“It shook my wife’s world like an earthquake… Now, four years since my initial disclosure the effects are still manifesting daily. There are no quick fixes.” WholeLife member
By nature, porn use is a pretty private affair. Think of all the times porn use has been alluded to in films or a tv shows through hastily closed laptops or switched channels as someone else walks into the room. Although that’s usually framed as an embarassing or even funny situation, we’ve discovered a very different perspective through our work.
When we started Naked Truth Project, we set out to provide help for those struggling with problematic porn use, and to raise awareness of the harms of porn in a culture where it’s increasingly normalised and accepted. But we quickly discovered a group of people who didn’t need any help understanding the harms of porn- the partners of porn users. These individuals had been left heartbroken by the discovery of their partner’s secret pornography use, but had nowhere to turn or to access support, because whilst provision of help for users was poor, support for their hurting partners was non existent.
What’s the big deal though? Watching porn isn’t cheating, right?
This is a highly debated question, and a subject to be explored in more depth another time. But for the partners we work with, there is no doubt about the extensive harm that porn can cause in a relationship.
The cost of secrecy
“Is it normal to feel so betrayed, and filled with doubt about the future?”
Many partners come to us questioning everything they thought they knew about the person they love. Let’s be honest- closed doors and cleared browser histories are never going to breed intimacy and connection with a partner, and the discovery of a secret habit- whatever that habit is, is highly likely to make someone feel confused, or even unsafe. For many of the women we work with, discovery of their partners’ secret porn use often reveals years of lying and deception, and for the majority of these women the resounding question is the same: “Is it normal to feel so betrayed, and filled with doubt about the future?” quickly followed by “Where can I get support?”
In 2018 the WholeHearted Partner Programme had its first intake of brokenhearted, vulnerable and brave women, willing to trust our recovery team to guide them on a path towards healing. Five years on, and we’ve had the joy of witnessing a beautiful community grow here.
“The Wholehearted Partner Programme has quite literally thrown me a lifeline. I have a support network that is so much more than anything I could have hoped and dreamed of, a group of women who ‘get it’ without long, detailed explanations. I have friends all over the world that I know I can call on and in a heartbeat they will be there for me. They have watched from the sidelines as I have learned to trust myself and believe in myself and my instincts again. They have cheered me on as I have found my voice and been strong enough to use it”
The primary focus of Whole Hearted has always been support, which comes in the form of support groups that are run by our team of trained professionals. These provide a safe space where partners can share openly and honestly, without any judgement, what they are feeling and experiencing. Alongside this support, subscribers to the programme have access to a range of educational resources to aid them in their recovery, from webinars to topic groups, empowering partners with knowledge and tools to navigate through their recovery journey.
“It’s helped me to work out what action is possible for me. When I joined the group I felt so powerless and so hopeless that anything I could do would change the situation. I know now that there’s nothing I can do to change him, but there are a lot of things I can do to change myself. And that’s been really powerful.”
The WholeHearted Partner Programme now runs alongside our WholeLife Programme, with many of the women we work with referring their partners to the equivalent programme for them. We are also able to offer one-to-one counselling for individuals and couples.