February 19, 2007
AIKEN, S.C.---Anywhere from 18 to 22 million people are addicted to pornography and are buying into the $57 billion global business.
One man is taking his personal story of porn addiction across the country. Tonight he shared his message at USC Aiken.
Michael Leahy is the president and founder of BraveHearts, an organization seeking to educate the public about what it calls the dangers of pornography. Leahy says he lost everything because of his addiction to pornography, and now he's taking his message to the road.
Sex is used to sell just about everything.
"We've created what I believe is a porn nation," Leahy said.
Pornography is a $12 billion business in the United States. The biggest consumers range in age from 12 to 17.
Most children get their first look at 11 years old.
That's when Michael Leahy got his first glimpse at an addiction that cost him everything.
"Having a 30-year relationship with pornography cost me a 15-year marriage, family of two boys, my business partnership with my brother," he said.
Leahy's been in recovery for ten years, and now he's sharing what he learned with the world...on CBS, CNN, Fox News, talk shows like The View, and now with college students.
"Students aren't aware of how they're being affected, in a way, of how they view themselves and how they view and act towards others in relationships," he told News 12.
Leahy says porn addiction also means more rapes and an increase in eating disorders. That's because porn sends a message of power for men and portrays women's bodies as objects.
And access has never been easier.
"What's happening now is the internet is the crack cocaine of sexual addiction, and it's incredibly toxic," Leahy said.
"Before people knew cigarettes were harmful to your health, they just consumed them at will. I really feel that we're on a parallel path here. What I'm trying to do is put a warning label on pornography by going out and sharing my story."
A lot of people came out to hear that message...and some of the information presented was surprising. For example, Leahy says women are actually the fastest group of sex addicts because of the internet.
A group effort brought Leahy to USC-Aiken tonight, but the Campus Crusade for Christ was the main sponsor.