Relationship Rescue for Wives and Girlfriends of Internet Pornography Addicts
Pornography, Confronting the Addiction
PAH: Why did you decide to make this film?
Brandon Kowallis: My coworker Jane who you saw in the film was the primary inspiration for this film. She spent 25 years of her life in a sexually abusive marriage that was fuel by her ex-husbands pornography addiction. After she confided in me her story, the thought occurred to me that this could be a good topic for a film. As I discussed with others my idea of doing a film on pornography addiction, I began to hear story after story of how
pornography had destroyed the lives of a friend, a brother, a sister, a father, a coworker, an aunt, an uncle, a spouse, and on and on and on. It seemed like nearly everyone I talked to either knew someone who was struggling or knew someone who had lost everything because of pornography. I thought, why if so many people are struggling, does it seem to be a topic no one wants to talk about.
As I did my research to find out what direction to take on the topic, I discovered that there were several organization that had already produced films on pornography addiction. When I watched these films I realized two things; one, the sentiment was usually pessimistic as opposed to hopeful. and two, they were preaching to the choir. There are people who think pornography is a horrible thing and people who thing it is a great thing and those who think it is somewhere in between and for the most part they are pretty set in their thinking. An anti-pornography film will cause those opposed to pornography to cry out, those for pornography to laugh, and those in-between to say "interesting".
I wanted to create something that gave people hope. My approach was not to change the general public's mind, but to give those struggling with pornography addiction, or those who have to deal with another person's addiction some tools and ideas for escape. I wanted to give them hope, and show them if Jane, Yvonne, Mark, and Bernie could get through it so could they.
PAH: What does Blue 8 signify?
Brandon Kowallis: I like the power of symbols. When I was trying to choose a name for my production company I wanted something that indicated in a quiet way the values our company stood for. I had a professor, while I was working on my bachelors in photography that did a project photographing ancient and modern temples and religious sites to show similarities in the symbols they used. He gave us a copy of his research notes that outlined the significance of different shapes, symbols, colors, and numbers. Blue is a color that represents the heavens, it is looking skyward or upward. For me it is optimism, hope, and inspiration. The number 8 is the infinity sign, it represents eternal principles, or something that stands the test of time. Our goal is to produce media the elevates the human spirit to a higher way of being and a higher way of seeing the world and people around them.
PAH: There are many online and offline ministries out there that offer support for those struggling with pornography addiction. This film was made from a secular standpoint. Why?
Brandon Kowallis: Pornography addiction and its affects on loved ones does not discriminate against religion, ethnicity, culture, social status, etc., but unfortunately members of those diverse groups do. I wanted to produce a film that would not be rejected because of its religious affiliation. Though we would all like to believe that we have moved beyond that, the reality is some members of sects or religious denominations will have a hard time
watching something that is directed toward or produced by a sect or denomination that is different from theirs. I wanted to produced something that the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Islamic, Buddhist, Jehovah Witness, Hindu, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, Zoroastrian, Agnostic, etc. could benefit from without discounting it because it was associated with one particular denomination. Hope in recovery from pornography addiction is available to
everyone regardless of their religious affiliation.
PAH: Your film features real people and deeply personal real life stories. Was it difficult to get people to step forward?
Brandon Kowallis: You bet. It was hard enough just finding people who would talk about their addiction or loved ones addiction. Finding someone who would talk about it on camera, without having their face blurred, was even harder. Showing people's faces was extremely important to the film. I wanted people to be able to say "Wow, if that person, can go through all that, and get through it, and not be ashamed, and still be a good person, then
so can I." One of the biggest fuels for this addiction is the shame and secrecy, and I wanted this film to break down that barrier.
PAH: The film has two spouses of porn addicts in it. One woman left her marriage and the other stayed in the marriage and worked through the issues with her husband. Why was important to include both stories?
Brandon Kowallis: Divorce is not always the answer. Sometimes in our society people are willing to break the knot at the first sign of difficulty. Good, lasting marriages require a significant amount of hard work, repentance, and forgiveness. Realize that your husband or wife (Women now make up almost 50 percent of those consuming pornography) is not addicted to the images on the page or screen, but the feelings they get from the rush of
dopamine, adrenaline, and other neurochemicals released during exposure. Often at the core of any addiction is a hidden struggle with anxiety and depression which fuels the addiction. Pornography just happens to be one way to self-medicate. Others may choose drugs or alcohol, excessive eating, shopping, etc. to get that rush. Talking with Mark Kastleman about his research, he pointed out that most people who struggle with an addiction to
pornography are your most spiritual, most caring, and most intelligent individuals. They want desperately to stop, but can't seem to do it. The last thing they need is for their spouse or significant other to abandon them.
That said, like Jane (the women who ultimately divorced her husband) mentioned in the film, there comes a time when you need to start taking care of yourself and your children. For her that was when she realized that the addiction had complete control over him and he showed no desire to try and control his addiction any more. During Yvonne's interview (the women who stay in the marriage) she told me that her husband actually came out of the closet several times before they were finally able to make real progress. Each time he came out, he still had one foot in. At one point she even kicked him out of their home for several months. It wasn't until he was completely honest and stopped trying to hide that they were finally able to redevelop that trust and work together to overcome it and revive their marriage.
I think most people go with divorce, but I wanted to show spouses and family members that if your husband or wife or significant other or family member or friend is willing to work to over come this, then they desperately need your help, and by simply cutting them off you may be throwing away one of your greatest assets. If, on the other hand, the addict is unwilling to change, or abusive, or a threat to you or your family then the person
dealing with that addict needs to seriously consider what needs to be done for their own and their families physical, emotional, and spiritual welfare.
Q: In the credits at the end of the film, I noticed that there were six interviewees - four men and two women. The men were listed with first and last names however, the women were listed only with their first names - Jane and Yvonne. Why were they listed this way? How do you think social stigma impacts the addict and the addict's wife/girlfriend differently?
Brandon Kowallis: The primary reason for withholding Jane and Yvonne's last names was because I was specifically asked by them to do so. Mark and Bernie have been in the limelight with their addiction for years and so for them anonymity was not an issue.
As for social stigma, yeah, that is definitely an issue. Part of the purpose of this film was to debunk the myths regarding pornography addiction and the views addicts and those dealing with other people's addictions have. Anecdotally speaking, a lot of people view pornography addicts as sick perverts. Why? Because they don't understand what is going on. Most addicts feel as though they are the only one on the planet dealing with this problem and they are utterly afraid of being discovered, so much so that they often go to extremes to hide what they are doing. For spouses dealing with the addict's problem, they too feel alone and fearful that others will find out what they are going through, think less of them, or blame them. So oddly enough I think both addicts and their spouses suffer similar emotions; anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, and fear of discovery. Then
because of these social stigmas most addicts and spouses of addicts live secret lives of suffering. From the outside everyone thinks they have the perfect marriage, but inside their marriage is rotting away.
What they discover, is that once they confide in a trusted friend, family member, church leader, or therapist, most close family and friends are understanding and want to help and are deeply concerned for their well being, and they discover they are absolutely not alone! They may even discover that someone they confided in went through or is going through the same thing. The reality is there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands
of people who are going through the exact same thing, feeling the exact same emotions.
Q: How do you feel pornography will impact marriages and relationships over the next ten years?
Brandon Kowallis: I don't think pornography is going away any time soon and as long as it is out there, accessible, anonymous, affordable, and aggressive, as Mark puts it in the film, people will continue to fall into its trap. I think the key is in how we deal with it. We must help addicts and spouses of addicts and all others who struggle and want to overcome it know that they are not alone, that we are there to help and not judge them, and
that we still think the world of them even though they struggle. For children, I think the key is not in trying to control their world so that they never get exposed, because I think that is impossible, but in being open with them in an appropriate way and at the appropriate time about the proper place for physical intimacy, letting them know what they may experience if they are exposed, teaching them how to deal with it, and then maintaining a
good, open relationship so that they feel comfortable talking with you about it. If children feel like mom and dad think that people who look at pornography are sick perverts, then what will a child think about himself or herself when they are first exposed? And will that child then feel comfortable talking to his or her parents about it?
I am very hopeful that even though pornography will continue to take it's toll on individuals and communities, that those with a desire to overcome its affect on their own lives and the lives of their families will be able as we continue to break down these stigmas and let others know that there is hope
Do you have thirty-four minutes?
In thirty-four minutes you can feel as if you are not the only one dealing with a partner struggling with pornography. In thirty-four minutes you can understand how pornography affects your partner from a non-threatening, third party perspective.
In thirty-four minutes you can see how an addiction to porn can slowly strangle a marriage.
In thirty-four minutes you may be able to convince him to take the first step towards a life of health and sanity and reach out to someone for help.
In thirty-four minutes you can get hope for your future.
For the wife or girlfriend of someone struggling with a pornography addiction, this film is comforting and empowering.
For the man struggling with a porn addiction, this film is a wake up call to take action.
PAH highly recommends Pornography, Confronting the Addiction.
>> How to Quit Porn Addiction Starting Now