My story is probably one you’ve heard a thousand times. When I was way too young, I heard words I didn’t understand and saw some things I shouldn’t have. Porn planted a seed in me that grew and grew until it took over and robbed me of my happiness, my relationships and countless other things. I found myself repeatedly seeking things that shocked and disgusted me but I kept going back. The crazy part was that I was so overwhelmed by the desire for more that I didn’t even realize what it was doing to my life. It wasn’t until a role model from my church taught us about the harmful effects about pornography that I realized I had a problem. It was the first time someone talked to us girls about it openly and honestly. It hurt to understand what I was doing to myself but it was just what I needed to understand I really needed to change.

After this realization, it still took me a while to understand I could not beat this alone. My family relationships had always been rocky so I turned to a trusted leader. I remember him telling me that I would always be tempted by porn but if I could really work at it, those feelings would grow smaller and smaller. This actually inspired me. It wasn’t rainbows and sunshine—it was real hope. He became my accountability partner and we met regularly to review my progress. He always believed that I could change and he helped me to believe it myself.

The biggest help to me was my fateful run in with The Fortify Program. I had somehow found out about Fight The New Drug online and so it was always all over my Facebook feed. But what really started a new change in me was when FTND posted something about their Fortify Program, specifically designed to help teenagers all around the world like me escape the strangling hands of pornography. I signed up for admission and was accepted. The Fortify Program was absolutely amazing for me. It was exactly what I had been looking for to help me. It shared so many new bits of information I had never seen and it gave great analogies about the harmful effects of pornography. It had a setback/victory calendar that could be filled out daily and any setbacks could be marked with a how, where, what time, to help you know when I was most vulnerable. One thing I loved that might not mean much to others but was encouraging to me was that the marker colors for a setback is pink and a victory is blue. This is something I loved because it wasn’t red and green simply representing “bad” and “good.” This let me know that I wasn’t just passing and failing but that i was slowly and surely recovering. It was a more subtle message that was powerful for me. It may seem like a small thing, but for me, it made a huge impact.

The Fortify Program talked me through new ideas for how to deal with temptation. It gave detailed information about the addiction cycle (talk about mind blown) and it gave places for me to write about my experiences and what I thought about what was being said. If you reached a certain goal, you got a new badge to motivate you to keep trying and keep doing better. To sum it all up, I love The Fortify Program. Without it, my recovery would not have been anywhere near as rapid or permanent.

It was a long couple of years. I had a lot of setbacks. I wanted to cry a lot of the time. I wanted to give up so many times. I wanted to be done with the struggle and just finally be free. But as difficult as it was in those times, my hope, my accountability partner, and Fortify kept me going. I am proud to say that it I am nearly one year porn free. I have been able to crawl most of the way out of a deep depression that I had throughout my addiction, and my relationships with the people around me have gotten much stronger.

If you or someone you know is addicted to pornography and needs help getting free, the first thing you need to know is that it is tough. Ending an addiction to pornography is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. But the temporary satisfaction of seeing a picture on the computer screen is absolutely nothing compared to the freedom of being able to choose something productive, fun, and social. It is worth it to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who loves you for you, and not because he/she just wants to try something he/she saw in porn. It is worth it to be able to control your emotions around your family and friends, rather than feeling angry or depressed all the time. It is worth it to not feel the need to lock yourself in a room so you and your computer screen can have some privacy. It is worth it because lasting happiness does not come from a screen, and it does not come from viewing fake sex from strangers. I promise you, it is worth it to escape pornography.

Pornography harms. Porn kills love. I know it from personal experience and I would never go back.

Thank you FTND and Fortify for helping me to change my life for the better.