Porn Was My Sex Education: Joy Skarka’s Story

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.

I grew up towards the end of the purity culture where churches and parents were just uncomfortable talking about sexuality except for the occasional, “just don’t do it,” message.

I don’t blame them, because they weren’t taught any differently.

Sexual desires are normal!

As I heard this message, it didn’t mesh with what I was actually experiencing. I was a girl with sexual desires and curiosities, but all I heard preached was about modesty and that only men struggle with porn. I thought something was wrong with me for having sexual desires. In this confusion, I lived a double life.

On Sundays, I wore my Sunday best and tried to be perfect, but the rest of the week I snuck my high school boyfriend over. I was confused about how moments of sexual interaction made me feel so loved and so physically good when the church was telling me sex was bad and you should wait until marriage. This narrative left me more confused than anything else. I just wanted to be loved and give love, and I had not experienced this through God yet.

Entering college, I longed to be loved. I again turned to guys, but this time was date raped. Depressed and filled with shame, I began to question God. Did He care? Did He let this happen? Was it my fault? I had so many questions about my rape. I was so lost and so broken, but Jesus never gave up on me. He used my broken heart to turn me to Him, so He could repair it.

God brought me to a point of utter dependency. I was a freshman in college, in a different state, without friends, and Jesus used all of this to get me to reach out to Him.

Get to know Jesus.

My whole life, I went to church, but I lacked the heart of Christianity, a personal relationship with Jesus. I was not living a fulfilled and satisfying life because I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Friends, do you see how crazy this is? I went to church, but I did not know Jesus! I did not know that His love would be the only love that could satisfy me! I had never before experienced the life change that He provides.

As I began to get to know Jesus, I also had a secret. I was addicted to porn and struggled with compulsive masturbation. I would go to Cru college ministry events and then come back to my dorm and watch porn and masturbate. I had so much sexual brokenness that needed healing, and I just did not know where or who to turn to. After being raped, I turned to the Internet to ask questions about sex. Porn was my sex education and soon became my comforter. 

I turned to it when I felt sad about my past abuse or during seasons of loneliness. The whole situation was never freeing. I felt sneaky and dirty. Hiding away in my college apartment when my roommates were in the room next door. Looking at screens in the middle of the night because I could not fall asleep. 

For months, I lived in secrecy, afraid to tell anyone, because I had never heard a Christian talk about porn, especially in regards to women. A few times, I heard, “men struggle with porn.” Eventually, I went to a Cru college ministry women’s night and a woman went first and shared her story of struggling with sex addiction. For the first time, I realized I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t a total freak.

That night, I was able to go second and share my story with a Cru leader.

Women struggle, too.

This started my journey to healing and recovery. Once I knew I wasn’t alone, I then had to get to the point where I desired freedom. After many failed attempts at finding freedom on my own, I reached out to a safe person at my church and began meeting with her weekly. At the time, I didn’t know about amazing resources like Covenant Eyes or Authentic Intimacy (where I work now). We simply read our Bibles together at Panera. 

Now, years later, I have accountability software on my devices. Even though I haven’t looked at porn for years, I know I could easily fall at any moment. There have been a few nights where I’ve laid in bed, unable to sleep, where the temptation to look at porn has crept into my mind. As a Christian minister, I want to hold myself to a high level of accountability. Just knowing that if I looked at anything on my devices, my best friend and husband would be notified, keeps me from clicking. I believe all Christians should set up safeguards in their lives to protect them from falling into sin.

Another life-changing moment for me in my recovery journey was what I like to call my “doorknob moment.” At the time, I was living in a condo with five other girls. I had my own room and still struggled with porn. I had to get to the place where I would do anything to find freedom, so I removed the doorknob from my door. I did not deserve to have privacy. My roommates were confused and asked, “Why does your door not have a doorknob?” Confessing my secrets to them actually created openness and accountability in our home. God used this moment to allow my roommates to confess sexual sin.

As I began walking in freedom, I began to disciple younger girls in Cru. It was difficult to find resources about sexual issues for women, so I started my own ministry and created my own blogs. I wanted further training and moved to Dallas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently, I’m studying how women experience sexual shame and how they find freedom. I am also the Director of Discipleship at Authentic Intimacy.

Find healing starting today.

If you are new to this journey of healing, I want to share a few action steps for you to take. 

  1. Grow in your intimacy with Jesus. Get to know Him more. Juli Slattery, the co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, always says, “Every sexual issue is a spiritual issue.”
  2. Put boundaries in place like Covenant Eyes. This serves to protect you and creates an easy way to set up accountability partners.
  3. Remove your “doorknob.” Is there something in your life that needs to be removed? Is something or someone causing you to look at porn? If it is breaking up with a boyfriend or removing the privacy in your home, you have to get to that place where you will do anything to find freedom.
  4. Keep all devices out of your bedroom. Buy an alarm clock. When you go to bed, leave your phone and laptops in the kitchen or living room. For me, night time was my biggest temptation because I was alone, in the dark, and couldn’t sleep. 

God has taken my painful story and has made it my passion to help others. He has healed me, freed me from sexual shame and sexual addiction, and I believe He can do that in your life too. I love connecting with women who are walking similar roads. Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram. I would love to connect with you.


Joy SkarkaJoy Pedrow Skarka is passionate about creating spaces to free women from shame. Joy is the Director of Discipleship for Authentic Intimacy and desires to reclaim God’s design for sexuality. Currently, Joy is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Ministries degree from Dallas Theological Seminary studying how women find freedom from sexual shame.