Addiction inspires call

Because of her past experience with pornography addiction, Hannah Pickle feels called to fight the pornography industry and to help victims seek recovery.

Pickle, a freshman at the University, was only 11 years old when she first viewed pornography. It wasn’t until her junior year in high school that she finally admitted that she was addicted.

“I like to say that God didn’t cause my addiction but that He allowed me to choose to make myself a victim,” Pickle said calmly.

Her confession was suspended in time and space for a brief moment, before it fell heavily to the ground. After a pause, Pickle continued, “My nature is to hide it. I don’t like to hear the word pornography and others don’t like to use it.”

She admitted that it’s easy to cover it up but she believes that God has called her to be open about it.

She reclined casually on a couch at Café on Broadway with one foot firmly planted on the ground and the other draped over the side of the dark brown sofa. She looked on steadily as she unabashedly laid bare the most intimate corner of her heart.

Contrary to popular belief, pornography addiction is not exclusively a male struggle.  According to a survey conducted in 2014 by Covenant Eyes, a Christian organization dedicated to fighting pornography and sexual addiction, 21 percent of women ages 18-30 said they viewed pornography several times a week, compared with 63 percent of men ages 18-30.

Because she had kept her addiction a secret for so long, Pickle formed another identity. She felt guilty and ashamed.

“I acted differently around different people which was unhealthy,” Pickle said. She idly stroked the scarf that was bundled up around her throat before adding, “It also gave me the wrong attitude towards sex. It gave me the wrong idea about relationships.”

“The guy RAs have these discussions often, but this is my fourth year here and I’ve never heard females talk about it,” Meredith Baltz, who is the Resident Director in Hutcheson Hall and Pickle’s mentor, said. “I can see Hannah advocating for females who are struggling with this and showing them that they’re not alone.”

Pickle’s past has shaped the way she sees her future.

“God turned Job’s pain around and used it to bring Him glory,” Pickle said. “God can take an experience that I put myself into and turn it into a tool that fights the very sin I struggled with.”

Pickle plans on majoring in international business to work with non-profits and organizations that deal with internet governance. “I want to facilitate effective legislation, efficient  enforcement and an aware public,” Pickle said. She also wants to minor in pre-law because so much of the pornography industry is immersed in tricky legislation.

Faith is the most important driving force behind Pickle’s calling to combat pornography. She attributes her passion for helping addicts and victims to God’s grace, as well as to what she describes as her strong sense of justice.

One way in which Pickle wants to fight the war against pornography is by making sure people are informed. She said that the public simply doesn’t know a lot about it.

“People don’t understand that so many people are affected by pornography,” Pickle said. “It needs to be talked about.”

Growing up, Pickle had never heard another female Christian say that they shared her struggle. That’s a problem because “people need to know that they’re not alone.”

While she has overcome her addiction, she still struggles with it.

“Addiction is not something you’re ever free from but something that becomes easier over time,” Pickle said.

Pickle wants to help addicts heal and she feels called to start a growth group in Hutch. She and Baltz are working out the details, but they are excited to see their idea take form in the near future.

Bergen Johnston, who has been one of Pickle’s closest friends since they were three years old, said that she loves Pickle because instead of judging people she loves them for who they are.

“I love Hannah’s heart for people. She never acts better than them or puts them down,” Johnston said.

When Pickle first told her about her addiction, Johnston was impressed that she spoke about it so candidly. Johnston also admires how Pickle ambitiously pursues her calling and she has no doubt that Pickle will use her past experience to change the world.

As she took another sip of coffee, Pickle summarized the very essence of her passion. “I want  to help people pursue recovery,” Pickle said. “Pornography addicts need to know that they’re not alone and that there are people who they can talk to.”