ST. GEORGE – “Pornography is not passive, harmless entertainment,” says Geoff Steurer, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and director of Lifestar of St. George, a local pornography and sexual addiction treatment program.
So what is the big deal about pornography? Producers of pornography claim that their products are just entertainment and do no harm. On the other hand, a legion of ecclesiastical leaders, sociologists, therapists, and others decry it as an acidic element that eats away at marriage, family, and basic mores of society.
While organizations for and against pornography do battle over its legality and societal impact, there are those individuals who face a much more personal and painful struggle. These are those who are caught in the thrall of pornography addiction and try to claw their way out. It can be a nightmarish and soul-shattering endeavor if attempted in secret and alone – shame often stopping the individual from seeking outside help. Despair and anxiety take hold and changes the person the addict once was. For some they fear, they can never change, and their secret struggle to purge the addiction turns into a personal hell where the sunlight of hope cannot penetrate.
If anyone really wants to know what the big deal about pornography is, then ask either an addict, or even that addict’s partner.
“There is hope and there is help,” Steurer offered.
That hope and help can come in the form Lifestar of St. George. It is a three-phase program that focuses not on one recovery, but three. Steurer described it as 1) his recovery, 2) her recovery, and 3), our (the couple’s) recovery.
While it is common to associate the addict – typically a male – as the one primarily affected by the addiction, it also devastates the partner.
When wives discover that their husbands have been viewing pornography, they too, suffer from emotional trauma. To the wife, the sense of betrayal sparked by virtual infidelity is similar to that felt over a physical affair, Steurer remarked. Because of this, there are now two people who need healing and recovery.
Like any other addiction, the impact of pornography does not simply stop with the individual that viewed it.
Women who feel betrayed by the fact that their partners have viewed pornography suffer a loss of trust in their husbands, as well as run a gamut of emotions including shock, horror, anger, and powerlessness. Feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, isolation, and loneliness can also occur. Other potential troubles include high levels of stress and depression. Though extreme, thoughts of suicide may develop.
A large part of the Lifestar’s program specializes in helping women heal in the wake of their husbands’ addictions.
Lifestar of St. George also has a team of therapists who are specialized in the field of pornography and sexual addiction recovery. They are able to tailor the recovery process to the individual rather than throw them into a one-size-fits-all program. Individual and group therapy sessions are held. A series of workbooks and supplemental material is used to aid in addiction recovery.
Still, before a anyone can seek treatment, they first must admit the problem and bring it into the light of day.
“The biggest thing is to get people out of hiding,” Steurer said.
Secrecy is a big part of pornography addiction. Addicts will keep their pornographic consumption a secret as long as they can. Particular for men who have a religious background, their secret addiction can lead to feelings of shame and anxiety. Despair can also creep in when solo attempts to kick the addiction fail due to relapses. Additional consequences include a general loss of confidence and self-worth. The ability to enjoy everyday life – like spending time with the family – also suffers greatly as the addict’s senses become overloaded.
As Steurur explains, the addict “gets so much intensity [from the addiction] that is kills the ability to feel.”
Little wonder than, according to Steurer, that men involved in pornography also have terrible sex lives and have a hard time “being turned on by real women.”
Despite all of the damage pornography and sexual addictions can wreak on an individual and a family, Steurer wants everyone to know that “it’s not a life sentence.”
For the last five years, Lifestar of St. George has offered what Steurer describes as an uplifting, hopeful, and safe treatment environment. For the people who question whether or not they can break the addiction, or ever trust their partner again, Steurer and his staff have the answers. Their program helps the addict discover that they can change and that there is hope out there. They provide the tools to make that possible, as well as the means to discover and address the underlying causes that trigger pornography addiction.
However, Steurer states that Lifestar, while life changing, it is not a quick fix. Some addicts who experience the instant gratification their addiction brings also want their recovery to be just as fast. It doesn’t work that way.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Steurer said.
Yet, for those people who are willing to put forth the effort, yet not sure where to start, Steurer also offers this counsel, “When they step out of hiding, they’ll get better.”
Lifestar of St. George is located at 393 East Riverside Drive Suite 3A, St. George, Utah. They can also be reached at (435) 652-4366. For more information, please visit www.lifestarstgeorge.com.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.