If you have come to this page you may be seeking help for yourself, your spouse, or another loved one. So, first of all we want to commend you for seeking that help. The sin of pornography can carry with it great shame, and many people find it difficult to come forward. On this page you will find resources, links to helpful websites, and the answers to some of the questions you might be holding in your hearts. I pray that this might be "the first step" toward freedom for you and your loved ones.
How do I know if I have a problem?
If you are asking this question, that might be the first indication that you need help. However, it is confusing to determine the difference between a simple moral failing, an addiction, or a compulsive disorder. Generally speaking, if you are unable to attain 90 days of freedom at a time, something needs to change. Pornography use, coupled with masturbation, changes the chemical make up of the brain and it can take up to 100 days for the brain to heal from the changes that have taken place. In the following video Gary Wilson speaks about the addictiveness of internet pornography. You can find more of his videos at www.yourbrainonporn.com.
If you are wondering if you really need help, you can take this easy online assessment. The assessment is based on 7 different levels which range from someone who might look at rated R movies once in a while, to someone who is compulsively acting out in dangerous ways. For an explanation of the seven levels watch the video in the bottom left corner of the website. When you take the assessment you can invite a sponsor to receive your results. If you are working with a counselor or spiritual director, enter that persons email to share your results.
5 Steps toward freedom
Step 1 Make a Good Confession
When we decide to change our lives, to repent of past sins, and to grow in virtue the most powerful sacrament available to us is the sacrament of reconciliation (confession). In fact, most of the men I know in recovery say that their recovery started with a good sacramental confession. They were honest, forthright, and clear. One of the pitfalls of addiction is the tendency to hide the truth from others. Many addicts minimize their behavior both in and outside of the confessional. Below you will find a video and a podcast which talk about how to make a good confession, which is the beginning of a lasting change.
On making a good confession
Step 2 Close off access to porn
Every time we go to confession and pray the act of contrition we say, "I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin." In another version we say, "I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life." The firm resolve to avoid occasions of sin and amend our lives means removing all pornography from our homes and closing the doors to accessing porn online. This means that we ensure that our home internet is filtered, and our mobile devices use filtering and accountability software. Saying "yes" to Christ means that we must say "no" to sin. Using filters and accountability software, like Covenanteyes is a necessary first step to freedom for most people. Go to our tools for parents page to find instructions on setting up home filtering, and resources for restricting mobile devices and video game systems. You will want to start thinking about an accountability partner to hold your codes and passwords.
Step 3 Getting accountability
Pornography addiction, like all addictions, is about relationships. So, healing from this behavior also happens in relationship with God, our family, and our friends. For so many, pornography is a secret that they keep from the most important people in their lives. In a way, they even pretend to keep it secret from Jesus as they attempt to free themselves without calling on the help of Christ in prayer. You can start by finding a trusted friend, priest, or counselor to share your struggle with. Experience shows that group support is indispensable to living sobriety. There are many 12 step meetings in our area which provide accountability and group support for men and women who struggle with lust. You can find a list of meetings here.
The diocese of Lincoln also sponsors accountability groups for men and spouses of addicts. To learn more about these groups contact Fr Sean Kilcawley by phone or email. Below you will find a video on prayer and the necessity of community in recovery:
Prayer when tempted
Community and recovery
Step 4 Counseling
For most people, recovery from a pornography addiction has three phases: Sobriety (changing behavior), healing of wounds, and transformation. Oftentimes, pornography is simply a way of covering old wounds or avoiding painful emotions. Some people admit that they don't use pornography to "feel good" but rather to "feel numb". When someone gives up pornography they are often surprised by how much they start to feel. A good counselor can be a great help in processing the emotional pain that "sits underneath" the behavior. Click here to find more information about the counselors at Catholic Social Services.
1 Peter 5:8-9 states, "Stay Sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith." Staying sober and alert means that we have to acquire "recovery capital". Successful people do lots of things to maintain recovery. Locking down internet access, confession and spiritual direction, accountability groups, and counseling are all facets to living healthy relational lives that are free from the sin of pornography. Below you will find two videos. The first is on vulnerability in the spiritual life. Conversion begins with the experience of mercy as we allow Jesus to encounter us in our sinfulness. This should be playing in the background of each step we take toward recovery. In the second video Dr Peter Kleponis speaks on his program's seven steps. Dr Kleponis reinforces the need for "recovery capital" in our healing process. For more information on any of these steps contact Fr Sean Kilcawley, Director of the Family Life Office.
7 Point Plan
Support for wives
One of the most devastating things a spouse can find out is that her husband has had a problem with pornography. This discovery can lead to feelings of betrayal, guilt, anger, frustration, and shame. Too often, wives go overlooked and unsupported when faced with these feelings. If you find yourself in this position, I am so sorry for what you are going through and want you to know that you don't have to go through it alone. There are some helpful resources both online and at the diocese to support you and help you and your family heal. The best online resource can be found at www.bloomforwomen.com. Here you will find online courses to assist you as you recover from the betrayal you have experienced through the discovery of your husband's pornography problem. It is especially effective for women who feel too embarrassed or ashamed to seek help. You can also find a section devoted to spouses at Integrity Restored
We also offer a weekly support group for women who have been affected by a husbands pornography addiction. The group meets to share experiences of healing and support one another along the path to recovery. For more information on this group or additional resources contact Fr Sean Kilcawley at the Family Life Office. Below you will find two video testimonials from wives who have found healing and recovery after betrayal: