Battling their sex addiction

While many associate sex addiction with the high-profile struggles of celebrities like Tiger Woods or David Duchovny, Laguna Beach-based New Life Ministries says the issue isn't just a problem for those in the public eye.

Instead, they say, it's an addiction that everyday men suffer in private.

Founder of New Life Ministries Steve Arterburn said he didn't realize the demand for sex addiction counseling until he co-authored the book, "Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time," with Fred Stoeker more than 10 years ago.

With more than 3 million copies sold, Arterburn decided to start an intensive workshop to address the needs of thousands of men who claimed to be struggling with sexual addiction.

He said he heard a statistic that as many as one in three people are affected by sexual addiction.

The nationwide monthly workshop, with the same name as the book, is a three-day program led by master's- or doctorate-level counselors who are also recovering sex addicts.

As many as 80 men attend each workshop, which "uses a combination of teaching sessions and small group work," according to New Life Ministries' website.

Jason Martinkus, a speaker at Every Man's Battle, says sex addiction isn't a blanket statement.

"It's an excuse for some people," he said.

However, for many men, including Martinkus, sex addiction was just as invasive and destructive as addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Martinkus recalled looking at pornography for the first time at 11 years old. He referred to a statistic that the average male sees pornography for the first time between the ages of 9 and 11.

He lost his virginity at 14. As he grew up, he said sex and pornography became an obsession.

After graduating college with a degree in finance, he traveled the U.S. working for different companies as a consultant. He recalled night after night of logging onto his computer in his hotel room and heading to chat rooms to find a willing woman to meet him for sex.

This whole time Martinkus was married and was essentially living a double life, because no one — family or friends — had any idea of the thoughts and actions that were starting to control him.

It came to a point where he was spending most of his time thinking about "acting out" — what he calls his sexually addictive actions, such as going on chat rooms, looking at porn and engaging in extramarital sex.

He also started to have suicidal thoughts.

"I was just swearing to myself that I'd have a fresh start and said, 'I'd never do this again,'" he said. "I almost drove my truck off the freeway one night."

Then he hit rock bottom. He had lost a couple jobs due to the addiction. The weight came down on him and he fell down in the shower, feeling physically ill.

At the same time, unbeknownst to him, his wife had started to investigate him, compiling credit card statements, cell phone records and talking to women.

She confronted him when he arrived home after a business trip, and he told her the truth. They later met with a pastor who identified Martinkus as a sex addict and set out a plan for him. Thirteen months later, his wife told him she would stay in the marriage.

New Life Ministries also offers a workshop, "Women in the Battle," to help women with husbands or boyfriends who struggle with sex addiction.

After reaching out to men with similar issues at his church, Martinkus decided he wanted to leave the corporate world and went back to school to receive a master's degree in counseling from the Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colo.

He started out as a counselor at the workshop and is now a national speaker.

In addition to the workshop, he also has a private practice in Denver called Redemptive Living, where he counsels men with "sexual integrity issues."

When asked how many men he has helped, Martinkus took a few moments to think.

"I had never thought about it, quantifying the men I've worked with, but over the course of the last six years … I think its thousands of men, which is really cool," he said. "I'm really thankful for that."

While Arterburn said sex addiction is not a new issue, the Internet has changed the cultural aspects of it, making it even easier for people to hide that part of their life.

"Before (the Internet), you'd see sex addicts going to XXX theaters and adult stores," he said. "With the Internet it became so private and so secretive … that's when it became an epidemic."

Arterburn, 58, similarly has a personal tie. When he was in his 20s he came to terms with what he calls a sexual addiction.

"I viewed women more as objects than as real women," he said. "I saw them as something for a man's gratification rather than an intimate partnership."

He came clean to his wife, who then had an extramarital affair and left him. He is now happily remarried with five children.

He wants other men suffering with sexual issues to know that there's always help.

"It's a shameful thing, but there's so much hope," Arterburn said. "There's a tremendous hope for total, complete, absolute change."

For more information about the Every Man's Battle workshop, visit

Twitter: @joannaclay

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