The following was sent to us via the "Tell Us Your Story" form and posted with the users permission.
I am sure my story is not unique! I was a hard working mid-30s family man with a career, wife and 2 beautiful children. I started living a double life--the "outward" life of a successful father, husband, employee and the inward life of a bored, tired, anxious, stressed guy who felt entitled to retreating into my man cave for some free-24/7-access to eye candy. Little did I know that a convergence of genetics, upbringing, current circumstances and good old-fashioned free will, would coalesce to burn my small empire to the ground!
I started looking ("innocently") at adult images on the web around 2003. It quickly escalated to short videos (as my connection speed increased). The "hit" was intensified by the audio (sound) in the videos. I found more and more "hard core" stuff which at first was a bit overwhelming but by repeated exposure became the "new normal".
Somewhere around 2005 I started to masturbate to the videos. Then the "kick" took on a new level with the discovery of the "adult" chat room. Being able to type reasonably fast I discovered that I could "creatively" share my desires with other like-minded individuals for a more interactive experience. I feel inside me the feelings of ("is this going to far? Is this cheating on my wife?") At the time I rationalized how this was "ok", though deep inside I knew it was not ok.
The "creme de la creme" for me was discovering the webcam. My chat room experiences were getting a bit "old" and one day someone tipped me off that I could communicate using a webcam. Ironically my parents had just purchased me one so they could see their grandchildren over the internet.
The webcam opened the door to even more "thrill" with cyber sex (both voyeurism and exhibitionism). Whether one believes it was compulsive or addictive, the bottom line is that the thrill and the "return" investment of time and energy were very compelling for me. I started spending 6 hrs or more at a time with a buildup of pics/videos/chats and webcam. On a fateful day in early 2009, I stepped across a line. I'm not sure why to this day. Was it stupidity? Naivete? A guy trying to be a kid again?
I communicated with a woman who I initially assumed was an adult. She revealed her age to be in her mid-teens. I ignored my sensibilities and simply "went with the flow". I had gotten to a point where I didn't care who watched me in the sexual act. If they accepted a webcam request, then they had made the choice and I wasn't responsible... except I was. I was looking for appreciation for someone to build my self esteem by telling me how "hot" I was, etc.
I never meant to "hurt" anyone, certainly not a child!! Thankfully, I was not actually damaging a "real" child, but playing right into the hands of a "sting" operation. The person posing as the underage female was a skilled FBI agent.
Let me say that I am completely wrong in doing what I did. Whether it was stupidity, naivete, wishful thinking that I was in "fantasy land", I was doing something real and hurtful. I was also destroying the foundation of integrity that I had created in my life as a father, husband, son and employee through all my behaviors on the internet. In a certain sense I am glad that I was "rescued" out of my bubble of escaping from my problems. I have been clean of porn/chatting and webcams since being arrested in early 2009.
I was rescued by my "higher power" first through a 12 Step support group, then, through private therapy, then through state "correctional" mandatory therapy, polygraphs and the like. I ultimately became a Christian through a slow process of asking questions, reading and studying the Word of God (Bible).
I also have been blessed by loving and supportive people who especially my Christian mentor and friend who identifies with my past struggles. I have been blessed by having been led to a new and loving wife; the courage to step out in faith and find work despite the rejections of employers, not dwelling on the past but living in the present.
Though society wishes to label us the way they do, they are sinners just as we are. They deserve our forgiveness as we theirs. The survivors of sexual abuse have to ultimately forgive us and themselves for their own healing. It is between them and their Creator. No SOR, public burning at the stake, witch-hunts or the like will ever give anyone the true sense of redemption and true peace that they are looking for. It may give temporary peace (like drugs or alcohol), but only God can truly transform the human heart.