Recovering Compulsive Porn Consumer
Trigger Warning: This discussion includes descriptions of abuse and suicidal ideation that may be triggering to some. Listener discretion is advised.
Katelyn is a student at North Dakota State University, double majoring in social work and human development and family science with a minor in psychology. As a teenager, Katelyn struggled with depression and anxiety and she turned to pornography to cope, which ultimately further fueled feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, and eventually suicidal ideation. In this episode, Katelyn sits down with podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, to talk about her struggle with pornography, the role shame played in her compulsion, and how she’s since been able to let go of shame and begin her recovery.
Fight the New Drug Ad: Regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political persuasions, or any other diversifying factor, porn can impact anyone. If you’ve recognized the harmful effects of pornography in your life, or recognized the harms pornography can cause in society, we welcome you to become a Fighter and take the Fighter Pledge. As Fighters we strive to be bold, understanding, open-minded, and accepting. If you’re ready to become an official Fighter, we invite you to read the full Fighter Pledge and sign it at FTND.org/FighterPledge. That’s FTND.org/FighterPledge.
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 Katelyn. She began looking at pornography in high school, and it escalted while in college. During this conversation we discussed how her porn consumption fueled isolation, shame, and objectification.
Fast forward to today and Katelyn lives a life free from pornography, and it’s influence.
With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Awesome. Well, we are finally going to record Kate. How’s your day going so far?
Katelyn: It’s kind of really good. How about you?
Garrett Jonsson: Good. It’s going pretty good. I think it might be important to get to know you a little bit better.
Garrett Jonsson: Can you give us like a brief description of who is Kaitlin and what you’re up to?
Katelyn: Um, yeah, I definitely can. For someone who’s Katelyn, I feel like I should know this better.
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]
Katelyn: Um, yeah, so my name is Katelyn and I’m currently a senior at North Dakota State University. I’m double majoring in social work and human development and family science with a minor in psychology and that’s academic wise. But other than that, I’m someone who just really likes to be around people. And I’m just really excited to kind of be able to share my story. Um, I used to be really ashamed of it, and now I’m just really excited to be able to share it and tell others that they’re not alone.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s awesome. It is a big deal to, to go from having the shame to being where you’re at today, where you’re able to talk about it. And so we just want to acknowledge all the work that you’ve put in to be where you’re at today. And then we want to say, thanks for joining us today.
Katelyn: No, thank you for having me. I love Fight the New Drug, so I’m really excited to even be here.
Garrett Jonsson: Good. Well, first of all, I guess one of the questions I have based on that last comment is what, why do you say you love Fight the New Drug and I’m not trying to, like, I don’t know, I’m not trying to plug Fight the New Drug here, but I’m just kinda curious, like how that relationship began. Like how did you first hear about Fight the New Drug?
Katelyn: Yeah, of course. So I actually first heard about Fight the New Drug when I was maybe in like eighth grade, I was out with some friends and I saw a woman wearing a Porn Kills Love shirt. Um, and I thought it was really cool, but I was also like, “Oh, wait, what’s pornography. Like what the heck is that?” Um, and my friends were just standing there like, “Oh, that’s kind of weird that she’d wear like such a bright shirt.” And that’s kind of the last I had seen a bit until I got into like college. Um, but after my own struggled pornography, I was like, I just need something to kind of tell me that like everything I’m going through, like there’s a reason for it. It’s not just like me being crazy.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Katelyn: And I can’t remember how, but I had come across your page. And sometimes it’s kind of to like talk about, um, pornography that way. And so I love the fact that, um, you’re like what you guys stand for. It talks about like how it actually affects like your body and your brain. And, um, cause I went through all of that and so I think it’s really awesome what you all do. And um, I’m so happy to like be able to wrap it now after learning about it more.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I think that’s one of the things that can happen with shame because you don’t talk about the challenge. You seem, it seems common that you try to take this on by yourself.
Garrett Jonsson: And so you never really hear about the other people, the other personal accounts or the other facts or the other research and science showing all the harmful effects, the potential harmful effects. So then you start to wonder like, “Is this, is this real like, is this really a problem or remind just perceiving it as a problem?” Kind of like you said, you said, “Am I crazy for believing that this is an issue?”
Katelyn: Yeah. Yep.
Garrett Jonsson: I think it’s important to kind of understand how you as an individual label, your porn consumption. So how is it, how, how do you label it for yourself?
Katelyn: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain, but I was someone who wanted to stop, but I definitely didn’t know how, so I would say maybe like not addicted, but kind of like an unwanted, um, consumption. Like I, I couldn’t stop, but also like I really wanted to, if that makes sense, it was really difficult.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
That makes sense. And did you ever see a professional about your porn consumption or is it a situation where you had to deal with this on your own?
Katelyn: Yeah, so the first time I actually experienced pornography, it was my freshman year of high school. Um, my parents had never really talked about it. Um, and so I kind of labeled it myself. I had never really talked to professional because I had also never heard of another woman struggling with pornography. And so I was like, “Okay, I’m the only woman in the world that’s struggled. So I can’t tell anyone, I have to figure this out by myself.” Um, so as much as I wish I could say, I had asked for help and I had like sought out help earlier in my life. Um, I definitely didn’t. I tried doing it on my own, which was not the good wasn’t. It was not the best idea.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s gotta be tough, you know, to not only, not only be experiencing the harmful effects of pornography, but then in addition to that, thinking that you’re the only female.
Katelyn: Yeah, it was, it’s definitely something I would not wish on anyone.
Garrett Jonsson: For sure. You know they say “Name it to tame it.” Did you find that concept to be true?
Katelyn: So the whole name of the claim ant thing, it worked for a little bit, but I definitely struggled with pornography on and off. And then when I got to college is when I got worse again.
Garrett Jonsson: Gotcha. And when you say that it got worse, what type of ways were you identifying that there was an escalation happening?
Katelyn: Yeah so in high school it was more, I had no idea what was going on. I just felt the shame with it. Um, but in college I very much knew what was happening. And, um, with that came like a lot of shame I talked about earlier, um, with like the video that I had began developing some really, really bad depression and suicidal thoughts, um, coming with it from the pornography, just because I had so much isolation and not wanting to talk to anyone just because I was so embarrassed of what was going on. But other than that, I had also just began to like, see women as objects of like, okay, I’m an object. And that’s all I meant for, um, it even got to the point where like, I’m actually super ashamed to say it. Like I thought rape was like an okay thing. Like if a girl would get raped, I’m like, “Oh, well it’s okay.” Um, and now the thought of like now being free from pornography, like the thought of rape just disgust me. And, um, that’s kind of one of the things that I’m like pornography really just does, like shatter your brain and it just kind of ruins who you are as a person.
Garrett Jonsson: Wow. We, we appreciate you sharing some of those intimate details that can be challenging to admit, um,…
Katelyn: It is. Yeah, it’s very difficult to think back. Like that was my mindset and it’s pornography that kind of shaped that.
Garrett Jonsson: I’m just kinda curious how that perspective that rape was “Okay.” How that relates to your porn consumption? I think that, um, as someone comes to this podcast, maybe let’s say someone that’s not familiar with Fight the New Drug and they start listening to consider before consuming. And they hear that statement. I think there would be a level of skepticism is what I’m trying to say, that they would say “Pornography consumption can not lead a person down the road to, to claim or to perceive rape as Okay.” Can you talk to that a little bit more about how that transition occurred or…
Katelyn: Yeah, it’s, it’s honestly kind of crazy. Um, I grew up in a very loving family and I also grew up in a family where like, I never, I never experienced, um, like being sexually assaulted or raped. And so after, I guess, starting to watch pornography before I was like, if any girl told me, um, like this very intimate details of her life, I would get like angry and be like, “That’s not okay.” Um, and so I can’t really explain the transition. It’s just one day after watching pornography for awhile, I started thinking of rape as an attractive thing. I was like, “Oh wow. Like this, isn’t…” [pauses] Sorry, I’ve actually never admitted that before. Um, but I was like, “Rape is an attractive thing. It’s okay. That’s literally what us women were made for.” Um, because that’s really what pornography perceives it as, um, like that’s all women are created for. And so I started believing that. And so I started thinking like rape was kind of an attractive thing and I was like, “If that ever happens to me, like that’s okay.” Which is really sad to say, um, it breaks my heart even thinking about it because if another girl told me that, I think my heart would shatter a little bit.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Well, again, I just want to acknowledge that we appreciate your honesty. And, um, one of the things we try to do on this podcast, um, I try to incorporate this into my own life and I try to encourage our listeners as well is to incorporate unconditional positive regard for ourselves and for other people.
Garrett Jonsson: And so I just want to acknowledge us as challenging and as difficult as it is to kind of admit some of those transitions that can happen and that can have a correlation to pornography consumption. Um, honestly I just admire your honesty and self-awareness.
Katelyn: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. And I definitely like when I was going through all of this, I think if a woman just would have told me, like “I struggled with it too.” I think it would’ve changed everything. And so I’m really hoping that just a woman will listen to this and be like, “Wow, I’m not alone.” If that makes sense.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. No, it totally makes sense. Um, you mentioned your porn consumption led to increased isolation.
Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to that, um, how that, that escalation of isolation, how it felt and if there was also a correlation to loneliness?
Katelyn: Yeah, definitely. Um, so my sophomore year of college is kind of when it started happening again, um, in like a really bad way. And, um, I have three roommates, but I would kind of shut them out all the time just because I was so like ashamed because after you watched pornography, that’s kind of all you feel is just shame. Um, it’s kind of like a constant spiral of like, “I want to do it again, but then I feel shame.” and it’s like this constant thing that you’re stuck in, that you can’t get out of. And so I would isolate myself from people that loved me and wanted to talk to me and through, I would just become more lonely, um, just kinda thinking I had no value, no worth, um, I wasn’t really good for anything. And then that’s kinda where the suicidal thoughts came.
I think it was like sophomore year. Um, but I, I tried taking my own life and my roommate actually had to take the pills from me. And I, I truly believe that was because of like the pornography consumption and just not really thinking that my life was worth any value anymore. And, um, all that happened just because I didn’t really want to reach out to anyone because of that shame. And so, um, I definitely feel like pornography brings this just constant cycle of loneliness and shame, and that can just spiral into something that isn’t, that isn’t good if you don’t take care of it.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, absolutely. Um, I think for me, it’s kind of challenging to look back and remember some of those rock bottom moments.
Katelyn: Yeah, definitely.
Garrett Jonsson: Is that like case for you? When I say “challenging to remember”, it’s almost like, at least for me, sometimes I tend to forget like what it was really like and how difficult it really was. Is that the case for you or, or are those moments like really vivid and easy to remember?
Katelyn: I’ve definitely tried blocking out like, you know, the, the attempting suicide, um, and stuff like that, just because it, it was really hard to think about. Um, and just like the shame and loneliness, just because as a person, you don’t want to feel that you want to feel like you’re loved and you want to feel like you’re seen. And so I’ve definitely tried blocking it out. And so kind of talking about it, it’s like bringing it back up and I’m like, “Oh man, I went through that.” Um, and so I feel like I’m more like you where I kind of tried blocking it out as possible, but they’re also memories and it’s, it’s part of my life story. And I’m not really ashamed of that, if that, if that makes sense?
Garrett Jonsson: I love that you accept that that’s part of your life’s story. That’s so cool. Well how long has it been since you began to address your challenge with pornography?
Katelyn: Um, like since I actually like quit it or since I was like, I’m going to stop.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I think since you started realizing like “This is having negative effects and I want to stop.”
Katelyn: Yeah. I think probably, maybe end of sophomore year, beginning of junior, it, it took a little bit, not as long as maybe some people, um, identified people tell me like what, like pornography didn’t impact you the way it does others, but I definitely feel like it’s still impacted me greatly.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Katelyn: Um, so I would say maybe like a year before I was like, “Oh man, this isn’t good.”
Garrett Jonsson: Okay. So it’s been about a year and a half or so since you started addressing it?
Katelyn: Yeah, I think I’m a year free now.
Garrett Jonsson: Okay. Yeah. The reason why I was, is because I’m wondering if looking back a year and a half ago, or maybe to some of these rock bottom moments, do you think that there was another problem or issue or stress or some other issue that you were, you were trying to avoid or in other words that you were turning to pornography to escape having to deal with that problem?
Katelyn: I think honestly, yeah. Um, being in school and being in college is really stressful, but also like I, personally I got to a point where I’m like, “If I could just do what these women do, then maybe a boy will like me.” Um, and so I think that’s kind of how it started and that’s also kind of how it escalated, but I think that’s kinda where the stress came from is like, “No, one’s gonna love me.”
Garrett Jonsson: So just acceptance. And love.
Garrett Jonsson: Okay. Wow.
Katelyn: What a, what a lot of people want.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Not only a lot of people, I think it may be safe to say that everyone wants that.
Katelyn: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree.
Garrett Jonsson: Well again, thanks for sharing. Um, the reason why I asked is because I think it’s common for people to turn to pornography because they don’t want to address that thing, whatever that thing is.
Garrett Jonsson: And oftentimes as a person continues down that path of turning to pornography again and again and again, and avoiding that, feeling that negative emotion, that negative emotion or that problem can just amplify and get bigger and bigger.
Katelyn: Oh, yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: And finally, once you start to address it, it almost goes back to the name, it detainment thing, where you start, you can start to feel better about that once negative emotion, once you’re in a healthier state, do you feel like that’s the case for you? Do you, do you feel like you have a healthier perspective today about your or worthiness for love? And when I say worthiness, I just mean that in a general sense of the fact that I believe all humans, all of us are worthy of love.
Katelyn: Oh yeah. I definitely agree. Because, um, before, like I’ve always had the viewpoint of like, “Everyone deserves love, you know, except for me.” Um, but after, you know, not watching pornography for a year, like I can just tell, um, mentally I’m so much more healthy. Um, especially in the fact of like, I know I’m worthy of love and just joy and happiness, and I’ve also being respected.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s great. Did your porn consumption affect other areas of your life such as your sleep or your study or your grades? Because I can imagine, like you said, going to school can be stressful, not “can be”, it is.
Garrett Jonsson: And I’m jumping through all of those hoops that are required to get a degree and you’re double majoring. So I guess it’s double the, the amount of hoops, right?
Katelyn: Yeah, definitely.
Garrett Jonsson: And so I’m just wondering if turning to pornography over that time period again and again, if it amplified or if it escalated any of the stresses or if it did negatively affect your sleep patterns or other areas of your life?
Katelyn: Yeah. I, I truly believe it did. Um, my grades definitely started to dwindle a little bit. Um, but also just like my sleep patterns, I would stay up later to, you know, avoid the roommates kind of thing. Um, so I could watch pornography and then, you know, sleeping miss classes because of that. And so it kind of just got to the point, even like relationships with people. Um, I would miss out, hanging out with friends and having that intentional time because I would have rather been with photography and so like personal life, yes. But it also started crushing relationships with people that really cared about me and they didn’t actually know why they just kind of, cause I never told them so they didn’t know why they decided, I just didn’t want to hang out with them or that I didn’t care about them, which really, which really sucked.
Garrett Jonsson: Man, That’s tough.
I think that a lot of people can relate to what you’re saying. I think that this is more common than we might think.
Garrett Jonsson: And so I, again, I appreciate you sharing some of this stuff. You’ve talked about some friendships that might have been hurt. Do you, did you have any romantic relationships that also experienced some negative effects from the pornography consumption?
Katelyn: I’m I’m very thankful to say no. Um, I’m 22 and I’ve actually never had a boyfriend. So I’m very happy that um, I wasn’t, I wasn’t in a relationship because I feel like it would have been very detrimental at the time.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Now I know that you haven’t labeled your porn consumption as like a compulsive behavior. Um, but I think a simple way to define compulsive, compulsion compulsion is like you said, you wanted to stop, you want us to not consume pornography, but you turned to it again and again and again.
Garrett Jonsson: And for someone who does develop that type of behavior with that, whether it’s a substance that the person is turning to or a behavior, um, you know, life can become like this endless string of cues that remind the person of the substance or the behavior that they’re trying to avoid. Did you notice that, did you notice that as you said, “Don’t consume pornography, this isn’t for me.” Did you didn’t notice that those cues or those subconscious associations to pornography started, uh, to present themselves more and more pushing you back to it?
Katelyn: A little bit. Um, uh, it wasn’t until I actually told someone and got like an accountability partner that I could be like, “Hey, like, can we go do something that it really started helping?” But yeah, before that, like if I saw my roommates were gone, like, that’d be the first thought in my mind. Um, so I always had like little cues in my head and it wasn’t until that I actually like sought help, um, that it started, I’m not going to say get easier, but it started becoming more like I can do this. This is realistic for me to stop.
Garrett Jonsson: And is that one of the first things that you did to start, um, to address this challenge was find an accountability partner?
Katelyn: Yeah. Um, so after struggling for a little bit, cause I I’d always wanted to tell someone, I was just really scared of the reaction that I’d have of, “Oh man, you are so dirty or so gross.” Like “That’s disgusting.” Um, but I told my mentor and she actually had struggled with it in the past too. Um, so, and I also like, after that, I told friends and um, even some family about it and there was no shame, but there was nothing but love and “How can we help you? And how can we love you best right now?” Um, which really helped. And that’s how I kind of got to the point now where I’m like, “I can tell literally anyone about it.”
Garrett Jonsson: I love that. Um, how did it feel to finally tell the truth to another individual?
Katelyn: I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a freeing feeling in my life. Um, the second the words came out and I had someone there to help me. It was incredible. Um, I cried so much just knowing that I’m not doing it alone anymore. Um, and that it, it was actually going to be a realistic goal right now, instead of just trying to do it alone and fail. I had someone there to help me and pick me up when I fell now.
Garrett Jonsson: What advice would you have for someone who is there and still struggling?
Katelyn: Yeah, first I think anyone that’s shown needs to know that they’re not alone because that’s what kept me silent for so long. Um, but they also need to know that it’s not impossible, but pornography, I think people have a stigma that if you watch it or you’re struggling with it, that you’re just a gross person or that you’re dirty and that’s not true. Um, it just it’s a heart problem. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. And so I personally feel like they should know that telling someone it’s okay and it’s going to make it a lot more. It’s just going to make her a lot better. Um, the transition, just to tell someone you trust, but also just to take practical steps. Like for me, I had to get rid of my laptop for a while, which was really inconvenient for school. Um, but sometimes you have to take really dramatic steps and I had to keep my phone in the kitchen for a while. Um, but there’s nothing wrong with taking dramatic steps to help you mentally and physically.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
You said that “This is a heart problem.” Is that the term you used?
Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to that a little bit more? What’d you mean by that?
Katelyn: Yeah, I just, I feel like a lot of people have told me that, uh, people who watch graphy, like it’s just how their life’s going to be forever and that they’re just kind of gross people. Um, but I really do feel like struggling with pornography is like struggling with anything else. It’s just like we talked about earlier. Um, it’s just like a heart problem. Like for me it was because my heart longed for something more, um, like wanting to feel loved and cared about.
Garrett Jonsson: Oh yeah.
Katelyn: Um, and for other people it could be they’re wanting something more. Um, and so I don’t think anyone who watches pornography is a bad person and I’ll, I’ll fight for that.
Garrett Jonsson: Right. I like that. That’s really cool. I’m kinda, um, I’m stoked to hear this next answer because I’m always excited to learn how an individual’s life has improved since addressing their unwanted porn consumption. Can you talk to that a little bit? What benefits have you realized and been aware of as you transitioned away from that habit?
Katelyn: Oh my goodness. Yes. Um, so like I said, I think it’s been about a year now, um, and not every day has been easy, but it’s definitely been so rewarding. Um, just in the fact that when I look in the mirror, I see someone who is worthy of love now, and I see someone who, um, is just so deserving of feeling wanted. Um, but I’m also just so content and being single.
Garrett Jonsson: Oh, interesting.
Katelyn: And that is not where I was when I was watching pornography. Um, but even just like looking at other women and men, I see someone who is individualistic and someone that is also worthy of love. Um, and only that, but also just like we talked about before, like my mind has also just been kind of cleaned of like how I thought of rape beforehand. Um, I’m definitely someone who my mindset has gone back into the right way of thinking of it it’s wrong. Um, and no woman or man deserves that. And so, um, it’s kind of like helping my profession. Um, I really want to be a social worker and work work with human trafficking survivors. And, um, I definitely think that was a big part of like wanting to stop pornography too was, you know, I can’t work with these women if I’m like living a lie.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. You know, that’s interesting because the last comment you made about wanting to help people who are experiencing or in the life of sex trafficking, I think one of the common beliefs there is that their only worth is, is sex.
Katelyn: I, yeah, I agree. I truly believe that it is, which really breaks my heart, um, that people would think that that’s okay.
Garrett Jonsson: Well, we want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word, if there’s anything that we haven’t discussed or anything that’s, that’s on your heart that you would like to share, we would, uh, like to give you that opportunity.
Katelyn: Yeah. Thank you. Um, I just, I really want to, like, I’m probably, you know, beating a dead horse, but I really want women to know that if they’re struggling, that they’re not alone, um, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, but that you were still so beautiful. You’re still so worthy. Um, and that asking for help, it’s more than okay. And that you can do this. Um, it’s going to be a fight, but that you can do it. And that you’re so strong. Um, so I think that’s probably the last thing.
Garrett Jonsson: Well, Katelyn, again, we can’t thank you enough for joining us on the podcast today.
Katelyn: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I really, I really appreciate it.
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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.
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