A year or two ago, I found a post on one of Anne Jackson’s blogs about her addiction to pornography. It was the first time that I’d read about a woman with a porn addiction. It wasn’t that I didn’t think women could be addicted to porn. It was just completely off my radar.
There’s a reason for that. Well, at least two big ones.
First of all, we focus a lot of time on pornography as something that men struggle with. While men are in the majority with pornography viewing and addiction, the number of women struggling with pornography is still quite high.
Secondly, the church doesn’t usually present itself as a good place for women to discuss addictions to pornography and sex.
I suspect that our problems are rooted in part in an unnecessarily low view of women due to misinterpreting certain passages of the Bible concerning women, while ignoring those that uplift them. This creates an undercurrent of devaluing women that may leave them feeling like second class citizens, and therefore minimizes their problems in light of the “real” problems that men face. I don’t want to get lost on a rabbit trail on this point since I need to keep this post moving, but I’ll be happy to clarify this a bit in the comments.
Another reason why women aren’t dealing with their addictions to pornography and sex in the church is the crippling shame they bring. It’s tough for anyone to come clean about struggles with lust, pornography, or sex outside of marriage. There’s fear of being condemned, alienated, and cast out as hopeless.
Today I’ve asked author Crystal Renaud to drop by and talk about her new book Dirty Girls Come Clean in order to help spread awareness about the solutions available for women and because I want everyone who struggles with addiction, pornography or otherwise, to find freedom through God’s Spirit. Crystal is a former pornography addict who now runs Dirty Girls Ministry and offers women hope and a safe place to talk about their addictions.
Matthew Paul Turner asked me to host Crystal on my blog, and I’m glad he suggested it. My questions are in bold with Cystal’s answers below:
How big is this problem? What are some statistics of women who struggle with pornography addiction?
According to a recent survey, 17% of women struggle with an addiction to pornography, while 25% of Christian women also struggle with pornography. So depending on the demographic of women, it’s one in four women or one in six women. And as far as web traffic, one in three (40% of) visitors to adult websites are women.
Can you share a little bit of your struggle struggles with pornography and sexual addiction with us?
I first came into contact with pornography at the age of 10 when I found a pornographic magazine in my older brother’s bathroom. I had to decide in that moment whether I would turn away or look at the material. I chose the latter. What followed that fateful decision was an eight-year addiction to pornography and pornography related behavior. I didn’t come clean about my addiction until I was nearly 19 years old when a woman I trusted shared with me about her past struggles with pornography use. It was through her confession that I was able to confess my own struggles and finally surrender this addiction to Jesus Christ and to a relationship of accountability with that woman.
There are not many resources for women with pornography and sexual addiction, what led you to write Dirty Girls Come Clean?
When I first began ministering in the area of pornography and sexual addiction, I never imagined I would write a book on women’s pornography addiction. But as I led support groups, I could see the lack of resources available for this kind of support. So in February of 2008, I made the decision (with the nudge of the Holy Spirit) to begin writing.
Overcoming an addiction is certainly a process. What would you say to women who fall back into destructive habits and struggle with guilt?
I tell them that it wasn’t overnight that they became addicted, so it won’t be overnight that they find complete freedom. Recovery from any affliction is a process and we must continue to embrace the process, even if we slip back into it. Getting back up is the most important step we can take.
You also started a ministry in February of 2009 for women called Dirty Girls Ministries? What made you choose the name “Dirty Girls” to describe your ministry?
The name Dirty Girls isn’t about referring to women who are addicted to porn or who have been addicted to porn as dirty. One of the most common responses I hear from women in the throes of addiction is, “I feel do dirty.” Because of this, we are about taking on that stigma so many women are already feeling and providing them a safe place to come and find help and hope for recovery through Jesus Christ.
We understand that Dirty Girls is a strong name and may offend some. But we also see that it attracts an audience we might not otherwise reach—those directly searching for pornography. We often receive messages from women (and men) who were browsing the web for porn but found help instead.
What are some of the core struggles for women who are pornography and sexually addicted?
What’s important to know about pornography and sexual addiction, it’s almost never about sex. It’s a core intimacy disorder. We see women all the time addicted to pornography simply because they are using it as a way to cope with pain in their lives. Just like women who cut, or have an eating disorder, pornography functions in the same way in their lives.
Typically the core struggles are unhealed wounds from sexual abuse, absent parent(s), spiritual abuse (the failure of a spiritual leader in their lives) and others.
How are the sexual struggles of women similar to the sexual struggles of men? How are they different?
Men are typically classified as the “visually stimulated” of the human race. While this is true, women are also visually stimulated and are attracted to pornography in many of the same ways as men are. But what makes women and women’s use of pornography all the more destructive and potentially dangerous is our innate desire for emotional connection. 81% of women, who frequent pornographic websites, will eventually escalate their addiction to in-person encounters because of their desire to be close to someone.
Thanks Crystal for your ministry and this book!
In order to learn more about Dirty Girls Come Clean and Cystal’s acronym for recovery from addition: S.C.A.R.S. (S—Surrender; C—Confession; A—Accountability; R—Responsibility; S—Sharing ), visit Crystal’s web site or check out a sample online.