Three Things You Don’t Know About Your Children and Sex

New here? Here are some follow up posts to help answer your questions.

20 Resources to Help talk to Your Kids

My Story – Part 1

My Story – Part 2

Follow Up Post to “Three Things…”


Dear Parents,

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’re planning on it. 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 twelve years, although not a perfect journey, I can say with great confidence 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 when I tell you with each year I counsel students, the numbers and the stories shock me more and more.

[Tweet “There are more students compulsively looking at pornography at younger ages and with greater frequency than ever before.”]

This summer, by a long stretch, was the “worst” in terms of what secrets I learned students carried. After my last night speaking at my last camp, I retreated to my room and collapsed on the bed face-first. Tim simply laid his hand on my back to comfort me.

I could not logically reconcile in my mind all the confessions I heard over the summer with the children who shared them. While every story was unique in the details, in most situations, there were three common themes that kept surfacing.

  1. [Tweet “Google is the new Sex-Ed”]: Remember the first time you, as a parent, saw pornography? Likely it was a friend’s parent who had a dirty magazine or maybe you saw something somebody brought to school. Now, when a student hears a word or phrase they don’t understand, they don’t ask you what it means (because they fear getting in trouble). They don’t ask their friends (because they fear being ashamed for not knowing). They ask Google.Google won’t judge them for not knowing. Because of our short attention spans and desire for instant gratification, they don’t click the first link that shows up – they go straight to Google Images. In almost all of the stories I heard, this is how someone was first exposed to pornography – Google Image searching. The average age of first exposure in my experience was 9 years old.Google Sex Image Search
  2. [Tweet “If Your Child was Ever Molested, You Likely Don’t Know”]: Another extremely common theme was children being inappropriately touched, often by close family members or friends. When I was molested at sixteen, I didn’t tell a soul until I was in my twenties. I didn’t tell my own mother until I was twenty-eight. The stigma and shame of being a victim coupled with the trauma that happens with this experience is confusing to a child of any age: our systems weren’t made to process that event. Many things keep children from confessing abuse: being told they’ve made it up or are exaggerating, being a disappointment, and in most cases, getting the other person in trouble. While a child can look at pornography without being abused, children who have been molested by and large look at pornography and act out sexually.
  3. [Tweet “Your Child is Not the Exception”]: After speaking with a youth pastor at a camp, he said most parents live with the belief their child is the exception. Your child is not. The camps I went to this summer weren’t camps full of children on life’s fringes that one would stereotypically believe experience these traumatic events or have access to these inappropriate things. You must throw your stereotypes aside. Most of the children at these camps were middle class, mostly churched students.Let me give you a snapshot of a few things I heard from these students:
  • They’ve sent X-rated photos of themselves to their classmates (or received them).
  • They’ve exposed themselves to strangers on the Internet or through sexting.
  • They’ve seen pornography.
  • They’ve read pornography.
  • They’ve watched pornography.
  • The girls compare their bodies to the ones they see in ads at the mall or of actresses and keep those images hidden on their phone (or iPod, or whatever device they have) so they can try to imitate them.
  • They question their sexuality.
  • They’ve masturbated.
  • They know exactly where and in what movies sex scenes are shown and they watch them for sexual gratification.
  • They’ve had a same-sex experience.

And they’re terrified to tell you.

(Update: The focus of this article is on the conversation, not the action, though as parents, you need to be aware of the fact young children are experiencing these things. I feel the need to clarify none of these actions make someone a “bad” person. While this specific list does contain things many people with a Christian background consider to be sin, it is lack of communication that makes this dangerous at this age. Most of us go through exploratory phases before sexual phases: a three year old masturbating because he knows it feels good and a seventeen year old masturbating to porn for a sexual release are two different things. If your child is uninformed or uneducated about things they need to know based on what is appropriate for their age and sexual development, regardless of your beliefs, it leads to shame and self-doubt.)

But maybe you’re right. Maybe your child is the exception. I would argue at this juncture in life, being the exception is as equally dangerous.

At the end of every session I presented I intentionally and clearly directed students to ask me or another leader if they didn’t understand or know what a certain word meant. “Do not go to the Internet and look it up.”

Sure enough, there is always the child who stays behind until everyone leaves and quietly asks what the word “porn” means or if God is angry because that boy or girl from down the street told them it was okay for them to touch them “down there.” There is the child in the back row who leans over to his friend and asks, “what does molest mean?” and the other boy shrugs.

This summer, I am beyond grateful that mature, God-fearing adults were available to answer those questions with grace and tact and maturity; that we were in a setting that was safe for questions and confessions. It was entirely appropriate. Not every child gets that opportunity. Most won’t. Most will find out from the Internet or from a peer who isn’t equipped to provide the correct answer in the correct context.

Parent and Child

As the summer camp season ends, I feel a shift in my heart. For the last six years, I’ve felt a calling to share with students how God has set me free from the shame and actions of my past and that they aren’t alone (because they truly believe they are). One college dean referred to me as “the grenade we’re tossing into our student body to get the conversation of sex started” because they realized how sweeping these topics under the rug caused their students to live trapped and addicted and ashamed. I will continue sharing my testimony in that capacity as long as there is a student in front of me that needs to hear it.

However, I am more aware now more than ever before in my ministry how little parents know about what’s happening. And because I’m not a parent, I feel terribly inadequate in telling you this.

But I can’t not tell you. After seeing the innocence in the eyes of ten year olds who’ve carried secrets nobody, let alone a child, should carry; after hearing some of the most horrific accounts from students I’ve ever heard this year, I cannot go one more day without pleading with you to open up and have these difficult conversations with your children. Would you prefer your son or daughter learn what a “fetish” is from you or from searching Google Images? Talk to them about abuse and yes, even trafficking.

Just this month I met a relative of a girl whose own mother was selling her body from the time she was five until now, when she’s sixteen. This was not in some drug-infested ghetto you’d see on a news story. It was in a very upscale town in a very upscale state known for its nature and beauty and summer houses. Abuse does not discriminate.

[Tweet “Your children need to know about sex now.”] If not for them, maybe for a friend. Maybe they can help bring context or see warning signs.

Ask them what they know. Ask them what they’ve done. Ask them what’s been done to them. Show grace and love. Stay far away from judgment and condemnation. If you feel ill equipped, ask a pastor or counselor for help. If you hear an answer you didn’t expect and your first instinct is to dismiss it – don’t. Find a counselor. Look for resources. Continue following up. If you struggle with this (and let’s admit it, statistically, a lot of us do), get help too.

Do the right thing, the hard thing, for the sake of your children. If we don’t do this now, I am terrified of how the enemy will continue stealing hope and joy from our youngest generation and how they’ll be paralyzed to advance the Kingdom of God as they mature.

[Tweet “We cannot let this happen on our watch.”]

*Specific details that could identify children have been changed in such a way that it does not affect the story and only protects the children. Mandatory Reporters reported confessions that involved abuse or neglect or situations that indicated a child was in any type of danger by using proper state laws and procedures.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, hateful or rude. Let's be grown ups here!

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441 thoughts on “Three Things You Don’t Know About Your Children and Sex

        • Yes, it’s called righteous judgment and it’s needed more today than every before.
          Chris, I think your comment is very judgmental… so repent.

          • Amen, Ira. Righteous judgement is indeed necessary, and Paul makes this abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 5. Unfortunately, it seems that certain individuals are evading Biblical (and therefore Godly) principles to justify homosexuality and pornography.

        • I agree entirely. This is interesting information, but it is also very judgmental. Children being sexually abused is terrible, but child masturbation and homosexuality are completely normal and healthy. This article makes it seem like those things are bad.

          • I do think you might be misunderstanding this article’s intent. This article is about parents having conversations with children about things sexual in nature and the fact most of them don’t have that conversation until the child has – in many cases – developed unhealthy habits or acquired incorrect knowledge because of where they are getting their information. Would you prefer a stranger handing your child a magazine full of pornography without any explanation or context as to the contents or would you rather discuss those topics with your child?

          • I’m sorry if I seemed to misunderstand. I think that having a “birds and bees” style talk with your kids is great, but I know from personal experience that children can be made afraid to talk about it with their parents if they get the feeling that sex, masturbation, and/or sexual orientation could be a bad thing. Just like Mike hinted at in his reply, many people see these things as bad and/or unnatural and as such are the reason why kids have a hard time opening up about it.

            I think most parents are afraid and uncomfortable about thinking of their child as a sexual human being, even though sex is normal and natural. I feel as though in order to take on this problem, parents need to be educated about what is truly normal and healthy for their child (regardless about what they personally feel or believe), and I do appreciate that this article wants to tackle that. The only reason why I suggested that it felt a little judgmental is simply because I feel as though certain things–such as homosexuality–shouldn’t be scary or seen as a bad thing. If nothing else, that just closes doors between us and our children. I just got the sense that some of the wording in this article could be interpreted as to say that such things are bad.

            I can absolutely agree that this article makes it clear that children do struggle with sexuality. And after reading, I would say that the best thing that a parent could do for their child is to discuss the great topics this article raises with a health professional.

          • Masturbation would be wrong if the neighbor kids or an adult “showed” the kid how to do it. A child will naturally know that feeling themselves down there feels pleasurable. As a parent, you should not be shocked they do this at nap time. You need to gently lead them to not be doing that so much. But don’t shame them, ever for that in a condescending way. You can’t anymore expect a kid to not touch themselves down there, than you can expect them to run to a cute puppy to play. You talk to them about that, say, let’s don’t be spending a lot of time doing that. Most won’t be doing this forever and a day anyway. If you hoop and holler about it, they will go underground and be sneaky. Be very matter of fact about all of the body parts, the processes. And say, most people just don’t do this all the time. Usually, it is a passing thing they try. Keep the lines of communicating open for every thing. You may not like that the boy or girl has his hands in his pants at times. But redirect them, and keep talking.

          • Sexual purity is something that leads us to love God more and makes us capable of having unselfish and committed relationships in a role that brings joy, not shame. Masturbation cannot elevate us- even though it is natural- it is not a healthy sexual behavior because it isolates us. Also homosexual behavior, even if it is natural to some, cannot be considered to be sanctifying in any sense because it does not fulfill the role and mission God gave us when he created our gender. When we overcome our natural or selfish tendencies, we are able to love and receive love. Our souls recognize truth and are able to tell us when we are using or being used by someone. Matrimony is only holy when it is unselfish and fulfilling proper roles. This is true whether or not it is politically correct.

          • If a child is developing naturally, then yes, masturbation, homosexuality, pornography and all things sexual are normal. We are all sexual beings. It is what God intended. However, if a child has had the unfortunate experience of having been molested, all of their sexualness comes from a different place – a shameful place. This, is not what God intended. If a child has NOT been molested, their mindset is different, and they will likely grow up to be happy, healthy, and satisfied with who they are, and where they have been. What is being missed by most, that are calling this judgemental, is that those who have been thru incest, molestation or any form of sexual abuse (and Annemarie is right, there are more of us then you’ll ever know), are forced into such feelings, rather than being allowed to grow into them. I, for one, will NEVER know what my life might have been without the shame.

          • “homosexuality is normal”….Really? When did that happen? It’s funny how people make these kind of statements hoping that if enough people say it long enough it becomes true.

          • I don’t think that she was ever saying that homosexuality is normal in her article. She was merely pointing out that all children go through developmental phases where they may feel the need to experiment with things such as masterbation and things of a sexual nature. She was never condoning homosexuality. She was merely making a comment about how a lot of parents are not informed enough about developmental processes to know that their children may struggle with these type of things and that wrestling with those ideas and trying to figure them out is something that happens to pretty much any child during their development.

          • Homosexual practice is perversion. Sexual orientation is not sin. This is clear in the Bible. No one chooses their sexual orientation, but we do choose what we do with our bodies.

        • a ‘line’? Somehow I don’t think you’re talking about an actor’s script.
          So tell me, how is calling someone ‘judgmental’ not judgmental? Does the blog author not have freedom of speech like you and I? Or are only certain opinions okay to express?

      • Just want to thank you for sharing and for taking this subject as serious as it is…we must raise awareness collectively, about the boundless dangers of unfiltered access on the internet and what is being shared in schools. I want to now share a great resource with all of you on the subject of communicating with our children about this very subject and all of the details surrounding it. The book(s) are written by Brenna and Stan Jones and Carol Nystrom & is a collection or can be purchased individually and it is called: How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character (God’s Design for Sex). I hope this helps so many who are searching for sound advice on something as important as this~God Bless you for your courage!

      • A fetish is a term that describes a wide array of ‘unique’ (usually sexual) attractions. Some people have shoe fetish and find women wearing high heels sexually simulating. Others have a foot fetish and enjoy sexual imagery or contact from feet.

        Some fetishes are very dark and involve pain, torture, rape, bondage and subjection. Sometimes when one starts indulging one fetish another will appear. Sometimes the fetish escalates.

      • Tarina, as a parent you should have the knowledge and the courage to look that up on google yourself. This is the information age – don’t be afraid of it.

        • Hunting.Targ, I think it is exactly Anne Marie’s point that we should NOT google the things we don’t know or understand, but instead go to or ask a mature believer we trust. I am a 34-year-old mom of a precious little boy, very happily married to a wonderful godly man, I love the Lord Jesus with my whole heart and life, and I struggle to this day with internet pornography. Please, please, don’t think for a second that adults – even if we are believers – are immune to the schemes of the evil one. We absolutely need to protect out children, but we need to protect ourselves too.

    • THANK YOU! My son is 12 and we have a very communicative relationship, but the internet is a force to be reckoned with. My son admitted to me at age 10 that he had seen porn on his dad’s computer (we are divorced and dad is a porn addict) and had been viewing it. I have pleaded with his dad to put filters on his computer, and my son has told me that he has stopped, but I would be in complete denial if believed it. Dad won’t talk to son about sex, so it has been up to me, and although it embarrasses my son to talk about it, he was pretty frank with me about his questions up until a few months ago when he had his first “health” class in school. After reading your post, I now wonder if the class was advised to look things up on the internet. The computers here are in public areas of the house, and my son does not have his own phone, but I know it doesn’t work that way at dad’s house. I just pray every time my son leaves with his dad.

      • I am 23 and a very new mother (4 months this week!). I was not married to my son’s father when I found out I was pregnant and now we are not in any sort of relationship at all, though he continues to be present in our son’s life. While I was never in a sexually abusive relationship per se, I have been involved in several manipulative relationships that left me feeling broken. I never had the kind of relationship with my parents to talk openly about sexual temptation so I feel like I was unprepared to deal with the temptation when it came. Now, thinking about raising my son in a world where so much is easily in reach, I feel like the need for me to encourage open communication with him early on is vital. I worry about being able to counteract the negative influence his father will have on him. I pray daily that he will grow up to be a strong, Godly man despite my failings.

        • Erin, the opportunity for open communication came for me when my son was 4 and asked where babies come from. After asking around, I bought an Usborne book that explained men and women’s bodies, sex, and reproduction very simply with cartoon pictures. I think by being open and honest early, it set the tone for communication going forward. I don’t sugar coat anything, and I try to be straighforeward so as not to embarrass my son. It has worked for us, which is good since he now has a “girlfriend” (who thankfully lives about 30 miles away). You have a good start. You have early awareness and a goal to keep your child safe. I’m saying a prayer for you and your son.

    • I know 16 is young but it is my opinion that you weren’t abused when you were 16. You made the CHOICE to enter into that temptation. Bottom line is that you were old enough to know what was happening to you. Also, old enough to cry wolf. I hope you don’t put yourself into the same category as other ‘children’ who were sexually abused. That is, the ones who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

      • Jaron,
        I don’t see how you could possibly come to that cold-hearted conclusion/opinion when she did not even tell the whole story. You are a jerk for saying what you said. If it ever happens to you or one of your children you will understand. Shame on you!

      • Jaron, what you are doing is called “blaming the victim” and it is nearly as damaging as the abuse itself. The youth pastor, as an adult entrusted with the care of minors, should never have engaged in any sexual contact with group members. The pastor’s actions were abusive because he/she was in a position of authority and used his/her position (not to mention, broke the law) to gain sexual gratification from a minor. Abusers target those they recognize as vulnerable and are often highly skilled at manipulating others and slowly violating boundaries so that the victim doesn’t quite realize that what’s happening is so bad. There may also be threats, or blackmailing, especially when the abuser is someone the victim has disclosed past sins to. You need to educate yourself about the dynamics that occur in abusive situations before you go slinging blame and guilt at people who have been hurt and mistreated by others.

      • Jaron, That is an incredibly hurtful thing to say. As a survivor of sexual abuse as a young teenager, I can say that it is attitudes like yours that keep people from telling an adult when these things happen. At sixteen years old, if a trusted spiritual authority (like a youth pastor) had done something like that, I would have been confused, ashamed, and definitely afraid to tell someone. I am assuming that you have not been sexually assaulted, because if you had you would understand how damaging it can be to tell a victim of assault or rape that it is the victims fault. I struggled in silence for years believing that I was responsible for my own abuse. I shouldn’t have spent time with that person, I should have dressed more modestly, I should have fought harder, etc, etc. But you know what? The man who abused me was an adult who knew that I did not want what happened. He was stronger than me and he had influence over me and he knew what he was doing. I can agonize over the “what ifs” but I know now that I am not at fault for what happened to me. I am 22 years old now, and I have JUST begun to recognize that. And it makes me more than angry when people suggest that because I was a teenager and I knew what sex is and I knew who did it, that somehow It was my “choice” to put myself into temptation.

          • The point is Anne Marie is that you are calling it abuse when it is not. What I said was not mean. If you were hurt by my statements I’m sorry but if this is going to be an honest discussion, we have to recognize what is on the table. I absolutely know what I’m talking about and have 2 P.h.D’S to show for it. You say you were abused. Maybe you meant to say taken advantage of. I see abuse as a family member molesting a 6 year old boy or girl. Not a 16 year old teenager in high school who is TAKEN ADVANTAGE of from an older person. There is a line that divides innocence and awareness and an age at wish we can stand up for ourselves. 16 is way past that line. I have a problem with you going around and saying you were abused when you could have done something about it then.

          • Jaron, you’re making a lot of assumptions in your statements. Quite frankly, if you really have been awarded with the degrees that you claim, you should be aware that no amount of education could possibly allow you to extrapolate the situational details on which you are basing your judgments from her piece. Claiming that Mrs. Miller was not abused because girls of that age can’t be abused, but only taken advantage of, is ridiculous. Age is not a determinant for who can or cannot be abused.

            Furthermore, if your training is in human development, psychology, medicine, or education, you should also be aware that claiming that she could have done something about the abuse at the time is equivalent in absurdity to suggesting that an OCD person can overcome their fixations by simply not giving into them. Victims of abuse have tremendous difficulty recounting their experiences for a multitude of reasons, and discounting these reasons sadly contributes to them, as two reasons for victims not sharing is the fear of being not taken seriously or being interrogated as to why the victim waited so long before opening up about the abuse.

          • Jaron ~ you are a prime example of someone who is quite impressed with his credentials. My advice – request a refund from the institutions that conferred your “2 PhD’s.” You are clearly an educated idiot. I sincerely hope that your profession prohibits contact with human beings – or any living thing, for that matter. The most dangerous aspect of your behavior & personality is the the fact that you are content to remain ignorant. Perhaps you should, from time to time, entertain the fact that your “2 PhD’s” did not make you an across-the-board expert. An educated person you are not – automaton, yes. Educated, no.

          • Well shoot Jaron. Looks like we are going to have to change everything now….Senior “taken Advantage” of, Spousal “taken advantage” of, and maybe even animal “taken advantage” of because they COULD bite…if they wanted too. Thanks for letting us know we have been wrong for all these years.

            It appears Jaron has never seen the effects of leadership ABUSE(a deceitful act), its very common and very destructive to any mind 3-99years.

        • Very well put Emily. It is misconceptions like these that take us a step back when we should be a step forward. This is a very enlightening article. I am also a victim of abuse at 16. I was inappropriately touched by a person in authority left to watch over us younger ones and at the time even though I knew about sex it was a very traumatic and bewildering time in my life and I cannot see how anyone can say a 16 year old knew exactly what they were doing. I was a late bloomer and at 16 was just getting my period for the first time and my breasts were only just coming out my body was only just changing and I was dealing with a lot of self esteem/self image issues at the same time.

          • Jaron,

            You sound a lot like someone trying to justify the actions of the abuser. “She could have defended herself, so what I did wasn’t abuse…” Why would that be? Did what she say hit a little too close to home? /edited.

            Of course a 16 year old can be abused. A child can be abused. An adult can be abused. A twat-waffle with “2 PhDs” can be abused. The ability to fight back does not preclude the abuse. Sometimes the abuser is stronger than the abused, thus he overpowers her. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

            I don’t know if your alleged degrees were purchased online or surgically applied, but they seem to be ineffective. However, don’t lose hope. Knowledge is power. If you work quite diligently, I’m certain you can leave the cave eventually.

      • While there are differences between the ages, it is still abuse when an older person of authority has sexual contact with a 16 year old. In such cases the 16 year may not have the experience emotionally or otherwise to resist. A 16 year whose love language is touch and is not receiving that in an appropriate way from family is more likely to look elsewhere for it or be flattered by the attention from another without understanding the ramifications of their response to it.

      • Jaron…..
        “In my opinion”
        Sorry, that is not an opinion, that is an accusation. Especially since you don’t even know the facts! I, too, was touched inappropriately by a youth pastor when I was 16. Guess what? Most of the advances happened fleetingly. As I was walking by, or sitting down, or doing whatever, he would grab my butt, touch my breast, touch me in other places etc. And in public!! Are you going to tell me that I, as a mature intelligent 16 year old, was “making a choice to give into temptation”?
        I would hope you would say no to this rhetorical question. So, what if this was the situation she was in?
        I guess we’ll never know, meaning you have no right to make that absurd accusation!
        I am so upset with your comment I could go on, but I will end my reply before it gets out of hand.
        And to Emily, well said! I am 24 and also just coming to terms with what happened.

      • That is exactly how abusers justify their actions. By making themselves believe that the victims know what’s happening and knows how to make it stop!

      • Jaron,
        Regardless if you knew someone who was or whatever. Until you have been through it, YOU HAVE NO SAY in that matter. My grandfather molested me until I was 11. I was old enough to “cry wolf” as you say. And I tried not to put myself into a situation where I was around him. But things happen. You don’t think of the factors. People HATE you after you say something bad against a person they revere. When my sister finally came out about what was happening to us at 18, our OWN FAMILY disowned us. Regardless of what’s right, that is the hardest thing you will ever go through. The looks, the talks, everybody treats you different. They either HATE you and say spiteful things about you, like “putting themselves in that position”. Or they get awkward and weird around you and feel like they have to walk on egg shells. THAT’S HARD. You will NEVER understand. I pray to GOD your child never goes through what we went through. The hardest thing is when your own supposedly Christian family wont even talk to you or listen to what you have to say. It is attitudes like yours that keep people from telling an adult when these things happen. I struggled in turmoil for years. Confused because my family hated us for something my mom told us wasn’t our fault? Hurt because they were supposed to love me no matter what. Torn apart because even years afterward they’re “cordial” but my cousin that WAS my best friend treats me with malice, with an attitude exactly like yours. You are rather cold-hearted and self righteous. Learn the facts before developing an “opinion” such as this. Be grateful you weren’t the child in Anne’s place, or my place. Would you tell your sister that it was her fault if your dad or grandfather molested her? People she should be able to trust? I should hope not. I would hope you’d understand.

      • Dear Jaron,
        At 16 it is very very possible to be naive, not everyone matures and develops at the same rate and not everyone is as cunning or deceiving as your comment suggests at. Having had an experience similar to the author where at 16 I was curious about men, but don’t mistake that for experience or entering a choice or an agreement between me and the guy. Curiosity is something that will allow you to kiss a guy, get the feeling of being loved and appreciated but it doesn’t allow for being pushed onto the ground and raped or being felt up. There are a number of girls at 16 who don’t sign up for that treatment. There is that interesting difference between “asking for it” and being innocently curious. Don’t ask me what that difference is because I couldn’t try to explain it. I think it all depends on the person really. We cant really judge as we aren’t in the position too.

        oh and there is alot said about tact- you may want to look that up.

      • Jaron,
        I have to disagree. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse regardless of age. You can be abused, physically, sexually, emotionally or mentally by anyone you trust. She trusted her youth pastor and he perpetrated these things against her. As someone who was abused when I was younger and when I was older, the only difference in the abuse was I had more shame and guilt from the abuse when I was older. But all of it was an abuse.

      • Your’e an idiot, Jaron. Abuse happens at any age. Do you know what happened with Anne Marie and the youth pastor? Do you know if he raped her? Do you know the traumatic manipulation that comes with abuse that forces someone to keep silent? Do you know if she was threatened if she told? Your PhDs mean nothing unless you’ve been abused. Shut up.

        • First of all Jaron was if i read correctly part of sexual abuse, so he does know he used a lot of bravery and came out about it. He display his point very poorly bottom line is a 6 year old knows nothing and is forced into it (RAPE) and in some/most of these cases involving 16+ year olds may be really a crush mutating into lust and a, still despicable, human being taking advantage of that. Taking advantage of someone is abuse, rape is abuse to another degree. Jaron i think i agree with your premise but not your presentation

          • I do believe that “Honestly Wheres the Love” is REALLY “Jaron” and he is getting his kicks by getting SOO many people upset. So, lets change back to the original subject shall we?

      • Jaron,
        She also mentioned she was sheltered and didn’t know much. Not all 16 year olds have the same amount of “awareness”. Abuse is abuse. Your PHD’s you talk about just show how ignorant you really are. You can have book smarts and classify things into categories all you want but you obviously have no common sense. Do you realize what you’ve done? You’ve just made one more woman afraid to come out about what’s happening to her. Whether it be sexually or physically. When you’re already ashamed and embarrassed its hard to come out and say that someone touched you where they shouldn’t have. In some situations the only way they can get out of the situation where they are being lorded over is to say something. BUT now they are too afraid to say anything because mindless idiots like you will say its her fault. Why? Why would she say anything or attempt to remove herself from the situation when if she’s already in the mud someone like you will rub her face in it. What some people need is support when they are confused and need help out of a situation. NOT a “doctor” saying that logically it was her fault. Am I to assume you’re going to pick up the argument that if it was REAL rape a girl wouldn’t get pregnant from it? Go back to school and get a degree in something you’re good at.

      • Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The term also covers ANY behavior by ANY adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. !!!!!When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse.!!!!!!! In addition to direct sexual contact, child sexual abuse also occurs when an adult engages in indecent exposer (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.) to a child with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to intimidate or groom the child, asks or pressures a child to engage in sexual activities. If you have PHD’s your “opinion” should be based on fact and you should know this.

      • Jaron, just because you have 2 Phd’s, it does not mean that you have the life experience to know about things like this. Sitting in lecture rooms studying for so many years, even though you may have ‘on the job experience’ does not mean a thing when it comes to real life situations. I was 18 – 20 years old when I was raped by my so called husband, I was an adult, I didn’t have to be under 16 years old for it to be sexual abuse, and it affected me really badly, and it still affects me today, even though I am 31 years old now. I don’t feel confident going out there and having a proper relationship, because I don’t know what one is because I have never experienced it as my ex husband was the only one that I have had a relationship with, I fear that there may be a possibility of being raped again, and I do not want to ever be subjected to that again because it is one of the most awful, shaming experiences I have ever gone through.

        Rape strips you of your confidence, makes you feel ashamed of who you are, the abuser obviously doesn’t want others to find out so will threaten you if you tell anyone, so you feel that you can’t even talk to anyone about it because of the repercussions from the abuser. You feel alone, frightened, violated and worthless – so please don’t tell me that abuse only happens to minors just because they don’t know what sex is, or are under the age of consent, you may be at the age of consent or older, but that does not mean that if someone forces themselves on you, that you have to just let it happen.

        People can be abused at any age, in any society, in any country, it doesn’t matter what religion/faith or culture you are – it happens everywhere.

      • If she was entering into temptation, she’d be encouraging what he was doing. I was molested my my Grandpa who was a high priest. I was 14 when this happened. I was not in any way encouraging him. When someone does this, they usually have it planned out. They try to make it so they think you aren’t going to tell. Buy you nice stuff, take you on vacations, and blackmail. I got it all. I was scared. I told him I didn’t want him to do that. He kept doing it. So there isn’t really anything that is going to stop a child molester unless you stop all contact with that person, or tell an adult. I told my mom about it and later found out he had done it to my sister for 2 years starting at the age of 8, and my other 5 year old sister. It’s not right at any age when someone sexually abuses you. To me, what you are saying, is an offense. And I can tell many other people think it is too. What you are saying makes me think you are trying to say that the guy who molested her when she was UNDERAGED is not at fault for his actions. These people know it’s wrong. They know better than to mess with underaged kids. Even though 16 is older, It does not make it right for him to molest a 16 year old. I don’t care what you say Jaron, but when you say you don’t think it was abuse, you are offending a lot of people. I may only be 15 right now, but I know what is right and what is wrong. Molesting a 16 year old is not right, just as it isn’t right to molest anyone. People may not get into trouble for molesting people 18 or older people, but it still doesn’t make it right. People like that are disgusting. I’m sorry someone as ignorant as you can’t see that.

        • Emily Ann,
          Sweet child! PLEASE don’t EVER let idiots like whoever “Jaron” is EVER make you feel bad or at fault or anything. What was done to you was WRONG, PERIOD I don’t want you to EVER even THINK about people like Jaron ever again (other than to maybe lift him up in prayer, but by all means you don’t have too!) This 35 year old mama of six sweet children KNOWS your pain and your burden and everything else that goes along with abuse. Jesus LOVES you sweet child and I am praying for you ( I just did too!) Take care! ;-) This mama longs to hug you, maybe I’ll get to in Heaven ;-)

    • This entire article is disgusting. It is this type religious sexual guilt over masturbation that nearly ruined my life. I became aware of my body and it’s sexual feelings at a very young age. I was taught that masturbation was a sin, and even before I could read I thought I was a bad person. At 30, I have almost never had a healthy sexual relationship because of it. Stop teaching your kids they are bad people! Stop calling them sinners for touching themselves! You think you are doing a good thing, you think you are raising a moral and healthy next-generation. Instead you are infesting it with deep emotional trauma that your kids will take with them all the way to adulthood. You are creating the molesters, rapists, and freaks.

      • I was very confused by your comment, because I thought the blog was about educating parents to the fact that our children are heavily exposed to sex, porn, and sexual molestation, not masturbation. I went back and did a search, and found the word “masturbate(d)” only once in the post, in a very matter-of-fact bullet list. “They’ve masturbated.” I did not read anywhere that Anne Marie said it was a bad thing. Some think it’s wrong, but most think it is a very normal thing. No one has said that sex is a bad thing in a normal, healthy (and legal) environment. Regardless, I think the point is that kids have way too much media exposure to sex, sex, sex, and inappropriate contact happens so often with children, that as parents, we need to be vigilant and armed with information.

        Demme, It sounds like you have some very deep pain that you have not yet addressed in a healthy manner. I urge you to talk to someone about it before it eats you alive. I say this not in judgment, but through personal experience. God bless you!

      • Demme, I am so sorry that you felt like you were a bad person because of a natural, sexual, thing that God has engrained into our existence as a human. He made us sexual creatures.
        Masturbation is not what makes any one a bad person, or a person that hates God. The bible says that all things are permissible, however not everything is beneficial. It also goes on to say that we should stay away from things that initiate our sexual nature. The reason, I believe, behind this is that pornography or masturbation, or any other form of sexual pleasure outside of marriage, severely hinders/ damages our relationships. As you have said in your comment, you have not had healthy relationships. Engaging in sexual activity is damaging to your relationships because it encourages and alters how you think, what you feel, and ultimately how you receive love or give love.

        I just want to encourage you to research the effects of sexual things outside of marriage, and how confused / broken / lonely / unworthy it makes us feel as humans.

        God doesn’t command us to stay away from things or protect ourselves from things because he wants us to miss out on the fun. He asks us to do our best to stay pure, by relying on him… that we don’t become “confused / broken / lonely / unworthy” … & when we become married we can experience anything sexual that we want with our partner. It’s totally worth the wait.

        I’m young, & although I did not wait until marriage, I can definitely say that this wait is difficult…but it’s been worth every bit. I am still tempted by my own flesh, all the time, but God is good, & he is protecting me & saving me for my husband. He’s not leaving me out. (I received Christ 3 years after engaging in sexual activity)

      • Hey I’m 20 years old and I fully support this post Anne and everything you’re doing. As important as religion is, I believe it’s also important to know and understand the science behind the Facts that :
        1. Masturbation, with the short periods of pleasure brings with it very negative consequences on your brain that very few people know about. Just because it feels good and it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Example: Cows love to eat wheat. It tastes good, has very good nutrition value, but whenever cows eat wheat, their stomachs swell until they explode!
        2. Pornography is a drug. A drug that is more addictive than any other substance or behavior
        3. I’ve had many feelings of attraction towards those of my gender. This doesn’t mean I have to act out on those feelings of attraction.
        I’ve been to several addiction counselors who have years of study on the effects of masturbation and pornography on the brain and all the facts and people’s lives ruined has showed that in no way is masturbation and pornography a good thing. Sex is a wonderful thing to be employed within the bonds of marriage because that is exactly what it helps strengthen, the bonds of marriage! I feel so disappointed when all the young people around me don’t know these basic and fundamental truths about such a poignant part of our personal lives. Keep on writing Annie!

        • Too true. That’s the only thing I disagreed with in the article. Yes, it does feel good, but it truly isn’t good for you. Yes, it is natural, but there are many things natural to our “animal instinct” so to speak that certainly have a negative effect on us, including masturbation. Thanks for clearing that up, James.

      • I agree with Shannon. You have unresolved issues in your life that are and will continue to eat you alive until you address them.

        I have been a sex addict or sexaholic for over 20 years and yes I was taught that masturbation was wrong. No one ever told me I was bad for masturbating, I assumed that all on my own.

        I can guarantee that whether someone told you masturbation was good or normal and to just go for it, that you would still be in the same position. I know a guy who was brought up in a non-Christian home and his father encouraged his behaviour. He still became an addict.

        I would encourage you to seek a 12 step program for sexaholics in your area. It’s hard man, real hard, but so are the consequences of not dealing with it. At 37 I am now 7 months married with a little one on the way and I want so much to recover from my addiction for my own sake and that of my new family.

        Get into man, you won’t regret it!

    • As a pastor to families and students, thank you! The vulnerability and transparency shown throughout this article is very encouraging. We are surely in the midst of a major issue in our culture and the stakes are high. Thank you for encouraging parents to not take the road of ignorance but of information and involvement. This is one issue where we cannot remain on the sidelines but must provide truth in very confusing times.

    • AnneMarie — the message is more than important. I am blessed to head up a minstry to men and families where sexual addcition is a tremendous struggle with Dads. The men share thier story when they come into what we call an FMO (For Men Only) Impact Group. They almost all started using porn before age 14; some before the age of 9. And by usign I mean exploring solo-sex as well. The rate and speed of addiction at that age is beyond our adult comprehension (unless you have been there – done that). I heard a doctor who has studied this area of science describe what happens to the childs mind when introduced to the porn currently viewed on the interent (at least 50% of wich includes violence sex on women) as BRAIN RAPE. As parents we need to know more, do more and speak more to our kisd about sex – all kinds. Teachable moments happen over and over each day. Just read the front page of the news – online or in paper or on the TV – they see it each day and talk about it amongst their peers. Ask them what they think about this rape or this pregant movie star or music star or this arrest for sex abuse or this crime or this affair or this public figure in a moral mess or this athlete or this teacher looking at kids or this…. They know about it and have an opinon but they do not often get asked by parents.

    • Although this is a very educational finding I do Not believe that anyone has the right to be so Judgmental,only our creator does. I believe there is a fine line in between being wrong and judging a person.. and when you have a person that comments saying, ” spiritual Judgment…..Repent” It makes me Cringe. This topic is for PARENTS! not just religious parents. Although I am a religious person and have certain beliefs that does not give me the right to judge someone or push my religion onto some one else. This topic about SEX does not have anything to do with weather we are religious or not It is about Helping our children and how we can get our children’s trust to talk to us about these things that they are afraid or ashamed of talking about, so we can help them. plane and simple Morals and values play a role in this and if you have taught your children this and let them know that they can talk with us about anything.

    • Another thing parents need to look out for specifically is I myself struggle with a porn addiction and haven’t looked at it in over a year, but recently stumbled upon Omegle justifying my use of it because of their policy that is on the homepage. There are three types of people on there: 1) Very young children (that are not supposed to be on there, 2) Very old men with their body parts already on display and sometimes in use, and 3) average aged adults not showing nudity immediately. In my estimate, the frequency was in that order as well. So there are lots of really young children seeing terrible things they should not be seeing. They can access this website without any restrictions because it is not considered porn and I can imagine some parents allowing them to because of the warning on the front page that the videos are being monitored. I personally do not believe they are actually monitored and if they are, they are short staffed. I strongly encourage any parent wishing to protect their children to find a way to block this website from all devices (there is an app as well).

    • Thank you so much! I so appreciate your honesty and the urgency of your message. As a parent of 3, I am always wanting to talk to my kids about these issues, but always seem to put it off a bit longer so as not to have to come face to face with the sad reality that this is so prevalent. Thank you for the reminder to talk to my kids. A good friend of mine is a Police Department Investigator, specializing in sexual crimes against children. She would “amen” everything you’ve said. Things happen…all the time…to those you least expect…in poor, middle-class, and affluent neighborhoods. Again, thank you!!

  1. Satan is making house calls with the internet! I am amazed at how many children/teens have internet on their phones…have a computer in their bedroom…talk about providing them with a buffet of temptation! Satan is the marketing guru of tempations…sadly as humans we fall for his schemes so many times!! Equip yourself to not be around such temptation and certainly don’t give your children the resources and tools…then say…but don’t look!

    • It is everywhere, all the time. Media, internet, billboards. We can’t hide from it. We can try our best to educate and protect and create safe places for conversation…we need wisdom now so much…

        • Dave, Anne is too kind and polite to respond to your comment but I find it ridiculous that you’d pick a fight about her faith on her site on a post that has much more to do with sexual abuse than it does theology.

          • I just want to make a note that I agree with you! I am a sexual assault survivor who was much like Anne and turned to the internet to find out what happened to me rather than talk with my friends or family. Her post is educating people about what goes on out there. I don’t think anyone would have suspected I was looking at that stuff and they never imagined what happened to me happened to me because I kept all of it inside for so long.

        • Dave, We all need wisdom, no matter what our beliefs are. I choose to pray to God for wisdom, and I respect your decision not to. And I believe that He loves you, even though you choose not to believe in him. I hope that you will take from this post the things that you can apply to your life, or your children’s lives and understand that the main goal of this is to protect all children, not just Christians!

  2. Anne Marie, thank you so much for sharing your story and the things you are hearing from youth. Keep sharing this even when it appears no one is listening. I so agree with your conclusions.

      • Thank you Anne, and thank God for the courage and strength He has given you not only to write this article but persist in this ministry He has called you to.

        I know the personal struggle of being a sexual addict first hand and am really only at the beginning of my recovery, but I already see hope for the future and know that God will turn my struggle into something I can share with fellow sufferer’s. Sexaholics may even outnumber alcoholics today and yet there are far fewer recovering sexaholics then alcoholics. I hope and pray this will change.

        God Bless you and keep up the good work

  3. Thank you for this post! I am a mother of three (2 teenage sons and a 10 year old daughter), a wife of a former youth pastor and a Pastoral Counselor. This is what parents NEED to know.

  4. My daughter was molested two years ago by a 12 year old girl (neighbor) who when confronted by police didn’t even know it was wrong (they were playing truth or dare with a 6 year old?). Last year she was molested, again by a 12 year old girl in my own home (upstairs playing Barbies). Then this year a 4 year old girl initiated inappropriate touching on my now 8 year old daughter. She is in counseling now and we went to the police so these other girls could get help. My daughter knew it was wrong but the one last year threatened her against telling. I didn’t find out till this year when the incident with the 4 year old came to light. My daughter’s love language is touch. This has been hard for her and hard for me as I felt I had failed her even though we had talked about this kind of thing over and over and over. It is happening and you can never be to careful. God bless your ministry to these kids and I’m grateful they felt you were a safe person to go to. That speaks volumes about the ministry you are involved in. We have some parental control software on our computers so we can monitor where our kids go and what they search, and it limits some of that but the images pop up everywhere. :-(

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. At such young ages (usually around the 10 year mark) it is difficult to discern intentional abuse with sexual gratification (and the knowledge of it) vs. exploration and curiosity. Thankfully there are social workers and special police that really help in these situations. I’m so glad she is getting help and you are walking with her through this.

  5. As a father of a girl soon to be in her early teen years, thank you for this reminder. As much time as I spend online for work and otherwise, and as much of a plugged in culture as we have, we have tried very hard not to move her towards the internet as much as possible.

    We won’t keep her from the web forever, and only do so now because her life is already full enough. We are certainly not luddites. :) She will gradually become acclimated to it, as we continue to have conversations nearing the ones you described.

  6. this post is sadly true…i also enjoyed reading about your romance:) we’re almost neighbors. you’re just up the road from us. we recently moved to huntsville, AL to be near our daughter and her family:) i look forward to reading more of you soon.

  7. As a Mama of 2 boys, 7.5 & 3.5…sigh, overwhelm & sigh again. What a battle we are up against…. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this sobering reminder to be ON IT, prepared, open & appropriately protective. Really, thank you.

    • God bless all you parents and the things you tackle. I can only imagine what it will be like when we have children and need to address these. Maybe we can get ahead of this now as a culture. Nothing is impossible!

  8. This is one of those posts you don’t want to have to read, but you do anyway. I can’t imagine the challenge you endured to craft this message. These are fighting words on so many levels. I hope that parents understand that this really is about their kinds, not “those” kids.

    You’ve got my support!

  9. “It was entirely appropriate..” I’m not convinced this was the case at my daughter’s camp. Had I known ahead of time that the word pornography was going to be thrown out so casually to an 11 yr old I would not have had her at camp this year. I understand that a lot of things happen to a lot of kids…I’m not arguing that…but my daughter seemed to come home with way more facts and knowledge than I thought appropriate for her age and am afraid it actually piqued her curiosity. We’ve always been open with our kids and had numerous discussions about sex, drugs, divorce, hypocrisy in the church…you name it, we’ve talked about it in length. I would’ve appreciated a heads up before adults who are not my children’s parents decided to discuss these types of topics with them. Maybe something to keep in mind in the future…

    • I’m with you on this, Angela. I believe parents should be given the tools and the expectation to talk about this stuff with their kids (which is what this post is about). But children/youth camp may not be an appropriate place for this level of depth, precisely because children and youth are at all levels from abuse victims to entirely naive, and camp staff cannot be expected to counsel/address all of these levels simultaneously. Initiating conversations outside of the family unit actually takes away the very responsibility it’s trying to give to parents.

      It’s no small point that the revelation of temptation can create temptation. I want these conversations with my kids to be among people that I trust deeply, who could at least defend and explain our (mine and my wife’s) values along with their own, and who will ask good questions and foster ongoing dialogue.

      • In these situations where one does not think it’s not appropriate, I would address those in charge of the camp. As a speaker, when I’m asked to present a topic, I do it boldly and expect there is a level of trust developed between those sending their children to those experiences and the churches putting them on. They know ahead of time exactly what I will address, the words I will use, and if they ask me not to use a word or speak about a certain part of my testimony, I don’t.

        If someone is concerned about what their child is learning at camp, absolutely talk to your church/pastor/camp director/etc., about your concerns. However, as a whole, I can pretty much guarantee that 99% of the time, most of the things I say they’ve already heard at school (and with my mother being an elementary school teacher, I’m fairly certain she’d confirm that even at the grade she teaches).

        Blessings and grace on you as you parent. I can only imagine it’s not easy.

        • If the camp “leaders” think it is okay for leadership to have you speak your message to children I say they have another thing coming! The message is a right message to share but by no means should ANYONE other than the parent be the one to agree it is the message for someone else’s child. God forbid! Even a high school health educator must have the curriculum available for a parent to review and get a signed permission slip for the student to be in the class during sex ed. I teach health and sex education and am absolutely amazed when high school students do not know anything scientific or even basic anatomy. Seems teh camp agenda needs to be reviewed and provide a little more information to parents. I believe that falls under “informed consent.” This ain’t learning to canoe, swim, hike or sing around the campfire.

          • I’m the middle-woman in these situations. I don’t know what specifically has been discussed between those who hire me to speak and those I am speaking to except I do what I’m asked and communicate with those who bring me in. I have trust these organizations do their due diligence since I’m an outsider, so to speak.

          • I have three grown daughters and a teenage son and I appreciate with all my heart all the adults like you Anne, who are mature and responsible and have a good message to share with my kids. I have always been aware that there is a whole world out there and unless I tuck my kids away in hiding ( which will make them weird i might add) they are going to be hearing a lot of things and even experiencing a lot of things I am never going to know about. I do my best to teach them and protect and never act shocked or disturbed by anything they want to talk about……but, oh it is good to know that there are adults like you who care enough to say the things you do….what I have found is that it makes a world of difference to them to hear these things not just at home….it is the best support a parent could ask for….I am not in control of everything that goes in to them….I would never even be able to take that kind of control… preach it sister, and I wouldn’t need to know before-hand cause God is in control and He’s given you something to say. So if you’re talking and my kid is hearing it….then that is a blessing….thank you God!

        • Good reply. Sexuality has permeated even our enclaves of wholesome kids. Your article demonstrates this fact. I appreciate the parent’s concern and frustration, but we’re beyond the “wait till I think she’s old enough” days.

          In fact, you talk sounds more like a good vaccine to fight the virus.

        • If a parent does not want sensitive topics addressed to their child without them, then it is their responsibility to educate themselves about what topics will be covered in the venues to which they send their kids. Personally, I think that’s a good idea, even if you’re fine with others educating your kids about sensitive topics – part of intentional parenting is to be aware of what is being taught to your kids, sensitive or not. If you find out that the summer camp you normally attend is going to address these issues, you have the choice to send your kids somewhere else, instead, or to bring it up at home before camp. To say that because you don’t like it, it can’t happen, is short sighted. Many MANY parents are either totally okay with this, or they are negative or passive influences on their kids, and won’t talk about it at home anyway. Speaking as someone who grew up with a sexually abusive father and a neglectful and emotionally abusive mother, had it not been for speakers like Anne Marie, I would have had zero positive input on these issues. Your kids may not fall into that group (though if you think your teens are totally unaware of these issues, you are likely either a very isolated family, or they know more than you think they do even if they are not acting out in any way negatively – knowledge does not automatically mean sin, by the way), but even if your kids ARE the exception to the rule, MOST kids are not. Getting to choose what and when your kids know things IS your prerogative, but getting to dictate for other people’s kids is NOT.

      • This is really a reply to Brad and Angela.
        Angela, As a young woman I was introduced to porn at 9 years old. I wasn’t searching for it, someone said, “Hey check this out.” So in all honestly I understand the fact that you as the parent should talk to your kids about sex and pornography, the problem is for many of us young people, we have already been introduced to it before our parents talk to us. Often times we’re too scared to ask our parents questions about sex because they think we should know nothing about it at our age.

        Brad, you are absolutely right that parents should be given the tools and the expectation to talk to their kids. I’ve grown up in a Christian home. My parents never had the “sex talk” with me and in having friends and working with students, many of their parents never had the “sex talk” with them either. So we are forced to learn from an outside party. That’s much better to be learned at a youth camp, then using Google and the next thing the young person knows is they’re addicted porn.

        I commend both of you for having the talks with your kids. More parents need to step up and be that spiritual leader in their life. It is absolutely first and foremost the parents job to raise a child in the way they should go, unfortunately some parents, even great and loving ones, skip out on these important life lessons.

    • While I see the point of parents wanting informed consent about what their children are being taught by others, what if the parent IS the one abusing his/her own child? An abuser is not going to want his/her own child to know how to combat abuse. My own father sexually, physically, and mentally abused my sisters and I ever since I can remember from a very young age. We would tell our mother, who appeared horrified, but denied it. My father mentally abused her too, and I can’t help but wonder if he also abused her physically and sexually in secret where my sisters and I didn’t know about it. We all (including our mother) lived in fear of him and the wrath we would suffer if our big shameful secret ever got out. Well finally one day (when we were still quite young in elementary school) my sister let it slip to a friend of hers about the sexual abuse, the friend told his parents, who told a priest in our church, who told our school (we attended Catholic school that was right next to the church). The nuns in the school confronted my sisters and I separately in private to confirm the allegations. When we admitted it was true, we were left feeling shameful, guilty, and humiliated. The matter was quietly swept under the rug, kept hush hush, never to be spoken of ever again. I don’t know if anything was even ever done about it. My father never got in trouble over it as far as I knew, but he must have been talked to at least because the sexual part of the abuse subsided for the most part (though the perverted ogling never stopped). We were never told it wasn’t our fault or that we did the right thing by coming out about it. It was our dirty shameful secret. Well, our father continued to abuse us until we were old enough to move out of the house to escape it. The mental abuse still continues of course, so we just minimise how much contact we have with him. We are all in our 30s now. Our mother continues to live in denial and is too afraid of what he would do to her if she ever left him, so now she lives in make believe land that everything is happy and dandy, and that they have a great marriage, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth and she continues to be mentally abused by him to this day, despite concerted efforts of my sisters and I to get her out of that toxic environment. We’ve tried talking to our mother about the past abuse in recent years, and she tries to convince us that we are fabricating false memories or that we must have dreamt it. I told her these are not false memories that we are suddenly having, as we have never forgotten about them to begin with. Our father does not even recognise as what he does and did as abuse, and derisively chuckles about anything abusive others do when we point out that their actions are abuse. Even when my parents attended marriage counselling when I was a teenager, and the psychologist basically pointed out that my father IS the problem, he won’t ever admit it, and they stopped going to counselling. I am now a woman in my mid-30s, and I am so disgusted that I share genetics with such a monster, that I strongly do not want to have children of my own to prevent passing his genes along. I am permanently scarred by my experience and lack of support I got for it. When our own parents, parents of friends, school, and church have forsaken us, we had no where else to turn that we could trust or felt comfortable with. If only someone was willing to tell us what Ms. Miller bravely tells children now, perhaps we could have been saved from some of the damage. It’s a miracle we survived our deep depression and suicidal thoughts and almost-attempts without the help and support of anyone besides each other. We still all struggle with depression today, but have come quite a long way with coping with it, and are all living normal productive lives. However, it feels so deeply ingrained, I’m not sure it could ever be completely resolved. It’s just a part of who I am, and I must accept that and make peace with it. That is all that can be done at this point. Ms. Miller, please continue what you are doing. It is such a great service to the youth of today, and it is saving many people.

      • I am so sorry you experienced the terrible things you did. Thank you for sharing your story with us and educating us in places I can’t talk about because I have not experienced it in the way you have. Peace to you.

      • Sweetheart, I am so incredibly sad for you and your sisters. I can relate, to a point. My father is serving life in prison for abusing my sisters and brother and I for 9 years, and my mother, while not in denial about the abuse any longer (she was, for 6 of those 9 years), is still in major denial about her own role (any time she looks at it, she freaks out and makes it about herself, and right now she’s all about promoting anything and everything that puts her in the role of super mom / Christian, especially if it puts others in a negative light – fun times).

        I want to encourage you to see a therapist. It’s scary, I know, but you do NOT have to live with this as you have been, and you do not have to handle this alone (when I say you, I also refer to your dear sisters).

        I also want to encourage you to consider pressing charges against your father. I know – scary!! – but the very sad fact is that if an abuser gets away with abuse, they almost always abuse others when given the opportunity. Your father may or may not have had that opportunity yet. You have a chance to prevent that from happening, or at the very least, to stop it from ever happening again to any other little girl. And hun – you and your sisters deserve to see justice and closure. You do not deserve to have to deal with your abuser, or see him get away with the destruction he wreaked upon your lives.

        I know you think, right now, that you can just stuff this down deep, and move on with your lives, gritting your teeth when things come up to remind you of the past. I am younger than you (I’m 27), so I won’t try to speak from personal experience, but my aunt, who is in her mid-50’s, and other women I have met who are older than either you or me, show me that not dealing with this kind of trauma at the root has lifelong consequences, some of which can be utterly debilitating. I don’t say this to scare or depress you, but to encourage you to face your fears and hurts, and get help from a professional trained to help people with a history of childhood sexual (and other) abuse. The process is hard, I won’t lie – but you have already survived your father, and your mother, and your church, and all the others who enabled the abuse to continue. You have already made it out of physical captivity – please, dear dear, girl, give yourself the chance to make it out of the emotional, mental, and spiritual captivity in which you still live.

        My prayers and love are with you, and I pray that you and your dear sisters find peace and healing, and closure.

      • I’m so very sorry you had to endure the horrific things you did. Know there are people commenting here, and others within the community that can help. Thanks for boldly sharing, there is so much power in bringing it into the light!

    • I absolutely agree with this comment as well. However, my family doesn’t do youth group nor do we do camps. We also homeschool. We’re weird like that. ;-)

      However, while we don’t participate in those types of activities, I do mostly agree with this particular blog post. We do need to stay open in communication with our children. I’m very sorry for the way you’ve been treated Anne Marie; here on your own blog as well as in the past by a trusted pastor in your church. :-(

      God bless. :-)

    • I wish I had this knowledge when I was younger.. I too experienced the same things you did and do not wish that upon anyone.. And I was very cautious with my children so they would not feel the shame I did.. I too am now healed and it feels wonderful and I council other women with the same addiction… Thanks for this.. :)

  10. I’m saving this to my ‘annual reads’ pile, a small pile of posts and write-ups I like to reflect on annually, in preparation for parenthood. I’m like you, about the same age but without children, and I certainly hope to someday. I recall my experiences as camps growing up, ‘coming of age’ as it relates to sexuality, but you really highlight how different it is for kids these days. Thanks so much for sharing. And thank you SO much for having the courages to speak about this in front of children and adults. You’re truly a gift to the communities you encounter.

  11. I appreciate a woman who can speak on this topic. I, too, had an addiction with pornography for 14 years, beginning at the age of 8. I have always planned to talk to my children about this and have had a couple opportunities to share with other women at my church. I have a daughter on the way, and I pray that she is protected when I can’t be with her, and I hope my husband and I do our best to make her aware of what this world has to offer and that God is our only hope.

    So many girls are scared to talk about this struggle because it is usually discussed as a guy’s struggle only. So thank you for being bold and making kids and adults aware.

    • I, too, struggled with an addiction to porn, though for me I think it was, at least in part, a form of self-harm (many addicts note a feeling of love and acceptance, but for me, all I felt was lust and disgust and self-loathing). I am glad you mentioned that this is almost always spoken of as a male-only problem, when in fact it is no respecter of gender.

  12. Literature out there suggests having the sex talk with your child at 7-9. I think it is naive for a parent to think that in these days that your child won’t be exposed to these issues – between iPhones, iPads and laptops – the venues to get such material are more rampant and widespread than ever before. My 6 yr old, during the course of the sex conversation revealed that a boy we knew from his brother’s basketball team (2nd grader at the time) had pictures of a naked woman on his phone. If you’re sending you child to a camp where they stay there overnight – then you should have already had this conversation with them. How can you protect them if you don’t tell them?

  13. Powerful. I do wish, though, that you would not use the term “confess” when referring to the children. It is a term that implies guilt. The last thing sexually abused kids need is to feel guilty about what has been done to them. Parents also should know what prevention/education programs are in their child’s school. Our Child Advocacy Center does school prevention programs and it is common for the Educator to be approached after by a child who just didn’t know this was something she should report.

  14. Thank you is insufficient. I am so glad you took the time to articulate so clearly what you are seeing and putting our a challenge to parents to get educated and get involved. I am a parent of 3 teens and a family counselor. What is said here is no exaggeration.

  15. I have worked I the field of drug/alcohol addictions since 1980. Abuse is behind the pain of so many. More often than not they initially deny the abuse and keep self destructing. Often they hide in shame rather than open to the possibility of abuse. I have frequently wished there was a way to get beyond the anger so they can begin to heal. Too many die in shame and pain.

  16. Thank you for highlighting the role of online search in today’s “new” education. I am in operations with and recently received a complaint from an individual who thought our default setting — Family Filters ON (image and video) — was doing people a disservice. Of course I politely restated our policy of erring on the side of caution for those who would prefer not to see adult images while searching, but I have to say this post just confirmed my personal stance on the matter. I am also on a team that travels internationally teaching groups about the sanctity of human life, so I’m with you all the way on this subject! Thank you for your candor and investment in the lives of young people.

  17. sadly, the counselor and the grandma in me must say thank you. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish we could be talking about the county fair or brand new back packs or yummy ice cream sundaes.

    but this is real life. and I praise you for bringing this conversation to the surface. where it belongs.

  18. Thank you so much for this awareness. We have tried to be open about discussing the subject of sex with our 12 year old son, but I did not even consider that google is where he would go to find out aobut it. But he goes there for everything else, so why not? We will be talking to him soon. Thanks again.

  19. Thank you so much for your open-ness and compassion about this subject of sex and children. It is not discussed enough in our world, in the right way! You have made me realize the impact of google in my 12 year old son’s life. He is a good kid, raised in a Believing family, but he goes to google for everything, so why not sex? We will be talking to him about this soon. Thank you for your ministry. I am sure it is not what you chose, but was what you were trusted with by God. Your impact will be immeasurable!

  20. Anne Marie, thank you so much for broaching this difficult topic. I hope my thoughts here will in no way be interpreted as criticism of your candor in sharing your own experiences, or of your ministry. As the mother of 9 and 6 year old daughters I can say that your concerns are spot-on, based on what I’ve seen in the community in their age groups. I’m not believing my daughter is the “exception” out of naivete, but out of my own discussions with her, I know she has not really been exposed to anything for me to be alarmed about at this point. However, I would have to agree with the posters here who feel that taking a room full of children under 13 and putting all of this into their heads under the assumption that “they are hearing it anyway” doesn’t really seem like the best or only line of defense. First and foremost, children under 13 (I am using that as a somewhat arbitrary cut-off, but whatever age- right now I can say for sure, under 11) do not need to be in other people’s homes unsupervised, they do not need access to the internet via ipads, iphones, etc., they can be restricted to internet use with parental supervision only, and do not need constant access to the stream of perversion available to them via the internet. These discussions DO need to happen, and by the teen years, for sure, but 9 year olds are not really in a place emotionally to have every word or phrase explained to them just so they don’t google. Yes, children of that age ARE accessing porn- but instead of taking the position of, “well, okay, I’m going to explain every possible perversion and “dirty” word to them right now so they don’t google it,” how about we start be limiting their access and first being candid about the fact that there is a whole lot of stuff on the available via media that Satan wants to use to poison our minds and to destroy the beauty of something God created, without trying to beat Satan to the punch by making sure they understand every ugly perversion of it first. Make sure they know that no adult OR child should be touching their private parts, talking to them about their private parts, taking pictures, and so on- for sure- protect them. Explain reproduction to them. Explain the beauty of what God created to be part of the relationship between a husband and a wife. But that is about all a 9 year old can emotionally handle. Again, yes, a lot of them ARE hearing the other stuff, but that DOES NOT mean they can emotionally process it, even if it is within the context of a camp or ministry. Our vigilance should start with guarding their hearts and minds for as long as possible and as is age-appropriate, and sharing information with them as they can handle it, not just so that we can get ahead of Google. Thank you for sharing your own experiences as a teen and young woman, and for giving us hope in the freedom found in Christ and in His power to redeem your brokenness for His purposes.

    • Thanks, Robin. And just to clarify a couple of things:

      The (mainly) girls I speak to are in Jhigh & HS – they share that they have been accessing things since 8/9 years old.

      I can see your point. To clarify, I don’t tell them “well, okay, I’m going to explain every possible perversion and “dirty” word to you right now so they don’t google it,” — I share my story of hiding from God (Genesis 3) and hiding from others (James 5:16) and how I hid my sexual abuse and my addiction to pornography for years and the freedom that came when I talked to the right people about it. I certainly don’t teach a sex-ed class. :) Just my testimony and no “dirty” talk or vocabulary. It’s followed up by camp leaders and pastors who are ready to follow up with students individually and in small groups. Those are just the settings I’ve been in.

      • Anne Marie- thanks for the clarification, and I do see now that you mention in your post that it’s the older age group you were addressing. I got confused because several times you also referenced younger kids. And it’s VERY important for us to be aware that younger kids ARE accessing pornography, and I know that it is true, and worry about the men in my daughters’ future because of it. Honestly, being 10 years older than you, I do think of it more as something that holds men in bondage, so I truly appreciate your testimony. Also, just to clarify my words, I didn’t mean YOU were up there running off a list of words or phrases :-) I really meant my thoughts at that point for parents, and, because you used the “fetish” example, I thought, well, this could leave a lot of people having some horribly age-inappropriate conversations with their children (not about sex, itself, which parents should be educating their kids about, but about distortions of God’s plan for their sexuality). And not to assume that children haven’t been exposed to age-inappropriate things already- but that’s why I was making the point that our first line of defense comes with, perhaps, not handing an 8/9 year old an iphone or ipod that is not very easily protected by parental controls, and just trusting that it’s okay for them to have 24/7 access to the full buffet of sexually distorted imagery out there. My words were more to other parents at that point, I guess, than directed to you, as I understand that you also were trying to educate parents here and let us know some things that you think we need to know. I guess I already knew Google was pretty dangerous, which is why I’m the old-fashioned mom whose kids don’t have at-home access even to Google unless we are together, and they don’t have hand-held electronics which will take them places they don’t need to go.

      • One way we have addressed the “words you’ve heard” dilemma is that probably on a weekly basis after dinner my husband and I will ask our four children, “have you heard any words at school or from friends lately that you don’t know what they mean?” We have heard curse words, slang for body parts, as well as sexual terms. We won’t react in a surprised or shocked manner, but simply explain what it means. We speak about whether that word is appropriate to use and why or why not. We also speak on what God’s plan for us may be concerning the topic, looking to His Word. I have found this has left the door open for more conversations, and our children sometimes bring things up without us having to even ask. I pray that our children always feel comfortable coming to us for answers.

        • That is a really good idea!!! I will definitely use that with my children. Thanks for the magnificent idea :) For me and talking with my children, I really wouldn’t know where to start on the “things I need to cover before they look it up list.” Haha

  21. Question: where do adults go to find information? I do not wish to expose myself to harmful things either, but how do I answer my kids questions if I don’t know?

    • Honestly, not to simplify it, but the dictionary (a reputable online one). Having someone look *with* you may help with any temptation to go elsewhere, but sometimes we can’t avoid the terrible things. We should equip ourselves but not trap ourselves. If it’s a problem to be exposed, maybe talk to someone – a pastor or counselor – to help you. I’m sure there may be books on this as well, though I haven’t looked quite yet.

  22. This was interesting to read, especially as a teenage girl who has struggled with this. Even though this was aimed at parents or people dealing with children it was neat to read. I have struggled with this, and I have thought I was the exception. For quite awhile in my life, I thought I was the screwed up Christian girl.

    From my own experience, everything you have said was true. I originally got addicted by looking up words that I had no idea what they meant. I was too ashamed to ask my parents about them because people acted like they were such dirty words that I thought I couldn’t ask.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I’m grateful every day that my 12 year old daughter still turns to me with questions, but I want to continue to make sure she does. God bless you and you work, Anne!

  24. I appreciate your testimony and transparency on this issue. I have a 5 yr old boy and a 3 yr old girl. Recently I also moved to the South (TN) and the Lord opened doors for a jail ministry. I have always had a healthy understanding and fear about abduction/trafficking, but based on what I have personally experienced in the testimony’s in the jail ministry, I am at a level orange! The stories and abuse is nothing that could even be made up for the most horrible movie. I feel scarred for life from the testimonies and helping those gals see Christ through the dense fog of their past. My question to you, as I too am in a position of great awareness and from reading some of the stories on here, how are you going to protect your child (someday) from not only the internet, but other people. I obviously have placed my children in the hands of the Father, but common sense plays a part as well .. . . our children do not go to other people’s houses, etc . .. BUT, what is the right age to start communicating about improper touching, etc . . . without throwing the ideas in their face. If it wasn’t on their radar and I bring it to their attention, doesn’t that invoke curiosity that wasn’t their before? These are things I struggle with as I am desperately trying to protect them from evil. Let us call it what it really is in God’s Word–Evil. Your thoughts?
    May God use your work to reach the souls of many children for His Kingdom.

    • I am by no means an expert (son age 6, daughter age 4, and daughter age 2), but we talk about appropriate touching at least every year before we do their annual check up with their pediatrician. We also talk about “public” and “private” (concerning whose stuff we can touch (e.g., we can’t play there because it’s a private playground, but we can go to the park because it’s a public playground), but also what should be seen and what should be kept covered) when we talk about keeping our panties hidden, about why boys can go without a shirt, but girls need to wear one, and when we discuss why we go to the bathroom without an audience once we get sufficiently potty-trained (or why girls can go to the bathroom/bathe together and boys can, but not a mix of the two). I think it’s just a matter of taking advantage of those teachable moments and making it a normal part of your conversation. Then, when they’re older (I hope), they won’t be worried about coming to me with questions because it’s just normal to talk about.

  25. This is SO important. I am grateful to be able to pass it on. thank you so much for being authentic and loving Christ enough to share your own shortcomings in such a genuine way. It is our stories that connect us to one another because always we can identify with another there. I have reached with my own story and you have reached with yours. You are light :)!

  26. its interesting that you are using religion and god to help kids with these issues when it’s the repression of anything sexual by religion that causes many of these problems in the first place. why do you think kids cant go to their parents with this stuff? because their heads are filled with a religion telling them the things they feel are disgusting and a sin and not to be allowed to happen. you make the child feel shameful and dirty for thinking these things and wanting to know about these things. if we didnt have religion in the first place this wouldnt be an issue. free our kids from the mental tyranny of religion and you will be doing them a real favour.

    • Though we disagree on the need for “religion” – the Bible actually talks about sex in amazing, beautiful, unashamed ways. Sadly people have perverted it and attached shame to it (religious or not). But when we return to what scripture says, we can see that sex and sexuality are quite lovely things.

      • “But when we return to what scripture says, we can see that sex and sexuality are quite lovely things.”

        I’m curious as to which scriptures you’re referring to. Is there anything outside the Song of Solomon.

        • Proverbs, Genesis, Ephesians…it’s all over the place in subtle ways. I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students and have other questions. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

          • The Bible says this about the husband and wife relationship:

            Proverbs Chapter 5:
            17 Let them be only thine own, and not for strangers with thee.
            18 Let thy fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
            19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love.

        • I think if anything, God is one of the biggest advocates for sexuality. He’s the one who invented it. The most successful and risk-reducing types of marriages are the ones that follow God’s design. He issues commandments not to be a tyrant as you suggest. He issues them because they’re for our benefit.

          To suggest that removing “religion in the first place [so that] this wouldnt be an issue” displays a great level of misunderstanding in regards to religion and the overall problem. But perhaps you have found something I’ve missed, and if that is the case, I more than welcome you to reveal something in the Scriptures that belittle sexuality.

    • I completely agree with you. No one, NO ONE, is going to want to go to their parents admitting they are curious about subjects that frequently lead to “you’re going to Hell”. Religion puts sex is such a HORRIBLE light. Kids, especially teenagers, are going to have sexual thoughts and urges. If they believe Mom and Dad are going to be upset about their *thoughts* (whether or not actions followed those thoughts), they are going to find someone else to talk to. Either you need to open your mind LONG before they get to puberty and allow your children to feel comfortable asking you these kinds of questions or you need to cut off all forms of contact with the outside world.

      And there are still people who (married since they were the ripe old age of 18) can’t talk to their parents about sex and end up living, dealing with sexual abuse within their marriage, because their only way to find help getting out is to admit to letting themselves get ‘used’ in such a way. Specifying sex as ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ is probably the #1 thing driving people away from religion!

  27. So this article will be the subject of the first youth meeting this school year! I admit that I haven’t been able to make it through the whole article yet. It’s too much to absorb and too hard to think about. But I will make it through and I join you in starting conversation.

    Thank you for being brave in so many different ways. I am so sorry that someone you were supposed to be able to trust failed you. And I am proud of you (as proud as a stranger can be) for speaking up and speaking out.

  28. I read this and feel charged to do something to ensure I’m that Mom who is having those discussion with her kids but I also feel a major: “how” as a result. I mean, we’ve talked some about parts and monthly cycles and pregnancy, etc. but my oldest is in kindergarten and although I feel like we’ve used Biblical resources to even establish those discussions I feel like I want to be sure that all the things you talked about don’t happen with my babies but I don’t know how to do that. I mean, when do you have specific talks and how – at what age is what relevant and how often do you “check-in” to ensure that none of those things has happened. I want to think that we are open enough that they would tell me if something horrible like that happened and or that they would ask me before Google, but how do I ensure that is the case? I would love your practical advice/guidance on how best to establish that basis with our kids.

    • Hi, Lindsy -I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

  29. Wow. I feel like you’ve reached down into the annals of my mind and pulled out a few things to put them into words.
    I remember getting in trouble when I was six years old for trying to make my sister touch me ‘down there.’ I didn’t understand why, but even at that young age, my hormones told me I liked that feeling. My mind told me I shouldn’t like it. The confusion and confliction were rampant.
    I’m now 21 years old, and I’ve mostly managed to repress the thoughts of my own abuse, but I am frequently reminded of it by my own actions and emotions. My parents taught us to look things up and be able to learn things for ourselves, so when I started hearing about sexuality, I went straight to Google. And I haven’t stopped yet. For way too long, I’ve been bound by the chains of sexual addiction in all its forms. I’ve read countless self-help books, sought counsel, etc., but it’s a security blanket. For an abuse victim, it can be the only constant ‘friend’ in a world where we don’t understand our own emotions, let alone how to communicate them. This is definitely an awareness that needs to become more prevalent.

    My only concern has been stated by other commenters. Many of the things I heard and looked up, I heard at church. Yes, I had a pastor that was far too graphic, but please be very cautious (and I’m sure you are) for the sake of those few that are the exceptions.

    • I’m so sorry for what you have experienced and thank you for sharing it here. I’ll be posting some resources soon…If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week. I understand the chaos all that brings and I’m so sorry.

  30. Thank you so much for this post. I am the mother of 3 young boys (6, 5 and 3) and I pray often for wisdom as the time comes to discuss these matters. This article has opened my eyes to google searching with the kids. Although I don’t let them look at the initial images in the google image search ( I check to make sure they are appropriate to what we’re looking for) I’m not sure I want them comfortable with the idea of easy accessibility to the internet. I think I will go back to the old fashioned way of looking information up in books and not doing google searches with them. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  31. Thank you so much for your transparency & honesty. We have four girls that we want to protect & educate at the same time – we are excited to see God’s plan for each of their lives and hope to equip them with the knowledge necessary to understand what is good and what is true regarding sex.

  32. Anne,
    What a great post! Thank you for sharing your journey and for your transparency. I am the Director of Parent Ministries for pureHOPE and want to pass this along to all of the parents who come to our ministry for solutions in our sexualized culture. Covenant Eyes just posted an interview I did with them on “What to do when your Kid’s see porn” and this post is a wonderful addition to that. Here is the link for those interested

  33. Anne Marie,
    I am a 17 yr old Christian girl who fully loves the Lord and grew up in the church that accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 4. When I was 9 years old I started looking things up on google about sex and it just went from there like you said.. I watched porn until I was 15 years old and even started masturbating. I have confessed my sin and Lord has forgiven me but forgiving myself is a struggle.. And I still deal with the temptation to fall back into my old sinful nature with this area. I havent told anyone about this but I do wish parents and adults could know and understand that kids are interested and they know so much more than you think! The internet is a terrible trap and the devil finds his way. Parents, Please watch over your kids and talk to them! My mom never talked to me about these things and if she had I feel I wouldn’t have gotten myself into so much trouble. Sure, its awkward but they need to hear it from you and not the internet or friends! I hope that someday I can guard my children from falling into the same sin I did and spare them that hurt, pain, and utter shame.

    • Dear “struggling girl”, it’s really sad that you are wrestling with this by yourself. I can imagine how big the burden of shame and the fear of getting back into it must be, and how much pain that would cause you. I’m praying for you right now.

      Please try to find a wise and mature woman who you can trust to talk to. It might be a teacher, a friend of your family, a Christian counselor, a really solid college-age women in your church — somebody. Be sure you feel confident that she won’t reveal anything unless you ask her to. You deserve to have a safe place to deal with this. Eventually, with God’s help, you’ll find a way to be able to talk to your parents and get the help we all need when we fall into serious and addictive sin patterns. You are not alone. You don’t have to be alone.

      It’s a scandal that females who battle with porn have so few resources for help. People think that it’s always men, and they’re just wrong. There are a lot of girls fighting this battle, as anyone in college ministry will tell you. I’m praying that all you women will find one another and support will be there for you.

      And remember, the Enemy wants you to sin, but then he really wants you to be ashamed and hide. Give him a left hook to the jaw for me, okay?

      • Thank you for the website. I started out much the same – google, encyclopedia, dictionary and thank God that I am in a much better place than I was. If only….but I can’t take that back. All I can do is ask God to make the memories of what appealed so much before cause no reaction now. It’s been such a hard journey and I’m not brave enough to tell anyone besides my husband (who I told). But telling just ONE person can help so much. By God’s grace the last 7 years have been so freeing.

    • Dear, beautiful, precious, struggling girl,
      The place you’re at sounds very similar to me at your age. First, I want to reassure you that God HAS forgiven you, and will continue to forgive you forever. But, second, don’t ever use that as an excuse to fall back in. God loves you enough to want better for you than to succumb to anything that controls you like an addiction. Porn and masturbation addictions are symptoms of a heart issue. Actions are the result of thought life, and — from my experience, anyway — thought life is way harder than actions to control. That’s where the battle is. So, pinpoint what things tend to trigger those thoughts. Avoid them. When the thoughts come up, distract yourself — e.g., read the Bible or another book (that’s not a romance novel), listen to a favorite song (that’s not a love song), watch a funny video, chat with a friend, etc. (Having other people around is a great antidote to these struggles, btw.) I pray you’ll continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord, and be strengthened in your ability to resist anything that hinders that! Love in Christ,

  34. Hi! I’d like to know if I can translate it and put it in my blog, or our Pastor’s blog. I’m brazilian and we’re discovering things are not so different here than they’re there.
    God Bless You!

  35. At what age do you recommend asking your children what they know about sex? Is there such a thing as “too young?” I have 5 and 6 year old girls. I know they are getting to the age when curiosity is overwhelming and they are bound to hear the word “sex” or “having sex” and they’re going to wonder what it means. When do I open that dialog?

    • I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week!

  36. As I read this post, it reminds me of my own story. I too was molested as well as raped by a close family friend and it was such a struggle to work through it. Almost 15 years it took for me to tell a single person. But thank the Lord, he has taken me from the deepest and darkest point of my life and brought me to a place where I can not only share what has happened to me openly, but use my story to help those around me who have had the same things happen to them. The most important fact that was presented was that they were not the only ones to have suffered and there is strength in the Lord. “The joy of the LORD is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.

    Our Lord is our redeemer and healer if we let him be so in our lives :-). There is no greater power in the universe than his love for us!

  37. hey Ann

    thank you so much for sharing this – so powerful and so heart-breaking. i have spoken on a number of youth camps back home in South Africa [currently working at a non-profit in Oakland, CA] and was often the one who threw that grenade [in absolute love and fear and trembling cos of knowing what would likely come up] and was told on some occasions how bad it is to be bringing all that stuff up and all the damage it causes when as you rightly expressed, the damage caused if you don’t is so much worse… i have had a family member be sexually abused [by three different family ‘friends’] and so i ‘get’ a whole lot of this and it breaks me just reading about your experiences [both as victim and counselor] and knowing how real it is, how huge the statement of ‘not our child’ is and how blind parents can be and the need to have more exposure and opportunities for loving people like you to walk a journey or at least be the start of a journey walked…

    i have an ongoing series on my blog called Taboo Topics [topics rarely spoken of in church like infertility, losing a child, eating disorders, singleness and pornography/masturbation] and would love to be able to reblog this post on my blog or have you write a piece for us there with your permissions [this piece is completely powerful so would love to use it and link to your blog if i may?]

    thank you so so much and keep on
    this is huge
    love brett fish

  38. Thank you for your candor to illuminate a topic that is uncomfortable for most adults to discuss with children (let alone other adults). I do take some issue with one particular sentence in this piece, “I am beyond grateful that mature, *God-fearing* adults were available to answer those questions with grace and tact and maturity; that we were in a setting that was safe for questions and *confessions*.”As a Unitarian, I wonder something that may (or may not) have bearing as it relates to this topic – why do many Christians think they need to come from a “God-fearing” perspective in order to be wise? Why can’t a “God-loving” perspective be the driving force of healthier behavior for both individuals and society? Why are “confessions” necessary? We are all human suffering from humanity – being less than perfect. but it is our relational interactions with our imperfections that allow us to grow in humanity. Why can’t we “love” and “express” and “forgive” and “move-on” rather than “fear” and “confess”?

    • God-fearing; God-loving. One of the same. A respect for Him that goes beyond explanation. Wisdom can and does come from many places. Confession is not a negative term (simply means expressing or agreeing with truth). :) Peace…

  39. I can relate to this but in a different manner. Late in life the internet came along to demonstrate my own sexual paraphilia wasn’t imaginary, others had it too! A spanking fetish since age 9! Why a sense of sexual violation at the forced exposure and intimate violation of my body for ritualized punishment. As someone raised in a religious culture that strongly encourages child spanking did you ever feel sexually violated by it? I was too young to understand sexual arousal created by a mother ritually exposing me for punishment. My compulsion was not normal porn, but spanking porn, with me identifying with the child being spanked in drawings, stories, etc. It was sexual masochism, and it felt like being loved like nothing else! Thanks for sharing this story, but I hope my brief explanation proves to you that while 80 % of parents still spank, the practice is creating sexual abuse issues in many children that then in turn can secretly gratify themselves with religion sanctioning it so the sexual abuse cycle continues in the next generation. I broke the cycle because I felt this odd sexual feeling about spanking and didn’t spank my kids, but I wish I could get more people who understand sexual addiction and abuse to see it in spanking children, who are especially vulnerable when a parent exposed them intimately! Thanks for sharing!

      • Well I’d wonder what resource about the technique of spanking makes it appropriate? I’m guessing by your response you believe spanking is a valuable parenting tool with little or no harm? I’m guessing your religious beliefs have driven that choice? Here is some research, I’m not claiming all children are harmed but many have their sexuality harmed by this child punishment. I urge you to research this problem as it is a part of parenting culture that is harming our children, sexually and creating addictions in children. I’m sure you struggle believing this, but I challenge you to Google spanking. You will find it closely synonymous with sexuality! Also not only has psychology/social sciences discovered such harms, real medical research has proven brain alteration from the toxic trauma created by even a loving parent spanking their child. Here is the research, you might not believe you were harmed but you have been to some degree. Defending spanking because religion tells you it’s right shouldn’t be superior to science. Please consider the presented links to learn. Please don’t let religion be you only source of authority on this subject. Children’s sexuality can be ruined for a lifetime.

  40. Thank you for this article. As the father of two boys, 14 & 17, one of the ways that I have tried to combat the internet, so to speak, is to use two very useful tools. The first is OpenDNS ( which will filter a vast majority of what comes into all of your computers in your home. The second tool are the family of products from SpectorSoft ( With the SpectorSoft products, you can put tools on the computer which record everything that is happening and play it back later. They also have tools for use on certain cell phones as well. Both of my boys know that the tools are there because I made a point to tell them. I also explained to them why I was using these tools. Not to snoop on them, rather to help ensure that they are making the right decisions. The times that they did make bad decisions, and were thinking they were getting away with it, I was able to confront them about it, with the proof, and then we could talk about why the particular decision was not a wise one.

    These tools aren’t perfect but they do help parents have a fighting chance as actually seeing what your kids are doing on their phones and computers. I highly recommend them and recommend telling your kids what you are doing and why.

    • Great resources. I’ll explore them some! I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

  41. I was that girl who was from the perfect background and perfect life, but had secrets about what she did and what had happened to her. But I didn’t think girls struggled with “those sorts of things.” My eyes were opened when I was a student at Christian college and somehow it came out that one of the girls had struggled with masturbation. By the end of the night EVERY girl in the room confessed that they too had struggled. I was not the exception but the norm. I pray that I’ll provide a good environment for my children someday. Wonderful article. Thank you!

  42. We don’t equate any other health condition to some eternal religious struggle. It would really help if you wouldn’t perpetuate the concept that there’s “satan” somehow behind sexual predators and porn and such. It’s confusing enough for the unfortunate people who deal with it; staining the whole conversation with eternal damnation is a great way to simply ratchet up the stress.

    Please, help kids. Please, don’t confuse them with this relating to mythology. We don’t say heart attacks are the devil’s work, and we shouldn’t say that sexual health is any different.

    • I’m confused.
      You are saying that sexual predators are a “health condition”?
      No one is saying porn and stuff = eternal damnation.
      Isn’t it good to know your strawman concerns are unfounded?

    • While we are both entitled to our beliefs, mine is different than yours. There is no mythology to my God, my Christ. And in a way, yes, all of our brokenness – spiritual, physical, otherwise – were first brought into the world in the Garden of Eden through Satan.

  43. Hi,
    Thank you so much for talking about this issue. I would also like to recommend the book by Gavin DeBecker – The Gift of Fear. It teaches us to go with our “gut” instinct and helps us get out of uncomfortable situations.

  44. Thank you for your article, and for the truth. I recently ordered Sarah Sue learns to Yell and Tell, and am reading it to my just turned 3 daughter. I share this resource with you, in case it is helpful. It is very appropriate for her age…. maybe I should’ve read it to her sooner.

  45. Honestly, my heart is rejoicing right now knowing someone who was given the opportunity and means to spread the word intelligently about sex and our children AND the dangers of not talking about it… Seriously thank you so much, I truly feel a movement needs to happen in our churches and communities geared towards educating parents and listening and safely discussing these things with our children… Good job and keep up the good work! By the way I am a mom of 3 girls and a baby boy and I do talk to my children openly (with age and understanding in mind) and I think it is a very needed and beneficial subject to talk about, especially young girls!

  46. God gave you courage and the strength to do what you are doing now. God bless you. Isaiah 40:31 Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. That is my favorite scripture. I have dealt with porn in my life and thank God for deliverance. Please pray with me that God will give me the strength to handle what I’m going through with my step-son. He is 12 y/o, been molested by his mom.This boy is so messed up in his heart and mind. He was caught watching porn last week. He is now in counseling. He also has a lot of healing for God to do. I pray for God’s many blessings on you. Parents do need to read this message.

  47. Important post! I remember being an upperclassman in college 5 or 6 years ago when Campus Crusade invited Marian Jordan of “Redeemed Girl Ministries” to speak on campus. Afterwards, a few of the freshman CRU girls said things like, “I don’t know why they are having this woman speak to us, since we are not the people doing these things.” If only they knew all the girls sitting directly around them who had struggled with sexual issues in the past or were struggling with sexual sin at that very moment, many of whom had directly confided in me! I myself had just gotten out of my own embroilment in sexual sin, and I feared that comments like these girls were making would prevent their brothers and sisters in Christ from having a safe space to talk. This is so important to talk about with both teens and pre-teens and even among our adult communities. One verse that meant a lot to me in coming out of my struggle and that encouraged me to really TALK about it (put it “in the light”) was this one:

    “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 5-10

  48. Thank You for sharing
    I have a question: I have 8 and 10 yr old daughters and they have virtually no ability to get online at home (everything is password protected and they are not allowed to ‘play’ on the computer. In addition we use accountability software through Accountable to U.) but I was very troubled this summer that their summer school program (through a local church I respect) permitted the other children to bring their ipod touches, tablets etc. Is there a correct way for me to express my concerns as a parent, because let me tell you that really terrifies me.

    • As a parent you have every right to know exactly what it is that your children are doing in the camps and classes that they are going to. It is completely allowed/okay for you to confront the people that run that camp with the worries you have. Protecting your children from the evil that the devil tempts should always be your priority. Good Luck and stay strong.

    • I agree with others that you should voice your concerns, as they sound valid. It is so important to protect young ones! At the same time, in all likelihood, many of their friends will also bring these devices to school, social gatherings, sports practices, etc. without alerting the people in charge. Kids can be good at hiding things. So your kids may also benefit from having a toolkit of skills for how to handle such situations. This might come from talking to your kids about things they might see and choices they can make when they are with their friends in a variety of situations, perhaps even through role-play or something of that nature, depending on their ages.

  49. I like to teach parents NOT to have the “sex talk.” It shouldn’t be one talk. It should be a process of including abuse prevention safety, sexual education and family beliefs in your family communication structure on a regular basis in order to demystify and destimatize it–and our churches should lead the way by being a place of zero tolerance for abuse opportunities. I.E. No youth directors or other adults alone with kids, no empty, unlocked Sunday school wing doors, no inappropriate adult-child social networking, etc. Every adult should be prevention trained, every church with safety policies in place and strictly adhered to.
    To empower your church, organization, and community on preventing child sexual abuse, recognizing and reporting, contact a local Children’s Advocacy Center or go online to Darkness to Light at I’m a minister, and a community education director at a Children’s Advocacy Center who works with abused children and their families, and is a certified abuse prevention training facilitator. If you are not sure where to turn for help, message our center on our page at There is help!

    Thank you, Ms. Miller, for helping make these vital conversations more available to the public.

  50. Excellent article, I agree on everything you have said and sad to say I have heard a lot of the same stories. The hardest part for a lot of kids/pre-teens/teens/young adults isn’t tat their parents tell them its wrong but that their friends tell them its completely okay. Or that their doctor tells them its natural to explore their sexuality. Keep up the good work, God Bless you.

  51. Thank you for sharing. It’s hard to open our eyes to the evil that is in this world, but so important, in order for us to try our best to deal with it and allow God to heal us. I ache for children who experience these things. I am so glad that you are doing what you are doing. Thank you so so much.

  52. Alright, I’m gonna be completely honest. I saw this linked through a mom/pastor’s wife I know on facebook and laughed at the title, so I clicked the link to read it. You said “Ask them what they know. Ask them what they’ve done. Ask them what’s been done to them.” and seriously? No kid or teen in their right mind would answer those questions honestly. It’s really easy to lie and say that you don’t know much and that of course you haven’t done anything. Nothing someone of authority says to me is gonna get me to answer those honestly, and as I mentioned before it’s really easy and simple to say that you don’t know anything about it and that you stay away from that kind of thing. I’m not trying to be rude so sorry if I come across that way, but it’s kind of ignorant to expect your child to actually share their sexual experiences with you and honestly answer questions like that.

    • That may be true, but not for everyone. There are a few teens who have commented here and on my Facebook BEGGING for parents to ask; to be safe places. I’ve asked a few teens in my care before – as has my husband – and they are more than willing to open up because they know it’s safe.

      • Hm. I guess it’s not true for everyone, but as a teen myself (I’m 17) I’d definitely say it’s true of pretty much every other teenager I know. In my experience, it’s not often that you find someone wanting their parents to talk to them about possibly liking porn or something of that sort.

        • I don’t think it’s about liking porn, but by beginning the convos, trust is built and anything someone feels shame for or questions, the parents are usually safe places. I didn’t confess anything to my parents until later in life, but I do wish I would have now. Generally, parents have their children’s best interest in mind…even with the things that feel awkward. If not a parent, a trusted adult or counselor is a good place to begin.

          • I do teach a lot on sexual abuse, mostly to young adults and have experienced again and again that many have opened up to me because: Finally somebody talks about it! Like you I have heard some really horrendous stories and am glad that I have forgotten many of them again!

        • When I was a teenager, I also did not tell my parents about the things I was doing, even though they were very loving and supportive people. However, I do remember at the age of 14, talking to my Sunday school teacher about whether or not to have sex with my boyfriend at the time. She listened without judging, and in the end, I decided it was best for me to not to have sex at that time, based on my own thoughts and feelings about it. Just having her there and hearing her own journey helped me process. Similarly, throughout college, I met trusted adults who had gone through similar experiences as I had, and it really helped me to figure things out. I always pray for other youth to find such people, or if they do not have them already, to actively seek them out, as they really can make a difference.

    • I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

    • I’ll be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week…

  53. Thank you for your valuable article Anne-Marie. God bless you.

    The big question here is: WHY we cannot stop people from exposing us and our children to inappropriate scenes.
    Why we pay tax to a municipality to install billboards with sexually explicit contents?
    We are so concerned about ho many milligrams of CO2 our cars emit in each mile and we were successful in controlling our industry. Then why we are so incapable of controlling other harmful things threatening our society?
    Why we have set the 18-years of age for legal sex while our children become sexually mature at ages of 9-13 maximum and they have already had sex experiences a long while before that legal age?

    I personally believe that by reducing the age of marriage as advised in some beliefs and religions or at least letting children to have sex experience in controlled condition and with parents permission as they become curious about their sexual personality, they will not fall into sexual deviations or fake sexual gratifications such as pornography, homosexuality or masturbation.
    This I believe will keep the society safer and save children and nations a lot of energy to focus their curiosity on other important matters to improve the quality of life in the world we live in.

    • Salman,

      Interesting comment but it sounds like you are basing a person’s readiness for marriage or whether or not they want to have sex and that COMPLETELY misses the mark! Marriage is about SO MUCH more than sex and until young people have the maturity to handle the responsibilities and pressures of marriage they are in NO WAY ready to get married any younger!!! During a young person’s pre-teen and teenage years their hormones are going crazy and their just discovering who they are, what they want and all that comes with that; that is not the state of being one should be in to start a life with someone else (probably close to their own age and also in that state of mind and being). Once they are past that age and the hormones settle and they began to have a bit of maturity, then they can begin to think a little more clearly about an important step like marriage but anytime before that you are just asking for trouble and even more problems then we have now. In the past, 100 years ago and longer, I believe kids matured much quicker and had the skills and maturity to handle marriage at a younger age, but I believe our kids today have lost that and need a LOT more time to reach that point.

    • I don’t have anything on the books now. I’d love for a church or uni to bring me in. Sorry! Keep tuned to the schedule page or subscribe to blog updates as I post new events as they arrive.

  54. Can someone out there help me please! am caught in the situation of looking at pornography when am stressed, and missing sex because i work in war zones and i take long to go home and am born_again and a minister am stressed and so much confused i don’t know what to do i feel i can’t pray anymore,please if anyone can help me those are not my real names surely am feeling so guilty i have no closer friend to share with am feeling dying completely spiritually. I feel i want to leave the job and go home and rebuild my spiritual life but am fearing am gonna be street Rum-pens! Ifeel like i lost faith things are so bad with me please someone step in and help me i have just seen this website i have never been on it be4 anyone who can help me please you may use my email.I would be so much excited if anyone can

    • This is much more common on the mission field than you think. There are ministries out there that will listen and help you but won’t be shocked. One is Please get help! I believe that isolation is a very common tool used by our enemy.

    • l be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

    • Try, a ministry that has great resources and accountability for online addiction. For men, women, teens and even pastors. Our family uses their X3Watch tool that send our internet history to our accountability partners.

  55. I will share my experience as a parent and how I dealt with ‘sex’ with my children. I began talking with them at an early age in age appropriate language about anything even remotely sexual that they asked of me. And as they grew, I made sure they knew that I was available to discuss anything with them about sexual matters. I have had many, many talks with my sons and daughters and they have asked me some very explicit things and I was always honest with them. I always included how God looked at the situation. Well, with the Lord’s help, I raised four virgins who each chose to remain that way until marriage. My single daughter is 31 and still a virgin. I know they are probably exceptions, but it’s important to begin early to let your children know you will talk to them about anything and not judge them for any question. Unconditional love, honesty, reserving judgment are all key to helping your child deal with so many issues including sex. And I always assured my children that if they ‘messed up’, I would be there for them. I might be disappointed, but I would help them in anyway that I could.

    I thank you for your article. It is a sad thing that children are exposed to so much on the internet, tv, etc. I decided my course of action because my parents never spoke with me about sex which led to experimentation and I wanted to do everything I could to dissuade my children from going through the same heartache. I even told them of my problems when they were old enough to understand in hopes that they would understand from my pain how important it is to stay pure in mind and body.

  56. I was molested when I was 7 by someone I trusted, a relative. I’m 64. I told my father when I was in my 40’s. he related a story that my molester got upset when a little boy next door kissed his little girl. I exploded with a lot of anger. Dad asked why I never said anything. I said he told me what would happen, he knew that… I would get a beating for lying, he was right.
    My dad cried at that. They always promised that IF I embarrassed them by (fill on the blank) … You get the picture.

    I understand the motivation this person had. His father had porn magazines all over the house, even though kids would be there. He was a victim as much as I was.

  57. As a parent and formerly abused child/teen, some of which my parents still no nothing about, I think that you are doing a wonderful job. I have a 2.5 and 6 month olds and am very nervous about what is to come with the teen years. What you have said is a reminder to me not to let these types of things get brushed under the rug. I tend to be very open with my girls and want to keep it that way, because I know all to well how horrible it can be to keep that on young shoulders. Thank the good Lord I got through it with minimal scarring but it is something I would hate for my girls to ever experience no matter what age. So thank you for what you are doing and I pray the Lord will keep you and your husband so that you will be able to keep doing what you’re doing!

  58. I have an advice about mobil phones and internet. My sister is fostering children, plus has her own. They do have password protected wireless, so they have to give permission to use it and they only do when they are teens. The other thing is, they all have to deposite their mobils and ipods in a little shelf at night and cannot keep them in their rooms. Also no computer in the room but in a public place where everyone can see what they watch.

  59. Thank you for posting this.
    I am 28 years old. I because addicted to porn not much longer after you. In fact, probably a bit before you. Either way, I was around 11 when I first really got addicted. 17 years ago a kid that young getting addicted to porn was almost unheard of. Google was in it’s infancy and there was no Google Images. In fact, it was probably a good 3-4 years before I started using Google to help me find the porn.
    What made it worse for me was that is was gay porn. I was bullied and teased by other boys my age when I was younger. When I got online, the first year or so, I wouldn’t go to gay sites, but I would still look at men. As you said, there was comfort in it. I could imagine that these men who were confident enough about themselves to show off accepted me for who I was. Then it led to gay porn. This addiction continued for 16 years.
    All the while my home-life was much like yours. I was a Christian. I attended church. I even got the “Integrity” award 2 years in a row in my youth group. I still don’t feel like I deserved them, and that was more than 10 years ago.
    I’m glad you found a friend to help you. Someone who could sympathize. I never could. Once, my parents caught me, but they handled it all wrong and only made the situation worse.
    I continue to praise the Lord, however, that he never let me act on my homosexual feelings beyond looking at pictures and watching videos. When I married, I was still a virgin.

    It was DIFFICULT struggle to quit all by myself. But the Lord has given me victory!

    All that to say, I really appreciate this article. I do not yet have kids, but I have already been telling myself that when I do, I won’t be so naive as to think this can’t happen to them. I’m glad to see someone else who feels the same way.

  60. I think I am the exception but I will make sure. It’s hard to keep a check on them without exposing them or making them feel like you are accusing them. Thanks for the article.

  61. I’m young, only 27, so spent most of my teenage/adult life with Internet access… and can only say a hearty Amen to your article. My job is working from home and it’s all online, so I spent a lot of time on Google for my job, and half the time I run into inappropriate stuff without even trying. If you ARE trying, it’s easy as pie.

    I have two little boys who are 2.25 and 3.5, and I know that especially for boys, the draw of pornography is hard to avoid. It breaks my heart to think of their chubby little faces and think that one day I will have to explain any of this to them, or that they may be exposed to anything like this without wanting to, or that we will have to have incredibly difficult conversations about pornography if they have encountered it. But knowledge in this case is power (on my part, that is) and I so appreciate you laying the heaviness of this on my shoulders — I don’t want to forget it, and I would rather “know” the enemy, so to speak, so that I can stand in front of my boys by the grace of God and face it with them.

  62. Thank you for your article! You are right in alerting parents to this topic. My husband and I thought that our kids were the exception because we have been very careful with their exposure to TV, movies, internet, friends, etc. However, we recently discovered that our 13-year old son was texting with girls from around the world and getting very graphic pictures on his PHONE! We are the exact kind of family you describe…. I am a VBS leader, preschool churchtime teacher, my husband is a deacon and teaches our couples’ sunday school class. Our children have been very involved in church all their life, but it still happened to us. It can happen to ANYONE!

  63. What sucks so bad, is that this happened to me. I have sought help, and sought help, and I feel like nothing can make me better, ever. I was molested by 2 grown men on several different occasions when I was age 14-17. We went to church together. I have been addicted to porn (and other costly sexual addictions like sex phone lines) for years now, and haven’t found anything to help me. It is so depressing. My parents never knew, and only a few other individuals know. Hardest thing ever. Sexuality is forever distorted for me. I’d love to know if other resources are available.

    • I’m so sorry you went through what you did. :( l be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

  64. Helpful article, but I’m not convinced by your comment that “being the exception is as equally dangerous.” Is there only one kind of “exception,” or are there different types? Can you better define “exception,” and explore that in more detail?

  65. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We had a parents seminar at church last year warning us about this very topic. As the mother of a 9 year old girl, it definitely terrifies me. I struggle with knowing “when” is the best time to start talking to her. She still seems so little to me, but I don’t want to leave her unequipped with information that she needs or scared to turn to me or her Dad for honest answers.

  66. Thank you for taking the time to write this out. If my own experiences count for anything, I believe I know how difficult it was for you to write it. As a young, church-going girl, I also encountered this issue, but I never said a word. Then I became a mom. I thought I was doing a good job at preventing any wrong exposure in my kids’ lives. I never even prayed about this issue as far as they were concerned bc I was so sure it was an impossibility at their ages of 6 & 7. Then the day came when my oldest shared her angst with me about some details that had occurred IN MY OWN HOME with me very present. I believe she came to me bc of a Good Touch/Bad Touch age-appropriate educational seminar for students at her school. I had never before understood how some of the statistics that I’d always heard about could be possible, especially in “good” homes. Needless to say, I am beyond thankful that she came to us that awful day when I literally felt the rug had been pulled out from under me. This past year has been difficult as I have had to learn how to navigate the muddy waters that this issue creates, but I do believe God is good in all things. I have more to be thankful for than I can share here. I hope you find encouragement, strength and wisdom from God as you continue to share your heart. Thank you, again!

  67. Whoa! You nailed it right on the head. I was abused sexually as a small child by my father and it has been the biggest secret that I have ever kept from my family. I told my mother once in high school, but it was immediately dismissed and I was being “over dramatic and must have been dreaming this”. I mean, how could this have happened? Surely not my father. I never mentioned it again fearing rejection and disownment from the family, but I fear for my three younger sisters and what they could be living with as well. Though three of us are grown the youngest (age 7) is still in contact with our father for regular visitations. We are all half-sisters accept two of us and I have never discussed this with any of them. I’m so incredibly terrified of the repercussions of even bringing up such “allegations”. I am at a cross roads in my life, I have an almost 2 year old, and I have become more protective than ever when leaving him with anyone. That alone I am extremely particular about, but still can’t enjoy the time away from him without wondering about the possibility that something could happen to him and I will not be there to protect him. This tragic event weighs heavily on me and I’m scared. As hard as that is to admit, it’s a very real hangup for me and I feel like I can’t move on until it is resolved. I just can’t do it alone and I am so afraid.

    • Wow, Heather. Your story breaks my heart. I know for me it was not possible to escape so much of the fear and shame without seeing a counselor – specially a trauma counselor if you can find one. If you have a local church, ask around if anyone has any recommendations. It can be expensive but it is more than worth it. I am so sorry.

  68. I am 28. Have a porn addiction and struggle with sexual sin. It all started when I was a teenager and wanted answers but my parents weren’t approachable so I went to friends, which lead me to google. I am married with a son. I worry for his future with as much sexual stuff is out and accessible now a days, struggle to figure out how to get out of my current situation and heal. My husband doesn’t know about this addiction. Thank you for your post and your honesty. I pray one day that I can be where you are… on the flip side… rejoicing for the years of healing and helping others. For the first time, you have given me hope that this isn’t the future I am doomed to. Thank you!

  69. Excellent post!

    I wonder if it would help for there to be a website that explains sexuality in a morally sober (Christian) way, and gives guidance to parents on explaining such things.

    • l be posting a follow up to this with resources and info for parents and others who are engaging and serving our kids and students. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog updates so you can see when this is posted – hopefully early next week.

  70. Absolutely a Must-Read for every parent! This is so vital! So thankful, Anne Marie, that you are so brave to share your story (and one that is all too common with us women); THANK YOU for following God’s leading and impacting many lives with your powerful testimony!

  71. Thanks for posting this. One of my children came to me and confessed that they had went to Google Images looking for something innocent and found more than they bargained for. However, curiosity got the best of them and this led to looking at more images. The guilt was more than they could bare. I was shocked and disappointed but handled it pretty well because I was grateful that they came to me. When the internet was first made available, parents put internet filters and passwords on the computers to guard the children. Now we give them Ipods and Smartphones that have 24 hour internet access. Again, thanks so much for posting this. I hope it opens many parents eyes.

  72. Posts like this one make my heart hurt for our youth (and their parents). It’s like fighting a roaring blaze with a squirt gun. I am looking forward to a long weekend with my (almost) 10 yo where we have “the talk” and discuss how the enemy uses sexual sin to wedge us away from Christ. We are using Passport2purity from FamilyLife as our springboard for discussion and conversation. (And I highly recommend it). Too many parents stick their heads in the sand, leave it to the church (or school) to educate their kids, and just hope they turn out OK. Being an involved parent takes sacrifice, time, enormous patience, courage, wisdom and a lot of grace. May your ministry to kids (saved and seeking) be fruitful!

  73. Bravo Anne Marie! Thank you for being brave, bold and obedient. I have a nine year old son just starting 4th grade and I’ve been considering how to talk to him in more depth about these issues. I’ve already told him he can always ask me what a word means, or ask me any question. And we’ve had conversations about protecting his privacy and body. But it’s time to step things up a notch. Thanks for the encouragement and insight, we parents need the reminder!

  74. So glad to meet a fellow warrior against pornography. Because of our horrific experience with our young teenage sons and pornography, I have a calling to warn and equip parents about what porn leads to. Sexual abuse is almost always based on porn and it usually happens within the family. It is a terrible secret sin in our church. You go girl! Praise the Lord for your openness and your willingness to share your testimony. God is being glorified!!!!

  75. What an eye opener. How do I go about being so naive that these thing are happening out there and are children are exposed to all of this? It is scary out there! Thank you for sharing.

  76. Thank you for this post. I experienced sexual abuse as a child and also sought answers to my questions about sexuality, which created insecurities in me and caused me to be a very promiscuous teenage girl…until I began a relationship with Christ at the age of 16.My husband and I are on board with the idea of talking about sex with our children to prevent experimentation and unhealthy addictions. I think parents need to understand that their involvement and initiation in their children’s sexual education is crucial to their future sexual health.

  77. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your time with this article. As an ex-child protective worker, whom investigated many cases of child sexual and physical abuse, the one question I always ask: why did you not tell someone that you were being hurt. The majority of the answer i received was that I did want my mother/father to go to jail. Since the parent was not the abuser, I ask how and why would they go to jail. All the children stated that mom/dad told them that if anyone ever tries to hurt them or hurt them that they will take care of it. By taking care of it most children interpret that their parent would hurt. harm of kill the person that has hurt or harm them. Therefore they (children) feel as if they are protecting their love one. So parents when you have that talk, please reassure your children that you will make sure that you will protect your child but if something does happen, you will also make sure that the perpetrator gets the necessary help he/she may need with the help of law enforcement. Children give us 100% love and as parents and adults, we need to protect that love and innocence.

  78. I know 16 is young but it is my opinion that you weren’t abused when you were 16. You made the CHOICE to enter into that temptation. Bottom line is that you were old enough to know what was happening to you. Also, old enough to cry wolf. I hope you don’t put yourself into the same category as other ‘children’ who were sexually abused. That is, the ones who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

    • Jaron, that is extremely harsh and judgmental. You cannot know what is in a girl’s mind, and some older men, even when a girl is 16, know how to manipulate to force themselves on young girls. You also have no idea from the text of this story if he just did a grab and then she ran off, or what exactly happened. It is a mere mention in one sentence, and you are not a mind reader.

  79. Hey Ann Marie! Someone posted this on facebook and if the title of my blog says anything, I was very interested. I grew up with a similar story to yours, am married, with no children yet and have the same desire to see people really start to talk to their kids about sex and everything it entails. To not make their children feel ashamed for what they wonder about and stumble across. Thank you for writing this and I am so thankful that so many people have taken an interest in your blog! If you want check out my blog, but that really wasn’t the purpose in my writing here.

    I am so thankful and excited to see that people like you are speaking out and actually doing something about our sex-saturated culture we now live in. God Bless!

  80. Great stuff! Really powerful and very, very necessary. I took some of our junior high students out to a park recently with another leader, just for a fun time out, and one of the younger kids started talking about sexuality in a very, very comfortable, nonchalant way. It was incredibly disturbing and frustrating in that I realized you can’t just fix that situation, but instead it will take a long time to really speak and live truth into that student’s life.

    But it also got me thinking. Part of the problem is that we have multiple generations of older people who come from a stoic, work-ethic, don’t talk about, culture. And that’s been crippling the younger generations (up to people in the 40s and 50s) when it comes to dealing with the complexity and pervasive nature of how this broken world “teaches” sexuality to anyone who will listen.

    We, as Christians, need to pray with and for each other, get in the word together, and establish a family and faith community culture of confidence and care that raises up educated young people who are well adjusted and confident not in their understanding of the world, but in the process and attentive confidence that has been revealed to them concerning how to interact with a sinful and broken world.

    In short, parents, its on us. We need to be praying together, as a family and as a church. And we need to be in the Word together, as a family, and as a church. These are the building blocks of how to be in a relational, open, honest, loving day to day culture of freedom in Christ. We need to apologize and explain ourselves (although I still love ‘because I said so’).

    Don’t be afraid. Trust in the Lord and fight the world’s broken, sickly view of sex just as you would someone who tried to kill your child. Because that’s what the brokenness of the world does, it only creates death, whether in your heart, mind and soul, or in your body.

    As a parent, we’re in the big leagues, so let’s get smart, get to work and get to raising up our kids to be emotional healthy, very self-aware, God-fearing men and women.

    Yup. Sorry, definitely got a little carried away. Its just that big of a deal. I struggled with some of this stuff over the years and its such an unnecessary thing to have to deal with. My parents just didn’t understand how easy it was to be exposed to it. I don’t blame them. They did a wonderful job raising me. But I have scars I wish I didn’t have. :)

  81. My heart is breaking! I am a youth pastor and I am learning more about the realities that our teens live in than I can deal with. I am about to have a parent meeting tomorrow and Friday night talking with the parents about this very issue, and I am terrified at the response. Most parents just bury their heads. I am praying for grace to say this stuff, and hope for open hearts to DEAL with it.

  82. Thank you, dear Anne. Praying over you, as you share and reach these hurting ones. May God fan into flame a mighty wind of healing, because of your bravery. With Love, Holly

  83. I have two young children and fear any unwanted sexual acts upon them.Molestation and rape would probably be the worst.I pray for all the parents and young children that have and will encounter these horrendous acts.God protect us all and thank you for the article.Much appreciated!

  84. Christianity in general has done a poor job of creating a positive sexuality for believers. When that old pony show ‘purity’ is dragged out along with ‘promises’ and a long list prohibitions, it instantly loses credibility with the young learners. The sentiment of the article is full of truth and goodness, but the tone has shades of the old pony show. As adult believers, we must be honest and acknowledge that the approaches we have been using are failing us, and come up with better preparations for kids to ‘live in the world but not be of the world.’

  85. Please clarify… But maybe you’re right. Maybe your child is the exception. I would argue at this juncture in life, being the exception is as equally dangerous.

    Exception to what?
    Why would that be equally dangerous?

    • The exception meaning they have not been exposed to porn by their own volition. Not being informed and going into their schools, media, etc…without knowing certain things is dangerous as (if you read the comments) it often leads to much more than the child ever wanted to know and even the possibility of unhealthy and inappropriate internet use or acting out. Some parents believe their children are immune. Nobody is.

  86. As one who was caught up in the web of pornography as a youth and all the confusion and shame it brought, I thank you for sharing–for bearing your heart Anne Marie. This type of vulnerability and openness seems to be one of the best weapons against the enemy’s attacks. My heart is heavy as I hear you share of the testimonies of these children. Then I remember the hope we have in Christ. Praying with you for the healing of so many who have been abused and broken over sexuality. May God somehow, in His infinite love and wisdom, take what the enemy has intended for evil and bring healing.

  87. Dear Anna – Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have a son who will be 18 in two weeks and was diagnosed with Asperger’s shortly after his 17th birthday. I found out within the last 8-9 months that he has been struggling with a sexual addiction which he is now seeking help with. I am a recovering alcoholic so I can understand the challenges of shame, remorse, relapse, regret, and everything that goes along with an addiction. Someone posted your article on Facebook and I know God placed it there for me to read. You are absolutely right…my child is not the exception. He admits he was using pornography for the same reasons you implied, lonliness, depression, anxiety, etc. All the reasons I drank alcoholically.

    God bless you for stepping forward and sharing your story with all of us and especially with so many children who need to know they are not alone in the addiction. PLEASE keep up the work in sharing God’s message and your story!!!

    I will pray God continues to bless you on your journey of recovery.


  88. Thank you for writing this. As someone who was raised by wonderful parents, who loved Jesus and and their children, who communicated with us better than anyone else’s parents I knew (specifically about sex) and whose children all have acted out/are still acting out sexually, I am terrified of the raising of my two baby boys.

    Thank you for the warnings and really, the encouragement.
    I am sure this was really difficult to write. Thank you for opening yourself up to help others.

  89. I wish my parents had known this when I was younger. They assumed I was the exception and they were so wrong. Now I am a young adult and I do struggle with pornography and I feel like all of the struggles I have now could have been avoided if my parents had known this information. Thank you for sharing this.

  90. I have worked with youth for many years and in those years I have dealt with so many people that have grown in, through and out of twisted sexual expectations and experiences dealing directly with porn and abuse. however, nothing scares me more than having to go through this topic with my own daughters. I want to, so desperately, protect them from the things that I myself have experienced in my sexual upbringing. Even as I read this post I was getting cold sweats and bordering on tears because someday I will have to sit my girls down and open up the conversation about sex, porn and abuse. I can not thank you enough for the courage you have relayed to me through this simple and informative post.

  91. Thank you so much for posting this. As a woman I was always extremely ashamed and embarrassed of my addiction to pornography. I mean, only men are into those things, right? That’s how I grew up learning about it, that only men get addicted to these things and if a woman does, she’s the scum of the earth. It wasn’t until five years later that I was delivered from my addiction thanks to Jesus, and I still haven’t told a soul. There were things I did in high school sexually that I have never told anyone either because of my addiction, and this article makes me feel relieved and hopeful that more parents will be compassionate in approaching their children about this touchy subject. Thank you for speaking up and please continue to reach our younger generations. As a member myself, I can say that we need it.

  92. What all did you do, Anne, to deal with your struggles and leave them in the past? Talking to your friend sounds like it was the first step, but what did you do after that?

    • I’ll be posting more on this in the near future — if you want to subscribe to my blog via email there’s a little place up top to do it, or you can bookmark it – which ever is best for you.

  93. Hi Anne,
    I have a story very similar to yours. I became addicted to porn around age 6 or 7 when I stumbled on a magazine someone had left in the street. I started masturbating that early. I had a dad who physically abused me and when I was a 13, a youth pastor took interest in me and was my father figure for a long time, until he started sexually abusing me at 15. I didn’t have any idea about the “grooming” process until I was in a Christian counseling group for girls who had been sexually abused. I realize now how groomed I had been and how he had meticulously planned it all until I was so isolated from other kids and from my own parents that there was no one I could talk to. Not to mention, the guilt I carried was so strong that the last thing I wanted was for anyone to find out. When people questioned me, I went through great lengths to lie to them and make them believe nothing happened. The pornography was my coping mechanism, and it became my “drug of choice” during the years I was abused, but it always left devastating damage. I’m 27 now and I’ve been working on overcoming my addiction still to this day. It’s very overwhelming to think that porn has been apart of my life since I was 6 or 7. I am a wife and a mother, and it seems with every big change in my life (my marriage, my pregnancy, etc.), a new aspect of my past arises and I have to find a way to deal with it. I still have the most terrifying and sickening dreams a couple times a month. They are so bad that I’ve told my husband I prefer not to discuss them with him because I hate seeing what my dreams do to him. I’ve been contemplating the idea of telling my story to other girls in an attempt to help them. I wonder if helping someone else through these things and having a place where I can connect with others who are going through it too would be able to free me as well as free them. I’m curious about how you started opening up about this to others besides your husband and family? How did you get into speaking about it? What was that process like for you? Did you find healing as you started teaching classes on this topic? Thanks for any insight you can provide. I chose to remain anonymous for the time being, because I’m undecided about telling people outside of my private circle. However, I’d be more than happy to give you further information if needs be via email. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • I’ll definitely be sharing more about the process – I had no idea the response this would bring. If you’d like you can subscribe by email or RSS up at the top of my blog so you can see when those things post. So sorry for your experience. It’s not easy.

  94. Your honesty is so refreshing. I too struggled with pornography after being sexually abused as a child and promiscuous as a teen. I remember sharing that part of my story with my pastor for the first time after he gave a talk just to the young men in our church about pornography. He was shocked, even more so by the statistics I shared about the growing use of porn among women. He’s a father of 10 and was the young adults pastor at the time. So many parents are oblivious, and those that aren’t often don’t know where to begin. I pray God continues to use you to develop resources that help start the conversation and equip parents to help continue it.

  95. Thanks sooooo much for your transparency!!. A few months ago I felt “led” to share my battle and victory over pornography on my personal Facebook page and how I also struggled with pornography as a young boy. I received a lot of comments from men and woman affected by this issue and ended up helping some of them. Clearly this is a real issue many Christians have struggled with. Since then I’ve been planning to launch a Facebook page to offer support to other Christians struggling with the shame of this addiction. Now after reading your testimony I am convinced I should move ahead and finally launch my Page. You are a real encouragement, don’t stop, God is with you. My wife and I will keep you in our prayers.

  96. Paul and Jenny speed do a weekend conference called Whatever It Takes. there is a singles conference, a ladies only, a mens 5 days to freedom and a couples conference. Very powerful. My husband and I are both free from immoral faliure through some powerful wisdom this couple taught. Now we have the tools to help others through this addiction.
    Thank you for doing the hard thing and sharing and standing strong Anne.

  97. I definitely didn’t have an easy childhood, but one thing I’m thankful for is the frank conversations about sex that I had with my mother. It made it easy for me to go to her and talk to her when I was violated. It made it easy for me to make more responsible decisions when it came to sex as I got older. It also made it so I have never been uncomfortable talking to my own children about sex. They know they can come to me when they have questions, concerns or experiences they need to talk about (and they do!). I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

  98. Anne,

    Great post! I work for Fight the New Drug, a youth oriented organization that educates teens on the harmful effects of pornography. We go across the country presenting in high schools and middle schools. Most people would be shocked at the stories we hear on a regular basis. In fact, we have received hundreds of emails from teens who say they are addicted to pornography. Its amazing how many say they were never prepared for pornography exposure or that parents only told them “Don’t do it”. This doesn’t work with teens, they need to hear it from numerous angles and on numerous occasions.

    To help parents we’ve taken the research that we have gathered from working with teens in this field and created a parent guideline. The Guideline covers how to talk to your kids about pornography, how to prevent it, what to do if they’ve been exposed or are addicted, and what teens wish their parents knew (quotes straight from them). Check it out you can get it on our site We have received positive reviews from the hundreds of parents that are currently using it.

    Anyway, thank you for taking an active role in this fight. We spend so much time talking with our kids about violence and bad language, and spend so very little on sex. This needs to be a regular dialogue to prepare children for success, healthy, lives.


    Todd Blaquiere
    Fight the New Drug

  99. May God bless your mission to reach parents with this message. I talk with and teach parents and this is a message that they don’t want to hear, but it is do desperately needed.

    We must get our head out of the sand! So much of what is going wrong with our kids and culture is the fault of ignorant or uncaring parents.

    Bless you!

  100. Thank you for writing this! As parents of a 9, 8, and 5 year-old we’re getting ready to have that discussion before the school year begins. This is a great reminder to parents that our talks with our kids about sex need to include (and be over-emphasized) that we are safe places for our kids to ask questions, where they won’t be judged or get into trouble for asking.

  101. Thanks for your courage in telling your story and the truth in this article. I’m a recovering porn addict as well, with abuse and neglect in my past. This story and your story is mine. I’m a pastors kid as well. I wish my parents had these simple conversations with me. They didn’t and I have had a tough road battling addiction and toxic shame.

    However God is setting me free every day and now my heart now is to pass on freedom to my kids. I have a 6-4-2 yr old and another on the way. It’s scary to think about raising them with all of this looming out there. I, like you, in my recovery circles, have heard so many sad stories, that it feels normal to have a history of abuse in some way.

    Avoiding this topic often leads to secrets buried in shame. The good news is that simple conversations shed light and light kills darkness. We are children of the light who have been set free.

    Thanks for this encouraging article and for what you are doing.

  102. I’ve worked with pregnant and parenting teens for the last 10 years and I tell you, these are things those of us who “know” should be talking about!! I appreciate how fearless you are in sharing this, but it convicts me as well, because of how silent I’ve been about some of the things that happened to me in my past and what I’ve learned in ministry. Thank you!! :) (Mom of a 10 year old boy and 8 year old girl)

  103. Bless your heart Anne Marie..for what you went thru and for the burden God has put on you to make everyone aware of what’s happening.
    I was abused at age 9 by an in-law and then raped as a teen…I adhered to the mindset of “Welp, they’re gonna take it, might as well just give it” and that I did~ I knew better, grew up in church, understood right from wrong but wanted to avoid the “hurt & rejection”…
    By the grace of God, I got saved early 20’s…did that mean I didn’t make mistakes and always lived for him? No, I still “dabbled” in my sexual sins! When I started seeking God’s word and drawing nigh to him, understanding his love, his forgiveness, “a light switched” and my desires changed.
    I had my 1st child at 19 and being spoiled by the wonderful blessing of my daughter, her loving spirit, giving heart and obedient nature, I thought I’d never have to worry about these issues. Now, I have a 13 yo son (divorced from dad) who has 2 sets of rules. Dad believes “if it feels good do it”, gave son an iphone & ipod which makes it hard to keep internet out of our home! He struggles w/ his salvation, the different standards and beliefs and therefore he suffers from a TIC disorder. We talk OFTEN about protecting his eyes & his heart and choosing his friends wisely! Though he’s in a christian school he “meets” people “online”. Just today I happened to pick up his phone to find text messages w/ crude verbage,. I see that he’s “following” girls AND guys on Instagram who don’t mind showing their bodies. It’s so disheartening! He’s very receptive to the conversations I start whenever he & I get a rare “date night” but he doesn’t say much.
    Current husband & I have a 5 yo daughter that I fear will be very “sexual” because of the fact that she’s already discovered things that “feel good”. I pray a hedge of thorns about my children daily and ask God to bind satan from their lives. As hard as we try to protect them and keep them from knowing too much too soon…IT’S EVERYWHERE! Sorry, I didn’t mean to go on & ON but I know that God will bless your ministry, just keep honoring him in all you do Ps 37:4-5

  104. What a beautiful ministry God has given you! I believe that so many of our problems that are faced today in our society(drug abuse ect.) has the foundation of some type of abuse being sexual or physical. Coming from a family with high drug abuse rates that I know for a fact every single person was abused some way or another. Educating and equipping our youth with the knowledge of terms, signs, symptoms. Help to strengthen and protect them verses the old thought that they might know too much and then seek out more. They are gonna find out one way or another wouldn’t a parent want them to know the truth? Doesn’t Christ say….the truth shall set you free? Thank you!

  105. Thank you for this post. I am sure this was not an easy decision for you when you decided to speak and write about it. My children are so young it scares me to death to even think about the things they face in the future! I am so glad I came across this post. Now I can better prepare myself to teach them. I’m having a hard time reading all the negative and finger pointing comments because it hits close to home for me too. I hope people will realize everyone is different and everyone handles situations differently. Judging someone for what they did or didn’t do in an uncontrollable situation is selfish. Until you have walked in their shoes, you should never judge them. You are a real hero for what you are doing. Best of luck!

  106. Anne Marie,
    I applaud you for being transparent with your struggle. Many don’t realize that men aren’t the only ones that struggle with porn addiction. Thank you so much for posting the warning about sex and the internet. My 11 yr old daughter was molested by my father in law last year. He was also a licensed minister. (he has since lost his license due to his conviction) Had she not have told us almost immediately afterwards we never would’ve known or it would’ve been too late to do anything legally. In turn, her tell us what happened & us taking action our 2nd daughter finally opened up to her own sexual assault that was done to her 2 yrs prior by a friend’s teenage son.

    Both daughters are in counseling and are doing well. My 11 yr old, now speaks at fundraising events for Voice Today, a non profit organization/ministry. (
    This video was taken Sat Aug 18 at the Voice Today’s 1st Annual Legacy Ball.

    She feels that God has called her to speak out against #childsexualabuse in hopes that other children will speak up and finding healing.

    Thank you again bringing an awareness to this silent epidemic. Many people suffer in silence thinking they are the only one.

  107. Thank you so much for sharing that. I have 2 girls 17 & 11 and I have always talked to them & tried to make it comfortable for them to ask me whatever they needed to know. This was very eye opening & once again thank you so much.

  108. Fascinating post. Many good points — especially about how ignorant (perhaps willfully so) parents are about what’s going on in their kids’ lives.

    However, I have to make a confession. Everything I know about sexuality today comes from the internet. My parents never talked to me about it, and I spent years in turmoil and depression and shame because I became quite fond of masturbation. I realize now, though, that everything that has happened to me has had one beneficial purpose or another, and I today I can honestly say I am not ashamed to be who I am.

    Aside from that, my education has liberated me from some of the restrictive conservative chains that I and my parents imposed on myself as an adolescent. I felt sexually repressed because even thinking about sex I felt was sinful. Fortunately, I am coming out of that depression now more and more and learning to let go of some things.

    I masturbate still sometimes, as I do not consider it a sin. I do not think pornography is good or beneficial to people, as it is known to sabotage relationships and be a “cheap” sexual release. At the same time, I wouldn’t know anything about sex today if it weren’t for it.

    So, I guess parents just need to open up and let their kids open up. Perhaps judgments should be reserved for later and openness to hear what’s going on in people’s (especially kids’) minds should be the norm.

  109. Anne Marie,

    Thanks for writing this… This is hard information to swallow as a parent. It’s easy to want to “deny” and move on. But this is the world we’re working with. We need to arm our children to be out in the thick of it.

    Thanks again… and keep your chin up. There are a lot of naysayers out there. But you’re saying words that need to be said.

  110. If you or your spouse were abused, and you have not broken the bondage of secrecy, the chances of your child being sexually abused are pretty much a guarantee. If you need help finding your Voice look at groups like Voice Today, Inc. Look at Swindoll’s ministry. Reach out to a friend. Don’t let CSA stay in the dark. There is freedom in telling the truth!

    “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” John 3:19-21

  111. Dear Anne,

    Thanks for the post! I’m parent of 2 kids. It’s really important to teach them how to use internet appropriately and free from pornography and strangers (who can be dangerous). Talking to kids and setting up the environment that they can freely speak out their minds are not easy. It’s a real challenge and life-long learning to every parent. God enlightened me through your message and testimony. May God bless your family too.

  112. Hello,
    I have had some talks with my kids but my question to you is, what if telling them these words and their definitions pre-emptively opens up the ideas for them? Imagining telling my kids what molest, porn, or fetish etc means seems like waaay more than necessary. They are 12yo girl, 10yo boy, 7yo girl, 5yo boy. We homeschool and they don’t have phones or computer time, they use netflix. Only my 12yo knows what sex is. Do you suggest asking them if they’ve heard the words and then letting it go, or what? I’m asking because it seemed like you were giving thoughtful responses to the comments. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and I praise God for the work he’s done in your life and through your ministry.

    • Tracy, I know I’m not Anne, and I’m only a college student, but I thought I’d give my 2 cents. I think some words, like fetish or trafficking, don’t need to be explained unless your kids ask, as they will (hopefully) never encounter those concepts until they’re adults. However, they need to know what some things mean, whether they encounter them first-hand or not, if they’re going to operate as knowledgeable people out in the world, as they get into their teens. (E.g. I had never met a gay person at age 9, but I learned roughly what gay meant, because they were talking about it in the presidential debates.) I think you should make sure they know that they won’t get in trouble for wondering or asking anything. The important thing is NOT how much they know, it’s your attitude toward what they know. Knowledge doesn’t corrupt a person, so please don’t withhold information from them, thinking you’re keeping them pure. It doesn’t work that way. We have a sin nature that operates from day 1, regardless of how much knowledge we have. So the better thing is to let them have all the information they might possibly need or want, only keep it in a Biblical context.
      That’s only my opinion from my experience of being sheltered as a child.

    • Tracy, I just wanted to share with you something from our story. We also homeschool, and use the computer in an open area. But, I was shocked to my core this year to find out that my son had happened across porn at the age of 9 and has been looking at it off and on since then. (He’s 12 now.) Through God’s grace, he has broken this addiction, and we are moving on. I still really don’t know how we didn’t see it. So, please do know that it can happen in a blink of an eye….

  113. Anne Marie

    I’ll keep this as brief as possible. I love your last name, I feel like you’re a “sister” :) Spiritually speaking, you absolutely are a sister. I’m 31 years old. Sex was a big bad topic growing up. Raised in an environment that seemed to lack not only protection, but also vulnerability, I went through two experiences (although I was raised in a Christian home and in church my whole life) . One experience was with an older school friend (this was buried deep inside and I hid it for years as I tried to block the memory because of the waves of shame and fear of exposure to my parents). The second was in my late teens by a “youth pastor/missionary”. There were 13 other teen boys involved which I was not aware of at the time.

    After the truth came out many years later of this youth pastor’s actions, I was “forced” to be open about events with my parents. My parents told me “We kind of thought something was going on with you and “youth pastor”, but we had mixed feelings about it and so we kept our distance” They thought by keeping their distance they were not prying and allowing me to have my freedom. To this day, I don’t understand why my parents (with suspicions) about my relationship with this youth pastor wouldn’t act and start asking questions.

    These are my main points : As a teen (well beyond the age of accountability and in younger years having already had a sexual encounter), I completely blamed myself. Even to the point where I refused to “expose” this youth pastor because I chose my actions. I feel like in some ways, I have been not only blaming myself, but also bearing the responsibility for his actions as well as mine.

    I read your article, and several of the posted comments…

    I have been though several “inner healing” ministries and thought I had dealt with all residual issues from these experiences. I want you to know that after reading your story and others comments, I burst into tears. I’m not totally sure why (yet), but I feel like through what I have seen today perhaps something in me was set free and healed. It’s such a liberating feeling to know one is not alone. And it seems that a primary strategy of darkness is to isolate and make kids (people) feel and believe they are completely left alone to fight through something they were never equipped to fight through on their own. I remember forgiving my parents years ago and feeling anger toward them for “making me go through” deep issues of my identity on my own even though I know that wasn’t their intent as parents. It is my observation that these sexual battles are attacks on identity and seek to build walls between relationships through isolation and fear.

    The real reason I’m writing today is simply to tell you, that reading this today broke something free in me…something in me was released as I cried.

    Thank you. I speak blessing and increase over your marriage and your future family to come. Your future children have an equipped mom :) Godspeed in your mission to liberate this generation.

  114. Thank you!
    My sons are 5 and 2.

    Though sex hasn’t come into conversation yet, we talk openly about their bodies, and mine. About what each part was created for. About boundaries. Touch yourself in the bathroom or your bedroom, it isn’t something to do in front of others, and wash your hands when done because of urine that can be present which = germs.

    We talk about not allowing other people to touch them except in certain situations…like when I change 2yo diaper, I talk about how I’m cleaning his bottom and I name his parts accurately and explain why I’m touching them with the wipe/diaper cream. I tell my older son only a doctor touches him if mommy or daddy are with him. Daddy or I only touch his privates if he needs help cleaning, or if he is hurt and needs help putting on medicine etc.

    I’m currently pregnant, they have both seen birth videos, they know that I have a baby growing in my uterus, they have seen drawings of the reproductive system and they know how all that works.

    Though they don’t know the mechanics of sex, they have asked how they baby got in. I said simply that daddy has special seed, and mommy has a special egg, daddy puts his seed into mommy and the seed and egg meet and make a baby. That has completely satisfied my son, and he hasn’t asked more. But when he does I will answer him.

    I have no problem talking about any of this with my boys, and they have shown no hesitance about asking questions. I hope that communication will always be this open, honest, and free with my boys.

  115. Yes, they are all vulnerable. All of them. Assume it has happened or is happening. Sounds pessimistic, but what I have learned is that it is reality. We started with God’s Design for Sex – a series of 4 beautifully written books aimed to begin around 2-3 yrs old. We have always been very open in talking about sexual issues when warranted. We also taught that they would never get in trouble for asking a question or for telling the truth, even if it is scary. And let me tell you….the day my 2nd grader came home asking about oral sex because of a picture drawn on the slide at school, wow, just wow. She was scared to ask but I reminded her that it is ok to ask questions and she won’t be in trouble no matter what. We have always fostered an open relationship with our children. And then it happened. That dreadful day when my young teenager and I were hanging out together and he chose to share the story of the sexual abuse that has happened to him (for 2 years) and the deep pornography addiction as a result. My world stopped. We had done it all right. We are in full time ministry. We are open and share with our kids. And then I discovered that it all happened in my home, while I was home. Guilt. Self-hatred. Shame. I failed my son. God gave me the amazing ability to handle this with grace, grace that could only come from God. It has been a long year of helping a teen overcome a porn addiction and the realities that come with sexual abuse. Safe Eyes (internet security software) and Pandora’s Hope (internet security hardware) have become our friends. We openly talk about things. He has asked me on multiple occasions to block sites that are tempting to him. He does not enjoy talking about it (and neither do I, trust me!!), but he does not want this issue in his life, so he comes to us, his parents, for accountability. We have fostered this open relationship and are so incredibly thankful that he felt safe in coming to us. Talk to your kids. Ask questions. Remind them that you are the safety net God created for them. When he told us, he thought he would be in trouble, grounded. Nope, he wasn’t. We kept our part of that long time bargain. He went back inside, the world lifted off of his shoulders and turned on his video game. He was on the road to recovery. And he was shocked that he wasn’t in trouble. He expected that what had happened was so bad that punishment was the only answer. He was ready to accept whatever punishment we had…..he just wanted help….help out of his addiction. It’s real. It’s unfortunate, but it is very real. If you have children 7 years old or older and do not have internet security, please stop now and research it and buy it. It is an investment into your child’s future. Do it. I wish I had. And trust me, I had been looking at the history on the computer for a year. He knew how to delete things deep in the computer….cookies, TIF, history, etc. Get the internet security. I wish I could go back to where some of you are now. Don’t make my mistake. It may not have changed it all, but it would have made it more difficult. (And kids can get porn on the Nintendo DS too.) Talk to them! Build that open relationship now. And true healing come from Christ!

    • Thanks for sharing that story; it’s a wonderful one because of the way you, as a parent, handled it. Idk if you realize it, but for a child to put that kind of trust in a parent, to feel at all able to share a personal struggle like that, is AMAZING. God bless you & your family.

  116. This is a mad important post. Parents need to realize their kids’ world is much more information-rich than theirs was.
    I have a question: my mom & I recently had a couple of conversations about the fact that she never explained sex, mensturation, etc. to me, and it was (and is) always very awkward when one of us tried to talk about anything of a personal nature. She insists that I’m to “blame” for that problem (although she doesn’t see it as a problem). As a child, I was very private and shy. She says she chose to not talk about private things because it seemed to make me uncomfortable & embarrassed.
    I think that’s ridiculous, because whether certain topics embarrass a person depends on how that person was raised. I think I was shy and awkward, when those topics came up, because I sensed that my mom was uncomfortable with them. I blame her for the fact that I was easily embarrassed, in the first place.
    Who’s right? Is whether or not you’re comfortable talking about something a product of how you’re raised, or of your nature? Also, how do I get rid of the resentment toward my mom for not telling me very basic facts I wish I had known earlier?

    • Samantha,
      I know I’m not Anne-Marie, but I am a mother and have some really strong feelings in response to part of your question.
      As a parent, the boundaries and tone of your conversations with your children are your responsibility. Obviously, it is important to consider your child’s temperament, but the things that are said and how they are said, are up to the adult. I am watching my young niece go through a really tough family situation and her mother insists that whenever she asks her daughter how she is doing, if she wants to talk, all she says is “fine” (although she is acting out and is obviously not fine). In my unprofessional opinion, she needs to move past her fear of stepping on her preadolescent daughters toes and learn how to create an environment that encourages her daughter to talk to her.

  117. Thank you for this article, Anne Marie.
    So so important! Churches and parents are so often afraid to tackle these issues.
    Just a small suggestion: It would really help to have a darker font. This is very difficult to read.especially for someone who is dyslexic.

  118. Oh, Anne-Marie, i am so sorry to hear that you had to go through that! It is so true that God can use even our bad stuff for His glory. Bless you for sharing your story.

    And, you are so right about thinking our kids are the exception. My 12yr son came to me this past year, and I found out that he had seen things on the internet at 9 that he has not been able to get out of his head.

    And, we have the computer in a central location – and they are not allowed to go on it without us being home, etc… And, yet still, it snuck into our home.

    He is doing much better after confessing and having us reassure him, etc… We have been amazed at how much his behavior had been being impacted for the last 2 years over this guilt. Now, he knows that God has forgiven him – we have forgiven him, and he has forgiven himself. And, he is back to being a lighthearted 12yo. I’m so thankful that I serve a God of grace!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  119. Thank you so much for such an important post. Sexual abuse prevention education (body safety) is key from as young as 3. A great children’s book to broach this subject in a very non-threatening way is Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept. The website also has lots of helpful hints for parents and educators.
    Thank you once again for sharing your story and for the support it provides to survivors .

  120. Over a decade ago, out of my own testimony and experience, I was led to develop a ministry in our church to disciple men in walking free from habitual sexual sin. The ministry is “Battle Plan Ministry,” which you can find by putting that name in Google. We also have a ministry to help wives deal with the marital brokenness experienced when a spouse is uncovered dealing with the infidelity of sexual sin.
    I thank you, Anne Marie Miller, for your important piece, written for parents (and maybe grandparents) of the kids who so often become collateral damage in these battle fronts of spiritual warfare where the enemy has such a stronghold in our culture to damage the lives of kids, parents, and families.
    Thank you for your powerful writing, Anne. … <

  121. This article was spot on! I don’t think people understand how easily children can be exposed to these things. As I am 16 and in High School, I can testify to this. High School is one of the worst places to be if you are trying to steer clear of sex. Everywhere you turn it is sex, sex, sex. Some of my very close friends have told me they want to be “sex therapist”, who have sex with their clients to make them feel better. I’ve walked into school bathrooms and there are couples having sex. Not to mention what happens at the dances. My generation is very sexually provocative. A few years back, I struggled with some of the things you talk about–sexual molestation, pornography. People would rather judge me than help me sometimes.

    I agree that we need more awareness so we can end this. So I appreciate your vulnerability to be honest, blunt and speak your mind on a topic that people don’t take haste to talk about.

  122. Thank you so much for posting this! Thank you for being a safe place for young people. I have a testimony similar to yours. I am gloriously grateful for the freedom God has given me, and I just recently shared this on my blog (reluctantly). Your sharing this helps me open up and realize how many people need to hear it.

    This isn’t the main thrust of my comment, but I saw something that I wanted to mention. You were talking about a woman who sells her body, but mentioned that she isn’t from some “drug infested ghetto,” but a suburb. Can I ask you what difference it makes? People are people, and in either setting, this is equally tragic.

    • Being from a ghetto or suburb doesn’t make a difference for the person it’s happening to. It makes a difference to those of us looking at our middle to upper class suburban kids and thinking, “It doesn’t happen here,” or “That won’t be us.” The expectation is different and I think Anne Marie is trying to point out that no matter where we are or how well protected we think we are, all kids are at risk when it comes to sexual abuse and over exposure through the environment.

  123. Anne Marie,

    Congratulations on speaking out. May your obedience to do so, even in the face of criticism and verbal abuse by your readers, be rewarded with eternal gain. It’s obvious that your heart is in the right place, to obey Christ’s calling, even when it is hard and protecting children and families for the Kingdom. Thanks for standing up for what’s right!

  124. Anne Marie, I commend you for your honesty, integrity and your selfless commitment to helping and protecting children and young adults today by turning your unfortunate experiences into a powerful and positive ministry. It takes guts to share what you have, to step into that zone of education daily, and to filter and manage public opinion that will not always be kind, respectful or even courteous. All glory goes to God, and I honour you for allowing Him to turn something bad into the greater good.

    There is not a judgmental tone anywhere in your write up. In fact, I pick up a powerful blend of compassion, dedication and unapologetic, faith fuelled facts. Stay on this track, it’s clear, concise and not at all confusing.

    Today’s technology poses different problems to parents, and I for one am grateful to individuals like you who are courageous and committed enough to providing families with tools and information that can change lives.

    Bless you, I encourage you to forge ahead as God leads you!

  125. Hello Anne Marie
    I have some questions:
    1) You mentioned you were ‘addicted to pornography” when you were a teenager. Can you clarify how you frame this kind of addiction? When is one addicted and when is one not?

    2) You list (and I’ll paste the ones I’d like you to clarify) some points, where your main claim is, that these students were afraid to tell their parents:
    – They’ve seen pornography.
    – They’ve read pornography.
    – They’ve watched pornography.
    – They question their sexuality.
    – They’ve masturbated.
    – They know exactly where and in what movies sex scenes are shown (…)
    – They’ve had a homosexual experience.

    I question your basis on why you as a parent think you ought to know about this. Why should you know about your child masturbating, what fantasies are involved herein (whether read, watched or maybe just thought up) and if its a sexual fantasy/experience about/with the same sex. You seem to write the bulletpoints with an incentive stating that such things should be shared between child and parent. I would like you to clarify why that is.

    3) I don’t think you cover this in your article, but forgive me if I’m wrong, but how is your relationship with porn today, now that you are an adult woman? I would argue that your article dichotomizes between child- and adulthood, where the latter surely is needed by the former in order to be able to grasp and understand what sexuality is all about (and thus pornography). Now that you yourself is of an adult, analytical and critical mindset, have you come to understand and enjoy porn for the sexual arousal it is (and was intended to be)?

    Best regards

    • G’day Lasse,

      Maybe I can help you understand where Anne is coming from. I too have been a sex addict for 20 years+ since I first viewed porn at 15.

      I have been attending a 12 step program like Alcoholics Anonymous which is specifically for sex addicts. I will quote from our book on what is a sexaholic.

      “The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like that of the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and must stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop.

      Thus, for the sexaholic, any form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive. We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and true sobriety includes progressive victory over lust. These conclusions were forced upon us in the crucible of our experiences and recovery; we have no other options. But we have found that acceptance of these facts is the key to a happy and joyous freedom we could otherwise never know.

      This will and should discourage many inquirers who admit to sexual obsession or compulsion but who simply want to control and enjoy it, much like the alcoholic would like to control and enjoy drinking. Until we were driven to the point of despair, until we really wanted to stop but could not, we did not give ourselves to this program of recovery. This program is for those who know they have no other option but to stop, and their own enlightened self-interest must tell them this.”

      For me, lust is an addiction which I cannot stop on my own. I need the help and support of other recovering addicts in order to see where my thinking has gone wrong or even that my thinking is wrong at all (it doesn’t seem wrong to me much of the time). It can be a really minute change in thinking that takes me down the wrong road.

      When all is said and done, my lust addiction is only my coping mechanism, it is not the source. My source is most commonly unresolved resentments against other people, real or imagined, which for one reason or another I have been unable to communicate.

      I cannot discover all this on my own. I need to identify with other people’s stories and have those “Ah Hah!” moments. I came to this stage by being locked up in my own head and not feeling I am able to communicate this with anyone, because it is too bad and no one will accept me as I am. I am a master of lies and deceit and only a program of rigorous honesty can overcome this.

      Our program is firstly and fore-mostly a program of spiritual recovery. Many church goers can go to church their whole life and not be spiritually connected with God. That is not an option for us. Without surrendering everything to God, our whole selves and be committed to honesty at all costs we will never find recovery.

      Pornography is not real in the sense that movies are not real. The actors and actresses behind these porn movies, more often then not, come from abusive situations, are sex addicts, drug addicts, alcoholics and are even abused on set.

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids learning about sex from pornography. Pornography shows two naked bodies copulating (objects of desire and lust only). It cannot possibly show an intimate, spiritual, emotional and loving embrace of a couple who have committed their whole lives together; a sexual embrace that is designed to bond one to another spiritually as well as physically.

      May God enlighten the eyes of your mind and heart and bring you to a greater understanding of who He created you to be. God Bless you.

  126. Thank you for this. For some dumb reason, It hadn’t even occurred to me to realize that our children (mine are 5 and 6) will soon realize that ‘If you don’t know something, you go to Google.’ I’d never made the connection that when they are like 9 and off-hand hear something random at school from some other kid, and look it up, they might, completely innocently, find a whole new world that they just aren’t supposed to be processing at 9 years old.

    Truly requires not mailing it in and simply getting kids to practices, schools, church, and meals. It requires deep love, firm limits, creating joyful and fun moments that really breed ease of closeness. It takes hard work. Being a parent, as fulfilling as it is, isn’t about my fulfillment. It’s a blessed and extremely serious stewardship.

    Thank you!

  127. Those willing to justify their own perverted sexual lusts and missguilded appetite are those who turn a blind eye to the pain and sufferng caused by sexual sins. Just as there is nothing healthy about a 500lb fat man, there is nothing health about masterbation and homosexualtity. Telling a obese 19 woman that she was “born that way” does nothing to help her, that line only serves to justify your own lust for gluttony. Those willing to justify their own sins are not those who have savlation and will never have peace and joy. Only pure simple faith can satisfy God’s judgment and bring healing to a hurting soul. Thank you Anne Marie Miller for your openess about the guilt and hoplessness that sexual sins can bring even when it started out as no fault of their own. Much love and respect to you and your ministry!!

  128. As a 15 year old girl, I can’t thank you enough.
    Most people assume that pornography is something only guys face, but I have been struggling with pornography and erotic fiction for 3 years now. I was introduced to the world of sex when I was 8, and have been frustrated ever since. It started off with masturbation every day, but eventually that wasn’t enough, and I experimented with my best friend (girl) one night last year. After that, my addiction rose to a whole new level.
    I made a conscious decision last night, actually, that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I spent a long time praying that He would show me a way to end this once and for all, and finally begin to recover. Today I saw your post, and you have given me so much hope.
    You are absolutely correct; every single one of my friends (all of whom have been raised in the church) have been introduced to sex early, and a good number of them have been battling pornography as I have. This really can’t continue any longer. I beg of you, parents, be vigilante with your children. As Christians, we can’t stand on the sidelines and let Satan and the rest of the world win. Don’t let them suffer as I have.

    • Sarah, I am not Anne Marie, and I don’t know you, but I happened to see your comment and I am praying for you right now as if you were my own daughter. It is not a coincidence that you are in this place right now and you saw Anne Marie’s post, and I am praying for God to completely free you from what has been holding you captive. He has such a bigger plan for your sexuality, and the fact that you recognize that Satan is behind this and are making a conscious decision is awesome. None of us can do this on our own, but God will be your strength, and He will redeem what has been broken. Much love in Christ to you.

    • Hi Sarah,

      It is great that Anne Marie has created an environment where you can feel free to express your struggle. You are certainly not alone among women who struggle with pornography. My ex-girlfriend had and used porn before I met her which I thought was strange until I learned of her abuse as a child and that connected the dots for me.

      I will pray that God will help you recover from your porn addiction and hopefully that will be enough to stop. If you find that you are unable to stop seek a good christian counselor and/or find a 12 step program for sexaholics. There are other recovering women in the program (not as many as males of course) but enough that you would find one who could help you.

      I have been a porn and sex addict for over 20 years and tried to stop many thousands of times. The best relief I have found is by working this program with other recovering sexaholics. They know all the struggles and pitfalls we can and do fall in and they can help change your thought patterns in minute and subtle ways that will put you on a completely new course to recovery.

      I pray that You find recovery and having found recovery that you will have the courage and strength to pass this on to other teen girls and women who struggle with this issue also.

      God Bless You.

  129. Anne Marie,
    Thank you for your heart-felt and passionate plea to us as parents. As I read through the comments (I stopped out of frustration) I’m dumb-founded at best at how adults and parents can misread and misconstrue some of what you said… and more. I’m sure that in your life-calling you are used to encountering criticism, but let me encourage you to not give up the fight for our children’s sake, and for the sake of us who truly want the best and godliest advice for how to raise our children. We have large family and so far they are young. However, we use the computer a lot for their school, trying to be constantly aware of what they are doing and using filters as we can. But, your article is a reminder that we can never become complacent or ever be doing enough to ensure their safety. We want to educate them as to the sexual “world” as they are ready to handle it, and we are doing our best to be as “wise as doves” until that time. Your calling must come with extreme emotional challenges for you, and I pray that God continues to give you the strength to be used by Him. Don’t be afraid to speak to us as parents though you aren’t one. While parental experience is a wonderful thing, sometimes it’s those truly closest to the issue that can be the best educators. My husband and I respect what you’re trying to do. Thank you.

  130. Thanks for the great article! Its challenging and encouraging. There’s a wonderful book called Unseduced and Unshaken by Rosalie De Rosset that goes along side this topic and would be a great resource for anyone!! I’d highly recommend it! Thank again!

  131. hi Anne
    sorry me again – just don’t know how better to reach you – would it be possible for me to reblog this in my Taboo Topics section on my blog [] with a link back to your page? i think it is so important that more and more people get to read this… and hopefully ‘get’ it…
    Brett []

  132. The phrase ‘normal and healthy’ is mentioned. Who decides what is normal? Well, we teach our children with our best judgement based on what we believe, not in spite of our beliefs. Our society has become quite progressive since I was a teenager (mid 80’s). While society is ‘progressive’ (I used that term because progressive seems to imply ‘better’, which I don’t agree with), truth is eternal. There are many things in society that is considered ‘normal’ which isn’t always good, even though it is accepted by worldly standards. I have had many issues in my life and having spoken with ‘health care professionals’ and recieved tremendous amounts of information. You don’t send a cardiac patient to neurosurgeon, so why send a wounded heart/soul to a psychologist/psychiatrist? This likely seems too simplistic for many, but not everything requires psychoanaylsis and anti-depressants. More times, compassion, empathy, a good cry with someone who cares is enough to start the healing in any wounded/traumatized person. I agree with many points about the nature of humans, but not the accepted ‘normal and healthy’ dogma of society. Society changes and progresses with a flavour of the generation, which isn’t always bad, but the Bible is eternal and the words within don’t need tweaked, changed or revised. I am not a blind follower that accepts all scripture as rote, but perhaps that is why society is so scattered in a base morality. There are 10 basic rules that still stand the test of time, regardless of who believes in them. They may be simple in text, but they imply more, including sexual morality and much more. People were ‘natural’ and had their own idea of what was ‘normal’ and healthy for their time and people are still people with the same natural inclinations. It’s the influence we are bombarded with that changes our behaviours and thinking. As adults, after we have been humbled by life, we accept that there is a spiritual part that requires attention that can’t be addressed entirely, or at all, by society’s fixes. And you bet, personal beliefs are important. As parents, that’s OUR job, to use the right tool for the job. It’s our job to do the best we can to allow the best influences we can into our childrens’ lives, including TV, internet (or limitation thereof) and social activities. It’s a parent’s job to challenge societal ‘norms’ that we are unsure of or flat out disagree with. Do we get it right all the time? Of course not. But I would take a Bible and a seasoned pastor over a psychologist/psychiatrist with a DMS for a wounded heart, any and every day.

  133. Anne – thanks, as always, for bringing this sensitive topic into the light. As survivors of abuse, we can’t stop talking about these things, leading in this way. I support you!

  134. I find it problematic that the church tends to conflate sexual abuse with masturbation with sexual purity with pornography. These are all vastly different issues, and there is a lot of victim shaming going on. I’ve heard and read talks which try to convince children who have experimented sexually that they are the equivalent of a used kleenex, never to be ‘really clean’ again, forgetting that to whatever degree anyone may consider them “dirty”, God promises to make you clean. I have seen people who blame the victims of sexual abuse – which can even happen to ADULTS, thank you very much – as though they were prostitutes. And those who blame prostitutes as though their only personal worth lies in their now “used” sexual parts, and they have rendered themselves as something less than human. Yet, what was Jesus’ response when confronted with the adulteress? “Let he that is among you without sin cast the first stone.” We are NOT supposed to be judging each other by these artificial standards, but seeing each other through the love of Christ. So, yes, let’s presume our children are masturbating. I’ve seen my boys playing down there as soon as they had sufficient hand control to reach it at about a year of age, thanks so much. It’s normal, not a tragedy. You talk to them about it once they are old enough to understand. I know for a fact most if not all kids have seen porn by ten or eleven. You talk about that, too. You have the “good touch, bad touch” conversation as soon as they can comprehend it, and ideally before they are let out of your presence for any length of time. Just some thoughts.

  135. It’s always been out there. I’m a grandmother of teenagers, and my “introduction” to the topic was when I was five, and a neighbor boy (9 yrs old) sat about four of us 5 and 6yr olds (including his younger brother) down on a curb and told us about what girls and boys could do, and he and his girlfriend did it all the time. I told my mom, who was horrified of course, but kept her cool and said that was supposed to be only for married people, and kept an eagle eye out. Even still, I realized many years later that I had escaped a probable molestation from a 13yr old neighbor by cutting and running for home. (I suspect now that there was bad stuff going on in that family, as this boy’s younger sister, also 8, was sexually active, and had a baby at 14.). There were several families on that block whose kids were into sexual play at those ages.
    I also have a good friend, now 50, who has holes in his memory of elementary school; the one thing he remembers is his mom telling him “just forget it”. He doesn’t even want to go there. He also suffers from long-term depression.
    I could go on, but one observation: the parents who are the most likely to talk about sex are ones who talk too much, with limited modesty. Parents who do take sex seriously are more likely to value their privacy. Very often a relative or friend is a better confidant; an older sister-in-law was mine.

  136. My sexual struggles began at 15 by being shown a pornographic magazine at a friends house. I was told about masturbation at school and by mum and that it was wrong, but I didn’t discover it in practice until I was 16. Dad never gave me any sort of advice in this area or about girls and was always emotionally unavailable. My school counselor told me it was normal (which didn’t help). Pornography and masturbation soon became a coping mechanism to get me through my studies at school. This quickly became a sexual addiction for me and has had me hooked for over 20 years! This addiction, like all true addictions, is progressive and seeks out harder and harder material until I acted out in ways I never imagined or never thought I would or ever could. I tried stopping hundreds and even thousands of times but I was not free to stop.
    I came from a relatively happy, healthy family with a good christian upbringing and no sign of abuse of any kind. I guess my best line of communication was not open to me and that would have been through my dad who was emotionally unavailable.
    I, like Anne, am at the start of a long road to recovery through a 12 step program (by the way I have never drunk alcohol or had drugs) and am beginning to see myself in a whole different light and am able to see glimpses of hope and recovery.
    This world is saturated with people telling you what’s normal and what isn’t. How about doing as Anne has suggested and keeping lines of communication open and not letting Google be the answer, or peers, or whatever medium is available. If you are truly Christian refer to the best blueprint and instruction manual for life. The Bible! God Created us, He knows us and he alone knows what is best for us!
    I defy anyone to read the Bible front to back and tell me that God said it was okay to experiment with drugs, sex, alcohol, masturbation, pornography and dare I say the big “H” word, homosexuality (which I have by the way).

    We were made by God and For God, we did not create ourselves for ourselves. We were created to live for God, not for ourselves. The commandments in summary, Love God and Love others as we do ourselves, (so many people in the world do not love themselves but are hurt and ashamed and therefore cannot love others or God). There is no, go out and do what feels good for you (heaven knows I have tried that) or go out and believe what is true for you (that’s a cop out, to not deal with my issues and allow God to transform my hurts and pains and become the man He always created me to be)

    I did not see any judgementalism in Anne’s blog, nor an attack on anyone’s parenting skills, only a suggestion that maybe your child doesn’t feel able to come to you on the important topics in their life. Instead of taking offense, step back and receive the advice with open hands and you may learn something about your child that you never knew. Take care and God Bless you all

  137. Hello Anne Marie,

    Thanks so much for your article. Although some people are calling it judgmental, I see words that are seasoned with grace. As the mother of two small boys, I ache over these issues, especially child sexual abuse. There are several people in my circle of friends who have been victimized as children and I see the marks of it on them as adults. I feel a weighty passion to be a part of educating young children in the hopes that we can be preventative and reduce the need for treatment later in life. I have been working on a project to this end but I need some inroads to make it happen. I don’t fully know your background but wondered if we could get in contact with one another to see if God would make a connection between your vision and mine.

  138. Anne, what a powerful and courageous article thanks for being so transparent in your story, it was also packed with a lot of great information for parents and for people trying to find freedom. Keep writing, because the pen is mightier than a sword. Many blessings.

  139. Anne, I think that your testimony and words of warning and instructions are very helpful in this battle, but I think that you have to get down to the basic cause of this problem in children. I know from years of personal experience with sexual problems that they are basically caused by the individual’s inability to appropriately handle his or her personal need to be loved and how that is met sexually. Children learn at a very young age that they are beings with sex organs and that those of girls are different than those of boys. But they don’t begin to become “sexual” beings until their hormones or the culture draws them into a process of learning how to function as “sexual” beings and to share love sexually with another human being. And the definition of all of the various terms that are used in discussing this process is only the thin surface of the underlying complex details that are involved in this process. Adequate knowledge about these details can be helpful in an individual’s efforts to appropriately utilize this process in his or her personal life, but the learning has to consistently affect the individual’s behavior and his or her ongoing efforts to share love throughout his or her life. There is a big difference between knowing what is “right” and appropriate and being able to consistently behave in accord with such a standard. I know that you understand that. With the acceptance of the “gay” life style as being OK in our society and its ways of expressing sexual love or affection as being acceptable, the Internet is not the only platform from which lessons of sexuality and love is being proclaimed. Public school classrooms and even church pulpits are being used as platforms to express some very harmful standards and styles for sexual attitudes and behavior that can only be very confusing for any child who is seeking to learn how to be a sexual male or female in this world. You have a big challenge in our ministry, and your words of warning and instruction will probably not be popular with many people, but keep up the “fight” and keep getting down to the basic matter of behavior and the individual’s daily need to share love.

  140. Hi,

    I work with teens in the UK and Europe with sexual addiction. Thanks for your story. I am curious on you position on homosexuality and masturbation? Thanks


  141. I am a mom of 7 precious children, happily married and raising them in a Christian home. Until recently we thought we were doing a pretty good job of protecting them from the temptations of the world. Recently we found out that our eldest daughter (14) had met an older man online. He groomed her by giving her a phone that we knew nothing about. One day we had to confront her for something she had done wrong (stealing money) and that night she ran away with him. The inevitable happened to her that night. She did not expect it. She ran to him as she trusted him and thought he was her friend. He used her vulnerability for his own gain. Although we can not turn back time and change all that, we can try to learn from it. Your article is very timely for me. I have 6 others who will need to be guided. (Is it ok to admit that I’m terrified? Of failing them in this area) Thank you for sharing this Anne Marie, as I am encouraged. Bless you

  142. Thank you Thank You Thank You! I can’t believe how much digression and negativity there is in these comments, but I just want you to know that your message to me was heard loud and clear. I am a Christian mother of two boys ages 7 and 5, and one girl age 2. My husband and I have already been discussing how and when to start the sex talk with my seven year old. This article just lights a fire under me to start the lines of communication and non-judgementalness regarding sex, and fielding his questions right away. I know that your ministry to the kids is so wonderful, but I also want to thank you for your effort to also bring these issues to the parents! Please keep on going with this new mission of yours!! Obviously there are going to be many negative people out there who will try to make it difficult for you, but please don’t stop. We parents need to hear this message, and for every negative comment, there are many other people who are receiving the heart of your message and learning from it. Even if your message to the parents helps just one child it is worth it. Just that image that you posted of the Google search “What is sex?” WOW!! What an eye-opener!!! That would be my child without a doubt! Without a doubt! He already says to me when he has a question that I don’t know the answer to (usually science related), “Well, ask Siri (aka my iphone)…” I can see SO clearly how his innocent curiosity could lead him straight to porn. Thank you for this heads up!!!

  143. Anne,

    Thanks so much for sharing this, and for your desire to speak the truth in love. I pray that God would continue to minister through you to many more people. With our world pandering to sexual sin left and right, as believers we need to stand firm for the truth:

    1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB): “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

    But we serve a God who desires to forgive and heal from the devastation of this sin!

  144. That was a wonderful and honest post. Thank you Anne Marie. I have been in sexual recovery for the past 12 years or more. I have seven children and oversee a recovery program at a large church called 423 Men. You can check it out at I will be forwarding your post to others in our church who are working with women and students in this important ministry. Thank you.


  145. I believe that this subject in today’s world can be very touchy considering that sex is exposed in media much more than in previous eras. A lot of today’s mainstream music and film only focus on aspects of sex and having a sexual relationship rather than a healthy meaningful one. News media shows tons of sexual abuse related cases and the only the bad things from sex. And to be quite frank, adults today are very poor at discussing sex in a meaningful way.
    Teaching children what is healthy is the first move. Sex, sure can be pleasurable, but it are limits and respect to oneself when it comes to sex. Whether you are religious or not , expressing your values on sex is important. But also is keeping an open mind. If you choose to disregard their interest or questions about sex, more than likely they are going to end up in a bad spot trying to figure out what sex is.
    After said all that, children need to educated in the correct way. Most school health teachers don’t even care or speak about the things that are important in having a healthy sexual relationship with or without a significant other. Neither are things like sexual abuse are shared or taught how to deal with it if you are going through it.
    Not only that, but sex also needs to not be seen as a condemning act. It’s natural and children are going to be curious regardless. Leading them in the right sexual direction can be a major improvement in our society.

    And if you are having a hard time finding a good way to teach your children about sex, there are tons of wonderful books and educational media that is pre-teen friendly. Here is one of them:

  146. Are you currently up-to-date on exactly what is being taught in our school’s sex-education programs? Are you currently up-to-date on the new required literature students must read under curriculums written for the new national Common Core standards? Have you read some of the books targeting pre-teens under the guise of sex-education? If parents handed out this material, they would be arrested for child abuse and exposing children to porn. What you seem to think is being taught in sex-education classes is not what is being taught to our students. The current trend in sex-education is not the solution to these problems; it is encouraging the problems. You might want to prepare yourself for traumatized teens (and even teachers) who will be forced to re-live the agony and nightmare of being raped, abused, assaulted, and trafficked through having to read literature about these nightmares from multiple perspectives, including that of the rapists’.

    • I thought I had read somewhere in your article that you were a proponent of public school sex-education classes, but now I cannot find that. One of your readers who sent me this article interpreted it as a proponent for sex-ed classes in public schools. If that is not what you are promoting, I thank you. The solution lies in our families and in our churches, and in maintaining and using our freedoms to go out into the world reaching out to these lost and hurting lambs. If you are a proponent of public school sexual education, I encourage you to research and make sure you are on top of the latest, and follow it closely.

  147. My father nor mother ever talked to me about sex and I ended up fine, just fine. Oh wait, no, no I didn’t.

    I’ve noticed that if you don’t let the world make you feel guilty for looking at porn, the less it has control over your life. If you look at it and think you’re doing a bad thing, it can destroy you. For some reason if you accept it, the greater moderation and control you have over it. At least that is what I have experienced.

    I was always extremely misinformed about sex till I was a late teenager. Things didn’t go well for me after that, and pornography isn’t to blame

  148. This is totally amazing to me and wonderful to know that there is someone trying to get this message out. I hope this ‘fire’ spreads!

  149. I have a three-year-old boy and I’m wondering how do I talk to him about his body so that he’s comfortable with it and not embarrassed or ashamed by anything his body is doing. He’s becoming more curious and I don’t know how to broach the subject. Any ideas? (He’s never been molested or anything like that, just bright and curious)

  150. Amen Anna. Thank you so much for sharing and exhorting. Your example of openness and honesty is both convicting and hope-giving to someone who has been down a similar path and is following in the steps to recovery.

  151. Anne Marie, thank you! I suspect there are many wounded people of all ages, who never dared speak of the abuse they suffered, or were not believed if they did speak. You are a brave woman – thank you for sharing your life with others.
    A comment on masturbation – it is not forbidden in the Bible. The “sin of Onan” or “Onanism” was due to inheritance laws at the time. If a man died and left no sons, his brother was supposed to marry the widow and produce an heir for her deceased husband. That refusal to impregnate the widow-now-wife (by ejaculating before intercourse) was the “sin”. The man in question didn’t want his elder brother to have an heir because then his own children by his wife would not have the same inheritance status.
    Keep on our good work!

  152. Melissa you religious freak! Stop making me feel small because I have an opinion. I believe at fifteen or sixteen, you can walk away from a sexually abusive situation. When you’re six you can not. Stop belittling me for having an opinion and do more opening of your eyes to understand what I’m talking about. I love Jesus but my comments had nothing to do with the sort. I’m sure Jesus loves you telling someone they don’t have to pray for me. Did any other of you who called me names and tried to insult my integrity ever think for one second maybe I was abused? Oh that’s right you all were to busy putting me down for having an opinion. Shame on all of you.

    • Sorry to call you out on it Jaron, but you’re in need for some tough love. First off, your insult to Melissa as a “religious freak” is out of line. Matthew 7:5 rings true here: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” It is wise not to reprimand someone when you are guilty of the same.

      Secondly, stop playing the victim. You tout your “opinion” as if it were the correct one, and you rebuke Anne Marie for entering into temptation. I agree – she is responsible for her own sins, but that fact provides zero interest as to whether or not she was abused. To ignore the influence a manipulative man has over a younger girl is foolish. You have two PhDs. You’re smart enough to know this. There’s no need to do a play on words to defend yourself. No one cares whether you call it “being abused” or “being taken advantage of.”

      You hinted that you may have been abused. If you were, I am truly, truly sorry that you had to experience that ordeal. However, your own loveless comments have challenged your integrity. At this point, you’re making it sound as if though you’re just pretending you were sexually abused to gain some sympathy. I’m not saying you are, but you definitely come off that way.

      Jaron. You tell us you love Jesus, and I believe you. You probably have much to contribute to this conversation, and God can use a person of your intellect for great things. So I ask you as a loving brother – review the comments you made, objectively. Notice the lack of love. Notice the pride that has tainted your words and your heart. Stop defending yourself and focus on living a holy life, like Jesus did. Apologize. The author did not deserve the insensitive words you pridefully delivered. God loves the humble, and that attribute will bring you a long way.

      Lastly, I acknowledge that many words that were said to you were also unloving. As my pastor recently taught me, sometimes it is wise not to add fire to the flame, and to simply let go. Don’t focus on injustice done to yourself. Focus on reflecting the love that God gave you.

      I encourage everyone else to pray before speaking. There’s no need to flame at Jaron like he’s an enemy. For those who responded in love, keep on loving!

  153. Hi Anne! Thank you for sharing your testimony, they are always so encouraging to me. I am a mother of 3 boys 23,16, & 10 and I am not one of those moms who think their child is excempt, there is just TOO much out there for them for them to miss it. My question is what are some suggestion to help them? As a mom I dont want to put some many rules on them they feel like their in prison but guide them so that they are forced to make a choice. I know there is not 1-2-3 step program however just wonder what steps you would suggest to help point them in a different direction! Thanks

  154. I love the passion and important topics that Anne writes about and focuses her ministry on. I think this is a very good article and may good points were made. My only question is admittedly a minor one in the grand scheme of things and given intent of this post, but I’m curious. Anne, do you personally hold the view that masturbation is wrong/sin? I’m considering using your resources as a springboard with my children and others, and I would like to know from what vantage point you will be addressing the issue of masturbation from.

    Personally I find a huge disparity between masturbation as a form of sexual stewardship – and someone masturbating to porn. Porn does not need to be a part of it at all, though some have a hard time envisioning this. So if you wouldn’t mind, would you please clarify your views on the issue?

    If you are against it, thats fine, especially coming from your experience and history – for people with addictions and those who have suffered sexual abuse, it may not be the wisest activity and I have no problems with that – if someone chooses to abstain for those reasons. I’m just very cautious about using resources or references which might taint or skew the issue of masturbation so that the reader or recipient of these resources would fall under some different form of bondage in an attempt to avoid a potentially artificial sin. I hope that makes sense and look forward to your response.

    Thank you for all you do! Please keep it up.

  155. Our society is filled with children and young adults that are drug addicts, soon to be alcoholics (if not already), self-abusers, victims of verbal, sexual, & physical abuse, molestation, rape, neglected, and the list goes on! Is that not enough to say something is wrong with our culture?

    You can’t ‘turn on the news without hearing about another child or teenager missing or raped or killed!! You can’t leave your child alone to play safely outside anymore…if you do, just check the sex offender registry for your neighborhood and you might think twice, and those are only the ones that have been caught!!

    Porn alone in our country is a HUGE business!

    These issues that Ann Marie has discussed should not even be relevant to anyone under 18. But it is…and it is heartbreaking! They are too wrong to even mentally and emotionally process SEX or sex related issues or actions. It’s one to know and hear about something and even have done something or had something done to you sexually, but it is another thing to be able to process it maturely. They can’t! They should be focused (with support and direction from their parents) about what sports they like, what they want to be when they get older, or how they would like to make a positive difference in the world or they should just be kids!!!!! Running outside with fear of getting kidnapped, or jumping in the mud, playing hide and go seek.. Oh I may sound like from another Era, but if our country wasn’t so polluted with sex, video games, social media, and TV… what do you think they would be doing??

  156. Goodness. What else can I say. I’ve dealt with children who have no idea what abuse has been afflicted on them.
    Children who are so hurt and misled that they actually believe what was done to them is normal. The dynamic between what is sinful and what is pure is non-existent. Bottom line: Most children do not have the intellectual capacity nor emotional awareness to process what has happened to them, thus why we have so many high school ages through adult ages that recall these repressed memories at that age. You mean to tell me out of of all the children I’ve dealt with, I am supposed to believe that a fifteen year old woman shares the same innocence? Shares the same intellectual capacity? I understand that growth is extremely random. Some mature faster than others. But there is, like I’ve said in my previous posts, a line that divides innocence and the ability to comprehend your actions and the actions of others in a way that is an instinctual awareness.

    My words were not intended to come off hurtful but if you are going to have an honest conversation, hard questions have to be asked. Please once again try to recognize my points in a logical manner instead of using emotion to drive your points and insults.

    Sorry about the religious freak comment but what was said in that post was far from the conversation intended and I flew off the handle.

    • To Jaron,

      A 15 year old is NOT a woman. And, you said it yourself….there are those that know nothing else but abuse, so to them it is normal, not abuse. Anyone can be in that position. Age is not a qualifying, or non-qualifying factor.

    • Jaron,
      I can only speak for me. What happened to me when I was abused – yes, abused – was traumatic in and of itself. Taking into consideration neurological and other biological (not to mention genetic) factors, it was extremely traumatic. After spending 30 days in an inpatient psychiatric facility, with hours of EMDR and somatic therapy (in addition to group, individual & medical intervention), I was clinically diagnosed by one of the top psychiatrists (he was the head of psychiatry for both Mayo and MD Anderson) in the nation with PTSD over a decade after the event. This trauma caused psychosomatic symptoms that, praise God, have mostly subsided with continued treatment.

      While I did have some awareness anatomically, I did not know the full extent of what was occurring which is why I turned to the Internet for info, thus leading me to my compulsive sexual behavior. Until my mid-twenties I was under the belief this man had “loved” me because of his manipulative behavior, even though it was a decade after his actions.

      We cannot pigeonhole abuse to an age when so many other factors, including the actions of the perpetrator, are considered.

      My two cents.

  157. 1. Another indication of extremely weak, distant, church eldership and leadership. If you’re being abused, the church shepherds, Gods under-shepherds are anointed, and should consider it their responsibility to get involved both from the perspective of DOING something tangible, in addition to hiding behind, “Ill pray about it”. The church is disintegrating as the elders/leaders/pastors “pray” about the upcoming Sunday. They should know EACH of their flock deeply (including subordinate pastors), and this stuff would be more apparent. The elders by their nature, and description in Titus should be men who have survived trial (please no potato head theologian intellectuals) and are therefore equipped (and anointed) to go stare such tragedy in the face and ACT! I’m so sorry for what happened to you Anne. May our God of comfort wrap you in HIS essence.
    2. Another contributor to the tragedy which is our modern society is feminism / women’s liberation. You want to be totally equal with the male gender (mano e mano)? Masculine men (most) are totally about physicality, and when there isn’t a “weaker” sex (AS DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE), decorum and honor are out the window. It’s easier to look at you as prey or a competitor. “You want (demand) both honor/preference/protection and equality”? Pull your head out, you need oxygen. You might not like it but it’s just a fact (by the way you’re not happier as a man – we die earlier because of it). Women were safer in the “old days” because men understood that women, as tempting and attractive as the were, were weaker and WE were there to protect and provide. Some men were creeps then, but there was decorum. Of course there were instances of abuse/crime…. but not the prevalence nor ambivalence when it occurred.
    3. I struggle with this because were called to be salt and light in this world but…. if you’re reading this, and are young or with a young family….make plans to leave a large city setting and live lean in a countryesque, more remote setting. We lived in a big city, drugs and crime came, then we left…. We would have loved to be part of a solution but with the city government being comprised of idiots attempting to “blame” the disintegration on “something out of their control ” has resulted in a city that is in the news and described as a “toilet”. Curiously that city was comprised of “old line” churches led by “old nice fellers” who, again, as God’s under-shepherds/elders did absolutely nothing. There is of course more money and career advancement in big cities BUT, you pay a price. Look at the content of Anne Marie’s article. I am absolutely in favor of communes, if you’re a young family, get going.

  158. Thank you, Anne for your excellent and timely article, and thank you, everyone, for the fascinating discussion that followed. Its taken me hours to read it all, and will take a long time to process, but is well worth the effort.

    To Jaron I would like to say that at 16 I was completeley naive and uneducated about sex. The only sex-ed my mother gave me was to not bring home any illegitimate grandchildren. I could absolutely have been manipulated into sex by an older man, and eventually was. In fact I became very promiscuous without having any idea how much I was hurting myself. Only later did I figure that out. And I found healing in Jesus (I became a christian at 22).

    The first time I encountered porn was reading a Playboy Magazine my neighbor’s Dad had left on the coffee table. I just thought it was weird that they would have an article on “clothes we wish women would wear” – clear plastic with varicolor polkadots covering intimate spots. My friend came in and said, “Oh! We’re not supposed to read that!” so I shut it. I think I was 11. That’s totally tame compared to what’s on the internet now (that was in 1960). But my 14 year old daughter got into porn by reading a playboy magazine when she was dog sitting for my neighbor and she didn’t tell me for 2 years. I made several mistakes with her. I taught her anatomy but delayed to tell her about sex. She found out at school and then we never had the discussions we should have had. Then I was foolish enough to let her have a computer in her room. Parents, don’t do that! Don’t ever let your kids have a private computer until they leave home for university! Talk to them before they leave about the traps of the internet. Its not just porn – its time wasting too. I know one girl who didn’t get into college because her grades suffered due to the time she spent on facebook. I see young kids who don’t know how to relate in person because they are spending all their time online.You can spend hours a day online just surfing the web, reading articles, shopping, looking at pinterest, etc. It all seems innocent but it adds up. You can waste your life online.

    To Kelly Morton I would say that having read a couple of online articles about women caught in sexual abuse within the church, it would seem that the church and the pastor isn’t necessarily the best place to go to for counseling. This horrendous class action lawsuit against a religious/church organization is a case in point: I myself have experienced varying results in terms of counseling with pastors. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes they have their own agenda. Just because a man is a pastor, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he is a good counselor. The best person to go to counseling for is someone whom you absolutely trust, who has your best interest at heart, who won’t blab your story, and who listens to you without judgement.

  159. I also was addicted to pornography. My older sister came home from sex ed class in middle school and showed our little sister and I what she had learned on our barbie dolls. I was 10 at the time and never had be curious about the birds and the bees. This was before the internet, but not before my grandparents had cable and weekend sleep overs turned into viewings and I masturbated. a lot. When we did get the internet, I was 14 and porn was one of the first things I looked up. After that, my strong Christian upbringing, I would experiment with all things sexual.
    I eventually would mentor a small group of middle school girls and find that my story wasn’t so uncommon. In the first two years that I worked with those girls, I took one to a doctor for STDs, accompanied another when she told her parents about her pregnancy, and counseled a few more on sex related issues.
    They all had one thing in common. We all had one thing in common, the world had brought issues of sex to us before our parents thought we were old enough to talk about it.
    I have a one year old son now and one of my goals is to get to him first. No “cabbage patch” or “stork”. When the dreaded “where does babies come from?” comes my way, I will be ready with a straight forward answer and I’ll be prepared to educate him further on his time.
    Thank you for your post. It is nice to see like-minded people aiming for the same goal.

  160. Yes! I love this article. My husband and I both struggled with pornography for many years, and we see our 12 year old son beginning the same struggle. Your plea to parents is spot on, in my experience. I share our testimony as often as possible with anyone who will listen because I know the prison, the shame, the fear, the confusion, and I want others to find the freedom I’ve been given by the grace of God. My heart especially goes out to wives of addicts. I would love to make my testimony available to you to share with others on the road to healing.

  161. Thank you for this post. You don’t even have to look up sexual things to find sexual things. I was looking for pictures of picnic, or soemthingmlike that, at work for a flyer I was creating. I couldn’t believe the pictures that popped up.

  162. Anne Marie, Thank you for sharing your story. May God continue to use you to help so many kids and parents. You are doing an amazing job!! I will have a more direct conversation with my daughters. God bless!

  163. When I was 19, my priest molested me. I was in college, a young adult, and I took the initiative to confront my attacker’s wife the very next day. Borrowing my sister’s car, I went to their home and found the wife alone. I made her aware of what he did to me. Without knowing I was there exposing his antics, he walked in the front door and stepped right into the line of fire. His wife busted him, and I was internally cheering. With surprise and shock on his face, he obviously didn’t expect my level of boldness. The whole scene was surreal. I was happy that I nailed the bastard, but it was an uncomfortable nightmare at the same time. Just as there was a hint of resolution to the whole matter, my mother unfortunately showed up a their front door. She interrupted the heated conversation, and with a parentally demanding voice, forced me to leave the pervert’s home. Both of my parents were unaware of anything that went on with me and the priest, and I really never had any intention to ever tell them. Upon my return back home, my parents ordered me to sit on the living room couch, from which I was not allowed to leave until I revealed the reason why I was at the monster’s home in the first place. After a great deal of sobbing and resisting their pleas, I finally disclosed the horrific news that their “baby” was sexually molested by our parish priest. My parents had a very different reaction from what I expected. Instead of supporting me, my father was worried about ruining our family name and good reputation in the church, and my mother blamed me for supposedly being sexually promiscuous. I was so offended by her claim that I angrily blurted that I was honestly still a virgin, which was really none of her business in the first place. This whole incident triggered my first episode of my bi-polar disorder. I went through YEARS of psycho-therapy to deal with my roller coaster of emotions. I still take anti-depressants, and I probably always will. And the rest of the story? I reported everything to the bishop in a private conversation. He did nothing for two decades, so I moved on with my life. I got my teaching degree, secured my independence, and eventually left the community. I moved halfway across the country and married my wonderful husband. When we relocated to yet a different city, I told our parish priest all about my unforgettable past. Without my knowledge, he reported it all to the archdiocese, and a month later, I was asked to come into the church office to meet a visiting priest from New York. He was the archdiocese designated investigator for any reported cases of sexual abuse and assault committed by a priest. I gave a detailed account of everything that happened to me at the hand of this jerk. The investigating priest went back to New York and thoroughly did his investigative homework. As it turns out, I was not the only victim. Armed with this information and with the help of my testimony, my attacker was unofficially “defrocked”, meaning that he was removed from any and all priestly duties, no longer assigned as any parish priest for the rest of his life. Eventually his wife divorced him, and his only son got mixed up in drugs and alcohol. The only good thing that has come from this whole nightmare is the fact that I am now able to spot the signs of abuse in the students I teach. I can be the “first responder” in a matter of speaking, and I can refer the students to the proper authority to get the help they so desperately need. May God have mercy upon all victims of abuse of any kind.

  164. Today, I am free from shame and fear. My sisters and I were molested. Life was a mess, but today, Jesus has absolutely set me free. And He has used it for good. I am a mama bear. We have read Samuel Learns To Tell and Tell by Debi Pearl. An excellent resource to read to our children and help them to understand how to respond to an evil man or curious friend. A must read for all parents and their children!

  165. I don’t think *cough* smut *cough* fanfiction counts as porn. That’s kind of like saying Song of Ice and Fire is porn. Sure there is sexual intercourse, but it has a plot. Porn does not.

  166. Thank you so much for your ministry. I have struggled over the years and God has been so faithful at revealing hidden lies and deceptive thoughts to me. I have seen freedom in Jesus and continue in my journey of warfare- This world is a vicious place for people seeking purity at any age. All of the obsessions are so intertwined. Women strive to be sex symbols that the pornography industry defines, while men fall right behind in their pursuit of physical perfection……all so that we can have and fulfill an immature optical illusion of what our sexuality is and should be. The scary thing is that it’s venom is in the church when I hear beautiful women talk about how they don’t like what they look like or they are too fat…..>They have no idea what Gods they are bowing down to when they take on such views of themselves or others

  167. I would love to contribute to your ministry if you could send me information on how I could do that it would be great. Thank you for what you are doing-

  168. Thank you for your article. Our society is rampant with “accepting behaviors” as the “norm” simply because society dictates such. As for me, God gave me a beautiful daughter and I will not reference the world to teach my daughter. Rather, I will (as we all should) refer to the Word of God for direction in teaching. The Bible (the inspired Word of God) clearly states homosexuals shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. To enhance your article and to clearly state God’s will (that is never contradictory) include the scriptures that God inspired on your topic. At the end of the day, some may choose their “own path” in raising their children and conform to the world but the Word of God will stand regardless.

    • Polly, I agree with your view of using the Word, not the world, to educate one’s own children.
      Having said that, I think that I should clarify something. The passage that comes to mind when you refer to homosexuals reads in the King James as “homosexual offenders”, that is, people who engage as homosexual acts as part of an immoral lifestyle. What the world (media and many schools) teach is that if someone has FEELINGS of homosexual attraction, that it is normal and okay to explore those feelings and that they should be accepted as part of that person’s identity. No mention of self-discipline or self-control, simply ‘accept and act on’ the feelings. Many people who today claim to be homosexual have been deceived into engaging and integrating into their lifestyle behavior that never would have occurred if they had simply thought differently about who they are. Many seem to think that they are hated for having certain feelings, not simply for the way they behave. Being deliberately immoral is a person’s own fault. Being misinformed or deceived almost never is.
      I Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Peter 3:9

      • In reference to being misinformed or deceived by the world that homosexuality is okay and “explore your feelings” is acceptable is not an excuse. The book of Hebrews clearly states to “make your election sure”. The Lord left the Word of God to ensure that we are not misinformed or deceived by the world a/k/a Satan, the Lord also clearly states that many will do works in His name but He will state depart from me, I never knew you. I absolutely agree the world dictates to explore your feelings, however, accepting that information and acting on it leads to homosexuality. The Lord also states that even if you have lustful thoughts it is the same as the actual act, therefore, follow God and you will not be misinformed or deceived by the world.

  169. No mater what view you have you can tell very young cildren (potty trauned) that no one can see under their underware eccept their doctor.

  170. Anne Marie, I would like to thank you for your openness and candor about such a personal and painful subject. You are a rarity, a female who got hooked on pornography, got out of it, and has the courage and grace to help others and tell your story.
    I am on a similar journey, and your letter is now one of my internet bookmarks. I think it is a valuable resource for parents who haven’t the foggiest idea how or even whether to educate their children about human sexuality. I can say for certain that I will never trust anyone else – foundations, ministries, or schools – to take my place in passing on knowledge and wisdom about a very sensitive, personal aspect of what it means to be a human creature.
    Go in His Grace.

  171. hey friend!
    thanks for sharing so honestly. our little dude is only six months old, but i am already thinking about ways that we can hopefully keep open doors of communication with him as he gets older. my biggest hope as parents would be that we could live in a grace-filled way that encouraged our kids to be able to share things with us.
    big hugs to you today!

  172. I sent this wonderful article to all my four kids and everyone in our church who has kids. I am preaching on Not Born for Porn this Sunday and came across your amazing story by a Google search. I once was addicted to porn in my college years, looking for love that I did not get at home. I hope this sermon begins a deeper discussion on sexuality that will protect our church families and make our fellowship a safe and healing place for those who still struggle. I am counseling a couple now whose marriage has been shredded by porn for decades. Like you, the sexual dysfunction of our world frightens me at times. Only Jesus can heal this sick world–and He is, one life at a time.

    Thank you, Ann Marie, for being the brave, godly PK you are! My oldest daughter, Lori even looks like you., She has five kids and will love your article when she reads it.


    Bob Fox

  173. Anne Marie Miller,
    This is truly a fantastic article! My husband and I were actually talking about this subject today! We are newly married as well, but we have always wanted children and it is really a very scary thing to me to think about raising children in this society that we have today. I was raised in a Christian church and I was always the “nice” girl. I was always able to keep up appearances on the outside, but I struggled a lot underneath with always wanting to please people, wanting to have a boyfriend/some sort of affirmation that I was beautiful even though I knew and still know that I am beautiful in and under Christ. I think a lot of kids struggles happen when they hit college. It’s the time that they can explore new things and have fun and let down all the walls they had before. I definitely let go of a lot of barriers I had and I started hanging with the wrong crowd in college and experimented with a lot of things. I was mentally abused and honestly physically abused even though I thought it was because my ex boyfriend loved me. It wasn’t until I got out of that relationship that I realized that I don’t need to have approval of anyone but Christ. That really changed a lot of my perspectives and my judgments from other people. I am so thankful that God does judge me for my sins, but he does not punish me for my sins but instead forgives me and gives me mercy and grace through Christ and covers me through His blood.
    ANyway, i’m getting off topic…(I tend to do that a lot)…Anyway, I don’t want my children to suffer the same way I did in not being able to tell anyone or ask anyone questions about what’s right or wrong and what things mean or how it is supposed to be done. When my husband and I were talking about our children, we both said that we want to offer our children an open pallet and open communication so that they do not feel like they have to hide anything. I think it is more important for children to learn things about sex from their parents instead of from school or from a friend. The most sad thing to me is that the age of learning about sex is getting lower and lower because of the internet. That really just breaks my heart because children should remain their innocence as long as they can!

  174. I came across this article last week when a friend posted it on FB. I read it and thought, my girls would never…… For all of you nay-sayers, yes they can and will. I’ve talked about good touch bad touch, I’ve always talked to them about coming to me with questions… my girls are so sweet, precious and well behaved…. and I give praises every day for Jesus giving them to us.

    This summer I got a new laptop and let my 7 year old use our old one. We went online to her games, I showed her what to stay away from, no you tube, etc… but I never took the time to download filters. How could I have been so dumb and naive that online temptations and Satins twisted ways wouldn’t be able to get to her. I KNEW and KNOW better!!!

    Tonight I grabbed the old laptop by accident, thinking it was a mine. When I opened it I saw which one it was and thought well let me just check the history. Now I sit here in tears sharing and pleading for others to never say never . Due to my stupidity, forgetfulness, procrastination, ect. my innocent, witty, smart, beautiful child has been brain raped . History only shows the past three weeks, but it does show every week she has been to a male on male, hard core s&m site, I just want to throw up. scream,, all of it. It feels like it has to be a nightmare!!! I so wish I could wake up!!!!

    I’ve tried to look up what to do, the first thing they say is don’t freak out. I’ve spoken with her a little bit, I’m just trying to process it and figure out the best thing for her right now. All of the sites say to talk about real sex and how it is so not porn, ect… but at the moment I can’t even wrap my head around telling her its even sex. It was/is AWFUL-DISCUSTING!!! We’ve spoken a little, I’ve asked a few questions trying not to overwhelm her, but she’s not giving up info, just trying to change the subject. Naturally she’s embarrased and ashamed, but does she even know that she things she has seen over and over is a type of sex? This is so mind boggling.

    Naturally the computer is off limits now. Please pray for us…..

  175. Covenant eye is a great filter for all computers. And even if someone accidentally opens a site it will notify you through text or email. You set it up. Being exposed as a young child, by the grace of God am doing well but still battle temptation. Thus program makes me accountable.

  176. What age is appropriate. I fully agree communication is vital – not the old school of stork stories or – just ignoring the hard questions.

    But I also think that too early is not right. They don’t know what to do with the info. I also don’t want to leave it for too late.

    And how would you even start this conversation? Are there any guideline books etc.?

    Our children are not safe anywhere. Older cousins, friends, school – we don’t know what is going on there. And I know this because I can tell you about my teens and you would be just as horrified. Our parents didn’t have a clue. And they were strict, and didn’t allow anything. But that didn’t stop the outside world getting to us. And the one thing that made us go ask the wrong people and do the wrong things – we couldn’t talk to our parents and ask them these questions. We would be in such trouble.

  177. I know the approach we as parents take is likely subjective, but it honestly would be very helpful to have a conversational guide to help break the ice, so to speak. Maybe more of the same that you briefly mentioned in this article? Much of the fear of opening up this conversation with our children is just not knowing or even a lack of confidence in what to stay. I could see, also, things easily straying away from the point or a quick changing of the subject… which may really make it difficult to ever try to open the subject again. Also, do you have some tips on things we may hear relative to the age of the child, and proposed approach on responding? I guess I’m asking a lot, but I figure why not seek council from someone who has gone before us? Thank you so much for writing this article, and God bless your ministry for His purpose. Sincerely, Cody Northen

  178. Thank you so much, I agree with every word and I´d like to know if you authorize me to translate it to spanish and portuguese because I´m sure it will be so important to parents in my church in Chile and Brasil. Let me know if is okay to translate it . Thank you for sharing and obeying God!

  179. Just shows how messed up we are about sex. LOL Raised in a “good Christian” home, if it weren’t for Penthouse, I wouldn’t have known anything about sex except that “it’s a sin”. Google et. al just makes it more available, and that’s a good thing. Guilt and shame are the problem. The more kids know about sex, the better. You can’t be a healthy human without sex. We really should have sex education at all levels including pornography, masturbation, petting, and intercourse.

  180. “Masturbation would be wrong if the neighbor kids or an adult “showed” the kid how to do it. A child will naturally know that feeling themselves down there feels pleasurable. As a parent, you should not be shocked they do this at nap time. You need to gently lead them to not be doing that so much. But don’t shame them, ever for that in a condescending way. You can’t anymore expect a kid to not touch themselves down there, than you can expect them to run to a cute puppy to play. You talk to them about that, say, let’s don’t be spending a lot of time doing that. Most won’t be doing this forever and a day anyway. If you hoop and holler about it, they will go underground and be sneaky. Be very matter of fact about all of the body parts, the processes. And say, most people just don’t do this all the time. Usually, it is a passing thing they try. Keep the lines of communicating open for every thing. You may not like that the boy or girl has his hands in his pants at times. But redirect them, and keep talking.”

    Thank you Mrs. W for posting this comment. It has inspired me of how to address this with children when I am working at daycare’s. I think that masturbation is such a closed topic, but thank you for having the courage to say this. I have seen some other teachers shame the children (probably because they just haven’t been taught how to address it either), and I have been to embarrassed to address it, but this has inspired me and given me tools of some things that I can say and how I can address it without hurting the child.

  181. Hello,
    I’m so glad I came across this. I’m not a parent, I’m 18, and I don’t know what to call what happened to me.
    I need to open up to someone because I still think it was my fault. it happened when I was 6 or 7 years, when I saw inappropriate things on tv. My maid watched these movies, and when I watched along with her, It made me curious. I didn’t know what I was feeling. Or if it was right or wrong. There was no access to Internet until I was much older. I tried to imitate what I saw on tv, I need help. I don’t watch porn now. But I can’t stop feeling guilty. I need to confide in someone.

  182. This post is absolutely true and so valuable. I could not have said it better myself. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am a recovering addict and everything on your list also happened to me and that was 25 years ago. I can only imagine how much worse everything is now. God help us help our kids!

  183. You can definitely see your enthusiasm wihin the
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  184. Very timely, Anne – and you surely got a LOT of responses! I just read the book “Missoula: rape and justice in a college town.” Very sobering but informative; covers some of the things you describe above, though focusing on the realities of what rape does to women who go through it. Our own daughter was molested (not raped), and, just as you said, it was years before she worked up the courage to tell us.

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