Fri. May 31st, 2024

I experienced first-hand the link between porn and violence. It was humiliating and scary

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May23,2024
The story talks about domestic violence.
When Abby was in her late 20s, she would wake up to her partner watching “extremely violent pornography” in bed beside her.
“I had no self esteem,” Abby, who did not want to use her real name, told SBS News.
“I knew he would enact things from the porn he watched on me.
“He would call me awful names while having sex. It was humiliating and scary.

“I was scared to refuse. Scared he would be physically violent if I refused.”

He would call me awful names while having sex. It was humiliating and scary

Abby (not her real name)

Abby was in a five-year relationship with her former partner, and said his intensified as time went on.
“He was very jealous early on in our relationship. He would text my male colleagues … and insist on knowing where I was,” she said.
“After I became pregnant, the abuse intensified and he began verbally abusing me, making fun of me, picking on my appearance.”

Abby said the comments were degrading and humiliating, and at times he would physically intimidate her and was sometimes physically violent.

What is the link between pornography and violence?

Abby is one of many women in abusive relationships who say their partners’ use of pornography played a part in the violence they suffered.
La Trobe University gender inequality expert Meagan Tyler looked at as part of a 2020 study.
She found pornography featured prominently in the experiences of the women who had been assaulted, although it was not known definitively if it increased the likelihood of sexual violence.
“What we do know from those stories is that it happens,” she told SBS News.

“It (pornography) is certainly involved in sexual violence of various kinds and implicated in lots of forms of sexual violence and domestic violence.”

A remote control pointed at a TV

Women say pornography has played a part in sexual violence in their relationships. Source: Getty / EKIN KIZILKAYA

A significant amount of pornography, particularly over the past 10 or 20 years, was likely to be hostile and aggressive towards women, she said.

A study published in the British Journal of Criminology in 2021 found one in eight titles displayed to first-time users on the first page of mainstream porn sites described activity that would be considered sexual violence.
Maree Crabbe, the director of violence-prevention project It’s Time We Talked, said a lot of porn depicted gender-based violence.
“There’s significant levels of aggression in the most , and that aggression is almost always directed towards women,” she said.

There’s significant levels of aggression in the most popular mainstream porn, and that aggression is almost always directed towards women

Maree Crabbe, It’s Time We Talked

“It includes things like gagging, choking, spanking, slapping, hair-pulling, name-calling, spitting.

“That aggression in video after video … says that violence against women is not just normal, but sexy.”

Four drivers of domestic violence

Crabbe noted OurWatch’s Change The Story 2021 framework for the prevention of violence against women in Australia had identified four drivers of domestic violence that all appeared to be depicted in porn.

These included:

  1. Condoning of violence against women in society
  2. Relationships where men have control of decision-making and put limits on women’s independence in public and private life
  3. The promotion of rigid gender stereotyping and dominant forms of masculinity
  4. Male peer relations and cultures of masculinity that emphasise aggression, dominance and control
Crabbe said these depictions in porn were influencing people’s “arousal patterns”.

“If they’re masturbating to pornography, for example, then it starts to shape sexual tastes and norms and expectations around gender and roles in relationships as well.”

Rear view of a woman sitting on her bed looking out the window.

There are concerns pornography is encouraging men to become violent with their partners. Source: Getty / Alvaro Medina Jurado

Porn videos ‘make fun of that crime’

Although some sites say it’s against their policy to provide content that depicts a crime, Crabbe said videos showing sex with someone who was drunk or passed out, or being forced into sex because they owe money, are repeatedly posted.
Sites have also posted videos without the consent of those shown.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of “step” family fantasies, where a stepmum has sex with her stepson, for example, or there is activity between step-siblings. These videos are often referred to as fake incest or “fauxcest”.

Around 46 per cent of the sexually violent videos identified in the 2021 British Journal of Criminology study involved “step” family fantasies.
Closer to home, a 2019 study from the Office of Film and Literature Classification in New Zealand found “step” fantasies appeared in 43 per cent of the most popular videos on one of the world’s biggest porn sites.
“That is a deeply harmful form of sexual crime in the real world,” Crabbe told SBS News.

“Its regular depiction on porn sites normalises and often makes fun of that crime, which has disproportionately harmful impacts on victim-survivors.”

Most young people are watching porn

Many young men and women are exposed to pornography before experiencing their first sexual encounters.
A of 1,985 young people aged between 15 and 20 years old found on average boys and young men saw pornography 3.2 years before their first partnered sexual experience.
Girls and young women saw it two years before theirs.
Studies have shown almost all young men aged between 15 and 29 years old have watched pornography and 84 per cent watched it on a weekly or daily basis.

“It’s just infused into everyday life for a significant number of men,” Tyler said.

Young people sit at desks

Many young people see porn before they have their first sexual experiences with a partner.

With so many men watching and reaching orgasm to that content, Tyler believes it would be “naive” to say it was not having an impact on people’s understandings of sexual relationships, particularly heterosexual relationships.

She said men had reported using pornography as a “manual” in some cases.
“We’ve certainly seen a huge rise in the number of women reporting choking in heterosexual relationships,” she said.

The federal government announced this month a $6.5 million pilot of age assurance technology to restrict children’s access to pornography as part of measures to address violence against women.

While such technology won’t prevent all young people from accessing it, Crabbe says, she believes it could reduce unintentional exposure, which is how almost half of all children who have watched pornography say they first see it.

She said another option to address the harms of pornography could include a classification system similar to those used with movies, which provide a suggested age range and warn of violence and sex scenes.

Can porn be ethical?

In recent years some producers have started making “ethical porn” — content that is produced with the consent of the performers, who are paid and treated fairly.
But it has been criticised for being a marketing term that does not tell viewers anything about the production of the content.
Crabbe said that, while some ethical porn depicted more respectful interactions with women and showed a greater diversity of body types and sexual orientations, there was no certification system to identify what criteria it was meeting.
Some ethical porn shows performers clearly consenting to sexual acts but Crabbe said significant levels of aggression could be depicted, so it’s unclear whether it would be helpful in addressing gender-based violence.
Crabbe also noted that viewers often had to pay for ethical porn, and that children and young people were mostly clicking on free content.

Her organisation is instead advocating to prevent or limit young people’s exposure to pornography.

A person holds a smartphone with images of women on it

Many young people see porn by accident and often look at free sites. Source: Getty / Marcus Brandt

When asked whether ethical porn would have made a difference to her situation, Abby said the debate detracts from discussion about how porn is fetishising violence against women.

are not interested in paying for ethical porn,” she said.
“If we want to end violence against women then we are going to have to have truthful discussions and face the realities of the porn industry.

“They are profiting from violence against women and creating a society that is sexually aroused by violating and degrading women.”

Perpetrators of violence are not interested in paying for ethical porn

Abby (not her real name)

In Crabbe’s view, the business model of porn — which focuses on profit through the sale of advertising, collecting data and subscriptions — creates an incentive to make more shocking content.
“Just like with social media, the way that porn makes money is by getting and maintaining a viewer’s attention — and that is often content that is in some way shocking, or pushing the boundaries or social taboos,” Crabbe said.

SBS News contacted porn industry associations in Australia but received no responses.

We need healthy discussions about sex

Abby, who is now 42 and escaped from her abusive relationship when she was 32, said porn companies need to be held accountable.
“What is going on for us as a society where we are sexually fetishising violence against women?” she said.
Tyler believes pornography may also be filling a gap due to the lack of public conversations about good, healthy sex.
“Pornography offers us such a narrow and quite bleak conception of sexuality that it would be much nicer to have a great discussion about all the plethora of different and wonderful ways people can have sex in consensual, enjoyable ways that don’t harm people.
“We’re not really ready for that discussion and that’s a little bit sad.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, text 0458 737 732, or visit . In an emergency, call 000.

For counselling, advice and support for men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “I experienced first-hand the link between porn and violence. It was humiliating and scary”
  1. I strongly believe that the connection between consuming violent pornography and engaging in violent behavior is a serious issue that needs more attention. It’s distressing to hear about Abby’s experience, and it’s clear that the impact of such content on relationships can be devastating. This story highlights the importance of addressing the harmful effects of violent pornography on individuals and society as a whole.

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