Was your marriage destroyed, or almost destroyed by the LDS Church’s 12-step program for pornography “addiction”? Join us today as we sit down with Nik and Dawna Berry to discuss how the LDS Church’s 12-step program for Pornography addiction almost ruined their marriage, and how they survived and healed from it.


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  1. Molly October 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    What an amazing love story! Thanks for this great interview.

    Going to “addiction” recovery helped push me away from church, but not for porn. In my ward all the women were encouraged to go for basically any kind of “sin” including having a sweet tooth. I had a ridiculous amount of cognitive dissonance and shame as a result. I probably also had a degree of scrupulosity/religious OCD, and I’m sure many of the women in that “support” group do as well.

    Eventually like this couple I found my way to a real therapist who was indispensable.

  2. Thayne October 3, 2020 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Wow, quite a story. I am always amazed at the Mormon compulsion to confess.

    “When I no longer had to be perfect, I found that I could just be good.”

    John Steinbeck-“East of Eden”

  3. Phil October 4, 2020 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Wow! The Mormon church has become more of a dumpster fire than I realized! I left around the time they issued their “no oral sex” policy, at least back then members collectively shut that policy down. The Mormon church should be declared a threat to public mental health.

  4. Phil (another one, living in Spain) October 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    So inspirational. I live alone in a foreign country and both my former wife (TBM) and loving partner of the last 25 years are both dead now. So I feel no shame admitting to occasionally watching a little porn. In my former life, serving on Bishoprics, I always felt terrible having to interview wonderful souls about their intimate sexual activities. I hated Kimball´s nasty little tract, and BKP´s Factories!
    My poor wife was raped as a child by her father (a bishop) and never recovered, and spent most of her life suffering from depression, which ended our marriage. I discovered my sexuality later in life. Since, I´ve enjoyed many happy years, and all my kids are out of the church, and now I enjoy a better relationship with them than ever before.

  5. Wayne H Perry October 4, 2020 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    This was superlative! Thank you so much, Nik and Dawna, for being so vulnerable, open, and honest. John’s comment at the end about saving lives is undoubtedly true.

    John, this episode needs to highlighted as “most something”… most profound, most helpful, most meaningful… I’m sure that it will soon qualify for most popular.

  6. Jane October 5, 2020 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Dr. Dehlin, can I ask you a question?
    Around 03:48:00 you mention that by rejecting ideas of high stakes, shame, deeply sinful, addiction, etc. it helped reduce the pornography problem, do you feel like it
    causes 100% “sobriety,” or only reduce the problem? If it only reduces the problem, what more needs to be done in a healthy way to reach 100% sobriety?
    (This is irregardless of whether this problem is really considered a problem).
    On around 03:54:00 you review “decrease” in the problem. Is that a decrease trending toward 100% sobriety? Or is that simply a reduction?
    The reason I think this is important is that there are some things in life that even once is not tolerable.

  7. Derek October 5, 2020 at 10:54 pm - Reply


    I just finished the Podcast with Nik and Dawna. What an eye opener. It got hit square in the face with how unhealthy the LDS church is with shaming. I have spent all my 40 years fighting and shaming myself for not being a perfect mormon. I am currently in my 2nd faith crisis and both of them have followed the death of a parent. I am trying to make sense of it all. Anyway, everything in the podcast helped me realize how much guilt I have placed on myself and how uncomfortable all the confessing has been. Then I get even more sad when I realize that I have allowed my 4 children to sit through those awkward interviews with a Bishop. I just feel horrible that I did not shield them from that. One last parting thought…..Tithing…..Isn’t it amazing that we pay to be shamed? It sounds a lot like indulgences. I feel like I am paying my way to heaven! So may things are going through my mind right now. I am lost on what to do next with this new and obvious realization that the shaming that causes depression has to stop!

  8. Spence October 6, 2020 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Thank you Dawna and Nik for telling your story.
    For me and other recent pod casts have been emotionally challenging by reopening episodes in my life.
    When the twelve step addiction program was introduced in our ward I ended up in a heated discussion with the couple called to present the program from the region. I argued that the church was not qualified and did not have training for leaders to to truly help the members who are suffering
    Nik’s story of trying to stay worthy to serve a mission was intense for me.
    I remember arriving at the Salt Lake mission home January 7 1973. The mission president spent all day Monday questioning if we were all truly worthy. They told use that Tuesday night they would have extra leaders there if we needed to confess our sins. I was amazed that when Tuesday night came every missionary lined up outside each office to have a confession with these guys. I refused to participate because I was of the belief that I had already repented of sins before I applied to go on a mission. In the end I was forced to sit down with a a old fat bishop from a local ward to re-confess my sins. I certainly lied to him.
    He did ask a lot of detailed questions that I did not understand.
    I think the pressure to be worthy is insane and has contributed to my depression and suicidal ideation. Over the years.

    • Bekka December 1, 2020 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      One of the keys to 12 Step Recovery is that everyone is in it together. When you’re working a program with your sponsor, they’re also an addict, just at least one step ahead of you. That means that they know what it’s like to make that inventory and how intimidating it is to share it with someone else. A bishop whose actual job is lawyer or car salesman does not have that background and doesn’t get it.

      In actual 12 step recovery, doing your fourth and fifth step is terrifying but also exhilirating and, ultimately, clarifying. It’s scary the night before you share that inventory with someone – you’re like “what if I die and the paramedics find this list of all the bad things I’ve done” – but once you share it with your sponsor and they like lovingly listen & receive it? It’s an amazing feeling. And, again, your sponsor’s *been there.* They know how scared you and they’ve been in your shoes.

  9. Andrea October 6, 2020 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    OMG this episode! Thank you so much Nik and Dawna and John Dehlin for putting this together. It resonated with me to the core and I’m sure it will with many others. You are helping people to heal from these events. My heart ached for both of you as you described the feelings of self-loathing and difficulty in having healthy sex lives after being raised Mormon and hearing so many negative messages about sex. It is so sad that in this short life, some of us have to spend the second half of our lives recoding our brains about how to just be human and enjoy it.

  10. JEFF CHILTON October 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    John, Is this PASG (or however its spelled) program affiliated with the Church? It’s not listed anywhere on the church website that I can find. And whats taught in our area (Houston, Texas) does not sound anything like that program.

  11. Randy October 12, 2020 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    This episode spoke so powerfully to me. and should surely end up as a top 10. I find it so disturbing that a girl who is raped ends up being blamed and then punished for an encounter she clearly had no control over. What could that bishop have been thinking?!? Absolutely not… Each bishop trying to do their best (if that’s the truth) is in no way good enough. Then with every effort to do as the leadership counseled, and still falling short, the shame piled higher and deeper, cannot be an inspired way. Though I’m still a member of record, I cannot support The Church of Toxic Guilt and Shame for Latter Day Saints for their methods. I hold Nik and Donna, in very high esteem for having the courage to come forward, with vulnerability, and relaying their story. God be with you my eternal friends.

  12. Lance Steele October 26, 2020 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I keep hearing at church that pornography is destroying families and lives. It is strange to think that a large number of those destroyed familes and lives likely owe that destruction to the unprofessional untrained muddling performed on them by church sanctioned and recommended remedies. This story reminds me of the white lab coat wearing lobotomy performing psychologists of yore, absolute incompotent clownery with minds, lives, and families in the balance. If any other non religious institution had done this they would be sued into oblivion. It just seems crazy to me that in modern times this sort of abuse is going on.

  13. Bekka December 1, 2020 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I can’t look at porn the same way as someone picking their nose, because there’s so much abuse in that industry. Or even, I used to live in LA and a woman who did casting for Playboy was drugged in a club and died. The men who were texting about what they did to her called her names like “weak” and said “the drug dealer can bang that one” and she was texting them for help when she became ill. It’s a completely dehumanizing thing, to view another human being that way. And this poor woman’s parents have to know the way they were talking about her and that they poisoned her with GHB. Mormonism isn’t perfect, but it is a good thing to say that women are people and sex is special & shouldn’t be commodified. It’s like the whole porn thing may not be cheating, but it does have a real human toll. I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

    • Someone in this journey November 18, 2021 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      I agree with you. Also there is so much abuse in that industry, human trafficking, rape, child trafficking, drugs, child porn, their message is that women and kids are just sexual objects as I have seen the effects in people I know personally. I Can’t watch it because I don’t support what is behind that industry and I can’t understand how people don’t realize they are contributing to all that by watching it, its sad because “it’s not just porn” or a regular couple having sex it is worse then that and more destructive than people can realize. There is so much money involved in there, no wonder why it starts with something “normal” then scalates affecting your brain chemistry so people won’t stop watching. An addict will use his partner to please himself, will lie, use money, will play the victim just to get away with it, selfishness and trauma mixed with porn is dangerous and it scalates not just for the one who watches it but will affect their partners too.

      I know all this because I was affected by it, I deal with betrayal trauma and abuse and I am in a healing journey. There is so many people with different points of view at church and I Know they are not perfect and trying to do their best as everyone else but they have helped me go through all that and never shamed me, they were there to help me with my spiritual journey and I worked with therapists they recommended me and they never push any Christian beliefs or anything like that. Maybe I was one of the luckiest one to have so much support in the lds church.

  14. brown March 11, 2021 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    2:31.40 “If you take the shame out of it….that’s where the healing begins.”

    Such a profound statement – Really is true!

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