Reader Question: My daughter watches porn! How do I talk to her about it?What do you do if you discover that your daughter watches porn?

Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it, and today’s is from a mom who is worried that her daughter is getting sucked into pornography:

Could you please address, or direct me to articles regarding women who are addicted to porn.  I’m suspecting my 19 year daughter struggles with porn and I would like to understand it and pray about addressing it with her.

Women watching porn is a HUGE topic, and I won’t be able to deal with all in one post. But I’ll take a stab at it today, and then I’ll likely write a follow-up post sometime soon based on the comments and questions I get! 30% of porn addicts are now female, so this is not just a male problem. And while we tend to think of 50 Shades of Grey as being the female temptation and pornography as being the male temptation, increasingly women are seeking out porn online as well. So we need to talk about this.

My Daughter Watches Porn--three things you must tell her

Things to Talk To Your Daughter About if She Watches Porn

Porn completely distorts sexual arousal

Whether you’re male or female, porn works the same way. You watch things that are sexually stimulating, and that has a pleasurable effect on your body and in your mind. Just like with a drug, the pleasure centers in your brain are stimulated. And when that happens, the brain will want it to happen again.

The brain ends up pairing the stimulus–pornography–with the response–sexual arousal. But it was never supposed to be that way. We’re supposed to be aroused in relationship, with a person, not with an image.

When you use pornography, and then you get married, you likely won’t be able to be aroused by your husband. Even if he’s an awesome lover, you have to fantasize in your mind in order to get aroused–and many women report that they aren’t able to reach orgasm unless they bring back some of those images into their minds.

You can get over this; you can rewire your brain back to proper arousal. But it is tough, and it takes time and a lot of healing from God. So don’t set yourself up for this in the first place!

Porn distorts your sexuality

What women crave sexually tends to be romance and relationship and feeling as if we’re being swept off of our feet.

Porn tends to be very violent; very degrading; and very rough. The things that are pictured in pornography tend to be things that most women would not actually want in real life.

Almost all pornography now features what would normally be called abuse of women. It usually involves men using women, not men romancing women at all. And women are often the objects for many men.

What happens when you watch this? You start to feel as if it’s normal. And you start to desire things (even if you think you may never act them out in real life) that you would normally never want.

Interestingly, one of the few areas of pornography online that isn’t violent towards women is lesbian pornography. And many women, even women who would normally identify themselves as heterosexual, get sucked into watching that. Amy Riordan from Walking in Freedom has documented her journey into lesbian pornography and out of it, and she’s very honest about the effects that it had on her and her marriage.

Those are real women being hurt

We tend to think of pornography as a “victimless crime”. Sure, they shouldn’t actually be doing that, and sure, it’s kind of extreme, but they’re getting paid so it’s okay.

No, it’s not. Most porn workers were sexually abused as children. Many ran away and got into prostitution when they were underage. Many were trafficked. Many use drugs just to get through the shoots. These are hurting women who often feel as if they have no choice–and many don’t.

But what’s even scarier is this: as porn grows, so the demand for trafficked women grows. And pornography addiction works kind of like alcohol: at first you may be able to get a buzz from a drink or two. Then you need three drinks to get the same buzz. Then four drinks. You develop a tolerance.

With porn, at first “regular” sex is exciting. Then you develop a tolerance, so you start watching more violent sex. Then you may watch sex that involves underage girls.

That may not be something that women do often, but that’s how men often get trapped. Very few men start out watching child pornography. But when the “regular” stuff isn’t enough anymore, they start on rabbit trails around the internet and may end up with child porn. And that’s why there’s a whole industry now of web cam, live porn using trafficked girls, especially underage girls from Cambodia and Thailand.

How does this industry spring up? Because “regular” porn is the gateway. The more that we use regular porn, the more lucrative we make it. And then the more likely it is that people will start searching out the stuff that is truly coerced.

Personally, I believe that all pornography is coercion of some sort, because no healthy, whole person would choose to make pornography. There’s got to be a lot of brokenness and woundedness there. But as you develop a tolerance for that and start watching other stuff, it’s almost all overtly coerced. If there weren’t such a demand for regular porn, then we wouldn’t develop the appetite for the truly exploitative and criminal porn. You may think it’s victimless, but it’s not. By supporting the industry, you encourage that.

The Big Picture About Women and Porn Use

It’s important to talk to your daughter about all three of these points. She needs to know what porn does to her brain; what porn does to her sexuality; and how the porn industry is involved with exploiting the most vulnerable females (and boys, too) on the planet.

And the more you use porn, the more difficult you make it to enjoy healthy sex in marriage. People will tell you that porn educates you about sex; that porn gives you ideas for different positions; that porn boosts your libido. It’s all a lie. Porn sends your libido in the wrong direction–after an image, rather than a relationship. And that pairing doesn’t automatically end once you’re married.

So How Do Women Stop Using Porn?

Stopping pornography isn’t easy, any more than quitting smoking is easy or quitting drinking is easy. Your brain craves it now.

Most girls who watch porn don’t want to (most Christian men who watch porn don’t want to, either. It’s a source of great stress and shame). Chances are that if you talk to her about it, she’ll be devastated. She likely wants to quit, but she doesn’t know how. So here are a few tips to help her:

1. Install Covenant Eyes on your devices, phones, and computers

Covenant Eyes will send an email to a person of your choice if you try to access a site you shouldn’t. So when you’re trying to quit, this gives that other layer of protection from temptation.

When an alcoholic tries to quit drinking, the first thing he or she does is empty the house of all the liquor. With porn you can’t do that because the internet is everywhere. Installing the software just makes it more difficult for you to access porn–and if it’s more difficult, it’s easier to withstand the temptation.

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2. Identify when you find the temptation the strongest

Is it late at night when you’re alone? Is it when you’re bored? Is it when you’re stressed? Is it after you’ve watched a romantic movie?

Figure out when you’re most likely to turn to pornography.

3. Have a plan for those times when temptation to watch porn is strong

If you know what triggers the temptation, then make a concrete plan for what to do when the temptation is the worst. Maybe when you’re stressed you go out for a jog and get out of the house. Maybe you start keeping your computer and all of your devices outside of your bedroom, so that when you’re tired you can’t turn to it while lying in bed. Maybe you stop watching certain movies or reading certain books.

4. Tell someone about your porn use

It’s great that you’re able to talk to your daughter. But she needs someone that’s more of a peer or a mentor, rather than you, to talk to about this. Help her identify that person, so that she has someone she can confess to and talk to and ask for prayer. Prayer is the biggest weapon we have in this fight–and she needs someone that she can pray with that isn’t necessarily you.

5. Read “More Than Single”

Covenant Eyes has a new free ebook out for late teens and twenty-somethings who struggle with porn–while waiting in the single years to be married. How do you withstand the temptation? It’s a great read that acknowledges the sexual frustration and temptations that singles face, talks about the reality and dangers of porn, and points you to ways to fight against it and get healing.

More Than Single E-Book

Find it here.

This is an awkward conversation to have. No one wants to talk to their daughter or son about porn use. But if you suspect your daughter watches porn, you absolutely have to talk to her about it. (And if it’s your son watching porn, I have a post on that, too.)

I’d just suggest framing it in the way I’ve presented, though. “This is what porn will do to you. This is what porn does to others.” Too often we talk about it just as a sin, and I really don’t think that’s helpful. Of course it’s wrong to watch porn, but she already knows that. Give her the tools to actually want to quit, and you’re doing her a real service.

Covenant Eyes has more resources for women who struggle with porn–you can access them here. At that link there are several blog posts for women using porn, several videos and podcasts they can listen to, but best of all, there’s an article by Jessica Harris on how to talk to your daughter about sex and porn which you may find very helpful. And it’s all free! There also several ebooks on how parents can talk to their kids about porn, and on what porn does to your brain.

Check it out here.

I hope that helps–I know if your daughter watches porn you’re likely really devastated and scared. Let me know in the comments, anonymously if necessary, have you ever struggled with porn? Do you struggle now? How do you stop?

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