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Cassidy Brown

Episode 65

Cassidy Brown

Student, Influencer, & Recovering Compulsive Porn Consumer

Cassidy Brown is a student and an influencer. At an early age, she was exposed to porn when a friend showed it to her unexpectedly. After that, she developed a natural curiosity about sex, and while she didn’t feel comfortable talking with her parents about it, she turned to porn to learn about sex and sexuality. From there, her porn consumption escalated to the point that it fueled anxiety, shame, and poor mental health. In this episode, Cassidy sits down with podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, to talk about her struggles with porn and the role shame played in her challenge. She also shares how she’s been able to break the shame cycle and embark on her own journey toward healing.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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Garrett Jonsson: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.

And in case you’re new here, Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some, you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning- listener discretion is advised.

Today’s episode is with Cassidy Brown, she’s a student, influencer, and a creator. She uses her platform to share her story. Part of her experience is that she was first introduced to pornography at the age of 9, and developed a dependency to porn for more than a decade, while no one knew. During this conversation we talk about how her porn consumption negatively impacted her, how she’s addressed it, and what she’s up to today.
With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

We appreciate you joining us on the podcast. It’s a big deal. And again, we, we will say this probably a million times. Thank you. The first thing that I think people should know is kind of who you are and what you do.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah, for sure. That’s definitely a loaded question. Um, starting from the beginning, I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and I lived the majority of my life up until I was around 12 there. And from there, that’s a very short summary, but in there that’s where my poor or an addiction kind of started from is within those younger years. And I graduated, um, I wanna say here in Florida, it’s a little different, like the education systems are a little bit different, but graduated from what was middle school at the time, and then went on to junior high and started that in Texas and went all the way up until senior year graduated. Did community college dropped out because you know, why not? And took two years for a gap year. And, um, I just started my freshman year at SU Jacksonville, which is our extension site here in Jacksons. And I have loved every minute of my gap years, but I decided, you know, it’s time to go back into school and, you know, get off of social media as much and do something with my life. So that’s where I’m at right now.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool. Transitioning from a gap year can be challenging, you know, to get back into it. Has that been tough for you?

Cassidy Brown: It definitely has. Um, there’s a lot of self discipline that I had to teach myself. Obviously over the two years of me being a gap year, you know, person, I had to watch my friends, you know, thrive in college environments, you know, do, um, sororities, fraternities and all that stuff and seemed like they were having, you know, the best time of their lives while I was at home. Yeah. And while I was at home, you know, I was being, you know, creative on media. And that was definitely, um, hard for some of my friends to understand. And I lost quite a bit of friendships throughout those, you know, two years cuz they were like, “Why am I off, you know, studying my butt off to get an education you’re sitting at home on social media?”.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Cassidy Brown: And in my, my defense, it worked out.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah. I was gonna say, do you think that was out of a little bit of bitterness?

Cassidy Brown: Yeah, definitely.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. So speaking of which you’re a creative and I’m curious which outlet you enjoy most out of all of the things you do.

Cassidy Brown: Oh they all have their perks. I probably say TikTok for the most. Um, because I feel like I can be the most creative on there just cuz of the trends that are always changing and stuff. Um, when it comes to TikTok, there’s obviously you’re always gonna have your positives and your negatives out of really any social media, but primarily from TikTok. Some of the positives that I’ve seen is I can share my story and create awareness more quickly than I can on Instagram, a bigger platform. And some of the negatives are, you know, you have the potential to, for, from what I’ve seen is I’ll post about pornography, awareness of trafficking, whatever it might be on my TikTok channel. And in the comment section it’s horrid like it’s disgusting. There are people commenting, crazy things, hateful things, you know, disgusting things. And for me, I have to go through daily and delete those comments.

And so it takes a long time to go through and delete over where all of those hate comments and nasty comments, because I would never want my social media channel or page to be somewhere where somebody’s coming to get educated or to get, you know, freedom from, you know, whatever they’re struggling with and they see it common. It makes them fall, um, makes them, you know, go back into that, um, you know, go, you know, go back and watch. I would never want to be that, um, avenue for them on accident without even knowing it. Wow. So that’s one of the negative things and obviously you’re faced with hate, you know, you have people that are not only attacking, you know, your opinion about pornography or whatever, but then they start attacking you.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And that’s when it starts getting like hurtful. You’re like, okay, not only are you attacking my opinion, but now you’re attacking me as a person and my looks, you know, my beliefs or whatever. And so it’s definitely challenging, but…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, I was gonna ask you if you read the comments because you know, a lot of people put a boundary to not read the comments because of that reason because they can be so negative, but I kind of admire the fact that you’re so like responsible and considerate that you’re actually taking the time to delete the ones that are like inappropriate. That takes a lot.

Cassidy Brown: It does. And it’s definitely draining cuz I do have friends in the social media world that, you know, they’ll get their comments. They get probably over 200, 300 per and they don’t look at them. They don’t read them. Yeah. And they always ask me like, doesn’t that cause anxiety for you reading yours. And honestly it, it more so like puts a passion in me to like, okay, well since you’re obviously not getting it, I guess I need to explain it more because you’re not picking up what I’m laying down.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so there’s definitely, I mean there’s days where I go through probably these like 50 to 80 comments where it’s all negative or it’s I’ve, I’ve had people in my DMS on Instagram, especially Instagram is the one where it’s like, it definitely gets when you got a bad one on Instagram, you really got a bad one.

And there was a DM from a guy who had watched my tos and screenshotted, many of them and said, this is false news. You’re not getting this from science are getting this from opinions. Like this is just, you know, what you believe. And also by the way, you’re ugly. You don’t fit in, like you don’t have any friends. This is why you sucked in high school. And I’m like, did you, did you see me in high school? Like, did we know each other in high school? And so there’s definitely like, you know, you have to be confident in who you are before you go on social media. Because if you’re not, it can so easily tear you down.

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, wow. Yeah, you’re right.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. As I prepared for the conversation, I was looking over your TikTok and I, I saw in your TikTok recently, one of your videos had like, over 200,000 views and it had like 400 comments. So if you, if, if a video remains and has 400 comments, how many, how many comments did you delete? I’m just kinda curious.

Cassidy Brown: Oh, goodness. Probably over a hundred.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow.

Cassidy Brown: I go through every morning, I’ll wake up and I’ll go, which isn’t probably the best mental thing for me at the moment for my mental health. But I’ll go on social media and I’ll scroll through the comments. And if I see when I don’t like, it’s almost like refreshing to not go back and like have to get fired up and respond, but it’s so just like it’s therapeutic to just delete and keep on moving. Cause they thought they did something, but they really didn’t do anything like they got deleted. So…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s cool.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well it seems like you’re really responsible and considerate and I really admire that. Um, and I’ve heard you refer to yourself as an advocate for the voiceless and as we begin the conversation, I think it’d be cool to get your perspective on why you think it’s important to be an advocate for the voiceless.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah. So my definition of voiceless is basically the younger generation and obviously people have different takes on what voiceless, you know, means to them. But for me, whenever I said, I wanted to be an advocate for the voiceless. I wanna be somebody that I needed when I was younger. And obviously as you know, in the younger generations, you look up to people much more often than you do when you’re older. And so, you’re trying to find that one person to latch onto mine was always Selena Gomez. You know, Hannah Montana, the usual from Disney channel.

Garrett Jonsson: For sure.

Cassidy Brown: As I got older, I realized that I didn’t need to be looking to, you know, people on TV, but I really needed somebody that was either my age or older that could say, “Hey, I’m a woman struggling in pornography and this is how you get out.”

Or “This is how you find freedom.”, or “This is how…”, or, I mean, even going from the stance of like, “This is why it’s bad.” Honestly, if somebody would’ve done that when I was 10, 11, 12, you know, even into the, my older years, somebody would’ve said, “This is why it’s bad.” I probably would’ve stopped sooner, but I just never heard. I never heard why is bad. All I knew is that, you know, “Men do it.”, you know? “It’s not good for you.”, and whatever. Like those are very blanketed statements. And I didn’t hear, you know, you never heard a woman talk about pornography when I was growing up. And if you did, it was like taboo. They were joking about it. Or, you know, it was, it was a lie or false or whatever, you know?

And so I definitely, you know, for my younger herself, I needed somebody that was older than me.

You know, that was a woman that was a girl. And that could have poured into me at the time and been like, “You’re not alone.”, you know, years of, you know, time that I spent in my room just like either crying or feeling so depressed or whatever it was going through anxiety. Because I thought that I was the only one that was watching these things and, you know, reading these things and looking at these things online and that I was doing it all by myself and secret. And nobody knew about it when, in reality, like people, other people did know, you know, and other people were actually going through it and I just never realized. And so I just have a big heart for the younger generation of knowing, like when they’re growing up, it’s not all a secret. It does harm you. It is, you know, very harmful to your mental health and for people around you and involved in it, you know, advocating and stuff. So yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s real cool. You’re forming a little community and there’s power in, in that community to have other people to relate to. It’s a very cathartic experience, so that makes sense. I like that.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: To give a little bit more context as to your personal account, can you go way back to your first time exposure to pornography and talk to that and how that was for you?

Cassidy Brown: For sure. So going all the way back. Um, I was in, let’s see, I was in the fourth grade now it’s about nine years old. I think that, that pans out to the right age.

Garrett Jonsson: I have a, I have a kid that age. And so yeah, that does pan out. And it’s interesting cuz he’s just so young.

Cassidy Brown: It is, it is extremely young and you know, talking about it with my parents now, or at least my mom, she was like, I, “I think you were older than that.” And I was like, “Absolutely not.” Like I can remember, you know, the recess area where I was outside and I was nine. And I’ve always been a very curious kid. And also I had a very strict home life. And so my mom and dad were very strict on me and they wouldn’t let me have social media. They wouldn’t let me have phone. They wouldn’t have me literally anything, I didn’t gain any of that until I got into high school. Like really not, you know, being dramatic here.

Yeah. And so when somebody else had that, I was all over it. I was like, “Oh my gosh, like, let me see it, show me how to do it. Like, what do you do on your phone?” You know, and everything. And one of the girls that I went to school with, she had walked up to me at recess and she was like, “My brother showed me this this morning and I wanna show you like, it’s so cool.” And I was expecting Wes. I was expecting Popa whatever was, you know, happening whenever I was younger, you know, Mario Cart, whatever, that’s what I was expecting. And she shows me a porn video and I was like, “That’s weird. That’s not what I expected you to show me.” And so my curious mind was like, “I wanna learn more. Like I wanna watch more. I wanna know, you know, what’s a site and everything.”

And so a few weeks went on, um, by, and she brought her phone back to me, her mom’s phone back to me. And she was like, “I actually just learned that you can look it up anywhere and delete searches history.” And I was like, “Whoa, what, like what is search history?” And so then I started like, all my gears started turning and obviously being in a strict household, like I wanted to rebel. So anything that I could do to rebel to learn more about this stuff and like rub it behind my parents’ face, you know, backs and, and, and in their faces that they didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was really, like, I thought I was giving it to ’em, you know, but in reality I was just, you know, hurting myself.

And so, um, from there from the age of nine, up until 18, so 18, to 19, actually. So it was, you know, a good 10 years, almost a decade of me watching pornography in my room by myself. Um, you know, getting into reading it in any way that I could access it. I found a way to access it. And honestly, I think during those years, nobody taught me that it was bad. Nobody said anything about it. And so I was like, “Okay, it’s fine. Like, I don’t need to get help. I don’t need tell anybody. I really don’t need to tell anybody.” Cuz it made me feel so good. And I liked watching it and everything. And as I got into the older years, I was like, “Oh, I watch it. It’s like, so I’m educating myself. And so like I’m doing it so that like one day I’ll know what to do in a marriage.”, or “I’m watching it. So like I’ll be educated. So if somebody makes a joke, I’ll know what they’re talking about.”

But in like reality, like I couldn’t not watch it without like feeling that, that feeling that I got from watching it. And um, I think we’ll talk about this later, but I started developing these deep intimacy and commitment issues to where like, if I thought that I could get satisfied online, I didn’t need anybody else to satisfy me. Or if I thought that like me and this person online, like I would, you know, go through and watch these videos. And every time that I was bored, I thought like, you know, me and that person were like, “Oh yep, we’re done. Okay. Next video.” And so I started doing that in the relationships and it became this long like series of broken hearts, and cheating and all this stuff because I just never found commitment. I never had that modeled in my life. And so that’s a, that’s the long story, the long version of it. But…

Garrett Jonsson: Well, thanks for sharing that. And again, it’s awesome that you’re willing to talk about these things because that’s part of it is when, when we, when we talk about changing the conversation and having healthy conversations about this, there has to be a conversation. And so we appreciate you talking to all of these things. There was a lot like you, your personal account is very fascinating to me. As you were speaking, you talked about the rigidity of your, like the home life that you experienced as a kid. And it’s such a tough thing because as a parent myself, I can, I have empathy for both sides for the kid and for the caregiver, because we want the best for our kids. And sometimes I think parents turn to rigidity as like the solution.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Do you have any thoughts on how, uh, caregivers can better approach it because you did experience some of the negative side effects of the rigidity. Can you talk to maybe what you would’ve preferred rather than that?

Cassidy Brown: Definitely. I think out looking back and also just putting this out there. I don’t blame, you know, my parents or I don’t think that they were the reason that I, you know, got into watching it or whatever, but I definitely believe that since they were so strict, I wanted to rebel. And without that line of communication, um, talking to some of my friends now, they’re like, “Oh, my parents have always been open. You know, we’ve always talked about things, you know, any questions that I had about life, about guys, about relationships, they would always, I mean, super open.”, and that was never really the case for me and my family. And so I think that a, it wasn’t modeled, um, in my life very well. And I think that if it’s modeled in the way in the appropriate way, in the respectful a as a family should model it, I think that’s like, “Oh, well, you know, that model doesn’t, you know, represent and coincide with the ones that I’m watching online.”

So that should be a red flag. And I think just the open line of communication is so vital because I mean, honestly, if I would’ve had that, I mean, you don’t have to sit down and go through every single detail of what porn I is and be like, “This is the genre…”, you know, everything like that. But sitting down and being like, this is, you know, this is a real thing. We’re not gonna guard you from this because when you guard, you know, your child and what I’ve experiences when you guard them for so long and then throw them into the real world, you’re like, “Holy crap, what, like all this stuff exists. Like, I didn’t know any of that.” And so you start experimenting with it because you weren’t, you know, it wasn’t talked about enough at home. And so I just, I, I really think that the open line of communication, you know, if somebody would’ve sat me down and been like, “Okay, pornography is a real thing. We don’t want you to start watching it…” because this and this and this, and this is what it does. It fuels the human trafficking industry, all these things like you’re gonna be hurting other people while you’re also hurting yourself. And so we want you to be educated on this, you know, in everything. I think if somebody would’ve sat down and, and laid out all those facts, instead of keeping it so taboo and letting me experiment with it on my own, I think that would’ve helped me so much.

Garrett Jonsson: I think that’s why it, like, again, our mission statement at Fight the New Drug, it aligns with kind of what you’re saying, because our goal is to educate on the harmful effects of pornography. So people can make an educated decision and, and filtration can be good. Filtration can be good, especially for very young kids. Uh, but the conversation are almost more important kind of like what you’re saying.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah. And you know, that conversation is gonna be awkward. It’s gonna be weird. But at the end of the day, like there are so many, I can’t even begin to explain how many ways that social media, the internet, you know, and the commercials that they’re putting out these days, ads on social media, like all of them are pushing an agenda. And it’s low key normalizing pornography and naked people and all these things that gets your mind, you know, running and racing and all these things. And so the conversation might be awkward, but it’s gonna be so helpful because if you don’t have that conversation, they’re gonna think they’re different. They’re gonna think that something’s wrong with them. They’re gonna think like they need to keep this to themselves. Which if that, you know, line of communication would’ve been opened, I feel like I would’ve gotten it off my chest sooner, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Making sure that they understand, like I’m not being judged. I’m not being shamed. I’m not being guilted or anything like that, but I’m just, I need to be educated on what that was, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

I’m gonna include in this, in the episode notes, I’ll link to some research because there was some recent surveys done. And there, I think if I’m remembering this research correctly, there was a group of like 11 to 13 year olds. And over 50% of them reported, they had, they had seen pornography at some point. And then of that 50%, uh, over 60% of them saw it accidentally. So I think the, the reason why I wanted to highlight that research is because in your case, you also stumbled upon it through your friend at recess.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And I think that that’s important for caregivers to understand that cuz sometimes caregivers will say, “Not my kid, my kid is not going to actively seek out porn.” And the, the truth is you never really know because we’re all unique individuals with, you know, freedom of choice. But even if your kid doesn’t seek it out, there could be a situation like yours.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah. I think that’s so important. I remember my mom saying that, um, right around the time that I started going to therapy and seeking help, um, you know, for what I was going through and she was like, “Well, did you just type it in online? Like how did you even get to this point?” Because I was so at the time I had been through, you know, 10 years of watching it almost weekly, she was like, “How did you even get to this point?” I was like, “You won’t believe this, but you know, the girl that you really loved me being friends with, she was the one who introduced me.” And she was like, “No, no, not at all, not possible.” And I was like, “It, it really was.” And so yeah, that opened a whole other conversation. I mean like a whole deeper conversation of, you know, her feeling like it was her fault for not checking in on me and everything and it wasn’t at all her fault. It wasn’t really anybody’s fault. Like I, I do believe that it would’ve been shown to me one way or another. Yeah. And you know, it’s what we do with it. That matters. And as a young kid, you know, nobody talked to me about that. If they would’ve had an intervention at school talking about it, then I would’ve been like, “Holy crap, this is what I’m doing at home. Nobody knows what I’m doing at home. But like these facts are really interesting.” and I’m might have would’ve stopped sooner, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Totally. Yeah. We do live presentations, and oftentimes there to like junior highs in high schools. And I recently presented to a junior high and there was two assemblies of about four to 600 kids per assembly. And after the presentation, there are always kids that come up and I make sure that, that there’s an admin sitting next to me at the end because there’s always kids that come up and they want to talk. And, and what do they usually want to talk about is they want to express some sort of gratitude for speaking to them about this, being a counter voice for them because it’s cathartic for them. And the most recent one that I’m thinking about, there was a girl who was crying like pretty intense crying. And man, my heart just felt for her because, you know, it seemed like I don’t know her situation completely, but it seemed like she didn’t have anyone to talk to. And it was a, like the first time she had a counter voice that was a healthy conversation around it.

Cassidy Brown: That’s awesome. And that also breaks my heart because I was that girl who I was afraid that if I told anybody I was gonna look, you know, be looked at as gross and growing up, whenever I heard the word pornography, you know, widely spread, it was a “guy’s problem” and necessary. It wasn’t even necessarily a problem that they defined it as it was like, “Oh yeah, guys have hormones. Like, you know, we’re just gonna put that over in there. They go through a period of watching it, you know, it’s just a normal thing.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And they somewhat normalized it just for men, just for guys. And so I got to the point where I was like, “I am I’m worthless. Like I’m disgusting. Like I watched this stuff that guys watch like,” and no women stood up for anybody else and talked about women, you know?

Yeah. And even today, you know, in places that I visit in, you know, places that I go and I listen to people talk about and there’s, you know, obviously a mini organizations and oh yeah. There’s actually one that I, a gala that I went to a few weeks ago and it’s called Hadasah’s Hope. And it’s where people go into strip clubs and they, you know, talk to these women about, you know, how to get out of the system, how to get out of the industry and just hearing all the stories about how, you know, the industry is impacted by pornography and all of the, like, you know, like the back, you know, the backstory of industries is, you know, they use those women to film these videos and the demand of these women increases when more people watch pornography.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And that saddens me so much because people that are consuming pornography, aren’t told of that.

It’s not in fine print underneath the videos saying “you fuel the human trafficking industry” or you are fueling, you know, women being abused in videos. Like this is your contribution, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Like it, you aren’t being told that. And so that just saddens my heart because I there’s sometimes where I think like “How much did I contribute to somebody getting abused, hurt, you know, um, sold, whatever it is.” And I just think Fight the New Drug has done such an awesome job of making that. I didn’t even know that was, I didn’t know that it was being fueled by that until I started following you guys and, and, you know, reading the articles and stuff that you put out. And I just think that’s awesome.

Garrett Jonsson: It’s a, it’s a tough thing to realize. And that’s part of making an educated decision coming to those like realizations, like, “Whoa, I am, I am fueling this.”

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: In a roundabout way, or in some ways in a direct way. Um, I wanted to go back to the comment you made that your mom said, “How did you get to this point?” because we know that porn can be an escalating behavior and there’s research to show that empirical research to show that it can be an escalating behavior, but I want to get some anecdotal evidence from you, like from your personal account in regards to how pornography, how you, your porn consumption, escalated. And like how soon did you realize that escalation?

Cassidy Brown: I definitely saw an escalation from when I was younger into my older years entering into relationships. So obviously whenever I was younger, I got introduced, like I said around, you know, in the grade of four, around the age of nine. And so going from that age of not dating anybody, not being in any, you know, obviously serious relationships, I was like using it for curiosity purposes. And it made me feel a certain way. And now looking back, I was recently diagnosed with OCD and it was misdiagnosed as anxiety for a very long time. And so I figured out that all of those years when I would get stress, when I afraid when I would get freaked out, whatever it was, I would turn to pornography as a, um, I forget the word, but as like a release or something…

Garrett Jonsson: Like in escapism or coping mechanism?

Cassidy Brown: Yes, yes. Coping mechanism. I would go to that and be like, “Okay, this makes me feel a certain way. I’m gonna forget about everything else going on in my life and focus on this.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so that is, that was one thing that I was like, okay, well now looking back, I can see how that escalated because as I got older, I realized I had a lot more stress going on in my life. And as I entered in these relationships, starting around sophomore year of high school, I would incorporate somehow pornography would get incorporated into these relationships. And so whenever I’d get into them, it would kind of die off and I’d be, you know, consumed by the person in, you know, in the relationship, I’d be busy by that. And then there would come a time where I would get bored and I’d get really bored in that relationship.

And I’d turn right back around to pornography and I’d break up with the person right after. And I’d just go right into like, you know, a deep… cuz I would just feel so disconnected with like who I was. And so I turned to that because I thought that would make me feel better. And I thought that I would gain knowledge of who I was or something from that. And I thought that was true love. And I thought I could be, you know, satisfied by that. And it just left me empty every single time I watched it. And now looking back, I can see that, but at the time I was like, “Why do I want this more and more and mores because it’s leaving me more empty and more empty.”, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And I, that just went with me in every relationship. And so if I wasn’t the one watching it in the relationship, I was dating a guy that would watch it, you know, instead of me.

And then there was one super toxic relationship I was in where we were both watching it. And I was like, I don’t think like this really deeply did not feel right. Like the fact that we’re both watching it. Like if I watch it, it’s fine. If just you watch it, that’s okay. But if we’re both watching it, like it was very… um, I felt very pressured to live up to expectations that were like unrealistic. And so I would also, as, as somebody who was in these relationships, I would project like such unrealistic expectations on these guys and like poor guys. Like, I, I feel really bad for them, so sorry. But I would expect them to satisfy me in ways that I was like looking online to this fake love, you know? “Oh my gosh. I feel so content from these people that are actors online.”

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Cassidy Brown: And I would like expect them to make me feel that good. And when they didn’t, I was like, yeah, you’re not the right one for me. Sorry.

You know, and I would, I would break up with them and I would go through this like just toxic cycle of like, of, you know, recycling these guys and going through and going through and I’d just end up empty every single time. I’d be so confused. And it was like, it came from that. And I definitely saw, you know, an escalation definitely at, you know, as I got older cuz I, I didn’t find anything that was satisfying me. And so I just kept turning to that over and over and over, over again. So…

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, I think it’d be interesting to relate that when you say that you used it as a coping mechanism, it’s important to acknowledge that with pornography, the reason why people turn to it is because there is, usually there is a short term re enforcement or a short term. I guess we call it a reinforcement, even though it’s like a false sense of happiness and it, it is short term. There is that short term reinforcement, which encourages people to go back to it again and again, and it can be related to substance abuse. I recently had a conversation with a former performer and this individual was in the porn industry for seven years and she was addicted to Oxycontin and she was addicted to cocaine. And she talked about how her escalating behavior with cocaine got to the point where she would snort cocaine. And there would be an immediate comedown. Like there was no high.

Cassidy Brown: Wow.

Garrett Jonsson: And she talked about how, even despite that she thought she like convinced herself that it was just a bad batch of cocaine and then she would, you know, do it again and again. And she, the, the concept is that people want it more, but enjoy it less.

Cassidy Brown: That’s true.

Garrett Jonsson: And that same thing happens with pornography consumption.

Cassidy Brown: I definitely, I definitely agree with that because there was seasons in my life where I would go from not saying, you know, one type is, you know, worse than another, but I go from, you know, just pornography and then I would get creative with it. And then I go deeper and deeper into it because the regular stuff wouldn’t satisfy me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so I would switch like all these different, you know, keywords and all this stuff, cuz I was like, “Oh, that’s really interesting.” But really it wasn’t interesting. Like it didn’t really change anything, you know? Cause I would still, like you said, like it would just leave me still empty, just the same feeling. But I thought getting more would help, but it didn’t. Yeah. You know, and I would convince myself like, “Oh this is better than the regular stuff.” And it really wasn’t, it wasn’t anything different. It was actually kind of worse because it lead me even more empty than I was whenever I started. So yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. It’s like the definition of desensitization.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, you’ve talked about how your porn consumption negatively affected your relationships, like with your significant others in the past. What about with friendships? Did you feel that any like platonic relationships were also negatively affected by your porn consumption?

Cassidy Brown: Oh, did definitely. There was always just that underlying disconnect between me and my friends because they never truly knew who I was because this version of Cassidy that I was pushing down as, you know, a raging porn watcher and you know, all these secret addictions that I had at the time I was pushing that version of myself down. And I was like, Yeah, I, you know, I, this perfect person, I put myself out there on social media and everything and they get to know that me, but when it really came down to it, they really didn’t know who I was because they only knew the publicized version of me. They knew like the perfect version of me and not what I struggled with, you know, at home.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so that, you know, always created such a big disconnect and it wasn’t until I wanna say like at the end of 2019.

So after I graduated high school, I never wanted to talk about my story in high school because I was afraid of what people thought about me and now looking back, like I really wish I would have, but at the time I don’t think I was strong enough and out of that, you know, watching porn season in my life yet, you know, and to enough to talk about it. And so once I, I graduated high school, I remember making a video. It was one of my first videos on TikTok about it. And I was joking. I made like a joke about it. And I was like, “Imagine being addicted to something for over a decade.” And then it was like, “Yeah, that’s actually true.” And I had multiple people in my friend circle, text me and like text me a screenshot of it. And they were like freaking out.

They’re like, “What are you addicted to? Like, is it drugs? Like, are you drinking? What is it like, is it something we should be scared of?” You know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And once I told them it was like, not only was there like a, a deep weight lifted off my shoulders, but I felt like I didn’t have to show up to these places, make sure that version of me wasn’t showing anymore, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Wow.

Cassidy Brown: And I felt, you know, as free as I’ve ever felt in my entire life. And so to anybody that feels like, you know, like you can’t, you can’t be vulnerable around people like being vulnerable gives you the most power because it’s sharing your story and nobody can contradict your story because that’s, what’s happened to you. And after sharing my story with multiple people, I was like, you know, in my friend circle, I was like, “Okay, I guess I can go and share it more on social media.”

And so as I did, hundreds of people started following me and I was like, “What are they doing this to make fun of me?” Like all my fears started racing through my head. I was like, “They’re doing this, they’re sending it to their friends. They’re laughing behind my back.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: When in reality I started are reading these comments and they’re like, “Girl, like I’ve struggle with it my entire life.”, “I was introduced at the age of three.”, “I was, you know, abused in my house and it, it translated into a, a deeper addiction for me and all these things.” And I was like, I would get so emotional reading these comments because I was so afraid that I was, you know, being, you know, embarrassing myself. But in reality, I was like helping people come to term with like freedom, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Wow.

Cassidy Brown: And you know, helping educate them.

And um, there’s definitely some friendships that I lost along the way. Like I said, you know, along, you know, taking my two year gap year. But, um, there was some friendships that I lost along the years because they were like, “There’s no reason for you to be on social media talking about this, this part of your story.” And I even got some hate from family, family members of mine because they were like, “That’s kind of embarrassing to put out. Like, I don’t think you should be talking about that publicly.”, and that hurt. But also I was like, there’s a generation gap there.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so there’s definitely been some quarrels in my family about it, but at the end of the day, like if I’m educating people, I’m helping bring awareness to it and helping, you know, girls, like you were saying at, you know, the talk that you gave, like people like that I want to reach and I want to impact and I wanna educate and help them and, you know, tell them that they’re not alone. And so if I could do that and I lose people along the way, that’s okay. Like I’m fine with it. I’ve come to terms so that, you know, it is what it is.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s interesting. Cuz that is one of the challenges that we face when we’re talking about the harmful effects of pornography today is that previous generations don’t understand completely and with good reason because they just never experienced it. I’m not talking down to previous generations. I’m just stating facts that they didn’t have to experience. They didn’t experience the harmful effects of pornography to this level of intensity because of the ease of access and the privacy.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: And so it’s just something completely different. And uh, I, I think I’ve, I’ve said this before during this conversation and I’ll say it again, I’m sure that I admire you for moving forward and like speaking your story and helping change the conversation. Despite some of those people, like their fear on you of like awkwardness.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah. That’s definitely awkwardness is definitely something that you have to walk through when walking through talking about pornography, because nobody wants to talk about porn, sex in the open, you know, unless you’re one of those people that, you know, has immense confidence in that, you know, kudos to you. But for me, I’ve never felt on that to be a comfortable situation, especially coming from a house that it’s taboo never talked about.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Very strict, you know, religious family that, you know, we can’t, I, I could never talk about that or, you know, conversations like that never really came up. And so yeah, it was definitely like a, like a home bread awkwardness. Like I already knew it was gonna be awkward, but I’m a social awkward person anyway. So it kind of just fit in, like it kind of just made sense and I would talk about it. So…

Garrett Jonsson: That’s awesome.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I think it’s cool that you’ve talked about how part of your journey has been speaking out on it. And then you’ve, it’s, it’s been like your experience with porn consumption has hurt some relationships, but I imagine that it’s also been helpful to a lot of your relationships. And what I mean by that is when you’ve started to speak out about the harmful effects of pornography and to your experience with it. I’m wondering if you can talk to like some of the benefits you’ve seen with other friends, because in my experience, and I wanna ask if you agree or not, because I have been open about my journey and having healthy conversations in appropriate ways. It’s like some of my friendships are even better today because of that vulnerability.

Cassidy Brown: Yep. I totally agree. I definitely see that. So when I, like I said, when I first started talking about it, there were friendships that I lost, but the friendships that I, you know, kept and stayed with, they’re so much stronger now than they were way back then, because when you’re vulnerable, that’s not a selfish thing. But it’s an inviting thing. Like it makes when, when you’re vulnerable in a community or in a group or one on one, it sets the tone for the other person. And so obviously when I’m having a conversation with somebody that’s guards up that they’re fake laughing that they’re not really on the conversation, it makes it awkward. And I’m like, “I can’t really talk to you on a deep level as much as I want to.”, but somebody that comes in and they’re like, “Dude, my week sucked, like these are all the bad things.” Like…

Garrett Jonsson: For sure. They’re just real.

Cassidy Brown: I’m like, “Okay, sweet. So like, yeah, my life sucks at the moment too.” Like, you know, I, and I can get on that real conversation. I love real conversations like that, where people aren’t trying to, you know, say that they’re perfect or whatever, but they’re like, “Dude, you know, it sucks right now, but I have hope it’ll be better.” And this is, you know, um, and so definitely those relationships are, were definitely strengthened when it comes to relationships, as in, you know, not platonic as in, you know…

Garrett Jonsson: Romantic?

Cassidy Brown: Romantic relationships. I’m currently with somebody that I met in high school. So when we met in high school, we both had, he was going through a season of smoking. Um, and that was his addiction he was dealing with. And I was going through a season of pornography and we didn’t know, know that about each other.

So those were like secrets we never knew. And we, I ended up graduating high school. We went on one date right after we graduated, graduated. And we went off to the same college together. And then I was told we were moving. And so I was like, “Crap. Like now I gotta pack up my life.” I just basically fell for this guy in one date and left him behind. And it was about two and a half years. I flew back for a friend’s wedding and was like, you know what, like, “Just for kicks and giggles, do you wanna come to the wedding with me?” He was like, “Yeah, for sure.” He came to the wedding. We fell for each other right there. And we’ve been dating ever since. And …

Garrett Jonsson: Wow, that’s cool.

Cassidy Brown: One of the conversations that we had way back when we were first talking, I mean like way back in, you know, what was that? 2019? We were still friends at the time and I remember sitting with him and I was like, okay. So like, I really struggle with like, and I would like, I would keep coming up with words that weren’t pornography, but I’d come up with like blanket statements that were like, “Yeah, like I really have some sexual problems.”, and he’s like, “You have sexual problems?” And I was like, “No, I don’t wanna tell you what I got.” And so it was like, it took a few tries to get outta me, but finally I was like, “I struggle with pornography and I have, you know, for a majority of my life and that’s just where I’m at.” And he was like, “Cool, me too.”

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, wow.

Cassidy Brown: And I was like, “I’m sorry, what? ”And he is like, “Yeah, like I’ve been struggling and I’m struggling with it in my life too. And you know, I’m also doing this on the side” and there was just so much vulnerability that, you know, was created in that moment. And it led, you know, two, two and a half years later, it led to where I trusted this man with everything because we had been so vulnerable before. And I see DMS, I see emails, comments, whatever girls asking me and even guys asking me like, “How do I tell my significant other that I’m struggling with this or that I watch this? Or how will they react?” And for me, it’s just, you gotta be vulnerable because if I was never vulnerable, vulnerable in that state, I don’t think we would’ve ever had that conversation or never gotten to the point where we trusted each other right. Enough to get in a relationship, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And the vulnerability sets, like I said earlier, the vulnerability sets the tone for the relationship, the friendship, when I’m, when I have speaking engagements, if I start the conversation off with “Hi, I’m Cassidy and I have struggled with pornography for this many years.” this the room changes because it’s not like they’re judging me anymore. It’s not like I’m scared to speak to them, but they’re like, “Wow. Like I’m about to get something out of this.” And like maybe they’re thinking like “My struggle isn’t as bad as hers, so I can say it.” And if that’s, if that’s what they’re thinking, that’s fine. Like it still gets them to be vulnerable.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: But it’s like, it just creates that. Like, “I feel comfortable around them and around her.” And that’s what I’m seeking in friendships and relationships and, you know, and especially, you know, family relationships, like I never want that awkwardness or that, you know, blanket of like, “Yeah, I’m perfect. Like, I, I look like I have it all together on Instagram.”, which I did, you know, when I was going through pornography, you know, during those tough seasons in my life. And that people say like, “Oh my gosh, your life looks perfect. Like you’re wearing cute clothes. You, you know, post about A, B and C and you just look so perfect.”

And I was like, “Thanks.” And then I’d, you know, switch over on my phone and go watch something, you know? And like, nobody, nobody knew that. And as soon as I started opening up and telling people more and more people step forward and they were like, “Okay, since you do it, like since you said that, I can say, you know, that I also struggle with it.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And the same thing about, you know, educating people is like, once you educate somebody, it’s a ripple effect. And so once you start that education with like, Hey, this is what pornography does to, you know, your brain to your health, to people around you, to, you know, the, the world, you know, whatever, this is what it does.

They’re not gonna take that information and be like, “Wow, set it as side.” They’re gonna take that information. And either like chew on it and think about it for a while. And maybe it impacts them and you know, what their life looks like at the moment, or they’re gonna turn around and be like, “Hey, did you hear about, you know, this, this and this.”, and they’re gonna keep spreading it and it’s gonna go like wildfire. I heard a saying one time, it was like, “Don’t be a lake, be a river.” And I was like, that’s stupid.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Cassidy Brown: So I started thinking about it and I was like, all of the things that we, uh, obtain, you know, whether it’s, um, advice, whether it’s life experience, whether it’s, you know, education about different harmful things in our life, whatever it might be. If we hold that for ourselves and be self selfish with it, ultimately we’re just keeping it to ourselves. \And so we’re being a lake if you will. But if we do take that information and we spread it and we, you know, talk about it on social media, it’s scary posting on social media. I know once you do it, you’re like, “Wow. Like, I feel like I’m making a difference.” and you are, cuz you never know who’s watching your social medias and who’s stalking your page or reading your stuff, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Cassidy Brown: And when you get in that, like I’m not a lake, but I’m a river mindset. You’re like, “Okay. So what can I do with, with the information that was just given to me and project it in a way that people are going to be vulnerable with it, but they’re gonna take it. Not like I’m judging or not like I’m shaming. But that I’m helping them understand, like this is what it does and this is what it has an effect. And so it’s definitely been a learning curve for sure. But at the end of the day, it’s helped the benefits of talking about it and being open and vulnerable about it has been. So has outweighed, you know, the negatives so much.

Garrett Jonsson: Wow. I love that.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: I think it’s important to note to the, because everyone’s different because we’re all unique individuals with unique experiences and unique biology. Some people shouldn’t go online and talk about it.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Right? It just requires a lot of self-awareness.

Cassidy Brown: I do think that’s very wise and I think it’s, it’s something that you have to, to come up with, you know, you have to weigh your risks and rewards on it and you have to really come to terms like, is this something that is beneficial for me in my life right now?

Is it going to be well accepted? That’s, that’s a question that, you know, is, is bound to change or an answer that’s bound to change, but is it going to be well accepted? And do I have time in my life to deal with everything that comes with sharing my story or sharing the education? Because when you put that out there, it’s not just gonna be put out there and people are just gonna praise you the rest of your life for putting that out there and not, everybody’s gonna agree with you. And like we talked about earlier, all those like hate comments and everything like that, like you’re gonna have to deal with those at an increased volume from what you were before. And some people like, they just can’t handle that. Whether it’s like they get any anxious around those type of situations or whether that just overwhelms them or whatever it is. Like you have to be a specific kind of person to be able to be like, “I’ll post it and block it all off. Like it’s fine.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And if you’re not there yet, and you wanna become that, like that’s where discipline and everything else, like we talked about earlier comes into play. But it’s definitely like, you have to be self aware of what’s season of life that you’re in. If that’s something that you can handle at the moment or not.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That makes sense. Because a trigger, like when we’re talking about what is gonna trigger a person to return to their pornography consumption, one of the, some of the triggers can be like stress or anxiety or sadness. And I think that if you do go online and talk about it. And if you’re not in a position, like you said, like this season of life where you’re ready for that, it can cause those triggers to occur and then, you know, take you back to that, to porn consumption. So anyway, I think it’s important to note that context matters and self-awareness is important. Um, one thing that I am curious to know is if during these nine to 10 years of porn consumption, if there’s like a moment that stands out to you as like your low of lows, uh, meaning like a moment where you felt completely hopeless, where you did not, you were trying to, you know, rewire your brain back to a healthier state, but you just lost all hope that you would ever have the ability to improve your decision making.

Cassidy Brown: Oh, definitely. Um, I was, I guess, 18 at the time it was right before I figured out, like “I have a problem.” and I, I guess I was 19, so 19. So I graduated and it was in my move from Texas back to Florida. And I remember moving in and I didn’t have any friends. I was totally alone. And that’s one of the main things I hear nowadays is like, “Well, I’m alone. I’m not in a relationship. You know, my parents don’t really care what I do. So that’s how I got on this track.” And basically I had been, I don’t know if sober’s the right word, but I been clean, I guess you’d say from probably, I don’t know. I took a, I took a break, so sometimes it would get so boring to me that I’d be like, yeah, like doesn’t really do anything for me anymore.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Cassidy Brown: And then part of me would be like, worried. I’d be like, “Oh my gosh. Like, did I like make myself not be able to like…”

Garrett Jonsson: Almost like this permanent damage?

Cassidy Brown: Did I like damage myself? You know? And so then I get scared and freaked out and I wouldn’t do it for a while. And so I’ve probably been clean for, I don’t know, two or three months. And within those months I had moved. And so we got to our new place and it’s developed, um, I’m very open about this, but it’s developed deep. Like I said, it’s misdiagnosis anxiety, but OCD for me, you know, works reconstructs my brain into freaking out. So basically I have, I struggle with both. And during that time I went through a huge mental health breakdown. I didn’t leave the new house that we had moved into for like one and a half to two months. Um, I felt like I, I developed deep agoraphobia, which is like a fear of leaving the house and going in public social settings.

And during those times I was like, “Well, I’m not leaving the house. I’m anxious. I can’t really eat. I’m going through all these mental health problems. The only thing that makes me feel good is watching pornography.” And so it would be a daily thing. It’d be like, I’m not talking to anybody. I’m really like in this really deep depression I was walking through, wasn’t leaving the house. I wasn’t in college. Didn’t have any friends here. All I had was like family. And you know, my family is a little little on the, with the crazy side. And so I was like trying to distance myself from them cuz I couldn’t go around them cuz I had, you know, all these anxious thoughts and all these things. And so, um, I just turned to pornography to somewhat be a release, to be a coping mechanism, to be a friend, cuz I thought, you know, it would make me feel better.

And for those, you know, let’s say let’s round up and say two months, the one thing that I relied on the most was pornography. And so I get up in the morning, I’d, you know, do a, a glorified version of my morning routine. I go out throughout my day and I’d be like, “I’m good.” Like I go on a walk, I, you know, get in the fresh air. I’m like I could do this. Like it’s no problem. I go upstairs, sit down, have nothing to do, nobody to talk to. And I’m like, “Okay, sweet. It’s about at that time…” and I’d do that. Like it would happen weekly, daily. And it was to the point where I was watching it probably like four to five times a week. And that’s when I was like, “There’s a problem here. Like there’s a deep problem.”

And so coming out of that, um, you know, overly obsessed with it season. Um, for that two months I ended up telling my mom, I was like, “I need to see, I need to seek help. I need, you know, a therapist or a counselor or something.” And she was like, at the time she was like, “Okay. I mean, yeah, we can go see, you know, a religious person about this and you know, I I’m sure it’s that.”, when in reality it wasn’t, I just needed help. And so we went to somebody who was a licensed therapist and I went through about two sessions with her, by the end of the second session, she was like, “Are you just a random question? Are you addicted to pornography?” And I was like, “What?”Like “Did I say that?” Like, “Did I slip up and say that?”

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Cassidy Brown: And cause I didn’t, I wasn’t telling anybody at the time, you know, and I was like, “Did, did I say something that hinted that?” And she was like, “Well, you, you kind of alluded to that because of, you know, all these different symptoms that you’re experiencing and that’s symptoms of somebody who’s overly addicted to something and using something as a coping mechanism.” And I just looked at her and I was like, “Wow, like that just summed up the past. However many years I’ve been addicted to this.” And I, you know, went into talking about it with her and I’ve never ever talked to somebody about that on such a deep level. I was like, it stems from, I was like, “I think it stems from my parents and the way that I was parented. And I think it stems from my childhood…” and I was just going through all these different ideas and she was like, “Doesn’t it feel so good to get that off your chest?”

And I was like, “Yes, cuz I’ve been carrying it for so long, you know?” And she was like, she was giving me like hope. And she was like, “There is a way out of this. There is a way to stop watching it.” And she’s like, “But it’s not gonna be fun for you.” And I was like, “What do you mean ‘It’s not gonna be fun?’ Like it’s gonna be easy.” And so she was like, “Okay, well when you get, you know, tempted to watch that, you’re gonna have to put your phone in the other room for like two hours.” And I was like, “Okay, it’s literally so easy.”, go home. And I was like, “Right. It’s about that time.” And I was like, “Oh wait, I’m not doing that anymore.” So I went and put my phone in the other room and went back in the other room and I was like, “So, so what am I supposed to do? Two hours?”

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Cassidy Brown: And I’m like looking at the ceiling. I’m like, well, I get on my laptop instead. And sure enough, getting on my laptop just so happened to lead to the exact thing I was trying to avoid. And it was like in that moment I was like, I have a problem. Like if I have to put down a device and pick up another one just to fulfill that craving, that that’s not good. And I, I need to seek deeper help. And so I started going to therapy more often and I started talking to her about, you know, “I’m putting down one device and picking up another.” and she was like, “Well, you need to put both every of electronic device, you can get your hands on, put them somewhere else. And you know, go out with your family, go out with friends.”

Like the distractions of walking with family, you know, taking walks around the neighborhood or whatever. Like, I don’t know if anybody, you know, listening to this has tried that, but it works because as soon as I walk out that door and see family, I’m not thinking about that anymore. Like I’m not gonna put my family in that in the same box, you know what I’m saying? And so it’s like this huge like distraction for me and it’s helped so much and therapy is so good. It’s so healthy. And even if you don’t struggle with pornography, like I would recommend therapy to every single person. Like there are some deep rooted things that people go through that they don’t realize affects them until later on in life when they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s probably the cause of that.” And they’re like, “Well, that’s not resolved in my life. And I still have a lot of hate for that person or a lot of, you know, unresolved feelings about that.” And it’s just, it brought so many things up to the service, you know, about my childhood, about, you know, how I was parented or how I was, you know, um, in everything like that. And it was very, very helpful. And so I definitely recommend that.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s so cool. I’ve been thinking a lot about what causes a person to turn to pornography in this case, we’re talking about pornography. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that. What makes a person like what is, what are the whys, the different whys as to why people turn pornography? And I don’t wanna oversimplify this, but I wanna get your opinion on it because I’m thinking I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And again, I don’t wanna oversimplify it, but I think there’s, it comes down to like four things, four possible whys. And again, tell me what you think. So the first one is you’re either doing too much like excessive or too little, like you’re bored. Like you’re not fulfilling. You’re not engaging in activities that are healthy for you that are like challenging you and that you really enjoy and are interested in. And then the other two are your biology can sometimes be the reason why. And the reason why that could be the case is like, look at your example. You’ve for example, because you are have a tendency to experience like anxiety and the OCD that is part of your biology. Those like were triggers and you didn’t know how to deal with those. And then the last one is trauma. That’s like not dealt with. So it’s those four too much, like they’re too little or trauma and biology.

Cassidy Brown: I think a, all of those are right. And I think one to add on is desperate. When I was at my lowest is when I was most desperate and I was desperate for people to love me. I was desperate to be wanted. I was desperate for attention, from family, from friends, from guys, from the internet, from whatever.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And, um, I think that’s a really, cuz you know, there’s a season. So I would say I was in, I don’t even know sophomore year when I first started dating around and there was a gap between a relationship I vividly remember and Snapchat is awful. Let me just say the, I hate that app with everything within me. And I remember downloading that app and I figured out, you could add people that you didn’t know, like you didn’t have to know them in real life to add them on, you know, Snapchat.

And I was like, “That’s really interesting.”It was not interesting was the most harmful thing I could have done. So I started adding all these random people and they started asking me for, you know, pictures and for different things. And I was like, “That’s wait, I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the object that people are interested in.” And it was in that moment, like in one of those, you know, um, picture sending whatever that I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Like, and not only changed, like the narrative changed for me, from me being desperate for like watching this and getting the satisfaction from this, if you will, to, people are desperate for me. And I was like, oh my gosh. Like that, that just up that went up a level, you know?

Garrett Jonsson: Did you like put stock in that and value the other people wanted that from you?

Cassidy Brown: Oh, for sure. Okay. I was definitely like, it would boost my confidence.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s what I was trying to say.

Cassidy Brown: Yeah. Yeah. I was like, “Oh yeah. Well people like me online; do they have to like me in person?”

Garrett Jonsson: Okay.

Cassidy Brown: And then the sad reality of that would hit, um, later, but it, it was definitely like, it would boost my confidence. It would make me feel better about myself. I go in and do these things and then I leave phone somewhere and I’d be 10 times more like I’d have more, you know, happiness or whatever. And I’d be like, “Oh my gosh. Yeah. Like I could do whatever.” And then it was like, “That’s, that’s crazy. So many people know what I look like, but nobody knows me for me.” And that’s when I was like, “Okay, like there has like, there’s something here that’s amiss. You know, something’s wrong. And that’s when I, you know, figured out that I was desperate for something. And I was putting all of my eggs in this one basket of like, “Well, I have to prove myself. And I have to, you know, put myself up for, you know, um, making somebody happy or making, you know, making my body be enough for somebody.” And like my whole thing is always, you know, if you lead with your body, you have to keep it with your body. And so I’ve entered into plenty of relationships where I’ve been like, “Okay, well, like we’ll just jump from this to this. And you know, you’ll get to see all of me.” And then, you know, whenever it gets to a point where he, the guy, you know, or whoever would get bored, they would be like, “Well, like what, what else is there to offer?” And I’m like, “Well, I, well, is this not enough?” And then it would develop this. Like “I’m not enough. Like I I’m really not enough.” And then since I would get desperate in that, I need that attention, I would just convert that into a different relationship. I would just be like, “Yeah, you’re not, it is fine. Let’s just break up, move on. I’ll go get attention from somebody else, somewhere else.”

And so I, I agree with everything that you were saying. And, um, the biology part is really interesting cuz um, I, I wanna say the word is hereditary, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s hereditary in your genes or DNA, whatever it might be. Um, the correct word for it. But my family has had a lot of addictions in, you know, run in our family. And so I didn’t know that, but now talking to my parents and being open about it, you know, my in certain side of the family, um, struggled a lot with alcoholism and the other part struggled a lot with being workaholics and whether or not people want to admit it work is a very big addiction for some people like they crave that and they need that to survive. And obviously you need it for money purposes, but some people crave that. And so that’s just in my DNA that I was like, I was born to have that natural, you know, addictive personality tendency, whatever. It just so happened that the luck of the draw was pornography for me. And so I, I think it’s very wise if you see that. And if you know that, so for me eventually becoming, you know, getting married, and having kids, I want to be open with them and being like, “This is something that runs rampant in our family and in our, you know, line of descent. And I want you to know this so that you can practically put that into effect for your life. And know I’m not gonna turn to alcohol because I have, you know, alcoholic tendencies in my family or not gonna watch pornography because you know, my mom struggled with it a lot and you know, and, you know, keep on going up to the line with that.”

And so I think that’s really, really important and that I don’t think that’s talked about enough, you know, how it’s hereditary and how it can easily run and run, you know, in your DNA from, you know, older family members than you. And it could easily be, you know, transmitted to you. So I think that’s really wise. And I think that goes straight to trauma. How you were talking about that, like, you know, UN, um, unresolved trauma or untalked about trauma, like all of that can easily be a pathway or a road into pornography or into their coping mechanisms because you’re like, “Well, I have nobody to talk to you about this. You know, I’m alone in this. Nobody knows what I’m feeling and to escape from reality I’m gonna go watch this.” Like I, I think that I’ve done that, you know, many times in my life with, you know, whether it’s family traumas or grief, you know, going through seasons of losing family members in my life, it’s definitely been hard. And that pornography was a huge coping mechanism in all of those. So yeah, I can definitely see all trauma is a big, is a big, um, reason why.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, I think it’s common for people to turn to porn or consume porn in an impulsive state. I think a very significant amount of consumers are doing it in an impulsive state with no forethought of, uh, you know, future possible consequences. But as a person, as it escalates, a person becomes more aware of the harmful effects. And my question is regarding a person who has the desire to work towards zero consumption; as a person works towards zero consumption, it can be very common to experience what feels like failure and also like a setback as you journey. Like as you met with your therapist and started to, you know, put your devices in the other room for a couple hours, did you have any setbacks? Can you talk to those? And what advice do you have for people who are, you know, in that process of journeying towards zero consumption, but are having some of those, you know, failures or setbacks.

Cassidy Brown: Setbacks were definitely something that I struggle with, you know, from coming off of watching it, you know, weekly for over 10 years, to all of a sudden wanting to sober and clean up, like, obviously it wasn’t an overnight, which I believed it was. I was like, oh, I’m gonna wake up the next day and I’m not gonna watch it. Like, “I’m gonna be fine. And I’m gonna, you know, clean up my life from this.” And then the next morning I wake up and I’m like, “I’m gonna watch it now.” Like, yeah, there’s definitely, you have to be aware and you have to know, and hopefully this encourages people who are watching this, it’s not an overnight fix. And so if you wake up the next morning and you, you know, stumble and, you know, watch it or whatever your, you know, consumption of, it looks like if that happens for you, when you’re in that journey of trying to, you know, get clean or sober, whatever you wanna call it, I wanna encourage you that it’s not an overnight fix.

And there’s people that’ll say, well, like “Well just stop watching it.” Okay. “Well, like you stop smoking.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Or “You stop doing things that you’re, you know, overly obsessed with that you’ve been doing for so long. Thats almost a habit.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Um, and so I never want somebody to feel like, well, I I’ve fallen, you know, too many times off the wagon. I just can’t get back up. You can, and the self discipline’s gonna be hard. It’s not gonna be fun. It’s gonna be ugly. And it’s gonna look weird. So like personally, um, in relationships, I think we talked about this earlier. I, I tend to take relationships too far, um, when it comes to, okay, “Well, I’ve watched this for so many years, then I’m accustomed to having that in my brain.” So when I enter into relationships, I expect that to naturally come out of those relationships.

And so for me, I’ve had to put up like very strict boundaries in relationships and they’ve looked weird, like talking to people. Like, I, I’m very odd about this and I’ll, I’ll tell you because you know, we’re talking about it, definitely in a college standpoint where I am now, there’s things where I’m like, “Oh yeah, well, I, I don’t really wanna go to that event or that party or whatever, because there’s going to be blank involved. And I know if I get down that, then I’ll get down this and that’ll only lead to pornography.”

And it’s making those, like being self aware enough and having enough strength to be like, “I know if I do A, B and C, that’s gonna lead to porn. And so I know I don’t wanna get back down that road.”, and having strength to be like, just say no, and just to be like, “Okay, you’re gonna look at me weird. And you might hate me after this for a little bit, but I promise you’ll get over it. But it’s a no for me.” And having the strength to say ‘no’ is a really big thing. The other one that I I’d say, um, basically looking back when I, you know, kept falling short and stuff is getting more and more educated helped me. Um, I don’t, I don’t wanna say, I keep saying disgusted. I don’t wanna say disgusted, but it made me look at porn with a different view. And so, um, whenever I started, I think I got into Fight the New Drug like, I don’t know, probably six or seven, eight months ago. I’m not sure. During those six to eight months sharing your story, like we were talking about earlier, it allows you to walk the back down that road of where you were. And so it can sometimes be tempting for you to fall back down that road also, if you’re not, you know, farther along in your walk journey, whatever.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And that’s also something you have to be very aware of. Like, if you’re not fully out of that yet you probably shouldn’t be sharing it yet because you’re gonna have to share parts that like you don’t like, or part to that might make you stumble again.

So you have to be very aware of like, “Okay, where am I actually at?” And be honest with yourself, like, “Am I actually ready to share this or not?” Um, but watching and seeing myself like go through all of those times where I fell short and stuff, I had to come to terms with like, “Okay, what is it actually doing for me? Like, what is this benefit me? Is it making me actually feel better? Is it making me perform better? Is it whatever?” And I would look up these articles on Fight the New Drug, on Google scholar. And I started reading them and I was like, “Okay, great. So it leads to less gray matter in the brain. That’s great. It leads to shrinking in the brain. That’s great.” And I’m like reading through all these things and I’m like, and in my stomach, I’m like, “I’m never gonna watch that again.” Like, “I don’t feel like I ever wanna watch it cuz like it made this repulsive this in me.” and having that repulsiveness enemy made it easier for me to stop because I was like, not only is it harming me, but it’s harming other people around me in the industries, in, you know, the trafficking realm and you know, all these other things. And I was like, “Yeah, I, I don’t wanna watch that because I know now what it really is.” And exposing it, like you guys such a great job of exposing pornography for what it truly is like it’s all fake. Like it’s all actors and like all these things are so fake and we’re altering our mindset around like, “Oh, that’s perfect. That’s what love is.” That’s not love these people don’t even know each other. Like that shouldn’t be what our, you know, expectation of love is because that’s not really what love is to begin with.

Um, but I, I, I definitely think education has a huge part in, you know, helping you overcome that battle.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

And even in scenarios where the people do know each other, the performers know each other, it, there’s still, it’s very problematic in a plethora of ways. And, and I think kind of what you’re speaking to, like the technical term is like supernormal stimulus. Like porn experts are referring to as a supernormal stimulus, meaning that, um, it’s exaggerated and it spikes the reward pathway at a certain level. And then there is that desensitization that happens. And I mean, we can go on and on it’s problematic in many ways, but, I appreciate you talking to all of those things. As you talked about these boundaries that you’ve set, you mentioned the computer and your, all these electronic devices in the other room for two hours. And then you also mentioned all these different things. Did you at these boundaries yourself, or did you have help with, uh, your therapist or another individual?

Cassidy Brown: Definitely. I had help with a therapist on the electronic part because that was at the beginning of my journey when I didn’t know what boundaries, I didn’t know what those things were called or I didn’t know they were useful. Yeah. And so my therapist definitely helped me in those and then, and dating aspect. I remember when we first started dating, we were both like, “Okay, we have struggled with this in the past. And we both know and are very much aware that we do not want to go back down that road with each other at the moment. Or, you know, we don’t want to do that individually.” That helped so much. And so having that one on one, like I wanna call it accountable partner, but having that person that knows.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: Like not even, I remember when I first like told somebody, I told them like the, the very clean version of it.

I was like, “Yeah, I watch it. You know, like once a month, like it’s not that big of a deal.” but at the time I was watching it, you know, four to five times a week.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And when somebody knows like ultimately what you’re going without a filter on it, that’s when you’re gonna get the most help. And for me, it was not only opening up to my therapist, but opening up to my boyfriend and being like, “This is what I struggle with. I know you struggle with it too. And let’s both be vulnerable so we can help each other.” And then it, it translated into, “okay, I’m gonna tell my mom about it because I’m already talking about it on social media. So she’s gonna figure it out eventually. Or somebody’s gonna tell her.”, like “Your daughter’s talking about pornography online.”, you know?

Might as well come from me. So it it’s talking to my mom about that. And now that somebody else knows about it, they can hold me accountable. And they’re like, do you really think that’s a good decision to be watching that if you know, it leads to, it’ll lead you to that. And there are movies and shows that have had to stop watching, you know, over the course of, you know, one or two years when I’ve tried to been, you know, sober up and getting clean again, there shows that whether I like it or not, they ultimately lead me down the road I don’t wanna be on.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

It all comes down to self-awareness because what triggers you might not trigger another person and vice versa, what triggers an, the person might not trigger you. So it really does come down to self-awareness and I think kinda what you’re talking to the, I think the technical term is like sensitization that as someone consumes pornography and reinforces that behavior again and, and again, and again, there’s these sensitized porn pathways that were like cues, like random cues that might not, again, might not trigger someone else, but they can trigger you because of what’s happened to you because of your experiences and what you’ve been exposed to. So I talked to a friend recently, he reached out to me and said, have you ever heard that quote that we climbed just to fall? And I was like, I really haven’t heard that. And he was like, “Is that true? Do you think that we climb just a fall?” And it kind of falls in line with what we’re talking about when we’re talking about, you know, journeying towards zero consumption and having setbacks. And he was, he was referring to that, his journey towards zero consumption and then, you know, having a setback and then feeling like he lost all of his progress because of that setback. And we were kind of comparing it. We were expounding on this quote, “Do we climb just a fall?” And we started relating it to Free Solo. Have you watched that video?

Cassidy Brown: I haven’t.

Garrett Jonsson: So there’s a guy who climbed El Capitan, in California. And if you fall, like it’s a, it’s a cliff you’ll, you’ll die, you know? And so he risked his life to climb this free solo, meaning that he didn’t, he wasn’t tied into the mountain.

Cassidy Brown: Oh.

Garrett Jonsson: Like, he, he summited this without any ties.

Cassidy Brown: Wow.

Garrett Jonsson: And it’s a really intense movie. And he was kind of thinking of his journey towards, towards zero consumption like that. Where if he fell, that meant like all of his progress was erased. And we started talking about like, no, it’s actually not like that. It’s more like you have these steps, like you’re climbing this big staircase. And if you trip and fall in the staircase and hit your shin, that doesn’t mean that you lost the progress that you’ve made. It just means that you, you know, you, you acknowledge that you hit your shin, you hit your shin. And you’re like, “Man, that, that wasn’t fun.” You can sit down for a second and reflect on it. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself down this staircase. Right? And you can sit, reflect rest, and then regroup and press forward on your journey. So I just wanted to emphasize that for our listeners, it’s like progress and, and take it slow. And it’s very probable. You will have setbacks. That’s part of it. It doesn’t mean that you’ve lost the progression that you’ve made.

Cassidy Brown: I definitely agree with that. And I think that everybody’s speed of progression and healing is different. And so I recently went gluten free and I’m saying this with like a grain of salt, but I really can’t stick with diets like that. But I was like, I’m gonna go gluten free. Like, I’m gonna be bougie… I got it all figured out. Like I got my Pinterest plans and everything, and I kept falling short. So I’d be like, okay, for breakfast, I’m gonna have this and this. And it’s not gonna have any gluten and it’d be great. Then I get to school and I’m like, “I really want a Philly cheese steak.”

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]

Cassidy Brown: So I go out and get a Philly, cheese steak, and I would fall short like that. But my motive was still clear on where I wanted to go, but the progression was slower. And so now I’ve gotten to a point where, okay, now I’ve gotten, like, I’ve gotten all of my boundaries laid out.

So I’m like, “Okay, when I get to lunch, I’m eating a salad. I’m not eating anything on the salad except fruit that don’t have gluten in it.” And so I like, well, I, everything out, but I had to take baby steps to get there. So it was like, okay, I’m limiting. I’m not just gonna go cold turkey. And I mean, really you can’t, I mean, going cold turkey, you know, I’m gonna say this in my own opinion is really kind of bad in any situation. Um, if you don’t wean yourself off of it, because coming from somebody who’s been on an anxiety medication or was on an anxiety, me for a big portion of her life and cutting all of that off and then like going through serotonin syndrome for a week and almost dying like…

Garrett Jonsson: Oh, wow.

Cassidy Brown: Like you have to wean yourself off like little by little.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Cassidy Brown: And so just reiterating, like you’re and journey won’t look the same in your speed. Like climbing up the mountain might be faster for some people, but people that have tendencies, like we were just talking about in, you know, your biology or your makeup, like that’s gonna look different in each person. So it might take you a little bit longer to get there. So if you do fall and you do, you know, scrape your shin or whatever, you can sit there for a little bit and contemplate, “How could I have done this better?”, and then go an alternative, alternative, alternative. Yeah. There you go. Yeah. Alternative route, um, figuring out which way works best for you and just pursuing that and, and getting, um, and getting clean from it.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. One hundred percent. Well, Cass, as we come to the conclusion of this conversation, we wanna leave you with the opportunity to have the last word. And so if there’s anything on your heart or mind, we’d also that we haven’t discussed yet. We’d, we’d love to hear those thoughts as well.

Cassidy Brown: I think ultimately, I just wanna leave you with two words like, you can, and like we were just talking about if you fall and if you, you know, um, feel like you can’t get back up again, you can, because if you are one standing, you can stand again. Um, and ultimately like going off of that, like the resources that Fight the New Drug offers is so important and the resources that, you know, um, research studies hold on the internet, you know, finding reputable ones and you guys are good about, you know, like navigating those and pointing us to those. But finding those research studies and educating yourself, education is so important to your healing journey, to other people’s like the more people that we educate, the more of a ripple effect it is. And the more we’ll make a change in this industry and in, you know, the healing journeys for multiple people. And so I just wanna leave you with, you know, you can, you have the opportunity, you have a chance to make a change, to make an impact, and it’s all up to you, the opportunities yours.

Garrett Jonsson: I love it. You’ve been great. You are great. We appreciate it.

Cassidy Brown: Thank you.

Fight the New Drug Ad: Talking about porn can be tricky. That’s why we created an interactive conversation guide called Let’s Talk About Porn. Simply select who you’d like to talk to, your partner, child, friends, parents, or even a stranger, and select the type of conversation you’d like to have. We’ll walk you through a healthy way to approach this taboo topic in a productive conversation. Let’s Talk About Porn is available for free, both in English, and Spanish so you can be prepared to talk when someone asks why you’re listening to a podcast about the harms of porn. Access the guide, and start talking at FTND.org/blueprint. That’s FTND.org/blueprint.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.

Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND

A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.

Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.

Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.

Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.

A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.

An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.