My partner is a recovering porn addict. For the first 4 years of our relationship I did not know. One day he came to me crying and confiding to me that he felt that he had a porn addiction. What followed and what has been my life the past 2.5 years has been unimaginable. My partner had suppressed all of his childhood trauma. Before, he would claim that he had the perfect childhood. Come to find out, he was using his addiction as a coping mechanism to cover the deep pain he had felt. Also attached to his addiction is an intense fixation to his fetish that developed because of related trauma that happened to him as a child. He’s realized that the fetish is not a desire, it’s a way for him to “control” the terrible things that have happened to him. Along the way to finding out all of this in the process, our relationship has been nearly destroyed. I have experienced symptoms of PTSD for over a year, hair loss, full body breakouts, insomnia, anxiety, depression, body pain, digestive illness, panic attacks, and more since discovering my partners addiction and navigating recovery. I did not leave my apartment for 8 months due to the overwhelming anxiety of being around other people due to my partners severe objectification of others. Finding out all of the truth to the many lies I had experienced during our relationship was difficult. His addiction to pornography staring when he was 11 groomed him not look at people as humans but as objects, body parts, and disposable. He was not present with me in our relationship even though from the outside it seemed that way. There was always something that felt off. Our sexual chemistry was always high, but most of the time he would panic internally (without me knowing) and think that he had to perform a certain way like people in porn videos do. He would watch porn before and after our sexual interactions. He would not be able to sustain during sexual experiences because it was too intimate. Porn was voyeuristic and a way for him to be disconnected. Porn had stolen so much from my partner and his childhood had stolen so much from him that he was numbed to feelings. Being present in his body. Porn stole both of our self worth. After learning about all the details of his addiction it has been difficult to not see people and the world through the lens that porn has on society. I know that porn is harmful because of the soul crushing journey my partner went on was he was 11 and the journey I went on with him 2.5 years ago. With him being 17 months sober I am with the person I thought I committed myself to. Intimacy, connection, feelings, empathy, joy have been able to have space in our lives because porn is no longer a part of the picture.

TRIGGER WARNING: “Please be mindful when deciding on whether to read these stories that they are emotionally impactful and may be triggering. Within people’s accounts, there is mention of rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse and violence, self-harm and suicide. There are various helplines available for support.