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How can internet pornography addiction lead to the first viewing of Child Sexual Abuse Material?

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

By Steve Davies, Senior Practitioner, Safer Lives


Internet pornography addiction (porn addiction) is now a feature of the 21st Century https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/porn-addiction . The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) now have a classification for compulsive sexual behaviour https://www.who.int/health-topics/sexual-health#tab=tab_1 . At Safer Lives we repeatedly hear men talking to us about how their ‘porn addiction’ led to their first viewing of CSAM.


How can this happen?

We need to consider several factors in this case that make up the complex pathway to viewing CSAM.


Human Needs

Firstly, the needs that the behaviour of viewing online sexual material is meeting for the person involved, this differs between individuals, but common features are escapism from anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness and dealing with sexual arousal or erectile dysfunction. For some it also involves the need to communicate through ‘chat forums’ with others and feel wanted.


Desensitisation

After some time has passed, we then have the process of desensitisation to adult material to consider, where the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ of needing to keep a high or buzz at a peak and then venturing into sexually explicit-abusive areas the person would have avoided a few months previously to sustain the ‘high.’ The ‘teens’ genre, even on adult pornographic sites, we hear typically plays a significant role here.


Technology

Then adding into his mix, we have the technological side, which allows a definite ease of access, portability, and privacy (it seems) to the abusive behaviours now taking place.


The Brain

Furthermore, we must not ignore our own brains and the way they operate, storing our responses to emotions and events so if we regularly encounter the ‘triggering emotions’ discussed above then it has, subconsciously, preprepared responses to keep firing out into conscious thinking to re-engage in the behaviour that made us feel better.

These are only some of the issues that need considering when discussing internet based adult pornography leading to viewing CSAM. It’s not difficult to see how when all the above comes into play for an individual and they use their cognitive distortions to try to justify the behaviour by saying, “its only a picture, I didn’t take it, I’m just looking”, then CSAM is viewed and at some point, in the future there is the knock on the door form their local police force.


Further reading

“Your Brain on Porn’ by Gary Wilson (recently deceased) is the seminal book on pornography addiction, and its influence has spawned lots of websites, peer support forums and YouTube channels. It’s enjoyable and enlightening reading, and if you are struggling with online sexual compulsions, we recommend that you read it urgently.


Call us

We find that the power of pornography addiction lessens when clients talk to us about it. If you would like more help or advice on this subject contact Safer Lives on 0800 043 5987. It is always good to talk.



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