Erica Garza was once addicted to bingeing on porn and seeking out potentially dangerous sexual encounters.

by

The release she got from these two experiences helped her forget about the ‘more difficult emotions’ she was seeking to bury.

She has opened up to FEMAIL about what it’s like to be a sex addict in a bid to normalise the notion that women can be affected too – in fact, one third of all sex addicts are female.

The release she got from these two experiences helped her forget about the 'more difficult emotions' she was seeking to bury (Erica pictured)

For Mrs Garza, 35, it was a gradual realisation that she was becoming hooked on sex.

‘Sometime in my late twenties I started noticing a patterns with my relationships,’ she said.

‘I didn’t invest as much energy or care into platonic relationships and I often sabotaged romantic relationships when I felt myself caring too much.

‘I liked to keep things loose and casual, but felt lonely all of the time. I was also bingeing on porn as a coping mechanism when difficult emotions came up, and I didn’t know how to stop.

Sex addiction manifests differently in every addict, but for me, it meant using sex as an escape route and feeling a deep sense of shame.’

Her addiction manifested from the age of twelve, after she was diagnosed with scoliosis and faced the taunts of bullies as a result.

‘I started using masturbation and porn as an outlet for emotional distress and low self-esteem when I was twelve, the same year that I was diagnosed with scoliosis and started getting bullied at school for wearing a corrective back brace,’ she explained

'Sometime in my late twenties I started noticing a patterns with my relationships,' she said

‘When I was trying to achieve orgasm, all of my worries and stress just melted away and I came to rely on sexual release as a crutch for dealing with difficult emotions. I continued relying on this method even after I had the brace removed and started focusing on my outward appearance to gain the attention of the opposite sex.

‘Any time I feel that I may have lost interest in these methods or developed healthier ways of dealing with my problems, internet speeds went up or a new boy became interested in me and I could escape again and again.

‘Later, I started to seek out the same feeling of shame and pleasure I got in the type of porn I watched in the sexual relationships I sought. If a man treated me poorly, this was okay, because the shame I felt in allowing myself to be mistreated mirrored the shame I felt in watching degrading porn.’

Watching hardcore porn was one of the more preferred methods Mrs Garza had for ‘getting off’ because ‘shame was a part of her pleasure’.

‘I watched hardcore porn in which women were degraded. I needed harder clips in order to feel something because I’d grown desensitised to softer porn,’ she said.

Watching hardcore porn was one of the more preferred methods Mrs Garza had for 'getting off' because 'shame was a part of her pleasure'

Watching hardcore porn was one of the more preferred methods Mrs Garza had for ‘getting off’ because ‘shame was a part of her pleasure’

‘I also sought out sexual relationships in which men said or did degrading things to me just like I’d seen in the clips. I came to rely on porn and sexual experiences that produced shame in me because shame was an integral part of my pleasure.’

But despite the very intimate situations the Los Angeles native would find herself in, there was still a feeling of disconnection with her partners.

‘Even if I was having a lot of sex, there was always a wall up between me and the other person. I was scared of being vulnerable and didn’t trust intimacy.

‘But coming clean about my addiction has allowed me to be more honest and open about who I am, and this has allowed me to connect more with others. I am now happily married to the first person I ever confessed my addiction to.’

Mrs Garza also raises a daughter with her now-husband, and hopes she never learns to associate shame with pleasure.

Mrs Garza's story doesn't fit into the usual framework of a stereotypical sex addict, with many people believing you need to have suffered some form of trauma

 Mrs Garza’s story doesn’t fit into the usual framework of a stereotypical sex addict, with many people believing you need to have suffered some form of trauma

‘I want her to feel worthy of expressing herself sexually and otherwise and to be comfortable in her body. I want to be a safe space for her, someone she could come to with questions without fear of being judged or turned away.’

Mrs Garza’s story doesn’t fit into the usual framework of a stereotypical sex addict, with many people believing you need to have suffered some form of trauma.

‘When your story doesn’t sit into that narrative of trauma or sexual abuse, you feel this extra layer of shame because you feel like you can’t talk about it,’ she told Business Insider Australia previously.

‘Like your pain isn’t justified. And I don’t think anything diffuses shame more than being able to talk about it.’

Mrs Garza has released a book about her experiences titled ‘Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction’ which can be purchased here.

Mrs Garza also raises a daughter with her now-husband, and hopes she never learns to associate shame with pleasure

If you like this, please share!