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To the Women Who Struggle With Porn

Women struggle with Porn.

15 percent of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month.

Many are ashamed to reach out for help because they believe that pornography addiction is a man’s problem.

Pornography addiction is a human problem.

The need to feel cherished, seen, and loved is something we all need to hear. When we don’t, we try to get it elsewhere.

This week, join Josh and Kit as they welcome Kyle Bowman from our Regeneration staff onto Becoming Whole to speak to all of the Women Who Struggle with Porn.

Highlights:

“In confession, we break through to the genuine community of the cross of Jesus Christ; in confession, we affirm our cross.”

“for many years, even centuries, it was a commonly held belief that women did not become alcoholics or addicts.”


Questions:

How did you begin viewing pornography?

What are some of the lies you believe about yourself attached to this viewing of pornography?

Do you want to release the shame of watching pornography?

Resources/Extras:

Oasis – Online Group for Women Struggling With Porn

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Kit 5:32
According to Barna. 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month, and many are ashamed to reach out for help because they believe that pornography addiction is a man’s problem. We know that pornography addiction is a human problem. If you’re a woman who silently struggled with porn or you are concerned about somebody who is we know that our conversation today with our staff member Kyle Bowman will provide you with encouraging And hope to pursue freedom. Kyle will be leading a group via zoom specifically for women who struggle with pornography starting in July. So we’re excited about that. It will be called Oasis and will provide shownotes details about that. So Kyle, welcome. Thank you. I’m so glad to be with you guys today, really looking forward to this conversation that’s so important as we know, so many women who come to us, you know, a lot of shame and, and, you know, have never told anybody. And so I’m really hopeful that this conversation is going to be really helpful to them and to people who love them. So Kyle, you’ve met with many women who struggle with porn, you know, since you’ve been here at region, what are some of the main themes that you hear as they as they share their hearts with you?

Kyle Bowman 6:52
So one of the main things, things that I hear is that these are women who just want to feel loved Anyone feel cherished and valued. You know, they want to hear someone say, you know what you are important to me. And they want to know that there is somebody who really sees them, who cares about what’s going on in their lives and, you know, will care if they’re hurting. But there’s a point at which, you know, in the course of life, they just haven’t believed that anybody really cares for them.

Josh 7:31
I think that’s, you know, I walk with many more men and women and I think that there’s some, you know, that I think a lot of men relate with that to that, who served with pornography, but Kyle, in your experience, what are some of the things that have contributed to that? Like, if if they if they longed for us, we all do to be cherished, valued, seen loved, but they somewhere deep inside they don’t feel like that’s true. Much of the evening before I answer that, but like, like, do you do most of the women you meet with and kit you can speak to this too. But most of them come in aware, if they’re showing pornography that that there’s also this other stuff going on in their lives where they feel like they’re not deeply cherish loved valued?

Kyle Bowman 8:11
Well, I think if you ask them, you know, what do you feel is missing in your life or something like that they can answer that question. But initially, they don’t necessarily connect the dots with, oh, this might be a link to my pornography addiction.

Josh 8:32
Right? That makes sense. Yeah. So so the question is going to ask what are some of the things that that contribute to those those faulty beliefs that they’re not seeing that love cared for?

Kyle Bowman 8:43
Well, I think what people don’t realize is that, you know, we all have our worldview, about sex and about relationships. And so, in order to get at what a person’s worldview is, and you have to ask some specific questions. So you’d have to say, Well, tell me, what is it like, for you? How is it lived out to be cherished and valued and loved? What does that look like? And so you get to hear what that’s like for them. And then you hear you, you ask, okay, how did that play out? In your family of origin? You know, what was, was loved and cherished, being cherished, something that played out in your family? Was it something that you just heard about, but didn’t actually experience? So, you know, we bring that kind of conversation up and then what usually comes up is that these women realize that, hey, you know, I had this legitimate need, that went unmet. And that unmet need, has put me in a position to then to go seek out how to fulfill that on my own To do it apart from God. And so, you know, with a lot of people, many people know about the five love languages. And, you know, if a young woman feels like, their love language just wasn’t practiced in their home, then they realize, okay, that was something that I lacked. And that was something that was missing in my life. And they realize that they have been given some, even some bad messages about sex. Some have this, you know, have moms that have really romanticized, what sex and marriage looks like. And even if it wasn’t present in their home, you know, the mom will push and say, you know, you really want to look for this kind of person, and they should do XYZ for you. And so there’s this thing that’s out there, that these women begin to seek Because it’s what they were told they need to seek out. Or sometimes you have moms who just didn’t share about relationships, or in some people never even had sex talked about in the home. Mm hmm. And so they’re left to try to figure that out on their own. And so those are some of the ways that the beliefs start to develop and grow over time.

Kit 11:29
So they have this kind of predisposed vulnerability because of some of those things. Mm hmm. How do they begin to view pornography? How does that usually happen then?

Kyle Bowman 11:40
With a lot of the women that I talk with, they usually have found it in their own homes or in the home of a relative, some, you know, work somewhere introduced by a friend. And then what would happen is once they stumbled across upon it, then they would kind of go back and look some more and look some more. And then before they knew it, you know, some of these young women as early as age 13 or 14, they were already viewing pornography very regularly.

Kit 12:16
And a very early developmentally sensitive age.

Kyle Bowman 12:19
Yes, yes. And without any explanation to go with, right. And then some of them started with. Maybe it started with romance novels. And then, one day they pick up a romance novel, that’s really more erotica than it is romance. And they become engrossed in that genre. And then, just like with many addictions, there comes a point that that’s not enough anymore. And so then maybe they will actually go seek out viewing pornography so they’ll go online or you know, use a device to try to, to find pornography to look at.

Josh 13:08
Yeah. And that that whole desensitization of the brain desensitization and sensitization where the the brain becomes desensitized to regular life giving experiences that used to satisfy and the brain likewise becomes more sensitized to, to the temptation towards pornography or whatever the sexual acting out is. It’s such it is such a trap for people. And it’s really the brain’s attempt to try to manage what is what it was never meant to manage and kind of you know, it’s almost like you imagine somebody who’s, who knows how to juggle three balls in the air and somebody starts throwing other balls at them and they start moving you know, more and more frantically, but they’re really in trouble at that point.

Kit 13:55
Well, in the in the past, you know, all we had available to us Was were books but now I mean, the there’s such a significant difference between reading something and watching something. I mean, the power of these images for these young people is just so it’s so massive that that kind of power that could have over someone’s and, you know, at a very impressionable age very different than reading a book, you know.

Kyle Bowman 14:25
Yeah. And I even saw, and this was probably maybe 10 years ago, there was a statistic from some research, I believe was done maybe by Christianity today. And women are like 70% more likely to take these relationships offline. So, there comes a point at which they then decide I need to try to do this in real life. Um, screen is not enough anymore. And so they take it offline and then try to seek out relationships or or encounters after a period of time.

Josh 15:15
So where were men and not exclusively all men, but where many men kind of just enter this kind of dead end of pornography use in the pornography use escalates to, you know, harder and harder core pornography. There’s a large percentage of women who end up kind of, at some point reaching that reaching a stage of like that they’re longing for that real intimacy or that real relationship, even though this isn’t the best place to go with it, but then it goes outside of pornography to hooking up with some some guy or trying to get into another relationship. That’s what you’re saying.

Kyle Bowman 15:53
And yeah, and even, and, and there’s probably not a difference between what Whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual, because you have is, you know, just as many women who are addicted to homosexual hetero homosexual pornography as as there are heterosexual. And so even just, you know, as I talked earlier, I’m just these women thinking about, you know, porn is just this man’s problem for man. And, you know, it’s really this is a message that has come from the culture to say that, hey, this is a man’s issue. And so there was even a point in history, according to the Handbook of addiction treatment for women. It said that for many years, even centuries, it was commonly a commonly held belief that women did not become alcoholics or addicts. And so now you’ve thrown in this hole Shame peace any women walk in the door with and when they come in, they’re like, okay, there’s something really wrong with me because I am involved in something that is strictly for men.

Josh 17:18
You know, it’s it’s crazy because on the one hand, it’s it’s so sad to learn over the years that there are so many women who start with pornography. On the other hand, it is such good news that’s coming into the light for just this reason, because to think that you’re the only one is never a helpful thing when you’re talking about advice or something that and if you’re trying to, and if something like pornography that that in and of itself produces shame and shames the person that assists them in it. Shame is so a meshed in the whole cycle of pornography use. Then just it just makes the matter all the worse. So it’s one of the reasons I’m glad you’ll be doing this. This online. course because I think it’s a it’s another opportunity for women to come together and find I’m not the only one and to grow and to be able to help each other by being in community around these things.

Kit 18:11
And I think that’s huge, isn’t it? Cow for to be like, Oh my gosh, these people these look like these people, you know, are like me then and they they are not this unique, you know, something uniquely freakish about me that this is something that people struggle with. And we can you know, we can relate to each other and we can help each other.

Kyle Bowman 18:32
Yes, exactly.

Josh 18:34
So, so thinking about shame, Kyle and Kitt, you can speak to this too. How do you help women release the shame around pornography addiction?

Kyle Bowman 18:43
Well, I think you’d have to start with that cultural lie. That’s, you know, about men only being addicted to pornography, and just even about women and sexuality, and especially Christian women and sexual reality with, I think we’re now learning better, how to have the conversation about sex within the church and within Christian homes, so that that message is different. It’s not this kind of message that, well, you know, you shut it down until you get married and then you flip it on when you get married and then everything will be okay. Oh, do we have to deal with that? First and so, um, we talked about just okay. You know, you’ve heard this story that because men are so much more visual than women, that, you know, that’s why they are the ones that have a porn problem. And that’s not the case for women. But it’s not an issue of vision. Is this a heart issue? This is this is really about what’s going on in the heart. And you know, Start with going back to the beginning and going to Genesis, Genesis three sixes. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took up this fruit and ate. And so if we look at those words, desire, delight, if we’re looking at them biblically, it can mean coveted delectable thing, intense longing. And so those words sound a lot like lust. And so, that’s what we’re hearing from Eve’s heart is that there was lust that was being birthed. And it wasn’t just because of what she saw. It was because she she questioned the truth of what God said to her. You know, the enemy was able to get her to start to question that. And so now there was something different that was going on in her heart and soul That forced her to make this decision. And then we also, you know, we talked about, hey, how did you learn about sex? And hear some of that, and then compare that and start talking about God’s design for sex and find out what kind of messages they received about sex. You know, some women have, you know, parents have said, you know, well, sex is really dirty. And it’s or, you know, this is just your duty, if you get married, this is just going to be your duty and you have to just kind of be okay with this part of this is just a part of your life and something you have to endure. So we talked about those kinds of things, so that we can shine the light of God’s truth on that dismantle those lies, so that there is more about the truth of God’s design for sex and sexual reality.

Kit 22:02
It’s so important, isn’t it to have those conversations about God’s you the instruction of, of what’s true about what God says. They just we just don’t. We just don’t articulate that and communicate that well to young people and so important to do that. And I think also one of the things that I talk about with with women that I meet with is they do they’re so filled with shame, they’ve so misunderstood so much about this. So when they have this shame, like when they’ve participated in pornography, they want to run away from God. And that’s the very moment when I say, this is a great system opportunity to invite God into that place.

Kyle Bowman 22:49
Yeah, that seems so foreign. Mm hmm. So many women, it’s, even if I say to them, Well, you know, sexual desire was created by God. I, you know, I get deer in the headlights? Look, yeah, yeah. Why not just say, you know, you can go to God with this. Like No, that’s there’s no way he wants me even in his presence and yeah, I think I have you know we talked about just the whole picture even of the prodigal son, you know, you got this young man who went off and he was hanging with prostitutes in pain with pigs. And of course that was wrong as a Jewish man comes home. He’s probably smelly. And not only that he’s been with the pigs. His father shouldn’t be touching him until he is what they would consider ceremonially clean. But, you know, the scripture says, when the father saw him far off, that he ran to the sun, and he embraced him and kissed him. Yeah. And that’s what God wants to do. Even After we’ve had a fall, God is not afraid of wrapping his arms around us and touching us. We’re never that dirty for him.

Kit 24:09
Yeah. And I think that is such a concept that’s so foreign that it takes. It can take a really it can take a while. It’s a real process for people to be able to really trust that and then begin to do it. And once they do, then they realize, oh my gosh, there is something that that does happen. When I invite him into that moment of pain and shame. I didn’t know that that would happen.

Josh 24:34
No, I kind of sense this even even now for some of our listeners, like just this invitation from the Father. That story the prodigal son on the one hand, what what you’re describing you guys is that is that a lot of times when somebody has has been embroiled in pornography, they actually stand against themselves as though they are the older brothers. So they’re kind of split off themselves. So the father who wants To run to them and embrace them while they’re yet covered in mud. And yet those the very ones who need that kind of standing up and saying, you know, like, wait, why? Why are you treating me this way? Don’t treat me this way. I don’t deserve it, you know, he, I squandered all this he gave me. And I think the father, even right now maybe same some of our listeners, the same thing he said to the older brother, which is, we have to celebrate, because you were far away and now you are near you were dead, and now you’re alive. And so I think there’s some listeners who may even just need to hear that the grace and love and tenderness and the intense desire that the Father has for the one who’s coming home after having, you know, been in the mode of pornography. So Kyle, let’s let’s talk about this as somebody begins to break away from pornography. And so some of the women who are Be a part of the Oasis course you’re gonna be doing. They’re in many ways giving up something that’s been a source of security for them. And so talk about that, how do we help? Or how do you both help women who are giving up that security blanket?

Kyle Bowman 26:20
Yeah, you know, you have to give them space to grieve. So often, a lot of a lot of folks will want to just move a person right to Okay, let’s let’s fix the problem and fix the problem. But I don’t think your heart can fully be open until you can grieve, what you’re going to lose and not just losing porn, but everyone who uses porn has a perceived benefit they get from it. And so now all of a sudden, this thing that I was leaning on is now going to be taken away from me. And so what, what will I have? And so that’s an area to really allow some of these women to grieve that this thing that was soothing to me, has to go. And I need to grieve the death of it. And then even grieving some of the things that haven’t happened for them in life to grieve, you know, yes, I, there were unmet needs that I had that in in that had an effect of me, I wanted to have better relationships at home, or I was in this home where maybe sex was was something that was like talked about all the time and not in the great context. Or maybe it’s a woman who has really discovered that within her marriage. Sex has not been fulfilling for her or single women who are following Christ and longing to have a relationship. And that hasn’t come to fruition or even women who are struggling with same sex attraction. And knowing that that’s not God’s best for them and they can they can’t have that. So those are things to have space to grieve because once that happens, then there’s some some room for God.

Josh 28:37
I mean, I think what what I hear you saying is and I believe this wholeheartedly, to a couple things. One is that whatever whatever our attachments are, we have to begin by recognizing that we are created for attachments we are created, to have someone who comforts us to have somebody and places to go for security to have places for connection value. And just because we’ve plugged into an illegitimate source for those things, doesn’t mean that when we unplug from a legitimate source, we won’t feel lost. And so this recognizing the legitimacy, and really what we’re doing is you’re describing is not grieving so much that this thing won’t be a part of your life anymore. But grief is kind of a way of honoring, that you are made for connection, you’re made for value you’re made for security. And so when when you unplug from whatever the sources, it’s grieving as a way of honoring this part of you, that feels the loss of that, and then it opens you up to, to now finding well, where Where am I supposed to take these legitimate, legitimate needs? And where do I go with this? So how do you help people move from from that grief to hope?

Kyle Bowman 29:51
So one exercise I like to do with women is to say okay, let’s let’s look at your perceived benefits that you believe porn has given you. And, you know, make a list, okay? list all those things out. But then we want them to see it in light of God’s perspective so what I may have them do is say okay, porn you know what you are always there for me when I need it you then we want to have them speak about the truth of what porn really was. And that is okay but always always was left feeling alone and abandoned and empty. Well, then we don’t want to stop there. Because then we want them to have I want them to be able to be filled with God’s truth. So then we can say okay, well what’s a promise from God? And okay, God has promised that he will never leave me or forsake me and never have to feel abandoned because His presence is always with me. And so starting an exercise like that is a way to get to move past this thing that I feel like I’m that’s going to leave this big gaping hole in my life. And then I also try to give them some tangible ways to, like release that grief to the Lord. So I might I may say, hey, what if you wrote some of this stuff on a three by five card and then you rip it up and you toss it away or you you burn it? Or maybe you find a rock that represents all of your grief and all of the things you want to give to the Lord and then you take it and toss it somewhere you toss it in the woods you find a lake toss it in the lake. And just as something symbolic because for some women need something more tangible Do and so then this kind of just opens up their hearts to really receive more of God more of his truth in their hearts more of himself. And it’s, it’s just wonderful to even watch that transition happen for a person you actually see physical change take place in terms of their countenance and smiling more and head held up high. It’s a beautiful transition to watch.

Kit 32:37
Yeah, you know, I do think that that grieving is so important. I think sometimes I talk with women, about like, if they’re grieving, if part of what they’re doing is acting out of their their disappointment in a marriage in that you have to grieve that that marriage isn’t what you thought it was gonna be. Be in order to make room for what it is. And sometimes that process can be really helpful or, you know, you’re single and this is not what I expected my life to be and you grieve that you know, and you you lament and you’re really honest with God about all that, then it makes room for that this is the life I have. And so it can that grieving can be a very key part of hope.

Kyle Bowman 33:26
Absolutely, absolutely.

Josh 33:28
That’s great. I don’t think I thought of it that way before that’s, I like that a lot. Okay, so we we’ve got a few more minutes, but we can’t wrap this conversation up without talking about community. So we all know that community is such an important part of, of healing and freedom from from pornography. But love to hear from you guys about why that’s so important for women, and maybe what that looks like because I think a lot of women who start with pornography may have community but what is what what’s different about the community Where that’s really supportive of freedom. Yeah,

Kyle Bowman 34:03
I strongly believe that healing happens in community. Even if you look, you know, Jesus never healed in secret. He always healed in public. He healed in community. Um, you know, in Scripture James talks about, you know, confessing our sins to one another so we can be healed. I love this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from life together and he says, In confession, we break through to the genuine community of the cross of Jesus Christ. In confession, we affirm our cross and so when you have others around you, who can be the face of Jesus for you, as you bring these things to him. It’s such a remarkable affirmation of God’s love among other people. And it keeps you from isolating too, because so often, you know, you’re keeping things a secret. you isolate more and more and more until you’ve kind of cut yourself off from community all together and have this opportunity to bring it into the light to bring it amongst others who are willing to just shower the love of Jesus on you. And then that helps you to have a more authentic relationship with him.

Kit 35:38
Yeah, something very powerful happens in shared suffering. When someone has gone through something or is going through something that you’ve suffered, and you share that together, there’s something you know, right you can’t make up you can’t muster up what it feels like to suffer from some of these things in life to to suffer from a pornography addiction. And so when when you, you know, find out people who are authentic and vulnerable and real about that there’s something that connects you, and you can really understand and help each other in a unique way.

Josh 36:16
Like those things I think the other thing that I’ve seen as I’ve walked men into my own experience with pornography, recovery from pornography addiction, I think there’s something powerful about the experience of community, especially for those who part of the reason they ran to pornography in the first place was some deep desire to be seen, to be loved to be valued. And so as we come in, and are honest about this thing that can feel so shameful, so dirty, like such an indictment about our worth and our identity and the experience in that environment, that we are honored, that we are treated, not according to what we’ve done with pornography, but about who we truly are in Christ, and about who he is making us to be as people are able to see and call out you know, The things that they already see beginning to bear fruit in our lives, then it can begin to be like, Oh, you know what, I don’t think I want pornography if this is available somewhere else, you know. So it’s, it’s, it can be a helpful thing. And there’s so much more we can say about that. Kyle, before we wrap up, I want to ask you to pray for people who are listening. But why don’t you just share real briefly with us a little bit about the Oasis group so that people can hear it right from you about what this is going to be?

Kyle Bowman 37:27
Sure. So this is going to be an eight week online group. And this is a place you know, one of the reasons why it’s called Oasis is because, you know, a waist is means a place of refuge and relief. And so that’s what we want this group to be. We want this group to be a place of refuge and relief for women who are saying, Hey, you know, I don’t want this in my life anymore. And I’ve I’ve tried a lot of different things and these these things, other things. haven’t worked. And so we want to foster this community of women who together want to walk in freedom and want to encourage one another as we go along together in the journey.

Josh 38:16
Awesome. So if you’re listening and you want to jumpstart your own journey away from pornography, or you want to just strengthen the journey you’ve already begun, we’d love for you to check that out. Space is limited so you can see the show notes or look on our website for more information about Oasis Kyle, thanks so much for that and we look forward to to, to that event started that program starting soon, but would you wrap us up with with prayer and especially for those listening who themselves have been wrestling with pornography?

Kyle Bowman 38:43
Oh, gracious God. You know, the world offers so many traps to lead us towards something that is supposed to make us feel better to make feel good about ourselves. And Father, we know that all of those things are just false. And, and Lord, particularly for women who are struggling with pornography, who have just been so afraid of even coming out of the shadows and saying, yes, this is me. Laura asked that this conversation today was one that ignites some hope, and even God, some anticipation of being part of a community of women who are seeking after wholeness. And Lord, I know that there are some women who are going yeah, I get it, but I’m not so sure yet. Father, I ask that you would meet them right where they are. And Lord, would you them the way to the the places they need to be to receive the healing and wholeness that they so long for. And Father, I pray that you would even give them courage to step out of the shadows and say, you know what I might be afraid. But Lord, I trust you in this and I’m going to walk with you in this. And so Father, we thank you for the opportunity to just bring these things before you without condemnation or shame, knowing that you want to take us to a place of freedom. And we ask these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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