Pornography Widows And How To Help Them
Who is a Pornography Widow?
A Pornography Widow is a woman who has lost her husband to pornography. She often feels lonely or alone when she is surrounded by people. When she finds out about his addiction, she grieves the man she thought she had married.
The discovery causes betrayal trauma. Grieving what they once had is one of the phases of healing from betrayal trauma. For more information on the healing process, please read here.
Many women in trauma find help and comfort in the scriptures. Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, often studies the scriptures. She often finds stories that relate to her own situation.
“The parable of the unjust judge explains a lot about how to care for widows who are hurting because of their husband’s spiritual death, often caused by his pornography use and subsequent lies and hypocrisy.
“In Luke 18:2-9, Jesus teaches the parable of the unjust judge. A widow comes to the unjust judge and asks him to hold her ‘adversary’ accountable. At first, the unjust judge does nothing. He’s unhappy with her continued requests for help. He decides to pacify her with words.”
Many women have reached out to our church leaders, clergy, or others for help. Many of them have said the wrong things or just didn’t know what to do. This can lead to more trauma.
If you’ve been further traumatized by clergy or others whom you’ve reached out to for help, try an Individual Session on Healing from Clergy Induced Trauma.
What Doesn’t Help A Pornography Widow?
Anne points out that the unjust judge only said something, he didn’t do anything. This judge does nothing to avenge the widow.
“The unjust judge placates her, feigning righteousness, ‘Will not God avenge you? You pray to Him all day and night, and He listens to you. I’m sure God will help you. When Jesus comes again, will He find that you have faith?’
“Christ targets this parable ‘unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.’”
As Anne read this scripture, she found herself relating to this widow.
“As this kind of widow myself, when I read this scripture, it rang so true to me. I have found myself in this exact situation.
“We know the judge is unjust. This is an example of what not to do.
“One of the most common examples of a widow petitioning for help is a wife wanting her church leader to hold her husband accountable for his covenant-breaking, lying, pornography use, and abuse. She does this because she loves her husband and wants to save her family.”
When men participate in acting out behaviors, they are, essentially, abandoning their family to their addiction.
Active pornography users exhibit some or many of these behaviors. The severity of these behaviors differs from individual to individual:
- Lashing Out In Anger
- Neglecting Emotional Needs Of Family Members
- Emotionally Abusing Family Members
- Neglecting Household Duties and Other Family Responsibilities
- Narcissistic Traits
Men who exhibit these behaviors have lost the privilege of being in a family. It’s emotionally and spiritually unsafe for wives and children to be exposed to these types of behaviors.
Pornography Creates Spiritual Widows
Anne feels that she was a spiritual widow long before her husband filed for divorce.
“Women who have lost their husbands to pornography should be considered spiritual widows and should be protected.
“These men need to be held accountable for their behavior, sometimes they may need to be held accountable by their clergy or church leaders. Support people should be willing to ‘avenge’ these spiritual widows to enable the family to heal.”
Many women experience confusion and mental and emotional chaos when they find out about their husband’s behaviors. Support people should be patient as she processes these emotions and this new information.
Can Boundaries Help A Pornography Widow?
Anne explains that empowering women to set boundaries, will help them get to safety sooner.
“Many times, at the very beginning of the disclosure/discovery process, widows don’t recognize the lying, manipulation and abuse. She, too, might not understand that setting boundaries and holding her husband accountable is the only way to safety.
“Because she is compassionate, she too may think that being supportive, forgiving, and loving is the answer. What judges and widows miss is that setting boundaries and holding someone accountable is the most compassionate, forgiving, loving thing you can do for someone who desperately needs to cleanse the inner vessel.
“Luke 5:37 ‘And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.’
“Since there is a lack of specifics and guidance when it comes to policies about how to help pornography users and victims, women are not given consistent help.
“In my work with thousands of widows all over the world, the responses and ways to deal with it are all over the map, even if the behavior in the men is fairly consistent.”
Can Validation And Empathy Help A Pornography Widow?
The most important thing a support person can do is to provide validation and empathy for these women. Many of them have never received either from their husband, and validation goes a long way in helping her through the healing process.
Anne talks about one of the wrong things to say to the wife of a pornography addict.
“Telling a woman that her husband hasn’t committed adultery because he hasn't actually slept with someone else isn’t helpful because she knows full well that Jesus himself said it is. She also knows full well how she feels.
“Her heart is breaking, and her family is at risk because he has committed adultery in his heart.”
Can Holding An Addict Accountable Help A Pornography Widow?
Betrayal Trauma Recovery believes that sex addiction, itself, is abusive. If you would like to learn more about this perspective, please read here.
In the book Why Does He Do That? Lundy Bancroft talks about holding an abuser/addict accountable
“Freedom from accountability means that the abusive man considers himself above criticism. If his partner attempts to raise her grievances, she is ‘nagging’ or ‘provoking’ him. He believes he should be permitted to ignore the damage his behavior is causing, and he may become retaliatory if anyone tries to get him to look at it.” (pg. 58)
“It is essential that friends, relatives, courts, and communities understand . . . and give the woman the most complete support and protection possible, while simultaneously taking steps to hold the abuser accountable.” (pgs. 100-101)
Abusers believe their wife dwells on grievances and refuses to forgive “because she sometimes attempts to hold him accountable rather than letting him stick her with cleaning up his messes—literally and figuratively.” (pg. 142).
Delaying accountability for abusive or acting out behaviors prolongs the abuse, therefore enabling the abuser.
Protecting The Pornography Widow Will Help Her Healing
Anne compares the parable of the unjust judge to the story of Moses defended an Israelite, as told by Luke in Acts 7:24-25.
“24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed…
“25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
“I interpret that to mean, when Moses, the son of Pharaoh, saw the suffering, he defended the oppressed and avenged them.”
Anne explains how this could be compared to wives of addicts.
“When Moses, who became a prophet, avenged the abused, he supposed that other leaders would have understood how God, by his hand, would help her save her family and heal her marriage—by holding her husband accountable for his misdeeds and helping him through the process of sincere, back-breaking repentance.”
“Rather than holding the abuser accountable, some leaders may simply tell her, the abused, to pray and read her scriptures, and that God would help her. ‘Have faith,’ they may say, but they understood not that they should be God’s hands to help.
“In light of the pornography epidemic, and the lack of understanding around the topic, including the severe emotional and financial suffering of the widows involved, Acts 6:1 seems especially pertinent: ‘And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring . . . because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.’”
If you are a pornography widow, please know that you are not alone. Many women have experienced what you are experiencing. Reach out and find help.
If you are struggling to find support from those who should be holding your husband accountable, try a BTRG Session.
If you would like to try an Individual Session, please click here.