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.
When I was 7 years old, I was taken away from my family and repetitively sexually abused from 2 men who were around the age of 40.
Other children were where I was, and heavy hallucinogenic drugs were injected into me to take away my ability to fight. I now suffer from crippling PTSD and have completed loads of therapy. Through the therapy and recalling what I’ve blocked out for years, I have found I can remember that there was one man who would do the abuse and one man who would sit and watch. One of these men never touched me…and yet this man has been much harder to forget.
This man was the worse of the two in my mind, and the one who has haunted me the most. And yet he is just like the average porn consumer, just sitting and watching someone who is exploited be drugged, raped, and used. It’s no different than if the man in the same room as my abuse were passively watching it on a screen.
While reading this, if you wanted to fight these abusers and were disgusted with their actions, then you should want to fight people who promote porn and are passive about child exploitation as well. Fight for love. Fight for the innocence I and millions of others have lost. Fight to have the people know that what they might be watching is supporting the hurt of a seven-year-old girl.
Think of the little girls and boys it’s happening to…the brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and the neighbors across the street that made you a birthday card. I was all of them. And I’m sure people watching porn had no idea I was the one they were hurting to get their pleasure.
How child exploitation and adult entertainment are linked
Child pornography has become more prevalent than we ever could have imagined; the people who actually get caught for possessing it are only the tip of the iceberg.
The exploitation of minors for commercial purposes is a business that has been virally expanding on the web for years, and the material is getting worse and more hardcore every year. In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, every week, there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web.
Furthermore, U.S Customs Services estimates that illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites. According to a 2009 United Nations Human Rights Council Report, the production and distribution of child pornography have an estimated value of between $3 billion and $20 billion. It’s a booming business, and its effects are spreading quickly.
Listen to one survivor of child exploitation, Jessa. For most of her life, she faced sexual abuse at the hands of her own family members. They were part of a group who sexually abused her as a child, and after growing up in an environment where she was repeatedly exploited through child pornography, she was forced into sex trafficking and performing for pornographers. Jessa was taken to different cities and countries and sold to friends and pimps.
And while Jessa’s story is heartbreaking, she isn’t alone. Recently in Toronto, Canada, nearly 400 children were rescued and 348 adults arrested following a massive international investigation that took down a $4 million child exploitation image and video production empire that distributed its illegal content to over 50 countries worldwide. Police seized over 45 terabytes of images and videos of exploited children in the bust.
What was most alarming about this case? Many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children. Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests, and three foster parents.
Cases of child exploitation connected to adult entertainment
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) compiled a qualitative review of over one hundred scientific studies, court cases and personal accounts detailing the effects of adult pornography on the sexual exploitation of children. Covering a wide range of factors, from the escalating nature of pornography addiction, to pornography’s role in pedophilia and child abuse, the review provides a chilling glimpse into the world of child pornography and its users.
The review cited court cases that reveal the pattern of escalation that these individuals undergo. For many, what initially began as a fascination with adult pornography, progressed to an involvement with child pornography. The following accounts are excerpts from three separate court cases. They demonstrate how an involvement with adult pornography can escalate into darker behaviors.
In each case, the defendant’s issues began with an exposure and attraction to mainly mainstream pornography. Over time, the thrill of regular, adult pornography wore off—it wasn’t enough anymore. To quote one defendant, he became “burned out.” So, they pushed the limits, and pursued heavier and more extreme material to satisfy their growing struggle and growing need for more illicit material.
Not every consumer, though more than you might think
It is important to note we are not suggesting that even close to every person that consumes pornography will develop aggressive or abusive tendencies, or eventually be aroused by child porn. Rather, we are highlighting the scientific, empirical evidence and anecdotal evidence that tells us how consuming pornography can accelerate such a process and lead consumers into unexpected, uncharted territory.
Dr. Julie Newberry is a psychologist who has worked with patients who have stories like the one above. In an article for PsychReg, she writes: “My therapeutic experience is that a person who views child abuse images, though committing a sexual offense, is not necessarily a pedophile. A pedophile has a primary sexual interest in children. I suggest that for some people, it is porn addiction rather than pedophilia, which is the cause. A person, usually a man, who has no sexual interest in children, can find himself ‘crossing the line’.”
She continues on to describe her experience, saying, “[My clients] didn’t go onto the internet with the intention of looking at child abuse images, but nevertheless ended up there. They couldn’t understand why they continued to do something that disgusted them and which they knew was illegal. I suggest that each of them became desensitized to mild porn and sensitized to extreme porn. Their higher thinking brain, compromised by addiction, could not win the battle, even when it came to viewing child abuse images. Porn sex was too powerful a need and withdrawal too difficult.”
The reality is, the porn industry has much more in common with sex trafficking and child exploitation than might be obvious at first—in fact, the issues are inseparably linked. Trafficking and exploitation can rely on coercion, deception, and violence to force people into situations that they didn’t want to be in. The same can happen on porn sets, and even in situations involving children like we’ve seen above. It can strip people of their dignity and agency, and devalue their self-worth. This is why we fight to give visibility to survivors’ stories as well as the science and research.