AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY
Anti-Pornography Website

Women and Children's Accounts of the Harms of Pornography


RUSSELL STUDY (1980):

In a survey on sexual violence, the women who had answered "yes" to the question "Have you ever been upset by anyone trying to get you to do what they'd seen in pornographic pictures, movies or books?" commented on what upset them the most. Here are a few of their statements:

"It was a three-girls-and-him situation. We had sex, I was really young -- like fourteen."
-- Ms. B.

"He was a lover. He'd go to porno movies, then he'd come home and say, "I saw this in a movie. Let's try it." I felt really exploited, like I was being put into a mold."
-- Ms. C.

"I was staying at this guy's house. he tried to make me have oral sex with him. He said he'd seen far-out stuff in movies, and that it would be fun to mentally and physically torture a woman."
-- Ms. D.

"It was physical slapping and hitting. It wasn't a turn-on; it was more a feeling of being used as an object. What was most upsetting was that he thought it would be a turn-on.
-- Ms. E.

"He'd read something in a pornographic book, and he wanted to live it out. It was too violent for me to do something like that..."
-- Ms. F.

"He forced me to have oral sex with him when I had no desire to do it."
-- Ms. G. [...]

"Anal Intercourse. I have been asked to do that, but I don't enjoy it at all. I have had to do it very occasionally."
-- Ms. I.

"My husband enjoys pornographic movies. He tries to get me to do things he finds exciting in movies. They include twosomes and threesomes. I always refuse... Also, I was always upset with his ideas about putting objects in my vagina, until I learned this is not as deviant as I used to think. He used to force me or put whatever he enjoyed into me."
-- Ms. J.

"He forced me to go down on him. He said he'd seen it in porno movies. He'd seen this and he wanted me to do it. He also wanted to pour champagne on my vagina. I got beat up because I didn't want to do it. He pulled my hair and slapped me around. After that I went ahead and did it but there was no feeling in it."
-- Ms. K. [...]

"Anal sex. First he attempted gentle persuasion, I guess. He was somebody I'd been dating a while and we'd gone to bed a few times. Once he tried to persuade me to go along with anal sex, first verbally, then by touching me. When I said "No," he did it anyway -- much to my pain. It hurt like hell."
-- Ms. M.

"This guy had seen a movie where a woman was being made love to by dogs. He suggested that some of his friends had a dog and we should have a party and set the dog loose on the women. He wanted me to put a muzzle on the dog and put some sort of stuff on my vagina so that the dog would lick there.
-- Ms. N.

"My old man and I went to a show that had lots of tying up and anal intercourse. We came home and proceeded to make love. He went out and got two belts. [...] I went along with it. But when he tried to penetrate me anally, I couldn't take it, it was too painful. I managed to convey him verbally to quit it. He did stop, but not soon enough to suit me... Then one time, he branded me. I still have a scar on my butt. He put a little wax initial thing on a hot plate and then stuck it on my ass when I was unaware.
-- Ms. O.

"My boyfriend and I saw a movie in which there was masochism. After that he wanted to gag me and tie me up. [...] He literally tried to force me..."
-- Ms. P. (1)


SILBERT AND PINES STUDY (1984):

Originally, the researchers' goal in this study wasn't to document the effects of pornography on sexual assailants. Their research was aimed at studying the sexual abuse of street prostitutes, both prior to and following entrance into prostitution.

In a comment (in which the offender mentioned some pornographic material) which was reported by one of the prostitutes who was a victim of rape, an assailant told the woman:

"I know all about you bitches, you're no different; you're like all of them. I seen it in all the movies. You love being beaten." (He then began punching the victim violently.) "I just seen it again in that flick. He beat the shit out of her while he raped her and she told him she loved it; you know you love it; tell me you love it."

Another prostitute reported her rape to the researchers in this way:

"After I told him I'd turn him a free trick if only he'd calm down and stop hurting me, then he just really blew his mind. He started calling me all kinds of names, and then started screaming and shrieking like nothing I'd ever heard. He sounded like a wailing animal. Instead of just slapping me to keep me quiet, he really went crazy and began punching me all over. Then he told me he had seen whores just like me in [three pornographic films mentioned by name], and told me he knew how to do it to whores like me. He knew what whores like me wanted... After he finished raping me, he started beating me with his gun all over. Then he said, "You were in that movie. You were in that movie. You know you wanted to die after you were raped. That's what you want; you want me to kill you after this rape just like [specific pornographic film] did."

This particular woman suffered, in addition to forced vaginal penetration, forced anal penetration with a gun, excessive bodily injuries, including several broken bones; and a period of time in which the rapist held a loaded pistol to her vagina, threatening to shoot, insisting it was the way she had died in the film he had seen. He did not, in fact, shoot after all. (2)


THE MINNEAPOLIS HEARINGS (1983):

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:

"When I was three [years old], I was sexually abused by a fourteen-year-old neighbor boy. I would tell you it seems really bizarre to me to use the word "boy", because the only memory I have of this person is as a three-year-old. And as a three-year-old, he seemed like a really big man... I was told by him and some other neighborhood kids, which also included his sisters, that we would be playing a secret game. They told me it was safe and that they had played it before and that I had nothing to be afraid of. What this game consisted of what each child going into a tool shed with this guy. When my turn came, I didn't want to go in because I was scared. It was dark in there and it was dirty. There were cobwebs and there was this giant pitchfork... One of the kids pushed me inside and shut the door. Then this boy grabbed me and he pulled down my shorts and sexually abused me. In short, he finger-fucked me and he made me masturbate him. I was really terrified. I thought I was in hell, and I was also in a lot of pain. I started crying really hard and he finally let me go, but I was told that if I told anyone, I wouldn't be believed, that it was all my fault and that I would be punished. He also told me that he would hurt me again if I told anyone... His sister told me that this game he had learned from his dirty books. I knew that he had these dirty books because I had seen him with them..."
-- Testimony of E. M.

"[My boyfriend] had gone to a stag party, this particular evening I was home alone in my apartment. He called me on the telephone and he said that he had seen several short pornographic films and he felt horny... So he asked if he could come over specifically to have sex with me. I said yes because at that time I felt obligated as a girlfriend to satisfy him. I also felt that the refusal would be indicative of sexual, quote-unquote, hang-ups on my part and that I was not, quote-unquote, liberal enough. When he arrived he informed me that the men at the party were envious that he had a girlfriend to fuck. They wanted to fuck too after watching the pornography. He informed me of this as he was taking his coat off. He then took off the rest of his clothes and had me perform fellatio on him. I did not do this of my own volition. He put his genitals in my face and he said, "Take it all." Then he fucked me on the couch in the living room. All this took about five minutes. And when he was finished, he dressed and went back to the party. I felt ashamed and numb and I also felt very used. This encounter differed from others previous. It was much quicker, it was somewhat rougher, and he was not aware of me as a person. There was no foreplay. It is my opinion that his viewing of the pornography served as foreplay for him..."
-- Testimony of N.C.

"I married this man, and for the next two years we mainly pursued our careers. During the second year of our marriage, he started reading more and more pornography. He started out reading Playboy and started picking up magazines like Penthouse and Forum, and as I would... come home from work and fix dinner he would read me excerpts from the magazines... I was really repulsed at the things he was reading me and I was really in disbelief... He bought more and more of magazines to prove me that people weren't making it up, that all those people were saying how wonderful these things were... He told me if I loved him I would do this. And that, as I could see from the things he read me in the magazines initially, a lot of times women didn't like it, but if I tried it enough I would probably like it, and I would learn to like it. And he would read me the stories where women learned to like it. [O]nce when I was asleep at night... he set up with a friend to come into the room and sleep with us... To prevent more of these group situations, which I found very destructive to my self-esteem and my feeling of self-worth as a person,... I agreed with him to act out in privacy a lot of those scenarios that he read to me, a lot of them depicting bondage and different sexual acts that I found very humiliating... About this time when things were getting really terrible and I was feeling suicidal and very worthless as a person, at that time any dreams that I had of a career in medicine were just totally washed away. I could not think of myself anymore as a human being... I could see how I was being seasoned by the use of pornography and I could see what would come next. I could see more violence and I could see more humiliation, and I knew at that point I was either going to die from it, I was going to kill myself, or I was going to leave... He would read from pornography like a textbook, like a journal. In fact, when he asked me to be bound, when he finally convinced me to do it, he read in a magazine how to tie the knots and how to bind me in a way that I couldn't get out. And most of the scenes... -- where I had to dress up or go through different fantasies -- were the exact scenes that he had read in the magazines..."
-- Testimony of R.M.M.

"I am speaking for a group of women. We all live in Minneapolis and we all are former prostitutes. All of us feel very strongly about the relationship between pornography and prostitution. Many of us wanted to testify at this hearing but are unable because of the consequences of being identified as a former whore. This is absolutely incredible to me that prostitution is seen as a victimless activity... We have started to meet together to make sense of the abuse we have experienced in prostitution and how pornography endorses and legitimizes that abuse. These are some of our stories. The following has all happened to real women who are the exception because they have survived both pornography and prostitution... One of the very first commonalities we discovered as a group: we were all introduced to prostitution through pornography. There were no exceptions in our group, and we were all under eighteen... Pornography was our textbook. We learned the tricks of the trade by men exposing us to pornography and us trying to mimic what we saw... Before I go on -- one might make the assumption that if a woman got involved with pornography and prostitution after she was eighteen, that she is a willing participant. And since the women I speak for were all underage when they began, it is easier to see them as victims. Personally, I feel this to be very dangerous. By talking to women who got involved with prostitution and pornography in their early twenties, the powerlessness and victimization they described and experienced is the same that younger women and children feel... One of us had the experience of being paid by a client to go to a house located in the 6th Ward. When she got there, she found a group of physically disabled men and a group of physically abled men. Everyone was watching pornographic films -- movies of men fucking women, women doing oral sex on men, and women being penetrated by animals. The movies were played continuously... [T]he able-bodied men said they were going to show the handicapped men how "real men" do it. They forced the woman to enact simultaneously with the movie... Another story is, a woman met a man in a hotel room in the 5th Ward. When she got there she was tied up while sitting on a chair nude. She was gagged and left alone in the dark for what she believed to be an hour. The man returned with two other men. They burned her with cigarettes and attached nipple clips to her breasts. They had many S and M magazines with them and showed her many pictures of women appearing to consent, enjoy, and encourage this abuse. She was held for twelve hours, continously raped and beaten... Men would constantly want to do what they have seen in pornography. If pornography was not actually in the room with the client, there would be constant reference. One example is that a woman was in a room with two clients, one man told the other that he had seen some pictures of women who had shaved their pubic hair and that it had turned him on. They then proceeded with a jackknife to remove the woman's pubic hairs, plucking and burning what the knife had missed. They made comments of how her hairless vagina reminded them of their young daughters' genitals. They then, of course, engaged in intercourse... Women were forced constantly to enact specific scenes that men had witnessed in pornography. They would direct women to copy postures and poses of things they had seen in magazines and then they would take their own pictures of the women... It is very amazing to me what happens when a group of ex-prostitutes get together in one room and tell stories. One of the things we discovered was that the men we had serviced were very powerful men in this community. Especially interesting to us are the amounts of men involved in the media in this community that use prostitutes and pornography. These are the same men that perpetuate the myth that Minneapolis is a clean city with exceptional morals and a high quality of life... My wish is that you could see with my eyes just for a day how clear the relationship is between pornography and the systematic abuse of women... I would also like to say that I'm petrified and scared for young women today. I believe the pornography that is published today is more brutal and dangerous than when I was involved. And because I understand clearly the direct relationship between the material and the abuse of women, I am very terrified of the consequences of what that means... I also have a couple written testimonies of women who were not able to speak tonight for the reasons I already gave. [Reading first written testimony]: "I remember a house on Second Avenue South, near 22nd Street which I was asked to go to by a trick... It turned out to be the same house that my pimp had been urging me to go to where he told me young pretty girls could go and get tied up, beaten and burned with cigarettes, and earn $500 for a short half hour's work. I had steadily refused to go, but when my pimp found out that I had been invited, so to speak, I had to go there... The woman who ran the place actually lived there with her children. She kept a room upstairs for the tricks to use. It had a projector to show porn films and there was stacks of pornographic material in the room. The tricks would go in there, look at the porn to get psyched up and then the girl would be sent into the room. The youngest girl I know about who went there was only 13... When I went into that room, the trick said that I was almost too old, but he was pleased with me because I looked young. He stripped me, tied me up, spread-eagled, on the bed so that I could not move and then began to caress me very gently. Then, when he thought that I was relaxed, he squeezed my nipple really hard. I did not react. He held up a porn magazine with a picture of a beaten woman and said, "I want you to look like that. I want you to hurt." He then began beating me, and when I didn't cry fast enough, he lit a cigarette and held it right above my breast for a long time before he burned me. I told him that as God was my witness, he had better kill me or untie me right now, because if he didn't, I would turn him in to the police and that I would call his wife and tell his family about him. He believed me and let me go. But I know that this house continued to provide that service for those who could pay..." [Reading second written testimony]: "I was the main woman of a pimp who filmed sexual acts almost every night in our home. The dope man, who supplied us with cocaine for free in exchange for these arranged orgies, was a really freaky man who would do anything. They arranged to have women, who I assumed were forced to be there, have sex with dogs and filmed those acts. There were stacks of films all over the house, which my pimp used to blackmail people with... One morning I came downstairs in time to see a very young girl run naked out of the house. I found her friend, also naked, tied up in the closet. The one who ran away, after being forced to perform sexually all night, went to the police. I don't know what my pimp did with the other girl. I do know that he kidnapped them and felt safe, because they were foreign and alone. The girl came back with the police, but nothing ever happened. My pimp continued to make films of people doing every kind of sex act in the living room of our home..."
-- Testimony of T.S.

"I don't need studies and statistics to tell me that there is a relationship between pornography and real violence against women. My body remembers."
-- Testimony of M.M.D.

"I lived with a divorced woman and her children in the house that she owned. Her ex-husband also lived in the house we lived in. He would not leave. He threatened to kill the woman if she ever tried to get help in getting him away from her and out of her house... [T]he woman was regularly raped by this man. He would bring pornographic magazines, books, and paraphernalia into the bedroom with him and tell her that if she did not perform the sexual acts that were being done in the "dirty" books and magazines, he would beat and kill her. I know about this because my bedroom was next to theirs. I could hear everything they said. I could hear her screams and cries. In addition, since I did most of the cleaning in the house, I would often come across the books, magazines, and paraphernalia that were in the bedroom and other rooms of the house. The magazines had pictures of mostly women and children and some men. Eventually, the woman admitted to me that her ex-husband did in fact use pornographic material to terrorize and rape her... When [this man] looked at the magazines, he would make hateful, obscene, violent remarks about women in general and about me. I was told that because I am female, I am here to be used and abused by him and that because he is male, he is the master and I am his slave. I was terrorized into keeping silent..."
-- Testimony of S.G. (3)


THE MINNEAPOLIS PRESS CONFERENCE (1984):

Anti-porn activists held a press conference in Minneapolis on July 25, 1984. The following statements were published in the press release:
 
"When I grew up, I had a relationship with a man who had posters from Penthouse and other pornography on the walls of his room. He raped me there, although I didn't call it rape at the time. I would say, "I don't want to." He would say, "Oh yes you do." He had a warped view of sexuality, of how women and men act. I came to see myself alone as worthless, as a commodity..."
-- Anonymous statement.

"Most of my sex life with my ex-husband was very abusive. He had a lot of pornography around the house, both the slicks and the hard core. He went to Rochester [Minn.] to buy it. It made him expect that I would want to do crazy things. He kept saying our sex life was, and I was, dull, blah, unfun. When we first married, he did not use pornography and did not drink. He started drinking first. But the sex became especially abusive after he started using pornography. He got his ideas from it. Having sex how he wanted it was nonnegotiable... He exposed me to the pornography, too. Once we saw an X-rated film that showed anal intercourse. After that, he pressed me to try it. I agreed to once, but found the experience very painful. He kept trying periodically. He told me my vagina had become as sloppy as an old sow's and he could not get pleasure any other way. He also used to pinch and bite me. When I said "it hurts," he would say, "no, it doesn't." I became numb. I lost track of my own feelings. One time, he said in reference to himself sexually, "it's supposed to hurt..."
-- Statement of Rev. Susan Wilhelm.

"Starting at age 4, old Mr. Edwards up the street used pornography to entice me into taking baths so he could watch, had me wearing his wife[']s clothes and eventually having oral sex and being penetrated by him. This went on for five years. He used pornography to show me how to be -- and what to do -- until I didn't see anything wrong -- with anything he did to me -- or had me do to him. I became addicted to sex as a way of getting through life. I also drank a lot. My first marriage was purely sexual. I put up with more pornography because I thought -- it would secure my marriage -- but it destroyed it. The man I lived with last used pornography books to sexually arouse my son so he could molest him -- and my son and his friends used pornography to molest my daughter -- to experiment on her sexually -- using the pornography books as teaching guides..."
-- Statement of Peggy.

"I'm 15 and in the 9th grade in high school and many of the boys' lockers have porno pictures hanging in them. Many of my friends and I have been attacked in and out of our homes with the use of pornography. Covering the porn material won't protect children. Adults buy porn and either use it to abuse us, or leave it around for others to victimize us with it..."
-- Statement of Ms. J. (4)


ATTORNEY GENERAL'S COMMISSION (1985):

No matter what one thinks of the politics of the Attorney General's Commission on pornography (1985) and the recommendations of its 1986 reports, the commission was a forum for women and children to tell their experiences with pornography. Here are some of their testimonies:

"When I first met my husband, it was in early 1975, and he was all the time talking about Ms. Lovelace's film "Deep Throat". After we were married, he on several occasions referred to her perfomances and suggested I try to immitate her actions... Last January... my husband raped me... He had me strip and lie on our bed. He cut our clotheline up... and tied my hands and feet to the four corners of the bedframe. (All this was done while our nine month old son watched.) While he held a butcher knife on me threatening to kill me he fed me three strong tranquilizers. I started crying because the baby got scared and also began crying, he beat my face and my body. I later had welts and bruises. He attempted to smother me with a pillow... Then, he had sex with me vaginally, and then forced me to give oral sex to him."
-- Anonymous letter to the Pornography Resource Center forwarded to the commission.

"A five year old child told her foster mother, "We have movies at home. Daddy shows them when mother is gone. The people do not wear clothes, and daddy and I take our clothes off and do the same thing the people in the movies do."
-- Letter from Oklahomans Against Pornography sent to the commission.

"The gang rape of a juvenile girl [was committed] by six adolescent boys who used a pornographic magazine's pictorial and editorial layout to recreate a rape in the woods outside of their housing development."
-- Pornography Speech presented to the National Women Judges Conference in 1986, submitted to the commission.

"I was sexually abused by my foster father from the time I was seven until I was thirteen. He had stacks and stacks of Playboys. He would take me to his bedroom or his workshop, show me the pictures and say, "This is what big girls do. If you want to be a big girl, you have to do this, but you can never tell anybody." Then I would have to pose like the women in the pictures. I also remember a Playboy cartoon of a man having sex with a child."
-- Anonymous letter to Women Against pornography submitted to the commission.

"The incest started at the age of eight. I did not understand any of it and did not feel that it was right. My dad would try to convince me that it was o.k. He would find magazines with articles and/or pictures that would show fathers and daughters and/or mothers, brothers and sisters having sexual intercourse. (Mostly fathers and daughters.) He would say that if it was published in magazines that it had to be all right because magazines would not publish lies... He would show me these magazines and tell me to look at them or read them and I would turn my head and say no. He would leave them with me and tell me to look later. I was afraid not to look or read them because I did not know what he would do. He would ask me later if I had read them and what they said or if I looked real close at the pictures. He would say, "See it's okay to do because it's published in magazines."
-- Letter sent to the commission.

"At about age eleven and a half he started using the magazine again. In these magazines there were pictures of one woman masturbating another woman, two men and a woman having sex, oral, anal, and vaginal sex. It was with these magazines that we started having me act out positions with him."
-- Sixteen-year-old girl who testified at the commission's Miami Hearing.

"[My husband] had a large collection of bizarre S&M and bondage pornography that he kept in the nightstand drawer in our bedroom. On one occasion [he] tied me to our bed and sodomized me. This occured after I refused to agree to be bound and tied as the models appeared in some of [his] pornographic magazines... Also, the girls told me that [he] sometimes played a game with them in which their feet were tied up tightly with a rope. The molestation included "bad touching" and exhibitionism by [him], but did not involve actual penetration... [My daughters] also had an experience with an eleven-year-old neighbor boy... Porno pictures that he had were shown to the girls and to the other children on the block. Later that day, [he] invited [my daughters] into his house to play video games, but then tried to imitate the sex acts in the photos with [my] eleven-year-old [daughter] as his partner; [My other daughter] witnessed the incident."
-- Mother of two girls who testified at the commission's Washington Hearing. (5)


THE MASSACHUSSETTS HEARING (1992):

Massachusetts legislators heard the following testimonies of women relating their encounters with the harms of pornography at a hearing on March 16, 1992:

"I experienced from 1987 to 1989 in a two-year relationship with my batterer -- from the very beginning, I was forced to provide videos for him. He found one particular one very appealing. It was of sadomasochism. He spent hours watching this movie and he then started forcing me to do the things that were in this movie. One night, I spent an evening with him. I had hot wax dripped on me. A couple of weeks later, I was forced to pierce my nipples, I was forced to have sex with other people, it didn't make any difference--men, women, groups. He had me playing watersports games, which is drinking urine. And every time I said no, he would find a way of beating me. Most of the time it was with a two-inch belt. He had knives at my throat; he tried strangling me on occasion. I'd been threatened with a .38. He put a gun at my son's head. At the end of the relationship, one of the things he wanted most was my death, either at his hands or at mine, and I was forced to take an overdose. I was clinically dead for between two and four minutes. I spent 21 days in the hospital. And at this point, two and a half years later, I am still trying to pick up the pieces... He did what was in these movies. There are videos of me out there somewhere. There are Polaroids that supposedly were destroyed. I don't know. I was told by the police that if these things come to surface, I can face criminal prosecution for things I had no control over... He took things straight out of the movies and used them on me... What he has done on me, he has attempted on his own children."
-- Testimony of P.H.

"I'm testifying under a pseudonym, Karen Harrison. I live in the New Bedford area. I've had many experiences with sex discrimination directly linked to pornography. Some of these were harmful to my physically, but all of them were harmful to me emotionally. I've had six abusive relationships and four of these six involved pornographic indignities. These are as follows... The first one was Carl, who was a bisexual child molester... He forced me to be photographed naked by him. He pressured me to come on to young teenage boys in the town. He'd try to get them home with me so he could get to them. When I would not do this, he would criticize my age, my looks, and would get violent. He also wanted me to come on to hitchhikers he would frequently pick up in the seat next to me. He wanted me [to] pick them up and bring them home and start a sexual session with them while he watched or could join in. When I would not do this, he got angry and violent. These were ideas he read about in gay and kiddie porn publications of how to get victims to come to your home. Porn materials were always kept on hand. He wanted me to do the kinky things that he read about in magazines... I was forced to shave my pubic area to look like the little girls in the magazines. He made constant comments in public to peers and family about how much I put out and if it was performed to his standards. Some of the magazines kept in the house were High Times, Hustler, National Lampoon, Penthouse, Playboy, Swedish Erotica -- Swedish porn and kiddie porn. He forced me to watch him perform oral sex on a [dog]. He molested several children in my care, unknown to me, and I found out [after he] left me. He [found out] and raped me with several of his friends... The second relationship was with a man named Jim who worked in a bookstore warehouse supply company in the New Bedford area... They had a poor inventory control system. He stole porn magazines and books by the boxload. There were stacks and stacks of them on both sides of the bed and out in the rooms where guests, including my parents, could see them. He would refuse to move them and got violent when asked to. He forced me to spend hours and weeks on the beach getting painful sunburns so I would be tan and sexy like the girls in the pictures. He forced me to look at pictures... He would have parties with his male friends. He would pass these magazines out and give some away as gifts. I was the only female in the room on these ocasions. I was forced to wait on them, distributing beer and sandwiches while they openly commented sexually about the women in the pictures. They would get drunk and put me down for not having big boobs like the women in the pictures. If I tried to leave the room or got insulted during any of these times, he would get angry and hit me. I was stupid and oversensitive. Most girls don't care if men look at porn, I was told... He made no secret of needing these magazines to get turned on enough to touch me. I was forced to participate in a bondage episode that he read about. He forced me to pose nude for a photographer, playing with myself, in Rhode Island for money, all of which he kept because he could not keep a job at this time. He collected these magazines religiously and hurt me if I moved, touched or acted wrongly in any way. I was beaten so severely while I was pregnant by this man that I miscarried and had internal damage and bleeding because I was no longer attractive like the girls in the pictures. They had flat stomachs, I was told... My next relationship was with a man named Michael. He was a pornographic movie and pornographic magazine fanatic. He collected tapes of porn movies and kept them in our clothes drawers instead of our clothes. He was most proud of the Traci Lords tapes from when she was underage. He forced me to watch these movies with him and suggested I watch them while he was at work. He would even quiz me when he came home to see if I had. He would force me to have sex with him during these movies in positions where he could still see the movies, or move me to one side so that he could still see them. If got insulted about this, he got angry and violent and turned it around so that it became my fault and I had to apologize... He forced me to go to VCR shops and pick out sex tapes with me openly. One movie in particular he forced me to watch and reenact was called The Story of O. He threatened to leave me if I didn't perform kinky acts... One of these kinky acts I was forced to do was to cut a hole in an army cot that lined up with his crotch. He would lay naked on his stomach and poke his penis through the hole and I would have to lay underneath and perform oral sex. He read this in the kinky column of a magazine that it was a wife's gift to her husband. He had our sex and lovemaking videotaped and showed it to all his friends the next day while I was at work. He said we could destroy it, but later that day I couldn't find it and he told me to forget about it... He tied me up and blew strawfuls of cocaine up into my nose and then would rape me. He read this in a porn magazine that said that coke would turn women on and I would not take the coke willingly. He wanted me to do the things he saw the people in the movies do, like have sex with other people, other couples, and especially with other women. He wanted to come home and find me having sex with women like on the tapes. He told me that this was one of his biggest fantasies, and he tried to convince me that it was mine as well. He told me that if I felt guilty about it, he would tie me up and I could pretend it wasn't my fault. He forced me to have sex with sex toys bought through the back pages of the sex magazines. He commented openly about our sex lives in front of me to his friends... He read a story in a fantasy column of a magazine about a man and a woman acting out rape. He broke into my apartment and tried it on me. He waited until I came home from work and he attacked me from behind in the dark. He would tie me to the kitchen table and blindfold me and leave me in the dark for hours and come home with friends to touch me sexually. This was an idea he read in an article in a sex magazine about brainwashing techniques. He would get high on cocaine and come home and force me to have regular, anal and oral intercourse for hours and hours and hours until I was raw, dry and bleeding. When I couldn't stand the pain he would put cocaine on my vagina so he could keep going. He read this in a magazine that said it would numb me and turn me on. He would tie me up and put cigarettes out on my legs when I refused to have sex with other people like in the movies and threaten to leave me... He put me in several situations with other people to sexually switch partners, but I always left. He would stay for hours. He would spank me and hit me frequently during sex like in the movies and articles. He forced me to dress in certain ways, day and evening, like the women in the magazines and movies. He constantly criticized my weight and my figure. I was forced to diet continuously and reminded at the table in front of others what I was eating and how much... I was forced to be in the room with his male friends and swinging couples during sex videos and wait on them. During these episodes, I was forced to wear outfits and act certain ways at these times like the hostess in those sex movies. He forced me to go to strip bars with him and not get upset or he'd hurt me. One night, he even forced me to dance and strip at one particular club on amateur night. He kept the money that I made... He would pick and choose collector issues of porn magazines and I was made to look and feel inferior to these women, especially blondes with big breasts and women who posed sexually with other women. I was made to feel inferior to the women on MTV constantly. Magazine pictures and posters were hung on the walls whether I liked it or not. He began touching me in public and wanting to have sex with me on a restaurant table like a scene in a video movie that he made me watch one night over and over and over and over... My next and final relationship was with a man named Patrick, a police officer. He had a five-year-old son. His magazines were pornographic and mixed with gun and vigilante magazines, and he kept opening them in the bathroom and living room at all times, except when I first met him. I was repeatedly raped throughout every day and several nights with his handcuffs. I was forced to go to strip bars with him and eventually to work there. It was his fantasy for me to strip for others but to go home with him. He lost his job and kept the money I made working... He would force me to watch porn videos with his son in the next room and then would rape me and use the language heard in the videos. For example, I can't forget, he told me was going to split me in half with his cock and I was a bitch and I was forced to admit I loved it and if I didn't say this, he would hit me and rape me harder. He always spanked me during sex and pulled my hair very hard like in the movies we watched. He would leave me at home with no clothes or blankets to cover up with while his five-year-old son was there so I couldn't leave him... He drank and did coke in secret and took prescription drugs like Valium, Percodan and codeine, and also fed them to me. He had several sex magazines and books on brainwash methods and methods of control. He raped me anally with handcuffs for hours one day while drunk because the magazines told him that a woman's anus is tighter than her vagina and I had refused to have anal sex with him. He touched me constantly in public and in front of his son because the magazine's Kinky Corner said that if you do it in public, it's more exciting. He bought many of these videos from vendors who sold them out of the backs of their vans and at flea markets... About this time, I began to realize that sex is not love and money can't buy love, but maybe it can buy freedom. So I wanted to make enough money to escape these men and, in particular, the New Bedford area and the life I had led up until now. I went back to the strip bars to make money. I cannot tell you the lie and the fantasy that it is for men. Waitressing, I cleaned the floors and I own a box of men's wedding rings that I found on the floor... The degradation and inferiority and humiliation of being presented as two tits and a hole for entertainent was not as bad as the sexual harassment I received from the management of these places. Customers are not allowed to touch you, but management can and does. You cannot complain to the Labor Board because they say you put yourself there willingly, and usually it's under the table. I felt worthless, but I need[ed] enough money to move and complete college and get a degree... Because of these experiences I have been made to feel so inferior that I was saving and had planned for breast implants. I had dyed my hair blonde and ruined it at one point. I weighed 86 pounds. I now have severe emotional and medical issues, revolving around the stress, physical punishment and trauma I have gone through... [At the hearing, Karen was asked the question: "Was there a possibility of physical violence if you left?"] [She answered] Yes. I was always told in several of these relationships that no other man would ever have me. It would be him or I'd be dead."
-- Testimony of Karen Harrison.

"Once this videotape was on, he would make me submit to various sexual acts on the hardwood floors directly in front of a television set. Since we lived in an apartment building, he was very paranoid about neighbors finding out about what he was doing, so he always threatened to "fuck me up" if I so much as whimpered or made any sound above a whisper. Even though the sound on the pornographic tape was off, he continually sent me to the door of the room to make sure the keyhole was covered, the door locked, and/or barricaded, and to listen for anyone walking down the hall. Meanwhile I was to keep coming back to him to do whatever he wanted sexually. He wanted me to watch how the various women in the video performed oral sex on the men. And then he insisted that I do the same with him while he continued to watch that movie. If I didn't go down on him far enough or hard enough, he would put his hands on my head and push it up and down, sometimes so hard that I thought I would faint. If I gagged or choked, he would pull me up by my hair, throw me back onto the floor, hit and kick me, and verbally abuse me, calling me "worthless," "useless," and "a waste of his time." Then he would make me watch that video again, perform oral sex, and threaten to "break my jaw if I stopped." Then he would make me turn around, get down on my hands and knees, and he would force intercourse, both vaginal and anal. While he did this, he insisted that I watch that video from whatever position I was in, so that I could learn more. He would not let me get up or change positions, even if I was in terrible pain. He'd ask me which men in that video I liked and whether they were as big or as good as he. Well, I quickly learned to say yes, that he was even better, otherwise the sex would become even more forceful and painful. Again, if I did not perform adequately in any position, he would threaten to go out and find a whore who knew what she was doing, like the women in that video. He said continually that he wanted to turn me out, which meant turn me into a prostitute, and then we could make a pornographic movie too. But I had to keep watching that video in order to learn the skills and the techniques... A number of times after watching the video, he actually took me to some filthy places, often crack houses, telling me that he felt that I was ready, that I was his whore, and that he knew men who would pay big bucks for me. But I had to do it right. I had to please them, or else he and I would be in danger. In hallways, in stairwells, in basements, and bathrooms of crack houses, in seedy hotels, in apartments where sometimes there were small children in cribs, my partner offered me like a prize to numerous men and women. He would force me to strip and seduce them, all the while coaching me, instructing me, talking to me as if from that video, even when he was having sex with other women in the same room. He once traded me for cocaine to a man who forced me to have sex with him at knifepoint. After all this, we went home to the video, that pornographic video, and the abuse continued. My partner pointed out to me what I didn't do right, what I should have done, what I could have done much better. That video become my nightmare. Every time he made me turn it on, I became sick with fear for I knew that I was in for hours of verbal abuse, physical pain and sexual torture. And I was trapped. If I protested, if tried to leave, if I made but a sound, he would threaten to break every bone in my body and put me in the hospital. And sometimes I wished I had gone to the hospital, just to get away from that video."
-- Testimony of L.B.

"My brother started sexually abusing me when I was 4 or 5, and pornography was part of the abuse. To be specific, he would describe a certain pose that he'd seen in Playboy or Penthouse, and he'd make me do it. Often he would compare my body to the pictures in a very detailed and graphic and humiliating way. He also became obsessed with a feature they have in Hustler. He told me it was called The Beaver Hunt, and men could send in photographs of their wives and girlfriends. And indeed Hustler still has The Beaver Hunt every month... He thought this was the greatest thing, that he could be a pornographer too, so he made me pose for The Beaver Hunt and took pictures... Women who are sexually abused as children live through a certain kind of hell. We're forced, we're manipulated through shame and guilt, our bodies are used, we're humiliated and silenced. And then we're told we wanted this. Especially we're told by the pornographers. We're told that we were active participants somehow..."
-- Testimony of L.K.

"The first incident I'd like to talk about is representative of many incidents that I experienced by the man that abused me for years. This man was an avid user of pornography: Penthouse, Playboy, pornographic videos, strip bars, and 1-900 sex calls. He came home after being out all night at strip bars, and he wanted intercourse. I was very frightened from past times that he had forced me. As he was on top of me and inside of me, he called me a "cunt, a whore." He repeated over and over again as he grabbed at me and slapped me, "Come on, you fucking cunt, I know you love my cock." I was crying and pleading for him to stop. I tried to get away from him. He beat me as he tried to tie me up to the bed with sheets. "I'm going to fuck you to death," he would say. He had me face down and forced his penis in my anus. I escaped for a moment to the corner of the room, scrunched down, naked, beaten. Fearing for my life, I screamed for help. Beating and kicking me, he forced his penis in my face, saying that if I did not suck on him, he would kill me... He forced me to watch porn flicks, insisting that I should like them, learn from them, and be like those women, so I could please him. He would always be forceful during intercourse after viewing these porn videos. He insisted that I repeat what the women did, as he repeated what the man did. He would hit me as he forced me. I felt humiliated, terrified. I was his sex slave. He showed me a picture of a woman, it was either from Penthouse or Playboy, and he said that he believed that she was me. Later, he told me that his deepest fantasy was to rape me, which he did repeatedly. After an unwanted visit from him, when he was abusive and once again insistent on sexual acts, I discovered later when receiving my phone bill, that prior to the abuse, he had made many phone calls to the 1-900 sex calls that he had [seen] in the Valley Advocate... In addition, this man has also been harassing other women. One night, after watching a porn video at his friend's house, he called the woman next door, and insisted that she go outside the house naked and perform sexual acts so he could watch. He told her that if she did not do this, he would kill her and her children. He was eventually found guilty for this incident... It is very apparent to me the direct correlation of the use of pornography and the abuse that I survived. Today I am grateful to be alive. The extreme abuse I suffered was exaggerated and learned through the use of pornography."
-- Testimony of S.F.

"When I was a child, five or six years old, the boys in the neighborhood had pornography, and they sexually abused me. I do not know whether they found it in the woods, or whether they got it from their homes. There were four or five, sometimes six of them, and they ranged in age from 8 to 13. They did to me what they saw in pornography. The pornography told us what to do. Mostly they saw naked women. Playboy or Penthouse stuff, so they stripped me or convinced me to strip myself. They also saw pictures of sexual intercourse, so this is what they did to me. One after the other, they took turns being the man in the picture, and I was to lay there and be the woman... The cause of my abuse was pornography. The pictures that they had gave them the ideas and told them what to do, and if it was in the picture, it was the truth. And I thought that's what it meant to be a woman."
-- Testimony of D.G. (6)


OTHER WOMEN AND CHILDREN'S ACCOUNTS OF THE HARMS OF PORNOGRAPHY:

Here is a letter that was sent to Massachussets state legislators in 1992:

"[O]ver a period of eight years... I worked as a prostitute, dancer and nude model... As a prostitute I worked in massage parlours, peep shows, private apartments, street corners, bars and for escort services... At the age of seventeen I began dancing in topless and bottomless bars. I was working for a pimp and was under a lot of pressure from him and the club owners to make a lot of money. In these bars they had pornographic videos playing constantly which contained graphic scenes of various sexual acts. The women in the videos were usually naked and the men were often clothed except for their penis... I had never seen pornographic movies before. I soon found out that in order to make tips I had to lay on the dance floor, spread my legs and expose my genitals to the customers, just like in the videos. I had to simulate postures such as being on my hands and knees and arching my back as if being entered from behind by a penis. I had to look at the customers and stick out my tongue as if performing oral sex. This was all extremely degrading... The first massage parlour I ever worked in I had to dance topless in the lounge which I did not get paid for, as well as service customers. I was still seventeen and very naive. One day someone was taking pictures of me. The next thing I knew, a picture of me clothed only in a G string, was on a flyer advertising this massage parlour and being handed out on every corner. I did not give permission for that photo to be used but could not do anything about it. Shortly afterwards I got into an argument with the owner over a racist comment he made and he punched me in the face, took all my money and threw me down some stairs... The massage parlours and private houses I worked in all had pornographic videos available for the customers, either in the bedrooms or in the waiting room. A lot of my work consisted of acting out particular scenes for the customer which caused him to become aroused. If a customer was into real hard core movies in which women were tied up, whipped, raped, urinated on etc., then he would want me to act out that kind of scene. On several occasions a customer requested that I act like I was his daughter and he would then rape me while I screamed "No Daddy, please don't, I'm so scared" and so on. I had several life threatening experiences with customers who were into violent fantasies... Some of the most violent pornography that I saw was in the houses of customers that I saw through escort services... I considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them... At least fifty percent of the men that I saw professionally were into fantasies and pornography such as I have described. They were men from all over the world and all types of professions. Every prostitute I know has had similar experiences. Often we keep it to ourselves because it is very painful to remember. I have been scarred for life both mentally and physically. I have violent nightmares on a regular basis which replay my worst experiences of sexual violence over and over. I have difficulty relating to people in normal social situations. I cannot make love with someone without having flashbacks of being a prostitute. I have very little self confidence..."
-- Written Submission of J.W., Boston, Massachusetts. (7)


Some of the women and girls who replied to British magazines' surveys on pornography wrote the following comments:

"My boyfriend has assaulted me several times. He was brought up in a house where porn was freely available."

"I recently left my husband, a respectable middle-class medical consultant. It has taken two years to understand that I was not deserving of his need to tie me up, whip me and humiliate me in order to get his sexual satisfaction. His "ideas" came from pornography on which he spent a lot every month."

"My ex constantly claimed that porn was a natural release for men's frustration. We were both at university at the time; he was a socialist and claimed that the sexes should be equal. But when it came to sex he was a totally different person. I was constantly compared with photos and expected to get into the positions shown. I was seldom allowed to say no."

"I was raped eleven years ago. The man who raped me was a friend of the people I shared a flat** with and I knew he regularly watched pornographic videos of a very offensive nature."

"I was raped by an ex-boyfriend who came to my house after we'd split up, I couldn't cope with the magazines and films he used and the things he wanted me to do. He scared me to death. After viewing this crap he'd turn into a monster and get violent if I refused what he wanted. When he raped me he was like that too, his eyes were just crazy and I was nothing more than a piece of meat."

"When I was six years old, my brother (then fourteen) was given or bought some "adult" magazines and he used to show them to me when our parents were out. Then he began to sexually abuse me. He often used to read the magazines before he abused me. I was abused at three to four by my grandfather -- I remember finding some "adult" magazines at his flat once. For years I was abused by my grandfather and brother, but felt too guilty to tell anyone. If our parents went out on a Saturday night my brother would invite his friends around. They'd bring their magazines and sit around joking about women's bodies. Then my brother would make me strip and straddle the bath while one by one they'd sit underneath having a look at my genitals..."

"I was abused, molested, insulted and frightened by my older brother when I was seven and he was thirteen. He had a waist-high stack of pornographic magazines. It is something I will never forget. Pornography is about hate for women, power over women, revenge on women, ridicule and contempt of women." (8)


In another study, some of the women interviewed made the following comments:

"I now see a lot of my relationship with him as being some kind of sexual assault. He used to use pornography at the same time as having sex with me -- it was as if I became one of those pictures... That's a much more subtle form of assault."

"He wanted to do everything they said in the [pornographic] book." (9)


Here are a few comments from the women who were interviewed by journalist Pamela Paul:

"I don't know any man who is into porn who has been able to be truly intimate."
-- Valerie.

"Their view of sex is really skewed. It's gotten dirtier, raunchier. They want you to do a lot of degrading things."
-- Ashley, talking about pornography users she'd been with.

"I've been with guys who watch a lot of porn and that affected how they view sex... If some guy is watching porn a lot, they're not necessarily going to please women in real life because porn never shows that, There's no foreplay; there's no romanticizing sex."
-- Aaliyah.

"I wanted to be the cool girlfriend.  Like, I’ll be cool and watch porn and fuck you.  I didn’t want to come across as Pollyanna-ish. … [But] there was something about him needing the objectification of another woman to turn him on.  Then he could transfer that excitement to my body."
-- Mia. (10)

"We’ve been together five years. … Recently, I discovered through the computer that he’s fascinated by hardcore pornography.  When confronted, he said I have no right to be upset. … I feel I’m not going to be able to satisfy his urges because I’m unwilling to do what really turns him on … it’s making me question whether I’m willing to continue a relationship with someone who can disregard my feelings so easily."
-- Woman writing to a local advice columnist, quoted in Pornified. (11) 


Here is the testimony of a woman at the Indianapolis Hearing on pornography in 1984:

"Our daughter was a victim of sexual assault for a period of four-and-a-half years. And when this man was arrested in our home, found in his car, in the trunk of his car, was a considerable amount of pornographic material. Our child is not in our home. This was so traumatic for her that she had to be hospitalized and probably will not be in our home for another year, which means that, as a victim, she was removed from our home for a period of over two years. The perpetrator -- we did press charges -- he spent one year in jail, and is now out, while our child is still not at home..."
-- Testimony of Judy. (12)


Notes:

** "flat" means appartment in UK English

(1) Comments appeared in Diana E. H. Russell, "Pornography and violence: What does the new research say?", in Laura Lederer Ed., Take Back the Night; 1980.
(2) Statements appeared in Mimi Silbert and Ayala Pines, "Pornography and Sexual Abuse of Women", Sex Roles; 1984; re-published in Diana Russell Ed., Making Violence Sexy: Feminist Views on Pornography; 1993.
(3) 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.
(4) Statements appeared in "The Minneapolis Press Conference, July 25, 1984"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(5) Testimonies appeared in Final Report of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography; 1986.
(6) Testimonies 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.
(7) Written testimony appeared in "Massachussetts: Written Submissions, 1992"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds., In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(8) Statements appeared in Catherine Itzin and Corinne Sweet, "Women's Experience of pornography: UK magazine survey evidence", in Catherine Itzin Ed., Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties; 1993.
(9) Comments appeared in Liz Kelly, Surviving Sexual Violence; 1988.
(10) Comments appeared in Pamela Paul, Pornified; 2005.
(11) Comments appeared in Pamela Paul, Pornified; 2005.
(12) Testimony 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.