My House Initiative seeks to prevent and heal sexual addictions

By Megan Marley

What’s so bad about pornography? It’s just a little harmless adult fun, right?

Well, only if sexual dysfunction, becoming desensitized to normal sex, hurting and alienating your significant other and family, and contributing to sexual exploitation are considered harmless. And in the spiritual context, porn is a serious sin against chastity and human dignity.

The Catechism explains that pornography “offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other and doesn’t respect the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others”(CCC, 2354.).

But there is help available to prevent and heal the wounds caused by sexual addiction.

The My House Initiative, an outreach of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, seeks to foster the virtue of chastity and increase awareness of the effects of pornography on society, through offering education programs for parents, teachers and students, online resources, pastoral resources for priests, crisis intervention, and healing support for adults, including groups and clinical therapy.

“The whole approach is we want to protect young people and protect families, and often there’s healing necessary,” said Dino Durando, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life. “The problem of pornography is not just a problem for men anymore, it’s also a problem for an increasing amount of women too.”

My House has online resources on the Marriage and Family Life website, and a local helpline at (816) 808-6544. So what happens when someone calls the helpline?

“Step one is getting them in for an assessment, which is free. From there we kind of see what they need,” said Michael Ciaccio, P.L.P.C., professional therapist and founder of the therapist group practice Center for Healing, who answers the helpline and contracts for the My House Initiative.

Ciaccio said from there, a lot of the time men will go to free My House group meetings, held weekly in Kansas City and at colleges where there is a Catholic campus ministry, to help them work on healing and finding freedom from their addiction. He also often recommends individual counseling, which is offered separately through the Center for Healing.

Though some relapse or don’t want to get over pornography, Ciaccio said that most men find groups and counseling helpful.

“We’ve had a lot of positive response, where guys are finding freedom from pornography, and they’re working on their relationship with their wife. Their wife notices he’s more engaged, more available, he’s meeting my needs…he’s not so distant and checked out and irritable, which are symptoms of an addiction.”

There are also three-day intensive My House Workshops offered through the Center for Healing, designed to jumpstart and accelerate the recovery process. Workshops typically run from a Thursday to Saturday; the next will be held February 22-24, 2018.

“What that looks at is a lot of psychoeducation around pornography, the brain science of it,” Ciaccio explained. “We go through their life story, trauma, we look at just a lot of different dynamics of how they developed the addiction and help them work through it. And there’s a lot of group work as well.”

There are also resources to help spouses and families recover.

“There’s an important term called betrayal trauma, that a wife goes through with finding out that her husband has been looking at pornography or has had an affair or something like that,” Ciaccio said. He said there are spouse support groups My House can direct them to, and couple counseling could be helpful. There’s also a family component for kids: there are resources for how to educate them on the topic, counseling for teens, and information on filtering, monitoring or accountability software.

“A lot of people don’t realize how quickly things have changed in the area of pornography and exposure, especially with children. Its not the kind of pornography that was a problem 20, 30 years ago,” Dino Durando stated. “It’s this toxic mix of sex and violence put together in a way that kind of overwhelms young peoples brains.”

According to research presented at the 2017 annual convention of the American Psychological Association, the average age of first exposure to pornography for boys was 13.37 years of age. My House is hoping to reach youths before they encounter porn or in the early stages of addiction through intervention education at schools. The first such course was held last year at Rockhurst High School.

“We did a whole, three-day intensive at Rockhurst high school where we went through with the freshmen the brain science of pornography, a human dignity/theology of the body piece, and then accountability and steps to move forward,” Ciaccio said. There is also a panel discussion for parents, on how to equip their home and make it safe from pornography.

For more information on the My House Initiative, visit myhousekcsj.org or call the helpline at (816) 808-6544.

 

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  • BKB

    Thanks My House for not only letting people know the awful consequences of pornography but for offering solutions. For those who don’t have time for group meetings, the book Power Over Pornography is a good place to start. It offers a different but effective approach to quitting pornography. I recommend it.

Monday
December 18, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph