Problematic Sexual Behaviors and Violence

Next year will be a busy one as I launch fully into executing my Masters thesis. The topic: sex addiction and domestic violence. This is a tough subject, but one that needs more attention and more dialogue. As the time approaches for the study to launch I'll be talking more about it on this site, and inviting the community to participate.

All too common

Since the 1980's domestic violence researchers have been pointing out the correlation between porn use and intimate partner violence, particularly sexual violence. A few of these studies have also looked at the link between domestic violence and other types of sexual acting out. More recently a meta study (a study looking at studies) 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 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) argues 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

I've heard numerous stories from women about how their young adult sons/husbands became broken in their sexuality once they began working outside the home. 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.

Getting beyond

At a women's retreat on domestic violence I participated in a few years ago, I shared some of my own story as a victim of DV. From the time I was a child, I was convinced that porn use and infidelity (I would today call it "sexual addiction" or "problematic sexual behaviors") 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, rape and image-based sexual abuse). 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.


This article was written by:
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Lisa Taylor

Lisa is a PSA trauma survivor, counselor and award-winning author living with her kids & recovering husband in New Zealand. She runs groups and sees international clients via Naked Truth Recovery.
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