Archive for October 16th, 2012

Porn Use Linked to Sexual Assault – Rory Reid, Ph.D., LCSW

Here’s a thought-provoking article on the links between pornography & sexcrimes by Rory Reid Ph.D., via Content Watch:

[Excerpt] Intuitively, one would think that pornography contributes to the high rate of sex crimes being committed in society today. It is not uncommon to discover sex offenders in possession of large collections of pornography. Furthermore, if we were not influenced by what we see, why would advertisement companies spend millions of dollars creating the perfect ad or commercial to catch our eye? Despite these arguments, some suggest that sex offenders seek pornography to feed or fuel their pre-existing deviant sexual fantasies. They contend that pornography provides validation for unhealthy (sometimes referred to as “alternative”) views on sexuality and deny that the material itself creates those perceptions. There have been several research studies to substantiate these positions. Some producers of sexually explicit material are quick to site these studies as a defense for accusations or allegations made against their industry. Regardless of these positions, newspaper columnist James Kilpatrick writes: “Common sense is a better guide than laboratory experiments; and common sense tells us pornography is bound to contribute to sexual crime. . . . It seems ludicrous to argue ‘bad’ books do not promote bad behavior” (Kilpatrick, 1975).

As part of my experience working with incarcerated sex offenders, I listened to countless disclosures of inmates describing their heinous sexual assaults on victims. During these therapy sessions, it is not uncommon to hear an inmate indicate that part of the reason for their sexual deviance was due to consumption of pornography which influenced the way they behaved. This response from a prisoner in a sex offender treatment program is unacceptable because such disclosures attempt to minimize responsibility for behavior by shifting the blame. If someone can successfully avoid or reduce the amount of blame they must accept for their actions, then the accountability for their behavior is also reduced. This tactic ultimately attempts to manipulate the consequences one must suffer for their own wrongdoings.

As an illustration, one inmate attempted to convince a group of his peers that he had never considered molesting his child until he saw similar sex acts normalized in child pornography. Although this may be true, the focus must remain on the individual and his behavior, not the pornography. Part of his behavior resulted from his distorted interpretation of what he saw depicted in the child pornography. Why was he not repulsed by these images when initially exposed? Are we to believe he stumbled across these pictures by accident on the Internet? In his case, there appeared to be some pre-existing pathology and deviant arousal that drew him to these images while someone else would have been mortified and avoided exposure to the same material.

One research study analyzed the various arguments and data presented by other studies that contended the lack of reliable connections between pornography and aggressive sexual behavior. The study concluded that, in fact, there was existence of reliable associations between frequent pornography use and sexually aggressive behaviors, particularly for violent pornography and/or for men at high risk for sexual aggression (Malamuth, Neil et. al., 2000).

Another study collected from 100 survivors at a rape crisis center discovered that 28% of respondents reported that their abuser used pornography and that for 12% of the women, pornography was imitated during the abusive incident (Bergen, Raquel Kennedy, 2000).

In spite of these findings, others persist in their contention that there is little correlation between pornography use and causation of sexual deviant behavior. In part, they cite as evidence that, although many sex offenders do use pornography, there are just as many others who consume pornography who do not engage in sex crimes.

Regardless of your position, my experience indicates the majority of sex offenders have pornography consumption as an associated behavior. It is imperative that these individuals maintain abstinence from pornography as part of their effort to minimize possible risk factors for re-offending. But what about everyone else?

Consider the fraudulent message pornography teaches about healthy human intimacy. It portrays both women and men as objects with insatiable sexual appetites. Sexual relations with multiple partners are presented as normal and healthy, while monogamous relationships are depicted as cumbersome and undesirable. Distorted views of perverted sex acts are presented as exciting and acceptable, and in many instances, the viewer is exposed to otherwise unimaginable ideas about sexuality that they themselves would never have considered. These same acts are normalized by desensitizing the viewer after numerous exposures to the material. Other aspects of sexual intimacy, such as communication and tender affection, are usually omitted from pornography while consequences of promiscuous sexual behavior such as STDs and unwanted pregnancies are minimized. Surely, these ideas cannot be considered healthy. And yet, that is what many producers of pornography would have us believe.



Also check out Content Watch’s many other informative articles on pornography harms:



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