What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous. 

I want you to know that I saw pornography for the first time when I was 6 years old. And I wanted to see more instantly, I was hooked the first time. I want you to know that whenever my parents weren’t looking, I was watching pornography or looking for more. I want you to know that I can remember images and videos I saw 30 years ago as clearly as the news story I read 5 minutes ago.

I want you to know that I wish I had an “acceptable” addiction. Something “easy” like alcohol or heroin. I wish that my addiction wasn’t the biggest moral issue out there. I also want you to know that I am not a “sex and love addict” or “relationship addict” like women are “supposed to be.”

What I want you to know is that I tried other things instead, so I wouldn’t act out sexually. Drinking, drugs, eating, exercising, over working, religion, watching TV, sleeping. Sometimes when the pain was just too much, I would just cut myself instead. None of those worked, because sex is what I was really addicted to. I want you to know that my husband is not “lucky to be married to a sex addict.”

I want you to know that I am a Christian, and begged God to help me over and over. I believed what others said, that I just didn’t believe in Him enough and that is why I couldn’t stop. I also want you to know that I did believe, but this is a brain problem I’ve had since I was 6 years old.

I want you to know is that I tried to get help for almost 20 years before I finally was told I was a sex addict. I was even sent away to an inpatient facility in my teens, and even there I couldn’t stop acting out. But even then, nobody told me I was a sex addict, I was told I was just rebellious, promiscuous and sinful. I want you to know that I have looked for help at church, but of the dozens of churches I have checked in the three states I have lived, the churches only have help for men but not women. The groups available for women are for partners of sex addicts, or sexual abuse recovery, or codependency. The church I go to now, (considered one of the top churches) does not open its door to “S fellowships” but has a men’s group and welcomes the other 12 step fellowships for other “more acceptable” addictions. It makes me not want to go back but where else could I go?

I want you to know that once somebody finally told me about female sex addiction I got help. And I take recovery seriously. I am sober. I want you to know that I know this addiction is going to kill me if I relapse. And I take that seriously and I am willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober.