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 landed someone on this site. The title of this blog is a question asked on Google or another search engine. Hopefully, the one who asked will find this post.caught!

Is watching porn emotional abuse?

YES   How so? Emotional abuse is taking advantage of another person’s emotional vulnerability. 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 who are emotionally and/or sexually abused by the one who engages in watching porn.

1) The spouse or partner 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. 

The definition of adultery by Webster’s and the Bible, is 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. The repeated downgrading of women to the shape of their bodies is obvious on TV, in magazines, in songs, movies, and on social media.

Here’s a challenge to scoffers. 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 violence 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?

Do you see the parallel decline in our society’s treatment of women? Degradation of women has always been with us. Due to its modern-day availability, porn viewing entices  more bosses, husbands, teachers, therapists, pastors, government leaders, law enforcement officers, sons, students, employees, dads, and many others a woman or girl would like to believe respect her and have her best interests at heart.

Do we actually want to believe our society is not affected by this? 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 thought patterns 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, ultimately it will.  

3) Children.  People too young to process what is going on around them are 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.  It affects them. Boys and girls see and learn their supposed roles in sexual relationships.

This has a name – covert sexual abuse. It may not seem so obvious, but is harmful. Sexualized children include, and are not limited to, little girls whose moms bought them 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, and adults talking  about sexual exploits in the presence of children. Each of these actions and more, sexualize and damage children. 

4) The models/actors.  This may surprise you, but not all of them want in the business. There are those actors, desperate for work, who hear porn will kick off a career. Some came to believe early in life that this is all they are worth. Children and young adults are sold into the sex trade against their will. Why is there such a world that will steal a life to momentarily please another?

We have this world because it is a thriving business. The nature of porn is dehumanization, so why not destroy a person for money? 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 or release of stress. They cannot have healthy relationships to the extent possible because their brains  adjust to a make-believe world. They become wired over time to react to pretend, not relationships. Why do we have the stereotype of the man hiding out in his house alone, watching porn movies in the dark? Because porn takes the viewer out of real life.

A person lost in a fantasy world where other people exist to satisfy the viewer’s sexual desires, will have trouble relating to reality. Dissatisfaction with life grows as his or her behavior becomes more demanding, distant, or secretive. Porn viewing is progressive, too. 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.

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 internet generations grow up, we will see more results of childhood exposure to uninhibited and public sexual activity via porn.

As self-respect becomes more of an illusion for our girls, and masculine power and control tempts our boys,  we will no longer be able to deny how much this emotional abuse has damaged our world.

More on ‘Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse?’

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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 and behavioral health challenges. 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

7 thoughts on “Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse?

  1. Thank you for confirming my beliefs. While raising 5 children, i worked nights, my husband worked days. It was not until 13 years later that I started catching my husband viewing porn. Feeling betrayed, my oldest daughter, then grown, advised me he had been doing that since she was a child. Still, he won’t admit he did anything wrong, even though he can no longer be intimate with me, I’m not sexy enough. I’m still with him, 35 years now, because I have nowhere to go but I hate him and will never trust him again. I want my life back but I don’t have one. I’ve turned to food for pleasure and am now 100 pounds overweight, so I blame myself too. This is embarrassing for us both. He gets angry when I want to talk about sex but I have no one else to talk to about such an intimate subject, so thanks for hearing me.

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    1. Hi, thank you so much for telling me. You describe a situation that is known by many, many wives who have lost their husbands to online voyeurism and lust. Everything you say about his behavior and your reactions is normal in these situations. It is so unfortunate that your daughter knew about this when she was young. Anyone in as much pain as you are is going to self-medicate unless something about the situation changes.
      You are worth fighting for. I know this because God makes that clear throughout scripture. He fights for the oppressed and abused. He is near those who are brokenhearted. This scripture in particular helped me in my marriage (from Isaiah 54) “Do not fear… for your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; he is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused, says your God.” It is not easy finding yourself after so many years. I encourage you to seek help in dealing with all of this. You are NOT alone. Here are 2 links that will hopefully help. http://www.posarc.com/ https://cryingoutforjustice.com//?s=porn+addiction&submit=Search

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