Pro-Life America
Saving babies and families from abortion!
Speakers · TV · Radio · Videos · Literature

  1) Women tell Secret Abortion Stories...
  2) Confessions from Former Abortionists on DVD
  3) "Sex Has a Price Tag" - Pam Stenzel's DVD

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Call:  (424) 247-7490

Find out how
abortion hurt
these Women...

Secret abortion stories revealed!
Now these women encourage teens to
and choose life rather than abortion:

“I was an emotional wreck. The following day I was empty, sad, numb. I knew that day I had made a huge mistake. I wish with all my heart I would have done things differently.”
“I was 18 when I got pregnant. At three months pregnant, I had an abortion. About seven years later… my heart  broke. I was so overcome with grief. How could I have taken the life of my unborn child?”
“I was told that I would be out for eight minutes and I would feel only a little discomfort afterwards. They lied, it ruined 10 years of my life.”
Sonya had an abortion and advises other women, “Don’t do it. Regret of a permanent decision is like watching a sad movie over and over again and hoping the ending will change – but it never will. As Whitney Houston sang in a song, “Don’t Throw Away Your Miracle!”
“I was deceived because I was not told the truth about what an abortion means to the life of an unborn baby. I was not told that at 10 weeks (which is when I had my abortion) my child was already fully formed. I was made to believe that I was doing something that was as natural as going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning.”
“After the first abortion, I did get more depressed. I developed a very angry character; I became very violent. After the second abortion, I really didn’t notice a change. By the third, I had really low self-esteem, and after the fourth I became extremely promiscuous and self-destructive. Throughout the years, with each abortion, I became more and more depressed and I gained more and more weight.”
“The suction machine was turned on, causing tremendous pain. I was frightened, it hurt so much. I wanted to scream. I wanted it to stop. I suddenly knew there was a baby inside. They were killing my baby!”
“Growing and maturing in a relationship with God has taken the pain from my past sins. Jesus alone is the only Healer of our hurts. Going through the grieving process for my child, as you would for anyone you’ve lost to death, is very important. For those that have had multiple abortions, your sin is not worse than my abortion of one. Sin is sin. Ask
God for forgiveness and repent. He sees them (sins) no more.”
“Having an abortion was the biggest, most tragic mistake of my life. If there is anything I can ever say or do that would change a woman’s or man’s abortion-bound course, I will do it.” 
“If you abort your child, this child will haunt you the rest of your life because no other child can replace him. Your  problems will multiply, not disappear. Talk to others who have had abortions, who have chosen not to abort, who have
found other ways to give life instead of death to their children. Abortion is wrong. Even if you don’t believe that for sure, wouldn’t it be smarter to err on the side of life? Abortion is irreversible – once it’s done, you have no more options.”
“I was told I had ‘caught it’ at a great time because it was just a tiny mass of tissue (4-6 weeks). Boy, was I deceiving myself! What ignorance I was in.”
“Two weeks after the abortion, I went into labor. I staggered into the bathroom. And there, with my husband beside me, I delivered a part of my baby the doctor had missed. It was the head of my baby. . .” “I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, thinking I hear a baby crying. And I still have nightmares in which I am forced to watch my baby being ripped
apart in front of me. I simply miss my baby. I constantly wake up wanting to nurse my child, wanting to hold my child. And that’s something the doctor never told me I would experience.” 
LORI NERAD - former national president of Women Exploited by Abortion
“I know millions of women across this country feel as I do about abortion. We all somehow know deep down inside that we alone made a horrible decision and no coined phrase about choice and rights or the denial of biological and fetal facts can ever erase the truth. For we as mothers instinctively know during those still moments of aloneness, that we ended the life of a separate human being growing inside of each and every one of us.”
“Abortion destroys self-worth and dignity. I bought into the idea that abortion was simply a matter of choice. I used abortion as birth control until after my fourth abortion. I felt inside that this action has to be wrong. I wish I had given more thought to the abortions I had. If just one person had said, ‘Star, what you’re doing is wrong,’ it might have  changed the destiny of my life.” 
“Please understand that by aborting your unborn child, that does not make the baby go away. Your baby will be in your heart until you die. After abortion – the guilt, shame and loneliness is horrible. Once you abort, you cannot go  back and change it.”

No woman wants
to live with
this kind of pain
and suffering!

    How many more women will be exploited, hurt, injured or killed by abortion? 

  More than 3,500 women choose to abort their baby every day in America. 

  That’s about 1.3 million abortions each year.

    These women shared their very private and painful experiences to warn other women about the deep pain and suffering of abortion.

    Many of these women have become pro-life volunteers, counselors and speakers to help other women avoid making the same help other women avoid the pain and death caused by abortion. 

   These women do not want any other moms or babies to suffer or die.

    When a woman is pregnant and feeling pressure, the answer is to LOVE THEM BOTH

If you're pregnant...

HELP is available 
for you right now!

CALL  1-800-848-5683

If you had an abortion,
You can have hope and healing...

HELP is available right now 24/7
CALL  1-800-848-5683


CALL  1-800-848-5683

If you are still wondering
 if abortion is wrong...

Please watch this...

"Hard Truth" Music Video -
Graphic Warning: Must be 18 to click here
and watch this video.

This powerful 7-minute, music video shows beautiful fetal development, then real images of aborted babies.

How can this be legal?

In the "Hard Truth" video, you'll also see peaceful pro-life RESCUERS beaten by police and arrested (I was there. I am the Editor of this website. I witnessed vicious police brutality against peaceful pro-lifers and I helped produce this video).

Please help us save moms, babies and families from the horrendous, unspeakable violence seen in this video...


DONATE to help us show more people this "Hard Truth" video...

YOUR GIFT will help us reach more students with facts, testimonies and the brutal reality of what abortion does to moms and babies...

YOUR DONATION will help us connect more moms and babies with pro-life pregnancy centers across America...

YOUR GIFT will help us encourage more women and men to receive the hope and healing available after abortion through pro-life post-abortion counseling programs...

When a girl has a "crisis pregnancy," the answer is to LOVE THEM BOTH... not kill the baby.

You can help us reach more people with this eye-opening "Hard Truth" video, and with our 32-page PRINTED pro-life youth publication called (2.5 million copies have already been printed and distributed).

Please MAIL Your Donation CHECK to:

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Thank you for helping with our urgent, life-saving efforts!

Former Abortionists 

Speak Out - DVD

Below are shocking, revealing statements made by former abortion industry personnel at a videotaped conference. 

These are direct quotes from men and women who worked in abortion facilities, performing and/or couneling for abortion. 

These former abortion providers are now pro-life.

They deeply regret their involvement with abortion, so much so, that now they are speaking publicly to warn people about what really goes on before, during and after abortions. 

Their statements were made at a videotaped conference called, "Meet the Abortion Providers."

1) Former abortionist, Anthony Levatino, M.D., says, 

"I want the general public to know that the doctors know that this is a person, this is a baby. That this is not some kind of blob of tissue . . ."

2) Former abortion counselor, Nita Whitten, says,

"It's a lie when they tell you they're doing it to help women, because they're not. They're doing it for the money."

3) Former abortion counselor, Debra Henry, says, 

"We were told to find the woman's weakness and work on it. The women were never given any alternatives. They were told how much trouble it was to have a baby."

4) Former abortionist, Joseph Randall, M.D., says,

"The picture of the baby on the ultrasound bothered me more than anything else. The staff couldn't take it. Women who were having abortions were never allowed to see the ultrasound."

5) Former abortionist, David Brewer, M.D., says, 

"My heart got callous against the fact that I was a murderer, but that baby lying in a cold bowl educated me to what abortion really was."

6) Former abortion counselor,Kathy Sparks, says, 

"The counselor at our clinic could cry with the girls at the drop of a pin. She would find out what was driving them to want to abort that child and she would magnify it."

7) Former abortionist, McArthur Hill, M.D., says, 

"I am a murderer. I have taken the lives of innocent babies and I have ripped them from their mother's wombs with a powerful vacuum machine."

Order DVD...the 30-minute "Meet the Abortion Providers" DVD with these statements from former abortionists is available for $25.00.

To order, 
call at 
(424) 247-7490

Cost: $25.00 (includes shipping)

This DVD is one of the most powerful videos ever produced on abortion. 

Pam Stenzel's DVD,
"Sex Has a Price Tag,"

Help you (and your kids) save sex for marriage...

Avoid sin, broken hearts, diseases, other pain and suffering, including the death of abortion.

Order this 
DVD today...

Call:  (424) 247-7490

Pam Stenzel's 
dynamic chastity DVD 
also exposes the current, shocking venereal disease epidemic that you and your family may not be aware of...

Pam's DVD teaches you how to stop pressures to have sex, and so much more . . .

See DVD 
order info below...

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

If this DVD does not help end the pressures to have sex, you can send it back for a full refund.

Pam Stenzel speaks to 20,000 high school and college students each month about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. She has also produced a powerful video/DVD called:  "Sex Has A Price Tag."


Pam Shares Frightening Statistics 

with Students:

  • Sexually active people are four times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) than to become pregnant.

  • Three million teenagers contract STDs annually.
  • 25 million Americans are infected with the herpes virus.
  • More than 40 percent of sexually active singles are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), commonly called genital warts.
  • One in every 250 Americans has the AIDS virus.
  • An estimated one in five Americans is infected with a viral STD, a figure that doesn't include bacterial diseases like chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea.

Quotes from Pam Stenzel on 

her "Sex Has a Price Tag" DVD

Pam tells Her Story . . .

You won't believe what I discovered during the nine years that I counseled girls who came into my pregnancy counseling offices in Chicago and Minneapolis. Most were worried sick about being pregnant. Very few were concerned about the venereal disease epidemic that is sweeping America.

Girls would come to my office and say: "Pam, if I had known this was going to happen to me, I would have made a different choice. But no one told me." I began to ask these girls: "What could we have told you? What could someone have shared with you, before you made your choice?" 

After all those years I realized there are a lot of students making decisions about sex who have no idea what the consequences of their decisions will be. I am writing this so that none of you will ever again be able to say to a physician, a counselor, or to your future husband or wife: "Nobody told me. I didn't know."

Girls Hope They're Off The Hook

Most teens who are having sex are afraid of getting pregnant. Girls come into my office for pregnancy testing, and when I tell a girl her test is negative, she gets a look of relief over her face, as though to say: "I'm off the hook. I'm not pregnant. Let me out of your office." 

Wait a minute! Have you been tested for syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, trichinoma, vulvadema, urethritis, hepatitis B, HPV or HIV? You have a four times greater chance of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease than you do of becoming pregnant.

For nine years I've also had to tell hundreds of girls their tests were positive -- "You're pregnant." Immediately they want an easy, painless way out. 

I have to look at them and say: "Sorry. Your choices at this point are bad, terrible, and worse. You had a good choice before you chose to have sex. Now all of your choices are going to carry painful lifelong consequences."

Abortion, Anorexia, Bulimia, Suicide

 There is no easy way out of pregnancy. Abortion is painful, destructive, and devastating. More than 80 percent of the women in our country who've had an abortion say that if they could go back, they would have chosen something different. 

Abortion isn't like going to the dentist and having a tooth pulled. I have counseled with hundreds of women -- five, ten, fifteen years after they had an abortion, who are still hurting physically, psychologically, and above all, spiritually. 

I've counseled teenagers with anorexia, bulimia, and depression -- including many who have attempted suicide because they had an abortion.

Parenting a child isn't an easy choice either. Eight out of ten single teenage girls who choose to parent their children will live below the poverty level for at least ten years. Most stay there the rest of their lives. Nine out of ten will never attend college. 

These are girls who had goals, plans, things they might have liked to do with their lives after high school that they didn't get the chance to do because of their rash choice to have sex.

Guys Pay Dearly Too

Guys are also facing very serious consequences for having sex outside of marriage. Lawmakers are now holding young men in this country responsible for having sex and getting a girl pregnant. 

The fact is, guys, it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the next eighteen years. The state you live in has the legal right to take away a sizeable portion of your pay from your job to support the child you fathered. 

If you're not yet working, you'll go into debt.

A young man I know who got a girl pregnant in Minnesota is being required by the State to pay $350 a month to support his little girl. That's based on his current income working at Burger King. 

"I made a decision one night after drinking," he said, "that I never would have made if I had been sober. And I will pay for that decision for the rest of my life." 

This is a very serious responsibility, young men. You need to think about that before you have sex, because after having sex, it's too late.

Venereal Disease Epidemic

Today, in the next 24 hours, 12,000 teenagers will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD). And that's just teenagers. 

Looking at the entire population, there are about 50,000 people each day in our country who contract a sexually transmitted disease. 

Yesterday, 12,000 of them were teenagers who got up in the morning like some of you reading this, and said: "It's not going to happen to me. That happens in big cities, but not where I live." Wrong!

Chlamydia Sterilizes

In the 1950s there were only five sexually transmitted diseases that were known and treated. Today there are more than fifty types of STDs. 

Chlamydia is the number one STD among teens today. There are about 4,000 teenagers every day who contract chlamydia. This is a bacteria, not a virus.

Unlike some venereal diseases, it can be cured. But more than 80 percent of the students who contract this disease do not realize they have it. 

If you contract chlamydia once in your life, you have a 25 percent chance of being sterile the rest of you life. 

If you get this disease more than once, the chances are much greater that you will never be able to have children.

Outstanding Senior Guys

At first, abstinence may sound negative, but it's a very positive choice that brings you freedom and peace of mind. 

Here's a good example . . . 

Five senior guys at a high school in Orlando, Florida, bought full-page ad in their yearbook. They put pictures of themselves with their prom dates in the ad. The headline reads: 

"True Love Waits" and goes on to say, "we are making a statement to our fellow classmates that we will never abuse women, use them for sport and dump them. We are choosing to save sex for our wives."

Sex is not a game. But if you treat it like a game, it can have very harmful, long-term consequences. 

Sex was meant to be more than just a biological act. God meant sex to be a one-flesh experience -- the bonding of two people physically, emotionally, and spiritually for life. 

When you abuse sex it doesn't just damage your body, it damages you, and it damages your partner.

Order Pam's 
Dynamic DVD

Pam Stenzel produced a dynamic DVD of her eye-opening Sex Has A Price Tag presentation.

Her message is compelling and unforgetable.

Every high school and college student should see this video. It's one of the best tools available to help teens save sex for marriage.

Great for churches, schools and youth groups!

Faith Based version: $29.00

Public School version: $39.00

(Prices include shipping and handling)

Order Pam Stenzel DVD

with Check by mail,

or by Credit Card on Phone

To order Pam's powerful DVD, "Sex Has A Price Tag," please send your check to Pro-Life America and let us know which version you want...either (a) Faith Based or (b) Public School version 

MAKE YOUR CHECK PAYABLE to:  Pro-Life America 

Mail your check and order to:

Pro-Life America

Pam Stenzel Video Dept.

1840 S. Elena Ave., # 103

Redondo Beach, CA 90277

For quicker service, you can call our California office and order with a CREDIT CARD by phone.

Order Pam Stenzel DVD 

Call:  (424) 247-7490


really safe?

This article has been adapted from:

"Sex, Love and You: Making the Right Decision"

A book by Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.

What about the emotional and psychological dangers? After you read the following PERSONAL STORIES about pre-marital sex, you may wonder how "safe" it really is?

Below are real, eye-opening quotes from boys and girls and men and women about deep regrets of pre-marital sexual experiences. Their testimonies cover 10 areas:

1) Worries about Pregnancy, AIDS and other Venereal Diseases,

2) Regretting Bad Decisions for years

3) Feelings of Guilt

4) Loss of Self-Respect,

5) Corruption of Character,

6) Shaken Trust and Fear of Future Commitment,

7) Rage over Betrayal,

8) Depression and Suicide,

9) Poisoned Relationships, and

10) Stunted Personal Development.

If you're struggling with any of these worrisome stresses, you know how painful they can be.   There is no condom for the heart.

Much is said about worries of getting pregnant and the dangers of venereal diseases -- but far less is said about the emotional hazards and the broken hearts. That's a problem. The destructive psychological consequences of temporary sexual relationships are VERY REAL. Being aware of them can help you make decisions you won't regret.

That's not to say we should downplay the physical dangers of uncommitted sex. Pregnancy is a life-changing event. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - and there are now more than 50 STDs [CDC] - can rob you of your health and even your life.

Condoms don't remove these dangers. Studies have shown condoms to have an annual failure rate of 10 percent to 36 percent in preventing pregnancy because of human error in using them and because they sometimes leak, break, or slip off. So how safe can condoms be when it comes to AIDS?

In a 1993 analysis of 11 different medical studies, condoms were found to have a 31% average failure rate in preventing the sexual transmission of the AIDS virus. Again, that's a 31% failure rate for protecting against a deadly disease!

Important Note: Condoms do little or nothing to protect against the two STDs infecting at least one-third (1/3) of sexually active teenage girls. The two venereal diseases are:

A) Human Papilloma Virus (HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and it kills about 5,000 women each year), and

B) Chlamydia (the leading cause of infertility)

Both of these venereal diseases can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact in the entire genital area, only a small part of which is covered by the condom. Are you warned about this when condoms are promoted as tools for "safe sex" by teachers or TV ads?

And what about broken hearts? The relative silence in America about the emotional elements of sex is ironic. It's the emotional dimension of sex that makes it distinctively human.

What in fact are the painful emotional or psychological consequences of premature, uncommitted sex? When you read the personal testimonies that follow, you'll see how devastating they can be. The consequences can vary from person to person. Sometimes, emotional consequences may be short-term, but still serious. Others can last a very long time and cause marital and parenting problems.

For some, the emotional and psychological consequences of pre-marital sex was hard to foresee, yet it is very painful! Painful breakups and long-lasting heartaches are not worth it! 

10 consequences of pre-marital sex 
(Do you want to avoid these?)

1. Worries about Pregnancy and AIDS

For many sexually active young people, the fear of becoming pregnant or getting AIDS is a major emotional stress.

Russell Henke, health education coordinator in Montgomery County, Maryland says,

"I see kids going to the nurse's office in schools, crying a day after their first sexual experience, and wanting to be tested for AIDS. They have done it, and now they are terrified. For some of them, that's enough. They say, "I don't want to have to go through that experience anymore."

A high school girl told a nurse:

"I see some of my friends buying home pregnancy tests, and they are so worried and so distracted every month, afraid that they might be pregnant. It's a relief to me to be a virgin."

2. Deep Regrets

Girls, especially, need to know in advance the sharp regret that so many young women feel after becoming sexually involved.

Says one high school girl:

"I get upset when I see my friends losing their virginity to some guy they've just met. Later, after the guy's dumped them, they come to me and say, "I wish I hadn't done it." A ninth-grade girl who slept with eight boys in junior high says, "I'm young, but I feel old."

Girls are more vulnerable than boys because girls are more likely to think of sex as a way to "show you care." They're more likely to see sex as a sign of commitment in the relationship.

If a girl expects a sexual interlude to be loving, she may very well feel cheated and used when the boy doesn't show a greater romantic interest after the event. As one 15-year-old girl describes her experience: "I didn't expect the guy to marry me, but I never expected him to avoid me in school."

He dropped Sandy after sex . . .

Bob Bartlett, who teaches a freshman sexuality class in a Richfield, Minn., high school, shares the following story of regret on the part of one of his students whom we'll call "Sandy" . . .

Sandy, a bright and pretty girl, asked to see Mr. Bartlett during her lunch period. She explained that she had never had a boyfriend, so she was excited when a senior asked her out.

After they dated for several weeks, the boy asked her to have sex with him.

She was reluctant; he was persistent. She was afraid of appearing immature and losing him, so she consented.

"Did it work?" Mr. Bartlett asked gently. "Did you keep him?"

Sandy replied: "For another week. We had sex again, and then he dropped me. He said I wasn't good enough. There was no spark.

"I know what you're going to say. I take your class. I know now that he didn't really love me. I feel so stupid, so cheap."

Sandy hoped, naively, that sex would have helped her keep the guy.

Feeling trapped after sex . . .

Here is another high school girl, writing to an advice column about a different kind of regret. She wishes she could lose the guy she's involved with, but she feels trapped by their sexual relationship:

"I am 16, a junior in high school, and like nearly all the other girls here, I have already lost my virginity. Although most people consider this subject very personal, I feel the need to share this part of my life with girls who are trying to decide whether to have sex for the first time.

"Sex does not live up to the glowing reports and hype you see in the movies. It's no big deal. In fact, it's pretty disappointing.

"I truly regret that my first time was with a guy that I didn't care that much about. I am still going out with him, which is getting to be a problem. I'd like to end this relationship and date others, but after being so intimate, it's awfully tough.

"Since that first night, he expects sex on every date, like we are married or something. When I don't feel like it, we end up in an arguement. It's like I owe it to him. I don't think this guy is in love with me, at least he's never said so. I know deep down that I am not in love with him either, and this makes me feel sort of cheap.

"I realize now that this is a very big step in a girl's life. After you've done it, things are never the same. It changes everything.

"My advice is, don't be in such a rush. It's a headache and a worry. (Could I be pregnant?) Sex is not for entertainment. It should be a commitment. Be smart and save yourself for someone you wouldn't mind spending the rest of your life with."

She still regrets her promiscuous travels abroad . . .

Regret over uncommitted sexual relationships can last for years. I recently received a letter from a 33-year-old woman, now a psychiatrist, who is very much concerned about the sexual pressures and temptations facing young people today. She wanted to share the lessons she had learned about sex the hard way. After high school, she says, she spent a year abroad as an exchange student:

"I was a virgin when I left, but I felt I was protected. I had gotten an IUD so I could make my own decisions if and when I wanted. I had steeled myself against commitment. I was never going to marry or have children; I was going to have a career. During that year abroad, from 17 1/2 to 18 1/2, I was very promiscuous.

"But the fact is, it caused me to be separated from myself. The longest-standing and deepest wound I gave myself was heartfelt. That sick, used feeling of having given a precious part of myself - my soul - to so many and for nothing, still aches. I never imagined I'd pay so dearly and for so long."

This woman still carries the emotional scars of those early sexual experiences. She wants young people to know that "sex without commitment is very risky for the heart."

3. Guilt

Guilt is a special form of regret - a strong sense of having done something morally wrong. Guilt is a normal and healthy moral response, a sign that one's conscience is working.

In his book for teenagers, Love, Dating, and Sex, George Eager tells the story of a well-known speaker who was addressing a high school assembly. The speaker was asked, "What do you most regret about your high school days?" He answered,

"The thing I most regret about high school is the time I single-handedly destroyed a girl."

Eager offers this advice to young men: "When the breakup comes, it's usually a lot tougher on the girls than it is on the guys. It's not something you want on your conscience - that you caused a girl to have deep emotional problems."

One 16-year-old boy says he stopped having sex with girls when he saw and felt guilty about the pain he was causing: "You see them crying and confused. They say they love you, but you don't love them."

Even in an age of sexual liberation, a lot of people who are having sex nevertheless have a guilty conscience about it. The guilt may come, as in the case of the young man just quoted, from seeing the hurt you've caused other people.

The guilt may come from knowing that your parents would be upset if they knew you were having sex. Or it may stem from your religious convictions. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, for example, all teach that sex is a gift from God reserved for marriage and that sexual relations outside marriage are morally wrong.

Sometimes guilt about their sexual past ends up crippling people when they become parents by keeping them from advising their own children not to become sexually involved. According to counselor Dr. Carson Daly: "Because these parents can't bear to be considered hypocrites, or to consider themselves hypocrites, they don't give their children the sexual guidance they very much need."

4. Loss of Self-Respect and Self-Esteem

Many people suffer a loss of self-esteem when they find out they have a sexually transmitted disease. For example, according to the Austin, Texas-based Medical Institute for Sexual Health, more than 80 percent of people with herpes say they feel 'less confident" and "less desirable sexually."

But even if a person is fortunate enough to escape sexually transmitted disease, temporary sexual relationships can lower the self-respect of both the user and the used.

Sometimes casual sex lowers self-esteem, leading a person into further casual sex, which leads to further loss of self-esteem in an oppressive cycle from which it may be hard to break free. This pattern is described by a college senior, a young woman who works as a residence hall director:

"There are girls in our dorm who have had multiple pregnancies and multiple abortions. They tend to be filled with self-loathing. But because they have so little self-esteem, they will settle for any kind of attention from guys. So they keep going back to the same kind of destructive situations and relationships that got them into trouble in the first place."

On both sides of dehumanized sex, there is a loss of dignity and self-worth. One 20-year-old college male confides: "You feel pretty crummy when you get drunk at a party and have sex with some girl, and then the next morning you can't even remember who she was."

Another college student describes the loss of self-respect that followed his first sexual "conquest":

"I finally got a girl into bed - actually it was in a car - when I was 17. I thought it was the hottest thing there was, but then she started saying she loved me and getting clingy. I figured out that there had probably been a dozen guys before me who thought they had "conquered" her, but who were really just objects of her need for security. That realization took all the wind out of my sails. I couldn't respect someone who gave in as easily as she did.

"I was amazed to find that after four weeks of having sex as often as I wanted, I was tired of her. I didn't see any point in continuing the relationship. I finally dumped her, which made me feel even worse, because I could see that she was hurting. I felt pretty low."

People aren't things. When we treat them as if they were, we not only hurt them; we lose respect for ourselves.

5. The Corruption of Character

When people treat others as sexual objects and exploit them for their own pleasure, they not only lose self-respect; they corrupt their characters and debase their sexuality in the process.

Good character consists of virtues such as respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness, caring and self-control. With regard to sex, the character trait of self-control is particularly crucial.

The breakdown of sexual self-control is a big factor in many of the sex-related problems that plague our society: rape, promiscuity, pornography, addiction to sex, sexual harassment, the sexual abuse of children, sexual infidelity in marriage, and the serious damage to families many of these problems cause.

It was Freud who said - and it is now obvious how right he was - that sexual self-control is essential for civilization. Sex frequently corrupts character by leading people to tell lies in order to get sex. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health reports:

"Almost all studies show that many sexually active people will lie if they think it will help them have sex." Common lies: "I love you" and "I've never had a sexually transmitted disease."

Because sex is powerful, once sexual restraint is set aside, it easily takes over individuals and relationships. Consider the highly sexualized atmosphere that now characterizes many high schools. A high school teacher in Indiana says, "The air is thick with sex talk. Kids in the halls will say - boy to girl, girl, to boy - 'I want to f--- you.'"

In a 1993 study by the American Association of University Women, four of five high school students - 85 percent of girls and 75 percent of boys - said they have experienced "unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with my life" in school. An example: A boy backs a 14-year-old girl up against her locker the day after. Says Nan Stein, a Wellesley College researcher: "There's a Tail-hook happening in every school. Egregious behavior is going on."

Another recently reported example of this corruption of character is the Spur Posse club at Lakewood High School in suburban Los Angeles.

Members of this club competed to see how many girls they could sleep with, one claimed he had slept with 63. Sadly, elementary school-age children are beginning to mimick such behavior. In a suburb of Pittsburgh, as assistant superintendent reports that sixth-grade boys were found playing a sexual contact game; the object of the game was to earn points by touching girls in private parts, the most points being awarded for "going all the way.."

In this sex-out-of-control environment, even rape is judged permissible by many young people. In a 1988 survey of students in grades six through nine, the Rhode Island Rape Crisis Center found that two of three boys and 49 percent of the girls said it was "acceptable for a man to force sex on a woman if they have been dating for six months or more." In view of attitudes like these, it's easy to understand why date rape has become such a widespread problem.

In short, sex that isn't tied to love and commitment undermines character by subverting self-control, respect, and responsibility. Unchecked, sexual desires and impulses easily run amok and lead to habits of hedonism and using others for one's personal pleasure. In the process, sexual intercourse loses its meaning, beauty, and specialness; instead of being a loving, uniquely intimate expression of two people's commitment to each other, sex is trivialized and degraded.

6. Shaken Trust and Fear of Commitment

Young people who feel used or betrayed after the break-up of a sexual relationship may experience difficulty in future relationships.

Some sexually exploited people, as we've seen, develop such low self-esteem that they seek any kind of attention, even if it's another short-lived and demeaning sexual relationship. But other people, once burned, withdraw. They have trouble trusting; they don't want to get burned again.

Usually, this happens to the girl. She begins to see guys as interested in just one thing: Sex.

One young woman says,

"Besides feeling cheap (after several sexual relationships), I began to wonder if there would ever be anyone who would love and accept me without demanding that I do something with my body to earn that love."

However, boys can also experience loss of trust and fear of commitment as a result of a broken relationship that involved sex.

Brian, a college senior, tells how this happened to him:

"I first had intercourse with my girlfriend when we were 15. I'd been going with her for almost a year, and I loved her very much. She was friendly, outgoing, charismatic. We'd done everything but have intercourse, and then one night she asked if we could go all the way.

A few days later, we broke up. It was the most painful time of my life. I had opened myself up to her more than I had to anybody, even my parents.

I was depressed, moody, nervous. My friends dropped me because I was so bummed out. I felt like a failure. I dropped out of sports. My grades weren't terrific.

I didn't go out again until I got to college. I've had mostly one-night stands in the last couple of years. I'm afraid of falling in love."

7. Rage Over Betrayal

Sometimes the emotional reaction to being "dumped" isn't just a lack of trust or fear of commitment. It's rage.

Every so often, the media carry a story about a person who had this rage reaction and then committed an act of violence against the former boyfriend or girlfriend. Read these accounts, and you'll find that sex was almost always a part of the broken relationship.

Of course, people often feel angry when somebody breaks up with them, even if sex has not been involved. But the sense of betrayal is usually much greater if sex has been part of the relationship. Sex can be emotional dynamite. It can lead a person to think that the relationship is really serious, that both people really love each other. It can create a very strong emotional bond that hurts terribly when it's ruptured - especially if it seems that the other person never had the same commitment. And the resulting sense of betrayal can give rise to rage, even violence.

8. Depression and Suicide

In Sex and the Teenager, Kieran Sawyer writes: "The more the relationship seems like real love, the more the young person is likely to invest, and the deeper the pain and hurt if the relationship breaks up." Sometimes the emotional turmoil caused by the rupture of a sexual relationship leads to deep depression. The depression, in turn, may lead some people to take their own lives.

In the past 25 years, teen suicide has tripled. In a 1988 survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five adolescent girls said they have tried to kill themselves (The figure for boys was one in 10).

This is the same period during which the rate of teenage sexual activity has sharply increased, especially for girls. No doubt, the rise in youth suicide has multiple causes, but given what we know about the emotional aftermath of broken sexual relationships, it is reasonable to suspect that the pain from such break-ups is a factor in the suicide deaths of some young people.

9. Ruined Relationships

Sex can have another kind of emotional consequence: It can turn a good relationship bad. Other dimensions of the relationship stop developing. Pretty soon, negative emotions enter the picture. Eventually, they poison the relationship, and what had been a caring relationship comes to a bitter end.

One young woman shares her story, which illustrates the process:

"With each date, my boyfriend's requests for sex became more convincing. After all, we did love each other. Within two months, I gave in, because I had justified the whole thing. Over the next six months, sex became the center of our relationship....

At the same time, some new things entered our relationship - things like anger, impatience, jealousy, and selfishness. We just couldn't talk anymore. We grew very bored with each other. I desperately wanted a change."

A young man who identified himself as a 22-year-old virgin echoes this warning about the damage premature sex can do to a relationship:

"I've seen too many of my friends break up after their relationships turned physical. The emotional wreckage is horrendous because they have already shared something so powerful. When you use sex too early, it will block other means of communicating love and can stunt the balanced growth of a relationship."

10. Stunting Personal Development

Premature sexual involvement not only can stunt the development of a relationship; it also can stunt one's development as a person.

Just as some young people handle anxieties by turning to drugs and alcohol, others handle them by turning to sex. Sex becomes an escape. They aren't learning how to cope with life's pressures.

Teenagers who are absorbed in an intense sexual relationship are turning inward on one thing at the very time in their lives when they should be reaching out - forming new friendships, joining clubs and teams, developing their interests and skills, taking on bigger social responsibilities.

All of these are important nutrients for a teenager's development as a person. And this period of life is special because young people have both the time and opportunities to develop their talents and interests. The growing they do during these years will affect them all their lives. If young people don't put these years to good use, they may never develop their full potential.

The risk appears to be greater for girls who get sexually involved and in so doing close the door on other interests and relationship. Says New York psychiatrist Samuel Kaufman:

A girl who enters into a serious relationship with a boy very early in life may find out later that her individuality was thwarted. She became part of him and failed to develop her own interests, her sense of independent identity.

Reflecting on her long experience in counseling college students and others about sexual matters, Dr. Carson Daly comments:

" I don't think I ever met a student who was sorry he or she had postponed sexual activity, but I certainly met many who deeply regretted their sexual involvements. Time and time again, I have seen the long-term emotional and spiritual desolation that results from casual sex and promiscuity.

"No one tells students that it sometimes takes years to recover from the effects of these sexual involvements - if one ever fully recovers."

Sex certainly can be a source of great pleasure and joy. But as should be amply clear - and teens need our help and guidance in understanding this - sex also can be the source of deep wounds and suffering. What makes the difference is the relationship within which it occurs. Sex is most joyful and fulfilling - most emotionally safe as well as physically safe - when it occurs with a loving, total, and binding commitment. Historically, we have called that marriage. Sexual union is then part of something bigger - the union of two persons' lives.

This article has been adapted from:

"Sex, Love and You: Making the Right Decision"

A book by Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.

Co-authored by Judith Lickona and William J. Boudreau, M.D (published by Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN., September 1994)

Thomas Lickona is a developmental psychologist and professor of education at the State University of New York at Cortland. He is the father of two sons, ages 20 and 26, and author of the Christopher Award-winning book Educating for Character (Bantam Books, 1992)


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