Jonathan Daugherty was exposed to pornography at age 12. That one moment lured him into a lifestyle that would wreak havoc on a marriage. Yet, years later, with a major intervention from above, that couple would find forgiveness and grace, and are now helping countless individuals struggling in the silent world of sex addiction.
“During the first four years of our marriage, I was still struggling, and pornography was an issue,” says Daugherty of Be Broken Ministries, based in San Antonio, Texas. “My wife would ask questions, and I’d deflect. Eventually, I couldn’t keep juggling lies, so my wife left,” he says.
In July 1999, the Daughertys embarked on a journey down a very painful road. “I dumped a huge confession on her,” explains Daugherty. “Yet, confession doesn’t change a thing,” he says. “A week later I acted out again and had sex with a woman. My wife left – and that was the catalyst to change.”
Daugherty found himself feeling lost and alone, and wondered how to begin to get help. The help he needed came in the form of counseling, from a man at church who had started a small group to help men with similar struggles. “Over a nine-month period of separation, God was healing me, and He was healing my wife, too,” he says.
Daugherty would soon find himself starting a small group for men at his church. That group continues to meet today, helping other men as well. “When you are serious about recovery and you’re going through it in a genuine way, you want to help someone else,” he says. “Those are signs you are doing well, when you genuinely want to help others.”
A wife’s perspective
During the Daughertys’ separation, Elaine went to live with her parents. Jonathan wrote her letters every day but didn’t hear from her for months. Seven months passed, and the couple spoke again for the first time. Daugherty was amazed at what God was doing in his wife’s life.
“She was counseled by a godly pastor’s wife,” he says. “God was healing her as she was poring through the Psalms and scriptures. It was such a painful process, but God was working and impressing upon her restoration and forgiveness. She felt God nudging her and asking her, ‘Have you ever hurt me?'”
“He was teaching her grace and forgiveness,” Daugherty says.
The couple got back together after a nine-month separation and began the process of building trust again.
The process of healing
“When I was by myself for those months, I had a lot of time to read the Bible and focus on studying sex addiction and recovery,” Daugherty explains. “I had no clue how to connect relationally. Sex addiction is an intimacy disorder. It has nothing to do with sex. Many men are emotionally detached; we play the roles of husband, churchgoer, and employee, but we can’t connect.”
“I wondered, how am I to connect with another human being, and one that is so different from me?” he shares.
Daugherty had to learn how to communicate and be vulnerable – in all areas of his life. “My wife and I built trust as we learned to communicate and speak the truth in love.”
Daugherty says he encourages individuals and couples to get into small groups in their church. “In groups, we get wind in our sails and we connect with others that want to grow the way we want to grow.”
Reaching out to help others
In fall 2002, Daugherty felt a prompting from God that he should be doing more to help others with this devastating affliction. It is on the rise in our nation, destroying thousands of relationships in and outside of the church community. According to Daugherty, statistics have shown that almost 50 percent of individuals in our churches today have struggled with sex addiction.
“I felt God asking me, ‘Do you want joy? Tell your story,'” he reflects. After being laid off from his job for six months, with no prospects for employment, Daugherty continued to feel God prompting, “Do you want more joy? Tell your story.”
In July 2003, Daugherty and Elaine launched Be Broken Ministries, a national nonprofit Life helping Christians who struggle with sex addiction. He broadcasts a radio show on purity and speaks to men’s groups around the nation. He has also written a book, Secrets – A True Story of Addiction, Infidelity, and Second Chances, in which he candidly shares his deeply personal story and offers hope to others.
“We started the Life with nothing and wondered how we are going to do this. So I just kept telling my story. We developed more small groups and resources, and the Life took off.”
Daugherty has been featured on ABC News Nightline and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He says God kept His promise to him. “The joy I’ve seen after following God’s lead to tell my story – what God has done here – it’s incredible.”
How do you know you have a problem?
“If you think you have a problem, you have a problem,” states Daugherty, matter-of-factly. “If thoughts or urges are outside of manageability, or if people close to you are asking if you are OK, or telling you that you seem distracted, you could have a problem,” he says.
Be Broken Ministries’ Web site has a questionnaire for individuals to fill out if they want to find out whether they have a problem. Daugherty says there are similarities among addictions, but the big difference between sex addiction and others is that the disorder has to do with part of who you are. “Food addiction comes close,” he explains. “Food and our digestive system is part of who we are. Sex is part of who we are. We are sexual beings.”
“Taking a healthy part of who we are and taking part of who we are and stretching it beyond normal healthy use and boundaries leads to problems,” he adds.
Be Broken Ministries is there to help individuals take that difficult leap, to get started on getting help.
In April, Jonathan and Elaine, parents of three young children, will celebrate being back together for 10 years.
For more information, visit www.BeBroken.com.