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How porn set me up for abuse

Porn has arrived … Actually it arrived a while ago. This is the first generation that will have been raised on violent hardcore pornography. Many studies show that the vast majority of Millennials have viewed pornography way before they are done with high school. Here is the Porn that these minors are watching.

93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before 18.
14% of boys and 9% of girls were exposed to pornography before 13.
83% of boys and 57% of girls have seen group sex online.
69% of boys and 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online.
39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online.
32% of boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online.
18% of boys and 10% of girls have seen rape or sexual violence online.
15% of boys and 9% of girls have seen child pornography.
81% of teens look at porn online at home.
75% said their parents had never discussed Internet pornography with them.
*560 college student responding to an online survey
** Anonymous survey published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in August 2009

This data can be alarming, but it illuminates something very important. When we speak about young children watching porn, we aren’t talking about a young person stumbling across their mother’s Victoria’s Secret Catalog. We are talking about children watching realistic, and extremely deviant sexual engagement. We cannot ignore this because incidents of exposure to violent, degrading pornography will become the framework and the foundation for all future sexual engagement. Many children are seeing pornography well before they become sexually active, or even sexually self aware.

The young brain is an amazing thing. I used to teach first grade at a Classical school. I had 7 year olds learning the Greek alphabet! They were reciting Psalms in their entirety. My students would learn Greek and eventually Latin before Junior High! The Classical system is amazing because it teaches children through pedagogical forms that focus on their stage of life. We called K-5 graders the Parrot stage. Children at this age were give massive amounts of information to “parrot” or memorize and respond. Their little brains are like sponges. They don’t know how to fully think through why 5×5=25 but they sure can remember it, among a million other facts. The experiences and the information that young children receive creates foundations for the rest of their lives.

Lets talk about what happens when a young child is viewing an intensely graphic pornographic scene. I’m no psychologist, but this is my take. Even if the imagery is traumatizing to the child, it may also be arousing in some way. This does not make the child odd or perverted, their physical body is having a response to a stimulus. However, most children will also feel that what they have seen is something shameful… or that must be hidden.

I was around six years old when I was exposed to pornography. I do not remember my first exposure, but I can remember that I was actively seeking out pornography by age seven. I was never informed about pornography by my parents. I learned about sex from some cousins and kids at school. I didn’t understand why I was so captivated by the images that I was seeing. I remember wishing I was one of the women in the videos. These women were sought after, they were “loved” and “desired.” Sometimes they were beaten, but the women didn’t mind because they were “sexy” and “adventurous.”

When I was 10 years old I was molested my a family member in my bed. I remember when he climbed into my bed and began to ask if I was awake. I thought it was a game so I pretended to be asleep. He then began to touch me inappropriately. I remember thinking, “This is what happens in the movies that I watch.” My autonomic response was arousal, then excitement, directly followed by fear, then shame. I wanted him to stop, but I felt I had given him consent by pretending to be asleep. For years after that I would tell people what happened, but I never dared share why I did not stop him. The shame I felt because of that was indescribable.

If you are reading this blog on the Elijah Rising website, you are probably aware that Commercial Sexual Exploitation (prostitution) has an undeniable link to pornography in the life of a consumer. But my experience shows that porn not only grooms the exploiter – it also grooms the exploited. It conditions the responses of the one being beaten, raped or sexually humiliated. It prepares women and children with examples of the desired response: complicity and consent.

The net effect of pornography on both the exploiter and the exploited is shame. There is an industry whose stock in trade is shame – and it is protected by the First Amendment because it happens in front of a camera. If Human Trafficking is a crime involving force, fraud or coercion, the entire industry should be under a microscope right now. We must carefully consider the future of the abolition movement and take careful aim with all of our gifts, energies and funding in the days to come. I believe companies like Mind Geek should be held accountable by the Body of Christ for filling the Internet with violent, degrading pornographic images.

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