This post has been writing itself in my own life for a very long time. I am the Wife of a Recovering Pornography Addict (WoPA). I am a silent victim of Pornography addiction. But I refuse to be a Silent Victim anymore.
My husband was given his first Pornographic magazine at the age of 10 by his Father. He was controlled by that addiction for more than half of his life. I have been married for 11.5 years and 7.5 of those I was shrouded in a dark cloud of pain, anger, and loneliness. I was living the life of the silent victim of Pornography. My husband had a support group, he was getting help, but what about me? What did I have? I didn’t have anyone to talk to or anyone to turn too. I remember sitting in a class about how to protect our children from pornography and some how the discussion turned to Adults with Pornography addictions and the conversation quickly became very depressing and painful. One woman said that men with Porn addictions were disgusting and that women who stayed with men like that were pathetic. My insides curled up, I could feel the bile creeping up the back of my throat and I fought back the tears that threatened to flow down my cheeks. Thankfully one of my good friends and my confidant at the time, reached over, grabbed my hand and squeezed it tight. She then did something I will never forget. She stood up for women who were in my position, she praised us and shared her love for us. She talked about how strong we were and how loyal we were. She said that if she was ever in a position where she her self had an addiction that she hoped people like me would be by her side. She never mentioned my name or my situation, she didn’t have to. She also didn’t have to know other WoPA’s to understand what kind of people we are.
The hardest part about being plagued with an Addiction or being married to an Addict can often be how the world views your situation. I can’t even begin to explain what a dark place I was in for a very long time because I had nowhere to share my story, no one who would listen, and most importantly, hardly anyone who wouldn’t judge me or my amazing husband because of the battle we were both fighting.
I am so grateful for FIGHT THE NEW DRUG and the campaign that is being waged at this very moment, fighting against pornography and helping to support those men who have battled that addiction. And now there needs to be a campaign for the Wifes of those Addicts or recovering addicts. My husband fought a long hard battle, he struggled up hill for years and fell short many times but with support groups at his side and people to talk to he was able to make it up the hill and has been “clean” for 5 years.
I won’t go into my story in great detail (that is for another time, very soon) because I want this to be about Heather and her mission. Heather has decided that as a fellow WoPA she wants to begin the campaign to help the silent victims of Pornography, the spouses. She hopes to spread her story and the story of other women. Because all of our stories, our journeys and our voices matter.
HEATHER’S STORY AND CAMPAIGN
My name is Heather, and I believe in the power of stories, vulnerability, and connection. For many years I lived with shame about experiences that happened to me and with me. I struggled to find my voice but felt a disconnect with the feeling that I mattered and that my voice mattered and yet the sense that there were these things in my life that weren’t okay to talk about, that nobody knew about, and a feeling that nobody heard me when I did try to speak. How do you share without sounding like a victim just saying ‘woe is me’ over and over? I learned that the key was in my motivation and audience. Being the wife of a recovering pornography addict has opened me to a world of women who are incredibly strong, resilient, brave, and broken. As I have shared more and more of my story, I have had the blessing of having my story help someone else feel less alone. I have been able to use the things I have learned in life to encourage another person. I have found my voice, found that I do matter, found that my voice does matter. I have had various life experiences that have shown me how very much the one individual matters to God. How important each ONE is, and how desperately my Heavenly Father wants others to realize that. To realize their worth.
When I first had this idea to visit various WoPAs (the ‘insider’ term for wives of porn addicts) and just hold space with them, I thought there would be no real interest beyond my group of well-known friends. Little did I know that within 24 hours, there would be over fifty women anxious to have the opportunity to put their story out in to the world. We are desperate to connect with one another. We are desperate to have our stories help someone else, and to hear another person’s story in a way that tells us we are not alone in ours. We are desperate to use our experiences to educate the world on the dangers of things like pornography, shame, addiction, objectification, abuse and more. We are desperate to give hope because we know how hopeless and dark it can feel.
I believe some people are called to share, some are called to listen, and some don’t have a good opportunity for either. Some don’t feel the calling and that’s okay. I do. I’ve been told that one person can’t change the world, so why bother? I don’t buy that. One person can change the world FOR one person, who in turn affects another and on and on.
My name is Heather and my story is that of a survivor and a thriver. I will share that with women as I travel to them and gather their stories. I will share their stories for them so that they can begin the process of coming out of the darkness and into the light. I will hold space with them so that they know they are not alone. That THEY matter. Their voice matters. Their story matters. They have incredible worth.
Here’s how you can help: www.gofundme.com/halabilly and you can visit Heather’s Blog here.
Please consider supporting this amazing cause. No longer does there need to be Silent Victims. It’s time for stories to be shared and support to be given. My husband and I both learned that once we started sharing our own stories that there were so many other Pornography victims out there. They were all too afraid to share their own stories, but once they heard ours they began to come to us and express their gratitude for our courage in sharing our stories and thanked us for being so open and supportive. Speaking up and sharing your story CAN help change the world, even if that world belongs to only one person.
Heather also participated in a Campaign where she shared her story along with others stories for the LDS Addiction Recovery program.
Hello there. It’s me. Look, I know you feel broken. That’s okay. It’s okay that you are angry too. You are doing the right things, and it is going to be okay. You need to know that God has the power to turn even these darkest times to be something good, in time. You also need to know that He has put you in this place, at this time, because it is necessary for you both. I know, I know—you’ve been through so many trials and hard things already. It isn’t fair. Life isn’t. Here’s the thing though: all those things have led to here and will help you weather this storm and come out even stronger and better on the other side. God didn’t inflict those things on you. He didn’t give you those experiences or put the recovery of your husband on you. He has allowed life to happen to you and has given you the beautiful gift of being able to use those experiences for your own good and that of others—if you so choose. I promise you, God is not using you. You are not an object, tool, or game piece. You are a beloved, beautiful daughter of God, and your worth is so much more than you can imagine…. GO HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS LETTER.
I wrote a post last year on Helping Protect our children from the Dangers of Pornography.
My husband encouraged me to write this post. He always tells me to speak out about my part in this Addiction and Recovery process. He is open about his part in the journey and knows how important it is for me to be open about mine. He has been my biggest support and I his. We both could not have made it to where we have on this journey without each others support. That doesn’t mean that it was always easy to be supportive, some days I screamed and yelled and cried.
This post has been the hardest one I have ever hit publish on. That feeling that I felt all those years ago in that meeting are swelling over me as I think about pressing the publish button. My stomach is in knots, the fear is real and tangible. I know that this post, like any other will be met with mixed emotions. I worry that friendships may be lost, but as soon as that worry begins I realize how silly and foolish it is. If my friends judge me or choose to abandon our friendship because they learn about one of the biggest journeys of my life, then were they really friends at all?
This blog is about finding joy in my journey and finding joy in your journey. And like every single journey I have ever been on, it’s not always a pretty, happy, and magical journey. Sometimes its full of dirt, rain storms, traffic jams, delayed flights and kids fighting. My journey in life is no different and because of that I am learning each day to find joy in every single aspect of my journey here in this life, whether the part of the journey is amazing or not.
It’s important to share. It’s important to speak up and help others and let others help me. Just like my husband couldn’t do it alone, I can’t do it alone. Finding the courage to share and taking the time to sit in women’s homes and hear their stories has been life changing for me. I realized that I was not alone in my journey and I realized that me taking the time to share with others and listen to their stories was very therapeutic for me. I could feel my soul begin to heal. The darkness and shame that surrounded this whole situation began to dissipate as I shared with others my story and as they shared theirs. The tears that streamed down both of our faces were those of understanding and empathy. The embraces we shared afterwards were ones of compassion and love.
I don’t know why this is a journey my husband and I had to take but I do know that through this journey we may have been broken but we have been able to pick up those pieces and find joy.
Heather’s mission and journey means a great deal to me because I know that without having someone there to listen to my story, someone who understood how I felt and had stood where I stood, that my journey to heal would have been a much different one. Sharing is important and having someone to share with who has had a similar journey is essential. I also want to add that I totally understand when you are in the midst of this trial that sometimes the emotions are way too raw for you to share, and thats okay too.
Thank you for your love and support.