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Scott Wright of Bountiful told legislators Friday that he was a long-time pornography addict, and his life shows why they should declare porn a "public health crisis."
"I lost a marriage. I lost relationships with a lot of people," he said in a packed hearing room. "I was completely dysfunctional. I had no idea what a real intimate, loving relationship with another human being was. It took me a number of years to figure that out."
He blames that on constant exposure to porn beginning at age 5. "Pornography is an addiction. I want to testify to that," and said purveyors make it free on the Internet to try to hook victims and governments and communities need to fight it like they would fight drug dealers giving away free heroin or cocaine on the street.
"This is a real crisis," said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 5-0 to endorse Weiler's SCR9 to declare it exactly that. It now goes to the full Senate.
Weiler said because of news stories about his resolution, he has been attacked and made fun of in media worldwide.
"I've been attacked, saying 'why aren't we dealing with real issues and why are we dealing with religion and morality,'" he said. "This isn't just some right-wing idea. This is actually based on real research and real science."
He adds that his resolution may make more people aware of dangers from porn, or perhaps lead the government to ban pornography on the Internet unless people opt in. He says that is akin to how society started putting more restrictions on tobacco access and advertising when its dangers became more clear.
No one testified against the resolution, but a long parade of academics, self-described former addicts and conservative groups supported it.
Brian Willoughby, a Brigham Young University professor and counselor, said recent research has shown porn is increasing, lowers self worth, leads to unhealthy views of sex and relationships, increases the odds of infidelity and is a major cause of divorce.
Adam Moore, a Provo-based counselor, said he and six colleagues he supervises have seen 1,000 people in the past six years "whose families are absolutely, literally falling apart" because of pornography. "I personally have a two-year wait list to see me in therapy. We cannot keep up with the demand for services."
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said, "Sometimes people say that a resolution doesn't do much. This is an action resolution because it sends an incredible message."
Coryn Carver said she is a recovering porn addict, and started viewing it at age 10.
"The impact has destroyed my life. It made me feel insecure. I compared myself to other women," she said. "I married men who were porn addicts, who proceeded to beat me and degrade me. I lost my health. I lost my hair. I lost my family."
She added, "I beg you to help our families…. It is destroying our families. It is destroying individuals."