Woman's 'Intense' Porn Addiction 'Wreaked Havoc' on Her Life for Decades


Erica Garza/Facebook

These days, porn is ubiquitous, and can play a healthy role in many people's sex lives. For writer and mother-of-one Erica Garza, porn became a crutch that she says crippled her relationship with romantic partners, family, friends, and most importantly, herself. 

  • Garza traces the start of her addiction back to middle school, when she struggled to fit in because of the back brace she had to wear for her scoliosis.

    As she explains in a piece for the Cut, she withdrew socially, and as an escape, she started watching soft-core porn on television late at night before downloading photos from AOL. As technology progressed, so did her addiction. "I used to hide with my computer in the bedroom closet," she tells the New York Post. "Part of the thrill was that I might get caught."

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    Or in other words, it was "an elaborate mix of shame and excitement," as she writes in her book, Getting off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction. "And my methods of getting this only became darker and more intense, wreaking havoc on all aspects of my life until I became a shell of a person, isolated, on a path to certain destruction."

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  • As she got older, Garza's porn reliance was a quick fix for her insecurities, and began negatively affecting the way she had sex in real life.

    When she couldn't orgasm with a booty call, she turned porn on after he left; she says she needed -- not wanted -- him as a "warm body" to have sex with. If she felt uncomfortable with the person she was having sex with, she would put porn on as a distraction, or they'd mimic the sex scenes from the porn she watched. Many times this wasn't even the porn she liked, but what she thought the men would enjoy. She writes that she has an "arsenal of memories" of these instances.

    "Afterwards, I would feel broken, unlovable, worthless, and used," she told the New York Post. "But I was using men for my own needs, too."

    Her porn addiction got in the way of her relationships with others as well. She frequently canceled plans or obligations with friends and family members because she "didn't want to miss out on any potential opportunity to have sex," she writes in her piece for the Cut. Multiple relationships with partners also ended because she was accused of being a sex addict, or she cheated on them. 

    In the aftermath of one of these breakups, Garza distracted herself with casual hookups (even though she was suffering from strep throat at the time and could barely speak).

  • At this time, she describes herself as "waiting for someone to show her some interest so she [could] put the loneliness away for a few hours and find some release."

    She says she always had a suspicion that her association between sex and shame wasn't good for her, but she also felt like these interactions were the only way to soothe her loneliness. She tried going to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings but never quite agreed with their philosophy. Instead, she filled journals with thoughts about loneliness and depression, but says all this brooding just made her act out even more.

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    Garza says the lack of research and awareness on women and sex addiction left her feeling isolated and unable to cope with her problems.

  • In her early 30s, Garza started therapy, meditation, and yoga to help her bring her porn-watching habits to a healthy level.

    "I started to open up to a healthier version of myself, curious about those around me and about who I could be outside of my insecurities," she writes for Good Housekeeping.

    Around this time, she also met her current husband on a trip to Bali. Unlike the other men she had been involved with, he wanted to talk to her about her porn habit. "For the first time, I really felt that I could be safe, supported, and reveal who I was," she told the New York Post

    Now her porn habits include watching what actually turns her on, and enjoying it happily and healthily. 

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