ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Dann is a Certified Addiction Counselor, speaker, author, and recovering sex addict. He has authored several books including From one Addict to Another, 40 Days to Freedom; Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity, and the God’s Plan for Healthy Sexuality workshop. Dann has also published the internationally distributed pamphlet 5 Keys to Freedom from Sexual Sin which was granted an imprimatur by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. Additionally, Dann does presentations to Seminarians on how to effectively address pornography in the confessional.
Dann’s recovery was fueled by his personal drive for change, education about himself, the addiction, and a restored relationship with Jesus Christ.
Dann’s restored relationship with Jesus was so powerful that he felt personally called to devote his life to telling others that the profound emptiness, worthlessness, rejection, and abandonment felt by most addicts, is not the truth of their identity in Christ and to help these men and women in this bondage of lies to find the truth, healing and authentic love in God and their personal relationships. Dann has answered the call through the mission of Road to Purity, a non-profit organization he founded in 2015.
My name is Dann Aungst and I am a recovering sex addict.
I have been in recovery for a little over 11 years. In that time I learned that the true underlying motivation of my addiction was to escape reality, to escape the negative self-image feelings, feelings of inadequacy, insignificance, insecurity, worthlessness, and self-loathing.
These behaviors started many years before sex or pornography was even part of the “solution.”
I don’t have any memories of being sexually abused or any significant traumatic event.
Around age six, I would escape into a fantasy world with a female imaginary playmate. It wasn’t until puberty that this “escape” became sexual. But it was all for the same purpose—to escape. To chase something that would fill the emptiness I felt, the emptiness in my soul.
Magazines were the start at puberty which were introduced by some neighborhood kids. Even though it was something I had never seen before, there was an inherent sense of guilt and shame. I knew it wasn’t something to be proud of.
That quickly, it led to videos, which in my day were the old video 8 reel to reel kind. Then when computers came around, the Internet was a huge draw.
“Marriage Will Solve It!” Actually, No
At the age of 25, I thought marriage would solve all my problems. Nothing was further from the truth. I quickly found that my addictive behavior had created a selfish, self serving individual incapable of receiving true intimacy. It was terrifying to have someone “truly” know me in that way. Pornography was much safer. It would never judge me, reject me, criticize me, yell at me, and make me feel insignificant, stupid, or worthless.
Foolishly I expected my wife to fill the hole in my heart. The emptiness that I had for most of my life. An expectation that I since found to be unrealistic, as no human can fill the void that only God is meant to fill. But I didn’t know that, at least not over 25 years ago.
As a result, my need, my insatiable craving to be fulfilled grew stronger, ultimately leading to massage parlors, affairs, and prostitutes. Every time I acted out, only a brief satisfaction resulted. However the guilt and shame would quickly take away the short-lived pleasure of escape only to make me feel even worse than I did before. But the hunt to try again, and again, and again, hoping that eventually I would be satisfied and feel “whole” blinded me to the true reality of my behavior.
Even my wife finding out about an affair and almost losing her wasn’t enough to stop my behavior. I had told myself countless times when looking at porn or acting out in some other way that “this was the last time,” only to fail—over and over and over again. I could not stop.
Addiction: The Deadly Evasion of Reality
A well known expert in the sex addiction field defines the addiction as “Evading reality no matter the cost, though it may even result in death.” As a Christian and a Catholic, I believed that if I were to die after a sin like this before having the chance to properly confess it, I would end up in hell—but I would still follow through with the activity.
Playing Russian Roulette with my soul and spiritual death: that’s the real definition or powerlessness.
It wasn’t until I contracted a STD and gave it to my wife that it finally hit me “maybe I have a problem.” I was undeniably a sex addict. It was then, and only then that I began to seek help to change my behavior.
A Hunger for God
I remember early in my recovery that I heard a talk on a CD and the speaker gave a quote by G.K. Chesterton: “Every man who stands at the doorstep of a brothel is looking for God.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I knew it was true. All this time I was looking for the wrong thing to fill my emptiness. Seeking and accepting counterfeit love to fill what only God can fill with true love.
Even though I now realized that I was looking for the wrong thing, it did not serve to quench my cravings. I understood why, but didn’t know what to do about it. God’s love is such an ambiguous notion. I can’t see it, I couldn’t seem to feel it in my real life. How do I really get it? All the emptiness was still there. The need to escape was still there. How do I make these other cravings go away?
Years of hard work, determination, self discovery, and the ultimate conversion of my heart and surrender to God is what ultimately led me to a manageable place in my life. The cravings, the instinct to escape are all still there. But it’s the decision of where to escape to and what I search for to fill the emptiness in my heart that makes the all difference.
Ultimately, for me, it’s not the search for something to fill the my heart, it’s surrendering myself and letting God—who is already waiting to come in—to actually come in, He's waiting to be invited.