Photo by Andre Benz. 8 minute read.
TRIGGER WARNING
The following post contains descriptions of abusive situations.

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We recently received this true story from a Fighter that shows how relationships are twisted by porn, and how porn convinces consumers to believe that abuse can be sexy and arousing. Some stories, like this one, show how not all relationships can last through a porn struggle.

Hey FTND,

I wanted to reach out with my story. It can’t compare to many of the terrible stories I’ve read about the ways porn has affected others but I feel compelled to share my story because it may be relatable to others.

When I was 17 I got into my first serious relationship. I grew up in a very conservative home without internet, so porn was never an issue or an option for me. My parents explained porn to my sister and I and told us it would be best to date guys who weren’t currently watching porn because porn is objectifying and exploitative. I accepted that and never had any issues. That was, until I fell head over heels for a guy during my junior year of high school.

He was a few years older than me, very fit and popular. We dated casually and then became exclusive shortly after. Everything was going great. But about three months into our relationship, Eli (name has been changed) explained to me that he was addicted to porn.

He was deeply ashamed but felt that it was important for him to be honest with me. I was immediately concerned and asked him to stop watching it because it was disrespectful to me. He explained to me that it wasn’t that easy and that he had tried many times before. But after opening up and talking about it with me, he promised that he really would stop this time. I believed him.

Not realizing what wasn’t normal

He was older and attractive and had been so kind to me previously that I didn’t want to give him up, especially since he said he was willing to change for me.

Some time passed and it got to the point in our relationship where we started becoming more physical. I had never had a serious boyfriend before Eli, so everything we were doing was new to me. But soon I realized that the way he touched me and kissed me wasn’t intimate or naturally affectionate. He was very possessive, aggressive, and demanding. There were many times that I asked him to stop whatever he was doing and he would ignore me. Sometimes he would pin my arms down, pull my hair, grab my body too hard, and I constantly had bruises up and down my back from him pushing me against a wall. At first, I went along with it but soon I realized I was really uncomfortable with everything we were doing.

My best friend was the only one who noticed the bruises and was beginning to ask questions. I found myself making excuses for his behavior. He had stopped watching porn for me, after all, so I felt like I owed it to him. However, when I really thought about it, I saw the contrast. Our relationship had started out with him kissing my forehead and holding doors open for me to him literally pinning me down and forcing kisses on me.

But it wasn’t all bad, we still had a lot of fun together and could always find something to laugh about. And it’s important to note that I’m no fool when it comes to abusive relationships; my dad is a police officer, so I had always knew the red flags and how to spot a victim. I knew it could happen to anyone, I just never thought it could happen to me. Especially not with a smart, kind guy who had my parents and friends fooled. I guess I failed to recognize that I, myself, was a victim.

Related: Does Porn Really Decrease Rates Of Sexual Assault?

The truth finally came out

Finally, one day I had enough and told him I needed to slow things down between the two of us. He then used his porn addiction as leverage and told me that if I wouldn’t see him, he would watch porn instead. I was stuck trying to protect him from himself and trying to fix our issues. Porn had completely warped who he was and how he viewed women. I was a mere object of his pleasure, but I still thought I meant something to him. I stuck around to try and help him.

This twisted web continued until my best friend walked in and caught him in the act of starting to choke me while pinning me down. He had never done that before. Luckily, that experience served as a wake-up call.

After that, I had had enough for good. I told him we were done. He was very apologetic and cried, and that’s when the truth came out that he hadn’t ever stopped watching porn. In fact, his problem was much worse than he let on before. According to him, watching porn started out as softcore nudity that “wasn’t bad” but as he became accustomed to the images and acts depicted on screen, he needed more. His habit consumed him until the things he regularly watched were not enough. That’s when he discovered rape porn and violent porn.

He confessed to me that his porn habits had escalated and that he would watch porn for up to four hours a day. In my naïve mind, I had thought that porn was simply two people having sex, and it wasn’t until Eli shared his problem with me that I realized there were all different kinds of demeaning and violent porn. It made me sick to my stomach.

Now, I wish I had never learned. Because of his addiction to rape porn, his issues with sex and violence were much deeper than I had imagined. He confided that he had been watching this kind of porn for years and when he had been with his ex-girlfriend, he was only able to be aroused during sex if she was in serious pain or agony. Fortunately, I had never had sex with Eli, because I’m fairly certain that his twisted view of sex would have cost me more than just my virginity.

He is unwilling to fight, unwilling to change

I knew Eli was struggling and I wanted to help him but I also knew I couldn’t remain in that relationship. We remained friends and he even told me that he did not want to be romantically involved with me again because he said I deserved better and he no longer wanted to subject me to his disrespect. He realized that his porn addiction had deeply affected his ability to have a healthy relationship.

Related: How Consuming Porn Can Lead To Violence

While I no longer see or speak to Eli often, I’m quite certain he is still heavily addicted to porn. I hoped he would seek help, but the last I checked he still hadn’t dated anyone since me and had even told others that he had sworn off love. It broke his heart and mine to realize what porn had done to his mindset. He has since apologized to me, but the damage is done, unfortunately.

Our relationship ended and not in a pleasant way. Even though I know he feels sorry, I also know he is unwilling to give up screen time with fake depictions of cheap sex even if it costs him love and even a family one day.

The lingering effects of Eli’s twisted “love”

I eventually met an amazing man and fell in love with him. He is soft spoken, kind, and most importantly respects me as well as himself. He is passionately against porn and we wear our Porn Kills Love shirts together all the time. But my past relationship still has left me with some emotional wounds. There have been times that have triggered emotional outbursts from me—an accidental pull of my hair, passionate kissing where I couldn’t catch my breath, etc. But through it all, he has always held me while I cried and understood my trauma and issues.

Really, it could have been so much worse and I’m lucky that I got out of that relationship before things got more serious.

Telling this story is hard. Reading these words as my own story seems unbelievable that I could have ever been so stupid and so foolish to stay with a man whose love of pain trumped his respect for me. But I want any person who is reading this to know: abuse knows no stereotype, no gender, no rules. It can happen anywhere at any time and from any person.

Do not be fooled, the act of viewing pornography is directly connected with a person’s view of their significant other, and in my case I was treated as a sexual object with little more importance than a screen. Please, I urge you to choose real love instead of porn. Believe me, sex is complex and beautiful and so much better than the warped images on a screen.

Choose to love a real person who can love you back and fight for a future instead of temporary pleasure. Love is worth it.

– S.

Why this matters

Not all partners who watch porn will turn abusive, and not everyone who watches porn will become violent. Even so, this story illustrates how pornography warps a consumer’s perceptions of what real, and their understanding of what intimate sex and love are like.

A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Communication is showing concrete evidence that consuming porn increases the likelihood of physical and verbal sexual aggression.

Related: Studies Show Sexual Aggression Can Be Linked To Watching Porn

The researchers sought out to answer one question: Is pornography consumption correlated with committing actual acts of sexual aggression? They performed a meta-analysis (collecting data from numerous studies done by different researchers to show one particular finding) of 22 studies from 7 different countries. Their findings?

“[Porn] consumption was indeed associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Associations were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.”

The unfortunate thing is that this is not a completely shocking discovery. For those who have studied the link between pornography and sexual violence, these findings only make the case more concrete. Science and research have proven that it is difficult for even consumers of non-violent porn to be uninfluenced by what they watch.

Porn is anything but harmless entertainment, and as an awareness and education movement, we are fighting for real love that does not allow for disrespect or abuse.

Related: Data Shows Australian Domestic Violence Crisis Is Being Fueled By Pornography

So many people are quick to say, that will never happen to me, but from all the research linking pornography and sexual violence, and the thousands of stories we receive from partners all around the world that are similar to this one, we know that cases like this happen all too often. And that’s not acceptable.

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