Doug Robinson: One woman's crusade against the evils of porn

Published: Monday, July 29 2013 10:35 p.m. MDT

Addictions, like pornography, lead to other addictions; lies to other lies. When the drug has run its course, there is a need for a stronger drug — from videos to strip joints and other women and even drugs. “It erodes the conscience and the spirit.”

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In the end, it has all worked out for Amy (not her real name). She is the wife of a good man and the mother of four children, and she lives in a big house in a quiet hillside neighborhood. They are the picture of prosperity and familial happiness.

Amy is a full-time mother who takes children to dentist appointments and music lessons, but on the side she has become a crusader in the fight against pornography.

She speaks at firesides and LDS “standards nights.” She speaks in Sunday church meetings. She promotes White Ribbon Week and a parent group known as Citizens for Humanity. She served in an anti-porn booth during BYU women’s conference. She has become a mentor for more than 100 women who have sought her out to discuss their husbands' addiction. They find her by word of mouth or because they heard her speak. Every time Amy speaks publicly on porn, she is approached by women afterward who suspect their husbands or the husband of a friend have the addiction.

“I’ve become a magnet for these women,” she says.

This is not a complaint. No one has more empathy for these women, and it is a hard-won empathy. Amy’s adulthood has been a life interrupted. In a world that is slowly awakening to the insidiousness of porn, Amy tells another cautionary tale. She has made it her personal mission for more than two decades to educate and warn, and her story comes with it.

She was a faithful Mormon girl raised in Utah. She met “Ed” in high school. Their path to adulthood followed the roadmap for Mormon youth. He served a church mission, she went to BYU. By all accounts, he was an exceptional missionary. He was assistant to the president, and returning missionaries gave glowing reports of his work to friends back home.

Amy and Ed married shortly after he returned from his mission. He undertook pre-med studies and worked nights. After a year, they had a child. By all appearances, it was a model marriage, but in truth it was something else.

A year into their marriage, she found a pornographic magazine on the floor of their apartment when she returned home unexpectedly. He explained that a friend had stuck it in his backpack as a joke. Amy was disturbed by the incident, but she accepted his explanation.

“I was so naïve,” she says. “I knew nothing about porn.”

A year later, she got up in the middle of the night and found him watching a pornographic video. “What’s going on?” she demanded. He confessed that he had been addicted to porn for years. At the age of 12, he had found a stack of porn magazines in a field and hid them under his bed. That was the start of an addiction that he carried even into the mission field, where he sometimes sneaked out of his apartment in the middle of night for a fix. He explained that he had tried to stop, sometimes going two or three months without giving in to temptation, but he always crashed.

Amy’s reaction was predictable. What’s wrong with me? By any standard, she was and is a beautiful woman — tall and slender with blue eyes and high cheekbones. But that is largely irrelevant.

“You are the drug and then it wears off,” she explains. “It’s all about the sex act. It’s not about the emotional connection. The woman is nothing more than an object — what pleasure can she bring to me? They lose the ability to love.”

There was nowhere to turn for help in those days, so she began researching the varied effects of pornography by reading about it. Ed resisted Amy’s encouragement to seek counseling. She compromised: Every time he felt his urges, he must talk to her about it and be honest. Every two weeks, she asked him how he was doing. He would look her in the eye and say, “I don’t think I’ll ever have a problem again.”

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