Gary Wilson is the author of Your Brain On Porn.

Emma Turner had always been the perfect daughter. A classic "good girl", she won prizes for her academic achievements throughout her school career before being voted deputy head girl in the Sixth Form.

Now as she faced a disciplinary panel at her university, she was struggling to think how on earth she was going to explain this to her proud parents. She was about to be "sent down", i.e. kicked out.

The reason? Moments earlier, Emma had stared in abject horror at a document listing every website she had visited on her laptop in her halls of residence since starting her degree at the start of the year.

It spanned ten sheets of A4, and there, highlighted in an orange pen, were all the pornographic sites she’d visited. Emma, now 24, cringes as she recalls: "I’d been caught red-handed by the IT department. Now all I wanted was for the ground to swallow me up.

"I’d never kept track of the hours I spent looking at porn. Now, here was the evidence right in front of me. In my shock, I could half hear it being explained that it was in the contract of my hall of residence that I didn’t use the university computer network to use or download any pornographic material.

"Then just as I was expecting to hear the words telling me I was out, the Warden said: 'Of course, we know it wasn’t you. Do you know how any of the male students might have got your log-in and password? You realise it’s illegal to share them, don’t you?' "

Although Emma couldn’t believe her luck at getting off the hook, it confirmed her darkest fears: there must be something terribly wrong with her, because women don’t get addicted to pornography, do they? Men do. Yet here she was, unable to go more than a day without it.

However, despite the fact that porn addiction is seen as a male problem, Emma is far from alone.

While it’s accepted that women watch porn — at least one in three visitors to such sites are estimated to be female — it’s less recognised that some find it difficult to stop.

And the sad reality is that, just like with men, being bombarded with degrading and unrealistic depictions of sex can have a detrimental effect on women’s love lives, leaving them feeling empty, not empowered.

Only now, six years after the near-miss that almost derailed her university career, can Emma, who works in TV production, finally see the effect porn had on her life.

Brought up the youngest of three children in a naval family, her curiosity was piqued when she stumbled across porn while researching an art project when she was 15 — but even more so when she borrowed a copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

"I found myself turned on by the descriptions of sex and started searching online for clips. Until then, I’d thought porn was something horny teenage boys used.

"No one would ever have suspected me because I was a classic goody two shoes."

When she went to university to study languages, Emma’s porn use turned into a habit. "With no parents to hide from, and with a lock on my door, I could look at it as often as I wanted," she admits.

"So I found myself looking at it when I woke up, at night to help me get to sleep and two or three times during the day.

"The temptation was always there because of my laptop. It was like trying to wean myself off a free drug right in front of me."

Indeed, it seems women experience the same pattern of exposure and addiction to hard-core images as men, according to Gary Wilson, author of Your Brain On Porn. "The key thing is that both male and female reward systems can be activated by porn.

"Since sexual arousal releases the highest levels of (feel-good chemicals) dopamine and opioids — the potential for sexual conditioning, or even porn addiction, is possible for both sexes." And it’s increasingly being recognised that women may have a higher risk than men of addiction.

This is because, as women who have shared their experiences with Wilson have pointed out, they don’t need as long a recovery period after climaxing as men. As a result, women have reported going on "porn binges".

But while some therapists hear young women say the violence of porn makes them too afraid to have sex, others like Emma found the constant exposure made her feel highly sexed.

"I had lost my virginity to a boyfriend before university but after I started watching a lot more porn it was all about hook-up sex and one-night stands. Sex became like starring in my own porn film in my mind and I thought I knew exactly what to do."

However, what at first seemed liberating, started to feel soulless, says Emma. "The men loved that I was up for all the things they’d seen too. For me, after a year or so, the novelty wore off.

"I realised that here I was, an educated young woman, volunteering to behave for free like porn stars who were paid, or forced, to pretend they were enjoying it."

Indeed, the main difference in the way men and women use porn seems to be how women feel afterwards.

According to social worker and church pastor Karin Cooke, who has spoken to young women like Emma for her book, Dangerous Honesty: Stories Of Women Who Have Escaped The Destructive Power Of Pornography, many feel desperate because they think they are struggling with porn alone.

Karin says: "It’s a taboo subject. One way that porn imprisons women is that they feel isolated and feel they have no one to talk to. It can start to dominate their thinking because they live with the constant fear they will be found out.

"I’ve spoken to professional women, like teachers, who could not sleep at night unless they got their fix. Even when they try to put it out of their minds, unwanted images they have seen keep popping back in their heads."

"But of course after using porn, those problems haven’t gone, and now on top of dealing with them, women are also dealing with the shame, guilt and discomfort. And so they turn to porn again." Yet psychosexual counsellor Krystal Woodbridge, of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, insists that, when used in moderation and within a loving relationship, porn can benefit some women.

"For some, it enhances their intimacy with their partners. Some couples are pleased it’s something they can do together," says Krystal, who is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

However, for those who are not in secure equal partnerships, porn can be destructive and dangerous, teaching vulnerable young women to comply without question with acts they see on screen.

In one academic study, it was found that nearly 90 percent of 304 random scenes showed "physical aggression, principally spanking, gagging, and slapping," while half contained "verbal aggression, primarily name-calling" against women.

Which is particularly disturbing when you consider how Swedish research recently discovered that, like young boys, young girls now use pornography as their principal source of sex education. It discovered a third of 16-year-olds regularly browsed porn websites, 43 percent fantasised about mimicking what they saw, while 39 percent had gone on to try them.

It’s meant that violent, brutal sex acts have become the norm, at the expense of more tender gestures, like kissing.