Spouses and other family members carry heavy burdens when a loved one is involved with pornography. To help ease those burdens, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has developed more online resources for families and those addicted to pornography.
Recovery and prevention resources have now been added to the new site to help spouses and families, and is now available in the following languages: Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian.
The website also features updated information and guidance for general authorities and lay Church leaders to help them meet the needs of spouses and family members with better awareness, understanding and responsiveness.
“The site is built around getting healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” said Howard Bangerter, product manager for the Church’s Welfare Services Department, who has been working to enhance the website along with colleague Lee Gibbons of the Priesthood Department. They report a majority of those who visit the website are struggling to overcome a pornography addiction.
Bangerter explained resources have been added to help leaders give guidance specifically to the spouses of those who struggle with an addiction to pornography. Discussions about the needs of families took place with leaders of the Church’s auxiliary organizations, including Relief Society, Young Women andYoung Men and Primary which contributed to the updated material.
Church leaders have been working to retool the website to find a balance between treatment and prevention. “Our current efforts are to find the ideal blend where we can get the spiritual and the practical helps that are needed to overcome the aspects of pornography addiction,” said Bangerter.
“There are both spiritual and physiological aspects of this,” said Gibbons. While we focus on the spiritual damaging nature of the problem, “we also need to focus on the rewiring of the brain that is essential for recovery.”
Experts are now discovering that pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism and drug abuse. “There’s a growing body of evidence that shows, just as it was recognized eventually that tobacco is a harmful substance that can kill your body, that pornography itself creates a physiological change that is just as damaging as drug abuse,” said Bangerter.
“So many simply can’t overcome this on their own; it’s too powerful,” said Bangerter. “The brain, having been wired to crave this dopamine hit is very unlikely to let you do that on your own; you will need help. Whether that means you talk to a bishop or your parents if you’re a youth or for married individuals, to your spouse and/or spiritual leader. The key is getting this out of the dark and into the open with a confidential set of supporters.”
An estimated 10 percent of Americans admit a pornography addiction and the number is increasing annually, according to an episode of “Real Families Real Answers“ that aired on BYUtv. Forty million Americans are regular visitors to pornography sites. Men are six times more likely to view pornography than women. The heaviest pornography use is among young men.
The average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography is 11 and nearly 80 percent of that exposure occurs at home.
“The question of whether they will be exposed is moot,” explained Gibbons. “They will be exposed in various levels to all kinds of pornographic materials of a varying nature.”
The features a couple, Troy and Kerri, who are dealing with Troy’s pornography addiction. Bangerter expects many more videos dealing with addiction will be posted by the end of the year.
The Church’s pornography addiction resources work closely with the faith’s , which is a 12-step program that incorporates gospel principles while fostering recovery and healing. Two types of meetings are held, including one for those who are addicted and another for their spouses and family members. Gibbons said the online resources can be especially useful in many parts of the world where those meetings are not held.
“We have to be vigilant,” stressed Bangerter. “This is one tool in an arsenal of many that we really need to put at the disposal of the families not only of the Church, but of the world.”