Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness

Nancy Virden (c)2013

Sometimes I see that a certain search was made, landing someone on this site. The title of this blog is an actual question asked on Google or another search engine. I want to answer that question now, and hopefully the one who asked will find this blog.caught!

Is watching porn emotional abuse?

YES   How so? Emotional abuse is taking advantage of another person’s emotional vulnerability and being harmful. It can be crazy-making for the abused because wounds are not visible, and the abuse is often masked by lies and a pretence all is well. Those involved may be steeped in denial, and outside supports have trouble believing what they do not see or understand.

There are five groups of people being emotionally and/or sexually abused by the one who engages in watching porn.

1) The spouse or partner who is disturbed by this activity. If no means no, then taking advantage of who is hurt by our actions is abuse. Likely, a wife (it can go both ways, but most often porn use is by men) will feel embarrassed. Why am I not enough? Does he love me for me? Does he wish I were someone else? What’s wrong with me? 

As the wife grows older and the models remain young, she may doubt she is still wanted. Spiritually, she might have trouble understanding where God is in all this. Perhaps she feels used and degraded as her core needs go unmet; she may withdraw in emotional self-defense. Her husband can try to use her reaction as rationalization for porn use, but whether she accepts blame, the problem lies with the abuser. He is not protecting her heart, the one he promised to cherish forever.

Watching porn is also adultery.  I heard a pastor say, “It is not adultery, it is an addiction.”  Seriously??  With all due respect, if becoming addicted to a sin makes it ultimately OK, then let’s party!  He went on to say, “It just feels like adultery to the wife.” Notice there is no acceptance of female wisdom in his patronizing comments. My translation of this pastor’s words is this: Silly women get upset over this not-so-bad habit guys have. 

Adultery is defined by Webster’s and the Bible as seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage even if from lust alone. I might add, if it feels like adultery to the wife, it is emotionally abusive.

2) Women.  I’ve heard men say they do not see the insult to women in most of our media. Perhaps they do not see it because it is no longer offensive to them. Repeatedly, women are downgraded to the shape of their bodies on TV, in magazines, in songs, movies, etc. The next time you watch a “harmless” TV show or movie, be mindful of nudity or semi-nudity which will most likely be the female actors. Look out for sex scenes where violence is perpetrated against beautiful and often barely clad women. Listen for comments about a woman’s looks; hear a rating system of girls’ value. Notice fantasies male characters joke about, and harsh judgments. Consider that the less-than-perfect looking actors are most likely men. Just observe. That next song you hear on the radio- what are the lyrics?

What does that have to do with porn? Pornography leaves real women out of the picture, literally. One quick glance at human history and we can see degradation of women has always been with us. More recently, porn viewing has grown to entice a majority of American men since it first appeared on the internet. Do you see the parallel decline in our society’s treatment of women in entertainment as well as in the workplace and homes? This majority includes bosses, husbands, teachers, therapists, pastors, government leaders, sons, students, employees, dads, and many others a female would like to trust has her best interests at heart.

Do we actually want to believe our society is not affected by this? When a man is lost in a fantasy world of submissive and controllable women who exist to satisfy his sexual desires, he will have trouble relating to reality.   Comparisons will be there, dissatisfaction with his actual life is there, and he may become more demanding, distant, or secretive.  Even if this man is outwardly respectful, inwardly his ability to control his thoughts as he relates to women is compromised.

Perhaps you are not sure you agree. When we value a point of view, we tend to defend it, yes? This is true in our minds as well. If a man values women as sex objects (and he does if porn is enticing to him, even if he is not limiting women to that) he will mentally “defend” that position in situations where he finds himself tested. Will it show up in his treatment of women? I say yes. It adds up to emotional abuse.

3) Children.  People too young to be able to process what is going on around them are being exposed to pornography. ALL pornography. They see orgies, human on animal sex, rape, violence, incest, and every sexual possibility. When children stumble on these things on the internet, they do not forget what they saw. They are affected by it. Boys are exposed to their supposed role in a sexual relationship, as are girls.

This is called covert sexual abuse because children are being sexualized. Little girls wearing padded bras, daddies telling their daughters they look sexy, children stumbling across grandpa’s porn magazine collection, little boys copying their dad as he follows women with his eyes -all of these actions sexualize children and damage them.

4) The models/actors.  This may surprise you, but many of them do not want to be in the business.  There are the actors desperate for work who are told this will kick off a career; the ones who came to believe early on that this is all they are worth; and the children and young adults sold into the sex trade against their will. Why is there such a world that will steal lives from people in order to momentarily please another? We have this world because there is a thriving business. The nature of porn is dehumanization, so why not destroy a person for pleasure? Customers decide if a trade is bustling or not. We are responsible for what we promote with our money. As a collective, porn users emotionally and sexually abuse the models and actors.

5) The viewer.  Porn warps reality for the ones who lean on it for a sexual high. They cannot have healthy relationships with real people- not to the extent possible- because their brains have adjusted to life in a make-believe world. They are wired over time to react to fantasy and not to relationships. Why do we have the stereotype of the man hiding out in his house watching porn movies in the dark? Because it takes the viewer out of real life.

Porn viewing is progressive as one has to dive deeper into fetishes, and search for more variety and experiences to feel satisfied. Porn is emotionally abusive to an entire world of people. Am I saying porn watchers are victims? No, I’m saying porn’s existence has hurt us all.

However, just as the wind is invisible but we know it is there, pornography is stealthily setting spouses, women, children, models, and viewers up for a terrifying fall. As the internet generations grow up, we will see more steadily the results of childhood exposure to uninhibited and public sexual activity via porn. As self-respect becomes more of an illusion for our girls, masculine power over females tempts our boys, and they grow up not having learned otherwise, it will no longer be deniable just how much this emotional abuse has damaged our world.

 

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from Qualitystockphotos.com

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