Even a woman who already has some knowledge of her partner’s use of porn can suddenly be shocked to discover the nature of what he is watching and masturbating to and the extent of his porn use. Paula ex­perienced a major shock when she accidentally saw for herself the actual images Brad had been watching and masturbating to. “I was on the com­puter looking for a letter in our files and some porn suddenly popped up on the screen,” Paula said. “It really shocked me. It looked nothing like the sex pictures I had seen as a kid. This wasn’t making love. It was disrespectful, unloving, and cruel. The women on the screen were being treated like rag dolls. It affected me in a totally different way. I remember thinking, He likes this? How can he like this?

“It suddenly dawned on me that Brad’s secret porn use was the reason why he acted so defensive, angry, and sexually inappropriate much of the time and couldn’t relate directly with me during sex. The ramifications of how it had affected him and our life together just hit me all at once. Before, when he said the word ‘pornography,’ it was just a word. Actually seeing the naked women he had been looking at made it real. Suddenly, I saw myself as my husband was probably seeing me: as an object, some­thing to look at and use. Sitting there in front of the computer, I started crying. All of my emotions and all of my pain and hurt in the relationship hit me all at once. I cried for two days.”