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Traffickers and Predators: How Porn is Used to Desensitize and Groom

By July 19, 2018 No Comments

What would you say if we were to tell you that watching porn has been and currently is being used as a sort of “brainwashing” method? You’d probably think we were a little crazy, saying something like, “Brainwashing doesn’t actually exist, apart from in Marvel movies and Netflix shows like The Avengers and Stranger Things.”

We wouldn’t blame you for thinking this way because of the convincing marketing job the porn industry does—but in a way, it’s happening.

Let us explain.

Your brain, or as one of the most famous scientists of all time labeled it, “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe,” is a wrinkly, three-pound zombie snack between your ears that permits you to think, feel, create, remember, learn, and more. While the brain functions that we’ve just mentioned are inherently positive functions, they can be conditioned by negative stimuli in a way that changes and negatively impacts those functions.

In this case, the negative stimulus is porn, and one of the most prominent negative effects porn has on brain function is that it desensitizes. In other words, the porn consumer’s brain begins to tolerate the images they’re watching, which leads them to require more amounts and more extreme porn in order to experience the same “high.”

Commonly, this tolerance means escalating to new genres. But in more extreme scenarios, it means being desensitized to sexual abuse or being groomed to comply with a trafficker or predator’s wishes—effectively, being brainwashed. Not sure this is a real thing? Let’s check out the facts.

Porn and desensitizing prostituted people and trafficking victims

There is an inseparable link between porn, prostitution, and sex trafficking—and it seems to only be growing. But this inextricable connection between porn and sexual exploitation goes even deeper than at first glance.

Not only are numerous people pushed into or forced to perform in porn scenes by way of coercion or threats, thereby making them victims of sex trafficking, but the WHISPER Oral History Project also recently reported that many prostituted women are shown porn by their pimp or trafficker as an indoctrination tool.

In other words, after a prostituted person has been shown explicit images and videos of violent sex, they are more likely to be desensitized to and accept violent abuse they may receive.

Furthermore, of those interviewed by the WHISPER Oral History Project, 52% of the prostituted people named porn as an important teacher of what was expected of them, while 80% recounted that their actual customers had also shown them porn in order to illustrate exactly what the sex buyers wanted to engage in.

Sex trafficking victims and prostituted people aren’t the only ones who are forced to view porn in order to desensitize them to the sex acts they will be urged to perform.

Porn and grooming for child abuse

For child predators, porn is seen as a necessary tool in the grooming process.

In her book called Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, Dr. Cynthia Crosson-Tower writes that showing potential victims videos of their peers engaging in and enjoying sex may lead the potential victim to be “more likely to comply with the molester’s demands.”

Or, in other words, sharing porn with a potential child abuse victim can actually lower the victim’s inhibition or normalize what’s about to happen to them.

Social worker, M.C. Badenhorst, and senior lecturer in the School of Psycho-Social Behavioural Science, M.M. Steyn, agreed with Crosson-Tower’s sentiment in their article about how predators groom potential child abuse victims with pornography.

Related: Understanding How Child Porn Is Used To Groom Abuse Victims

For one specific predator, these experts say he used porn to teach his more than twenty male abuse victims, aged between 8 and 13, that they should only engage in sex acts with other guys.

The predator would peer-pressure his victims to engage in porn by showing them pornographic pictures of other children the predator’s abuse victims knew.

This case isn’t unique, unfortunately. Research and personal studies have shown how predators use porn as the key cog in their child grooming engine. Porn desensitizes potential child abuse victims in a number of ways that inhibits them from understanding what’s happening to them: abuse, and exploitation.

Take the experience of child abduction survivor, Elizabeth Smart, as an example. Her captor showed her graphic porn images in preparation for raping and abusing her further. Smart says that porn made her “living hell worse.” Watch her exclusive Fight the New Drug interview, here:

Porn’s powerful impact on consumers

Sex trafficking and child abuse victims are generally closed off, at least initially, to porn their traffickers and predators share with them. And yet these victims are greatly affected by this powerful content, that Columbia University’s Dr. Norman Doidge points out, can make lasting neurological changes due to its ability to create the perfect brain conditions and trigger the release of the right neurochemicals.

If porn affects sex trafficking and child abuse victims who aren’t actually seeking out porn, how much more might it be desensitizing someone who actually is?

In the end, watching isn’t worth the cost of being desensitized to abuse, violence, and exploitation. Normalizing abuse is never normal. This is why we fight.

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Porn is anything but harmless entertainment. SHARE this article and spread the word that it’s used to prep victims of abuse.

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