'Getting Off' Author Erica Garza Wants More Women To Open Up About Sex & Porn Addiction

Less than a week after The New York Times published their bombshell report that revealed over 50 women have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape, the disgraced Hollywood producer checked himself into a rehabilitation facility for sex addiction. In the months that followed, countless actors and public figures were accused of sexual assault and harassment, and all-too-often, these men used sex addiction as an excuse for their harmful behavior.

“Like everybody else, I get suspicious when somebody powerful claims they are a sex addict simply because they were caught doing something wrong. I think there is that real danger in using sex addiction as an excuse to justify bad behavior," author Erica Garza tells Bustle. "I think that it is important to note that not all sex addicts are out to hurt other people. We are more likely to hurt ourselves."

The pain Garza is referring to is something she knows all to well, and something she chronicles with courage and unflinching honesty in her groundbreaking new memoir, Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, out now from Simon & Schuster. In this stunning debut, Garza takes readers on a personal odyssey through late night Cinemax movies, internet porn, and serial hookups in an attempt to explore the cultural taboos that make having sincere discussions about sex, porn, pleasure, and addiction so difficult to navigate.

"I think that it is important to note that not all sex addicts are out to hurt other people. We are more likely to hurt ourselves."

"It is not really serving people who are addicted and need to talk about these things," Garza says. "If you can’t talk about it, then you can’t really start the healing process. I am really hoping with my book to open up that conversation and to make sex and sex addiction something that is not so taboo anymore."

Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction by Erica Garza, $23, Amazon

Unlike the most commonly repeated sex addiction narratives that equate erotic dependency to the bad habits of predatory men or the inevitable result of a woman's abuse, Garza's isn't provoked by personal trauma, sexual or otherwise. "It is really important for me to show that there isn’t just one way to be a sex addict, and there isn’t one way to healing," she says.

Like most adolescent girls, Garza struggled to cope with the social pressures of young adulthood, and the corrective brace she was forced to wear only made things more difficult for her. At the age of 12, she writes in her memoir, she found her only comfort in masturbation. It was a dangerous kind of comfort, though, one wrapped up in an addictive feeling of shame that lead to nearly two decades of dysfunctional, and often dangerous, sexual behaviors.

"It is really important for me to show that there isn’t just one way to be a sex addict, and there isn’t one way to healing."

"There seems to be more shame attached to sex addiction, and sex in general," Garza says. "Sex is still very hidden and taboo and people are quite uncomfortable talking about it. When it comes to something like addiction, there seems to be more discomfort and more shame."

Garza is a firm believer that, if more people, and more women specifically, were willing to talk about sex and addiction, we could dismantle those destructive feelings of shame that drive addictive behavior, and instead create a better, healthier understanding of female desire. Garza believes the key to this transition lies in honest discussions about the subjects so many people consider off limits: sex, porn, and pleasure.

"Even if you don't have all the answers, it is really important to start the conversation, and to start exploring these things," Garza urges. "Even if the conversation is messy and you don't have it all all figured out yet." She believes that in "not keeping these things silenced anymore, then we will start to understand each other a lot more."

Being understood, or at least feeling understood, is also a crucial building block on the road to recovery, whether it be from sex addiction or otherwise. "So much of my addiction, and so much of addiction for a lot of people, has to do with feeling really alone in this, and feeling like you are more broken than anybody else and nobody will understand you," Garza explains. "More often than not, when you talk about these things and approach the difficult subjects you’ve tried to hide for so long, you end up feeling a lot closer to other people, and healing seems much more possible in the end."

"So much of my addiction, and so much of addiction for a lot of people, has to do with feeling really alone in this, and feeling like you are more broken than anybody else and nobody will understand you."

In publishing Getting Off, Garza hopes to kickstart that healing process for other women who are struggling with sex and porn addiction. In order to make real progress, however, more people need to be willing to share a different kind of "Me too" story, one that honestly confronts the kind of sexual dependency so many are familiar with, but too afraid to confront.

"I think we are moving in the right direction," Garza says. "I would love to hear more stories from women going through these things."

Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction by Erica Garza, $23, Amazon