Pre-Internet, young addicts would steal porn magazines from the top shelves of newsagents. Post-Internet – according to my 2 years of research into porn addiction – this is tame compared to what goes through their heads to do to act out their escalating pornography addictions. Many are becoming deeply scared of their own minds and addictions. One man wrote “I have deep dark desires that I wish to fulfil which are even stronger than my porn addiction.” Another man wrote “I am severely depressed. I am now having horrible thoughts of hurting myself and my girlfriend and doing horrible violent things in general. I am 24.”
Depending upon what they have been exposed to in their journey through the bowels of Internet pornography determines what they soon begin feeling compelled to do next when they have become desensitized with purely legal acting out behaviors. Many addicts at this stage fear their next bender could tip them over the edge into doing illegal things as they begin to find it harder and harder to disassociate from the porn world.
It starts with relatively “mild” fears such as a 19 year old who wrote “I’m frightened I’ll become a pervert when I grow up. I’ve been doing porn since I was 14” to older addicts writing things such as “I now want to see women urinating on toilets after seeing a lot of urine porn and am scared I will act out by setting up a camera in a women’s toilet”. Another (white) man wrote “It’s gotten to the point where I now fantasise that I am a white woman being raped by multiple black men as well as being one of the rapists too.”
One female porn addict wrote “It’s escalating now to an obsession with putting myself in dangerous situations so I can be raped”. Another addict who had a history of physical and sexual abuse and being degraded as a child had the desire to be “killed at the hands of a lover”.
Another 18 year old man wrote “Only drowning and suffocating porn can satisfy me now. I fear I will become a serial killer and I doubt my morality.” Equally as disturbing were the words of a young student who wrote “I’ve got to the point now where bondage videos are not violent enough to satisfy me. I sit in class and think of strangling the woman in front of me.” This man was understandably banned off the forum he wrote this on but my question is “what happened to him?”… Did he ever act out his thoughts?
Another tormented porn addict wrote “Until I saw bestiality porn, I had never wanted to be sexual with an animal. I loved animals and was brought up with them. Now I am acting out with my own dogs and want to put them up for adoption so I can stop this sexual abuse. I want to be able to view my dogs as pets – nothing more. They deserve so much better than this. I’m at breaking point.”
Other escalating pornography addicts become obsessed with being in risky situations like exposing themselves and/ or masturbating in public places. Some addicts will masturbate in back rows of theatres or picture houses or in their car when they stop at the lights. It gives them the arousal they need to be able to reach a new peak that ordinary virtual porn can no longer give them as well as giving them adrenaline hits their addiction needs. One man was being driven by his addiction to expose himself to 10-15 year olds. He wrote “I already do this with women although I pretend I don’t know they can see me. I cannot believe how damaged I am. It happens a lot when I am under pressure or stressed. If I don’t “do the deed” I get very agitated, angry and frustrated. When I do it I get relief but then shame and anger set in and I just want to lock myself away.”
Another addict wrote “I’m so worried about going to jail over all my sexual urges and ideas of the things I want to do. I’m still in school and sometimes masturbate on the bus when the urge comes on me and I can’t control it. I’m scared it will get me into some kind of legal trouble. I then watch porn all night long.”
Other addicts – after watching incest porn – have tormenting urges around family members. One 29 year old addict wrote after watching “mother and son” porn… “In my dreams now, my mother is breast feeding me. I’ve become fascinated with her breasts and am scared I’m going to act out on it and touch or grab her breasts. I also want to take photos and videos of her breasts.” Another addict wrote “I watch mother and son porn, daughter and father porn and sister and brother porn. I escalated to this and am now having intrusive incestual thoughts about my mother and other family members. I am scared I am going to act out on them. I tell myself this is the last time I am going to watch porn due to where it is taking me but I always fall back into it again – the porn. I am scared. When I was younger I was exposed to porn and re-enacted what I saw with another boy and why I am scared now.”
Another terrified addict wrote “Since being exposed to brother/ sister rape porn I have had thoughts about raping my sister. I am heading down a very dangerous and horrible road. I don’t want to be a rapist or a murderer and I certainly don’t want to do this with my sister. Now I feel incredibly awkward around her and have no emotional attachment to her anymore. I fear in the future though that porn will not be enough for me and I may actually rape someone. I really don’t want to be a monster yet I fear that may happen in the future. I’m now, as a result, having frequent suicidal thoughts.”
More disturbing is when severely escalating addicts begin to find that “adult” porn – however depraved – is no longer a big enough of an arousal to satisfy their addiction’s needs so move closer and closer to illegal pornography. One addict wrote “I constantly feel paranoid as some sites have questionable videos of what look like underage girls”. Another wrote “I take myself to the edge of legal porn and then am enticed to 100% illegal material via links that come without warning. The crossover is done in a second. There is, bottom line, no safe way to look at porn. I have to completely disengage. It’s evil shit and makes me feel suicidal… I am a compromised human who has abandoned morality. We click in our own chains while weighing down our souls by feeding off the poisonous digital imagery of unspeakable misery of the most vulnerable in our world”.
One addict on the edge of legal and illegal porn wrote this “I’m paranoid I’ll open the wrong page and get arrested as I’m paranoid I’m being watched by Big Brother. I’m paranoid I’m turning into a dirty old man. It’s no fun anymore.”
Another wrote “I don’t feel safe with myself anymore.” Their fears are because once the crossover has taken place to child pornography, they feel they have truly become “monsters”. One man wrote “I feel like a monster by who I’ve become. I AM a monster”. Another wrote “This addiction is starting to frighten me more and more. Today I googled “12 to 15 year old lesbians”. I now feel sickened and can’t believe I searched for it. Urges that can put these sorts of fantasies in your brain are pure evil.” Another addict wrote “It’s getting worse. The other night I couldn’t sleep because I downloaded something illegal” whilst another said “I’ve escalated to child porn. If I don’t stop I will end up in suicide. I was abused as a child too… ”
One man wrote “I’m beginning to stare at teenagers. I try my hardest not to but it’s tearing me apart. God spare me from my worst. This disease is the pits.” Another addict wrote “I started using porn when I was 7 or 8 and am now 41 and it is destroying my life. It started off with your every day run of the mill porn but in the last 8-10 years it’s escalated. I find myself drawn more and more to younger girls to the point where I search out illegal child pornography images on the net. I live every day in hell, fear and self loathing. I feel like an out of control monster.”
Another addict wrote “during more difficult times in my life, I need much more hardcore porn to get the same effect and I’m finding more and more that illegal stuff is in my head. My self worth is almost non-existent. I’m 18. I also pull my hair out and ignore hunger. I watch porn daily.”
And then one day, addicts become desensitized to child pornography too and begin fantasizing about acting out with children. One man wrote “I’m beginning to get really strong urges to act out. Unless I get control of it soon I’ll end up in prison.” Another addict wrote “I role play in chat rooms where I talk about hitting young girls while they’re being raped. Every time I finish I’m always ashamed but then I dismiss it because it’s the Internet and there’s much worse stuff out there but I still feel weird. Daily I watch incest porn and violent sex porn like rape. I’m also attracted to 12-13 years olds now too. Not a soul knows about my dark secrets and all my friends think I’m completely normal.”
Professor Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology at Wheelock College in Boston, who has studied both pornography addicts and the pornography industry for decades and is author of the book “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality”, interviewed a number of men in prison who had committed rape on children and found that all the men were habitual users of child pornography. Dr Dines said in an interview with Julie Bindel of The Guardian (2nd July 2010) “What they said to me was they got bored with “regular” porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a pre-pubescent child initially but within 6 months they had all raped a child”.
Whether addicts escalate to child pornography, rape of children, rape of sisters, mothers or whomever, one thing is clear… pornography addiction always progresses to acting out behavior in one form or another.