Utah couple learned recovery from porn addiction is possible

Published: Friday, Sept. 24 2010 9:00 a.m. MDT

Rhyll and Steven Croshaw pose for a portrait in front of their home in Mapleton on a recent Saturday. The couple struggled with Steven's pornography addiction for years until they found recovery four years ago through therapy.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Rhyll Croshaw couldn't answer the therapist's question: "Can you stay with this man as long as he is in recovery?"

At that moment, she didn't know if she wanted to save her marriage or not, but that wasn't the cause of her confusion.

The problem was more basic: After more than 30 years of living with her husband and his pornography addiction, she wasn't sure what recovery was.

Steven Croshaw had already confessed his secret life to his wife twice before. Each time, years went by before she learned the behaviors hadn't gone away.

Now they were back in therapy again.

"If he is in recovery? I don't know what you are talking about," Rhyll told the therapist. "I have never seen recovery. How will I know?

The therapist didn't hesitate. "You will know," he said.

Recovery is possible

Rhyll is one of thousands of women in the United States affected by their husband's pornography use. According to the Witherspoon Institute based in Princeton, N.J., a growing body of research suggests that the habitual use of pornography — especially Internet pornography — can damage people of all ages and both sexes, hurting relationships, productivity, happiness and the ability to function in society.

Experts who treat those who compulsively view pornography agree: Pornography is destructive to individuals, marriages and families.

They also collectively agree on something else: For those who suffer, there is hope.

"Is recovery possible?" said Dan Gray, licensed clinical social worker and clinical director of the LifeSTAR Network. "Absolutely. Exclamation mark!"

Gray said healing happens as people are engaged in the principles of intervention and work with a religious leader, therapist and a 12-step group.

"It is hard work," he said. "It takes a willingness to do the work."

And, he emphasized, it takes time. "Sometimes there are relapses. You need to be patient. But healing is absolutely possible and we see it all the time. We see many people who overcome this problem and become better people because of it. We see relationships heal.

"They feel free from the bondage of this — no more lies, no more deception, no more shame. When they start to taste how good it feels to be free from the bondage of these chains, there is a sense of well being. It is a wonderful thing to see that freedom."

A way to peace

It is the first-hand knowledge that pornography can be overcome that inspired Mapleton residents Rhyll and Steven Croshaw to share their story publicly for the first time in today's Deseret News. "There is a way to happiness," she said. "There is a way to peace."

Rhyll wishes she had known that years ago.

The oldest of nine children, she attended Montana State University and met Steven in 1973. They married a little while later. During the next two decades, seven children joined the family. "I was raised with no television in the woods in Montana. ... I didn't know anything about pornography or sexual addiction for many, many years. I had no clue at all of his behavior, past or present."

But she did know almost immediately that something was very wrong in her marriage. "There was an emotional disconnect that I didn't expect."

Instead of talking to her husband, she blamed herself for the problems and then focused on their children.

"I thought I had too high of expectations," she said. "Maybe I was expecting this romantic perfection. I was really hard on myself."

Keep battling

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS