When "pornography" and "women" appear in the same sentence in Christian circles, the topic is usually pastors' wives or former porn stars. But for an estimated one in six women in the U.S., the topic is themselves. Crystal Renaud—whose own addiction started at age 10 after finding a magazine in her brother's bathroom—wants to dispel the idea that porn is only a men's problem. With the 2009 launch of Dirty Girls Ministries, she has given female addicts a place of confession, accountability, and healing. The Kansas City-based ministry also provides churches with biblically based tools to minister to women addicts in their midst.
Porn's effects are well chronicled, and the alienation and shame it creates are no respecter of gender. But Renaud, currently working toward certification with the American Association of Christian Counselors, believes men and women turn to it with different needs. "Many count women out as porn addicts, because they aren't known for being visually stimulated," she says. "But as emotional beings, women often seek porn as a way to escape and receive a false sense of intimacy." Through support groups online and in Kansas City, and speaking and online resources, Dirty Girls Ministries helps women escape secrecy's stranglehold and encounter the healing touch of Christ.
Says Renaud, "It's my hope that every woman who struggles with porn, thinking she's alone, would discover that she's not."
Question & Answer
How did you escape porn addiction?
When I was 18, an unsuspecting friend confided that she had struggled with pornography in her past. Author Jon Acuff calls this "the gift of going second." It's when a person reveals something so that you have the freedom to share. At that moment, I had a choice: I could either walk away from my only chance for help, or I could jump in headfirst and accept this gift being handed to me. I chose the gift.
From that day on, I have had consistent accountability with this woman, and I recently celebrated seven years of sobriety.
What prompted you to launch the ministry?
It initially launched as a marketing and research tool for my forthcoming book [Dirty Girls: The New Porn Addicts]. In less than one month, over 300 women participated in surveys as part of anecdotal research. But as traffic to our website continued to soar and e-mails flooded in, I began to see amovement among women and the church, desiring to break the silence encircling female porn addiction.
Our mission and vision is to bring awareness of the porn problem among women; show addicted women that they are not alone; and demonstrate confession, accountability, and recovery. Over the next five years, I hope to see Dirty Girls established as a nonprofit, equipping women with the tools to break free and equipping churches to help women in their congregations.
How does Jesus fit into all of this?
Jesus is all over this. Without Jesus, we don't have a hope in the world of breaking free from addiction. Ultimately it comes down to our willingness to surrender our addiction to God and trust him enough to sustain us.
Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
More information about Crystal Renaud can be found at DirtyGirlsMinistries.com.
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