A Letter to Parents from a Former Porn Addict

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former porn addict anne marie miller

…and a pastor’s daughter!

Formerly a porn addict, best-selling author Anne Marie Miller — and a pastor’s kid and ministry leader — candidly shares 3 things parents must know about porn. This post appeared first at her blog and is used here with her permission. Here’s the first of two parts. –Ed.

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Dear Parents,

Please allow me a quick moment to introduce myself before we go further. My name is Anne Marie Miller. I’m 36 years old. I’m newly married to a wonderful man named Tim. We don’t have any children here on earth yet (two in heaven), but we’re planning on it. For the purpose of this letter, you need to know I’m a recovering addict.

Pornography was my drug of choice.

I grew up in the church – the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher man with a passion for learning the Bible. I was the honors student; the athlete; the girl who got along with everyone from the weird kids to the popular ones. It was a good life. I was raised in a good home.

It was 1996, I was sixteen, and the Internet was new. After my family moved from a sheltered, conservative life in west Texas to the ethnically and sexually diverse culture of Dallas/Fort Worth, I found myself lonely, curious, and confused.

From Home Stress to Abuse to Porn

Because of the volatile combination of life circumstances: the drastic change of scenery when we moved, my dad’s depression, and a youth pastor who sexually abused me during my junior year of high school, I turned to the Internet for education. I didn’t know what certain words meant or if what the youth pastor was doing to me was good or bad and I was too afraid to ask. What started as an innocent pursuit of knowledge quickly escalated into a coping mechanism.

When I looked at pornography, I felt a feeling of love and safety – at least for a moment. Pornography provided me both an emotional and a sexual release. But those brief moments of relief disappeared and I was left even more ashamed and confused than when I started.

For five years I carried this secret. I was twenty-one when I finally opened up to a friend only because she opened up to me first about her struggle. We began a path of healing in 2001 and for the last fourteen years, although not a perfect journey, I can say with great confidence God has set me free from that addiction and from the shame that followed. I’ve since returned to school to study the science behind addiction and family dynamics.

Helping Porn Addicts Get Free

Over the last eight years I’ve had the opportunity to share my story in a variety of venues: thousands of college students, men, women and teens. In the summer of 2013 (when I first published this article), I was invited to speak at several camps to both junior high and high school students and it’s without exaggeration when I tell you with each year I counsel students, the numbers and the stories shock me more and more.

There are more students compulsively looking at pornography at younger ages and with greater frequency than ever before.

This summer, by a long stretch, was the “worst” in terms of what secrets I learned students carried. After my last night speaking at my last camp, I retreated to my room and collapsed on the bed face-first. Tim simply laid his hand on my back to comfort me.

I could not logically reconcile in my mind all the confessions I heard over the summer with the children who shared them. While every story was unique in the details, in most situations, there were three common themes that kept surfacing.

3 Things Parents Must Know!

  1. Google is the new Sex-Ed: Remember the first time you, as a parent, saw pornography? Likely it was a friend’s parent who had a dirty magazine or maybe you saw something somebody brought to school. Now, when a student hears a word or phrase they don’t understand, they don’t ask you what it means (because they fear getting in trouble). They don’t ask their friends (because they fear being ashamed for not knowing). They ask Google.Google won’t judge them for not knowing. Because of our short attention spans and desire for instant gratification, they don’t click the first link that shows up – they go straight to Google Images. In almost all the stories I heard, this is how someone was first exposed to pornography – Google Image searching. The average age of first exposure in my experience was 9 years old.
  2. If Your Child was Ever Molested, You Likely Don’t Know: Another extremely common theme was children being inappropriately touched, often by close family members or friends. When I was molested at sixteen, I didn’t tell a soul until I was in my twenties. I didn’t tell my mother until I was twenty-eight. The stigma and shame of being a victim coupled with the trauma that happens with this experience is confusing to a child of any age: our systems weren’t made to process that event. Many things keep children from confessing abuse: being told they’ve made it up or are exaggerating, being a disappointment, and in most cases, getting the other person in trouble. While a child can look at pornography without being abused, children who have been molested by and large look at pornography and act out sexually.
  3. This appears in Thursday’s post! Watch for it.

Resources for YOU!

COUNSELING: If you or your child needs help with sexual abuse, pornography, or other struggles, please turn to your pastor, a wise Christian friend, or a biblical counselor. The counselors at Biblical Counseling Center provide compassionate and competent Christ-centered care at our four offices in greater Chicago and by Skype all over the world. Please invest in your family and contact us.

Do you or someone you know need counseling?

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2 Comments on “A Letter to Parents from a Former Porn Addict”

  1. My grandchild is hooked. We’ve taken precaution but she finds a source…even thru her Wii console or old phones. We are a Christian family and are at our wits end. We would appreciate your assistance. Thank you, Faw

    1. Hi. Your grandchild is blessed to have you in her life. May we encourage you to reach out to a biblical counselor in your area for help? If you don’t have a biblical counselor nearby, the child’s parents could reach out to Biblical Counseling Center. We have counselors who meet by Skype/Facetime/Hangout. The very best to you in this trying time.

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