From Porn to Violence

Last month I was asked to speak at a hui (Maori symposium) on domestic violence. When I told friends and colleagues I was doing this, I got a lot of surprised reactions. What does domestic violence have to do with porn and sex addiction —the topics I usually speak on?

Not Such a Stretch

Last year a meta study was completed on the relationship between porn use and sexual violence. The researchers found a relationship between higher rates of porn use and attitudes (conducive to) and acts of sexual aggression against women.

This strikes me as not particularly surprising considering that when it comes to internet porn:

  • 88% of scenes show physical aggression
  • 40% show dangerous/unsanitary practices
  • 48% of scenes include verbal aggression
  • 94% of cases of gagging, choking and slapping are directed at females
  • 95% of aggression is met with a neutral or positive response

Those with a porn addiction (and many of our younger people on the way to addiction) will watch this kind of stuff by the bucket load. Of course it changes their attitudes with regards to violence and women.

60% of teens say that they watch porn to fill in the gaps in their sexual knowledge. In other words, they believe it's "sex ed" class.

So what are they learning in class? A study in 2013 by the UK Children's Commissioner stated:
"We found compelling evidence that too many boys believe that they have an absolute entitlement to sex at any time, in any place, in any way and with whomever they wish. Equally worryingly, we heard that girls feel they have no alternative but to submit to boys’ demands, regardless of their own wishes.”

Moreover, because children/teens often have less understanding of the normal workings of the human body, girls are frequently showing up at doctors with profound injuries acquired as boys tried to "act out what they've learned" on them. One local doctor in New Zealand recently expressed that she's been horrified by the number of young girls requiring reconstructive surgery because of the dangerous sex acts performed on them.

Rape Training

Dr. Michael Flood (University of New South Wales) has stated that internet porn is rape training. He states:

  • Porn is the number one risk factor in shaping attitudes (tastes) towards sexual violence and aggression
  • Creates hostile/distrustful attitudes towards women/relationships
  • Causes men to become callous and unemotional about sex

In the past week I've heard stories from at least three different women about how their sons/husbands became broken in their sexuality once they began working outside the home (most of these young men were in trades, a couple started in grocery stores). In each story it was the conversations of the men around them (sometimes combined with porn images on walls and bathroom stalls) that broke and even traumatized them. What were these conversations about? They were graphic, detailed narratives of porn-inspired sex acts with partners — or of rapes they fantasized committing on women who went by.

Internet pornography is creating a culture that glorifies rape and other types of violence against women.

Sexual Violence and Beyond

At the hui I shared some of my own story as a victim of domestic violence (more on this in Beyond Betrayal). From the time I was a child, I was convinced that porn use and infidelity (I would call it "sexual addiction" today) were related to cruelty and physical abuse. This was my experience.

After sharing this, as well as information about the various types of domestic violence (physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and sexual) a number of women came up to me privately and began to tell me their stories. Stories of how his porn use had extended into chronic sexual violence (including drugging and rape that included photos that were shared). There was also physical abuse, with threats of murder, financial abuse (theft, extortion) and loads and loads of emotional abuse.

With each of these narratives, though, there was also a story of surviving. Of breaking free of the abuse. Yes, that meant leaving the relationship (most cases). It meant ugly court battles (some cases). It meant coming to a domestic violence weekend to talk, and cry and pray.

But each of these amazing women is moving forward. Even the ones who don't yet walk with God. It's a story that's taking place all over the world. As one of the 2014/2015 Wives of Sex Addicts survey respondents stated:

My quality of life has improved since separating from my husband in many ways... I do not live in fear that he will be angry with me or that he will look at pornography or cheat on me or drink too much. My life is calmer and more stable... It has been a long journey, but I am so glad I am here now.