Confronting Temptation

| September 03, 2002

Though prostitution is a problem at certain truck stops, the chaplains say what’s even more pervasive, and more frequently mentioned in counseling, is pornography.


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Name any woe of the long-haul trucker – loneliness, finances, family problems – and truck stop chaplains deal with it. They also hear things not so easily brought up with strangers: the related topics of pornography and prostitution.

Jay Lerette of Transport for Christ, based at a truck stop in Rochelle, Ill., says prostitution comes up often.

“A lot of drivers tell me when they’re driving the interstate, women will pull up beside their trucks and do all sorts of immoral things to themselves, trying to lure the drivers to pull off,” says Lerette.

“There was one man, about 30, very good looking, well built. He was a Christian, married 12 years,” Lerette says. “He committed adultery with one of these prostitutes one time. He was living with such shame, such guilt, and he thought he had some venereal disease. He said, ‘I knew I should never have given a second look.’ He finally repented.”

Prostitutes face shame and guilt, as well. Chaplain Bill Connor of Transport for Christ, based at a truck stop in Hudson, Wis., says he’s counseled many women who appear to be prostitutes, though they don’t come out and say so.

“They wanted to do the right things, make the right choices,” he says. “They were looking for jobs – jobs that were more legitimate.”

Though prostitution is a problem at certain truck stops, the chaplains say what’s even more pervasive, and more frequently mentioned in counseling, is pornography.

The easy access to porn makes it difficult to make any headway against truck stop prostitution, Connor says. “Even if you’ve got a clean truck stop that doesn’t have porn on its shelves, truckers still have satellite hookups and places where they can plug their computers in,” he says.

Lerette, who keeps a CB in his chapel, says he hears truckers selling explicit videotapes for $5. In addition to such traditional media, hard-core porn is also now available via satellite television and the Internet. Consequently, it’s easy – and safer than hiring a prostitute, in terms of crime and disease – for a driver to consume porn and masturbate in his sleeper, says Don Young, a chaplain at an Ontario, Calif., truck stop.

“It becomes very, very highly addictive, like a drug,” he says.

Connor notes that in other cases, it does lead to seeking a prostitute.

“Pornography tends to take a guy’s mind and put him into a kind of fantasy world where if wives or girlfriends don’t match up to what he sees on these screens, all of a sudden he becomes driven to find someone who will match up,” he says. “It does cause a lot of instability at home. Wives feel left out. There are a lot of Christian men that are really, really dealing with these things in a major way.”

A man who seeks a prostitute usually has a different motivation than a married man having a typical affair, says Emily Brown, the author of Patterns of Infidelity and Their Treatment. “You can have the guy who eventually gives into temptation because he’s off kilter, depressed or his relationship at home is in trouble,” she says. “But the majority of guys who use prostitutes are sex addicts and are trying to fill a void much like an alcoholic would.”

Sex-addicted truckers were the standard fare for Jill Leighton. After running away from an abusive home situation at 14, she became a sex slave for an abusive pimp who regularly sold her to truckers in the Los Angeles area.

“I was brought out to Barstow to truck drivers who wanted a girl who’d do anything,” says Leighton, who is now an outreach coordinator for the Prostitution Prevention Project in Minneapolis. She speaks in a raspy voice due to a larynx damaged from her being strangled and hanged from a noose during sex.

Truckers would pay roughly $100 for normal intercourse or oral sex, she says. “If they wanted to choke me or to use various restraining devices, the price would keep going up,” she says.

Leighton speculates that some truckers’ enjoyment of choking or slapping stemmed from the availability of pornography at or near truck stops and the boredom of driving alone every day. “They have more time than most people to think up stuff like that,” she says.

Dr. Barry Cohn Markell, a Chicago-area psychologist who has treated about 50 truckers, says Leighton is right about the idle time to think, especially for the tiny fraction of people drawn to sado-masochistic types of porn.

“The more time to fantasize, the more time to kind of bathe themselves in it – how to conduct it, how to get involved,” says Markell, who gets many of his clients as court referrals for offenses such as stalking or indecent exposure. “Once you start doing it, it becomes like a compulsion. You have to raise your threshold each time you do it because you become numb to it.”

Any man can engage in deviant behavior. However, Markell notes that there is a strong correlation with men who are “unable to have relationships, isolated types, types who suppress anger or rage” – qualities that often lead loners looking for an escape into long-haul trucking.

The more compulsive, disturbed patients often need medication and years of therapy, Markell says. He steers truckers who are relatively normal but socially awkward toward social activities and training in basic social skills. “I try, if they were raised religious, to get them hooked up with their religion again if they’re so disposed, give them a sense of home base if they have family,” he says. “A lot of it’s kind of building the house from the ground up.”



CHAPLAINS’ PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE TIPS

  • Stay away from any form of pornography because it can inflame desire for a prostitute.
  • Don’t give a prostitute or any attractive woman a second look. Supposedly harmless glances can accumulate subconsciously, provoking your sexual appetite.
  • Fill your mind with wholesome thoughts. Listen to scripture audio tapes. Read books about dealing with sexual temptations.
  • Because regular use of prostitutes and pornography can become a bondage, seek a root change of heart to gain the freedom to say no to temptation.

    TRUCKING MINISTRY RESOURCES

    Transport For Christ
    www.transportforchrist.org
    (717) 859-4870

    Truckstop Ministries
    www.truckstopministries.com
    (800) 248-8662

    Truckers’ Christian Chapel Ministries
    www.tccministries.org
    (800) 545-7600

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