Encouragement

Focus: Church Engagement and Kingdom Building

At the 2015 Care Net conference, Roland Warren, President of Care Net, shared with us and other pregnancy support centers from around the country that God had given him a vision. That vision was to see pregnancy support centers re-evaluate and incorporate a mind and heart to work to the next level of ministry to build up of the Bride of Christ through effective evangelism, discipleship, and connecting our clients to local churches and faith communities.

Since 2015, Client Support has focused on church engagement: encouraging clients to be connected to the local Body of Christ. We’ve communicated this focus within Client Support to build a foundation of this vision with our clients.

In 2018, the focus and intent of this engagement is increasing!
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An Open Letter

To the girl facing an unplanned pregnancy:

The last thing I wanted was to be pregnant.  As I sat in the counseling room at Bridgehaven, I had no idea what was in store for my future.  All I knew was I was alone.  The father of my baby was not involved, I was trying to overcome a drug addiction, and I had no money.  I felt like the whole world was closing in on me.  A friend of mine texted me, “You just wait.  This baby is going to change your life for the better.”  I wanted to throw my phone at the wall.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not see even a sliver of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

I’ve learned a few things since that time, and I want to share them with you.  Here’s what I know for sure…

Even though it might feel like it, this moment is not the end of your life.  You can still accomplish your dreams.  You can finish school.  You can find a place to live.  You can find a job.  I was homeless and unemployed when I discovered I was pregnant.  I had an eviction on my rental history and a criminal record.  But I was shown that help is available.  Cedar Rapids has a ton of great resources for housing, employment, health insurance, addiction recovery, child care, food assistance, and financial aid.  Bridgehaven can connect you with the right people and agencies.  Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask for help.

It might feel like you’re running out of time to figure this out, but be patient with yourself.  This might be a new thing for you, but it has been done before.  Slow down.  Rest.  Acknowledge your feelings.  Let yourself cry.  Punch a pillow.  Write in a journal.  But remember, feelings aren’t facts.  I felt like my pregnancy was the death of my dreams.  I felt fear and regret.  I felt like there was nobody on the face of the earth who could understand the depth of my pain.  It was important for me to feel those things, but they weren’t reality.

Speaking of feelings, don’t deny the joy hidden in this situation!  It’s okay to be overwhelmed, but it’s also okay to be happy about all the possibilities this brings.  Isn’t it weird how life can be so tragic and hopeful at the same time?  Let yourself dream big about your new future.  You have the chance to be someone’s hero.

And the truth is you are not alone.  Even though it might feel chaotic, there is a plan for your life.  This moment is part of the plan.  It is no mistake you made an appointment at Bridgehaven.  It’s no mistake you are reading this letter.

Can I tell you something you might not believe right now?  You matter, and you are loved.  God broke through my despair and made beauty from the ashes.  I didn’t even know how much I needed grace until I tasted it.  I believe he wants to do the same for you.  Splendor and strength bloom from the deepest pain.  I see it every time I look at my daughter.

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Educator

 

 

 

He Knows My Name

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3.

Over the holidays, we were delighted to spend some time in Indianapolis with five of our six grandchildren. This year, my husband, “Papa Steve,” created a video for three year old, Trey. Through an app, he was able to insert Trey’s name and picture so Santa is speaking directly to him. What a thrill to see Trey watch the video…

What sheer joy it should be to each of us that He knows our name! He knows everything about us; we are personal to Him. As our Good Shepherd, He is aware of our wanderings and our insecurities, our needs and our suffering; He provides green pastures for us to run and play or rest as He restores our souls; He leads us by still streams of cool water to sooth our thirst; He leads and nurtures and nudges and cares FOR EACH ONE, BY NAME! We are not just a “people,” we are “persons” He desires intimacy with.

What a beautiful sound it is to hear the Lord’s voice calling me by name! To hear him eagerly calling me by name to walk with Him; longingly calling me by name to sit with Him; urgently calling me by name to avoid a misstep or danger; joyfully calling me by name with such affection and woo; gently calling me by name to accept His forgiveness.

…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… Isaiah 43:1

Be His this year. He knows you! He knows your name!!!
Click here for an awesome song about this very thing!
He Knows My Name by Francesca Battistelli

Trisha Sellers, Director of Prevention

Trisha Sellers

Director of Prevention

Mission Possible

What is it about the end of a year that makes you reevaluate your entire life? The calendar will simply say a different year next week and nothing else in my world will be different but for some reason, I am thinking crazy thoughts about what I have accomplished during my 42 years on Earth. Maybe you are simply wondering if you should once again have a New Year’s Resolution about losing weight…that would probably be more normal. Perhaps you are looking forward to the fresh start a new year implies, along with changing something major in your life…new job, new house…new hairstyle. Before you laugh, changing your hair is a major life decision for most of us…it requires asking your Facebook friends, looking online at photos and deciding if you will get up early enough each morning to curl your stick straight hair. The answer is no to that, by the way. No matter what you tell yourself, the answer is always no. In all of this excitement, I am afraid I buried the lead. What the new year truly means is that it is time for a new planner!
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This Christmas


I’m sad this Christmas. There, I said it. I thought, that as the season came upon us, I was more prepared this year for the precious gift of Christmas than any other year. Prepared to enjoy, prepared to see and experience the season differently. Prepared to worship our Lord with all my might. Instead, here I am about a week before Christmas feeling a bit hopeless and sad. From news of devastating illnesses, hurt feelings, marriages in danger of divorce, unexpected changes, young ones fighting for their lives, and even death, I am at a loss of what to do or even how to respond.

There is a famine of love that is breaking my heart. It’s brought me to my knees in deep, raw prayer for people I love dearly. As lives crumble around me I have no plan, no perfect words of wisdom, no way to stop the bleeding or help the hurt. All I have is Jesus and I am reminded that HE IS ENOUGH.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

As I think about my romantic expectations from the start of this Christmas season, I am convicted of the fact that I was focused so much on my own experience this year or my plan for Christmas this year. As the days and weeks unfolded and all the sad news came knocking on my door, the Christmas in my mind was stripped away. What’s left is the story of a tiny babe, a Savior, born to save us from the mess of this world. What’s left is HOPE.

When I rest in the magnitude of this hope, again it breaks me but in a different way than the pain of the world breaks me. It brings me joy in the midst of sadness, hope in the midst of hurt, and comfort in the pain. His love pulses through my veins for the people in my life. A love that reminds me that God’s not done yet, no matter what the circumstance and the best gift that I can give someone this Christmas is Him. Sharing Jesus; His hope, His love.

A friend of mine sent me a message the other day. She wanted advice on how to respond to an acquaintance that posted this: “…As a non-Christian who celebrates Christmas, I’m struggling with how to explain the deeper meaning behind Christmas to my child without getting too into the biblical Christmas story.”

At first I had a lot of thoughts swarming around in my head on how to respond. Honestly, there is a lot I wanted to say about this post, none of which would convince this person to consider that the whole point to Christmas was Jesus. So, after I had a moment to pray and ask God for guidance this is what flowed… “Maybe this is an opportunity to share why Jesus is the answer. Jesus is love, love that came down from heaven. The type of love we humans have a hard time grasping. Love that is unconditional and unceasing. It’s sacrificial. Christmas is a time to celebrate that gift of perfect love.”

This time of year, hearts are softened and so many people are searching for more. Whether they are searching because of their circumstances or just for advice, the message of His love can be transformative. We can try to fix people or their circumstances or we can offer them hope. We can try to give our advice or we can offer them the true gift this Christmas; the love of Christ. Who is God calling you to be an instrument of His hope and love this Christmas?

Lord, I am so grateful that in the midst the circumstances that surround me, that you are in control. I do not have to fix them, nor do I have all the right answers. I am simply called to share your love and hope with those you send across my path. I pray for hearts ready to receive this precious gift. Thank you for the assignment and for the words to speak to hearts in need this season. Amen.
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

Who do you trust?


Think of someone in your life who you trust…like, really trust. Is there someone who makes you feel completely safe and secure? Could you call them in the middle of the night and they would be right there to listen? I imagine this someone is approachable, warm and sincere. Are they a person who keeps promises and never falters? This is how Christ desires us to view our relationship with Him, as well.

He wants us to know without a shadow of doubt He is someone we can trust fully, with our whole hearts, minds, and souls, even when it may be hard, it might hurt, or we feel uncertain. In fact, those same moments are when He can reveal Himself even more fully to us than He ever has before, if we are willing to allow Him in. He is able to do far more than we can ever imagine for ourselves, but we have to be willing to trust Him and to believe He is who He says He is. We must enter into a reciprocal relationship with Him. Even if you feel you aren’t quite there yet, feel like you are too far gone, or maybe you are so close to allowing Him in, this Advent season may be a great time to reflect and consider the wondrous possibilities of trusting Him. Trusting Him in the very same ways you trust “your person.”

I want to share with you all something called Litany of Trust. I pray it speaks to each of you in very profound ways, no matter where you are on your journey. I pray some of these lines may be ones that spark your desire to fully trust what Christ has in store for you. I pray you soak in all that these words have to offer in our requests to Him. Trust and time go hand in hand, so allow God to meet you exactly where you are today.

Litany of Trust
-written by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, Sister of Life

From the belief that
I have to earn Your love

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security
that I have what it takes

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You
will leave me more destitute

Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of
Your words and promises

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against
childlike dependency on You

Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances
in accepting Your will

Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future
Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive
preoccupation with the past

Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking
in the present moment

Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love
and presence

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked
to give more than I have

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life
has no meaning or worth

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands
Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement
Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me
sustaining me, loving me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my
sins and failings, and transforms me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow
brings is an invitation to lean on You

Jesus, I trust in you.
That you are with me in my suffering
Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own,
will bear fruit in this life and the next

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan,
that You are present in Your Church

Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better
than anything else

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me and in
Your goodness always respond to me

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept
forgiveness and to forgive others

Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength
I need for what is asked

Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You
Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God
Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one
Jesus, I trust in you.

They Are Worth It

November has been a blur of activity in the Prevention Department! This month alone, we have presented more than 120 unique lessons with one common mission: promoting sexual integrity as a means to achieve the safest, healthiest life outcome possible.

And you know what? Sometimes it’s a difficult job. When you walk into a middle school classroom with a box full of stuffed animal STDs, you’re not usually met with applause. Some of the topics we cover in the classroom–as important as they are–can be awkward. (Pornography, anyone?)

However, along with the discomfort of discussing sperm, fallopian tubes, and STDs, our students are learning life skills they will need for the rest of their life. We teach topics like assertive communication, setting boundaries, making decisions, and cultivating healthy friendships, just to name a few.

One of the most rewarding parts of this job is hearing from our students. We received some encouraging feedback recently and wanted to share it with you. Knowing we are impacting young lives like these is truly what makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy!

“After you guys came in to talk to us I feel so much more confident on making big choices that I’m unsure about throughout my lifetime.” –Blair, 7th Grade

“I think the best and most awkward part was “REAL Differences” day. It was the best part because I think that this was the day that I finally understood my body and what it does once every month.” –Mia, 8th Grade

“I have learned more in 11 days than what I’ve ever thought I would. I had no clue that there was that many risks of sex. I had no clue that there was that many STDs out there. You are TRULY inspirations to me. I loved the class and not just for the candy. You’ve taught me more than any bucket of candy could.” – Parker, 7th Grade

“I learned that whether you want to or not, you should always set boundaries for yourself, and if your significant other can’t respect them, then they aren’t worth your time.” –Hadyn, 7th Grade

“In my opinion the best part of your being here was the lesson you taught us on pornography. I believe this was the best lesson because I feel that it is a very overlooked subject. Most people my age, including myself, really didn’t know the damage pornography could do to your physical and mental state.” –Ellie, 8th Grade

“I would have never thought of someone trying to kill themselves over a break-up. Now I know that in the future if I want to break up with someone, I will do it in person in a public place.” –Sophie, 8th Grade

“These are things that I will keep in my brain and use for the rest of my life to keep myself on a good path.” –Christian, 8th Grade

“I’ve learned a lot in your class, too much to handle.” –Austin, 8th Grade

“I don’t have a lot of friends, but I feel like you were mine. A close friend.” –Beau, 7th Grade

“I’m glad we’ve been given the opportunity to learn these things, and to do it with great teachers that I can tell really care about how we turn out and the choices we make. This program really helps me have hope for my future.” –Ali, 8th Grade

“What you taught me in the last two years is more important than any school has or ever will teach me.” –Quincy, 8th Grade

“I was a little uncomfortable at the beginning but then I learned that it’s a part of life and is something we needed to learn.” –Gabi, 7th Grade

“This class helped me make my decision to have abstinence until marriage. I think that with abstinence from sex is very important because it will make the healthiest outcome.” –Fiona, 8th Grade

“I didn’t just like this class because we got candy, I liked it because you guys took the time to get to know us and care to teach us.” –Landon, 7th Grade

“It made me think more about the ‘marriage before baby’ thing that my mom and dad enforce on me. I never asked about why, I always nodded along and said, ‘I know.’ I guess that you guys made me understand that more.” –Sara, 7th Grade

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Assistant

Letting Go of Anger

Here’s a fun topic…ANGER. Who wants to talk about that? I do! Not really, but we’re gonna give it a shot anyway. We’ve all felt it…the sudden rise in our blood pressure, the feel of our face getting warmer, our muscles tightening, our breathing accelerating until we finally explode. Anger, it’s ugly. Sometimes very ugly, but we’ve all felt it. There are those moments of anger where self-control gets lost and we explode due to the circumstances. The pressure is released and we begin to pick up the pieces of what’s left in the wake of our storm of anger. But that is a whole other blog topic.

There is another type of anger that isn’t always talked about. It’s not momentary, but rather, long lasting. It’s the type that sticks with you, hardens your heart over the years and changes you. This type of anger lies to you. Makes you believe relationships and decisions don’t matter. Before you know it, you’re living a life of justifications and bitterness towards life circumstances.

Last weekend, I met a couple whose journey and pain touched my heart deeply. During our Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat (a retreat for those struggling with the emotional, mental and spiritual effects of abortion), the retreatants participate in an activity to help them explore and identify with their anger. They might be angry with themselves or someone who took part in their abortion decision. They may not even know why they are angry but through the activity, we get to drill down and work on these strong emotions. This is where my experience on the journey with this couple took a turn I will never forget. The husband…successful in his career, big and strong, loving to his wife, and ready to deal with emotions he’d stuffed for years, broke my heart and gave me hope as we walked through this activity together.

The goal was to release the anger, to give it to God and find freedom from chains that have held him hostage for so long. He was asked to pick three people in the group and express his anger to each of them. He hesitated as the awkwardness of this request set in. As trust took over, he began to move to the first person around the circle, said his piece and moved on to the next. The third person was me. I stood up, looked him straight in the eye and took it as he delivered his message of pain and anger, “Why did you help me kill my babies?”

I felt the anger, the bitterness, but I also felt the deep regret of this man’s heart, the pain of living years with sorrow for a decision made out of fear and haste. A life with questions that have gone unanswered, “What if…”. It was a punch to my gut. My eyes could not hide the pain I felt for this man. I wanted to look away in shame and guilt, but I held my gaze into his eyes for just a few more seconds until he made his way back to his seat.

But it wasn’t over…he was now asked to go back to those same three people and release them. Again, he started one by one, and as he reached me once again, I stood up and looked him in the eyes as he said, “I forgive you.” With all gentleness, pureness of heart, and love, he said, “I forgive you.”

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

We live in a world angry about a lot of things. We are fed anger by the media and through other social experiences. God has asked; required us to let go of such things, even when we feel justified. For bitterness grows in the soil of justification and it will poison our souls. It gets in the way of God’s plans for your life. Therefore, anger must be released and dealt with in a Godly way. What would happen if…

  • we focused more on forgiveness than judgement?
  • we chose to forgive rather than live in justification?
  • we allowed ourselves to experience the vulnerability of forgiveness and grew in hope, love and peace?

That is what forgiveness did for this man. After blessing each of us with forgiveness, he was asked how that practice made him feel. With tears in his eyes he looked up and said, “I feel free.”

Lord, I pray that this message speaks to the heart of anyone living with anger in their hearts. That they hear your voice calling them to freedom from their anger, bitterness and hurt. Lord make us vulnerable to one another, allowing our hearts to reveal compassion and safety for each other. We cannot live the life you created us for holding on to anger. Lord, heal us and help us. In your name, Amen.
Bridgehaven: Chelsey

Chelsey McDill

Executive Director

#thankful

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

I am all about a good hashtag. I mean, I loooove clever hashtags and support the overuse of them much to my son’s dismay. In fact, there was a stressful day in my former work life when I spent most of the day speaking in hashtags. But there is something about #blessed that makes me itchy. Don’t get me wrong…I think it is great that people appreciate what they have. And I totally think we should be more aware of the blessings God surrounds us with. However, #blessed is so overused and misused…I can’t do it. During our prayer time this week, Michelle, our marketing coordinator, presented a lesson on gratitude. It was wonderful and really got me thinking about all the ways Bridgehaven has been blessed but I refused to be #blessed so instead, I will be #thankful.

First, I would be a horrible development director if I wasn’t first #thankful for all of our wonderful donors. I met the sweetest lady this week. She has been retired from Alliant Energy for years and participates in their volunteer program that allows employees and retirees to complete volunteer service in the community and earn money to donate to local organizations. She and her husband stopped in with a check and were so delightful. I was able to share more about what we do and they were amazed by our impact in the community. “I can’t wait to tell all my friends about how wonderful you are.” That is a good day in my world. There are stories like this that happen every day. Some donors support us every month without fail. Some write checks with lots of zeros and a nun in Cedar Rapids mails in coins. And no matter what the amount is, it is always humbling when someone wants to join us in our mission.

A big piece of supporting that mission is Treasures. Treasures is located on 8th Avenue and is such a joyful part of our ministry. This resale shop houses some of the most spunky 90+ year old volunteers you could ever meet. These gals, and a few gentlemen, come in every week to make sure merchandise is sorted, cleaned, priced and sold for very reasonable prices. They take pride in having a beautiful store that features customer service that will knock your socks off. And those who donate to the store provide beautiful items and fabulous clothes and we are humbled to be chosen when there are so many options in our community. All of this, from the sorters and cashiers to the donors, provide support to the ministry in a meaningful way and fund our pregnancy support center in ways that were unimaginable when the original women were hosting pop-up garage sales across town when this aspect of the ministry began. I hate to be too cutesy but Treasures really is a treasure in so many ways.

Bridgehaven is also wealthy in the way of volunteers. Would you guess it takes over 200 volunteers every month and over 450 throughout the year to run our ministry? These volunteers do everything from drive vans to pick up food at Target to counsel the men and women who walk through our doors every day facing an unplanned pregnancy and they are led by a dynamo staff member, Leanne, who cooks them turkey dinners, gives tours and has a heart for this ministry that is contagious. Our volunteers are so talented and so giving of themselves. It is really a testimony to watch them serve.

Where can I even start in describing the staff at Bridgehaven? It is a gift to watch them love clients and work with people in all circumstances surrounding pregnancy. I have watched them pray with clients, celebrated with them as they tell stories of transformation and seen their hearts break when they are unable to help those who come here. These women, and Dale, are completely dedicated to serving the Lord through our clients and it is so cool to watch them work every day. I am in awe of their patience, kindness, hard work and love.

Cedar Rapids is a community rich with non-profits who do great work in so many areas. It is great to see how people support all these different organizations and it makes it even more humbling when donors, volunteers and staff members choose to become part of the Bridgehaven family. The work is important and we are able to help more families every year because of a huge group of people. Our light grows brighter in the community only through the goodness in those who choose to give and to serve here. It is trite to say we are #thankful but there really aren’t words to express what it is like to see God moving in the hearts of everyone involved with our ministry.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. 2 Corinthians 9:8

kylee pusteoska

Kylee Pusteoska

Development Director

The Cost of a Click

People at work have started calling me the “porn queen.” I’m considering adding the title to my resume just as a conversation piece. How did I earn this title, one might ask? When the topic of pornography comes up (and it often does in my line of work), I have no choice but to shift into educator mode and drop some knowledge. My coworkers good-naturedly bob their heads when I launch into one of my animated educational speeches, complete with flailing arms and recent statistics. While “porn queen” might be a funny (albeit misleading) nickname, the truth is that pornography addiction is no laughing matter.

Porn hates God’s design for sex. It creates destruction and tells lies. It infects the minds of its victims, regardless of age, gender, status, or place of residence. To give you an idea, here are some things I’ve heard just this month:

“Sometimes I’m unable to watch it because my phone is too slow, and that makes me very angry.”

“I’m ashamed and confused about my sexual choices.”

“Since I know he’s watching porn, I never feel like I’m attractive enough to keep him interested in me.”

“I’m heterosexual, but when I see an attractive photo of a member of the same sex, I feel triggered to watch pornography.”

“I live in fear that he is looking at other girls for sexual pleasure.”

“I’m ashamed by what arouses me, like being physically hurt.”

You might be surprised to learn that all of these quotes came from teenage girls. Pornography is often thought of as “a guy problem” when in fact, one out of three porn viewers is female. It’s also frequently touted as “adult entertainment” when the truth is the average age of first exposure to pornography is 10-11 years old. Whether or not your child is searching for pornography, it is most definitely searching for them.

I want to clarify that being curious about sex is a natural part of growing up. It’s a natural part of being human! God created sex—it was His idea! It is a gift meant to be celebrated in the security and commitment of marriage. But pornography preys upon sexual curiosity and tells lies about God’s beautiful design.

When people are engaged in anything addictive (like drugs or pornography), a 4-step brain cycle begins. First, because it is addictive, there is an over-consumption of the substance or activity. Next, the brain is hit with a surge of dopamine. Next comes a release of Delta Fos B, and finally, sensitization of a neural pathway, causing cravings and triggers.

If, like me, your mind doesn’t easily attach to science-y terms, here’s what to keep in mind:

Dopamine tells the brain, “This activity is valuable, let’s do it again!”

Delta Fos B tells the brain “I’ve been here before, and this is what I can expect.”

Let’s use substance abuse as an example. If someone is using cocaine, the dopamine surge tells the person’s brain the activity of snorting cocaine into their nose is valuable, fun, and rewarding. Delta Fos B tells the person’s brain when they see white powder, it means they are going to get high. Even if this person stops using cocaine, they will likely be “triggered” by anything resembling white powder in the future, thanks to Delta Fos B.

But pornography addiction is slightly different from drug addiction. Our brains do not have a built-in circuit for drug use—but our brains are naturally wired for sex. God created us to be fruitful and multiply, so he gave us a built-in circuit for reproduction. Porn hijacks this naturally existing brain circuit and force-feeds it lies.

Because of Delta Fos B, the brain learns the porn on the screen is what to expect from a real-life sexual encounter. And here’s the kicker: the adolescent brain is more flexible than a mature brain (which reaches full development at age 25-26), and also contains a higher concentration of Delta Fos B. That means deeper, longer lasting pathways are conditioning the mind.

So, what lies does porn teach adolescent brains about sex?

  1. Sex should be accessible at any time. If a woman wants a relationship, she must give him whatever kind of sex he wants.
    Unlike a real-life sexual relationship, pornography is never unavailable. Unlike women in real life, women in pornography will never say, “Stop, that hurts.” They will never say, “I feel disrespected.”
  2. A woman is to be dominated and used. Verbal cruelty and physical abuse are normal and permissible in relationships.
    88% of all pornography contains some form of female degradation. This normalizes abuse and teaches the brain to find it arousing.

  3. The only goal of sex is for the man’s physical pleasure. A girl’s self-worth is tied to her appearance and sexual performance.
    Porn does not care about emotional, intellectual, or spiritual connection.

  4. When a guy is no longer fulfilled, he should find someone/something new that excites him. A man can never be fully committed to a woman mentally or physically.
    Among other things, dopamine is triggered when the brain experiences novelty, shock, and guilt. This causes the compulsion to seek new and different types of pornography with each use. When one type of sex act becomes boring, you can search for something else. Sex is viewed from the perspective, “What’s in it for me?”

When this brain conditioning is carried from adolescence into a real-life relationship, it wreaks havoc on the hearts, minds, and bodies of all involved. As a matter of fact, one in three guys between the ages of 18 and 25 suffers from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED. This causes feelings of shame, inadequacy, and sexual frustration. In many cases, it leads to infidelity and/or divorce.

As if that weren’t enough of a reason to avoid pornography, it is reported that about half of all sex trafficked victims are forced to create porn. There is no guarantee that what is being viewed on the screen has been made voluntarily, even if it appears that way. Because there is money to be made in the porn industry, it creates a demand for people having sex on camera. Sex trafficking is one of the major content suppliers of the porn industry.

So, now what? Once a porn user knows this information, is there any hope of recovery? Absolutely. There are support groups, accountability apps, and resources like the ones listed below. Once you know better, you can take the responsibility to do better–for yourself, your relationships, and the entire world.

SOURCES:
Fight The New Drug
Your Brain on Porn
These are the info cards we hand out during presentations, complete with resources.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Assistant