Right off the bat, we want to make it clear that the purpose of this article is not to infer that those who watch porn will become violent criminals. There is simply no way to know if watching pornography will give someone the motivation to rape, murder, or anything else for that matter. The purpose of this article to talk about what we do know, to talk about what science and research is telling us.

Studies are starting to show how pornography is related to violent sexual behavior. Watching even nonviolent pornography is correlated with the viewer being more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs, and alcohol to push women into sex.[1] An analysis of 33 different studies found that exposure to both non-violent and violent porn increases aggressive behavior, including having violent fantasies and even actually committing violent assaults.[2]

It’s no surprise then that people who already have violent tendencies are perhaps more affected by pornography. We recently posted our interview with Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted by Brian Mitchell at age 14 in 2002, held captive, and repeatedly raped and tortured over the course of nine months. She was finally rescued when she was spotted in public with Mitchell. In the interview, Elizabeth talks about how pornography made her “living hell worse.” One day, he pulled out a magazine filled with hardcore pornography and forced her to look at it and then reenact it.

Again, we are not claiming that pornography automatically turns people into kidnapping rapists, because the reality is that probably 99.9% of the people who look at pornography are regular every day people with regular every day lives, people who are not going to go out and commit a crime because of what they watch online. However, as research and current events are showing, there is a common behavior among people who commit heinous crimes–they often have an unusually high interest in porn and usually have a long history with it that typically extends back to their childhood.

Let’s talk about some more examples of how pornography may play a role in the acts of violent criminals. Infamous serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy gave one last interview before being executed on death row, and he used it to talk about his history with pornography.

When asked about his past experiences with pornography, he stated, “I was essentially a normal person, I had good friends, I led a normal life except for this one small but very potent, very destructive segment of it that I kept very secret and very close to myself and I didn’t let anybody know about it.”

Then, in perhaps one of the most powerful personal accounts that has ever been given about the harms of pornography, Bundy states:

“I’ve lived in prison for a long time now and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me and without exception, every one of them was deeply involved with pornography. Without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by addiction to pornography.”

It may not be hard scientific evidence, but it’s definitely an eye-opening statement coming from one of the most notorious serial killers of all time.

There are several other cases like Brian Mitchell and Ted Bundy. We could talk about Edmund Kemper, a noted serial killer and necrophile known as the Co-ed Butcher in California in the 1970s, who would view pornography and detective magazines before picking up hitch-hiking women, killing them, and then violating their dead bodies. Then, there is UK killer Stuart Hazell, who in the 2013 murder of a 12-year-old girl, the judge said to the killer, “the records of your internet searching on your mobile phone make abundantly clear that you were looking out for pornographic pictures of pre-teen girls.” Lastly, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer once said in an interview where he revealed his routine before hunting for a victim, he prepared by “just…using pictures of past victims…the pornography videos, the magazines…” [3]

Whereas these cases are not the norm for the average porn viewer, it is clear from these cases that pornography has indeed played a strong role in the lives of many noted rapes and murders. We already know that pornography normalizes sexual violence, and for some with already violent tendencies, viewing this material clearly does not help.

(Related: Brittany’s Story: I Was Assaulted By A Porn Addict)

We’ll say it one last time: people who watch porn are not going to become rapists or murderers after watching pornography. However, it is important for society to hear these personal accounts and read this research to see understand the negative effects that pornography is having on the world and on individuals.

What YOU Can Do

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[1] Boeringer, S. B. (1994). Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Associations of Violent and Nonviolent Depictions with Rape and Rape Proclivity. Deviant Behavior 15, 3: 289–304; Check, J. and Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects of Repeated Exposure to Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, and Erotica. In D. Zillmann and J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations (pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Marshall, W. L. (1988). The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Non-Offenders. Journal of Sex Research 25, 2: 267–88.

[2] Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., and Giery, M. A.  (1995). Exposure to Pornography and Acceptance of the Rape Myth. Journal of Communication 45, 1: 5–26.

[3] Warner, Russ. “What Serial Killers and Murderers think about Pornography.” Net Nanny. 2 July 2013. https://www.netnanny.com/blog/what-serial-killers-and-murderers-think-about-pornography/

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