Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Michael Smalley. Based on my previous post, there’s been some good discussion. Michael is a fellow therapist and blogger friend who wanted to weigh in on the discussion. What follows is Michael’s experience with people involving porn. I’ll weigh in with my thoughts tomorrow.
As a marriage and family author and speaker I’ve seen too many couples and too many families disintegrate because of online pornography and online affairs. Pornography found online is single-handedly the most dangerous enemy to healthy and vibrant relationships that I have run in to through my 15 years of helping couples.
Don’t believe me, then maybe you’ll believe Sarah (names changed for confidentiality). Sarah (and Jacob) had been happily married for almost 10 years when she discovered that his computer was full of online pornography. Sadly, it only takes a short time to become addicted to porn and Jacob was consumed with it.
Sarah wanted help, but Jacob had become so addicted that he didn’t care if he lost his family or not. Sarah came to my conference alone, hoping for some nugget of truth that might win her husband back. But after months of struggling with Jacob about his addiction to porn, he finally admitted that he’d been involved in several affairs with women he met online. There was nothing I could do for Sarah then – Jacob had made his choice and destroyed his family because of his destructive obsession.
But it’s not just marriages that are being destroyed through Internet pornography. About one year ago I had a mother and her 12 year-old son, Joey, come to me for some counseling. I didn’t know what they were dealing with. I assumed they were probably getting into conflict because her son was entering into puberty, which is a common time for parents to struggle relationally with their children.
Much to my dismay, however, Joey’s mother was not just into conflict with her son, but rather in a total crisis relating to online pornography. Joey’s parents kept a computer in the basement of their house so they could work in private when the kids were home from school.
Joey was well aware of this computer and often used it to research papers online or play online games. One day while Joey was researching a paper through Yahoo!, he stumbled across several links (which led) to sites with pornography. He checked them out and became instantly hooked. He would come home from school early just to look at pornography and would stay up late so he could sneak down to the basement alone and browse through his favorite porn sites.
This continued for several weeks completely undetected by his parents. Then one particular night, the police knocked on the front door at 2:00 a.m. asking Joey’s step dad where Joey was. Of course his confused step dad told the police that Joey was asleep in his bed. The police asked if they could enter the house to confirm Joey’s whereabouts and followed Joey’s dad down the hall and into his bedroom. There was no Joey in bed. The police looked at the step dad and asked, “Do you have a computer in the house?” The step dad answered yes and told the police it was down stairs.
As they opened the door to the basement they found Joey staring at the computer screen with a phone held to his ear. The site obviously confused Joey’s step dad and then the police explained something shocking.
While looking at online porn, Joey became so desperate to experience what he was watching on his monitor that he picked up the phone and dialed 0. When the tired AT&T operator answered her phone, like any other regular call, she was shocked to hear the voice of a 12 year-old boy asking her if she would be willing to have sex with a minor. Joey even told the operator where he lived, which is how she informed the police and then kept Joey on the phone so he could be protected. The police showed up to Joey’s house and informed the parents what their son had been up to.
These stories are real and they are dangerous. If you have a computer at home that is not protected from the grotesque images on the web, then you are at risk. You don’t have to be a sick person to get involved in pornography. You could be as innocent as a loving husband who accidentally discovers online porn. You could be as young as a 12 year-old, inches away from becoming grossly addicted.
If you want to keep your family and marriage healthy, then you need to set yourself up to succeed. Don’t be overly confident when it comes to the safety and security of your most precious relationships. Either get rid of your internet connection at home or get your computers protected, your kids and family are worth it. Pornography destroys everything it has influence over. Do not let these stories be your story.