About 70 percent of adults in the United States now have a smartphone, and nearly 85 percent of households own a computer, which means it's easier than ever for people to get a hold of pornography. You don't even have to go looking for it for harmful images to appear in the palm of your hand. Once pornography appears on your screen, it may not be easy to click out of it or look away. Although some women do struggle with viewing pornography,
men are six times more likely to have a problem, so it is to the sisters, friends, wives, and mothers of those men that I'll be addressing. (However, if you know a woman who watches or reads pornographic material, you can still apply these ways to help her overcome this damaging habit.)
Be There to Listen
The most important thing you can do is be there to listen with love and without judgment. For a man, talking about struggles with pornography can be a very scary thing to do. He will worry about you assuming he's a bad person or condemning him. The more you convey that you can listen compassionately, the more willing he will be to discuss the issue with you. It's also more likely that he will approach you sooner, before compulsive viewing of pornography becomes a large problem. Cultivate a strong, loving relationship with your brother, friend, significant other, and other men in your life, and show that you can openly discuss a wide variety of topics without judgment. Not only will he be more willing to come to you with a sensitive problem, but he will also be more willing to listen to your advice if he knows that you will listen to him with compassion and understanding.
To take this a step further, be "on call" for him—be ready to listen anywhere and at any time he needs help, and make sure he knows he can count on you. Sometimes, having someone to talk to will be enough to help him overcome temptation.
Help Him See How Pornography Affects You
Some men inherently know that pornographic images and videos are bad, and other men might not see the harm. It's none of your business, right? Ask him to give you the chance to show that it is your business because it does affect you personally. For example, as a married woman, showing my body to someone I know so well is part of our special relationship, and there is a certain confidence in knowing that he finds my body attractive despite my perceived flaws. If he were to view sexual images of strangers, that would damage how special I feel our relationship is. It may also contribute to my own body image issues, from low self-esteem to the extremes of eating disorders and plastic surgery in efforts to look more desirable. There's a reason that pornography is the cause of so many broken homes and disrupted marriages—it damages the trust and intimacy (both emotional and physical) between two partners, which can be difficult and sometimes impossible to recover from.
The relationship between you and a brother, friend, or other family member can be similarly damaged by his viewing of pornography. If I were talking to a friend or family member, I would explain that I feel every woman has the right to feel loved and valued as an individual of infinite worth. The pornography industry treats women as objects of sexual desire, not human beings, and hard pornography often depicts violence toward women. Repeated exposure to those kinds of images and videos can affect how a man sees all women, damaging his current and future relationships. I wouldn't want anyone I love to end up like that.
When you sit down with a loved one to talk about how his viewing of pornography affects (or would affect) you, be sure to use words of understanding and compassion. Rather than be accusatory about his behavior, express your love and willingness to help him.
Encourage Putting Electronics to Bed
Temptation is the hardest to overcome at night when it's dark and the brain is tired. Encourage the men in your life to put their phones and computers to sleep an hour before they head to bed. For one thing, the particular light used by screens makes it harder to fall asleep and sleep deeply. For another thing, it will be easier for a man to avoid late-night viewing of pornography if his devices are not within arm's reach. As innocent as his technology use may be, such as playing a mobile game or reading emails before bed, we all know how easy it is for one pop-up ad or link to derail the best intentions. Encourage him to put his phone and computer out of reach well before bed and find another way to relax, such as reading a book, doing a word puzzle, or listening to music. You can do it too to show your support, and you'll both sleep better.
Encourage Daily Spiritual Habits
Fighting temptation can be easier when positive habits take the place of bad ones. Have a conversation with your significant other, friend, or family member about his spiritual habits. Prayer, scripture study, and church attendance can all help strengthen his resolve to avoid spiritually damaging habits. If you do any of these activities together, continue them and look for ways to make them more meaningful. If you live apart, you can still encourage him to participate in uplifting activities.
Help Him Find Other Sources of Help
There doesn't have to be a stigma about seeing a therapist or psychologist for a pornography problem. If you broke your arm, you'd go to the doctor, wouldn't you? When you have a broken spirit, it can be extremely beneficial to go to a professional for help. Therapists are equipped with years of education and experience, so your loved one can trust their expertise. Church leaders can also be extremely helpful in offering guidance and resources for overcoming the compulsion to view pornography. You can show your support for your loved one by helping him schedule appointments, giving him a ride, sitting outside and waiting for him, spending time together afterward, or a number of other ways. Talk to him about what you can do to help him feel supported and loved because that's probably what he needs more than anything else.
To recap: whether someone you love has a problem with pornography or you're simply hoping to prevent one, the best thing you can do is be open, honest, and compassionate. Reach out and cultivate those relationships that let you support the men in your life so that you can fight pornography together.