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‘Satan should hold a party when we die’

Mark Greaves talks to Matthew Fradd, the 28-year-old who conquered his porn addiction and is helping others to do the same

By on Friday, 4 March 2011

Matthew Fradd sought freedom from pornography addiction after a bad fall. ‘While my wife was leading a Bible study with women, teaching women about their dignity, I was looking at pornography’

Matthew Fradd sought freedom from pornography addiction after a bad fall. ‘While my wife was leading a Bible study with women, teaching women about their dignity, I was looking at pornography’

Matthew Fradd began looking at pornography when he was eight. He found a magazine in a relative’s shed and was “completely captivated” by it. He started rooting around his relative’s house for similar material, and by the age of 11 or 12 he and a friend were stealing magazines from local shops and petrol stations. They would pretend to look at car magazines or heavy metal magazines, and, when they thought no one was looking, would stuff a Playboy or Penthouse under their jumper and run out. Fradd ended up with quite a collection, all of it stashed away under his dresser.

It is a story he has told many times before – on television and on radio, and to crowds of people in Canada, Ireland and America. He does so because he believes that porn is not harmless, but evil, that it “cripples a person’s ability to love”. It emasculates men, he says, and degrades women.

When I speak to him he is in southern Australia, near Adelaide, visiting his parents. I can hear some banging in the background: his son is drumming saucepans. His wife, Cameron, is back home in Ottawa, Canada, along with their daughter.

The turning point in his life, he explains, was World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. Until then he had been a “self-declared agnostic” and had avoided going to Mass as much as possible. When the WYD offer came up, he was attracted by the adventure of travelling to Europe. “The idea of growing in my faith or discovering Jesus or listening to what the Pope had to say – I didn’t really give a stuff about that, to be honest,” he says.

He was struck, though, by the other teenagers on the plane. “I’d never met young Christians who really believed their faith, who lived out the Church’s teaching on everything including their sexuality. I’d never met people like that who were normal. And not just normal but very cool. And confident.”

He began to pray tentatively for a sign that God existed. Before long, it seemed like his prayer was being answered. “I’d never felt so joyful in my life,” he says. “I just had this overwhelming sensation that God is real, that He loves me, and if that’s true how much does that change everything.” The “slow process of sanctification”, he says, began then.

He received mixed advice on pornography from priests. Some, he says, told him it was “terrible preparation for marriage”; others said it was merely “healthy entertainment for young boys” (this, Fradd says, was really not satisfactory).

He started going for longer and longer periods without it. He joined Net Ministries in Canada, and went evangelising around the country for a year. And, in 2006, he got married.

At this time, he says, he “wasn’t really struggling a whole lot but occasionally”. Then he had a particularly bad fall. “While my wife was leading a Bible study with women, teaching women about their dignity, I was looking at pornography,” he says.

He felt “absolutely ashamed”, he says, and told his priest in Confession that he was “sick and tired” of repeating the same thing again and again. His priest suggested that he turn to Our Lady of Purity for help. Fradd didn’t really believe it would work, but thought he should try it anyway.

“From that day on I took up the rosary and prayed for that intention,” he says. “And at the end of each rosary I would hold up the rosary above my head like a chain in two hands and say: ‘Blessed Mother, I have taken up your chain, now you take off my chains of lust.’ ”

Finally, he says, he “felt the addiction leave”.

But Fradd is wary about saying that he has overcome the problem for good.

“It didn’t happen overnight, and I’m not trying to say it could never happen again,” he says. Purity, he explains, is a daily battle. “It isn’t a destination that you reach and you wake up and think: ‘Oh, look at this, I’m pure.’ As a Christian, purity isn’t the destination; heaven is the destination.”

It was only a few months later that Fradd began to wonder how he could help other men and women struggling with the same problem. He recorded his testimony, and launched the “cheapest, poxiest website you’d ever seen”. And he started getting contacted by people all over the world.

In 2009 a priest gave him $12,000 to turn the site, ThePornEffect.com, into something polished and professional. Now it gets about 7,000 visitors a day, and has articles and interviews with people who have worked in the porn industry, including Donny Pauling, an ex-Playboy producer, and April Garris, an ex-porn star.

It also offers a forum, called “the Revolution”, for people who are trying to overcome their addiction, with “victory stories” from people who have managed to break the habit and a “battle cry” section from people in the midst of struggle. It is moving and extremely confessional: reading it feels like stumbling into an AA meeting.

Fradd says people should be honest and admit that churchgoers can be addicted to pornography, too. “Those who sit next to us at church may not believe there’s a problem with pornography, and maybe they do and they’re up to their eyeballs in it.”

On the phone, he says he forgets that other people aren’t as comfortable talking about pornography as he is. “It’s kind of the main thing I do now,” he says.

But he realises that the “evils of pornography” is not a subject likely to draw a big crowd unless it is handled carefully. “What we try not to do is say: ‘Everyone, come to the church hall, this man is going to talk about pornography.’ Oh, great. That sounds terrific.”

Instead, he says, he arranges events at bars or jazz clubs and pitches them as offering the “inside scoop” on the porn industry. He may, for instance, interview Garris or Pauling onstage. “Everyone can come into a cool environment, buy a pint and just listen to a conversation… It’s a way to evangelise the half-convinced.”

From his own experience struggling against pornography Fradd recommends fasting and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well praying the rosary.

“If I can’t say no to that next slice of pizza or that next cup of coffee, how on earth will I say no to a temptation to look at pornography?”

He adds: “Prayer without fasting is like boxing with one hand tied behind your back, and fasting without prayer – well, we call that dieting.”

Fradd is a riveting, charismatic speaker, even on the phone. But he also seems quite sensible and down to earth: he is careful not to hold himself up as a model of virtue, and is scrupulously humble about his efforts.

Essentially, he says, the point is not about looking, or not looking, at pornography; it’s about trying to be holy.

“We want to be the kind of men that, when we’re dead, Satan throws a party. He says: ‘Thank God he has gone, he caused my kingdom too much damage.’ That’s the kind of man I want to be. And I think that’s the kind of man most men want to be.”

  • st alban

    Very honest…….

  • Sep87

    No, I think he’ll do greater damage in Heaven after he’s dead.

  • Anonymous

    Heartfelt and honest story, wishing him the best of luck.

  • Justme

    Sept87 What on earth do you mean?

  • Mcl2348

    Justme…Sep87′s comment struck me as odd at first also. But I think he is refering to one’s ability to intercede in Heaven, as apposed to here on earth. Forgive me if I’m mistaken.

  • justme

    Mc12348 You could be right. Good thinking. Still like to hear from Sep87.

  • steve

    Like most youths I brushed with pornography as well. I can confirm that through prayer and fasting I managed to get over the addiction. In particular I used to pray a novena to Sister Josefa Menendez (http://www.newjerusalem.com/Novena.htm).
    With evil, there is no room for allowance and dialogue, however small it could be. Personally, I used to say ‘just a little bit’, but then I never had the will to leave. Leaving the door ajar will not get you out of the addiction, whatever that may be. It has to be a complete and definite NO.
    Saint George Preca, (a Maltese saint), used to preach that where there could be a circumstance that could lead to sin, “escape always, escape quickly and escape in time”. This does not constitute a cowardly act, but an act of bravery. Another Maltese whose name escapes me at the moment used to describe how sin gets committed. He used to say, “viso, riso, tactum, factum”, which literally translated means, looked at, laughed at, touched, done.
    Personally I find that the sacraments, mainly that of confession and that of the holy communion help me to stay away from sin. The rosary is another weapon against the evil one and his deceiving acts.

  • Johnrspo

    Let’s assume Sept87 meant exactly what Mc12348 said he meant. That’s an excellent interpretation and dead-on accurate, I think. (No pun intended!).

  • justme

    I think I’m a bit like Thomas on this one. Unless I hear it from Mc12348 him/herself I’m not convinced.
    Come om Sep87 tell us what you mean.

  • justme

    Sorry, meant to say unless I hear it from Sep87 not Mc12348.

  • Anonymous

    Lust is a biological necessity, and therefore it is in our nature to find it appealing. I think the harm really occurs in our objectification of women as a result, and also the exploitation of men and women in the industry producing the material.

    I think that calls for illegality, however, are misplaced. Cigarettes and alcohol objectively do much more damage to our mental health, physical health, families and relationships than pornography does, and yet we do not call for their banning – because we are intelligent enough to know this will not stop the demand for such substances and such products will go underground and unregulated.

    I think the abuses that could occur in an underground pornography industry, could turn out very nasty. At least as it stands it is out in the open and people are treated properly and checks against diseases like AIDS are taken and prevented.

  • Thomas Lynch7

    Tomo, Cigarettes and alcohol will Kill Your body Porn will Kill your soul

  • Ratbag

    Our Lady is good to her promises regarding the Holy Rosary. One of her promises is, quote: “… The Holy Rosary shall be a powerful armour against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.”

    Matthew Fradd’s article here should be read by all teenage boys and girls. Porn is as addictive as a class A narcotic and few people realise this and ought to WAKE UP!!!!

    Oh, and by the way: the priest or priests who say that pornography is ‘healthy entertainment for young boys’ ought to be censured by their bishop… and/or investigated by the appropriate authorities.

  • Ratbag

    Lust is a deadly sin.

  • Anonymous

    So lusting f

  • LM

    Nop, you are confusing physical atraction with lust. Lust IS a sin and you CAN decide wether you look at a woman with lust or not

  • Anonymous

    lust is defined as a strong sexual desire. I don’t think that instant sexual response can be controlled, in that we don’t have that control, it is a response and not a decision. Going to the trouble to seek out women to lust after – pursuing your natural desire can be decided.

  • Anonymous

    I found Matthew’s story very inspiring. Anyone reading this who struggles with the same issues may also like to be aware of Sexaholics Anonymous, a fellowship based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • Hadrek

    trust in i parties held every second of man kinds destruction

  • Marcel

    Thanks for sharing your story, your weekness, your courage and your victory.

  • DBMcGinnity

    The Most Beautiful Thing

    Like Dave Allen, I was brought up to believe that sex was a filthy dirty business, and that all girls were like the Virgin Mary. Then I discovered that sex was a filthy dirty business, especially when I worked in a venereal disease clinic. That experience made me very cautious and careful about human sexuality. I also learned that all girls were not like the Virgin Mary and that was good fun. I have never met a girl like the Virgin Mary.

    Watching pornography is not really the problem, but thinking and feeling that it is a sin to watch or make pornography is the problem, because it induces fear and guilt. Why should anyone feel fear and guilt about the most beautiful thing a human being can ever experience in their lifetime. Celibacy does not make any sense.

    To me it has always seemed foolish to watch other people having sex, especially when it is extreme and outrageous. I made a rule a long time ago that I will only watch pornography if I am in it, and if it is with people I know. It is a good rule, and it certainly causes lots of laughter to see: “the other side of life”.

  • Ratbag

    Have you not read a single word of the said feature?

    To watch yourself involved in copulation’? You’re either narcissistic or someone with a dirty mac hung up in the hallway!

  • DBMcGinnity

    You mean that you have never done it, you have have lived a sheltered life. Stop being a prig, a live a little.
    You would be great fun on a night out at The Legion Of Mary Social Club? Grow up and enjoy life.

  • Tom

    Pornography is a satanic plague. One must block internet porn for oneself and family.
    Pray for the courage to confront this evil. It surrounds us and we must be deliberate in combating it. God bless you for your courage to confront this great evil in our time.
    TK

  • PJB

    The act which Our Creator designed to bring a new unique, eternal person into existence is indeed beautiful… a mind-bogglingly beautiful way in which my bride and I mirror (in a very small way) the very Love the Father and the Son share with each other – which is a Third Person, the Holy Spirit. When we realize this (and I pray that we all will), how could we ever want to intentionally cheapen the beautiful gift of human sexuality through pornography or contraception or in any other way contradictory to the God in whose image we are made?

    Thank you Matthew for responding to the grace of God to overcome your addiction and share your struggle with us.

  • Anonymous

    A beautiful story of conquest of evil with God’s help.

    All Evils can be conquered in and through Jesus Christ the Son of God, for He is alive. But for this one’s faith must grow and develop with meditation, reflection and following of Jesus in life.

    Attending to mere rituals can create the illusion that one is a Christian.

  • Tvinsider

    Very interesting post. I just read a just-published novel, The Redeemed, a gripping thriller which manages to deal very intelligently with these themes.

  • http://twitter.com/iiSpamcat Mitchell

    I honestly think that pornography is harmless, lust is there to be forfilled. Saying pornography is a sin is like saying being Gay is a sin. And honestly, those who do say gayness is a sin, are mentally sick.

  • http://twitter.com/iiSpamcat Mitchell

    Seriously, talking to the skies is no use. I can’t see how anybody logical could beleive in god.

  • http://twitter.com/iiSpamcat Mitchell

    God is merely the Human’s kind imagination.