Cybersex addiction affects far more of our young teens than we likely admit. When we talk about cybersex addiction, it goes beyond simple curiosity. As social media and the internet continue to dominate our lives, cybersex addiction widens its grasp on our culture. Unfortunately, girls of all ages struggle with pornography and cybersex addiction. However, there is hope for helping girls addicted to pornography and cybersex.
Stories of Cybersex Addiction
Anne stumbled across it when she was taking care of her neighbors’ house. The magazine in the trash can fell open to pictures that she still can’t forget. From that day on, Anne became more and more curious about sexual photographs, even searching for pornography on the Internet. Anne rationalized that she could stop any time she wanted, but found she never could. Each time she tried to walk away from porn, she was unable to break free. Anne felt too embarrassed and ashamed to spill her secret and ask for help.
One Saturday night, Kimberlyn was on her computer, when she entered a site she’d never visited. She gradually joined the conversation and even had some private messages from a couple of cute-sounding guys. They gave her the attention. And before she knew it, Kimberlyn was involved in a sexual exchange with the guys. That cybersex encounter was the start of an addiction that lasted for most of her high school and college years. As much as she tried, Kimberlyn couldn’t stop herself from looking for another encounter. Then, she searched for a more exciting way to respond to this addictive urge. Finally, she even entertained thoughts of becoming sexually involved with random men.
Pornography is Not Just for Guys Anymore
These stories are not at all uncommon. Pornography and cybersex addictions are becoming more widespread among females. Christianity Today polled their women readers and found that 34 percent admitted to intentionally accessing Internet pornography.
Although performing an online search tends to bring more links to porn than help for porn addicts, Christian Web sites such as SettingCaptivesFree.com are beginning to pop up in response to this struggle. The New York Times ran an article in 2004, noting even then the increase in viewership of porn among women.
For years, pornography has been considered a “guy problem.” But girls who have fallen into porn and cybersex addictions know that this isn’t true at all! Although many people, including some inside the church, still think that girls don’t struggle with porn, it’s becoming more and more evident that this issue is spreading among females.
So why are we seeing more young ladies, even Christians, becoming addicted to porn? Some think that the culture rewires women’s brains towards visual stimulation. Although we can’t be sure that this is the entire reason for the increase in female addiction to pornography and cybersex, it does cause us to reconsider the influence of the sexually explicit culture we live in today.
Struggling with addictions to cybersex or pornography can leave teen girls feeling lonely, isolated and distressed. Many say that they feel as though they are the only ones facing these difficult issues. Please know that you are not alone!
What is Cybersex?
Cybersex is a complex term. At times, it can encompass any sexual communication and expression through the Internet. In more simple terms, cybersex is real-time communication with another person through the Internet. These sexual activities can include masturbation, visual stimulation, and even fantasy sex.
In most instances, cybersex involves the use of webcams to stimulate sexual activities. In other cases, cybersex can involve animated characters, avatars, video games, or other means of online interaction. One popular synonym for cybersex is virtual sex, which can refer to the sending and receiving of sexually explicit messages.
In our culture, cybersex is an evolving problem for our teenagers, especially young girls. Continue to be aware of your daughter’s online interactions to maintain communication on difficult topics such as cybersex.
Myths of Cybersex Addiction
You Can’t Erase the Memories
One question teens often ask as they work through their addiction is, “How do I get rid of the images and stories and conversations that seem seared into my memory?” After overcoming addictions, people say that their sexual experiences are burned forever in their minds. Dr. Mary Anne Layden with the Center for Cognitive Therapy says that pornographic images are “burned into the brain’s pathways,” and one study recently showed that “the underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction.
This can seem overwhelming as you face recovery, but Christian counselor Joann Condie points out that images can become more faint as you consistently choose not to access or dwell on them. She likens the process to a deer path in the woods. You may have already mentally established a well-worn trail to those kinds of thoughts. As you consistently choose to break in the new path, you’ll find the old way becomes harder to find and overgrown by the surrounding woods.
What about masturbation? Often, there’s a link between masturbation and cybersex addiction. Because it’s difficult to separate masturbation from lust, we encourage you to seek help in overcoming the issues that are behind this behavior.
It Can’t Be “Managed”
Perhaps you may think that you can work through this on your own. Or you think that you can do it without letting anyone know. However, to overcome this problem and to gain a “lasting victory,” it is crucial that you seek Christian counseling from someone who handles intimacy disorders or sexual addictions.
You see, the real problem isn’t the addiction. Christian counselor Joann Condie, who specializes in treating people with these kinds of struggles, explained in a Focus on the Family broadcast that just stopping the behavior is a kind of “sin management approach.” That’s not enough. This isn’t a problem you can “manage.”
Is Temptation a Sin?
As you get help and begin healing, one of the hardest things to remember is that temptation is not sin. Jesus Himself was tempted, and 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man [or woman!].”
The temptation may come around less often as you go through counseling and as God continues to heal your spirit, your mind and your body. But don’t confuse temptation with sin. How you react to the temptation is most important. Remember, the rest of the verse in Corinthians promises that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Steps to Overcoming Cybersex Addiction
First, confess your sin to God — what you’ve been doing is not unforgivable! He loves you so much and wants you to come to Him and ask for His help. Don’t be afraid that God will be angry with you and think instead of the mercy He loves to show His children when they admit their faults.
Remember all the great leaders of the Bible messed up — and some of them made pretty big mistakes. Think about King David, whose followed his adultery with a murder and coverup, rather than confession.
If you want to confess to God but are not sure what to say, look at Psalm 51. That’s David’s lament to God, when he asked for His forgiveness after his sin with Bathsheba. You might also consider writing in your journal to God, if you feel you put your thoughts together better on paper. Just tell Him. He’s waiting for you to come to Him and let Him heal this part of your life. We can go to Him with our struggles and trust that He will give us the strength we need to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Second, you need to talk to someone. Although it may be tempting to simply tell a friend and ask for her help, it is necessary to involve an adult. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Find a Christian woman you trust — your mom, a relative, the youth pastor’s wife, a teacher — and ask to speak with her privately. I realize it can be extremely hard to let someone in on your struggle, but you need to break your secret. If you just don’t know how to tell her or don’t think you can find the courage to actually voice your struggles, try writing it out on paper beforehand and letting her read it. Be honest about your problem. Then ask her to pray with and for you and to help you get the help you need.
Third, you need to get rid of your access to porn and cybersex. Consider putting your computer in the living room so that the screen is visible. Choose to get on your computer or on the Internet only when there are other people in the room. Don’t chat online with someone you haven’t met in person.
Look into Internet filters and accountability software (take a look at the options available on our Family Safety Resources page, or consider getting rid of Internet access entirely for a while.
We don’t mention this to add to the guilt you may be feeling! Remember that Romans 8:1 tells us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus [emphasis added].” Rather, we want to help you understand why it’s so important to rebuild your understanding of sexuality.
Remember, you probably need to address a spiritual aspect to your girl’s behavior too. Although you have faced sexual struggles, you can rest assured that God is willing and able to heal your body, mind and spirit.
Working with a Christian counselor can help you to find healing and restoration. And we urge you to seek help from a licensed professional in your area.
What the Bible says about Cybersex Addiction
Whether porn or cybersex addiction is part of your life or the life of someone you care about, it’s important to know that this behavior is a problem. Cybersex is not something to do for flirting and fun. The Bible is clear in stating that sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.
Girls who struggle with cybersex addiction confess that their addictions negatively affect their relationships with others. And many say that they had ongoing feelings of worthlessness as a result of this degrading habit.
To learn more about what it means to have a healthy, biblical perspective on your sexuality, we suggest you look at Focus on the Family’s statement on “The Value of Male and Female.” We think that you’ll find some interesting thoughts outlined there that will give you a glimpse of God’s wonderful blueprint regarding how men and women need to relate to one another.
Finally, the apostle Paul teaches us that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Final Thoughts on Cybersex Addiction
Whether you’ve started experimenting or you’ve been attracted to pornography for some time, you are probably well aware of its negative influences. Sadly, the farther down this road she travels, the less she will recognize the truth about herself. Then, the more she will be enticed by the lies of this world.
However, God intended sex for marriage. If an individual tries to fulfill her desires outside of God’s plan, she will always miss out on the blessings God intends for her.
He knows about your desires and cares about you like no one else in the entire world. Even now, as you read this article, our Heavenly Father is calling you to leave the lies behind and take hold of His higher purposes for you. He stands ready to reassure you of your worth and walk with you through the struggles that lie ahead. He wants to rescue you from the counterfeit activities you’re engaging in so that you can become everything He created you to be.
You likely didn’t get to where you are overnight, and it may take some time to get back on track. As your daughter strengthens her relationship with God, she sees the same beautiful young woman He sees. Know that you CAN overcome the temptations of the past, step by step.