Pornography is a topic that isn’t discussed around the dinner table, or really at all. Thankfully, Garrett Jonsson is here to not only talk about it, but share the amazing ways he’s brought attention to a war that’s constantly being fought. His story is inspirational and very informative. Please enjoy.
My name is Garrett Jonsson and last year I performed 30 marathons in 30 days while wearing handcuffs. That’s right, 30 marathons in 30 days. What was the toughest part? Wearing handcuffs the entire time. But I didn’t stop there. Soon after I also road my bicycle across the United States while dragging chains.
The journey coast-to-coast took me 56 days. I crossed 9 states and totaled more than 3,800 miles. The two projects were known as 30In30InHandcuffs and Coast2CoastInChains. Many of you are probably curious what drove me to perform such projects.
The short answer is because I’m very passionate about the topic I’m writing about. But before I tell you THE WHY behind my passion, I want to introduce my amazing family to you.
I’m married to the one and only Arial A. Larsen. My wife (aka SUPERwoman) is mum to our beautiful children and coach to the Herriman High School Drill Team. We have a loving boy named Rev and a sweet little girl named Zae.
Arial and I have always dreamed of creating a BIG family in a small home. We have the small home and we’re working on growing the family; although some days it seems like two is enough.
Our two kids keep us busy and we enjoy it that way. We’re just your average family, but last year wasn’t an average year for us. The year 2016 was a year that we’ll never forget.
It’s the year that we, as a family, took on two projects to DELIBERATELY DISRUPT the destructive patterns caused by… PORNOGRAPHY. That’s right, pornography.
We fought back against the porn industry in a unique way. Our goal was to build awareness and change the conversation around the topic. Because, let’s face it, usually there isn’t a conversation around this topic.
When’s the last time you openly talked about pornography with your family around the dinner table? It just doesn’t happen, am I right? It’s not the most enjoyable topic to discuss. In fact, many of us sweep the threat of pornography under the rug like it doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and in a BIG way.
Check out these MIND-BLOWING stats provided to you by Fight The New Drug:
- 35% of internet downloads are porn-related. The most common female role in porn is women in their 20’s portraying teenagers. Child porn is one of the fastest growing online businesses.
624,000 + child porn traders have been discovered online in the US.
Child porn is a $3 Billion industry.
40 million Americans consider themselves regular visitors to porn sites
- According to Time Magazine 12 Million hours of “adult” content is consumed everyday on one of the top pornographic websites alone
- You may be asking, “Is our society really consuming this much pornographic material?”. The answer is YES and its consumers are getting younger and younger. This industry is often referred to as the “Adult Industry” but today the average age to first be exposed to pornography is 11 years old
- Your next question might be “What negative affects is it causing?” According to Fight The New Drug, porn harms in three ways. It affects our brains, our hearts and our society
I could go on and on about the science which shows why this stuff impacts us so much. I could talk about the brain’s reward pathway and chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. How pornography activates the reward pathway and overloads the brain with these chemicals in similar ways that other drugs do.
I could focus on the research that shows how people who struggle with this stuff often experience a downward spiral that leads to loneliness, heartache and depression. I could also explain how the porn industry targets children, thrives on exploitation and fuels the sex-trafficking industry. But I wont, not today anyway. Today’s post is all about how pornography has impacted my life and what I’ve done to fight back.
It all started when I was 9 years old. My mom dropped me off for a sleep over with my football buddies. We stayed up late having fun. Before going to bed, we turned on the TV and my buddy, who was also 9 years old, turned it to a premium channel on cable.
Not too long after that, the feeling in the room changed. There were about five of us there that night, I don’t remember the exact number. We sat in the dark and watch pornographic material. I’d never experienced anything like it.
My parents had never talked to me directly about intimacy. So I began learning what “intimacy” was that night as I watched. I had mixed emotions. I remember feeling uncomfortable, but at the same time I felt good (I didn’t know it then, but my reward pathway was being activated). My brain was being overloaded with feel-good chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin.
I remember asking myself, “Why does it feel wrong and good at the same time?”. I didn’t know it then, but I had just become a victim. The porn industry had begun its attack on me. Their goal was to strategically murder my innocence to make money.
Between the years of 9-17, I would seek out pornographic material whenever possible. No one knew about my habit. I kept it from my parents, my brother and even my best friends.
I’m 30 years old today. So these years took place between 1995 and 2003. This was during an age when no one had cell phones and people still included the www dot before giving a web address.
When I turned 17, I became serious about serving a mission for my church. So I soon came to the realization that one of the first steps of my preparation was abstaining from pornography. I made necessary changes.
While on my mission I didn’t view pornography. No, not even once. I served in Argentina for two years from 2005-2007. During those two year, a lot changed. Especially in the tech world. Youtube had become notorious for Kimbo Slice videos. MySpace was becoming a sensation which would soon fade. And Facebook had a whopping 20 million users (6). 2007 was a peculiar year. In my opinion, 2007 is the year that yesterday’s pornography became today’s porn. Let me explain why.
In 2007 two things happened that directly relate to the porn epidemic. The first version of the iPhone was released in 2007. In that same year, one of today’s most popular pornographic websites was also founded. My point? Technology + pornogrpahy = a new drug. You see, skeptics will say that porn has been around forever. “But comparing ancient paintings on clay pots to today’s endless stream of hardcore videos depicting every possible sexual act in high definition, available 24 hours a day on a device that fits in your pocket, isn’t exactly comparing apples to apples” (7).
This was the year that I began consuming pornography again. It was too easy. It was more affordable, accessible and anonymous than ever before. I didn’t want to consume it, but I couldn’t stop, despite trying to stop again and again and again.
Despite the fact that I was consuming love’s counterfeit—porn—I began searching for true love. I wasn’t in a hurry to get married, but I wasn’t passive about the process either.
I went on a lot of blind dates. So many dates that it became a numbers game. I’d eventually find the girl of my dreams. At age 24 it happened. I met Arial A. Larsen and fell head over heels for her.
As we dated I put goals to eliminate pornography from my life. But I didn’t know how. I tried and tried again. But each attempt to eliminate it ended in failure. Despite failure after failure, I didn’t give up.
The day we tied the knot I set goals for myself to never use again. But soon after marriage, I went back to it. Arial had NO IDEA. Five years of marriage passed and still no one knew about my struggles with this stuff. But one day my wife and I happened to attend a seminar put on by Fight The New Drug.
We found ourselves at this seminar and didn’t think much about it. Neither of us had heard of Fight The New Drug. But as the presenter gave more and more info it began to resonate deep in my soul.
It was refreshing to learn the science behind addiction. It was calming to know that others struggled with this stuff too—it wasn’t just me. I also found out that day that I wasn’t a bad person because I looked at this stuff. The presentation hit me hard. I was motivated to fight back.
The first thing I did to fight against porn was read, read, read. I began educating myself on the topic. I read every article that Fight The New Drug would publish. Each article added new insight and knowledge.
As I took in new information about the harmful affects of pornography it made porn less and less desirable. It got to the point that I was disgusted with porn. I was able to abstain from it for a couple months. Then it was time to build up some courage to tell my wife the truth.
I kept going back and forth; should I tell her? Should I just handle it myself? I came to the conclusion that I must tell the truth, even though it’d hurt her. So I did it.
I felt vulnerable, but I did it. Telling the truth to my amazing wife was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to accept the fact that I didn’t know how she’d respond. I wondered if she’d want to separate or divorce me. But I had to respect her freedom to choose.
After telling her, I gave her some space. I wanted to allow her to respond in her way. Soon enough and in her own time she explained that she’d support me as I worked through it.
Here is a video to further explain our story and the projects we created to build awareness:
It took a long time to finally see that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It’s been over 18 months since I told the truth. I can honestly say that today I’m happier than I was 18 months ago. I feel like myself again. However, over the last 18 months there have been many ups and downs.
Addiction and Recovery are heavy tasks that require a lot of perseverance. For that reason, we need to help one another. We need to be kind one to another.
Now that you know our story here are the questions we get asked, with there answers:
Q: Why did you decide to bring this topic up in the first place?
A: Once I experienced catharsis by hearing from Fight The New Drug, I wanted to create catharsis for others who might have repressed emotions. I really believe that our youth are victims to this epidemic.
Q: What signs can parents look for in their children?
A: Research shows that more and more kids are struggling with this stuff. In my opinion, we need to stop looking for signs. My parents never saw signs that I used pornography.
I was physically active. I was involved in sports in Jr High and High School. Got decent grades. Went to church weekly by my own choice. etc. I hid my struggle really well. So my advice to parents would be to stop looking for signs and simply talk to your kids about what intimacy REALLY looks like and WHY it’s important.
Q: Are there better ways to help children rather than acting like porn doesn’t exist?
A: Yes. Here is a list of steps to help yourself and your children:
- Get educated on the topic.
- Make a game plan.
- Utilize your resources.
- Reach out to other people when needed.
- Remove judgment, if someone is looking at this stuff it doesn’t make them a bad person.
- Talk to your children openly about intimacy.
If we don’t teach our children what true intimacy looks like, then the porn industry will teach their counterfeit version of intimacy.
Q: What if one of my own children struggle with this stuff? How would I handle it?
A: I’ll do all I can to prevent it from happening. I’ll love their Mom. Show my kids love. Educate myself on the topic. I’ll help educate them. Be non judgmental. I’ll discuss sex openly with them. Explain why an intimate relationship is important. I’ll explain what the porn industry really is. But ultimately if they still struggle with this stuff then I’ll love them. I’ll be a shoulder to cry on and give it time.
So, now you know. Porn is harmful. It hurts our brains, our hearts and our society. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I encourage you to do some additional research on the topic.
Below are some resources to help you become a fighter against pornography:
6: http://www.google.com/amp/s/www.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/number-active-users- facebook-over-years-214600186–finance.html?client=safari