Does Porn Contribute to Violent Crime?

Does pornography cause rape, sexual violence or murder etc.?

With a commentary on serial murderer Ted Bundy’s use of pornography.

Although there are two sides to the question of ‘does pornography cause rape, sexual violence or murder?” In order to understand, we need to look at the difference between causation and correlation. Pornography may be correlated to sexual violence and murder, but it is connected to many other things as well and vice versa, just like high religiosity is related to violence (just look at the crusades as an example), especially when we consider the amount of individuals currently using porn. Also porn has a wide range of its display, which could look anything like simple erotica and nudity to hard-core nonconsensual rape porn… and beyond. In my profession, porn cannot be easily described under one simple label just like saying “its food” really described what it is. Am I talking about sushi or carrots when I say food? Nevertheless, the general belief is porn is actual sexual acts or those involving penetration.

 

Pornography Usage Up

In regards to porn usage rates, currently, according to Covenant Eyes, “ By 2017, a quarter of a billion people are expected to be accessing mobile adult content from their phones or tablets, an increase of more than 30% from 2013. Mobile adult video chat alone will have a compound annual growth rate of 25%”. Additionally, some research done by Sonya Thompson (2007), on teen porn use in Alberta found that of students aged 13 and 14 from schools across Alberta, Canada, 90 percent of males and 70 percent of females reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once, that 1 in 3 kids.

 

Boys are the Heavy Porn Users

Boys do the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant minority now plans their social time around viewing porn with male friends. Boys aged 13-14 living in rural areas are the most likely of their age group to access pornography. Heavy porn users identified that the number of times they looked at porn was more that they could count in that week. Given these rates if porn was causal, or criminal offenses, especially with teens, would be crazy high and still going up geometrically. Some of the research has shown that if we specifically look at child porn users, only about 1 in 10 actually follow through with some acting out behavior with someone else. If it was causal, we would see a much higher rate

 

Porn Use and Sexual Violence

Gert Martin Hald, a researcher from Denmark also found that “personal dispositions — specifically sexual sensation seeking — rather than consumption of sexually explicit material (SEM) may play a more important role in a range of sexual behaviors of adolescents and young adults, and that the effects of sexually explicit media on sexual behaviors in reality need to be considered in conjunction with such factors”.

When I look at all of the sexual offending and violent offending risk assessment instruments that I use in my practice, pornography is not one of the criteria of concern, but many other factors are such as incidences of sexual violence, belief systems and/or attitudes (which can be influenced by porn issues) self-awareness, sexual deviance, mental health concerns, substance use issues or issues with relationships, impulsivity etc all tend to be more related to sexual violence and or violence overall.

My own personal experience tends to show that porn use in teens and adolescents leads to more impulsivity (which has been found to be related to excessive dopamine hits as experienced during porn use and orgasm…or videogames, gambling, amphetamine use etc), some of which involves acting out with other individuals in sexually inappropriate ways but almost all of these cases are primarily due to their predisposed mental health issues such as sociopathic tendencies, low intellectual functioning, etc. Average individuals tend to be the ones who were spending more of their time in their basement by themselves with their hands (as with video games) than actually interacting with other individuals in problematic ways because it is just so much easier than dealing with people.

In adults, higher rates of porn use are somewhat similar. In my clinical setting adults tend to either spend more time on their computers, ignoring their partner or having affairs. Those individuals that are having affairs tend to have started having these relationship patterns relatively early on and it does not appear to be related to the porn use (outside of increasing the desire for more sex). Their decision where to get that sex is also more based on their early learning patterns. Interestingly, individuals that I see with higher religiosity tend to have more guilt and tend to have more difficulties and/or higher rates of self soothing through porn.

 

Ted Bundy

Looking at Ted Bundy as an example, (although I am not an expert on Ted), it is my belief that Ted did probably start with porn use, which increase the likelihood to be impulsive (and that high levels also can lead to sexual dysfunction issues) plus his predisposition for some sociopathic and high(er) religiosity tendencies (even though he was able to put on a good façade with his jobs as many psychopaths do) which led to an increase in his thrill seeking/ sensation seeking predisposition putting him at higher-risk to offend. This increased his likelihood for impulsivity in the areas which may have been impacted by the more deviant porn videos watched over time, leading to a higher level of deviant thoughts/fantasies thereby pushing the envelope to kill or rape.

Ultimately, these weakness lead to him being willing to act out in those areas (as most individuals know “right” and “wrong” are not and are not willing to act out in those ways just like having the desire to throttle your kids some days versus actually acting out and doing it), especially considering that given the stats of current porn use and the amount of individuals using porn does not appear to be related to a relatively higher increase in murder or rape cases overall… although people there is still disagreement about the statistics as well. Also, be aware that provincial or state legislations and policies can impact reporting levels not only of rate but domestic violence and how they classify a sexual offense. I remember an old funny statement that said; there are 3 types of lies, blatant lies white lies and statistics as statistics can all be misleading, depending on how they are presented and referenced.

What I am actually way more concerned about watching violence and nonconsensual violent porn to women (or men), than porn overall, as some individuals are highly susceptible to social learning, and acting out based on watching this while others can watch the most severe and intense violence under porn and never act out at all.

For more information, I encourage you check out the website:

 

 

 

Cory Hrushka – Senior Psychologist, M.A., CCS, DST Registered Psychologist.

Cory is the Executive Director of Insight Psychological, and an internationally renowned sex therapist.