Confessions of a pornography addict's wife
Twenty seven-year-old Mumbai woman opens up to mid-day about why she moved Supreme Court to seek a ban on porn
Back in 2015 when the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a directive for service providers to ban porn websites, I remember debating with my friends about this ludicrous move. How could the law stop an adult from watching porn within the four walls of his/her room? It was an invasion of privacy and personal liberty, I'd thought.
My views took a 360 degree turn when I got married. I was a 25-year-old business development manager at an e-commerce firm, and, my mother, like most parents, was looking for a matrimonial alliance for me. At her insistence, I spoke to a Bengali boy, who she said was well-settled and worked as a director at a private firm involved in the education sector. Our first conversation was heart-warmingly pleasant. He came across as well-read and articulate.
A week later, we met in Mumbai and I was completely taken in by his charm. We first met in August, got engaged in October and tied the knot in March 2016. The courtship period was short, something I regret till date.
The first revelation
In Bengalis, there's a custom called Kal Ratri where the couple is not supposed to sleep together a night after the wedding. The next day, when we got the opportunity to be together, he held me in his arms and talked. Both of us eventually fell asleep. In arranged marriages, getting intimate can take time. Moreover, his mother had mentioned that he had never dated, and would find it difficult getting comfortable immediately. I found it strange that a well-heeled 32-year-old man living in Mumbai had never been in a relationship. But I let it slide.
The next day, he made a confession that came as a jolt. At the age of 12, he said, he had suffered sexual abuse. His neighbour, a woman in her late 30s, would make him watch sleaze and perform sexual acts on him. This was his introduction to porn. I was at a loss on how to tread from here onward. I wasn't a psychologist or counsellor, so the only way to deal with this was to make him comfortable. I told him that we could first build on our friendship before getting intimate.
The same night, he came close to me and showed me porn videos on his phone. He then asked me to perform oral sex on him. After he ejaculated, he went off to sleep. To my utter horror, this became routine. He would leave early for work, return in the evening, go to his 'man cave' and watch porn. He wasn't interested in getting intimate with me.
My presence in the room, while he was at it, never bothered him. On the contrary, he wanted me to join him. But, all he expected from me was oral sex. He was so happy living in the fantasy that he wasn't interested in the real thing. He would sit with his phone and watch till the battery drained. If his phone died, he would use mine.
Living in denial
It had been eight months and we still hadn't consummated our marriage. I tried to get close, but he would resist and say, 'I just can't'. I realised there was a problem and it needed to be addressed. Just as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol and must seek treatment, a porn addict requires help. But, the first step was to admit to the problem. He was not ready to accept it. He believed that he was being a man and that all men do it. Because he was in denial, he refused to visit a counsellor.
I decided to discuss the issue with his mother. She denied any instance of childhood abuse, so I assumed he hadn't told her about it. When she tried to have a conversation with him, he was livid. While I was at work, he sent me a WhatsApp image of bags that he had packed. He wanted me to leave the house. I had blown off the lid on his porn addiction, and he didn't want any interference.
I wanted to make my marriage work so I tried to calm him down and act according to his wish. Despite this, he didn't speak to me for two months. I quit my job to be with him because I felt he needed time and attention and somebody to vent to. At his insistence, I stopped keeping in touch with my family and friends. I knew his dirty secret and he didn't want it to leak. He wanted me to work with him at his office, so I did that too.
His craving for erotica was so intense that it eclipsed everything else in his life. He even developed dermatographic urticaria, rashes that erupt on the body when the person is under severe stress. It would happen when I would speak to him about his porn addiction. Once, I even rushed him to a hospital due to this.
Situation takes a violent turn
Within 10 months of marriage, I had cocooned myself from the outside work. Because I was around all the time, he gained a certain level of trust. He even told me that he had flunked Std X because he would spend all day watching porn watch. It's only when he realised that he would need to earn money, that he decided to focus on academics.
The confessions kept tumbling out but without a hint of guilt. In the day, he was so normal that nobody would guess that there was a dark side to the man. Since he works closely with NGOs, he would hold workshops for underprivileged kids with my help. He was somebody who would hobnob with CEOs and policy makers. It's only at night, that this side would emerge. My efforts to stop his addiction angered him so much that he started getting violent.
I couldn't take it anymore so I sought my brother's help. I took him and his mother along and met my brother at a restaurant. I chose a public space, because I thought he would be forced to behave himself. The moment I broached the subject, he got up and asked his mother and me to get into the car. He drove so rashly that I thought he would kill us. I decided to separate from him.
I started living with my parents. While I hoped that distance would make him miss my presence, it turned out to be just the opposite. He liked the fact that I was living apart and he had his privacy. In fact, he told my parents that it's best that we continue with this arrangement.
Knocking on court doors
By now, I realised that the reason my husband is addicted to porn is because of its easy availability. It doesn't matter how many hours a person is watching porn. You don't oppose alcohol addiction until the drunk starts getting violent. Similarly, with porn. It has ruined my life. Sadly, we have normalised watching it. Since I haven't filed a case against my husband, I have moved the Supreme Court seeking a change in the way we treat porn. It's a social malaise.
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