Taking control of your online behaviour
This module aims to help you explore and gain understanding of the following:
- Your level of control over your current online sexual behaviours
- How you have used denial to allow your problematic behaviour to continue
- How to make immediate changes to start the change process
Using the quiz below, select how in control you have felt of your behaviours.
Now answer these questions:
What do you notice about how your control has changed from when you first started looking at sexual images of children or engaging in sexual chat until now?
How does feeling out of control affect your mood?
How in control would you like to be in a year’s time?
It is important that you recognise that making changes can be hard and so people can easily go back into old habits. There are some practical steps that you can do to make it harder to return to old patterns of behaviour, you can do these while you work through some of the modules that help with longer term changes.
Changes to your environment:
- moving your computer to a high traffic more public area of the home to make it less likely that you will access pornography;
- changing your employment if your current job brings you into contact with children;
- having a photo of your partner/children next to your computer so you think of them and what you are risking by accessing sexual images of children or engaging in sexual chat.
Changes to your computer:
- having security software installed on your laptop so that you cannot access pornography;
- having a picture of a place you want to visit or prison bars as your screensaver or wallpaper (this can act as an incentive not to offend or a reminder of the consequences if you do);
- entrusting PC password to another person to limit access;
- set your password to be a reminder of something you would lose if you offend on-line;
Changes to when you go online:
- only use computer when others are in the room or in public places where you would not access the material;
- only use the computer for specific purposes such as internet banking, do not allow yourself to ‘browse’;
- unplug your wireless router at night so you have to make more effort to go on-line and therefore have more time to think about and stop what you are doing;
- get a mobile phone without internet access;
Exercise 1: What I can do.
Make a list of three things you can do to immediately reduce your risk of illegal online sexual behaviour, e.g.:
- Move computer
- Install security software
- Switch wifi off after 8pm
It is important that you don’t use any excuses to allow yourself to slip back into old behaviours. Here are some common ones that we have heard – watch out for them!
- “It was only once in a while.”
- “I’m pretty sure it’s all legal so it’s ok.”
- “A reward for lasting a certain period without accessing porn, so this time is ok.”
- “I need to wean myself off rather than quit cold turkey.”
- “I’m dealing with a lot of stress and need to unwind.”
- “My wife (husband or partner) isn’t responsive to my sexual needs.”
- “I deserve this.”
- “It doesn’t hurt anyone because…”
- “It’s just my way of relaxing.”
- “It isn’t real because it is on the computer.”
- “I only do this in private so it isn’t affecting anybody.”
If you identify with the statements in the list then denial could be helping you to keep doing a behaviour that you know is harmful. It is important that you challenge these thoughts if you recognise them.
Has this module raised any further questions for you or made you want to explore any ideas further? What steps do you plan to take to seek out this information?
If you want to discuss anything covered in this module, have struggled with working through the self-help material or just want the opportunity to work through the self-help site with a practitioner to guide you then please call the Stop It Now! Helpline for confidential support from our trained staff.