Anti-Pornography Website

Professional Testimonies on the Harms of Pornography


The following statements are excerpts of the public hearings on pornography which took place before a comittee of the Minneapolis City Council on December 12-13 of 1983:

"...I have been in the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for five years and on the team of attorneys who prosecute all sexual assault cases and child abuse cases at Hennepin County... ...[W]hat I am best equipped to talk to you about is what I have seen as prosecutor, having reviewed hundreds, certainly a hundred or more cases involving sexual assault of adults or the sexual abuse of children... Now, I should emphasize, and this is important to understand, that generally speaking with pornography, materials are seized or found at the time of the arrest or shortly after the arrest. It is not with a purpose. That is, the police are not looking for these materials, so that when I talk about the numbers I am about to speak of, I say that with the understanding that I have little doubt that if the police, in each case where they suspected sexual assault, looked for material of this type, if they did, they would find a much greater number than are found. I say that because quite a number are found without any special effort being made to look for pornographic materials... Now, in cases involving adults, primarily women -- that is women, female victims -- pornographic materials are often found. I would not say in a majority of cases, but a substantial percent of cases, those materials are found in or near where the person lives or, say, the motor vehicle which was used to transport the assailant to the place of the sexual assault... We do see, with children, a much greater use of pornographic materials. I would say that in the cases that I had -- that I have had, and I have had many of them--that pornographic materials are found, if not in a majority of cases, very close to the majority of cases, found in the home of the person who is sexually abusing the children, and often there are very substantial numbers of pornographic materials. These pornographic materials are both adult and children... Now, an example, and I could give you many examples, an example of a recent case I had -- or I have, actually -- where such materials were being used. Just for the Committee's information, this young girl was raped, I believe, by her stepfather, a live-in boyfriend. And one of the things that he did as part of the sexual assault of the girl is, he would sit on the toilet undressed, and she would be undressed in the bathroom, and he would have her, while undressed, hold up, for example, the centerfold of a magazine that depicted a naked woman or whatever. And while she was holding this and standing naked herself, he would masturbate himself. And this use is not extraordinary. It is no more bizarre or less bizarre a use of pornographic material than we have seen. So I think it is fair to say, from the point of view of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, that we have found pornography to be used very substantially where children are the victims and substantially where adults are the victims... [M]y personal belief is that pornography does cause people to act out criminally, sexually, criminally in a sexual fashion, sometimes in a physical aggressive fashion... [T]he child victims...are most often, if not destroyed, partially ruined for life..."
-- Testimony of Bill Neiman, Assistant County Attorney in the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

"If you look at a lot of pornography, it shows women being beaten, humiliated, tied up. It shows women tied and stabbed, poked, prodded and abused by devices, assaulted by several men or animals, and many ugly and degrading things. When you see a woman being battered, you see a lot of the same ugliness and violence at the same time. Not only do they portray women as liking and deserving this sexual abuse, it shows them as enjoying it, deserving it. And that is what one of the great myths of battery is, is that women deserve to be battered and that they enjoy it. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't stay... Men look at women in pornography... They say the same things about them -- they like it, they enjoy it. The women coming to the shelter say over and over again the men say that to them -- you enjoy this, you deserve it. Men look at pornography and they observe that message -- the women liking and deserving that treatment. They act it out on specific women, usually their girlfriends and wives, sometimes anonymous, like a rape on the street. What they are doing are acting out the messages that women are not human beings, they are objects... I would like to say we have many, many examples of women coming to the shelter who have cases of combined sexual and physical assault where the violence and the sex is intertwined, but you can't tell the difference -- closely intertwined. They are a target not only for violence but also seen as sexually appealing. And a lot of times this is acted out at home where men will beat a woman and find that very sexually arousing. Many of the women come and say that immediately after battering, or shortly thereafter, the man wants sex and they said, how could he want me after he has done this to me, how could he expect me to not be upset, like nothing has happened. And to them, nothing has happened. To the woman it has been a degrading experience, and to the man it has been sexually exciting... If you look at any pornographic magazine, you will see the answer to those questions that women are asking. We had two recent cases that I would like to cite, one in which a woman was taken repeatedly by her boyfriend to the Rialto Theater and made to watch "X" rated movies. And then he would take her home and force her to act out with him these movies. Of course, a lot of these movies contain extreme violence. After one of these episodes, she ended up in the hospital. That is how she came to our shelter... In another case, a woman was imprisoned in her house by her husband. He had a video cassette recorder and he would bring home pornographic movies and tie her to a chair and force her to act out what they were seeing on the screen. Of course, she was eventually severely injured and, again, came to our shelter. These are just two examples. They are not by any means unusual ones. These things happen all the time... I would also like to point out that a lot of this information that we have gotten from women of the shelter has not been looked for. We don't have specific questions on our intakes about sexual abuse and violence. Most of this comes out during the discussion that we have when the woman first comes. And as we have seen it over and over again, the women saying the same things, where you have many separate incidents itself, but a lot of similar occurrences. You start seeing a pattern, and you start saying, where is this pattern coming from?... Well, it is coming from socialization from cultural images. And the strongest influence that we have been able to find on this type of treatment of women is pornography. Many of the women said that pornography is around their house. They say, he has been to the theaters, he does this and he does that and he sees these things. He comes home and he acts it out on me, or he makes me act it out also. We think that pornography is probably the most extreme example of anti-women socialization that men receive in this society. We don't believe that men are born to be sexually and physically abusive to women. They learn this. And the main place they learn this is through pornography. We see the victims of this every day..."
-- Testimony of Wanda Richardson, worker at Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter.

"Women's Shelter is a home for battered women and their children. Women's Shelter has operated as a shelter for five years. In that time over 800 women have stayed with us. An additional 500 women contact the shelter each year in need of assistance, advocacy, and/or support... Historically, women have been denied their own sexuality and along with that the right to make decisions about how they are used sexually. This lack of decision making power combined with society's victimization of the woman who is sexually assaulted creates a sense of shame, of guilt, of dirtiness that disallows her to speak of the sexual assault even within the safe atmosphere of the Shelter. Particulars about the use of pornography and its perpetuation of abuse are not a part of our regular data collection. However, we at Women's Shelter, Inc. know it to be a fact that pornography contributes to the battering of women and children... While doing our intake procedure and in the ongoing close contact with shelter advocates, pornography is frequently stated as a hobby of the abuser. We would like to give you three examples of how pornography encouraged the ongoing beatings and rape of women we know...
Number one, one woman known to us related that her spouse always had a number of pornographic magazines around the house. The final episode that resulted in ending the marriage was his acting out a scene from one of the magazines. She was forcibly stripped, bound and gagged. And with help from her husband, she was raped by a German Shepherd. His second wife became known to us when she sought out support because of the magazines and bondage equipment she discovered in their home.
Number two, another woman spoke of her husband's obsession with tying women up. She said he had rape and bondage magazines all over the house. She discovered two suitcases full of Barbie dolls with ropes tied on their arms and legs and with tape across their mouths. She added, "He used to tie me up and he tried those things on me." But she also stated that she had not recognized this as sexual abuse. This statement from her reinforces our...contention that she did not have the freedom to identify sexual assault because she felt no ownership of her own body.
Number three, Penthouse and Hustler were always a part of the literature in the third woman's home. Occasionally her spouse would add Cheri, Oui, Swedish Erotica to the collection. His favorite form of abuse was bondage. He enjoyed playing what he called a game of whipping and slavery. She knows that what he did to her was directly related to articles about bondage and sex lays which he read. He wanted to involve a second woman, her friend, in the scenarios. Her refusal to comply with his demands resulted in her being violently anally assaulted... Our experience at Women's Shelter indicates and even demands that we as a society recognize and be accountable for the very specific ways in which individual women are hurt and the role that pornography plays in that hurt. It is because of that obvious connection that I submit this testimony to you."
-- Written testimony of Donna Dunn, Women's Shelter, Incorporated (Rochester, MN), read by Sharon Rice Vaughn at the Hearings.
"Pornography, like rape, is not about sex but about control, hostility and violence... Rape is a social disease that is born in an environment that links sex with violence and humiliation. For two years, I ran a group with another woman at one of the men's correctional facilities in Minnesota. All of these men, almost all of these men, were violent offenders and had commited rape... Let us use our common sense for a moment. When two things are linked by something visual, we associate the two. When this association is reinforced, it is likely to become a repeated behavior. Some of them say it is a catharsis -- if they look at pictures of women being slashed and humiliated, then they won't have to do this in real life... Yet no one would suggest that we all look at films of parents beating children in order to end child abuse, or to watch films of Blacks, Indians, and Hispanics being handcuffed and humiliated in order to end racism. There is no reason, then, to suspect that pictures of bound and mutilated women will decrease misogyny. Indeed, as many offenders in my experience have noted, masturbating to fantasies of these images is extremely reinforcing and in many cases led to their acts of sexual violence... We have seen cases at our own and other rape centers in Minnesota... Many of us reacted with shock and horror to the gang rape of a woman on a pool table in a bar in New Bedford in March of 1983, while bystanders cheered and applauded. Yet in the January issue of Hustler, a layout appeared of this exact scenario, a woman spreadeagled on a pool table being gang-raped. I wonder if any of the participants in New Bedford two months later were readers of Hustler... Pornography is the permission and direction and rehearsal for sexual violence. It is the rape of our fantasy lives and, ultimately, the rape of our bodies."
-- Testimony of Barbara Chester, Director of the Rape and Sexual Assault Center in Hennepin County.

"[W]e know in the psychotherapy field that imagination and visual imagery are powerful tools for shaping human behavior. It is no secret that violent images have led to increased violence in people, and violent images and pornography may give them rationales, minimizing the pain, projection of blame, and other distortions along with the image..."
-- Testimony of Daryl Dalheimer, psychotherapist who has worked with both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence.

"My experience has been that pornography is often used by sex offenders as a stimulus to their sexually acting out. The sexual insecurity of sex offenders is reinforced by porn. Quite often sex offenders will use porn because they think of it as being safe. They live vicariously through the pictures. Eventually, that is not satisfying enough and they end up acting out sexually... Whenever we read about another sexual assault case in the paper, we instinctively react with rage. We cry out for stronger prison terms. Seldom, however, do we ask why? Seldom do we look at the causes. Perhaps if we take a look at those causes, which include pornography, we might find that we have more control over preventing sexual assault than we think. The relationship between pornography and sexual assault does exist..."
-- Testimony of Bill Seals, Director of Sexual Assault Services at the Center for behavior Therapy in Minneapolis.

"I have worked in the field of sexual abuse for twelve years, from 1971 to 1983. Since 1975, I have worked in Minnesota. I have chosen to work in Minnesota because we have some of the best laws in the United States for working in the field of sexual abuse if you intend to do anything about it. I have been involved with the Minnesota Coalition of Sexual Assault programs which represented thirty-seven statewide programs and have been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, representing programming across the United States. I have lectured on many of the issues relating to sexual abuse, most recently, the relationship between pornography and sexual violence, so it is most appropriate that I was asked to testify today. I am willing to tell you what I have personally observed in my clinical work with the victims and offenders involved in sexually violent crimes.
I am currently employed by Washington County Human Services, Inc., as part of their Sexual Abuse Unit. My colleagues and I are responsible for a multifaceted program that provides 24-hour crisis intervention and advocacy to victims, individual therapy and support group counseling to victims and their families, and an intervention program for juvenile sex offenders, and a treatment program for families involved in the behavior of incest. I do this to acquaint you with my expertise in the field, so that you can understand what I have to say...
I would first like to comment on the incidents in which we have seen a direct relationship between pornography and crime... I can tell you about a young married woman who we saw whose husband had the house so filled with his collections of pornography, she was too embarrassed to allow her in-laws or her family to come in. She finally came to us for help when she was left hanging upside down in the bedroom, even though the baby was crying and in need of nursing.
The second case I will tell you about is the kidnap of two young junior high school women in my county who were kidnapped on their way home from school and taken out into the woods and held captive over night by a young man who had constructed a very interesting tree fort in which he had papered the walls with pornography, and spent two hours assaulting these two fourteen-year-old girls following illustrations from the pornographic magazines that he had collected.
The third one I will tell you about is a gang of juveniles who papered the attic to their parents' garage with pornographic magazines. They kidnapped an eight-year-old neighborhood girl and gang-raped her.
They are not pleasant stories. They are not the only stories we hear. I do not tell them to horrify people, but to state that pornography is clearly connected with sexual assaults that we work with. It is not uncommon for our victims to speak of the pornography involved in their assaults when giving testimony to law enforcement and in the court and in processing the incident in their therapy with us...
The second point is the prevalency of pornography amongst our offenders. Because ours is an outpatient facility, the offenders we are seeing come to us while they still live in the community. We are very careful not to treat offenders that we judge to be at risk to the community, that they would act out again. We are seeing the most, if you will, innocuous members of the offending community... Even the exposers who are guilty of visual rape in that they never physically touch their victims, to the more disturbed juvenile offenders or the incest offenders who have violated their own children, are heavily connected to pornography. Each of these individuals has an active fantasy life involving the use of pornographic materials for masturbation, fantasy contemplation, and eventual acting out of their scenarios on their victims.
One of the underlying philosophical [tenets] of our program is for all offenders in treatment to clean out their homes, garages, cars, and offices of pornographic materials. We are quite clear about not rationalizing the content -- everything: pin-ups, books, magazines, TV cassettes and films. They must also contract with us not to use porn during their treatment with us. There is active discussion in groups and individual therapies about the inappropriate nature of pornographic material. Those people who violate the rule are subject to group criticism and a decision by the treatment facility whether or not they will continue that treatment and [revoke] their probation...Several things are clear from our work with offenders and pornographic materials. First, that porn takes over their lives to the exclusion of any other entertainment materials. Some of these people have collected such a mass of pornographic material, their garages and basements are full and they can't park their cars in the garage. It is an obsessive relationship that they have with pornography. The second is that it is a relief, a validating statement to the families of these offenders, when we encourage them to clean out these collections. In some way, the family has suspected all along that the porn had some connection to the inappropriate sexual behavior...
The behavioral impact of pornography can be summarized so: first of all, that all of our offenders show that they were exposed to and involved with pornography at a very early age.
Two, that their secretive collections are significantly higher than those we find in other populations of adolescents.
Three, when more appropriate sexual education materials are available, juveniles do not seem to need pornographic materials...
The final argument that I want to make is that I believe it is a very sexist issue that those defenders of pornography will say to you that porn is a portrayal of normal violent nature of men's sexuality. That is the most sexist statement, and that says something also about men, if we are to believe that men all have a violent expression of their sexuality.
The second thing I want to talk about is the saturation issue. We will find that term in the literature is very clear, if you are a reader of pornography. I have had to because of my work, that over the last twelve years pornography has become more and more violent, that the themes in it have become more and more explicit. It is, in a sense, as if we can't get enough of it, and so once you have seen one murder, not so explicitly, you need to have more and more portrayed realistically. You will find that people become saturated, and those juveniles you see starting out with low levels of magazines that simply portray nudity, quickly move on to those how-to-rape-and-murder magazines that are published.
The third point that I want to ask is whether or not it is that difficult for us to recognize hate. If you will flip through any of these magazines, you will notice that the central themes are racist in many of the portrayals that are of women... You will also notice that besides being racist, there are a lot of themes of violence such as Nazi prison camps, people who are held against their will and held powerless. It is a literature of hate, and that is not very hard to understand if you were to look at it. The fourth thing I want to say, [is] that I have seen a percentage growth and a change in the people who are my victims. Twelve years ago when I did this work, most of the people I dealt with, it looked like the women in this room. They were white and middle-class and fairly well educated. That has changed. The majority of the victims I see now are children. The other change I have noticed is there was a percentage increase in what I call child pornography. The explicit portrayal of children being sexual with each other or adults. I think I can directly correlate that with the increase in the number of child victims I see...
The central division is between the sense of rape as an act of hostility and violence, as women see and know and experience it, and rape as an erotic act, as fantasized by men and practiced by some. That is a direct quote from a feminist writer who I think elucidates it very clearly."
-- Testimony of Cheryl Champion.

"I am the Executive Director of Alpha Human Services, which is an inpatient treatment program for sex offenders. It's the only community-based inpatient program specifically for sex offenders in the country... I am also the Director of Outpatient Treatment Programming for Sex Offenders and a licensed psychologist... I have a number of years of experience with criminal sex offenders, probably about ten... [M]ost of my colleagues, I think, feel as I do: that clinically our impression is that there is a substantial role that pornography plays. Certainly with virtually all sexually-obsessed or preoccupied individuals that we see, whether committing sex crimes or not, pornography seems to be a pretty major role... I always get the police reports and everything else when I am doing a court order. And over and over again I end up seeing they, with a search warrant, pulled out boxes of pornography. I am doing a court-ordered psychological evaluation for Scott County right now...and pornography played a role in that, showing pornographic materials to fifteen-year-old girls and getting them drugged in exchange for allowing them to engage in sexual conduct... In this particular incident, they were videotapes. The psychological evaluation I just finished for Hennepin County, for Judge Schiefelbein, actually they were magazines, boxes of magazines and videotapes... The sex offender had been arrested in an adult bookstore for soliciting sex. He was anally penetrating his son, twelve-year-old son, with his penis and also a son, fifteen years old, from another marriage... Another way that we see pornography being used in the commission of crimes is showing them to kids. I remember an interesting case in which an ice cream man, a Good Humor man, always kept an open magazine by him as he drove along, and the kids would look at it. And he would use that as some kind of manipulative technique to involve the people into talking about sex or getting interested in sex, as a comment: have you ever seen anything like this before, or have you ever done anything like this previously. So, you know, there is certainly a number of ways that pornographic materials are used. You a lot of respects, the written pornographic materials are as troublesome as those that are graphic or pictorial... [B]y the way, in our programs we don't allow any pornographic materials whatsoever... There are two schools of thought, that in fact deviant sexual fantasy is an outlet, or enforcer. For those of us, certainly my colleagues--I have been doing this for ten years -- there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that masturbation to deviant sexual fantasy reinforces and increases the probability that that behavior will recur, as opposed to decreasing, as it would [if it] became an outlet."
-- Testimony of Gary Kaplan.

"[My name is] Nancy Steele... For twelve years, I have worked in prisons in Colorado and Minnesota, providing direct clinical treatment services to men convicted of sex offenses, rape, incest and child molesting. For years, I've heard them talk in depth about their feelings about themselves, their crimes and their sexuality. These are my own personal professional opinions I have formed in listening to them over the years on the relationship between their crimes and pornography. I also want to say that some of my opinions are based on research that I did for my doctorate... At that time, I was trying to research fantasy. This is a nonpublished dissertation. I started out with that new idea of catharsis. And I used violent offenders and nonviolent offenders in a fairly complicated design. And the net result showed the opposite of what I had predicted, and was [in]consistent with all the other literature and research I had read for my dissertation, that the angry fantasies increased anger in the offenders. What was of particular importance was that it increased it most in the most violent offenders, the most sadistic offenders.
[A footnote in the book In Harm's Way clarifies the above paragraph: "Nancy Steele's study of convicted violent offenders found that fantasy did not reduce anger or the expression of aggression, contrary to the predictions of the psychoanalytic literature. None of the behaviorial studies discussed on which the empirical hypothesis of the cathartic effect of fantasy was based specifically studied the effects of exposure to violent sexual materials on anger or aggression. Nancy Martin Steele, "The Role of Fantasy in the Reduction of Anger in Three Types of Convicted Offenders", Ph.D. diss. Ohio State University (1973)"]
"What I want to say about a sex offender, and what I have learned about them, is that they are a long time in the making. It doesn't happen suddenly with no cause. There are always long-standing background reasons for their crimes and generally triggers in their current emotional environment that bring about the crimes. Pornography is both a cause and an effect of their emotional problems and very frequently plays a major part in their assaults on women and children. They generally will increase their consumption of pornography prior to sex offenses. They will get very specific ideas in reading pornography of exactly what they will do in their crimes, to whom they will do it in their crimes... Certain types of them live years of their life in a fantasy world, isolated from real human relationships. They don't have emotional pairing relationships with other people, they don't have positive messages and values of sexuality, they don't see sexuality as a loving expression of things. What they see in their homes, and what they read, and what they hear in the media, is what they tend to believe about sexuality... One man said to me just last week in group -- he had been molesting his daughter over and over and over, and he knew it was wrong, and he felt terrible and hated himself. But, he said, I read about it in a magazine, I read how the children really like this, how they want their fathers to abuse them. I knew it wasn't right, but it gave me the excuse I needed to keep on doing it. They [turn] to pornography as a way to sort of satiate an appetite that grows in themselves. It doesn't satiate them. It is like drinking salt water. The more they drink, the more they need, the more they have to seek to get what they believe they deserve... For very lonely, very disturbed, angry men, pornography is a way in which they practice their crimes of sexual assault. They read stories, watch movies, and masturbate to angry destructive stories of rape and degradation. Over and over, they pair their fantasies with masturbation, ejaculation, and sexual release. Through a very basic conditioning process, their sexual response becomes conditioned to anger, violence, and shame. Some reach the point where they cannot feel sexual feelings in a loving and respectful context with women they care about. Fantasy is not harmless for many people. Certainly not all, but for many people, fantasy leads to action."
-- Testimony of Nancy Steele.

"I work with sex offenders. I work with the State of Minnesota Department of Corrections, in Oak Park Heights currently, and I also worked at Lino Lakes for one year. I recently have been establishing a sex offender program at Oak Park Heights. I have also worked extensively with victims in sexual family abuse... I have yet to work with an offender that does not use pornography. I have had a number of offenders who made the statement that pornography, they believe for themselves, was directly responsible for where they got their ideas -- very early in their lives they were exposed to pornography -- and that these messages and images about women, about what sexuality is, this is where they got their education. And they believe that that exposure early in their life had a direct effect upon them as to why they then acted out later on... Offenders that I work with in the Department of Corrections said the pornography is for sale, insofar as Playboy, Penthouse, Screw magazine and other contraband magazines that are sold by the prison itself in the commissary. I think the sale of pornography right there happens to condone it. Our society is condoning those images and messages about women... I spend hours in groups a day with men discussing their attitudes about women, their beliefs about sexuality. They, in fact, fit stereotypically with those images of women, that they like to be raped, that they like to be beaten. They are very open about that. They find it difficult to change those ideas and opinions. After spending hours in a group, they go back to their cells where they read the magazines and have the pin-ups on the walls... The incest women that I work with report that they were shown pictures of pornography by their uncles or fathers or aggressors to show them how it was done--that this is in fact what they were about, what they were for, and that this is okay."
-- Testimony of Richelle Lee.

"I am a therapist in private practice. I work with adult women survivors of sexual abuse as well as children of these survivors and the families... I want to connect pornography as sexual addiction, and I want to connect sexual addiction to childhood sexual abuse... It has been my experience that pornography is an integral part of sexual addiction, and sexual addiction is an integral part of child abuse. And as these are addictions, they follow a course of escalation. They follow a course of compulsion. They are out of control. The addict using pornography is on a spiral, on a course that is getting worse that leads to escalation of the sexual acting out, whether it be peeping Tom, whether it be molesting children, exposing himself and so forth... All children who live in the home -- this is my opinion -- all children who live in the home of a sexual addict at some level become victims of that addiction. And that person does not have to bring pornography home for that to happen. The energy that person carries, the fantasies, the thoughts, the way they talk and look at their female children, communicates something about this child to their bodies. Young girls talk about, "I couldn't stand it when my father touched me. There was something wrong." Some direct connections I have talked about with clients, and they said they were glad to have the stories here. They felt it was so important.
One example, for instance, was a young girl. By the age of four, she saw her parents sitting on the couch together reading pornographic magazines. When she tried to go join them, they were laughing and happy. She said it was the only time she saw her father's eyes light up. He felt alive. When she would try to read, they said no, no, which was confusing because they seemed happy reading this.
By five years old, this young woman, at that time a young girl, would bring boys from the neighborhood, draw off her clothes the way she had seen in the magazines, and let herself be abused sexually. This is by five years old. This woman has gone through a great deal of work. She was alcoholic, very ill. She is now a student. She is now working through these things in therapy and is recovering, but she had never herself made the connection to the pornography. All she felt about herself [was], she was crazy, she was sick. How at five years old could I have been doing this? Pornography in the home is insidious. Girls pick up the message, they act it out, they don't know why they feel suicidal and crazy. I have seen this many, many times... Another example I would like to share with you was a little boy I worked with whose father was preoccupied with pornography and had a house full of it. The little boy was known at school as the kisser. He would jump at girls, grab them, and kiss them. He was already developing an abuser mentality by the age of six. This happens to children, again, without them knowing it. He wanted to be like his father. This is what his father liked. He was doing what every child will do. It models for children that sexuality has power and that women are basically pieces of meat... A third example was in a very abusive violent family where the father had read a great deal of pornography. It was kept in his room and the children knew it was there. He beat his children a lot, his daughters particularly. The girls used to sneak in when the parents were gone, read the pornography. They became addicted to it. It was their only escape, as it had been their father's escape. The woman that reported it -- today at thirty -- is addicted to pornography, has yet to have intimate sexual relationships or free herself from the connection of silence and sexuality... I believe a lot of battering of young girls has to do with sexual feelings, much of what comes every time in families where there was pornography. The father feels sexual towards his daughter, wants to repress that, and instead of taking responsibility for his addiction, which is out of control, beats his daughter. It is connected many times. I have had fathers open up to this when they come to family therapy and talk about it... The last example is going into a local grocery store there to return grapefruit. There was in the back room a picture of a naked woman from the back with a little diagram saying rump, ribs, shoulder, like they do with cows. I was upset. The first time I saw it, I couldn't talk. I came back later, walked in and saw it again. I was incredibly amazed that the store could have this. This is damaging. I said to the man, "I find this offensive, returning white grapefruit for pink ones and standing here with my daughter, that my daughter is a piece of meat, and her mother is a piece of meat." He finally took it down."
-- Testimony of Charlotte Kasl.

"I work with a local nonprofit private organization in Minneapolis called Minneapolis Youth Division. My position there is outreach worker working exclusively with adolescent females involved in prostitution. Over the course of the years, six years that I have been there, I noticed a direct correlation between pornography and prostitution with my clients. I can says almost categorically never have I had a client who has not been exposed to prostitution through pornography in one way or the other. For some young women, that means that they are shown pornography--either films, videotapes, or pictures--as, this is how you do it, almost as a training manual in how to perform acts of prostitution... [Chairman Van White asked her: "Excuse me. You are saying they are pimps training them with those kinds of messages?"] [She answered:] That is correct... In addition, out on the street when a young woman is plying her trade, as it were, many of her tricks or customers will come up to her with little pieces of paper, pictures that were torn from a magazine and say: I want this. As one client put it, it is like a mail order catalogue of sex acts, and that is what she is expected to perform... Another way that pornography plays a part in the lives of my clients is that as young women, very young women, some as young as eleven, they want the good things that they see on TV, and they see taking part in nude modeling, taking part in movies -- pornographic movies -- as a way to be a star, get to Hollywood. Now, this may seem foolish to those of you who are adults and say ha ha, we know that is wrong. We are talking about children who are very naive and are told that Marilyn Monroe made it this way, Brooke Shields made a movie about Pretty Baby. You have been there baby, you can do it... Another aspect that plays a big part in my work with my clients is that, on many occasions, my clients are multi-, many-, rape victims. These rapes are often either taped or have photographs taken of the event. The young woman, when she tries to escape or leaves, is told that either she continues her involvement in prostitution or those pictures will be sent to her parents, will be sent to the juvenile court, will be used against her. And out of fear, she will continue her involvement in prostitution... On several occasions, not many but on several occasions, these young women have found that later that their pictures have been published in pornographic magazines without their knowledge and consent. This is very traumatic, especially when I have been working hard with this young woman to make things in her life better. She is involved in the straight lifestyle and finds out there are published pictures of her engaged in various sex acts... I would like to close with a comment of one of my clients who heard I was going to be here tonight who said, "It is about time that those folks figured out what is going on." Thank you."
-- Testimony of Sue Santa.

"One of the most common ways that offenders do convince children...that the sex is normal and pleasurable, or should be pleasurable, is through showing them pornographic pictures of other children engaged in sex acts, looking as though they enjoy it. This is also one of the main ways that offenders coerce children into posing for pornographic photographs, is by showing them other pictures of children and saying, "Well, everybody else likes it. There must be something wrong with you if you don't find this pleasant," and "Gee, you know you liked it the last time we were together." Offenders are very seductive with children."
-- Testimony of Sherry Arndt. (1)


The following statements are excerpts of the testimony on pornography which took place at a hearing of the Indianapolis City-County Council Adminstration Committee, on April 16, 1984:

"[M]y name is Detective Terry Hall with the Indianapolis Police Department. I was asked to come here today to give you a little bit of insight into my investigations as a sex crimes investigator... I'll try my best to give you some examples [of] how pornography has come under my investigations. Quite a few rape investigations that I have conducted, especially where there was violence, upon arresting the suspect, I find that there were hard-core pornography in the suspect's house or in the suspect's car. I've had several rape victims, especially, it seems, to always be the more violent rapes, where the victim was made to look at pornography while the rape was occurring. I think I'm not qualified to say whether this started the rape or whether the rape would have been done without the pornography. I'm just telling you that when I make my investigation, especially on the more brutal ones, usually there's pornography, hard-core pornography, there showing something like sado-masochist or bestiality... I've had a large amount of pornography used by adults to school young girls in the sexual acts. I have recently investigated a case where a ten-year-old boy was being sexually abused by seventeen-year-old boys who used pornography and expecting certain sexual acts that they wanted him to do. I've also had a family, complete family, that used pornography and I started working on a molestation that was with a father and went all the way down through the children where extensive pornography was used, even over into uncles and cousins... The lady that was just up here previously [Somebody who testified before her] is one of the most devastating cases to my estimation that I have ever had to investigate. It took a personal toll on my life as fourteen years as a police officer. I would like to expand on that case a little bit. The person that did this molestation was not a crumb bum... This man was a prominent Indianapolis attorney who used the pornography to school and indoctrinate this child into thinking that everything she done was okay. And when I got to the child, she did think everything she done was okay, because, as she stated, that it was in the books, and children are taught to read and taught to pay attention to books from a very early age. Because this man was a very educated man, he was an attorney, it was very easy for him, with the help of visual aids--and we all know that lecture is probably the worst way to convey any type of educational material and that visual aids is one of the best--this visual aid that was used was pornography. I'm not talking about just a little bit of pornography, meaning hard-core magazines. Films were used, the child was made to have a type of sex with an animal, and a lot of other things that I'm sure that I don't need to go into here. All of it was copied from or directly out of a book, just like they was depicted in the book. It wasn't anything innovative or anything he made up. It was directly by the book. When I arrested the man, in the people's home, he had cameras and instamatic pictures of the girl committing sex acts on him. This girl was eight years old when this started and when I opened the trunk of his car, he had around three hundred hard-core magazines with pornographic pictures in them... I keep running into these cases where I arrest the suspect and I find so much pornography, hard-core pornography, around, especially showing abuse and pain to the victim of the sexual attack."
-- Testimony of Terry Hall.

"In ten years of counseling with men and women, I have had several incidents with clients where pornography played a great part in the violence that ensued in their lives... I am reminded of a case in particular in which a woman had been married for fourteen years, during the last ten years of which, pornographic literature had been a large part of her husband's sexual arousement. He would look at the pornographic literature, then come to her, wake her up, beat her, then demand she perform acts depicted in the literature. There were times when this behavior was as violent as cutting her with a razor, slapping, hitting and kicking her, tying her to the end of the bed and requiring her to do demeaning sexual acts involving other people, as well as her mate. It may seem unusual that this woman stayed with this man, but those of us who have worked with women who have been involved [in] violent sexual encounters understand that fear becomes the main element in such a woman's life that demeaning responses that she has had to give make her very fear filled and very much afraid to leave a relationship. There are always threats along with this, such as the "if you don't do this, I will..." kind of thing... Another incident that recently came to my attention was a woman who came to me because she was to marry a man who had been a Viet Nam war veteran. She was quite terrified because this man had performed violent acts of sex with her. He told her that the only [way] he could be sexually active with her was to read pornographic material and get his anger up again. When his anger was up, through violence and pornographic material (books and other written material, not movies), then he could perform. Otherwise, he couldn't. He would bring home pornographic literature, make her read it with him, then perform acts of violence... The third incident that recently happened was a women who became a rape victim. Before the rapist involved himself, he put her through demeaning, sexual, violent actions, twisted her body in unbelievable shapes and tied her legs and hands together. He forced her to have sex with an animal. He marked X's on her back, shaved her, then showed her pictures from pornographic magazines, all the time performing sex acts upon himself, then raped her... He laughed a great deal and pointed to the pictures, say[ing], "this is how it ought to be with women." In another incident, a man said to me when I confronted him with his sexual behavior, that the only way to take care of a woman (which he learned through reading books in shopping centers and then throwing them away) is to beat her up one side and down the other, to make her get dressed up in black stockings and high heels... It is erroneous to think that pornographic literature is simply erotic. More than the sexual acts, it raises the level of violence in an individual."
-- Written Testimony of T. V. , a counselor in Indianapolis, read by Deborah Daniels at the Hearing. (2)


Members of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women heard the following testimonies at a public hearing on April 22, 1985:

"My name is Jeffrey Masson, and I'm a psychoanalyst [who taught] at the University of California at Berkeley, [and was] former Projects Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives... One defense of pornography maintains that it is only a form of fantasy... The perspective from which this is defended is a Freudian one, and Freud's discoveries about the nature of fantasy are often called upon in conjunction with Freudian thinking about women and sexuality. But if we subject Freud's thinking about the nature of sexual fantasies to a more searching examination, particularly in the light of new documents that have recently become available -- I'm referring to my edition of the Freud-Fliess letters which was published this month by Harvard University Press -- what is most striking is how far removed Freud's views were from the true state of affairs... Freud argues that almost all of his women patients' lives were dominated by the fantasy that their father had sexually abused them. At first Freud thought this fantasy was a historical reality: a traumatic memory from childhood. But later he decided he had been misled by the women, who had been impelled to create these fantasies because of the nature of female sexuality. Let us listen briefly to Freud on the question directly, writing in 1925 in his autobiographical study: [reading passage of a book]
"Before going further into the question of infantile sexuality, I must mention an error into which I fell for a while, and which might well have had fatal consequences for the whole of my work. Under the influence of the technical procedure which I used at that time, the majority of my patients reproduce from their childhood, scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some grown up person. With female patients, the part of the seducer was almost always assigned to their father. I believed these stories, and consequently supposed that I had discovered the roots of the subsequent neurosis and these experiences of sexual seduction in childhood. If the reader feels inclined to shake his head at my credulity, I cannot altogether blame him. When, however, I was at last obliged to recognize that these scenes of seduction had never taken place, that they were only fantasies which my patients had made up, which I myself had perhaps forced on them, I was for some time completely at a loss."
Freud's view expressed in this passage -- that women invent, out of sexual needs, memories of sexual seduction -- has dominated psychiatric and psychological thinking for eighty years. It has dominated as well most major defenses of pornography. It is only in the last few years that women have begun questioning Freud's reasoning. Their criticisms have escalated as we achieve an ever-greater awareness of the reality of sexual abuse in the childhood of many women. On top of this growing knowledge of the reality of abuse came the discovery from the Freud Archives, many of which I published in The Assault on Truth, that Freud himself knew that sexual abuse was extremely pervasive in his day, and that it was not fantasy, but reality. However, the theory of fantasy was far more acceptable to the male-dominated medical society of his day. Had Freud stood by his women patients, he would have been totally isolated from his male colleagues, for he would have been criticizing not only their blindness, but also the society they lived in. And in those days, it was simply unthinkable for women who had survived incest to come together and support one another. It was too shameful and deep a secret. But thanks to the women's movement in this country, women are getting together for the first time and saying that it really does happen, and in numbers that make it apparent that we are dealing with one of the most serious problems of current society... Freud's views about fantasy have been, for the women who know about the reality of abuse, totally discredited. While we may not entirely understand Freud's motivation for his about-face, there can be no doubt that sexual abuse was a reality in his day, as it is in ours, and that the women who came to Freud were not inventing stories, as he claims, but telling him about a painful reality...
Pornography is a record of that same reality, of those very acts that Freud claimed did not exist. By shifting the blame for the reality of incest on the inventive power of the woman, saying that it was her wish, her fantasy, Freud provided many men with a convenient explanation for the occasions that from time to time surfaced. They could be dismissed as the accusations of "hysterical" women, women who were sexually needy, and turned for satisfaction to a perverted imagination. Now that we know, today, that this is not so, what has happened to Freud's theories about fantasy? They have not been discarded, they have simply shifted ground. Now, we are told, they are helpful in understanding the nature of pornography. But I entreat you to consider that we may be faced with yet another example of men who exploit and harm women attempting to cover up what they really do by calling it something else. It is not surprising that the philosophy of sexual liberation would call upon Freud's ideas about fantasy, by pretending to protect the rights of women and children to their sexual fantasies. But these were never, according to the historical record, the fantasies of women and children, rather they are the acts of men imposed in reality upon protesting but powerless women and children... a problem of male psychology, and while women may have an obligation to explain it, they are surely under no obligation to tolerate its persistence."
-- Testimony of Jeffrey Masson.

"I'm Dr. Pauline Bart. I'm a visiting professor of sociology in women's studies at UCLA, the school from which I obtained my Ph.D., and a visiting scholar at the Law School at UCLA. In the fall, I was [a] visiting scholar at Harvard Law School... [M]y last study was based on interviews with 94 women who had been raped, or whom somebody had tried to rape...
...[M]any of the women who were raped [in my study] were told, some with a gun or a knife at their neck or their head, that they were going to enjoy it, and they were told that they had to tell their assailant how much they were enjoying it. One such woman who was a professor of philosophy was told to "have an orgasm" with a gun to her head... [T]hese women told me that it was harder to tell their assailants that they enjoyed the rape than enduring the actual assault itself...
...[A] potential rapist tried to pull my 75-year-old mother into his car in Santa Barbara, telling her what a good time he was going to show her, and she was able to get away and memorize the license plate number of the car, and went to the police, and they didn't believe her, and they did pick up the man, and it was only when he skipped bail that even the people she knew, her friends, believed her... this is the message that pornography sends out...pornography is pro-rape propaganda...
...Diana Scully, a professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University...hsa been talking to rapists who are imprisoned... She wrote a letter to Gary Meltzer, the City Attorney of Los Angeles:
"...violent pornography trivializes rape and encourages men to think of violence as a part of normal sexual relations. It also provides the language which men can and do use to neutralize and justify their sexually violent behavior. When rapists I studied told me that despite the injuries they have been inflicting on their victims, "She enjoyed it," they were describing the same image projected in pornography..."
... I am going to read you the last verse of a poem that I, too, wrote:
"I may not speak to sex educators
about pornography;
I may not say that pornography
leads to desensitization
Which leads to violence against women and children.
Pornographers having protected speech
leads to women having unprotected lives.
My speech is not protected because my speech may lead
to censorship."
-- Testimony of Pauline Bart.

"I am a member of the WAVAW [Women Against Violence Against Women] Coordinating Committee [and] the National Lawyer's Guild. I want to tell you about three specific cases from my practice and from volunteer work at the Domestic Violence Project of the Los Angeles Free Clinic... Currently, one of my divorce clients is a battered woman and is attempting to deny her husband the legal right to visit their children, since she recently discovered that he had molested both of the children. During their marriage, his pattern of abuse was to treat her especially kindly for several weeks, taking her to dinner and paying her compliments, then turning on her, picking a fight, and beating her. Then he would resume months of indifference and coolness. During one period of this very nice treatment she discovered hidden behind his bureau a number of Spanish-language pornography magazines. One was of bondage and whippings, and it was entitled, Nasty Wife. A few days later she found a knife and a rope under their bed. She had never seen a rope in their house before. The following day her husband began calling her a nasty wife for the first time in their marriage, and telling her that she needed to be punished for all the bad things she did to him. That night she took her children and moved to a battered women's shelter and started a divorce proceeding... In the second case, a psychiatrist brought one of his patients, a women in her sixties, to his home for several therapy sessions. During one of these sessions, he showed her a series of pornography slides telling her she was sexually inhibited, and this treatment was beneficial. He then raped her, and held her in his home for the entire night, and raped her throughout the night while pornographic slides were automatically shown in the same room. He released her in the morning, saying the experience was part of her treatment... In the third case, I was working up the papers for a restraining order at the Domestic Violence Project, when a woman began telling me that her husband confessed to her that he had raped his daughter from his first marriage, and that he served time for it. She asked him how he could do that to his own blood. He answered that it was all right, that the little girl hadn't minded it, and that he had enjoyed it enough for both of them. He had seen the pictures of it, and when girls did it enough, they liked it, and that they really did like it or they wouldn't do it in the pictures he had seen. We talked more about that, and I asked her if she thought that the porn he read was any cause of what he had done. She said, "Of course," and he had those magazines now, and she had had enough. She had a little girl too, and she was doing all she could to stop him from getting to her daughter... In the 70's, the focus was on the employer's free speech right to sexually insult women at the workplace. Now, the focus is on the rights of the makers and distributors of porn, not on the rights of the women who are its deliberate victims."
-- Testimony of Elana Bowman.

"I am a clinical psychologist in private practice in Los Angeles... I'm also about to graduate from UCLA Law School, and I have done a post-doctoral fellowship at USC in the Department of Psychiatry and Law. Following that I was on the clinical faculty there for two years. In my part of practice, and more specifically, in my work at USC I worked with sex offenders, mostly child molesters and flashers, and I also evaluated a number of rapists... I would like to say that, as a psychologist, I was frankly unaware of the enormous part that pornography is playing and has played in the minds of sex offenders who I evaluated. And this is because, at least for me, it was only when I went to UCLA and took a course in which this problem was addressed, that I began to think back to the use of pornography with these men who I had evaluated, because as a psychologist this was never discussed. We didn't even look for it. So it was only when it was told to us incidentally that we discovered it, and it wasn't until I recently started thinking back that I realized there was a lot of it, and that it's grossly underestimated... For example, one of the many child molesters who I evaluated told me that his modus operandi was to have young girls, six and seven years old, he would befriend them. He was a man who was about forty. He would befriend them, and he would have them come over to his house and he would pay them to clean his house, you know, a quarter, a dollar. And he would casually put around pornography on the living room table, and then he would open it up for them, and then he would try to get them to pose for it, like they were in the movies... Another example, actually this comes from my private practice. There are several patients of mine who habitually use pornography and have severe sexual problems. One is, as a matter of fact, a homosexual who uses constant violent pornography to excite himself, and it is impossible for him to now make love with his lover, who he loves. It's only possible for him to have violent sex with people he doesn't know... Another man who uses pornography at least twice daily, who's a fine upstanding citizen, finds it impossible to relate to women in any normal way. And it is my belief now that this has to do with the constant recurring of these sexual images in pornography that has taught him what sexuality is all about, which he finds impossible to have with a normal woman... I feel that psychologists, and I plan to help educate them, [must] become aware of the part that pornography is playing in a sex offense."
-- Testimony of B.J. Cling. (3)


Massachusetts legislators heard the following testimony at a hearing on pornography on March 16, 1992:

"My name is Jackson Katz, and I'm the founder of a group called Real Men, which is an anti-sexist men's group. The purpose of our group is to get men to start taking responsibility for the outrageous level of sexism and sexual harassment and sexual violence and all forms of violence against women in society. I'm also a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education... One thing that we really haven't delved into is how men are affected by pornography, that is, men who are the consumers of pornography and what that does to the way that we deal with women. I think our generation has grown up with more pornography than any generation in human history, and it's an absolutely central aspect of the conditioning of young boys. It's hard to overstate how important pornography has been in the past twenty-five years in terms of my generation and young boys who are growing up today. That's where they're learning about sex, and that's where they're learning about women... There's a professor of psychology at UMass Boston who has done his doctoral dissertation and subsequent research on sexual aggression among young college males, and he's found that in dozens and dozens of interviews that young guys will sit there in a room with him, and they'll admit to or talk matter-of-factly about, "I did this to her, I did that, and we did this and that," and they never once refer to themselves as rapists, of course, and they never once refer to the behavior that they've engaged in as raping behavior, or in any way criminal. But this psychologist will tell you that he knows that if they were under oath in the court of law, they would be admitting to first degree felonies, but they think it's normal, perfectly natural herterosexual relations... I travel around the country and speak to college audiences, both male and female, and mixed audiences, and one thing I find over and over again, in frank discussions, is that pornography is extremely influential in the lives of young boys growing up today, and girls, but specifically I speak to guys. This blizzard of images of women in degrading and humiliating positions, guys just come to think of that as normal... There was an article in the New York Times last week about sexual harassment in schools, how there's a whole new area of litigation that's opening up with young girls who are sexually harassed. If you read that article on the front page of the Times last week, you'll find that guys are saying that they don't know what to do, what they can do and what they can't do, what's acceptable and what isn't acceptable. As I read that, I said to myself, it's obvious where they're learning on one level what is and what isn't acceptable. In other words, you could take some of the dialogue out of these kids' mouths right out of a discussion of pornography that I've had on numerous occasions... Pornography is a subtext to relations between the sexes, young boys and young girls today."
-- Testimony of Jackson Katz. (4)

The following written testimonies were sent to Massachussetts state legislators in 1992:

"I have been a rape crisis coordinator and counselor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I also taught a course there for six years entitled: Violence Against Women: A Multi-cultural, Multiracial Perspective. I have been a program coordinator of Daybreak, Inc., a shelter for battered women and children in Worcester. I have been involved with the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault since 1983. And I am the author of Reclaiming Our Lives: A Handbook for Rape Crisis Counselors and Educators in Massachusetts. Over the last ten years I have committed myself to working on behalf of victims of violence. Presently, I am the Director of the Victim Witness Assistance Program in the Northwestern District Attorney's Office. I have had the privilege to work with District Attorney Judd J. Carhart for the last three years serving the people of Hampshire and Franklin counties... I know the impact and violence of pornography first hand... These were the kinds of books my father looked at. In my house there were films, photographs and magazines. They were all over. There was one item so abhorrent and violent that it is difficult to describe to you... It was a handkerchief. I was putting the ironing away for my mother. We ironed everything--sheets, pillow cases, towels, underwear, etc. I was in my Dad's dresser, as I had permission to be. There was a hankie with images of women imprinted on it. They were all bleeding from the vagina. They looked to be in such awful pain. I had seen his magazines before but nothing like this. I recall women with dark hair and some with Asian features. I wanted to crawl up in a ball and die. What this what my father did to women? Was this what he thought should happen to women? Did this happen to my mother? Was this going to happen to me?... Parties among adults in our house involved pornography. It was used to get people to strip and "play games"... I always made sure I cried into my pillow so no one could hear me. I kept watch so no one would come into my younger brother['s] and my bedroom... When I couldn't have known as a child, I have come to realize as an adult who has worked with victims of violent crimes. And that is, that I just wasn't looking at pictures--I was looking at women's lives. The influence of pornography is not a literary or artistic influence but a violent influence at the expense of women and children['s] lives. My own healing process was very painful. I have worked with women who have had pornography used while they were being beaten by their husbands. I have heard from women that while they were being raped a perpetrator referred to pornography. Sometimes women have told me they were forced to imitate whatever was in the picture. One woman told me that her entire incest victimization, by her older brother always included pornography. Collectively, women have suffered humiliation, degradation and violence at the hands of pornography. It has taken years to deal with the turmoil of my own experience. One of my most painful struggles even now at 43 years old is having a sense of my body size and physical appearance. I have suffered eating disorders and had to overcome a great deal of pain that I directly attribute to the barrage of sexually explicit images and the activities that took place in my home... There is no pleasure in violence for the victim of pornography. The private and public humiliation we feel at the hands of men and boys who consume this woman-hating material cannot be understood by any representation of government unless you have the insight and empathy to understand that we speak of fear for our daily personal safety."
-- Submission of Kathleen O'Neill Alexander, March 16, 1992, Boston Massachusetts.

"My name is Gail Kielson and I work at Necessities/Necesidades, an organization in Northampton, Massachusetts that provides services to battered women. I am a Licensed MSW, and for 17 years have worked with women and children who were living with abuse. I am unable to testify in person today because we at Necessities/Necesidades are short-staffed and it is essential that I be there to work with the women using our services, many of whom are living in life-threatening situations... We have recently begun to formally ask the battered women who call us whether the abuser uses pornography and from this we conservatively estimate that at least 1/2 of the abusers use pornography as a part of the abuse. Battering is based on an issue of power and control, with the abuser using all kinds of methods to continually assert his power and control over the woman. Throughout, he is persistently working to deny her of her ability to make informed decisions about her life and through threats, coercion, and continual terror succeeds at clearly establishing himself as "in control". We frequently hear a woman say that she feels like a prisoner in her own home, and in fact, she is... The use of pornography is but one means that an abuser uses to degrade and humiliate the woman. The stories that I hear are horrific and just when I think I've heard it all, I hear another horrifying story that sends me reeling. Women frequently state that abusers bring home pornographic videos and make them perform the acts depicted in the video. One woman described endless days and nights of this, with her husband demanding that she leave her place of business, a shop that she owned, and come home and enact the sexual tortures depicted on the videos; or he would demand that she leave the caretaking of her children and come into the locked bedroom and he would rape her. She attempted to protect her children from the knowledge of what transpired behind these locked doors, but their wide, terrified eyes indicated that they knew that she was being abused and they were helpless to protect her. Another woman said that she would come home from work, begin to make dinner for her children, and would hear her husband come in, turn the television on and know that he would then demand that she perform the acts shown on the pornographic videos. She had no choice but to submit, because if she did not he would threaten to beat her, or would beat her into submission. Another woman described how her husband brought home the videos and when she tried to withstand his sexual demands he put a gun inside her vagina and thus forced her to submit to his acts of abuse. Another woman said that her partner used pornographic books and read portions to her and then made her perform the degrading sexual acts described therein. Another woman said, tearfully, that her husband brought home pornographic videos and made her have sex with other men as he watched her and the videos simultaneously. Another woman said that her partner, while watching pornographic videos, raped her with all kinds of objects -- pipes, sticks, knives. Perhaps the most horrifying story of sexual abuse, linked to pornographic use I heard was from a woman who was repeatedly raped, handcuffed to the bed, raped with all kinds of objects by her husband who continually used pornographic material. After years of terrifying abuse she managed to flee her husband and come into our shelter. He pursued her, terrified her and her children, threatened to kill her. When he was finally arrested and incarcerated her children began to disclose sexual abuse. As the children began to feel safer and safer their disclosures became more and more horrifying, for their father, paternal grandparents and paternal uncle had persistently and consistently, sexually abused them, using pornographic videos as a constant part of the abuse. Not only had the children been forced to have sex with each other and several playmates, but the adults had used objects in their genitals, had killed animals in their presence, had made them engage sexually with animals, had hung them from rafters, had threatened to throw them off a cliff, all acts depicted in pornographic videos. The results was that after several years of these disclosures, we were able to get the Commonwealth to bring him to trial and he was given 80-100 years in prison. However, these children are all in psychiatric treatment, one child had to be placed in a residential facility because he was actively suicidal, one child rarely talks, and walks through life with a haunted look, one child acts out in school. The mother has flashbacks of her own sexual abuse and lives, not only with her own terror, but with her self-imposed guilt that she had not protected her children. She cannot hear me say to her -- "but he did this to them when you were off working, working to support the family and he maintained the secrecy by threatening that if they disclosed this horror he would kill them and you, their mother."... Had I more time I could continue to regale you with stories that I have heard women tell me about the connection of pornography and sexual abuse. they have told me their stories with shame, with tears, with resignation. As the words pour out of their mouths, sometimes hesitantly, sometimes in a flood, I can see that they are reexperiencing the horror of the acts, the horror of the degradation, the terror of the moment. I share their tears, I share their horror, but I rage and seethe. Pornography is but one example of the underlying societal sanctions of violence against women that is endemic and epidemic in our country. I am working, daily, minute by minute, to arrest this epidemic."
-- Submission of Gail Kielson, Boston, Massachusetts. (5)

"Women and children will continue to be abused, pressured into unwanted sex acts, beaten, raped, tortured, and killed in the making of pornography, and as a consequence of men viewing it. Pornography will continue to fuel hate crimes against women until men are willing to face the consequences of their desire for this vicious hate propaganda, and voluntarily forgo it."
-- Researcher Diana Russell, in Making Violence Sexy. (6)

"My own research suggests that the harm created in relationships when one person uses pornography while the other does not can be substantial and devastating. Specifically, some women in relationships with male users of pornography reported feeling like their partners were fantasizing about a pornographic image or scene during intercourse rather than sharing that intimate moment with her. Other women stated that their partners were no longer seeking them out for lovemaking; instead, these men preferred to masturbate to pornography. Still others were disturbed that their partners were asking them to participate in sexual acts seen in explicit videos, without regard to whether or not she would find these acts unpleasant or degrading. On the whole, these women reported a strong decline in intimacy and connection with their partners, leaving many to consider breaking off the relationship altogether."
--Researcher Ana Bridges. (7)


(1) Testimonies appeared in "The Minneapolis Hearings, December 12-13, 1983"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(2) Testimonies appeared in "The Indianapolis Hearing, April 16, 1984"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(3) Testimonies appeared in "The Los Angeles Hearing, Los Angeles County Commission for Women, April 22, 1985"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(4) Testimony appeared in "The Massachussetts Hearing, Boston, March 16, 1992"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(5) Written testimonies appeared in "Massachussetts: Written Submissions, 1992"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., InHarm's way: The pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(6) Diana Russell Ed., Making Violence Sexy: Feminist Views on Pornography; 1993.
(7) Quoted in Robert Jensen, Getting Off (2007).