As sophisticated as we modern people like to believe we are, the influence and prevalence of pornography tells a different story. Our media, grocery aisles, and technology assault all of us with content which may arouse, but rarely promotes healthy relationships. Our boys are taught how to objectify and mistreat women, and our girls are taught how men really get turned on by abusing and humiliating women — and they should like it. The porn we watch is largely filmed rape and we give our kids and teens phones with full access to smut we refuse to gate.

In my case, a friend showed me pornography given to him by an older neighbor — we were 9 years old. So began a curiosity eventually leading into a private and shame-inducing habit of seeking out pornography. The behavior has been highly compulsive and very hard to resist. Attempts at resistance have revealed the addiction-like quality of the compulsion. Full honesty with others, prayer and devotion, filtering efforts, accountability groups, and even visiting an exorcist (don’t recommend) have never slain the beast entirely.

Pornography has filled my life with frustration and shame. It has trained my eyes and mind to size up nearly every woman I encounter. It has become a quick way to escape boredom and stress. It’s a neurological slavery loop which has been helped a bit by aging, but never really dies all the way.

Most of us men struggle and we don’t talk because it is shameful and we are all implicated. So… what’s the plan: to let all of our children enter the same hell, but only worse?

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.