Pornography and its pervasiveness in the world today, with the help of the internet, has escalated into a major crisis. Brad Salzman is an LCW/CSAT and an Orthodox Jew. He is the founder and Clinical Director of the NY Sexual Addiction Center. “The magnitude of this epidemic is really hard to comprehend,” he explains.
The intensity and immensity of sexual content that is easily and freely available online has created and worsened sex addictions. This new reality has inspired professionals like Salzman to help contain the spread of pornography, along with its inevitable consequences. Male adults haven’t been the sole ones affected by this, although it may be more prevalent within that population. Sex addiction has spread across both genders and all ages. Most of the people who come to Salzman for treatment had discovered pornography at an age where they were starting to mature sexually. In their minds, normal sex and hardcore porn are intertwined; it’s simply another shade of sex. This creates obvious problems in their relationships.
Salzman believes that sex addiction has “become this major force in society…[and] has affected really mainstream culture as well.” This “force” has been creating little ripples throughout society, turning into dangerous waves over time that brainwashes the youth with flawed messages about sex. It’s almost impossible to protect children from consumerism that is based upon ads and commercials centered around sexuality and objectified women. What many of these children and parents don’t know is that much of the sexual content to which they are exposed, includes and is associated with cruelty, pain, rape and incest.
Statistical studies done by pornography sites show that the most popular category or term that is most often searched is “step-mother and step-sisters.” Salzman believes this to be a serious public health crisis since it has damaged healthy relationships, factored into divorces and promoted ill, addictive behaviors. For example, if a husband or wife is struggling with porn, both of their lives will be negatively altered since it will compromise their relationship. “Absolutely desensitization occurs for people who watch porn.” Individuals who watch a lot of it eventually end up losing interest in having sex with their spouse. The official, scientific name for it is Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction, which manifests itself in the lack of presence and intimacy in the bedroom. It is very common for pornography viewers to establish a secret life set aside special for these activities and deny the legitimacy and severity of their addiction.
According to Salzman, the triple “A” of pornography is what allows people to get hooked so easily: accessibility, affordability, and anonymity. They have inspired pornography directors to use these three tools to gain power and influence over people. Once upon a time, to access pornography, a person had to go through extraordinary lengths to get his hands on one magazine. “Now you can literally get any type of porn you want,” Salzman says and it’s because of today’s unprecedented, unlimited access.
This sexual desensitization has been due to many factors, one of which is the toxic mindset of having unrealistic expectations, facilitated by the media, of what a woman should look like. It doesn’t end there, as the media has also defined her role in her relationship with a man – to serve him and actualize his sexual fantasies whenever he pleases. There is no room for values of a sacred bond of marriage or a promise to cherish each other in the world of porn. Salzman feels that having filters is a modern application of the value of Jewish men guarding their eyes from inappropriate content outside of the context of marriage. It ensures that husbands treat their wives with the utmost respect and love they deserve, which the husband is halachically obligated to provide for his wife in the forms of support and pleasure.
While pornography has become a new wedge in between spouses and partners, it has touched the lives of their children too. Salzman feels that the best remedy is “talk to your kids ahead of time and proactively in a way that is age appropriate to inoculate them as best as possible.” As good as filters are, they aren’t enough since “we live in a society that is saturated by sex.” There needs to be clear communication that conveys sincere concern, whether it be towards one’s own child, spouse, or parents of a person’s children’s friends, without sounding aggressive or judgmental.
Salzman notes that the media can be a great instrument, used for positive growth and productivity, but “it can also be used to share some really dangerous things.” Even the most innocent searches, like a cereal brand, can quickly turn into a hazardous zone. Although filters are associated with more insular sects within Orthodoxy, it’s something that is important and relevant for everyone. “Don’t look at this, don’t get hung up on it being some kind of religious issue. This is a common-sense issue.” It doesn’t matter who you are, religious or not, Jewish or not, this is about guiding and caring for your children’s healthy development. While it may be difficult to balance the desire to be the cool mom or dad, as a parent, you are first and foremost the protector for the child. Salzman favorite filters are: Net Nanny for general use on devices, Mobicip for iPhones and Net Spark Mobile for Androids.
For women whose husbands seem distant and uninterested, Salzman says this is a good time to start investigating. See if he is consistently coming to bed late, or is spending too many hours on the computer late at night (and with the door closed.) She should speak to him directly and in an understanding manner. Many are struggling with this addiction either knowingly, unknowingly, or secretly. If you suspect someone you know of having a sex addiction, voice your concerns to the person directly and offer to help get them professional support in order to effectively combat these issues.
To contact Brad Salzman, click here.