The addiction story of, Dave, name changed, began when he was 11 years old. He first voluntarily disclosed his addiction with his bishop when he was a freshman at BYU. He progressively disclosed his addiction to different family members starting with his dad, mom, siblings and then grandparents. He began attending LDS Family Services 12-Step Addiction Recovery meetings. He has now been pornography free for 10 months.
Dave, similar to many BYU students, has struggled with a pornography addiction. Dave and experts believe that disclosure to a professional counselor, ecclesiastical leader or trusted family member or friend is a crucial step in the road to recovery.
Mark H. Butler, a professor in the marriage and family therapy graduate program, sees disclosure as a challenging issue.
“One of the most challenging and difficult issues, and one that is highly relevant to your BYU audience, is disclosure — to whom, when, how, how much,” Butler said.
Disclosing a pornography addiction becomes more imminent when the addict becomes involved in a serious dating relationship.
“In dating and courtship relations, there are ethics bearing on a decision to disclose or not disclose, particularly as a relationship becomes more serious,” Butler said. “There are, at the same time, significant risks to the disclosing person.”
Rory C. Reid, Ph.D., psychologist and licensed social worker, published an article on lds.org about disclosing a pornography addiction to a spouse. He encourages the addict to disclose the addiction. He expounds that disclosure can help prevent further indulgence and that studies have shown that many marriages still succeed when transparency is present.
In a 2009 article on facilitated disclosure of relationship secrets published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, Butler explained that authenticity in a relationship is vital for the intimacy of the relationship. His research expounds on the critical issue that withholding disclosure in a marriage relationship can bring about a fragmented relationship.
“When pair-bond partners relate through the remaining fragments of themselves — not willing to be fully, intimately known — or mask their authentic self behind false personas, the relationship becomes a stage façade of intimacy rather than a real-life enactment of intimacy,” Butler said.
Betzaida Halasima, president of the Unraveling Pornography club at BYU, shares her own disclosure story. Her ex-husband started disclosing a pornography addiction to her after they had been married for two years. Halasima feels significant recovery should be made before an addict even begins the dating process.
“If you are in recovery and dating, disclosure is important if things are getting serious and leading towards engagement and marriage,” Halasima said. “I would want to go into my marriage with transparency, trust and eyes wide open so I can be prepared to cope effectively. Voluntary disclosure and transparency can facilitate and strengthen trust in a relationship.”
Halasima believes that disclosure to a certified sexual addiction therapist would be a good place to start.
“This specially trained therapist can emotionally and mentally prepare both the spouse and the addict for appropriate and healthy disclosure,” Halasima said. “Staggered and serial disclosure can be re-traumatizing to the spouse and impacts the spouses’ ability to trust.”
The question that students ask is, is there hope for a pornography addiction?
“Being truthful frees up energy previously used to maintain secrets and can provide a sense of relief for the person disclosing the problem,” Reid said. “When someone establishes honest and begins the process of repentance, the Atonement can remove the burden of sin.”
Disclosure is a critical step in the road to addiction recovery. Choose a trusted individual or therapist with whom to begin the disclosure process. Hope is never lost. There are many resources available: