Sunday, 6 May 2012

Damaged Lives: The Hidden Cost of Pornography


There’s going to be a whole army of women out there who have had the experience of having their heads flushed down toilets as entertainment, being strangled as entertainment, being double penetrated and throat fucked ‘til they throw up as entertainment. These are women who found themselves caught up in something beyond their control, the sex industry, where the person who’s meant to be on their side, their ‘agent’ (best case scenario – or pimp), pushes and pushes and pushes them to ever more painful and degrading acts in the pursuit of money. Hard to see a human being when you have dollar signs in your eyes. These are vulnerable women, often women with histories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, psychological abuse, with mental health problems, financial problems. These are the women who just can’t say no, but not in the sexy way the industry would have you think. More of a Hobson’s choice situation.

Welcome to hell on earth. Lost already, you become increasingly split: detached from yourself, from what is happening to your body, from the verbal abuse directed at and over you, in which you’re made to take part - call yourself names, beg to be hurt. Alone, with no one to turn to for help, reliant on the very people who abuse you, who make money off your abuse. You become a shell: there but not there, enduring, just enduring, unable to comprehend, to compute, the horror of what is being done to you for the profit and pleasure of others. Out of your depth.

When you are hurt, people laugh or hurt you more. You stop showing that it hurts. Naked already, with cameras focused on your most intimate areas, on capturing their abuse, you become numb: this is what you do, what you are here for. They will do what they will do and it’s best not to think about it. You have to change the goalposts to survive. What was once humiliating and unthinkable is now an everyday occurrence. Unavoidable. It becomes: as long as I don’t show that I’m hurting, that they’re getting to me, give them that satisfaction. Your boundaries are broken one by one: they fuck you in the arse, subject you to double penetrations, to fisting, to speculums, to urinating and spitting and slapping and choking… Endless abuse, endless pain, endless degradation.

Total destruction.

The only thing left is your denial and your determination that they will not see how much they hurt you. Feigning supreme indifference, even enjoyment, you pretend you have some measure of control because to recognize your powerlessness is to open the gates to insanity and in all likelihood suicide.

As ever more aggressive, ever more debasing porn becomes more mainstream, the number of women who have had these experiences, who have been sold, abused and profited from, who have been tortured, grows. Everyday it grows. If they are lucky enough to get out, to get clean and sober (yeah, most women in porn have substance abuse issues – wouldn’t you drink or use to get through?), where have they to turn?

Most people nowadays if they are told that a woman has been in porn, would say ‘cool’. Cool!!! Knowing as she does the reality – wiping down after 8 sweating pigs have cum in her face, limping to the shower after being anally and vaginally penetrated for hours at a time with cocks and objects, bruised and bleeding, what was said to her and what she was made to say, the coercion, the ever present threat of violence, the powerlessness – this metrosexual, abstract notion of cool is from another planet. She has never been less understood. Hell, even the pornographers, even the cameramen, even her pimp or agent acknowledge that this stuff isn’t good on the body, is a test of endurance rather than a pleasure trip.

Hers is a great loneliness, separated as she is from the majority who believe that pornography is harmless fun, that women in it are empowered, choose it from a variety of meaningful options, enjoy it. 'Paid to get laid? Awesome!'. Her friends may hold this view, her neighbours may hold this view, her therapist may hold this view. Protective of their ‘right’ to wank over other women in similar circumstances, unwilling to hear the truth, theirs is a language far removed from the sordid realities, an abstract language of free speech and liberation. To many of the people who surround her, porn is just a concept, one with a very pleasing result, easily cleaned up with a tissue. These people, people who defend porn, project their dark desires onto her, conveniently forgetting that the reason for her being there is their demand for such images rather than her desire to engage in such acts. She wanted it! After all, she said so didn’t she, and she smiled?

A growing number of women who have been subjected to extreme physical, sexual, psychological torture. They are traumatised, they are used in ever more extreme ways for the amusement of the purchaser, unless they are lucky enough to exit, until they are too broken to be of further use. Anyone who objects to the use of the word 'torture' here might do well to look it up, and to compare some of increasingly common porn practices such as gagging, spitting, verbal abuse, slapping, and 'swirlies' to name but a few.

The pornographer doesn’t care about her.
The men fucking her don’t care about her.
The pimps and agents don’t care about her.
The guy at home with his cock in his hand doesn’t care about her. Her life is unimaginable to him, her humanity invisible to him, her hopes and dreams destroyed for him, all for a cheap and easy laugh and an orgasm.

She has quite simply no place left to go, her body battered from fucking after fucking without condom or care, her head mashed with thousands of fragmented images, sounds, scents, words, reminders of horror and pain and degradation beyond words. She has nightmares, flashbacks, PTSD. She continues to get sick, as she did when she was in it. Suicide becomes an option* Her humanity has been disregarded by every person in her life who sold her, who fucked her, who pressured her, who paid the men who did this to her and then calmly laid the blame at her feet.

We need to understand what it means to be a woman on a website called ‘Elastic Assholes’, to have people joke that ‘she might just be wearing a diaper by the time we’re finished’. To feel or to try to empathise what is is actually like to be choked so you can’t breathe, to be facefucked so viciously you throw up, to have water in your eyes and nose and mouth when you’ve been fucked every which way possible and they’re flushing your head down the toilet, the final insult. What it is like to be violently abused and traumatised, and to know that images of that abuse are being sold and generating money for the men who hurt you.

I am a survivor of prostitution – of pornography – of torture. Just. It’s been touch and go and recovery isn’t a piece of cake either. Being abused for entertainment is inhumane.

To remain desensitized is to be inhuman. If we’re not part of the solution, taking a stand against pornography, taking action, we’re part of the problem. Together we can be stronger and make a difference. We need to look past the picture the pornographer has painted for us of the women he uses.  She is not other, in some way different. There is not a subspecies of woman who wish to be abused in such a way. If it would hurt you to have two cocks in your arse, it will hurt her. Let go of the bullshit line of dismissal ‘whatever floats your boat’ and imagine yourself in her shoes for one moment. Would you like it? Would you be happy having that done to you? Would you be happy if she were your daughter or your sister or your mother? She says she likes it in the movies, maybe even asks them to hurt her because she has to, but if you look into her eyes, if you dare, you’ll see the very real fear and pain, you’ll see the truth.

Stop funding a system that destroys women. Stop porn.

* The suicide rate and death from drug and alcohol abuse in the industry is significantly above average, see www.antipornography.org

25 comments:

  1. Wow, excellent post. It was tough to read myself because of my past, but I truly hope it's tough to read for non-survivors as well. I sometimes have friends send me emails that contain porn and it's so disgusting and triggering to the point of physical sickness. People absolutely need to hear this! Keep up the great work!

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  2. Thanks jogdogfrog :-) Society's become so pornified that avoiding porn (jokes about it, talking about it, images) has become well nigh impossible. As you say, very triggering. It's a toxic environment for recovery. Thank God there are more of us banding together and speaking out against it!

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  3. Hi Angel! Just want to tell you that I read your blog. I hear you. I want to say that I understand you. I feel your pain. I live your pain. I wish many more women would say it; not just think it, but say it. Out loud!

    I feel many women do not want to look at the reality that is pornography because it is too hurtful. If they see porn (the porn that is everywhere to be found on the internet, the porn that men consume), they’ll turn a blind eye to it, or they’ll try to convince themselves that it must not be as bad as it looks like. They’ll try to believe the lies of the sex industry, even if it does not resonate with their feelings, because the truth is too hard. They will dissociate themselves from the women in porn. ‘I can not imagine myself doing that, having that done to me. This has nothing to do with me!’ I want to tell them no, this concerns you! What is being done to women’s bodies in porn is an affront to all women, to womanhood. This is you! Through the woman on the screen, on whom sexual torture and humiliation is performed, it is all women who are violated and victimized. What the woman on the screen undergoes is not personal. It is not Ashley or Britney that we (men) want to see be treated this way; it is a woman, any woman. It is me, it is you, it is our daughters. This woman is you. Feel her pain. Live her pain. And say it. Stand up against the men who let this happen, who support it. Stand up against your husband, brother, father. For the sake of our loving daughters: stop porn.

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  4. Wow, thanks Missfit. What you write is so true and so powerful. Porn is an issue for all women, directly involved or not, and it won't go away by ignoring it. Confronting the issue may be hard and upsetting because it means acknowledging what some of those closest to us (partners, fathers, brothers, friends) believe about women and how they enjoy seeing them treated, even if it is all under the guise of fantasy. It's uncomfortable and confronting people is uncomfortable, but necessary. However difficult it might be to face the truth, things will continue to get worse until we take action.
    Thank you!
    In solidarity

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experience, you write it so well. Your work is really important. It's just surreal to know that this isn't seen as a human emergency, that people actually believe it's sex.

    It is incredible how pornography combines the means to destroy women (torture) the means for men to isolate and blame women so to make sure she never tells and she's never helped (it's sex and she liked it) the means for men to enjoy torturing women (focus on their sexual pleasure whilst inflicting pain and torture)and the means for men to do it on other women (mass diffusion of the material and messages telling men all women like it). It is in itself an instrument of mass destruction and demolition of women, and it certainly concerns all women. It's designed so that men want to reproduce what they see in porn on their girlfriends, on their daughters, cousins, on prostituted women.

    We should file a complaint against all pimps and pornogrophers for genocide against women, crime against humanity and organised torture, persecution and hatred, bring it to the Hague International court. The crimes are so immense, so massive, so lucrative, against so many women, the propaganda is so pervasive. This idea just came to me right now, I'll see what I can do, I really mean it!

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  6. Thanks for what you've written - it is just absolutely spot on. I love your idea of collectively bringing a complaint to the Hague International Court. The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings showed that the legal system can be used to expose the terrible damage done by pornography. And what can be done must be done! It's so easy to feel powerless and just end up shrugging and saying, not much I can do about this.

    It's really exciting to read this. Your comment made my day - thank you!

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  7. Thank you Angel K. What you have done here is brave. People are invested in not looking for the truth about pornography and those harmed in its production. I have never been in pornography but what I have viewed as a result of discovering my partners secret porn habits has left me traumatized. All I could see was the pain and emptiness in the eyes of the women in the porn. I do not pretend to know your experience but you have my empathy. My partner refuses to believe that women in pornography don't enjoy what they are co-opted into performing. Why? Denial? Shame? Male privilege? Male entitlement? Vested interest? I don't know. How sad to lose respect for all who use pornography; mindlessly. Who don't wonder about the humanity behind those they objectify. Who refuse to imagine a woman they love and respect in the same position and recognize they wouldn't wish this on their worst enemy. I work to raise consciousness. Many are oblivious to the harms of pornography. The truth needs to be told. Thank you for telling it. Now we need to get others to acknowledge that truth. That is the challenge. Many of us are up for the challenge. Stay safe. Thank you for being an amazing woman and role model. Many are in recovery of one kind or another, from the soul-destroying experience of pornography.

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  8. Thank you, Pureheart. Having been made to look at pornography as 'training' I really do understand your trauma. It's not easy to erase those images from your mind. It must be particularly upsetting that it is your partner who is into porn and defending it. Take care and don't let anyone tell you that this is your problem: it's not. Objecting to pornography isn't extreme. What pornographers do to women's bodies for the pleasure of the consumer is.
    In solidarity

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  9. Hi Angel, I just want to applaud you for your courage and your brilliant writing!! I am a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. At 16 yrs old in 1977, I was abducted into sex trafficking in London, where I was beaten,repeatidly raped,threatened with weapons and forced into pornography and prostitution. I am now a surrealist painter, and I express my life of abuse onto canvas. And like you, in your art, I speak the truth, without holding back! I paint about how it feels to be abused and the consequences. I paint pornographers, pimps and paedophilles. The only way that I can get over what happened to me, is by helping other victims/survivors..that is my antidote! I have also just published my autobiography,which was most painful to write, but important..people have to know what really goes on in this world! I actually wrote an essay on '
    The Horrendous Logistics and Reassuring Smiles Behind the Pornography Industry' in 2009. I have paintings on my website which relate to pornography such as 'pornographic meat' and 'Let me entertain you' and I am working on one at the moment about the dangers of children accessing pornography. I really hope that you can find the time to have a look...thank you again for your words! here is my website -
    ww.suzzanb.com

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    1. Thanks, Suzzan. I can't wait to check out your website!

      In solidarity

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  10. You're an amazing woman for telling it how it is. I pray for continued strength and recovery for you. When will all this evil stop?

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  11. I've read some of your blog posts and I feel as if I must communicate with you. I don't expect a reply or any sympathy, but if you read through to the end, well, great. You want to focus on the johns a lot, as you say in a lot of your posts. Maybe this will help.

    I am a male. Specifically, a 30 year old white (more or less) American middle-class male. Statistically, this means there is a very high probability that I have - if the word is applicable - consumed a great deal of porn over the course of my life, and indeed I have.

    First things first. What I experience as a pornography addict is not on the same level as what you and the women in porn experience. On the psychological level there are many similarities, but none of that is experienced simultaenously with physical violence or direct psychological attacks. So I am not comparing myself to you, but there is a unique experience on "our side" of this problem as well that I'd like to share.
    There are so many reasons why my demographic and males in general become consumers of, and eventually addicts of porn. I couldn't begin to list them all, or to speak for anyone other than myself. I may represent a sub-set of porn addicts who grew up with overbearing mothers who made sex seem as mystifying as they did terrible, and as a result, made it all but impossible for us to approach women with even the slightest bit of self-confidence or self-respect.
    When you believe (after a series of emotionally shattering experiences) about yourself that no woman would ever voluntarily love you, or that you aren't even sure that you would be able to express intimacy and affection if one did, the only remaining options appear to be 1) celibacy or 2) coercion. 1) is never seriously considered except in rare cases. 2) is an option that most men would never want to engage in its most obvious form, sexually absuing someone they know or a complete stranger in a surprise attack. Maybe some are afraid of getting caught. Others are horrified at the implications of such desires, not having been born with an innate tendency to want to harm others and actually, yes, possessing a conscience.

    Enter the "sex industry." When I was very young, back in the 80s and early 90s, porn wasn't quite yet as widely available as it is now. We got glimmers and peeks as curious gradeschool boys when one of us would swipe a pornographic magazine from their father and bring it to school. Later on, I knew lots of guys who were able to watch it on cable television, but it was nothing like what is on the Internet now. What this offers someone like the boy I was is obvious. We begin to prefer women as objects because an object cannot and will not reject you. Once you begin masturbating to pornographic images - and masturabtion, remember, is what all enlightened liberal experts on sex tell us is perfectly natural and normal and only opposed by psychotic prudes - it creates a definite linkage in the brain between the release of pleasurable chemicals, the images, and the act itself, the orgasm. I don't know how many times one has to do this to become addicted, but I can tell you that minus a few days here or there, a day hasn't gone by since the 7th grade that I haven't masturbated to pornographic images, often more than once a day, and over the last few years, at the expense of my physical and mental health.

    I have to break this post into two parts.

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  12. What made this possible, I believe, was the advent of free porn on the Internet. I got online in high school, when the Internet was first really becoming widespread and accessible. Most of the porn was locked up in pay sites, but there were sites that offered free porn, mostly pictures. The videos that were free took forever to download. Now look how far we have traveled in the last 10, 15 years. Entire pornographic videos are available for free, by the tens of thousands. Anything you want, anytime you want. And none of this seems to hurt the porn industry. I don't know how they do it, to be honest - Hollywood is struggling with box office sales due to piracy, but the porn industry seems to grow and grow even as more and more porn is made available for free. How many penis pump businesses could possibly be doing well enough to buy enough advertisment on these sites to make all of this possible?

    In any case, you say the problem is the john, the user, the consumer. Look at the statistics on porn consumption. We're talking about people like me, mostly - hooked as young boys on an addictive substance that is given away for free in virtually infinite quantities. I've actually only spent money on porn a handful of times in my life as an addict. I don't need to spend a dime to get a hit, a fix. Imagine if crack dealers weren't just giving out free samples to hook the poor sucker who looks like he or she might be looking for a way to escape reality, but just kept giving away the stuff all day, every day.

    Does this excuse me? I wouldn't be writing any of this if I thought I had no culpability. The truth is that like most porn addicts, my life is one of secrecy, lies, shame, regret, self-hatred and crippling depression. I barely graduated from high school. I made it through a post-graduate degree only because I had enough intelligence to destroy and still accomplish such a feat. But that degree hasn't translated into anything. I barely make enough money to live, because I can barely get out of bed in the morning. Every time I "wank", I contemplate suicide. I'm not at home smiling and laughing at the poor degraded girl on the screen, and I know damned well she doesn't really want to be there. I wish she never existed. I wish the porn producer never existed. I wish I had the courage to put my hand on the stove and burn the flesh from my bones so I would never be able to do it again. I wish none of this ever existed and would all just go away.

    So, I wouldn't necessarily trade my experience for yours. But if you're now living your life, have come to terms with what happened to you, have friends and a job that pays the bills, well, you're doing a hell of a lot better than me. I am still in hell.

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    1. Seriously? I may sound mean,but what??? Your mother didn t want u to have sex when u were young so??? Everybody should be a porn addict then!!! Grow up for God's sake! People ARE COMPLICATED AS F***k and u dnt know all the reasons your mother had to behave like she did. And u know what? U shouldn t care at all!!! Do u have any idea what us women have to go through because of men like u? More and more women everyday GIVE UP on men forever beacuse they cannot trust them anymore!! U are in hell? No! You are just too busy thinking about yourself and nobody else! Try to do something new and try to do things for other people. Volunteer,etc. Try to focus on the people who actually suffer because they dn t have any food,or money...focus on others...u guys need to stop living in your fantasies and in your past...sorry if I sound mean but really...u porn users have no idea of the hell u put your girlfriends/wives in..and if u are single,well,u CAN be a part of the change...u CAN make people happy,so go and try...

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    2. Male narcissism is like a black hole. It sucks up everything around it, logic and empathy be damned.

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    3. The endless black hole of male narcissism... Just stop watching porn. Throw away your fucking computer. Get a fucking life. You are not the victim and never will be.

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  14. Thanks so much for writing this, John Smith. Pornography damages on every level - men and women. I have read around pornography addiction and am aware it is a massive problem. As you say, it changes chemical wiring and many pornography addicts are living with shame and self loathing. I have stated and it's worth restating that I am anti porn because I'm a believer in people - both women and men deserve better than the lies peddled us by the sex industry.

    As you say the constant availability of porn at the mere click of a button in your own home has had a huge impact. The fact that kids are accessing it at ever younger ages (11 to 17 year olds are the biggest user group of internet pornography) is cause for concern. You describe seeing the women as objects. Girls exposed to porn at a young age learn to see themselves as objects and to act accordingly and the women used in it deal with what it is like to be used as a set of orifices on a daily basis. This destroys any possibility of relationship as relationship requires respect, honesty and mutuality. Porn is the very antithesis of this.

    Pornography destroys people's lives, both the women left with emotional and physical scars (not to mention those who don't ever make it out) and the addicts who can't seem to break the habit. You use the word hell and that's not an overstatement.

    Just a last thought: I work a 12 step programme to stay clean and sober and along with millions of others have found it works for me. It's been over 5 years now. There is a 12 step programme for sex addicts. I also have read 'The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography' by Wendy and Larry Maltz, which might be worth checking out if you haven't already. Pornography will always leave an empty feeling because it is based on lies and is purely wrapped up in self (not in a positive, affirming way however as you made clear). Recovery in contrast, with all its challenges, offers the prospect of real relationship. It's the doorway out of hell. Maybe worth a shot.

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  15. Hi Angel. Thank you for opening my eyes about what is really happening in the adult film industry. It is amazing that main stream movies often contain a notice at the end stating that “no animals were harmed during the production of this film”. Likewise organic products often contain notices like “organically grown and no insecticides used – kind to the environment”. By contrast our society turns a blind eye to the daily abuse in the adult film industry. Surely nobody would watch for example a "Lassie" movie if they had known that the poor dog was e.g. drugged, beaten, starved or humiliated behind the scenes in order to perform.(I am not saying this is true of the Lassie films but merely trying to make a point.) We as a society seem to care more for animals and insects than for our fellow human beings. Shocking!

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  16. So true! Thanks for your comment :-)

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  17. Wow, I had no idea about all of this. I'm just barely hearing all of these similar stories. If I have a daughter in the future, and she's older, I would want to show her that it's not fun or glamorous. That the men filming you don't care about you and are probably hateful of women.

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  18. Hi, I am sorry as a man for what you have bee put through in my name. I have used porn in the past but thanks to to the bravery and open attitude of survivors like yourself I gave up some years back, I also encourage my male (and sometimes female) friends to stop viewing.

    I do find the whole situation sad, obvioulsy on an interpesronal level it is tragic, but if you pull back from the idividuals invloved and see the global picture, would we stand back an laugh if this was happening to men? I don't believe we would, I believe this shows we still live in a very patriarchal society and many people who would consider them selves enlightened do harbor views of women as second class citizens.

    Good luck with the rest of your life, and I sincerely hope that your past doesn't haunt and shape your future.

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  19. Thanks, Anon. And keep up the good work of discouraging other viewers! You're making a difference and it's good to know there are people like you out there.

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  20. Hi it's me, the last anon again, I have decided to try to make the user aware of what they are condoning by viewing porn. I have started a blog, I hope you can take the time to look at it. no-more-porn.simplesite.com

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  21. Hey there... just looked at your blog. It's so so important that you are speaking out. You can make a difference. Keep writing! Thanks for letting me know.
    A x
    ps did try and leave a comment but couldn't get it to work for some reason.

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