Ian Henderson’s story

It’s a cliche, but behind every statistic is a story. Behind the figures are always faces and families. 

In 2007, two things happened that changed my life. One was very public- the whole world was talking about it. The other was extremely personal. Yet because of these two events, five years later, I stopped working for an organisation I loved, stepped out and started a ‘Porn Project.’ 

As you can probably imagine, this wasn’t a life plan that I had discussed with my careers advisor at school.

The announcement that changed the landscape

In January 2007, Steve Jobs stood on a Californian stage, wearing trainers, jeans and his trademark black roll neck and announced that “today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone”. Later, in November, the first iPhone was released in the UK and the internet moved from our desktops into our pockets and purses.

This was a game-changer for those distributing porn. No longer confined to top shelf magazines, the shift from the sex shop to the smartphone has created the first generation with anytime, anywhere access to unregulated pornographic content. Of course, the web and smartphone technology are incredible resources for education, entertainment and community and I can’t imagine trying to end a ‘family discussion’ without Google’s final say. But, ten years after iPhone’s launch, pornography has never been more accessible, affordable, anonymous and potentially addictive.

After Steve stood on that stage, things would never be the same. 

The announcement that changed my family

In September of 2007, I got a phone call. I was speaking at an event, so it was via voicemail that I first heard that my Dad had been arrested.

It took us a few hours to discover that he had been charged with possessing indecent images of children, and a few months to discover the full extent of his compulsive porn use. He’d hidden decades of dependency on mainstream porn magazines, porn videos and later, porn websites- a secret but legal obsession. But these secrets spiralled, becoming deeper and darker, crossing one line after another, until he began to pursue the terrible abusive material that he was arrested for. Like many with addictive behaviour, he’d risked everything that mattered to him; morality, marriage, family and future. Perhaps conscious of this, when the police arrived he said “my life is over isn’t it?” He hadn’t meant it literally, but a few months later my Dad was also diagnosed with cancer. When he was finally sentenced for his crimes he only had three weeks left to live. As a family we grieved, and I tried to make sense of it all. The unthinkable and awful abuse. The reality of addiction and brokenness. It was all brought painfully close to home. Things would never be the same.

Something had to change

Having seen firsthand the devastating ripples of brokenness porn use can cause people both sides of the screen, I began to think about the fallout of living in our new ‘iPorn’ culture. What had happened with my Dad was the extreme end of the problem but as I started to research and recognise the scale of the consumption of legal and mainstream pornography, I began to consider how many millions would be left hurting and broken because of porn use. And of course, it wasn’t only the user’s lives impacted by porn consumption – what about the partners and spouses? The performers? The families? Society as a whole? Something had to change.

Inspired by faith but accessible to all

All founders have their personal reasons for starting something- there is often a catalytic moment or event that sparks a desire to create change. There is also often a driving force, something deeper within, that pushes people out of the security and comfort of what they know into the unknown seas of pioneering something new.

I’m a Christian. 

I know that word can conjure up a variety of thoughts and emotions for people, depending on their personal experiences of Christianity and Christians. However, without question, faith has been my driving force and has inspired and strengthened me to both start and to continue the work of Naked Truth. Despite my reluctance in those early days, I believe God opened my eyes to recognise an unprecedented need to talk about and tackle the social costs of pornography; to seek to create programmes that offer freedom and help to individuals and their families and to point to a future that is hopeful and beautiful. And in doing so, hopefully represent a God who is passionate about humanity, relationships and justice.

In 2013, inspired by my Christian faith, I first talked about Naked Truth at a prayer meeting in a Karaoke booth (you’ll have to ask me if you meet me!) and prayer and the Christian faith continue to be foundational for us as team. As a result, we do provide specific events, training and support for Churches and Christians. However, the majority of Naked Truth’s work and programmes are aimed at and accessible for those of all faiths or no faith and have little to no religious content.

You can read a little more about Naked Truth’s ‘faith stance’ here

Birthed out of a family tragedy, a huge cultural shift, and my personal faith, it’s humbling to see how we have grown in number and reach over the years. We have staff around the world, thousands accessing our programmes, and an increased sense that our work is needed for ‘such a time as this’. You can read more about our current programmes here

Ian Henderson

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