As the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, an honors student, an athlete, raised in a good home, Anne Marie Miller is not what parents typically think of as someone with a porn addiction. However, her struggle and subsequent victory over that addiction, has left her in a great place for ministry.
But the ministry she did this summer at youth camps even shocked her when she heard the stories of children as young as 6 telling her of the pornography they’ve seen and the abuse (in good homes, with friends, with relatives) that they’ve endured.
Her own addiction started when her family moved to a new home in a “an ethnically and sexually diverse culture.” She says she was lonely and curious. Then a youth pastor sexually abused her. She turned to the Internet for education and that started her addiction. What many people don’t realize, she writes, is that the images she began to see gave her an emotional and sexual release then shame and more confusion..
Anne didn’t open up about her addiction for five years and then only to a friend who opened up to her first. That began her healing. It would take 12 years. God has set her free from the shame and the addiction, and for the last 6 years, she has shared her story and ministered to middle and high school students.
This summer as she ministered to even younger students at youth camps, she began to see a pattern of more and more addiction at a younger and younger age.
“Google,” she says, “is the new Sex-Ed.” Google doesn’t judge them or embarrass them. And the words and images are right there. They can find out anything they want and they can see anything they want—or maybe don’t want. Almost all the students that talked with her said this was their first exposure to pornography. Movies were also big places children go to watch sex.
Why don’t parents don’t have blocks on their computers and their TVs? Is it because they want to go to these places, too? Because of their own addictions that they are hiding?
The average age of exposure to pornography is 9, Anne says, and “if your child has ever been molested, you likely don’t know…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.”
She wants you to know that your child is not the exception—although parents always want to think that. It is counter-productive to insist they are, and very likely wrong.
Most children starting around age nine have been exposed to pornography, have sent sex-messages of themselves over their phone, girls are already comparing their bodies to those they have seen in porn movies, both boys and girls are questioning their sexuality and they are disturbed, confused and ashamed. They are trapped and addicted, and they are deathly afraid of telling you.
Anne Marie Miller is now begging parents to have these difficult conversations with their children. To ask them what they’ve done, and what they know, and if someone has done something to them. But to do it in a nonjudgmental atmosphere and without condemnation, so that they can truthfully answer you. If you have problems with this, talk to another trustworthy, Godly adult about it.
Do what is right—for you and your children.
To read Anne Marie Miller’s blog go to this site: http://www.annemariemiller.com/2013/08/19/three-things-you-dont-know-about-your-children-and-sex/