Steps for Recovery from Pornography or Media Addiction

Safe Families recommends the following steps for pastors and ministry leaders when helping someone recover from a pornography or online addiction. You can find resources for each of these steps by clicking on the links below.

1.    Immediate Emergency Response

2.    Church-based Accountability Partner

3.    Media Sobriety Covenant

4.    Online Safety & Media Sobriety Manual

5.    Family Support

6.    Peer Support Groups

7.   Professional Counseling

Step 1: Immediate Emergency Response

These are steps to take immediately to ensure physical safety and provide support for recovery:

a.     Designate point persons for addict, spouse, children

b.    Divestment of ministry responsibilities for the addict

c.     STD testing if physical boundaries were crossed

d.    Getting support for children during stressful family time

e.     Other emergency measures as needed (relocation, legal or financial support)

All these steps should be undertaken with compassion and respect for privacy, yet with the awareness that an addict cannot be trusted to be completely honest.


Step 2: Church-based Accountability Partner

An effective accountability partner is important for someone struggling with addiction. See below for suggested qualities to look for in an accountability partner and links to valuable tools for the accountability partner.

Qualifications of Accountability Partner

  • same sex

  • is experiencing victory and healing

  • is willing to be "not so nice," to ask difficult questions

  • is not easily fooled

  • can keep confidence

  • is available for daily check in by phone or email

  • will meet for regular face-to-face meetings (2-4/month)

  • is willing to be "on call" for times of stress and temptation

  • will monitor your internet usage

Accountability Software :: Monitoring software can be an effective aid in personal accountability for adults. No blocking occurs. It simply reports on Internet usage. In setting it up, you decide who will receive the detailed report of the computer's usage. Web sites that are deemed inappropriate, based on the options you've chosen, will be red-flagged.  More information about monitoring software can be found in this manual under the section titled "Information and Resources for Parents and Caregivers."


Sample Accountability Questions

For those in recovery from pornography or other media addiction, we suggest developing 1-3 regular accountability partners that you check in at least once or twice a week if not daily. We provide a list of [[sample accountability questions|suggested questions]]; feel free to modify as appropriate for your situation.

Daily Reflection Sample Sheet

A [sample daily reflection sheet|daily reflection sheet] can be used as an additional tool for accountability partners. Some benefits of keeping a list like this are: 1) awareness of self, 2) having others aware of how you're doing (transparency, vulnerability) 3) awareness of others and the opportunity to care for others.


Step 3: Eight Commitments of Media Sobriety Covenant for Adults


We recommend that all adults that wish to keep their family safe online and with media consider making a commitment through signing a [[media sobriety covenant]].  While we do not believe it is helpful to be legalistic or too rigid, we do believe that there is power to making and signing covenants.  The goal of this covenant is to establish boundaries to help keep a family safe in the information age.


Step 4: Online Safety & Media Sobriety Manual

You can provide a copy of this manual to the person in recovery and use it to refer the person to books, videos, talks, and websites about recovering from pornography or online addiction. You can make unlimited paper copies of the materials in this manual.


Step 5: Family Support

It is important to provide support to the families of addicts, as sexual addiction does not just affect the addict - it also affects those close to him/her. Below are suggested steps and resources for helping parents of addicted children and spouses of addicts.

For Parents of Addicted Children:

Steps to take to equip the parents of addicted children:

  • Refer to online safety strategiesto protect children (included in this manual under the section "Information and Resources for Parents and Caregivers").

  • Encourage parents to take the issue seriously.

  • Get the child to meet with an adult recovering addict, if possible.


For Spouses:
Web Resources:


Love Your Sister (
The web site of a gifted woman whose mission is to recognize the beauty of women of all ages, races and cultures. Having experienced the pain of living with a spouse who struggles with sexual addiction, her desire is to inspire women through this website to take an active role in edifying, serving and praying for other women, so they might be restored to God's original design for their lives.


S-Anon  (
A secular fellowship of the relatives and friends of sexually addicted people who share their experiences, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems.


A Woman's Healing Journey (

Marsha Means, M.A., is a Christian counselor and writer, and the former wife of a sex addict. Out of her own experience, and her work with others impacted by sexual addiction, has grown a community of women who share a common bond; each has been hurt by her partner's sexual addiction or acting out behavior.


Step 6: Peer Support Groups

Another key to long-term recovery is connecting the addict with peer support group(s).


Guidelines for Church-based Peer Support Groups


Like a 12-step group, a church-based peer support group should have no designated leader. Talk with the church's pastor and enlist support for starting the peer support group. Try meeting weekly or bi-weekly to read through a book. (For a list of recommended books about sexual addiction and recovery, go to the Resources section of this manual.)


Group Rules for Safety

  • Same-sex small groups

  • No crosstalk: don't comment on what others share

  • Do not give advice

  • Avoid giving "advice prayer" or consider using pre-written prayers

  • Sign confidentiality agreement (see Sample Confidentiality Form in this manual)


We have compiled a list of [[recommended support groups|suggested groups]].


Step 7: Professional Counseling


Professional therapy can be a helpful tool for those struggling with addiction. A list of counselors and recovery groups can be found in the section of this manual titled "Resources."

Questions to Ask When Finding a Counselor for Sexual Addiction

1.    How much experience do you have working with sexual addiction?

2.    How much of your practice is related to sexual addiction?

3.    Are you a recovering person who has worked the steps yourself?

4.    Do you have specialized training, certification, or licensure in addictions?

5.    What books have you read related to sexual addiction?

6.    Do you have specific training dealing with sexual abuse issues?

The other important factors are finding a therapist that will give a specific plan and who is willing to work themselves out of a job, re-evaluating frequency regularly and tapering off-in effect, releasing the client into the "recovery community" they've helped them create for themselves. Professional therapy can be a helpful tool for those struggling with addiction. We have compiled a list of [[recommended counseling links|suggested resources for connecting with professional counselors]] in different settings - individual therapy, teleconference, and residential programs.

Faith (for Content):