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Porn kills love: How pornography addictions destroyed the relationships of two Toowoomba citizens

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Destructive: “Internet became more of a thing when I was about 16. At times I had access to the computer when I was home alone and I stumbled across a few things, which led to more things, and by my late teens I was addicted to porn on the Internet. That continued right throughout my twenties.”

PORNOGRAPHY – it has the power to sever trust and spark violence, break marriages and destroy lives.

After civic leaders in Toowoomba rallied and publicly pledged to create a porn-free city, men and women have stepped forward to tell their chilling and cautionary stories of how seemingly innocent first encounters with porn have turned into relationship-wrecking addictions.

At the rally on October 11, Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio led a pledge asking men to “acknowledge that viewing pornography promotes exploitation of women and violence against women and damages families”, as well as committing to not viewing porn.

Mr Antonio said 90 per cent of eight to 16-year-old boys and 60 per cent of girls under 16 had viewed porn online.

Organisers of Toowoomba’s campaign “A City Free From Porn” now have an active Facebook page, which includes testimonials recorded at the rally.

One woman to describe the impact of porn was Toowoomba woman Julienne Doran who has spoken out about her relationship with a man addicted to pornography.

“I didn’t really understand the pertinence of what I was saying when I was leaving that abusive relationship when I said something like ‘the more porn you watch, the worse I get treated’,” she said. 

“The more porn meant the more violence, the less personal connection. It was as simple as that. I have the experience, the negative impact of my own de-humanisation because of somebody else’s porn addiction.”

Dave Willadsen, a 30-year-old Toowoomba carpenter, took the pledge, and agreed to share his story of pornography addiction with The Catholic Leader.

“It gradually and slowly changed the way I looked at women,” Mr Willadsen said.

“No longer were they simply friends and companions. Now I categorised them into were they hot, or were they not.”

Dave Willadsen

Speaking out: Dave Willadsen spoke to The Catholic Leader about the way pornography destroyed his marriage.

Mr Willadsen described his upbringing as stable, with loving, Christian parents, and he said he had felt secure knowing who he was. 

At 13, he said he went on a horse ride and found a “dirty” magazine, thrown into the grass by the roadside. 

He opened the magazine and said he remembered his heart racing and a rush of adrenalin.

He took the magazine home, which “was the start of an addiction that has lasted 17 years”.

“Internet became more of a thing when I was about 16. At times I had access to the computer when I was home alone and I stumbled across a few things, which led to more things, and by my late teens I was addicted to porn on the Internet,” Mr Willadsen said.

“That continued right throughout my twenties.

“I figured it was because I was a single person, and I thought that marriage would solve the problem for me, because that would be an outlet for the hormonal drives I was experiencing.

“I saw it as an issue that was going to disappear. I always saw myself having control over the addiction, which really I didn’t. And I found that out when I tried to give it up.

“That’s when the rubber hit the road – when I got married. It wasn’t long before my wife found out about it.” 

After only a few months of marriage, Mr Willadsen admitted to his wife that he had an online porn addiction.

He said his wife was shocked. 

She questioned why he had never raised the issue before their marriage, and this immediately started “eating away at the trust and the foundation of our relationship”.

“After my wife found out about my addiction, there was continual fighting,” Mr Willadsen said.

“Out of frustration I would turn back to porn.

“I had to admit that in God’s eyes my behaviour was no better than a man who went out and had an affair.

“I had grown up thinking that giving myself to porn was bad, not Christian, but still not as bad as a real affair – that these were fantasy people in a fantasy world. That’s the way I justified it.”

Mr Willadson said after many ups and downs his wife concluded that his behaviour was not changing. 

He said she no longer accepted him comparing her to “girls on a screen” and she told him: “I’m out of here”. Their marriage had lasted only 18 months.

Mr Willadsen said all attempts at reconciliation failed. 

He has undergone extensive personal counselling and has educated himself about the harmful effects of porn. 

He believes he understands why his marriage failed and the steps of responsibility needed to rebuild his life.

Now divorced, Mr Willadsen, attends a home support group, takes counsel from older men in his Church who offer practical wisdom and puts his energy into Church activities, including caring for the homeless.

“When you go through a divorce you are thrown into a tailspin,” he said.

“It’s the worst thing I’ve had to face in my life.

“I basically had a nervous breakdown, then slowly started pulling myself together, and started on the slow road to wholeness again.

“God, the church I attend, the counselling, all have had a part to play.

“God is restoring the way I look at women and the way I think about them now.”

Mr Willadsen said many men had congratulated him for sharing his story, while also confirming their own struggles with porn addictions.

He firmly believes Toowoomba is on a path to become a porn-free city.

“When I read the Bible, God can do the impossible and can change people’s hearts,” he said.

By Mark Bowling

 

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