As far as pop culture is concerned, Terry Crews is basically the ultimate man.
He played football in the NFL. He’s the unequivocal star of a TV comedy (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and action movie trilogy (The Expendables). He starred on the cover of Men’s Fitness, and has the personalized workout to show for it. He’s been a happily married man for nearly 3 decades, he has five kids, and he’s so enamored with his family life that he wrote a book about manhood. Even his pecs are famous, thanks to Euro Training, and “Nip Syncing,” and all those Old Spice commercials.
But up until six or seven years ago, Crews wrestled privately with a problem that affects a surprising number of men: pornography addiction.
In a series of three videos he posted to Facebook over the past two weeks under the heading “Dirty Little Secret,” Crews explains how his his addiction became progressively worse because he tried to keep it secret, even from his wife Rebecca King-Crews, and even as it damaged his relationships.
“For years, years, years, my dirty little secret was that I was addicted to pornography,” he says the first video, posted February 11. “It really, really messed up my life in a lot of ways,” he said. “I didn’t tell anybody. It was my secret. Nobody knew. And that allowed it to grow…. By not telling people, it becomes more powerful. But when you put it out there in the open, just like I’m doing right now, it loses its power.”
Crews also refuted the idea that pornography could never constitute an actual addiction. “Some people denied it,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Hey, man, you can’t be addicted to pornography.’ But let me tell you something: If day turns into night, and you’re still watching, you’ve probably got a problem. And that was me.”
Crews said he overcame his addiction about six or seven years ago—”thank goodness,” he said—after it had so changed him that his wife left.
“My wife was literally like, ‘I don’t know you anymore. I’m outta here.’ And that changed me. Because you realize: Yo, this is a major, major problem. I literally had to go to rehab for it…Once I was aware of what it was doing to me, it changed me.”
Pornography “changes the way you think about people,” he said in the live video, speaking into the camera from his car. “People become objects. People become body parts. They become things to be used, rather than people to be loved.”
And then he turned the focus on his audience, saying that he realized pornography is a real problem, and “it’s become my battle to help people who are going through the same thing.”
In his second video, he explained how his therapy helped him be aware of his own emotions that triggered his addiction.
“You can’t survive with guilt and shame,” he says. “Guilt says you did a bad thing. Shame says you are bad, and that’s bad because you act accordingly.”
He also explained how women who know men with pornography addiction “have to be fearless” in confronting them, as his wife was with him.
If you think you might be dealing with an addiction—and this quiz can help you figure that out—then speak to a licensed mental health professional and get help. If it can happen to Crews, it can happen to anybody.