I Was a Five-Year-Old Porn Addict | No, Really, I Was!

Five years old: I'd barely had time to shed the training wheels.

Five years old: I’d barely had time to shed the training wheels.

When I bring up my being addicted to sex and pornography as early as five years of age, I generally see two opposite reactions. If I’m talking to another acknowledged sexaholic who is actively working on a program of recovery, his response will often be a vigorous nod of the head followed by, “Yeah, I think I was an addict at a pretty young age, too.”

If I’m talking to a “non-believer,” however, I frequently get something quite different–and pretty chilly, too. It’s a wrinkled nose, a shake of the head, a squint of the eyes and then a tone of incredulity: “How could anyone be addicted to porn at five?”

OK, how about this? If you give cocaine to a five-year-old and show him how to consume it, how long before he’s an addict? If you show a five-year-old how to pop prescription pills until he’s buzzed out of his head, how long before he’s addicted? If you give a five-year-old a bottle of whiskey and show him how to drink it until the room starts to spin, how long before he’s addicted?

Now, if you give a five-year-old a porn magazine and let him look at the images until he feels like his head’s going to explode and then you molest him so that he becomes aware of sex acts and sexual behavior and feelings that no five-year-old should know about or experience, how long before he’s addicted?

When I saw that first porn magazine, I really did feel like my head was going to explode. The pictures of the women were beyond reality. My heart was pounding along with my brain. I lost touch with this world and traveled at light speed to a different one. I still remember the images–but even more clearly, I remember the feeling of my heart trying to burst through my ribcage and my brain trying to pound through my skull.

I will suggest that five-, six- and seven-year-old kids aren’t supposed to have those feelings and experiences, and if they do, they have absolutely no ability to process them in their young brains. Neither do ten-year-olds or sixteen-years-olds. In fact, nobody is supposed to be having those experiences. Pornography consumption is lust-driven sex and it is most assuredly not the sex that God intended for his creations.

I was never the same after that first exposure to porn. Later on, the memory of the images sometimes expanded to fill my mind during waking hours, when I was in bed at night and even during my dreams. The draw of the behavior depicted in the images was so incredibly powerful. Then I had to deal with the reality that I had been subjected to physical sex acts, both watching them and experiencing them.

As I grew up, so did my addiction. This is not to say that I just went happily along, whistling cheerfully down the primrose path to hell. I battled the memories, thoughts, feelings and compulsions. I had no idea, of course, that I was addicted. I only knew that I always felt better when I kept myself away from unholy and impure thoughts and actions–if only it would last!

When I reached adolescence, I heard the Aaronic Priesthood lessons and the General Priesthood Meeting admonitions to avoid evil thoughts. The message came in loud and clear and I sincerely embraced it. I vowed repeatedly that I would live a chaste life and would be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost…and then the compulsions and obsessions would set in again. I would lose another battle with the devil. See, I was already an addict–and had been since I was five. On my own, I had no chance.

I return to my questions: When you hand a kid a drug that makes his head feel like it’s going to explode, what do you think is going to happen? Is he just supposed to forget about it? Seriously? Well that’s exactly what the LDS men and women (including my parents) who trained me up told me to do: just don’t think about impure thoughts! That was the extent of their advice for battling my demons. (In their defense, they also knew nothing of addiction. They were doing the best they could.)

I was a ten year old addict, then a twelve year old addict, then a fourteen year old addict. “Just don’t think about it! Change the channel in your head!” And “Just don’t think about it or you’ll end up addicted.” Boy, that was stellar advice for the fourteen-year-old porn addict.

So what’s my point? For one thing, I worry that LDS addicts are not looking back far enough to see when the addiction actually began in their lives and are thereby discounting the depth and breadth of the chaos this malady had wrought on them and their loved ones. More importantly, however, I am concerned that Mormons made a fatal assumption several decades ago and we are now reaping the whirlwind because of that assumption. We chose to assume that human beings slowly became addicted to porn and sex by repeated exposure and acting out. We assumed that at countless points along the way, addicts (or prospective addicts) could have simply chosen to get off the addiction merry-go-round and they would have been safe from sin. Well, not me, brother! I was hooked on the first look!

So now I have a final question for you. When you first saw pornography, did you feel like your head was going to explode?

Picture credit: By Lesless (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About Andrew+

Latter-day Saint, sex and pornography addict in recovery, dealing with depression, returned missionary, father of a bunch of kids, graduate degree, self-employed, Book of Mormon reader, writer and thinker. Working on understanding and overcoming resentment, the number one killer of addicts.

Comments

I Was a Five-Year-Old Porn Addict | No, Really, I Was! — 4 Comments

  1. This is a devastating article! The implications are beyond what my heart can grasp! The image of what you had to face at such a tender age, is far beyond what my soul can handle. It makes me think of my sons and dread fills me at the fear that they could become addicted so young! Please will you answer this question: When my son tells me that he struggles with “bad thoughts,” how SHOULD I respond? And if he is saying this, should I be concerned?

    • Best thing is to listen to him and let him express his feelings, let the spirit guide. Don’t counsel, don’t use scriptures or sermons. I was exposed to sex and pornography at around 4 or 5 in addition to being abused as well. My mother raised me after my Father left us and she had neither time nor knowledge of how to help. Looking back I realize that she didn’t know what I went through. You have a chance to help your son by loving unconditionally.

  2. I was exposed at a young age as well. 7 years old and riding my bike home from a friends house. I saw something laying in the street. So I stop in the middle of the road and picked up my first pornographic magazine. Being sheltered in eastern Idaho in the mid 70’s I had no idea that such a thing existed. The feelings and memories were forever burned in my mind. I remember the rush of adrenaline, the excitement, I had no idea why because I was never told about what sex and intamacy was at that age. I took it home and hide it behind our house and looked at it again the next day.
    I do remember from that time forward always watching for other items such as that. It never leaves you. It was such a taboo subject to talk to anyone about sex or pronography that I never told anyone how I felt. How I wish I could go back in time and be by the side of the road and wait for my younger self to ride past so I could say. “Just keep riding kid. You don’t want to see that.”
    As a teenager I had been exposed even further to pornography at my fathers business. I had no idea or even considered that I was addicted to porn. I never told a soul about my struggles with porn or acting out sexually with masturbation. I felt broken, dirty, unworthy, the thought of “if anyone knew what I have seen or do in secret no one would love me, or accept me.”

    This false statement was reinforced unknowingly by my mother. To make a long story short. I had stashed a couple of magazines under the back seat of my car during the last month of my junior year in high school. One of my friends found the magazines and in a tongue and check way wrote in my year book. “You better not let your Mom find out what is under your back seat in the car.” Well guess what, my mom read my yearbook. That night she went out and found the magazines just like my friend had said they would be. The next morning while I was in the kitchen getting breakfast my mom came out and sat on a chair in the dinning room. All she said was. “I read your yearbook, your friends wrote some interesting things.” And with that she jumped up and ran back to her bedroom sobbing uncontrollably.
    I felt like human trash. The shame and pain of this first discovery was so overwhelming I vowed to never look at porn again. But without any knowledge about addictions and thinking I could do it myself I was sober for maybe a whole 2 months. Once I started again I vowed I would just keep it hidden better. I became so skilled at hiding my addiction i became a master of lying, deflecting and turning the tables when my ugly little secret would get to close to full discovery. I did such a good job it was 25 years later when my wife confronted me about something she had found on the computer and would not take no for an answer I finally pushed through the wall of shame and secrecy and admitted I was a sex and porn addict.

    My turning date was Memorial Day 2011. I won’t say I was in recovery at that time because I was in damage control. I started going to an LDS 12 step program that next weekend. However I was still prideful and still thinking I could stop by myself. My relationship with my wife was damaged and in distress. My self worth was at an all time low. I could see a train wreck with my marriage in the future if I didn’t do something besides 12 steps and white knuckle sobriety.

    An answer to my wife’s pray was discovered at her 12 step support group. She was told about a recovery program called Lifestar, and also referred to a councilor for sexual addictions. I started counciling with a subtle mandate of it’s counciling or seperation. How could I refuse. There we were given more information about Lifestar and as usual my pride was seeking to do this myself. The turning point was when I research the program more and allowed myself to think of my wife’s pain and my longing to end this nightmare. A prompting pushed me to commit to the program.

    I want to reinforce Andrew’s statement that you can’t beat this with only one tool. You have to reach for as much help as you can get. I am happy to say I have been in recovery since walking into my councilors door and joining Lifestar. I has not been an easy road and sometimes I questioned my choice.

    Thank you Andrew. You have inspired me and helped me understand how this addiction works. Unless success are shared and stories of our past choices are told we would sink into dispare and shame. There is a light at the end of the darkness. Trust in the process, battle for your wife’s heart, have faith that Jesus Christ knows your pain and is waiting for you to humbly reach for him to help you. One day at a time.

  3. I have been to probably a 100 or more twelve step meetings. The stories are alomst the same for everyone. Addicted by age 12 is very common. it is a thrill to look at anything pornographic at that age. Throw in masturbation and even better. I discovered masturbation on my own. Here is how my sex education chat with my mom went in 6th grade: “abstinence…don’t do it!!” that was it. I was masturbating for a whole year when my mom caught me. Then my dad asked more questions…I had no idea there was even a name for what i was doing. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. Now i know that good LDS moms and dads want their houses free of sin. Sexual acting out IS a sin. But it does NOT go away. If there is one thing that I would ask as a teenager (i’m much older now) is to have OPEN DIALOUGE. This battle is too real to save face or guilt trip people. Guilt trips don’t solve it…they worsen it. I now go to 12-step meetings often. I am still a complete addict. This is the hardest thing I HAVE EVER done. But i have faith that things will get better. I’m not fearful or timid about it anymore. There are a lot of good men who are struggling. We must help each other in this. We need to be open and use the resources that ACTUALLY work. I do ache for the poor wives and marriages that have suffered. Luckily, I am fighting this fight now and getting educated BEFORE I get married. Andrew has alot of good things to write about on this blog. i thank him sincerely.