QUESTION: I’m a 19-year-old girl and still live with my parents while I go to community college. The other day, I was in our basement looking for something I had as a little girl. We have three rooms in the basement and I went into one that I usually never go into because I thought it could be in a box in there. Instead, I found a box of porn. Mostly magazines and old VCR tapes. They either belong to my dad or my older brother who hasn’t lived here in about 8 years. Should I tell my mom? Should I throw it out? It was a lot of porn. Nobody needs that much porn.

ANSWER: Sadly, there are a lot of people who need that much porn to keep their addictions going. It sounds more like a curated collection than anything else. Those of us who are over 35 can probably relate in some way. I had a handful of videos and several dozen magazines I kept stashed in a box that once held my Nintendo cartridges.

Considering there are VHS tapes in there and we haven’t used that technology with any regularity for 15 years, I would guess that the box of porn belongs to your father. I have a feeling if you looked at the dates of the magazines, they may be from before you were even born.

It stands to reason that there aren’t more boxes because everybody was getting on the Internet for the first time 15-20 years ago. The questions remain, did your dad make the move to online pornography, does he have a problem, and either way do you tell anyone?

Don’t throw it away. If it’s not illegal pornography, it poses no real danger and it’s not your property. It’s also a giveaway somebody is tampering, just in case he still does use it.

I guess I’d need to know your mother to know if this is something that you can address with her. If she dismisses negative things or looks at your father as a hero, it will probably fall on deaf ears, just as an addict diagnosis would. If she’s an over-reactor, it could lead to crazy drama that may not be warranted, especially if it turns out to not be his box of porn.

If your mother is a level-headed person who you have a good, open relationship with, you could ask her something nudging her toward it, like, “I heard on TV that half of American households have either had pornography as problem in the past or currently have it. Have we ever had anything like that?” If she says, “No, why do you ask?” tell her that you found some pornography in the basement. Feel free to direct her to it. If she says yes, let it go, it’s not your business.

If you can’t talk to your mother, I don’t think I’d approach your father. As the father of a 20-year-old, even if I was living a lie and wanted to confess for years, that confession isn’t coming out to my daughter. I’m very honest with her these days, but before I faced my addiction it would have been lie, lie, lie.

I think your best bet might be to talk to your brother. If it’s his porn, he’ll probably fess up. He doesn’t live there anymore and it may have just been a collection he was given by some friend’s older brother. If it’s not his porn, he should have some feedback in deciding what you do next. Make it a sibling problem, not just your problem. If you determine that you can’t talk to your mom, maybe he can talk to your dad.

I think this is a situation where you’re just enough removed that you can’t really say or do too much. There may be people who disagree with me and if they do, I hope they’ll add their two cents in the comments.

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DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

 

11 comments

  1. Considering the size of VHS tapes, I’m guessing that it probably wasn’t all that unusual back then to have a big ole box o’ porn. Now here’s a thought – DVDs would be the natural viewing stepping stone between VHS and the internet, so a lack of DVDs might suggest his porn viewing was limited to his younger years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point. I know several guys who had boxes of porn. 10 magazines isn’t tiny either. I don’t think they ended up the addict I was. It was a different time. But why keep it? Maybe he doesn’t know it’s there or maybe he has a problem. It’s hard to know how to approach that considering the family dynamic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I found out about my husband’s porn collection, it was grabbing the wrong flash drive on accident while paying bills and looking for info. It was filled a 32 gig drive and was filled to capacity with porn. I was in shock and without thinking automatically deleted it all and confronted him and he was ready right then and there to divorce me, no questions asked. To this day, he is Addicted and I stayed because divorce is ugly and we have a young daughter together. But the level of addiction and lies is deep and they prefer that to physical companionship and a trusting relationship, so you have to be very careful, as Josh said, not to go down a road that is awful. And considering it is not a DVD or flash drive, it is probably a long time ago and maybe he has overcome it. Maybe not though. So consider Josh’s advice as sage and proceed with caution and pray for wisdom. I would go to my sibling. I know it is painful but do not question his love for your mom or you. God bless. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No. I know he chooses that and it is first in his life over me, and I choose to accept his illness and not take it personally and cling to God for comfort and strength. We never discuss it but he never is blatant about it either and is treating all of us better and kinder because I am loving him through it. Maybe he will come around. Maybe not, but it is how we choose. The discovery was about 7 years ago now, we had been married three years at that time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think my wife, who didn’t know much about my porn issues, felt that exact same way about my alcoholism for many years. Changes can happen. My family is proof of that. Keep the faith.

        Like

    1. Tonya, can I ask why your husband was ready to divorce you? Was it because he thought that this was what you would want/ demand? On a slightly different note, I applaud you for putting your daughter first. I’m guessing you felt God wanted you to stay. A lot of wives would leave under those circumstances. However, the break up of a home affects more than just the spouse. There’s no right or wrong answer. Everyone’s situation is unique. But I do think we have to weigh the all-round/ possible long-term affect on our children too.

      Like

      1. In my experience (which is extensive), addicts carry and live with an enormous amount of guilt and believe they deserve bad things. So he assumed, because he didn’t really understand unconditional love, that as soon as I knew he was addicted to such an intimate thing that is supposed to just be shared between us, that I would demand a divorce. I weighed my options and found this to be best for us all. 😄❤

        Liked by 2 people

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