Have you ever had someone confess something to you—out of the blue? With no warning and no preamble to prepare you for what's coming next? This happened a year or so ago with a friend of mine. I was sitting in her kitchen munching on popcorn while she nervously moved about, drying a glass and moving a canister around, all the while telling me as nonchalantly as she could that she had an ongoing problem with steamy reading material and masturbation.
My friend was trying to confess to me that she had a sexual addiction and wanted to come clean about it. She even asked if I'd hold her accountable for her actions moving forward. Frankly, I was blindsided by her admission. (If you'll recall, I'm the one who's a little shy to talk about sex). I don't remember what I said in response in the moment—I was too flustered and couldn't think straight.
It turns out my friend is not the only one holding confessions like these—lots of women struggle with sexual addiction. According to Crystal Renaud, founder of Dirty Girls Ministries, 20 percent of Christian women are addicted to pornography. Some women are tempted by pornography masked as romance novels. I've known others who struggle to withstand the allure of online images, videos, chat rooms, sexting, and other activities that can escalate and become compulsive.
Crystal Renaud says only a small percentage of women with a sexual addiction will confide in someone about their problem. I lament that I may not have provided much of a safety net for my friend in the moment she may have most needed one. But reading Crystal's insights in this week's issue on overcoming sexual addictions, along with Authentic Intimacy co-founders Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow's takes on confession and forgiveness, has inspired me to circle back to my friend to ask if we could talk about that night again. I want her to know how courageous I think she was for confessing her struggle to me, and I want to walk alongside her even if the path gets a little messy—or if it takes unexpected twists and turns.
Sexual addiction is the dirty secret lots of women keep. But confessing and confronting it together are the keys that set us free from this sin that entangles so many.
Marian V. Liautaud