(Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part guest commentary. See the conclusion in the Nov. 22 AFN, where one porn user shares his journey and mental health experts struggle over what to call this problem).

Three women describe their “hell.” And, they tell me their sorrows stem from their husband’s porn addictions.

“Porn affects my husband like heroin. When he sees it he becomes a zombie (stoned) and he loses focus on everything else… just like any other drug, his whole thought process was on getting his ‘fix.’”

“The raw truth is because of his porn use I felt like I was not good enough. I was not pretty enough. I was not sexy enough. It damaged my self-worth and my self-esteem. I fell into depression about my image. I was embarrassed and ashamed.”

“It is what I call a secret addiction. It can be hidden so well. Often only the spouse knows the distinct differences in her mate. It’s a private hell for the addict and the one who loves him.”

Women, who are clients of an East Valley psychotherapist, flooded my email when I requested reaction to an article in a recent Cosmopolitan Magazine regarding porn. It contains blips on a survey of “1,000 straight men.” No description of their demographics so I can only assume they are Cosmo readers, which tells the tale. The magazine reports that 84 percent of the respondents claim porn doesn’t affect their relationships. And, so there you have it. Men, women and even kids unwittingly embrace behavior that globally is debasing families, minds, and productivity.

How big a deal is this?

In 2006, world pornography revenue was 97 billion dollars (even more now). We’re told that sum was more than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. These numbers noted by neurosurgeons and medical educators Dr. Donald L. Hilton, MD, and Dr. Clark Watts, MD, JD, who observe: “This is no casual, inconsequential phenomenon, yet there is a tendency to trivialize the possible social and biologic effects of pornography” (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21427788).

In this two-part series on this disturbing trend, first a look at consequences in the home.

To protect the women who have shared their heart break, I won’t identify their psychotherapist, but she is an associate and friend whose expertise and professionalism I thoroughly trust.

She tells me, “Kids are exposed to it at an earlier and earlier age and what’s so sad is that so many are accepting it as a ‘normal’ part of life.” In her work, she finds the wives whose husbands “use” tend to feel responsible and end up needing just as much help as their husbands. They “feel powerless in a horrible nightmare.”

With many, divorce took their marriages, including this woman: “This is not something that happens to evil people. It happens to the good guys, to the really good guys. They are unsuspecting of the hell it will wreak in their lives.”

There are those who will argue that women just need to join their mates in their habit. One woman did: “I disrespected myself, my body and my worth in efforts to get his attention … playing with the fire, he was in. I turned inwards and became selfish. I literally had no need for him because I could take care of my own needs.”

For people who desire their unions be built in trust and respect, porn simply isn’t a fit. Others, who don’t see the world the same way will argue in favor of this insidious problem, so insidious the Mayo Clinic is experimenting with the drug Naltrexone, in hopes doctors can help porn addicts.

• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (turleyhansen@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.

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