Child or Teen Disturbed by Exposure to Pornography

Should I go back to my dad's house after seeing some pictures of naked women in "dirty" magazines that he left lying around the living room? This experience was very upsetting to me. My parents are divorced, but I have a close relationship with my father and spend every other weekend at his house. After seeing what I saw, I don't think I want to go back there anymore. How should I handle this?

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We’re so sorry that you were exposed to pornography in your own dad’s home – a place where you should be able to feel secure and protected. It sounds like you’re disappointed and confused right now, and you may have questions about your relationship with your dad. Your connection with him is important, and so we encourage you to put off any final decisions about spending time at his house until you’ve had a chance to think, pray, and talk things over with your mother.

It’s not surprising that this incident upset you. You obviously care about decency and mental purity, and these values will serve you well in the future if you allow them to guide your choices and actions. In the meantime, we assure you that your reaction is not unusual. Research indicates that 23 percent of young people who accidentally stumbled onto pornography were very upset by the exposure.

If you haven’t already done so, let your mother know what you saw. Though it may be difficult, it’s important to tell her or some other trusted adult how you’re feeling about this traumatic experience. Visual images like the ones you’ve seen have a way of getting stuck in the mind, and you won’t be able to erase them effectively without assistance. Another area of concern is the apparent suddenness with which the pornographic material appeared in your dad’s home and his reasons for leaving it out where you were likely to see it. A professional Christian counselor can provide insight on these and other issues.

With this in mind, we encourage you or your mom to contact our Counseling department. One of our licensed Christian counselors would be more than willing to talk and pray with you, as well as provide referrals to qualified therapists in your area.

Meanwhile, you shouldn’t be expected to spend weekends with your dad until this problem has been addressed. Your mother needs to confront him about the incident and gain his assurance that it won’t happen again. If he’s unwilling to make such a commitment, your mom may want to seek reliable legal advice or contact the local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency. Though it will probably be uncomfortable for you to be caught in the middle, it’s necessary to confront this situation so that it does not continue.

In closing, our prayer is that the Lord provide healing grace as He frees your heart and mind from memories of the disturbing pictures you saw. You are His precious child, and He loves you with a love so deep, so real, and so powerful that it is beyond human understanding. No matter what happens, He has promised never to leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13.5).

You and your mom may also find the following information of help.

 

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Boom: A Guy’s Guide to Growing Up

The Smart Step-Family: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family

Referrals
Pure Hope

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