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In this Sunday Edition, we explore the influence of pornography on real people and its prevalence in society today. KSL's Bruce Lindsay sits down with experts to discuss how a compulsion for pornography impacts marriages. In addition, we explore a new initiative to empower women to battle the influence of porn on their relationships.
Segment 1: Impact of Pornography
Pornography probably impacts somebody you know. It could be a neighbor, a family member, a spouse or maybe even you. Many Utahns are searching for answers in their personal struggles with pornography.
Many women will say that the lies and the secrecy and the deception around the behavior is just as disturbing as the behavior itself.
–Dr. Rory Reid
Dr. Rory Reid joins Sunday Edition. Dr. Reid is a research psychologist at the Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. His work has been published in leading professional journals. He is also the clinical director at the Provo Counseling Center.
There is debate in the mental health field over whether a pornography problem is an addiction similar to a drug addiction.
"It's a very controversial topic, and scientifically, the debate exists because there is some overlap with substance-related disorders which are considered true addictions, such as difficulty controlling the behavior, problems that continue despite the behavior [and the] consequences," explains Reid. "But there are some differences in terms of the way the brain works, in terms of genetic studies and so forth. So at this point, scientifically, it is premature to label it as an addiction, although many people would suggest and agree that it is a problem and it is causing difficulties for people in their lives."
Dr. Reid and other researchers did a study and found four reasons people seek out pornography.
"We looked at people who don't just seek it out but seek it out to the point where it becomes an excessive problem in their lives. Four factors emerged. One was just this notion of excitement seeking, looking for variety, novelty. There was also this idea of turning to pornography in order to escape difficult or unpleasant emotions, problems with coping with stress. And then also, for sexual arousal. And then the fourth reason was because people had sexual curiosity," Reid says. "But somehow that curiosity got derailed and then they find themselves looking and viewing and consuming pornography for hours and hours. And that's when it starts to become problematic."
He says people who have a difficult time dealing with stress and life's challenges are more likely to have pornography problems. And pornography problems can have serious consequences for marriages.
"It's devastating for a lot of marriages," describes Reid. "It's not just the pornography, it's not just that my significant other or spouse were going outside of the marriage to have their sexual needs met, but there are so many other components. Women, for example, feeling 'I can't compete with this pornography, I can't be all of that.' And then they start to have difficulties with self esteem. But there is also this notion of the secrecy and the lies and the deceit around the behavior itself. And you would be surprised, many women will say that the lies and the secrecy and the deception around the behavior is just as disturbing as the behavior itself."
Nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) young men and one-third (31%) of young women report using pornography. -Journal of Adolescent Research 23.1 (2008) 6-30
Segment 2: "Out in the Light" InitiativeA new initiative is getting underway to educate and unite women who are victimized by a spouse's pornography habit. It's called "Out in the Light: Women Uniting Against Pornography." Joining Sunday Edition is Dr. Liz Hale, a clinical psychologist in marriage and family relations. She serves as a board member on the Utah Commission on Marriage and she appears frequently on Studio 5. Also, Scott Haws, of KSL-TV, a spokesman for the "Out in the Light" campaign, joins the discussion.
Dr. Hale says women often blame themselves when their husbands have a pornography problem. She tells women, "It's absolutely not your fault, you did not cause it, you cannot control it and you cannot cure it."
There is no greater asset than a supportive wife for a husband, when they can walk that road together of recovery. When we can stay out of the way, as women, and realize we didn't cause it. That we are enough, and we don't buy into what society tells us that we are not pretty enough, thin enough, whatever enough.
–Dr. Liz Hale
Trust is not destroyed forever, according to Dr. Hale, especially if a husband says he will do whatever it takes to recover and to hold the marriage and family together.
"There is no greater asset than a supportive wife for a husband, when they can walk that road together of recovery," she says. "When we can stay out of the way, as women, and realize we didn't cause it. That we are enough, and we don't buy into what society tells us that we are not pretty enough, thin enough, whatever enough."
"Out in the Light" is designed to help women.
"‘Out in the Light' is a multifaceted, all out blitz on behalf of Deseret Media Companies to use every resource available -- ksl.com, KSL-TV, KSL Newsradio, Deseret Book and the Deseret News -- to bring this issue out in the light. And more than anything to help direct, educate, and unite women who might be victimized by this. To let them know they are not alone, to let them know there are resources out there and give them access to other women so they can share their feelings and be able to get help," explains Haws. "This is an initiative that as more and more research is done and the more we talk to people, and people came to us, unsolicited, we realized just how prevalent this is. And this is something that needed to be addressed, needed to be literally be brought out of the shadows."
The "Out in the Light" website allows people to connect with others, seek professional help and make a pledge. "The pledge doesn't just talk about pornography, it talks about media in general. It talks about texting, about emails, about what to do if you are exposed to pornography, what to do if someone wants to meet up with you that you met online, who to tell, who to go to," says Haws. "So it allows a family to sit down and put together an action plan."
Segment 3: Coming up on Sunday Edition
Next week on Sunday Edition, a preview to the upcoming election. Hear from members of the Coffee Party and election insights gathered in a Dan Jones & Associates poll for KSL and the Deseret News.
Through the month of October, turn to Sunday Edition for conversations with candidates for major political office in Utah.
- Oct. 3: 3rd Congressional District candidates
- Oct. 10: 1st Congressional District candidates
- Oct. 17: Utah gubernatorial race
- Oct. 24: U.S. Senate race
- Oct. 31: 2nd Congressional District candidates
**spirituallyfit:**My husband and I have been battling his pornography addiction for our entire marriage. We have been on the verge of divorce several times because of the devastating effects of these addictions. I am so grateful to see that there are people taking a stand and bringing the subject out into the public eye, this is a problem that needs to be talked about openly. There are so many of us that feel so alone, ashamed, and scared. My husband and I have sought out counseling and support groups to help us with these trials, we have gained so much peace and understanding of addictions through the help we have received. I hope that many people will see this and gain peace and understanding that things can get better!
**Ruth Hanzlik:**The men who are prosecuted for porn actually serve a life sentence. Their requirement to register as a sex offender will show up on any background check for employment and anything else for life. They pay big time for their mistakes so no one gets off with a light sentence no matter what time is required of them to spend behind bars. Those who are addicted probably have not thought through the severe consequences that will happen and the younger the person, the less likely they are to figure out that their life can be permanently restricted. They will be very lucky to even find a job that pays anything and housing options will also be very restrictive.