Please allow me a quick moment to introduce myself before we go much further. My name is Anne Marie Miller. I’m thirty-three years old. I’m newly married to a wonderful man named Tim. We don’t have any children yet, but we plan to.
For the purpose of this letter, you need to know I’m a recovering addict. Pornography was my drug of choice.
I grew up in the church—the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher man with a passion for learning the Bible. I was the honors student; the athlete; the girl who got along with everyone from the weird kids to the popular ones.
It was a good life. I was raised in a good home.
It was 1996, I was sixteen and the Internet was new. After my family moved from a sheltered, conservative life in west Texas to the ethnically and sexually diverse culture of Dallas/Fort Worth, I found myself lonely, curious and confused.
Because of the volatile combination of life circumstances: the drastic change of scenery when we moved, my dad’s depression, and a youth pastor who sexually abused me during my junior year of high school, I turned to the Internet for education. I didn’t know what certain words meant or if what the youth pastor was doing to me was good or bad, and I was too afraid to ask.
What started as an innocent pursuit of knowledge quickly escalated into a coping mechanism.
When I looked at pornography, I felt a feeling of love and safety—at least for a brief moment. But those brief moments of relief disappeared and I was left even more ashamed and confused than when I started. Pornography provided me both an emotional and a sexual release.
For five years I carried this secret. I was twenty-one when I finally opened up to a friend only because she opened up to me first about her struggle with sexual sin.
We began a path of healing in 2001, and for the last 12 years, although not a perfect journey, I can say with great confidence that God has set me free from that addiction and from the shame that followed. I returned to school to study the science behind addiction and family dynamics.
Over the last six years, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story in a variety of venues: thousands of college students, men, women and teens. This summer, I was invited to speak at several camps to both junior high and high school students, and it’s without exaggeration that I tell you with each year I counsel students, the numbers and the stories shock me more and more.
There are more students compulsively looking at pornography at younger ages and with greater frequency than ever before.