leave the house to avoid them (I could hear their raging voices halfway down the driveway). Both of my parents came from abusive families and they have still not dealt with the baggage of their past; they’ve spent their life shoving skeletons in their closets. I remember feeling as if I was in their way, was never good enough, and felt shame for failing them. Posters of bikini-clad women were permitted in my bedroom from a very early age.

    I have been free from porn 10 months. My marriage is strengthening. This article is eye opening – understanding porn will reveal a way for me to heal. I’ve never thought about it from that perspective. I need to continue changing what I think and how I think.

    Thank you for all you do.

    Mark

    • Hi Mark,
      The kind of childhood trauma you described here is exactly the kind of experience that makes pornography a welcome refuge for painful emotions. I hope you’ve found a good therapist who can help you process through all that pain and learn how to connect to others rather than disappear into the world of porn when life gets painful–at it always does at some point or another!
      Peace to you,
      Kay

    • Mark,

      So so tragic what you shared. You certainly seemed to understand your parent’s tactics well. I have no doubt this clarity and conviction will only continue to serve you. So glad to hear your marriage is strengthening and that your resonated with the article. In my upcoming book (Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing) – I talk more about how our struggles are messengers or prophets that have so much to teach us, if we are willing to listen.

      You might be interested in this article too: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2017/09/28/what-sexual-fantasies-might-say-about-you/

  7. This was a gift from God today. We have an adopted 13 year old who is loved by all but has not blossomed academically or truthfully or spiritually. He started sneaking porn viewing at home right UNDER our nose….
    HE then tried to sodomized a trusted family friend,s 6 year old. We are lost, shocked, broken. He is also. He claims no one ever messed with him; that he was just curious.
    Since he has always been very different, we do set othetwise

    • Teresa, as a therapist, I’m curious whether your child is in therapy?

      Porn use and sexual curiosity are very normal at this age; of course we want to protect a child from those things, but they are so prevalent that it’s just very common and not an indicator of pathology at all.

      However, attempting to victimize another child is a very serious red flag. Please make sure that your child is getting the best professional help available. I would check the listing at Psychology Today for an experienced therapist for your child.

      Peace,
      Kay

    • Teresa,

      Oh wow. So agonizing what you are undergoing. As Kay mentioned, do pursue support as much as you are able. That is so much to metabolize on your own. Various states have good programs to help adoptive parents with these types of offending behaviors. Additionally, it could be a good idea to meet with a psychologist for an assessment for your son. Early intervention is often scary to pursue, but it is one of the best ways we can love and protect too.

  8. For me, I think a large part of my addiction in addition to the three points above of which I have and do experience is my fear of abandonment from the mental (hangover) from me being adopted. My adopted father molested me, my neighbor molested me, friends I hung around with as teens, we all experienced experimental behaviors that went further then we expected. The drugs that went along with the behaviors reinforced the behaviors through association triggers. Molestation continued and resulted ruined lives. Today I still struggle with porn when alone and the shame that comes along with it but it appears as if being alone or fear of being alone is the strongest trigger. However of the three points above I believe the one that is the greatest deterrent is having purpose. Yes, I was abused, yes, I fel shame but I also feel like a child of God called to do and live out His will when I have a sense of purpose that is greater than my own selfish pursuits. My prayer for me and for all reading this is that we all find that purpose that will set us free from the bondage of our sinful fleshly lusts to serve our Lord and God fulfilling His purpose and His will.

  9. I also started view porn on frequent basis when I did not have purpose . Bored at work and home I found myself opening my laptop and searching porn sites for a release feeling guilty after each viewing . I was abused sexually as a young boy by a neighbor and was very sexually active in my early teens. Confronting the shame , guilt and being purposeful with my christian walk has put me on the path of healing. Thank you covenant eyes for being a tool for me and so many others.

    • Bobby,

      Thank you for your vulnerability in this post. With at least 1 out of 6 men with histories of sexual abuse, we need more men like you with the courage to break the silence. One of the things I am most upset with about pornography (aside from the obvious) is that it distracts people from engaging the key drivers that bring them to it in the first place – like lack of purpose and sexual abuse.

  10. Thanks for this article. I recognized that the main problem in my life is the purpose of my work, life… And that second issue for me is the shame. But i do not know if i have to tell to the friend of mine who knows about my addiction on pornography about my shame. Shame which roots are in pornograpy using. If i should tell him all details what i was looking, seeking on the internet. Or what i tried to do throught webcams, videochat…etc. Please give me an advices if this is really nessecary to tell him about all of that. It this means the true accountability. Because i know that i need to have the accountability partner. Thanks for your answer.
    Thank you Covenant Eyes for your filtering, advices, articles and e-books.
    English is not my mother tongue. But i can speak and read of course in english.
    Btw i am from Europe….Middle EU, Slovakia. (maybe you know Czecho-Slovakia before 1993).
    Have a nice day and be blessed by the God Almighty :-)

    • Hi, Mark – I’m always going to be a fan of coming clean on everything. I think this quote is pretty powerful, “The man who can keep a secret may be wise. But he is not half as wise as the man who has no secrets to keep.” E.W. Howe. Scripturally, we are called to live as children of light in Ephesians 5. Secrets own us. Haunt us. Tempt us. Don’t give it that power! I hope you find to courage to speak openly.

      Warmly,
      Chris

  11. Greg

    I had prostate cancer surgery six years ago. The doctor took not only my prostate but all ability to share sex with my wife. I still, however, feel a strong sexual libido and find myself succumbing to temptations to view pornography even I have no chance to “finish what my mind starts.”
    I am fortunate to a have an extremely strong willed wife who has stood by my side and not pressured me for sex, Of course I couldn’t respond even though my mind wants to take action. Our love has grown stronger. I however, seen porn even though I know it is destroying me from the inside out. I desperately need some direction. Thank you.

    • Hello, Greg – man, what a difficult situation. I can’t even begin to imagine the struggle you must be experiencing. Does your wife know that you watch pornography? I’m not going to pass any judgment here. You know what Covenant Eyes stands for as a company who wants to help people live porn-free, so obviously, I’m going to prefer that everyone who I speak to will choose to not look. But, the choice is ultimately yours, as a couple. Even if she knows, I believe porn will eventually erode the non-sexual intimacy that you’re currently experiencing with your wife, as it vies for more and more of your attention (it’s just so darn progressive – from your comment, it sounds like you’re already experiencing some of this). Again, I’m trying to share information and leave the condemnation at the door – that’s my true intent. In those moments where the libido feels strong, are there any activities that you can pivot toward to redirect? Are you seeking counseling for the some of the grieving you might be feeling for the loss of manhood and intimacy you used to experience? I don’t have any silver bullet solutions. But, I am empathetic and truly hope you can find a solution.

      Regards,
      Chris

  12. First a little background, I am 72 and been into porn since my teens. Not really knowing why except I liked the feeling. 6 months ago my wife saw me looking at porn and indulging in self pleasure and it has been a roller coaster between my lying (trying to protect her or so I thought) and the healing process. It has not been easy especially for my wife and her relentless pursuit of the truth. She shoul have been a detective. At my lowest point I broke down in a pastor’s office and came clean, the second best thing I ever did. The first of course was finally telling my wife everything.
    I can honestly say I cannot find what drove me to porn except my teenage hormones and then just realizing the high one received with a climax. Yes I am ashamed that I participated in this sin for so many years but I am so glad I have been clean for the past six months. My mind has never been clearer.
    My wife and I are still working through some issues and just pray that she knows how much I love her. This sin is so selfish we do not think about how it affects the ones we love.

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