In yesterday’s article about the ick of porn and porn addiction, I discuss the stigma associated with porn addiction. I can’t stress enough how detrimental this stigma is to the addict and our society. When it comes to loved ones of people with porn addiction, this stigma is felt very strongly. And in some ways even more.

I decided I wanted this topic to be very personal and to give voice to this group instead of just my thoughts on loved ones of porn. I am giving you a look into the mind and experience of a wife of a man in active addiction to porn. It is powerful. It is real. It is important to read. Read this with a compassionate heart. Read this to understand what loved ones suffer through silently. Read her story to get a better feel for what to ask, how to support and how to help remove stigma. Read because one day this could be you or a loved one if it isn’t already.

*all identifiers removed and story is donated anonymously.

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What is he doing? What is he looking at? I don’t want to deal with this again.

When I walk into the room, what will I be walking into? Will he just be watching TV or will it be something else? Will he quickly x out of browser windows on his computer? Will he have ‘that look’ again-the one that I know means I caught him?

I’m not a snooper. I don’t go looking for any of this and I still catch him. All the time. He doesn’t even care. He is that sloppy about it.

Christmas Eve he looks up ‘nude pictures of Eva Green’ after we watch Casino Royale while I am sleeping in his arms. I wake up to see him looking at them on his phone. He joins three paid porn sites 4 days after our last child is born. He writes an email to a stranger on line telling ‘her’ that she has brought excitement to his life at last and will find a way to get out of the house to write her in a few hours but tells me that he is going to an AA meeting-we are on our anniversary trip. I am sick in bed and get up to thank him in the kitchen for making my dinner and see him scrolling through porn on Tumblr on the ipad as he cooks my meal. I get a phone call from the fraud department from my bank while visiting my family out of town and when they list off the charges the rep tells me that all five charges are porn sites or on line chat sites that total over $1000 and were bought within one hour. I am humiliated and start crying. The bank rep tells me he hast to make these calls all the times to wives and he hates it. I walk out early from the grocery store and see through the car window he is looking at porn on his phone. Anyone could of seen him doing it he is so engrossed in it he doesn’t notice I walk up.

This can not be normal.

The stories are endless. That list isn’t even a hundredth of them.

How do I feel? Hurt. Angry. Disgusted. Desperate. Embarrassed. Sad.

Sometimes I feel hopeful. Or in denial. Other times I feel motivated to make things better. I want to make this problem go away. I want this to not be happening. I want him to really not have a problem. I fool myself that I have control in this situation.

He plays mind games. He blames me a lot. My head knows not to agree with him but my heart wonders if I am unreasonable.

How do I find out if his use is normal? I look on line and his behaviors seem on the border. But it doesn’t FEEL on the border. This feels completely f’ed up.

I gently try to broach the subject with a few friends. They don’t look at porn very often themselves and one said her husband rarely looks at it and she doesn’t care, another says she’d kill her husband if she found out he ever looked at it, and another said she’s hyper vigilant and has spyware that ensures no one is looking at porn in their house. She said “ I know I am safe.” I can’t tell them what is happening in my house. I ask my therapist and she says it is a problem but I can’t do anything if he doesn’t think it is.

We fight about it. I cry to him. I plead with him. I yell at him. Nothing works.

Sometimes he tells me I am paranoid. Sometimes he tells me that he looked at it by accident because of a pop up or an spam email that went crazy on him. Sometimes he tells me I need to relax and calm down.

He always ends it with agreeing with me it isn’t good for our relationship or family and he definitely will not look at any on purpose or by accident. Neither of us really believes it.

I cry a lot. I’m irritable even more. I think about it too much. I don’t know what to do. Do I accept this? Do I demand he stop? Do I take away all technology from him? Do I get mad at him? Do I show him how sad I am? What will work? What will make him care enough to stop?

What is missing from me that he has to go to porn? He is looking at gorgeous women with perfect bodies. I mean at least it isn’t perverted stuff but it is something I’ll never be. He likes red heads? And apparently women with tattoos too. Didn’t know that.

I feel like shit about myself. A lot. I try to step it up in our sex life. The better our sex life is it seems he looks at more porn. Why???? Why does he still want to look at it when I’m satisfying him in bed? I remember a particularly painful time when we had just had great sex. Fun, felt great for both of us and I felt really close to him afterwards. He got up to go the bathroom and get a towel and when I walked by the toilet to get the towel for him he was on his phone looking at porn. Within minutes of us having sex. I fell to my knees sobbing. His response was cold and distant. I pleaded with him and asked him why. His response? Because the sex sucked and I didn’t satisfy him. But I knew I had. And I knew it was great for both of us. Both his head games wormed into my head and heart. I doubted myself.

After catching him again, I don’t want to have sex with him for awhile. I don’t even want him to touch me. He’s looking a porn a lot more now. He takes his phone everywhere he goes.

I hate his phone. I hate his computer. I hate him.

I now think that every new move in bed is because of something he saw in porn. That disgusts me and makes me never want to have sex with him again. Every new thing I suggest we try he goes and spends hours searching for it on line and when I tell him to not take it too far and to keep it sacred between us, he does it anyway. That makes me never want to try anything new with him again.

Nothing feels safe. I am so unsatisfied and I am so lonely.

There is always something in between us. Lies, women, porn. The weight is rarely lifted.

I grow afraid to turn corners in our house fearing what I’ll see him doing. I don’t dare wake up in the night to see what he is working on on his computer. I don’t open doors that I know he is behind. I can’t handle it anymore.

So what are my options? Seriously—what can I do? If he won’t stop or get help, is this what I am sentenced to for the rest of my life? Are my only options to leave him and break up our family or accept this part of him and focus on the good in him?

I feel so damn depressed and hopeless and overwhelmed.

And I can’t tell anyone. What will they think of him? What will they think of me?

I know I will be blamed. I know people will look at us differently. I know people won’t want him around them or their kids. I know we’ll lose friends. Could he lose his job if they knew?

I never thought this could happen to me. How many times have you heard that from a victim of tragedy? I really didn’t this was ever on the list of things that may mess up my life. I knew life could beat me up but porn addiction? No way.

I’m pretty for my age. I really enjoy sex and was always a wife who put a lot of attention in this area of my marriage. He was not neglected. He didn’t turn to porn because he wasn’t getting any at home. I was not that wife saying I could live without having sex again. I was not the wife who thought sex was something to check off the list. And I wasn’t boring in bed either.

I honestly think most men would have be thrilled to have me as their partner. Well, I used to think that. This has done a number on me. My confidence is gone. My certainty is erased. My self worth is low. And I’ve never been that woman either. How did I let this change me? I don’t even recognize me anymore.

I know this isn’t about me. I know this isn’t about me. I know this isn’t about me.

Then why does it feel like it is? Why am I losing everything in my life because my husband can’t stop looking at porn?

Why does it feel like he cheated on me 2,000 times?

And the kids. I can’t go there. I feel rage when I think of what they must have caught him doing. I feel such sadness thinking of how this has effected them and what porn has robbed us of.

I hate porn. I hate the internet. I hate I can’t stop any of this.

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It is Dr. Juliana now….

If you are someone who has a spouse suffering from this addiction, please get help and support for yourself. Don’t wait too long. Don’t suffer in silence. This advice is also for a loved one of someone battling this addiction-children, adult children of the addict, family members, friends. Please don’t blame yourself but also don’t convince yourself you can make this stop by crying or yelling or pleading. Addiction doesn’t work that way. Educate yourself on addiction and find people who know porn addiction and aren’t afraid to talk about it. Please tell someone you trust. Tell them the truth. Ask them not to judge you or your spouse. Tell them the embarrassing stuff. Share it and get it out of you. Please get professional help. Please don’t suffer through this in silence and in isolation.

If you don’t know of someone in your life dealing with this, be the person in your circle of friends and family who asks. Be brave enough to ask if anyone is dealing with porn addiction in their family. If it is no, okay. If it is yes, listen. Support. If it is “I can’t say it yet” and you have ‘that feeling’, you’ve just established that when he or she feels ready, they know you may be in ally. That just may save their life. Or family.

Pay attention to the words you use, the jokes you tell, and the things you ignore. Don’t add to the culture of stigma. Be the beacon of light and be a safe harbor.

The world needs this desperately. And one day, you may be the one who needs the safe harbor yourself.

What did this woman’s story mean to you? Bring up in you? I’d love to hear your reactions. I’d love to hear stories when you bring up the topic to friends and family. Share the successes and the challenges with me.

Tomorrow I talk about a guide for parents in dealing with kids and pornography in the 5 part series.

Xo, Dr. Juliana